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October 2006 Volume 3 Issue 11 Rs 100

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On the cover disk:
Webaroo packs of our role in design than ever. From
website’s Know-How car modeling to architecture to
fashion, find out how tech tools
Win ten 1 GB thumb
make a difference
32
drives from Buffalo!

 88 Damn Small Linux


FEATURE
24 TFTs reviewed  56
Your next monitor has got to be a TFT. Find out why
A distro tiny enough
to fit on a USB drive
FEATURE
Compared: Disk tools 
From partitioning to imaging, check out the best
92

 90 Cellphone tools
Spruce up your mobile
with cools apps
Build a Media PC  112
Watch movies, record programs, play games & more
Also available in Bangladesh
Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, U A E Blu-ray: Two exclusive reviews!
EDITORIAL 7

Time Compression
O
ut of all the queries we receive each month, the classic favorite is: “Is this the right
time to go in for…?”Be it dual core computers, DVD drives, TFT monitors, next-gen
game consoles or broadband Internet connections, consumers are relentlessly
bamboozled by the gnawing guilt associated with getting onto a technology bandwagon
either too early or too late. Such are the questions that first movers disregard and general
consumers dread. Let’s take a little journey back in time and recount some of the most
famous technological trends and more importantly, how they’ve been adopted.
Guglielmo Marconi’s invention of the radio in 1895 (later credited to Nikola Tesla after
the Supreme Court overturned Marconi’s patent in 1943) didn’t see public acceptance until
the 1920s. It was the invention and use of vacuum tube that sparked the radio ga-ga back
then—before that, radios were too bulky and expensive to be commercially viable. The radio
phenomenon brought together entire communities, cities and nations and it changed the
way people communicated and received information. Then came the moving pictures.
Though the television was invented in 1926 by John Logie Baird, records showed that even
by 1939 there were hardly 200 television sets across the world. It took a solid two decades for
the television to become a widespread appliance. Of course, contributing to the sales of the
television were the parallel strides in broadcasting—in 1954, NBC was the first broadcasting
company to introduce coast-to-coast color broadcasts across 21 stations in the US.
Consumers today Up until then, consumers were still getting used to the idea of television programs in their
have lesser time to get very own home. There was no concept of choosing the video you wanted to see. Not until the
invention of the VHS (Vertical Helix Scan) video standard was introduced by JVC much later in
used to technology 1976. Video cassettes became all the rage—some of the fondest memories I have are that of
waves watching recordings of TV shows and movies on our National VCR back in the 80s.
The VCR flourished between the 80s and 90s. That was around the time an interesting
gadget appeared—the personal computer. The VideoCD standard was born in the early
1990s, allowing 74 minutes of MPEG-1 encoded video to be stored on an affordable CD.
Shortly afterward, the DVD disk (and along with it, the DVD video standard) was introduced
in 1997. The step up from 700 MB to 4.7 GB on a 12 cm disk was a big step indeed. But
wait—HDTV is here as well. This is happening just when we were getting used to the idea of
DVDs on our computers or home theaters. And I’ll bet the next-generation standard will be
upon as much sooner than we can anticipate.
So let’s see—it took over 30 years to transition from radio to television, from television to
video cassettes it was 20 years. Video cassettes to VCD took 15 years and VCD to DVD a mere
six years. Clearly, new technologies are approaching fast and frequently. Virtually every piece
of information around us—audio, video, pictures or text—has transitioned from the analog
world to the realm of the ones and zeroes.
This much is clear—whether you are wondering if now is the right time to buy a DVD
player or jump onto the Blu-ray bandwagon, questions will get increasingly difficult to
answer. And that’s because consumers today have lesser amounts of time to get used to
technology waves.
We will have to collectively brace ourselves for the impending torrent. Bring it on, I say!

| Marco Angelo D’Souza


marco.dsouza@chip-india.com

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP


Contents
OCTOBER 2006

56 Picture-perfect Pixels

22 Watch what you Want! 68 Blue-eyed Babies

NEWSWIRE 68 Blue-eyed Babies graphics cards across all categories


22 Watch What you Want! This month we were part of another starting from the affordable to
With Satellite TV services picking breakthrough in optical storage the expensive.
up, your TV viewing experience will technology—Blu-ray. Check out our
change, offering you with lot more comprehensive reviews on products 80 Satellite TV
choice, comfort and convenience. based on this technology. In Infographics, we elucidate how
you can watch DVD quality movies,
30 One Solution, No Confusion 72 PC Configs bypass the cable operator, get all
McAfee works on its own philosophy A new list of best configurations your favorite channels and pay
of providing a single, proactive this month for your home, office, almost the same as you do now.
solution to a customer to safeguard productivity and gaming needs.
from intrusions and vulnerabilities.
75 The Physics of PhysX APPLICATIONS
COVER STORY The new physics engine from 82 Software Center
Ageia has been unleashed. Get A mix of some splendid applications
32 Technology in Design more firepower in your games and and tools reviewed to cater to your
A look at how technology has experience the fun of improved different computing needs.
enabled exploring new areas in-game effects.
in design—in the automotive, 88 Damn Right Distribution!
architecture and fashion industries 78 Gorgeous Graphics A review of DSL-N—a lightweight
In our Technology Landscape section and fast distribution based on Damn

HARDWARE this month, we present a guide to Small Linux that runs off a USB
thumb drive.
42 Top Gear
An interesting mélange of hardware 90 Symbian Gear
and gadgets—from the sleek Lenovo A plethora of Symbian applications
3000Q media center PC to the Altec are available to transform your Series
Lansing inMotion 9 to keep you 60 phone into an instant messenger,
entertained on the move, and lots remote or a music player. We look at
more... the noteworthy ones.

56 Picture-perfect Pixels 92 Alternative Backup


Time you adorned your desk with a Check out our two different sets of
TFT monitor! Take your pick from the tools that help you partition your
best we have brought you. 32 hard disk and save its image for an

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


108 The Third Eye

90 Symbian Gear 126 Down to the Core

exact restoration in case of a hard 112 One-Stop Recreational Zone 131 Reservoir Dogs
disk failure. Turn your computer into a living room If you’ve got what it takes to be a
entertainment spot. Instead of opting part of the Mob, here’s where you
98 Chat Security to buy a media center off the shelf, get to prove it. In this remake of
With hackers turning their attention learn how to build one all by yourself the classic movie, Reservoir Dogs
to IMs, threats like viruses, spyware from this workshop. has plenty of language, plenty of
and phishing abound. Find out how mayhem and loads of attitude.
chatting can be harmful to your PC.
UNWIND 132 Trainz
HANDS ON 126 Down to the Core For railroad buffs, here’s a chance to
Ever wondered what it takes to step into a locomotive and take full
108 The Third Eye create those visually stunning control, model your dream railroad or
If you like to keep an eye on things games? Check out our listing of the simply take a ride by the countryside.
in and around your house while best ever game engines out there
you’re away, find out how you can and how they have helped create
monitor your home with the help of some of the superb games.
| Products Tested
an IP camera from this step-by-step Hardware Standalones 42
workshop. 130 Pirates of the Caribbean Lenovo 3000Q, Nokia 6130, Kingston
K-PEX 100, Altec Lansing inMotion 9,
You can sail the high seas and
110 Image Makeover pretend you’re a pirate with this
Gigabyte 945G-S2, Canon Pixma MP550,
CoolerMaster Elite 330, Level One WCS-
You don’t have to make do with remarkably senseless hacking and 2030, Pinnacle To Go, Vantec NexStar 3
bad, unclear photographs anymore. slashing game which will take you NST-360SU, Samsung Super-Write Master
Photoshop allows you to change any deep into the world of the legendary SH-S182D
annoying details and it’s really simple. pirate Jack Sparrow.
TFT Monitors 56
LG Flatron L1515S, LG Flatron L1520B,
BenQ FP51G, Samsung SyncMaster 540N,
Regulars TCL H582B, AOC LM525, ViewSonic
Town Square 16 VP720B, Samsung SyncMaster 740N,
Letters 17 AOC LM725, Zenith Z17, BenQ FP71G +S,
Asus PM17TU, TCL 7005L12, Asus PW201,
Technology Landscape 78
ViewSonic VX2235WM, ViewSonic
Dr. CHIP 104 VP920B, ViewSonic VA 1912WB, TCL
Tips and Tricks 116 983A, AOC LM925, LG Flatron L1950SQ,
Lenovo 3000Q Game Reviews 130
ViewSonic VG2021M, Samsung
…43 SyncMaster 940BW, HP L1906, VU 19W1
Last Word 148

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP


Disk Contents
OCTOBER 2006 | VOLUME 3 | ISSUE 11

Multimedia Game Demos


AHEAD DVD RIPPER WARHAMMER 40,000: DAWN OF WAR –
GVIDEOFIX Game Demos DARK CRUSADE
KARAFUN KARAOKE CAESAR IV MYSTERY CASE FILES-PRIME SUSPECTS
COMPANY OF HEROES
Productivity JUST CAUSE Game Trailers
FONTS CALL OF DUTY 3
SMARTDRAW Linux TEST DRIVE UNLIMITED TRAILER
WORDTOYS FEDORA CORE 5 - CD2
DAMN SMALL LINUX Game Add-ons
Internet HALF LIFE 2 COASTLINE TO
GOOGLE TALK Must Haves ATMOSPHERE MOD
µTORRENT ATI CATALYST DRIVERS
NVIDIA FORCEWARE DRIVERS Movie Trailers
Mobile ADOBE AUDITION DISTRICT B13
IM+ BLUETOOTH AUTOPATCHER XP AUGUST (FULL) RED EYE
OXYGEN PHONE MANAGER AUTOPATCHER XP SEPTEMBER UPDATE
FEXPLORER MEDIA PORTAL
PSILOC TOTAL IR REMOTE

Developer
INSTALL CREATOR
PHPMAKER

Security
TREND MICRO OFFICESCAN
KASPERSKY INTERNET SECURITY
CALLINGID
Quick Quote
OCTOBER 2006 | VOLUME 3 | ISSUE 11
GENERAL MANAGER - PUBLISHING Hyderabad
Krishna Tewari Vasudevan Iyer
viyer@infomediaindia.com
EDITOR Phone: (040) 55622211 Fax: (040) 23393488
CHIP is consumer- Marco Angelo D’Souza
Kolkata

focussed and
SENIOR COPY EDITOR A K Roy
Sharmistha Dey akroy@infomediaindia.com
Phone: (033) 2468637, 2468638 Fax: (033) 2462964

friendly. By COPY EDITOR


Rosanne Rodricks New Delhi
Pranav Saran
addressing WRITERS
Ashutosh Desai, Pradosh Mitra, Sharon Lobo
pranav.saran@infomediaindia.com
Phone: (011) 55303278,79,80,82 Fax: (011) 23327884

the end-user, TEST CENTER


Anand Tuliani, Faheem Sayed, Kunal Rupera
Jitendra Gupta
jitendra.gupta@infomediaindia.com

they bridge the DESIGN


Jagdish Limbachiya, Pramod Jadhav,
CIRCULATION
National Circulation Manager
Hemali Gandhi, Manoj Tandel, Kumar Mohanani
gap between Umesh Dahiwalkar, Ravi Parmar kumar.mohanani@infomediaindia.com

manufacturing
PHOTO EDITOR SUBSCRIPTIONS
Shirish Karale Surekha Pendse, Sarita Quadros
E-mail: customercare@infomediaindia.com
and consumers MULTIMEDIA & WEB
Hemant Charya
Tel: +91 22 2423 2804 / 05 Fax: +91 22 2430 2707

SUBSCRIBE ONLINE at eshop.infomediaindia.com


Robert Dung SPECIAL PROJECTS
Managing Director, EDITOR-PROJECTS CHIP INTERNATIONAL
BenQ India Brian Pereira Editorial Consultant International
Wolfgang Su, Poccistrabe 11, 80336 Munchen
SUB-EDITOR
Charmaine Fernandes CHIP is also published in the following countries
China
WRITERS Czech Republic
Vijay George, Saroni Roy Germany
Greece
HEAD BUSINESS Hungary
Ganesh Lakshmanan Indonesia
Italy
HEAD OFFICE Malaysia
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mrugesh.patel@infomediaindia.com right to use the information published herein in any manner
whatsoever.
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hafeez.shaikh@infomediaindia.com Copyright 2004 INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP

BRANCH OFFICES For all international subscription enquiries, contact the


Bangalore subscription department, Intelligent Computing CHIP
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Phone: (080)559 7282,83,84 Fax: (080)559 7285 Intelligent Computing CHIP is printed by A. S. Vadiwala
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www.chip-india.com INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP
16 TOWN SQUARE

THIS MONTH ON chip-india.com

Town Square
Greetings dear Websters, information ranging from operating systems,
Over the years, we have seen several users come to application software, security, games, hardware
our website and contribute in their own little (or components—everything that you would find
large) way. Chief among the segments that power on our website’s forums. Best of all, you can
out website are the Know-How and the Town search through all of our forum’s contents over
Square sections. As it is so evident from the quality the last six months—all offline! And this is just
of the feedback and the depth of knowledge the beginning—along with Webaroo, we plan to
and understanding seen in the majority of the bring you regular updated versions of these Web
questions, our forums have always been a place packs. On our cover disks, you will also find Web
where like-minded techies can meet and exchange packs relating to other tech topics. To start using
ideas. these Web packs, head over to our website and
To further enhance the functionality and download the applications and packs from the
access of the information on our website, we are Webaroo link provided. You will also find these
glad to announce some exciting enhancements Web packs included on the cover disks bundled
that is born our of an association with an with our this issue. We look forward to hearing
interesting company called Webaroo. Founded your feedback on this. And happy offline searching!
in 2004, Webaroo pioneered an innovation that On our forums, we have seen a steady rise in
facilitates offline web searching on laptops the number of registered users—we have crossed
and mobile devices. That’s right—with it you 26,600 this month. ‘sumit_ind’ has posted an
can search and browse web content anywhere, interesting tip on opening Gmail faster—simply
anytime even without an Internet connection! use the URL m.gmail.com and you will open a
After downloading the Webaroo client, you can much lighter versions of Gmail, minus all the
access real Web pages with real search results on bells and whistles. Primarily intended for mobile
a variety of topics like travel, technology, lifestyle users, this site does not look all that good, but is
etc. Webaroo’s innovative algorithms analyze functional and extremely quick to load—great
web pages, selecting pages that are relevant, of when you’re pressed for time! ‘georgy786’ has
high quality and with broad coverage, providing also started a pretty interesting discussion on the
abundant information in small downloadable upcoming PS2 game console versus the Xbox 360.
‘Web packs’. You can either download the Webaroo If you need a spec-by-spec comparison on how
application and save the Web packs onto your these consoles stack up against one another, this is
laptop or mobile device (PDA/smart phone) for a good read. With the impending release of Sony’s
free, or purchase a range of devices with Webaroo new console, it will be interesting to see if this
bundled on it. Best of all, this content isn’t gaming device lives up to the hype surrounding its
static—it is updated on your device each time you Cell architecture. We also came across some neat
are connected to the Internet. discussions on hosting free websites and choosing
In association with Webaroo, we at CHIP are the right web hosting plans from ‘maheshmic88’
pleased to bring you a series of Web packs of and ‘tiger0412’ respectively. Here you will find
all the archived content from the Know-How plenty of real-world suggestions on web hosting.
section of our Forums, all the way from January Be sure to check out these new offerings on
2006 to October 2006! By installing the Webaroo our website and look out for many more such
application, you will be able to browse and search enhancements over the following weeks. ■
through any one of these Web packs that contain | Marco D'Souza

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


LETTERS 17

Letters
Dear CHIP, Hi Marco,
The reason I bought CHIP magazine this month is to I am an ardent reader of your magazine. Being
read more about the AMD-ATI deal, so that I could a computer buff, I love reading anything and
find the answers to several questions that I have such everything related to computers. And I must say your
as whether it would be wise to buy ATI chipset- team does a great job of producing amazing editorial
based motherboards instead of motherboards from content. Through it, I receive a lot of knowledge
other brands using ATO processors. However, to my about the latest technologies. The news section is a
dismay, there was nothing about the AMD-ATI deal. good melange about everything new and happening
I did, however, find the PC configuration guide really in the world of technology. I especially liked the
interesting. I will be assembling a computer shortly news snippet about how scientists have developed
and therefore it is really relevant to me. I am planning a wrist-top computer in the US. I am waiting for the
to opt for the budget configuration However, I must time it will hit the commercial market, which I’m sure
say I don’t agree with the motherboard mentioned is bound to happen in the near future as you have
in the guide. I need a motherboard with a DV port stated—“technology is getting personal” (editorial,
so that I can connect my Canon camcorder and ‘Small is Big’, August issue). I am waiting to have my
copy digital video to my computer. Can you suggest hands on it...quite literally!
a motherboard with an onboard DV port? I will be Regards,
using a socket 754 AMD Sempron CPU. Also can you Sumit Rodda
suggest a computer dealer in Lamington Road where
I can get all my computer peripherals? I am looking Dear Marco,
forward to your feedback. No, you are not dreaming or watching too many
Regards, movies (with reference to “Of Movies and Evolution”,
Mark Pinheiro Editorial, September issue). What you say makes a
lot of sense—viruses are indeed a blessing and do
Hello Mark, result in making better and stronger software. What
Thanks for writing in. Regarding your query about appears to be a problem from one angle can actually
the ATI-AMD deal, we intentionally excluded carrying prove to be beneficial from the other—clearly a case
a news item on it in our magazine. With a monthly of “a hammer shatters glass but also forges steel”.
frequency, we believe it would not make sense to The possibility of machines becoming more and
cover a subject which, by then, would have been more intelligent does exist, but I don’t believe they
dealt with extensively by every daily newspaper can gain consciousness. For example, it’s easy to build
and online technology web site. What we will be a machine that has the ability to print colors but can
doing is to monitor the fallout of this merger and it accompany the emotions that we undergo when
carry articles related to the repercussions it will we see red, white, black or orange?
have on products and technologies in their related The Perfect World is indeed a distant possibility—I
fields of platforms, processors and graphics. Do think this could be attributed to greed. Greed
look out for these in our subsequent issues. results in apathy for the next person who might
We’re glad that you liked our PC configuration be suffering. We’ve also seen numerous instances
guide. The choice of motherboard in the guide where greed has brought about immense havoc
was one that reflected a general usage scenario. and damage to humanity in the form of wars and
In your case, you have a specific need that needs strife. As the Mahatma once said, “Earth provides
to be fulfilled and might not be applicable to enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every
readers at large. Therefore, we selected a board man’s greed”. We’ve seen it happening so often
that offers a good set of general features, adequate through history—men like Hitler and Napoleon
performance and priced well. In your case, you though considered great personalities,
might want to consider a XXX motherboard, which were responsible for untold misery due to
would suit your processor and which also includes their insatiable greed. Sorry if I sound too
an onboard Firewire interface which you can use philosophical, but that’s the way of the world.
to transfer digital video from your camcorder. Regards,
Team CHIP Darshan Shinde
Umesh Dahiwalkar
OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP
20 LETTERS

Letters
Dear Darshan, for home users such tips become quite boring as
Those are interesting viewpoints you’ve raised on the there are several dedicated resources to answering
subject. However, I would beg to differ with you on these questions. Also, it’s been a while since we’ve
the possibility of machines not being able to achieve seen a software shootout in CHIP. So I request you

Now you can


some level of consciousness. Classically, consciousness to carry a security application shootout. At present,
has been a difficult human trait to peg. Scientifically, you carry standalone application reviews (such as

SMS us!
its description has always been elusive. But going by PC-cillin) each month and it isn’t easy to judge the
principles of the Swarm Theory, I believe there exists a best from reviews on security applications spread
possibility of a day dawning upon us, where there will across several issues.
Since we like knowing what’s
be so many logic elements packed on a processor and One last suggestion—please provide more
on your mind and what you
think about our magazine, we so many channels of communication existing between goodies like wallpapers and movies on your Toys
now bring you another way them that it will come startlingly close to what already CD. Also, I think your choice of games makes them
to get in touch with us. Have exists within the human brain. What is the brain more suited to the younger audience. I am sorry if I
something to say about a test after all, if not a set of billions of processing elements sounded harsh in this letter, but nothing makes me
review? Liked a feature story?
Was the workshop useful? connected via a network of high-speed links? The rate happier than to read a fully satisfying issue of CHIP!
SMS us your feedback! at which technology is evolving, I believe we are going Regards,
Here’s how: to see numerous instances of billions of transistors on Amit Patnaik
processors that drive future computers and appliances.
For comments on a story,
Couple this with the proliferation of high-speed wired Hello Amit,
create the following message:
ICCO <Your comments here> and wireless networks and there is bound to be an We’re glad you liked our cover. The level of the tweaks
Example: ICCO The cover instance of distributed processing system reaching in the cover story was intentionally chosen to be basic
story was very useful such a zenith of power that a machine might just as we like our covers to be ‘approachable’. Since it is
transcend into that elusive realm of self-discovery. meant to reach out to as wide an audience as possible,
You can write as much as you
want in your comment! Sounds fantastic, I know. But I’m inclined to believe we stay away from keeping it too technical—we
that the day may be upon us sooner than we expect. do that in other sections of our magazines like
To rate a story, product Regards, Hands-on, Hardware and Applications. But thank
review, etc look out for the Marco you for the feedback anyway—you can look forward
story tag at the base of each
article and use it as follows: to interesting, in-depth articles on a variety of
ICCP <Story tag> <Rating> Dear CHIP, technologies and products that will be more suited to
Example: ICCP PWS 5 The September issue was super to say the least. your level of understanding in the forthcoming issues.
Brilliant magician on the cover too! Although I think Your request for a shootout on security
The “Story tag” is mentioned
the theme of the cover story was good, I believe applications is an interesting one. Reviewing an
at the base of every story
in the magazine and the it could have been implemented better. I thought anti-virus of firewall applications is one of the most
“Rating” is on a scale of 1 the tricks especially on speeding up Windows and complex software tests, requiring the use of special
to 5. startup programs were a bit too ‘basic’—something I test resources that are not generally available
imagine almost every normal PC user already knows outside of the anti-virus laboratories. However, we
Finally, send your messages
to 7007. about. There were no registry tweaks and no tweaks are working on the modalities on how to conduct
for Nvidia-based graphic cards either. I understand such a test in conjunction with external resources.
Cheers! that you cater to the not-so-geeky folks, but the And yes, do let us know how you liked our
tricks you provided were known to me since the time in-depth test on Intel’s Core 2 Duo processor
I was in the eighth standard. (“Crowning Conroe”, September issue). We are
Besides, these tricks are easily available on any eagerly looking forward to your feedback.
Windows web site; you should therefore have Best regards,
provided some expert tweaks on Windows like Team CHIP
70 07
n co v
er s to
ry changing registry settings to speed up your Internet
at w as a fu
CO Th
IC connection or to speed up menus and change the With hundreds of SMSes sent to us, this new feedback
more advanced settings in Window XP. system has evoked tremendous response. Going
I have also noticed feel that you include too many ahead, we’re using what you’re saying to incorporate
changes into our content. Keep it coming!
articles on Office. True, MS Office is important but

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


22 NEWSWIRE

Watch what you want!


Satellite TV is all set to change your viewing experience, so you can watch your
favorite programs any time you want or even repeatedly should you feel like it

M
ost of us still remember the rotating to 160 channels although you pay the same
Doordarshan logo we saw on our amount as you are paying now. You can choose
televisions a few years ago. It’s your language from a channel which offers
been a while that we have graduated from multilingual broadcasting— you can make
Doordarshan’s six to nine pm broadcasting to a choice between Hindi and English while
24x7 cable broadcasting. Soon you will shift watching Cartoon Network as it broadcasts in
from the cable operator’s controlled program both languages.
distribution to satellite TV, where you will get Satellite TV services also offer a bundle
to choose your own channels with DVD quality of interactive games. You can shift from TV
image, CD quality sound clarity and a whole lot viewing to gaming and play games with just the
more. Many already have. remote.
The world has been familiar with satellite TV Interactivity is one of the key features
for a long time now but it took a while for it to offered by satellite TV. For example, if you are a
arrive in India. The reason was slow penetration Tata Sky subscriber, you can watch Star News,
of the television, lack of proper infrastructure Aaj Tak and NDTV India—all on a single screen in
and lack of proper technical know-how. four separate grids. All you need to do is select a
However, the situation has changed now. grid to watch a particular channel.
Currently, there are 110 million TV viewers in As Tata Sky service is a joint venture between
our country out of which 67 million subscribe to Tata and the Star network, you can view Star
cable TV and 43 million still receive terrestrial News similarly. In four grids you can watch
broadcast. Besides, now we even have better ‘Current News’, ‘Top Stories’, ‘Headlines’ and
hardware like plasma screens and dish antennas ‘Features’, all broadcast by Star News. Out of
that can digital signals. Also, today’s viewers are these four grids, the ‘Current News’ is Live and
more demanding in terms of picture and sound the others are 30 minutes behind schedule.
quality. They can differentiate between CD Tata Sky has collaborated with ESPN to offer
and DVD quality images, radio and CD quality an interactive sports experience as well. Named
audio. Considering all these factors, the launch ‘Active Sports’, this service will allow you to
of satellite TV services couldn’t have come at a watch a live match, highlights and a virtual
more perfect time. screen at the same time. You can watch the
To avail the satellite TV broadcast service, history of a tournament, statistics of a player,
you need to install a personal dish antenna and team and even choose commentators.
a set-top box, both of which are offered by the
service provider. After that adjust the antenna
to match the broadcast frequency offered by the
service provider and the entertainment content
will be streamed to your TV. The dish receives
the signal sent from the service provider and
passes it to the set-top box. The box has a
computer chip, which first decodes the signal
and displays the content on your TV screen.
In India, Tata Sky and Dish TV are two of the
service providers currently offering this service.
You can contact the service provider and place
your preferred list of channels to view them. Tata Sky’s interactive news section also lets you
check your horoscope while watching news
There are plenty of benefits—you get up
Jagdish Limbachiya
INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006
NEWSWIRE 23

and program synopsis. You can create a have to pay an initial amount of Rs 2,999
list of your favorite programs scheduled for the dish and the box, Rs 1,000 for
in advance to watch them when they will installation and activation of the service
be broadcast. and an additional Rs 200 for subscription
If you get tired of surfing the entire to one TV set. If you want to add more
gamut of channels, you can even create sets, then you need to pay another Rs 100.
a customized surf list of the channels Monthly charges are Rs 200 for which
you watch most. This way you can create you need to buy a prepaid card similar to
multiple customized surf lists and store a mobile prepaid card. Scratch it, call the
them with different names. For example, help desk number, spell out the 16 digit
you can create a surf list by selecting only number and get your account refilled. If
the sports channel and name it ‘Sports’. you want to check you account balance,
Dish TV lets you download games and Similarly, you can select only the English you can even do that on your TV, where
transfer them to the receiver through USB
movie channels and create another list you will get a complete and detailed
On the other hand, Dish TV offers with the name ‘English movies’. account information. Besides, for any sort
services like storing TV programs on your You can enjoy the “Movie on Demand” of technical problems, you can call the
external hard disk which you connect to service offered by the available satellite helpdesk number and get account related
the receiver. Dish TV offers digital video TV providers. To watch a movie of your information or report problems.
recording service allowing you to extract choice, you need to check the list of If you want to subscribe to Dish TV’s
images, music and videos from the TV current movies that are available with service then you have the option of
programs and store on the hard disk. You selecting from their bouquet of packages
can also pause live TV and watch your ranging from Rs 3,090 to Rs 3,490. Once
favorite programs at your own leisure. You the service is activated, you can customize
can record programs to a maximum of six the charges for every month by selecting
channels simultaneously. The channels the channels. For example, if you choose
can be either six free channels or three to view only the news channel, you
free and three pay channels. To record, can do that at a monthly cost of Rs 60.
you need to specify the date and time Alternatively, if you want to watch only
of your desired program to the Digital movies, you need to pay only Rs 55—
Video Recorder (part of the receiver). On channels such as Zee Premier, Zee Action
the specified date and time, the recorder and Zee Classic will be included only.
automatically will start recording all the For monthly payments, you can choose
desired programs. Tata Sky service lets you create a favorite between sending an SMS and paying by
channel list comprising 20 channels
Satellite TV is mostly about credit card. If you want, you can even pay
convenience. It offers you a program guide your service provider and then call and by cash, cheque or money order.
for all the channels you have chosen, one order them, stating the movie name and Satellite TV is slowly picking up in
week in advance. If you are a Satellite TV your preferred time. You have to pay an India. While it offers you convenience,
user, you get to know about the program addition amount for this service. The comfort and choice of what you want to
schedules, which comprise the program amount varies between providers. For watch, it is too early to tell whether it will
name, program channel, date, day, time example, Dish TV charges you Rs 40 for be everybody’s cup of tea. The primary
Hindi movies and Rs 50 for English movies. challenge it may face is the counter move
from cable operators—this is because any
Subscription viewer would be thrilled at being able
To subscribe to Satellite TV, you need to to avail of the service with its additional
call the service provider. On receiving benefits and still pay the same amount
your request, they will send their trained they’d been paying their cable operators.
technicians to install the dish antenna Also, the initial installation cost may still
and the set-top-box at your place. If you be very high for a lot of users. We have
are looking for a connection for multiple yet to see how service providers are going
TV sets, you will need multiple set-top- to face these challenges. As of now it is
boxes—one for each set. for us to wait and watch how the flotilla
The cost for installation may be more of unique services offered bring about a
You can order a movie of your choice to than what you are paying for cable TV. change in the viewing experience. 
broadcast at your specified time
To subscribe to Tata Sky’s service, you | Pradosh Mitra

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP

SMS us! Story code: NFS (See Page 20 for details)


24 NEWSWIRE

The mobile vendor A phone environment


I f you thought only canned coke could
tumble down a vending machine, think
again. Motorola has come up with their
D on’t forget to unplug your charger once
the phone battery is full. Influence your
neighbor to do the same. And if the chain
chargers once the battery is full.
Apart from educating the consumers
the group will have to examine the current
“Instantmoto”, a vending machine for cell continues then it will save enough electricity recycling strategy and will increase the
phone handsets. to light up a thousands homes. So states number of used phones that are returned
These machines work like automated Nokia as they unveiled a new industry group for recycling. The new recycling strategy
selling machines. In terms of size they are that aims to make mobile phones more that the group will come up with will have
three times the regular vending machines environmentally friendly. an incentive structure, which the group
and house 12 different types of models This group is a joint effort feels will increase the recycle rate.
and 18 accessories. of Motorola, France Telecom, The program also includes a
Instantmoto, works on the principles Vodafone Group, TeliaSonera, reduction in the use of hazardous
of robotics and has a robotic arm. and others. It is created as part of material, used to manufacture
Company a European Commission project phones. For example Nokia decided
spokesperson, aimed at uniting members of to stop using any components in
Juan Campbell said different industries to work on its phones that contain a certain
that this is going reducing the environmental impact type of environmentally harmful
to be the future of their products. chemical flame retardant.
of convenience As a part of the program this Hemali Gandhi Environmental organizations
purchasing, a new group will impart education to their including World Wildlife Fund,
concept of purchase phone users on how to use their cell phones the Finnish Environmental Institute, the
from the house of in an environmentally friendly way. The European Consumers’ Organization and
Motorola. group will also conduct research on the the UK’s Department of Environment, Food
As a buyer, you different ways to do this. They will display and Rural Affairs are also part of the new
do not need to wait reminders on the phone to unplug the initiative.
in a store to get the

Get your Office free


Jagdish Limbachiya
attention of one
of the sales persons. You can select the
model of your choice and use your credit
card to buy it. You can make a choice
between anything from mid-range to
M icrosoft is now mulling over plans to
offer its application Microsoft Works
for free. It has up until now steered clear
updated information.
The company is putting in a lot of
plans to get ‘Works’ to work out for them
high-end models including the Razr and of this area but with the recent increase in so that they can give fair competition to
the Q and you need not worry about the freely available software it has decided to Google’s online free applications. To keep
service. You can purchase any model and jump on the bandwagon. it free Microsoft is planning to pull in
then decide on which service provider’s The application is a basic suite of advertisements and display them on the
service you’ll be using. If you are starting business software that often comes platform of this application. Alternatively,
a new service then you can go online and preloaded on inexpensive they are planning to make
sign up with any package of any service consumer PCs. So far plans it subscription-based.
providers, which includes T-Mobile, include a number of options to Currently, the application is
Verizon and Cingular. You generally need a woo entry-level users; so says distributed to users at a price
dedicated handset for the stated service. Alan Yates, general manager of $50.
But these service providers have loosened of Microsoft Information They are already
their strategy to promote Instantmoto, Worker Business Strategy. experimenting with Office
so even if your handset is not a dedicated This application package Live, an application for
one you’d still be able to sign up with will have email client, a small businesses, which will
their services. calendar, a word processor, enanle them to create e-mail
All you need to do is pick a phone spreadsheets and a web accounts, web sites and
style using the touch screen and make browser. The application also collaborate on projects.
your payment. Motorola started this has a library of creative presentations like However, they are bit worried on how
pilot program which it will expand in the projects and will allow you to edit digital to position this application. They fear that
future should it turn out to be successful. photographs. If you want to do some Works might hamper the revenue that the
Currently one such machine is installed at research for school or even for personal company currently earns from the licenses
one of the shopping malls in Chicago. interests the application assists you with of Office and Windows.

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


NEWSWIRE 25

Movies on wheels Games phones play


Y ou won’t have reason to crib about
the image quality on your mobile video
player anymore. Archos’ new Generation
and 160 GB versions. This will make the
504 heavier than the 604. The Archos web
site states that the 40 GB model weighs
F orget about the virtual games that
you’ve been playing on your mobile
this far. The GMAE
4 line of portable media is set to take your 11.2 ounces. phone is the latest
mobile video viewing experience to a new On the other hand the 404, differs in type of phone
level. Their products Archos 604, 504, and screen size. The size of its screen is 3.5 on the scene
404 portable media players can record and inches and displays video at a 320 X 240 where your game
display DVD-quality digital video. resolution with a 4:3 aspect ratio. content will not
The Archos 640 has a The Archos product line can be attached be restricted to
4.3 TFT wide-screen LCD, with an optional digital video the screen. The
with a screen resolution recorder that lets the device phone has a unique
of 480 X 272 and can record TV programs in key pad where the buttons can move
display at 16:9 aspect MPEG-4 format. The and change positions. This feature of the
ratio. It weighs 9 ounces digital video recorder phone has generated a completely new
and measures 5.1 x 3.0 station will transfer type of gaming experience.
x 0.65 inches. The Archos 604 can play contents onto the hard drive of the Archos The phone allows you to play the 15
MPEG-4, WMV, and MPEG-2 video files 604 and 404. The product supports the grid puzzle, a game where you need to
stored on its 30 GB hard drive. The control Macrovision DRM found on DVDs, this arrange the number 1 to 15 in order on a
buttons for managing tracks and programs allows a user to record and play back a 16 squared field.
are located at the right, with full battery program on the Archos itself. The right positions of each button are
charge, it can continuously play video at Archos also plans to announce a Wi-Fi- marked underneath the button so that you
low brightness for 4.5 hours and music for enabled version of the 604, with a touch do not have to struggle to find the right
17.5 hours. screen and wireless networking capabilities place for the right button.
Archos 504 differs only in storage sizes. for web browsing, media sharing, and The phone has been designed by Dima
The Archos 504 will come in 40 GB, 80 GB e-mail. Komissarov of plusminus.com.

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP

SMS us! Poll: Do you play games on a console? (See Readers’ Letters for details)
26 NEWSWIRE

The fabric farm Times is a-changing


I f you consider yourself an environmentalist
and you fancy nylon, rayon or polyester
outfits you may have to think twice about
W hile the debate continues about the
existence and necessity of news in
print, newspaper readers have something
within the text (with The Times’ proprietary
font) as integral elements, navigation
options are more like you find on a paper
your choice of clothing. All these materials else to talk about. “Times Reader” a new than on a web site.
are by-products of petroleum which add on application parented by The New York Times The most impressive aspect of the Reader
to the consumption of the fuel. and Microsoft lets you read the same news is its navigation. Tom Bodkin, The New York
But take heart, two engineers have come but only on a standalone digital reader. The Times’ design director, headed the design
up with a feasible alternative. Narendra application attempts to provide an onscreen team to retain the narrative form which is
Reddy and Yiqi Yang, both textile researchers reading experience that is as familiar as so typical of The Times. The narrative form is
at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, have the printed page, only more versatile and entirely an editor’s choice. The editor decides
suggested using farm waste to manufacture interactive. which story comes on the front page and
these fabrics. They stated that stems from Microsoft used its new Windows which comes at the rear, and the stories
rice plants and feathers plucked from Presentation Foundation technology, a on the digital reader are given the same
chickens can be used for the process. feature of the next version of Microsoft amount of importance as they would receive
Windows that improves the graphics with a printed paper.
handling and user The contents are
interface behaviors of downloaded from the
desktop applications. web, but users do not
The application need to be online all
tries, as far as possible, the time to use the
to stick to the print application. The Reader
paper layout. On uses the web site’s feed
screen, artwork and and updates the news
photography run throughout the day.
Fabric can now be created using

A malware greeting
alternative materials like rice straw and
chicken feathers

Reddy said that every year four thousand


pounds of feathers are produced in the
United States alone. But there aren’t too
T he greeting card you received in your
inbox may not necessarily be sent with
good intentions. It may be a disguised
download gets complete the card appears
on the screen.
The download of the software happens
many uses for them. Projects like converting malware. Such is the inference of Roger so fast that a user fails to realize that he has
farm waste to fabric will make the fiber Thompson, chief technology officer at been redirected first. Only if he scrutinizes
industry more sustainable. the security software maker, Exploit the link, will he be able to make that out.
The engineers said that chicken Prevention Labs. The attacker, yet to be found, exploited
feathers and rice straw actually have many a flaw in Microsoft’s Windows operating
similarities to existing natural fibers. Rice system to drop the spy software and a
straw, like cotton and linen, is mainly rootkit to hide it on PCs. Only those users
composed of the dense plant fiber cellulose who have installed a MS06-014 patch,
and chicken feathers resemble wool which is released in May, are not vulnerable to this
made up of keratin, a hard structural protein particular silent drive-by installation of
that is also found in hoofs and fingernails. malicious software.
Like other conventional fibers, feathers and This attack appears to have started in
rice straw can be treated with chemicals April, and the attackers send a new set of
and enzymes to break down unessential After checking a few dozen emails, emails every week. Each week the attackers
components, and then spun into thread with Thompson found out that apparently these appear to collect a 200MB file with freshly
existing textile machinery. mails looked like regular greetings from captured information from a server.
The production costs of these fibers services like Yahoo or Blue Mountain. When Thompson, however managed to identify
will be much less. Each fiber needs to be users clicked on such e-card links, the way the server and reported the matter to the
processed chemically and spun to make the they generally do, the link sends users to Australian and U.S. authorities.
threads. Rice straw and chicken feathers can malicious sites. The site silently downloads Exploit Prevention Lab has identified
also be treated in chemicals, for which the a malware that is capable of capturing that nearly every Australian bank were
existing infrastructure will work just fine. the user’s key strokes. Once the software compromised since April.

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


28 NEWSWIRE

Playing it safe Fashionable fit


W atching American football has
become so much easier with
technology having infiltrated all aspects of
H ere is something for the fashion
conscious, a body scanner to measure
your body so that you get the best fit.
8.4 percent of the 6,318 women scanned
possessed that shape.
Cynthia Istook, a North Carolina State
the game. This means that we can easily Lenda Jo Connell, apparel product University textiles professor and lead
make out computer-generated yellow lines development specialist from Auburn researcher identified nine body shapes,
or scroll through scores or get myriad other University, said that the scanners before boiling it down to four dominant
statistics of the players and the game. Now take body measurements that types, which are, rectangle, spoon,
it’s about to get easier on the field as well. are converted into patterns from inverted triangle and hourglass to
Joseph (Trey) Crisco, director of the which the garments are cut. represent the main body shapes .
bioengineering laboratory at Brown Connell added that the scanners Brooks Brothers has been using
University along with Rick Greenwald an help save a lot of time because TC2 in its stores for almost three years.
analyst with Oracle Corporation, developed otherwise it is a one-on-one, Custom-tailored suits are fitted for
the HIT (Head Impact Telemetry) System, hands-on process. The scanners customers within minutes of their
based on tiny sensors made by Analog line up with mass customization, stepping inside the device’s chamber.
that are beginning to link The scanners are being used by
together so that you can get custom pattern-making fashion
scanned, and that information is designing firms. Nova Scotia-based
used to produce a garment. Unique Patterns, recently opened its
These scanners, developed by TC2, and first Fit Place in Hudson, Ohio. Located inside
used in a two-year survey found that the a retail Jo-Ann Store, Fit Place is the first
women’s fashion industry is shifting from permanent installation of a Unique Patterns
its hourglass-figure paradigm. Research bodyskanner, which captures a person’s
findings showed that the hourglass figure is measurements and uses them to custom
Devices, where six miniature air bags inside a the least dominant shape for women. Only draft sewing patterns.
helmet will record how often, how hard, and
where the helmet has been hit.
These helmets send signals to a sideline
Ring in the cards
computer, which keeps track of the number
of hits and their severity. The computer also
alerts a coach or trainer if the helmet has
Y ou can keep your set-top box aside,
the Cable Card is here and it is going
to replace the box that you have been
been struck especially violently. using so far.
Crisco’s company Simbex Inc of These cards are just like the regular PC
Lebanon, N.H., has partnered with sporting- cards that fit into newer television sets
goodsmaker Riddell to offer the safety and allow you to watch all cable channels
system. Simbex maintains a national without the box. The card has both the
database that has recorded some 250,000 hardware and the software to decrypt the
head impacts. By keeping a track of helmet broadcasting signal. One of the benefits A cable card offers the same functionality
hits, Greenwald hopes to find insights of the card is that it is a sleek piece that as that of a set-top box
that could lead to modified rules, coaching can easily fit into your television. Also it is service provider where users can provide
techniques and better equipment. less expensive compared to a set-top box. feedback, take part in online contests
Another hazard involves intensive drills There is no hassle with installation and and so on.
conducted during hot weather, which can finally the electronics manufacturers can The cards that are deemed to be
lead to serious overheating. So Florida- sell devices capable of tuning in to your released early will have these features; till
based HQ Inc has developed the CorTemp full cable lineup directly. then you can install two cards so you can
monitoring system. The system comprises a However, these cards do have watch a program with one and use the
hand held receiver and small pill like sensors, their own disadvantages. They are other for recording.
powered by a hearing aid sized battery. completely a one-way system, which In order to use the card a user needs
Players can swallow these pills which implies that you will not be able to to have a new television as well. Since all
track body temperature extremely get the interactive screen of listings or new television sets do not have such slots
accurately. The pills emit radio signals which order any pay-per-view program. The ready, only the ones which are marked
are received by the handheld device, where good thing is that these cards will allow “Digital Cable Ready” can be used for
the temperature is read. you to communicate with your cable this purpose.

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


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30 NEWSWIRE

One solution, no confusion


A concept that has been adopted by McAfee to address the consumer’s need for a
one-stop solution for security

M
cAfee has been providing security worldwide. The timeline when a vulnerability
solutions in the country for many is exposed, to the point when it is exploited
years now and its products have has started shrinking. A signature file could
pervaded so many desktops, workstations and not be generated fast enough if an attack was,
servers that I really do not need to explain what say, a 3-minute one. By the time any vendor
they are into. But even though you may be creates an antidote it will be an hour since the
aware of the fact that McAfee is the company attack and there will probably be ten versions
that “sells anti-virus software” for your desktop of it. This was when AV was very reactive
or workstation, it does not just stop at that. in nature. The only way to solve this was to
| Kartik Shahani
Director Sales, India & SAARC Kartik Shahani (Director Sales, India & SAARC) block the ‘root’ and this was done with IPS. IPS
explained how the thought process of a (Intrusion Prevention System) has become a
company that is totally focused on providing very general term today but we were the first
AV solutions has evolved over the years as ones to come up this system. We did that using
intrusions have become more sophisticated. two companies—Introvert and Entercept. The
Total Protection Mr Shahani stressed on these changes that former came up with IPS technology on the
is not a suite of have helped make what McAfee is today. network side. But that was not good enough
because attacks like an SQL injection, which will
products. It is a Virus Growth Trend look valid when you go through the network.
single product KS: Initially there was an exploratory phase It was required to have a ‘host-based’ intrusion
wherein viruses were pure nuisance value. This prevention also and Entercept provided this.
moved on to create real trouble, usually done Now we have a host-based and a network-
by sending mass mails. Now it has taken a based IPS.
serious turn with financial gain as the objective. IPS actually blocks the vulnerability. We took
Anti-phishing, spyware, adware are all made the IPS technology and moved it into the AV
for financial gain. There are more instances of making it proactive. The minute a vulnerability
tools like key loggers that try to gain sensitive is blocked then any virus variants will not affect
information. There are many more avenues the machine. In December 2005, we detected
to attack because of the kind of devices, vulnerability for the 32-Gen virus, it was
which have changed. The number of devices patched and early this year the MyWife virus
connecting to a network has increased. This struck. Machines installed with our IPS-based
results in innovative forms of attacks targeted AV products were the only ones that were
at these devices (access points). not affected. The technology of signatures
Earlier, an attack was effective only when was also implemented in IPS because it is the
involved some sort of interaction. Today, fastest way to removing any infections in files
intrusions do not require any interaction at that are to be scanned. This cross-pollination
all. Blended attacks—where a Trojan and bot of technologies has improved the AV’s
is combined—have increased steadily. These throughput.
might not even activate on the PC immediately.
This has been the scene on the desktop front. Enforcing Policies
It might gradually take on a similar pattern for KS: McAfee then acquired a vulnerability
the mobile users also. management and analysis company called
Foundstone. The next thing that we did
The Proactive Approach after making Foundstone our vulnerability
KS: We found that virus attacks were getting management tool, was introduce the McAfee
faster in terms of its implementation Policy Enforcer (MPE). This is an “end point

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


NEWSWIRE 31

protection” product. This is meant for users NAC (Network Access Control). The problem was
who plug-in to an office network. This is very that it required recognition on a hardware level.
essential if you have a large number of visitors If you had a router from 3Com and a switch McAfee is
(working on a contract basis) logging into from Cisco—it would not work. 3Com router
your network. You cannot allow them to log did not support the solution. You needed to not looking at
in if their machines do not comply with the have hardware that supported Cisco’s solution detection only.
organization’s security policies. But they have for trusted networks. Trusted networks would
to have access to network so that they can only work on Catalyst switches over 6500-series.
We are looking at
do the work the organization has employed This meant that customers who liked the idea solutions
them to do. The system is first checked to of a trusted network were confronted with
see if it complies with the requirements of a huge expense because of the prospect of a
the organization. If it does not, it goes into a complete hardware upgrade. We came up with
“quarantine” mode. Only after it is completely a software-only solution called NAC—which is
patched up it is allowed out of quarantine. agnostic to whatever switch/router is used in a
network. It can be implemented at a fraction of
Simplified Administration the cost that would otherwise have to be spent
KS: SiteAdvisor (protects your browser from in the scenarios mentioned above. You can have
spyware and phishing sites) is integrated with a mixed network environment and NAC will still
the rest of our products. If you have it on a work well along with MPE.
gateway then you - as a corporate - can decide
that employees should not access any file/site A single product
that is assigned as “red”. A system like this can KS: We noticed a lot of customers had one
be easily enforced at the gateway with the help grouse – every time they approached us there
of a network-wide policy. The policy template is would be one more product to buy and install.
provided by PreventSys (a risk and compliance So if you need an anti-virus you would install
management company McAfee acquired an AV and if it was spyware then you would
recently). This is not domain-based or IP-based, have to install anti-spyware. The list could go
therefore it becomes easier to administer. on—when would it end? At the end of all this
Let’s take an example of a company that the PC will full of these “anti-solutions”, eating
needs to adhere to certain security guidelines up system resources leaving the user with no
in order to achieve an objective. The rules space to run other applications. This was a
that need to be followed are set by using a cause for concern.
‘compliance template’ – made with policy- We released Total Protection (in April this
enforcing and management software like year)—one agent which included anti-virus/
Preventsys or Foundstone. The products are able malware/spyware/adware/phishing, etc. Total
to audit systems constantly so as to make sure Protection is not a suite of products —it is a
that the desktops continue being compliant to single product. It collectively uses 40 percent
the template that was created. If a user/desktop less resources than all the separate products
does not comply to a parameter in the policy, installed on a system. If you were to buy any
then a report will be generated stating the McAfee product it would communicate with
vulnerability and the reason for the lapse. ePO (ePolicy Orchestrator). Every technology
McAfee is not only looking at detection only. that we procure is pushed into this reporting
We are looking at providing solutions that have module. This is better than having different
prevention attached to it – IPS does exactly that. consoles for the gateway, host, signatures, etc.
Effectively, you have a single “agent”. This
means to keep your system secure all you need
A trusted network solution to do is download a single “DAT” file to update
KS: Cisco has been stressing on the “trusted the firewall, AV, anti-spyware, etc. 
networks” concept for a while now. It is about | Ashutosh Desai

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP

SMS us! Story code: NFM (See Page 20 for details)


32

Technology in
Dign Good design is something
that has timeless appeal,
striking a resonant chord
not just in designers, but with
consumers at large. We take a
look at how creative folks are
increasingly using technology to
better their art
Coverstory

Jagdish Limbachiya

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


TECHNOLOGY IN DESIGN | COVERSTORY 33

A
rt and science are generally considered diametrically
opposite on the intellectual plane. Art is generally
associated with aesthetics whereas science or technology
is generally associated with gadgets and other physical
implementation. But today the difference can be easily spotted
in our day-to-day lives. According to the dictionary, one of the
definitions of art is, “A nonscientific branch of learning; one of the
liberal arts”. This clearly states that art and science have always
been considered to be completely different disciplines. However,
things are changing—with technology being an increasingly
integral part of our daily lives, the artistic caliber behind the
products we use today are becoming as important as the
technology that drives them—a kind of a Yin and Yang between
two hitherto disparate worlds. Besides technically advanced
products incorporating greater amounts of design in them, we can
also see several examples of technology being used in the design
process itself—and to good effect.
Take the case of the cellular phone—there was a time when
the most important characteristic of a mobile device was the
audio quality and the strength of the signal. Less than 10 years
ago, cellular phones were sold on the basis of signal quality and
features. Today, while these parameters are still of importance,
there is another factor that has worked its way into the buying
process—design and ergonomics. Two closely related fields,
they have come to the fore solely because technology has
moved from the science labs to the end user. Most consumers
today take performance and technical features as a given; it is
the overall design and usability of products that swing most
buying decisions. Look around, you will chance upon several
such examples where design often takes precedence over
technology. Even in the automotive industry, car design is perhaps
as important a selling point as the power of the engine or the
fuel efficiency. This trend shows no sign of abating—the more
technology reaches the masses, the greater will be the need for
products to be designed to appeal to humans.
Coupled with the strides in desktop computing technology,
the act of designing products has also undergone a drastic
change. Falling prices and easy availability of hardware and
software have resulted in computers now being used at every
stage of the design process. Best of all, you needn’t own a design
firm to be able to access these technologies—many of them are
commercially viable even for smaller enterprises. The playing
field has certainly been leveled.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular disciplines of art
and delve into how technology is making a difference in bettering
work of the artists in these fields.

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SMS us! Story code: CRS (See Page 20 for details)


34 COVERSTORY | TECHNOLOGY IN DESIGN

Have you ever experienced the thrill of cars designed with aesthetics in mind was The engine was positioned from the rear
driving a fast car? Ever gone out on a long the Benz Velo. Its body was designed with to the front and the concept of a bonnet
drive after you are stressed out due to distinct curves—a definite deviation from came into the picture.
work? Or did you ever whistle when you the angular construction characteristics The cars during the World War period
saw a sports car whiz by? There are a myriad of other cars at the time. Leather was a used a design where all parts of the
of emotions that come to the fore while prevalent medium for designing seats. automobile were neatly incorporated into
driving or beholding a piece of automotive Aesthetics was now beginning to take equal the body chassis. Their body designs did not
art. We explore the birth of such exotic cars. footing as functionality. change much in this era but changes to the
Automobile design is an applied art Fast forward a few years and we saw internal combustion engines made them
dedicated to the design of transport the brass age in car design. This age more powerful. Cars of this era looked more
vehicles like cars, bikes, trucks, buses, basically saw cars whose radiators, lights or less like boxes. But during the same era
etc. People used to travel in carriages and wheels were designed using this the automobile design industry witnessed
that were pulled by horses as a mode alloy. This design gained popularity as a revolution with the Volkswagen Beetle
of transportation before automobiles it was more functional than iron (it was car. This was the first car that had a
were invented. Ever since the Internal more resistant to corrosion). Besides, curved shaped body as it broke away from
Combustion Engine was invented in 1806, brass has a close resemblance to gold but conventional car designs. The curves helped

Automotive
design

the concept of self-powered carriages is fractionally priced. These improved its aesthetics; this concept is being used in
was only a dream. Karl Benz constructed aesthetics tickled the fancy of buyers of many modern day cars. It was also speedy
an automobile powered by the Otto that era. The Ford Model T, awarded the and had plenty of features for its size at a
gasoline engine in Germany in 1885; he most exemplary car design of the century, great price point.
was later credited with the invention of belonged to this era. Also, the Model The post-war period saw the making
the modern automobile. T was the first American car that was of cars that emphasized an aerodynamic
In the early days, cars were generally made up of vanadium steel. Vanadium body design. Designers also started to
a conversion of a horse carriage and even steel had three times the strength of experiment with different shapes and
looked like one; the only difference was the alloys used by other American car sizes while designing a car. The mini
an internal combustion engine mounted manufacturers. Best of all, even though car concept of the Beetle also gained
on the rear end of the carriage replaced these cars used vanadium steel and brass popularity leading to compact cars like
the horses. This was the veteran era of fittings, they were affordable for the the Mini Cooper and the Fiat 500. The 60s
automobiles. Cars designed during the masses. It was during this time that Henry saw a race for raw power with cars like the
1890s to the early 1900s belonged to this Ford introduced the assembly line concept Ford Mustang and the Chevrolet Camaro.
era. These vehicles were designed more in automobiles, forever changing the way During the time, many European car
with functionality in mind rather than in which cars were built and cutting down manufacturers blended the aesthetics and
aesthetics. One of the first production chassis assembly time by a factor of ten. performance of a car into one body—

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


TECHNOLOGY IN DESIGN | COVERSTORY 35

especially the Jaguars and the Ferraris. perspective sketches of a car. Devices like a other CAM/CAE software and with the
Today most cars are manufactured Wacom tablet or other such input devices help of specialized equipment where
for utilitarian purposes but with an are often used to draw this 2D perspective. a prototype model of the same can be
accent on the design as well. Body styles This facilitates easy digitization of created at any scale required. High-end
have changed in the modern era. Four sketches. The advantage of working peripherals like 3D scanners are capable
types—the hatchback, sedan, minivan, and in the digital ream are manifold—it of converting live models into 3D meshes
sport utility vehicle—dominate today’s allows designers to incorporate changes that can be imported into 3D application
market and are relatively recent concepts. to images in real time, colors can software. This saves plenty of time during
All originally emphasized practicality but be auditioned on images and many the prototype creation process. According
have now mutated into vehicles that are parameters can be changed. Thus subtle to Dilip Chabbria, a typical headlamp
styled across the various segments with modifications to the sketch can be of a car typically has 35 components.
the consumer in mind. visualized in a very short time allowing the Through the use of computers, the
A modern-day car is not only designed designer to better visualize the product process from the ideation stage to CAD
for great aesthetics but also features safety, and come up with prototypes quicker. stage and then to the rapid prototyping
fuel economy and most importantly the The drawing is taken to the third route is completed in about 15 days as
audience or purpose the car will be used dimension where a 3D surface model is opposed to two months without the use

| Dilip Chabbria
Founder, DC Design

Technology
usage has granted
designers more time
to concentrate on
the actual design
rather than its
implementation
for. Technology has certainly played a created to get a basic idea of how the car of technology. “Over the last seven years,
significant role in the development of these will look like. If any changes in design are all our projects have been facilitated by
cars—the ability to create more products required, a designer falls back to the pen computers. To give you an example, a
and alternatives with a given time, cost and paper technique for optimization, breakthrough milestone was the Aston
and available resources. Let’s take a peek at sensitivity and customization. Various 3D Martin project—the design was not just
how technology is used in the design of a modeling software like 3D Studio Max, in CAS form (Computer Aided Styling),
modern-day car. Maya, Cinema4D, LightWave, etc are used but our USP was the fact that we could
A car design artist first receives a brief of for creating the model. Specialized software integrate the hand crafting steel process
what a target audience requires in the car. like Alias Auto Studio is also used for car- with the digital data, ensuring very
This would include the purpose of the car, specific 3D modeling and design. Customers precise and high quality surfaces through
the price, application, driving conditions, can preview the model design with a very our in-house CMM (Computer Measuring
etc. Then a car design artist first creates a high level of detail, made possible by the Machine) which works in 3D,” said he.
2D design on paper to create a skeletal idea excellent capabilities of these modeling The use of computers not only cuts
of how the vehicle would look. This stage software. Almost all of the automotive down the number of iterations needed,
includes several iterations and alternates. projects today are accomplished using but evaluation of quality also no longer
2D design software like Corel Painter or this methodology. remains a subjective issue since it is
Adobe Photoshop are also used to create 2D The 3D model can be imported using digitally measured.

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP


36 COVERSTORY | TECHNOLOGY IN DESIGN

In his book, The World is Flat, Thomas to be modified on paper—a massively virtually evaluate how every material used
Friedman clearly enunciates how different time-consuming process. After finishing enhances the design in its totality. Best of
the world is today from what it was the drawings, architects hand delivered all, this happens before a single brick is laid.
20 years ago. Shorter distances, easy the blueprints to structural and service A panoply of software ranging from
accessibility and new discoveries—it’s a consultants who suggested the requisite 3DS MAX, Softimage, 3DS Viz, Photoshop,
world which has place for the fastest, the changes, all of which would, once again, be Premiere, Form Z, Sketchup, Autocad, etc
most competent and the most cost- modified by hand. Clients were required to enable architects to explore every facet
effective—where web-enabled workflow place their complete faith in the architect’s of their designs. 3D animation software
tools enable utilization of the best talent vision—the actual concept remained enables them to walk through their designed
available regardless of where you are. imperceptible to them as they couldn’t look structures, even climb up to the roof, take a
Modern architecture is not an exception at anything tangible like the appearance of stroll around the rooms, perceive how much
to Friedman’s theory—computers have the whole structure, indoor spaces, lighting, light penetrates through the windows—a
indeed changed the face of architecture. It color and so on. There was no choice but virtual look and feel. Executing designs after
is possible to visualize and execute projects to wait until the construction finished. But a first-hand 3D experience is quicker; designs
faster than one could imagine years ago. by then, it was too late to reminisce about can be exchanged with consultants over
We spoke to architect Sanjay Puri, who how other materials could have imparted a e-mail, inputs shared, changes implemented
1 2 3

Architecture
& 4

interiors

recounted work methods 14 years ago. different feel to the construction. That was and approved for construction over the
Every morning began with assembling not all; architects would often have to take Internet itself. Obviously, this results in
the paraphernalia for the drawings first a jaunt to the site and ensure the structure huge saving in time and effort. Software
before getting down to the task of actually is built exactly as they had envisioned. Many not only enables successful translation of
drawing. Cutting sheets of “gateway” a times, it became imperative for them to complicated designs into actual structures
tracing paper, sharpening pencils, cleaning make on-site modifications because the but also offers the scope to explore new and
T-squares and Set-squares would be construction was not in tandem with what innovative designs.
followed by aligning the paper before they had in mind. The Bombay Art Society project
architects launched into their day’s work With the advent of computers and the (construction not yet started) demanded
of drawing. The final drawings would then developments in hardware and software, a complex comprising art galleries, an
be inked with the requisite pens to achieve life drastically changed for architects. auditorium, cafeteria and an office area
the desired thickness of the lines, which Application of specialized software has on a tiny plot of land. The mandate was to
corresponded to the types of architectural rendered it easy for them to visualize spaces conform to the ‘art’ theme while making
drawings needed. in and out, gauge the relationship between optimum use of the little space before
Drawing on paper was a laborious spaces, experiment with materials, colors, venturing on the designs. Architect Sanjay
task indeed. Whenever there was a need textures and study the effects of both Puri elucidated, “While creating a sculptural
to change the designs, the drawings had natural and artificial lighting. It is possible to form for the building (refer to pictures 1&2),

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


TECHNOLOGY IN DESIGN | COVERSTORY 37

we wanted to achieve a series of fluid spaces to urge fashionistas to stop over and look the feel-good factor and intensify their
for the volumes to be perceived larger around. Four basic elements—lowered shopping experience. This tap-device is
and also to create fluidity that remains ceilings, gradated floor shades, skewed made of tactile material and projected on a
uninterrupted within. Without 3D Max and pedestals and curved columns—combine to table-like surface, allowing you to touch the
an array of advanced software, it would guide the visitors to the various sections of different aspects on the river. The backdrop
take way too long to build physical models the store, establishing a unique identity for of the river has been designed in Maya and
and modify them to achieve the desired each section. authored on Flash.
results. Thanks to technology, we were able The anatomy of the curved multi-brand Choksee, while illustrating another
to finalize the design within a month”. display section (see pictures 5&6) was example of retail value-addition spoke
The Eta Hotel project in Dubai (see conceptualized in the form of 3D drawings of the history wall that added another
pictures 3&4) looks like a structure straight on CAD software. According to Kapil, since dimension to the interiors of the Levis
out of a 3D movie—designed in 3D, the 3D surfaces were part and parcel of the Store in Bangalore. This wall integrates
abstract folded concrete skin of the building design, 3D plywood moulds were created an electronic book, which lets customers
punctuated by a series of openings gives by hand-tracing the drawings onto chunks interact by browsing through the history
it a way-out-the-ordinary appearance. of fiber-board before getting them hand of the brand. Programmed in Flash, such
However, this super-futuristic look has a sculpted by local craftsmen. This is perhaps an interactive design builds a relationship
5

| Sanjay Puri
Architect
6

Exploring
new ideas and
creating unique
and complicated
designs is easy now
thanks to advanced
software
purpose—these openings allow natural light the most unique example of transforming between the customer and the brand that
into the hotel room balconies, creating a technology into an art form. few other design elements can achieve.
skin that reduces heat absorption from the Technology is being extensively used But this is just the present; next-
outside while in the night it glimmers like a in designs to impart the much-needed generation architecture could very well be
mammoth lamp. Experimenting with such value addition to the retail segment. The functional systems swaying with the wind
a unique design concept couldn’t have been Xylus store (Mumbai), designed by Lotus and altering their shapes—this is the vision
possible without advanced software. Design Services is an example of this of a new breed of architects who believe
Talking about interior architecture, trend—shoppers walking into the store that “responsive structures” is the future
Thanks, a luxury retail space designed will ineluctably have to take a look at of architecture. These structures will
by architects Kapil Gupta and Chris ‘river of time’ flowing by—their curiosity ascertain outdoor weather conditions such
Lee completely redefines the shopping piqued already! Being a watch store, the as cloudy weather, wind mood swings,
experience. A hotbed of the biggest names philosophical perception of time has climbs or drops in temperature, indoor
in fashion and catering to the society’s bon been used to generate interesting trivia conditions like a sudden throng of visitors
ton, Thanks houses drop-dead designer on it. Ankur Choksee of Lotus Design and calibrate the environments while
ensembles and six exclusive designer brand Services shed light on how they integrated making adjustments in their forms and
outlets. It was only natural for it to sport an interactive devices (in this case, the shapes. The concept known as adaptive
unusual garb that would be inviting enough river of time) to impart customers with construction will bring about a fantastic

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP


38 COVERSTORY | TECHNOLOGY IN DESIGN

era in architecture, comprising functional modeling techniques. This resulted in an technological tools like design and inventory
and self-changing robot-like structures. obvious lack of time for a designer to think management application along with
The Office of Robotic Architectural about the aesthetic value of their products, specialized hardware like Crease Recovery
Media and the Bureau for Responsive as much of the effort was being channeled Testers (to check how fast a textile can
Architecture employs the concept of into its execution. recover from creasing) and Launderometer
tensegrity in their designs to increase The case is different today. With (to check how fast a textile can recover
robustness, minimize mass, reduce technology-driven tools, software from stains).
embedded energy, transportation and applications and even hardware that It all starts from creating a pattern for
construction costs while also stepping up impart digital perfection to the process of a particular garment. Next in priority is to
their capabilities to respond to manifold measurement and structure, designers are design the blocks for the pattern—popularly
environmental conditions. now able to concentrate more on the design known as slopers. Using present-day tools,
So while we reap the benefits other than bother with the nitty-gritties of slopers can be designed by specialized
of technology to return to natural maintaining physically accurate dimensions CAD-based applications such as Apparel
environments and herald the era of as digital tools take care of this. This has CAD and ModaCAD. These applications
adaptive architecture, we might soon have also translated into quicker execution of the feature vast libraries from which users
a Friedman-Part II on our desks… design, allowing more space for designers can select numerous types of slopers and

Fashion
&
jewelry

Fashion and jewelry to impart their own creativity and signature further tweak these to their individual
Fashion and jewelry design are two domains style into their creations. Even the execution requirements. These are primarily library-
that are indelibly based on aesthetic sense. time has drastically fallen. based 2D applications. This saves time and
Along with the inherent artistic sense, both In the field of fashion, a designer enables designers to create technically
these domains demand quality in execution needs to monitor myriad factors starting accurate designs, while allowing for plenty
in order to make the products stand out from conceptualizing a design, sketching of creative leeway to tread new ground and
in the crowd. Although art plays a vital and creating illustrations, choosing explore entirely new patterns.
role in designing a fashionable dress or the right fabrics, selecting colors, Once the outfit is designed, the software
jewelry, a designer stills needs to use several constructing patterns, all the way to even allows you to drape it on to a virtual
domain-specific technicalities—in fashion, the final creation of the garment. This model, animate the model and find out how
measurements of different body parts and includes plenty of allied factors like quality it will actually appear, how the fabric will fall
cloth, while for jewelry it requires angles control for measurements, production and react to movements. Applications like
and curves of a gold pendant and the like. planning, production control and design OptiTex 3D Runway are able to realistically
Years ago, these measurements were management. If managed singularly, this simulate cloth movement in accordance
executed manually. Designers were required would rob a designer of quality time—time with the physical movement of a model.
to spend enormous amounts of time to that could otherwise be used to create. To Depending upon the texture and the weave
create their works of art using traditional prevent this, fashion designers now use of the cloth, the garment will respond in a

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


TECHNOLOGY IN DESIGN | COVERSTORY 39

physically accurate manner—for example, and innovation. To address echnical issues designer can experiment with a number of
heavy woolen cloth will fall differently underlying jewelry design like dimension options before arriving at a desired result.”
compared to lighter chiffon materials. This of stones, designs of filigree work, clamps To see a life-like replica of a product,
application even helps in creating a product and clasps, there are applications which 3D application like Matrix is used. This
documentation sheet (PDS). While creating you can mold and enhance your designs. application can help create a virtual model
the PDS, you can choose any model from the Applications like Digital Goldsmith are of an ornament, where it is possible to
application’s model library and drape your primarily used to create motifs and 2D view it from any angle during the creation
designed pattern or you can create models designs to understand how an ornament process—much like what a goldsmith
of your own required specification and body would appear once it is completely would while crafting an ornament. The
type, depending upon the garment being designed. This application is also library application will show you a ‘profile ready’
designed. Such applications even have driven—designers can select a motif from product, allowing it to be viewed across a
the option of changing the texture of the the library and then infinitely customize it cross section. This view helps understand
textile, apply lights on the textile to view according to their needs. Characteristics like the thickness of the metal, the roughness
whether it will have a glossy or matte finish color, types of precious stone and variations at the edges or corners, the desired angles
and more importantly have the model pose can all be modified and auditioned before of the embellishments in the product.
in various positions to perceive how the the design is finalized. This application also Allowing designs to be quickly created, the

| Dolly Minawala
Head of Design,
Indian Institute of Design

Computer tools
supplement our
creative vision by
speeding up the
process of creating
technically correct
products
designed dress will fit their potential buyers. allows the creation of entire sets of jewelry application can accept pre-defined technical
Fashion designing is not just about the product lines consisting of pendants, specifications of the product and go on
attire—it is also about the accessories. 3D earrings, bangles, rings and so on. Apart to create that product in an automated
applications like ‘Poser’ assist to a great from using the motif library, custom motifs routine mode. Once done, designers can
extent with its inbuilt library of props can also be created. further tweak and tune the ornament,
and options to change a model’s look. For Dolly Minawalla, head of design at making intricate or large changes.
example, if you want to dress your model the Indian Institute of Design states, “2D 3D applications such as these can
in retro style, it is possible to team this up applications are generally used to create a also generate compatible files that work
with a correspondingly retro hair style, catalog for presentation purposes. It saves directly with the hardware used to create
retro bags, retro hats and whatever else you time with its ability to help generate a the mould. Designers generally use Rebo
might want to impart to the scene—even number of complete product lines in a short 540—a specific hardware for creating the
retro cars and props! With such applications, time span”. She added, “Technology is used mould from their design. Rebo 540 is akin
you can even adjust the movement of the in this domain to enhance the design skills. It to a CNC lathe machine, consisting of a
models on a virtual ramp, including the is used to create designs that are technically cutter that moves across four axes: X for
hand sway, hip sashaying, footsteps, etc. accurate. The applications used take care length, Y for height, Z for depth and A
Similar to fashion, jewelry design is another of issues like dimensions, comfort and for rotary. The design that you create in
field that banks heavily on individuality edge softness. They are also used so that a Matrix can be saved as Rebo-compatible

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP


40 COVERSTORY | TECHNOLOGY IN DESIGN

file. After loading the file, the machine teaching design, we had a freewheeling produce less than 15 good designers a year;
reads the information and accordingly chat with G V Sreekumar, who teaches so there is clearly a problem.
uses its cutter to cut a piece of wax to at the Industrial Design Center (IDC) in At IDC, we follow a different
create an exact model of the design. This Mumbai. IDC is an institution that offers methodology as compared to other
saves enormous amount of time while post-graduate courses in the fields of institutes when teaching the art of design.
auditioning different designs for jewelry industrial design and visual communication. We primarily concentrate on and hone in
product lines. In this market, where The center also interacts with industries to the thinking abilities of the designer.
individuality and quality spell the success and other institutions for the promotion We do not really teach software. Since we
or failure of a product, tools such as and awareness of design through seminars, offer post-graduation courses, most of the
these enable craftsmen to translate their short-term courses and workshops. students who enroll with us have already
skills into actual products faster than had a background in application software
they ever could before. While the core of CHIP: How best can a student learn the art and have fairly advanced knowledge of
human creativity can never be replaced of design? application software.
by machines, these applications certainly GV: Students who eventually select However, in the hands of a designer
help in realizing dreams quicker and with the field of design generally display the the computer only comes in much later.
greater precision. inclination at an early age. This generally A computer is actually a very dangerous

Design
education

Academia takes place in the form of a hobby like tool in a person’s hands when used to
In the field of design, perhaps the most sketching, sculpting or other such creative achieve hurried results. In India, computer
important aspect is the training. Be it areas. However, before students even institutes teach applications like 3DS Max,
automotive design, architecture, fashion enter a training institute, there is often a Photoshop or Illustrator, after which they
or any of the hundreds of fields where problem with the guidance itself—even hand out a diploma that certifies a student
design manifests, it is the formative years after a person completes his higher as a designer. This is a rather serious issue
of learning the trade where individual secondary school, there are times when as they teach nothing about the field of
styles and skills begin to emerge, and these parental influence diverts their choice design itself. Students, on the other hand,
culminate into the fantastic products of toward ‘conventionally popular’ careers like assume that since they know Photoshop,
design that we see all around us. Or does it? medicine, engineering and finance. Art and they automatically become designers. Most
Teaching design is an art in itself. From design is still not considered a commercially often, this is never the case. At the end of
the myriad variety of design academies all viable option. The significant cause of the day, the quality of design across the
over the country, there is apparently no this is the lack of awareness about the country plummets.
dearth of design training institutes. Sadly, stream. This is why India produces very few At IDC, the initial six months of the first
the vast majority of these institutes do a designers—there are just two reputable semester consist purely of foundations.
paltry job of breeding good designers. To design institutes here in India equipped Here, the students are taught the very
gain insights into the sensitive subject of to arm a person for the world stage. We basics of design like color theory and

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


TECHNOLOGY IN DESIGN | COVERSTORY 41

the underlying principles of art. At this the assembly line, and most of the time the pre-Mac and the pre-PC era. This was a time
point, there is very little dependence on designer was only the director of workflow. when designers used to grab a pencil and
computing tools. Of course, there are Therefore, the final output would be largely paper and sit down to ideate. This imparted
parallel courses that use computers but influenced on the caliber of the people a significantly higher level of quality to the
computers do not form the core of the working on the project. overall output. Sadly, this is missing today.
instruction process. So long as the thought For example, in the field of print and That’s because designers immediately start
process behind the design process is clear, publishing, if I were designing a magazine’s working on a computer the moment they
the computer only becomes a tool just cover, I would have had to instruct the receive an assignment. Worst still, many
like any other—it merely facilitates the person responsible for color corrections over designers go to the extent of allowing
creation of good design. Unfortunately, several iterations before the final output the computer to make the decisions
most students have a preconceived notion was to my satisfaction. This process would for them—by allowing applications to
where computers, the Internet and Google invariably stretch across several days. With select pre-defined options (fonts, grids,
can solve all of their problems. A lot of our the advent of Photoshop, I can do this under alignments, color schemes, materials, etc).
efforts involve debunking these fallacies an hour. The designer now has control of Very little of the designer’s input shows up
and instiling a philosophy of design. Many the complete end-to-end process of design. in the final output.
of my students appear disappointed when, With the removal of the intermediate stages Just as good designers exercise the

| G V Sreekumar
Associate Professor, IDC

Designers give so
much importance
to computers that
they often do not
spend enough time
to THINK over a
design problem
for a particular assignment, I tell them that involving other people, work moves faster. right to choose the tools before them—be
computers are not allowed! Today, the number of people involved in the it a paintbrush, a marker, a pencil or a
design process is far lesser. charcoal stick—a computer should be
CHIP: How has computing translated into viewed as but another tool. Other than
time savings and has this impacted good CHIP: Can technology hamper creativity? falling into the trap of using pre-created
design? GV: As I mentioned before—the computer wizard-driven steps that result in
GV: The biggest advantage with computers can be a dangerous tool in the hands of a packaged designs devoid of inspiration
and related technologies in the field of poor designer. For example, when given a and creativity, artists should be able to
design is the amount of control it lends to theme, he would first type the topic name call the shots and use the tools they deem
the designer. With the final output in mind, in Google, download a load of information appropriate. Visceral sensitivity toward
the designer now has complete reign over and photographs on the subject, create a design is something that no computer can
how a particular project can pan out. In cover in a couple of hours and hand it over. impart to a prospective designer—it needs
the pre-computing era, there were several Earlier, there was a process involving the to be born out of experience with design
waypoints in the process of design where creation of a scribble along with several fundamentals and methodologies that
the designer had little or no control over iterations of ideas—the actual design of the train him to think and create. 
the influence on the output of his or her cover was executed only after the ideation | Kunal Rupera, Sharmistha Dey,
work. There generally were other people in process was complete. This was in the Pradosh Mitra and Marco D’Souza

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP


42

Top Gear
Jagdish Limbachiya

G eeks and gadget freaks rejoice! This


month there’s something for everyone
out there. You must surely have seen the
your iPod? Check out Altec Lansing’s best
speaker dock for the iPod, the inMotion 9.
It’s rugged, it can charge your iPod and it
gorgeous Lenovo 3000Q media center PC comes with a backpack!
during television commercials by now. We We also managed to squeeze in the latest
got our hands dirty with the hottest and in computer hardware ranging from the
highest-end PC in the Lenovo 3000Q series. first 18x DVD writer by Samsung to the
With a 20-inch widescreen display and best external hard drive case, the Vantec
great aesthetics, this PC is a perfect fit for NexStar 3. If you’re planning to build a new
your living room. If gadgets are your thing, system, don’t miss out the Cooler Master
there’s the Kingston K-PEX 100 and the Elite 330 PC case that combines great looks
new Nokia 6130. The K-PEX 100, Kingston’s with a splendid performance all for a sweet
first portable media player is packed with price. And with the Gigabyte 945GM-S2
2 GB of flash memory and a wide gamut of mainboard you can build a great Intel
features and a whole lot of goodies. Conroe PC. So we’d suggest you sit back
Want to share the music and videos on and enjoy the ride!
Hardware

| The Ratings Explained


The products in the individual and parameter—the more important a parameter,
comparison tests share exactly the same the higher is the weightage allotted to it.
test procedures. In addition, there is a Value for Money
Each product in Top Gear is rated on rating, which is calculated from the
a scale of 5 for different key parameters: performance and the features of the product
Performance, Build Quality, Features, in relation to the price. High performance
Ergonomics and Warranty. These vary and lots of features at a low price translates
according to the characteristics of the into a better Value for Money rating. This
hardware. For instance, ergonomics (ease rating is calculated using current prices.
of use) is not important in a graphics Note: The prices mentioned here do
card and therefore, it will not be evaluated not include taxes. Hence, they will vary
for this. according to the taxes applicable in
A product’s Overall Rating is calculated the city or state where you buy the
by assigning weightages to each evaluation product from.

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


TESTED | HARDWARE 43

Media Center PC
Lenovo 3000Q
Specifications: Processor: Intel Pentium 4 640 3.2
GHz, Chipset: Intel 945G, Memory: 512 MB DDR2
533 MHz, Hard drive: Western Digital Caviar 160
GB, Optical drive: 16X DVD combo, Graphics: Nvidia
GeForce 6200 TC, Display: 20-inch widescreen TFT,
OS: Windows XP Home SP2, Misc: webcam, 2.0
speakers, TV Tuner, 8-format card reader

Price Rs 88,990
Contact Ravi Gulati
Phone 1800-425-3353
E-mail pc@in.lenovo.com
Website www.lenovo.com/in
Warranty 1 year
RATINGS
Build quality
Ergonomics
Performance
Features
Overall Rating
Value for money

A PC for your living room


T he stylish all-silver Lenovo 3000Q is
powered by the Intel Pentium 4 640 3.2
GHz processor on the Intel 945G platform.
a button at the centre which can bring up
the Digital Media Platform without having
to boot into the operating system. A set of
If you’re looking out for a sleek media center
PC, the Lenovo 3000Q deserves serious
consideration. But remember—good things
Being a mainstream PC, it sports 512 MB of stereo speakers, webcam, keyboard and come at a premium.
DDR2 memory, a 160 GB SATA hard drive optical scroll mouse rounds off the features. For: Feature packed; excellent ergonomics
and a 16X DVD combo drive. Even though You even get a fancy 128 MB USB flash drive and build quality; gorgeous screen.
the motherboard has integrated graphics, with the system. Against: The keyboard doesn’t feel good; no
the PC comes fitted with a 128 MB GeForce FM radio; no DVI output for display.
6200 graphics card for better gaming Performance
performance. The gorgeous 20-inch 16:10 Considering the system configuration, the Scores
widescreen display with a native resolution performance of the system is very good. SiSoft Sandra 2007
of 1680x1050 will allow you to enjoy high- But there are quirks which need serious Processor arithmetic
definition content and wide-screen gaming. attention. Since the graphics card doesn’t Dhrystones : 7745 MIPS
The most striking feature is the Digital feature DVI output the video interface is Whetstones iSSE3 : 9458 MFLOPS
Media Platform and the Jog Dial which allow analog, even though the monitor has DVI Memory bandwidth : 3695 MB/s
the user to switch between music, movies, input. Also, the TV tuner card doesn’t have
games or live television. The Digital Media an integrated FM tuner and there is no Hard drive
Platform integrates all the features of the bundled IR remote control either. Drive index : 55 MB/s
Windows Media Center including the looks. Sequential read and write : 63 MB/s
Apart from the Jog Dial with its illuminated
ring, the base of the monitor sports audio PCMark 2005
and mic jacks, along with 5 USB ports on its Overall : 3026
sides. HDD XP startup : 7.928 MB/s
The case features a state-of-the-art Multithreaded test 1:
design; the entire PC is cleverly packaged Audio compression : 1150.4 KB/s
in a tool-free small form factor. The front Video encoding : 185.43 KB/s
of the case has a flap which opens to reveal
the optical drive, Firewire and USB ports, 3DMark 2005: 1198
front audio jacks and an 8-in-1 card reader. Gaming – Doom 3
The power and reset buttons are located on USB ports on the side of the base 640x480 @ low : 39 fps
top of the case. In addition to this, there’s 1024x768 @ medium : 18 fps

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP

SMS us! Story code: HWS (See Page 20 for details)


44 HARDWARE | TESTED

Mobile Phone
Nokia 6131
Specifications: Dimensions (WxHxD mm): 48 x 92 x 20,
Weight: 102g, Network: GSM 850/900/1800/1900,
Display (pixels, colors): 240 x 320, 16 million
(Internal)/128 x 160, 256K (External), Ringtones: 64
channel polyphonic, System Memory: 11 MB, Storage:
microSD, GPRS, EDGE, Bluetooth, Infrared, FM Radio,
Audio Output: Pop-port, 1.3-megapixel camera

Price Rs 13,739
Contact Nokia
Website www.nokia.co.in
Warranty 1 year
RATINGS
Build quality
Ergonomics
Performance
Features
Overall Rating
Value for money

Press to flip-open
A “flip open” always adds a bit of style
to one’s persona and Nokia’s 6131 will
certainly earn you a few brownie points.
rather unsophisticated “click” when
you do that.)
The phone comes equipped with a
Soccer 3D and Sudoku are a welcome
change from the usual Nokia fare.

The phone might not be as sleek or feature vibrant internal LCD display, capable Ergonomics and build quality
packed as the Motorola Razr or Nokia’s N- of reproducing 16 million colors. The The phone’s shell is made up of plastic
series but its simplicity will also get noticed. external 256,000 display is also sharp and metal. The rear panel is composed of
and text is legible. There is 11 MB of textured rubber giving it an excellent feel.
Features and applications phone memory available to enter up to The camera, power and volume controls
The Nokia 6131 is a Symbian Series 40 1000 contacts so there is no way you will are placed along the edges of the phone for
(3rd edition) which comes with a decent ever run out of address space. Additional easier access.
set of features. Though this phone looks memory in the form of a microSD slot is
like a higher-end version of the 6101 it provided, which can be inserted/removed Performance
is the successor to the Nokia 6125. The without switching off the phone. You can The Nokia 6131’s user interface is quick
6131’s special feature is the button near transfer files via the Pop-port to the PC and intuitive. Since this phone runs on the
the hinge on the top right hand corner of or bluetooth/infrared. Audio formats like Series 40 platform, there is no way to keep
the phone. Pressing it opens the clamshell AAC, MP3 and WMA can also be stored on any application running in the background.
phone instantly, making it easier for the phone or on microSD as the built-in Audio playback over the speakerphone is
single-handed use. (But you will hear a media player supports them. Games like good while the earphones could have been
better, as they have a tacky appearance.

Verdict
The phone will make for an adequate
companion if you need something easy to
use, light and small—though the price tips
over the ten thousand mark, making it a
little over priced.
For: Compact design; supports the
Pictbridge standard allowing for direct
printing to a compatible printer.
The microSD card can be removed without A profile view of the Nokia 6131 cell Against: LCD display not protected;
switching the phone off phone earphone quality is average.

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


TESTED | HARDWARE 45

CHIP New logo

An Exclusive 1 Year SUBSCRIPTION OFFER


Colour codes for logo
C M Y K

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Offer
Battlefield Worth Rs. 1300 Free
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Subscribe Get the0 Latest
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Yes! I would like to subscribe to CHIP for Date of Birth: Card Expiry Date:

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Please send this form in the envelope provided. Fill this coupon and mail it with your Cheque/DD to: CHIP, Subscription
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(Please fill the form in capital letters )
Dadar (W), Mumbai - 400 028. INDIA You can also fax your credit card orders to
Name: Mr. /Ms. (022) 2430 2707 or e-mail us at subscriptions@infomediaindia.com. Please allow one month
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Mailing Address: subscription will not be entertained.This offer is valid only in India.
International subscription charges - US$ 84 or Rs. 3750 (12 Issues)
The subscriber hereby authorizes Infomedia India Limited, to use the information contained
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OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP


46 HARDWARE | TESTED

Portable Media Player


Kingston K-PEX 100
Specifications: Dimensions (WxHxD): 94 x 45 x 14 mm,
Weight: 65 gms, Screen size: 5 cm, Memory size:
2 GB, Video formats: MPEG 1 and 2, ASF, WMV and
AVI, Audio formats: MP3, Wav, WMA, OGG and Audio
ASF, Other features: Picture viewer, FM Radio, USB
on-the-go, miniSD slot, Li-Ion battery, Rated battery
life: 17 hours

Price Rs 11,990
Contact Kingston Technology
Phone 022-26592961
E-mail techsupport_india@kingston.com.tw
Website www.kingston.com/asia
Warranty 1 year
RATINGS
Build quality
Ergonomics
Performance
Features
Overall Rating
Value for money

Entertainment on the go
A fter PC and flash memory solutions,
Kingston has now leapt into the
portable media player market with its
player supports most of the popular audio
and video formats. Apart from MP3 and
Wav which all players support, it can also
Performance and ergonomics
The player scores high on ergonomics. With
a great button layout and intuitive user
latest offering – the K-PEX 100. Let’s see handle WMA, Ogg and Audio ASF formats. interface, you can get used to the player
how much punch this player packs in a Video formats include MPEG-1 and 2, ASF, without referring to the manual. The only
palm-size form factor. WMV and AVI. The K-PEX 100 also boasts of difficulty is adjusting the volume as the
support for line-in and voice recording, as buttons are tacky.
Features well as an integrated speaker. If you have Coming to performance, the audio
The K-PEX 100 may remind you of a hand- media files on a USB flash drive, you can and video output were terrific. However,
held gaming device. You can play games play them off the drive using the USB host that’s probably because we used our own
on it, but you can do a whole lot more feature. Finally, you can enjoy the show on earphones—the ones which came with the
besides—you can listen to songs, watch its slick 5 cm TFT display. player don’t do it justice.
videos and movies, share photos, listen to Like its feature set, the list of accessories The K-PEX 100 does, however, have its
the radio and even read text files. runs long! The player comes with a share of rough edges. Surprisingly, it
To squeeze in all your media files, the protective silicone case, USB host cable, doesn’t support recording from FM, so you
player packs in 2 GB of flash memory. If line-in cable and lanyard. To top it off, you can forget about capturing songs aired
that’s not enough, you can slide in a miniSD get a bundled 256 MB miniSD card with a on your favorite radio stations. Secondly,
card and boost its storage capacity. The miniSD adapter free. if you wish to watch videos, you have to
transcode them into the player’s native
format (.mpx) before transferring it using
the bundled software.
The player is great for casual listening
and video watching. But if you’re serious
about buying a good portable music player,
there are better ones out there like the
Sony PSP and Creative Zen Vision M.
For: Good form factor, intuitive interface,
great feature-set, expandable memory
Against: Tacky volume control buttons;
The K-PEX 100 is bundled with all the The four-way navigation buttons make awful earphones; cannot record from FM
accessories including a 256 MB mini SD card the K-PEX extremely user-friendly radio; videos require transcoding.

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


48 HARDWARE | TESTED

iPod Speakers
Altec Lansing inMotion 9 iPod
Specifications: Dimensions (WxDxH mm):
280x76x198, Amplifier: High Efficiency class D type,
Frequency Response: N/A; Output Power: N/A,
Weight: 1.8 kgs

Price Rs 11,800
Contact Rashi Peripherals Pvt Ltd
Phone 022-67090909
E-mail navinderc@rptechindia.com
Website www.alteclansing.com
Warranty 1 year
RATINGS
Build quality
Performance
Features
Overall Rating
Value for money

Share your music and videos


I t is inconvenient for two people to share
a single set of ear plugs if they want
to listen to music or watch a movie on a
compromising the shape and build quality.
However, it does include a backpack for
carrying it around. A rear flap is provided
connect your iPod video to a television set
as well.

portable media player. If you’ve ever been which helps the speakers stay vertical. They Performance
in such a situation, you need a set of good can be placed flat as well. The battery in the speaker system lasts for
portable speakers to carry on your picnics, almost a day. This should get you through
trips, journeys, etc. Altec Lansing has just Features your entire picnic but if you’re planning to
the solution for you with the inMotion 9. The inMotion 9 speakers feature a 2.5-inch take it on a long trip, be sure to carry extra
driver for low and mid-range frequencies battery packs along. As far as the sound
Build quality and design and a 1-inch driver for high frequency quality is concerned, the lows and the mid-
The Altec Lansing IM9 is a portable speaker sound. The speakers can also operate frequency ranges are not up to the mark.
system designed with the iPod in mind. through four C-sized batteries. This means With its compact design, these speakers
The USP of this device is its compact form you can use these speakers any place do compromise on the bass owing to the
factor—it is only 76 mm thick which makes you like, even on the go where an electric absence of bass ports, thereby muffling the
it slimmer than most speakers in this point is not available. Additional plates are overall sound quality. So, if you are planning
category. The jet black color with silver provided if you own an iPod nano or an on grooving to the drums, you will be
corners lends the device an understated iPod video so that they can be adapted to disappointed. The treble was crisp and clear
appeal. It is almost as small as a notebook the iPod bay. The rear bay consists of an though and the speakers packed enough
but slightly thicker. The center of the auxiliary input jack to attach MP3 players of punch to regale a group of friends in a
speaker system contains a recessed area of brands other than the iPod. It even has a coffee shop.
into which the iPod can dock. The top of 3.5 mm headphone jack for silent listening.
the speaker system features the power A composite video out jack enables you to Verdict
button, volume controls and the eject Although these speakers have a compact
button which opens out the iPod tray. design, they could have been more portable.
The buttons were seamlessly integrated They retail for Rs 11,800 which is too steep
into the speakers, but the volume controls for casual listening. We would suggest you
failed to impress as they were hard and also take a look at the Altec Lansing IM7 as a
not so responsive. Although the speakers buying alternative.
are lightweight and portable, we strongly For: Small form factor; good treble.
missed a handle that could have been fixed Different attachments can be used to Against: Average bass; not very portable;
on the rear side of the speakers without connect different iPod products expensive.

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006
TESTED | HARDWARE 49

Motherboard
Gigabyte GA-945GM S2
Specifications: Socket: LGA775; Processor supported:
Intel Pentium D / Intel Pentium 4 / Intel Core 2
Duo; FSB: 1066/800/533 MHz; Chipset: Intel 945G;
Maximum memory: 4 GB; Network interface: Realtek
8111B GbE; Audio: ALC883 7.1 channel audio

Price Rs 6,750
Contact Gigabyte Technology (India) Ltd
Phone 022-26526696
E-mail sales@gigabyte.in
Website www.gigabyte.in
Warranty 3 years
RATINGS
Build quality
Performance
Features
Overall Rating
Value for money

Mainboard for offices


T he first thing that struck us about the
Gigabyte GA-945GM S2 is that this
motherboard supports the Intel Conroe
integrates seamlessly into your gigabit
Ethernet office network. An ALC883 sound
processor provides 7.1 channel audio to
thinner graphics solution if you want to
make use of the PCI slots.

processor. Also, this was the first 945G- ensure that users can make full use of Performance
based motherboard that we were testing your multi-channel speaker system. As The performance of this motherboard
with a Conroe processor. far as adding peripherals are concerned, can be termed as average at best. The
this motherboard supports the RS232 and Sisoft Sandra CPU benchmarks were
Features the parallel port. So, if you are still using a slightly lower than its 865P counterpart.
This board supports up to 2 GB of modem over a telephone line or a parallel Its memory bandwidth benchmark was
maximum memory which should be more port printer, you can be sure that it will still limited to 4675 MB/s which is slower than
than sufficient for most practical purposes work on your brand new system. It also has many of the newer AMD platforms and
whether you are a designer or a power user. a single PS/2 port and 4 x USB 2.0 ports, is definitely slower than the 965 and 975
The board also supports one IDE connector providing ample connectivity options for series motherboards that are currently
for your optical drive and 4 x 3 Gbps SATA your USB peripherals. This motherboard available in the market. The hard drive
connectors which provide ample growth for also supports front USB headers. throughputs were at par with other similar
your storage needs. This setup would only motherboards. Its 3D Mark 2005 score was
be ideal if you used a single optical drive Design and layout only 669 3D marks considering the onboard
on the IDE connector and a SATA hard drive The Gigabyte GA-945GN S2 motherboard graphics solution. Therefore gaming
for storage. This board does not support features the compact MicroATX form without an external graphic adapter is not
RAID so if you are a casual user, it won’t factor design. The placement of the recommended.
make too much of a difference. Although processor is neat and uncluttered. The
the motherboard has onboard graphics, it stock heat sink fits perfectly and there is Verdict
also has a single PCI-E 16x slot for adding an enough space to add larger heat sinks. We The Gigabyte GA-945GM S2 provides
additional graphics card which would keep feel though that this motherboard may a decent set of features and enough
gamers happy. The motherboard comes not be designed for gaming enthusiasts performance for most processor hungry
with two additional PCI slots and a single but could definitely satisfy entry-level applications due to its support for Conroe
PCI-E 1x slot as expandability options. You gaming. The PCI-E and the PCI slots are so processors. However, it is recommended
can easily plug an additional TV tuner card closely packed together that given current against hardcore gaming applications.
into the extra PCI slot. A Realtek 8111B generation graphics solutions, the graphic For: Supports the Intel Conroe processor;
GbE chip provides network connectivity card would occupy the PCI-E as well as a GbE and 7.1 channel audio.
and ensures that your motherboard nearby PCI slot. You will probably need a Against: No RAID; no support for FireWire.

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP


50 HARDWARE | TESTED

Multi-Functional Device
Canon PIXMA MP530
Specifications: Dimensions (WxDxH mm): 468 x
263 x 467, Weight: 12.8 kg, Interface: USB 2.0,
Print Resolution: upto 9600 x 2400 dpi, 5 Inkjet
cartridges, Scan Resolution: 1200 x 2400 dpi, Bit
Depth: 48-bit, Fax Transmission Speed: 33.6 Kbps,
Copier: Auto Duplex, Magnification/Reduction

Price Rs 20,995
Contact Canon India Pvt Ltd
Phone 1-800-3453366
E-mail info@canon.co.in
Website www.canon.co.in
Warranty 2 years
RATINGS
Build quality
Ergonomics
Performance
Features
Overall Rating
Value for money

Multiple personality
T he MP530 succeeds the MP500 in
Canon’s Pixma series of ‘all-in-one’
multifunctional device. The MP530
consider the ADF and the rear panel. The
control panel has all the controls you need
to fax, copy, scan or print a document. You
it prints documents it will need to be
placed on a stable surface to avoid undue
sideways movements. It was able to print
multifunction device differs from the latter can dial a number using speed dial, choose ten sheets of text in 57 seconds while a
in size and weight (it is larger and heavier). your paper type, print quality and even the standard quality print pushed the time to
It has an automatic document feeder and input tray from this panel. The scanner’s 1 minute 20 seconds. There were no signs
doubles as your fax machine but lacks a hinge can be raised vertically by 10 mm to of ink smudging and the grey scales were
flash media reader. It also has support for accommodate a book. Most of the panels accurately reproduced.
cameras that are PictBridge or ExifPrint and hinges in the device are spring loaded, Photo printouts have become Canon’s
compliant. So, you can connect your digital reducing the impact whilst opening and forte ever since they started using their
camera directly to the printer. closing. The printer’s overall build is solid, new printing technology (Microfine Droplet
This bulky printer comes fitted with the trays are sturdy, the print head/cartridge Technology). A high quality A4 print took
foldable input/output trays, while the assembly is perfect and the quality of the just under three minutes. It manages to
ADF and CD/DVD tray (if you want to print plastic used is good. print details in a high-res image very well.
on the face of the disk) needs to be fixed The color reproduction seems to be deeper
manually prior to software installation. Performance than the ones produced by the MP500. The
Driver CDs for Windows-based and Mac- The MP530 is a silent printer though due MP530’s photo printouts tend to impart
based computers are also provided. to its weight and the speed at which a mild reddish tinge to skin tones, making
The control panel is replete with most them appear visibly warmer.
of the functions you will need to get a Scanning a page and printing it directly
document copied, scanned or printed with without the use of the computer was simple
minimal interaction with the computer. and the quality was stellar. It took all of 17
In addition to the printer driver you can seconds to scan a B5-size photograph.
also install software like Easy-Photo Print, The MP530 is a silent worker and is
scanning tools like ScanSoft and a CD-Label suited to a small office that requires a
printing application. quality as well as a fax machine.
For: The 48-bit depth scanner produces
Build quality and ergonomics quality scans. Photo quality prints are
The MP530 occupies some serious desktop excellent. The copier can be controlled
real estate. Apart from the manual sheet Print labels on CDs by fitting the CD/DVD completely via the control panel.
feed and output tray, you will also have to tray under the MP530’s hood Against: Lacks media card reader slots.

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


TESTED | HARDWARE 51

PC Case
Cooler Master Elite 300
Specifications: ATX Cabinet, Dimensions (w x h x d)
mm 203 x 413 x 486, Thermal Master 350 watts
power supply unit.

Price Rs 3,900
Contact Matrix 3D
Phone 022-23084511
E-mail sales@matrix3d.com
Website www.matrix3d.com
Warranty 2 years
RATINGS
Build quality
Performance
Features
Overall Rating
Value for money

Elite and cool


W hen it comes to products related to
cooling, Cooler Master is a relatively
well known brand. They have introduced
overall look of the chassis. The cabinet has
two 120 mm fans one in the front and the
other at the back, these fans are pretty quiet
The 350 watts Thermal Master PSU is a
pretty good power supply for low power
requirements. This PSU is a SATA ready
a new ATX cabinet which keeps up with and provide ample cooling. Another USP PSU although it’s got only one SATA power
Cooler Master’s motto of cooling. The of the front panel is that it makes it easier connector; it doesn’t have a graphics card
Cooler Master Elite 300 is a sleek black ATX to clean the front air filter. This drive has power connector which is a must for a
cabinet which has a 350 Watts Thermal another good feature, the mounting of all powerful graphics card. We tested the PSU
Master Power supply unit installed in the your removable drives like your floppy drive, with load and without load; the load we
cabinet. The front bezel of the cabinet has a hard drive and CD/DVD drive has been made used to completely stress the PSU was the
black mesh which gives this cabinet a very very easy. Just slide in your drive and attach application RHTDRIBL. The PSU was pretty
interesting look. the tool-less clip to the drive’s screw holes, stable when it was loaded. We also used a
This cabinet is built solidly and is very twist it around and you are done installing benchmarking application, Everest to check
sturdy in design. The Elite 300 provides you your drive. This cabinet has provided the PSU for voltage variations.
with a tool free design which allows for you with a lot of drive bays for installing If you are looking for a sleek cabinet with
quick assembly and maintenance for all your different drives, it has four exposed 5.25” an average power supply then this cabinet is
peripherals. Since the front panel is designed drive bays and five exposed 3.25” drives. If a good bargain.
with a steel mesh, this provides you with you want to add an extra card like an audio For: Great looks; tooless installation; ample
superior airflow which in turn enhances your or a TV Tuner card then just pull the clip of cooling; good power supply unit.
cooling performance. The front panel has a the add on card bay, slide in your card and Against: Only one SATA connector; no
sexy blue power light which improves the push the clip back in. graphics card power connector.

Using MultiMeter Without Load With Load


12 Volts 12.19 12.02
5 Volts 5.24 5.21
3.3 Volts 3.39 3.38

Everest Without Load With Load


12 Volts 11.97 11.78
5 Volts 5.13 5.13
3.3 Volts 3.33 3.3 Tooless mounting of drives

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP


52 HARDWARE | TESTED

Wireless IP Camera
Level1 WCS-2030 wireless IP camera
Specifications: Interface (wired): 10/100 Mbps
Ethernet; Interface (wireless): 802.11b/g wireless;
Censor type: CMOS; Resolution: 640 x 480 (VGA);
Dimensions (WxDxH mm): 72.8 x 28.6 x 115.2;
Weight: 215 gms

Price Rs 13,500
Contact MINDS(India) Pvt Ltd
Phone 011-26312095
E-mail Jerry.albert@level1.co.in
Website http://www.level1.com
Warranty 1 Year
RATINGS
Build quality
Performance
Features
Overall Rating
Value for money

Cost-effective surveillance
T he use of CCTV cameras and other
video surveillance systems is generally
associated with government security
by lowering the resolution to 320 x 280.
The device features a 4 mm lens with an
aperture size of F/2. This implies that the
like motion detection, snapshots as well
as scheduled recordings. The motion
detection system is particularly useful
agencies, banks, large corporations, camera will be able to take in a wide field since it does not record the image to the
etc and they can generally be seen in of view. It also implies that the camera hard drive when the camera does not
spy movies. Such security systems are should be able to capture images in low detect any movement. The output is 24-bit
generally quite expensive and one has to light conditions. Lets check later if this audio with 320x 280 MPEG-4 video which
pay a huge premium to avail the features translates into real-world performance. allows you to save on hard disk space as
of such a system. For all those home users It also features an omni-directional well as network bandwidth.
as well as small and medium businesses microphone for recording audio.
on a limited budget, the Level1 WCS-2030 Performance
wireless IP camera is an ideal solution. Setup and ease of use The image quality of this camera was
The USP of this device is the software above average though not exceptional.
Features that comes along with the package. It is It picked up details even in low light
The WCS-2030 is basically a video capable of displaying 16 live feeds at any conditions, although it did have some
surveillance system which transmits given moment. It can also be used to set trouble detecting motion in those
images using the TCP/IP protocol. It up and configure the camera. The camera situations. Its in-built microphone showed
basically uses a digital sensor to capture has a built-in web server that facilitates very little background noise and it could
data unlike a CCTV camera which typically remote setup. It also supports features pick up conversations at ranges of about
uses the analog mode of data capture. It 10 meters. Beyond that, the audio was not
uses a 10/100 Mbps high speed Ethernet discernable. The recorded video takes up
as well as an 802.11g based wireless considerably less space on the hard drive.
system to transmit captured data. This The snapshots were VGA quality and could
leads to seamless integration with an discern sufficient amount of details.
existing computer network system. The Level1 WCS-2030 retails for Rs 13,500,
Although the camera is capable of which seems extremely high, but the
recording VGA-quality video, it can only do software available with it alone will justify
so at 10 fps. So objects that move really investing in this IP camera
fast and really close to the camera, even For: Great bundled software; omni-
if they are captured, will only show up as All areas of the house can be monitored directional antenna; wireless connectivity
a blur. The frame rates can be increased simultaneously with the 16 screen output Against: No zoom; no swivel.

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


54 HARDWARE | TESTED

External TV Tuner
Pinnacle PCTV Pro USB
Specifications: High Speed USB 2.0; TV RF-in,
Remote Control; Capture analog video; Pinnacle
Media Center; Pinnacle Studio QuickStart.

Price Rs 4,990
Contact Pinnacle Systems
Phone 011-41608211
E-mail adey.extern@pinnaclesys.com
Website www.pinnaclesys.co.in
Warranty 1 Year
RATINGS
Build quality
Performance
Features
Overall Rating
Value for money

Tiny Media Center


P innacle has released its latest
innovation in the external TV tuner
card category, the Pinnacle PCTV Pro
can use any video device that delivers an
S-video signal or a composite video signal
in PAL, NTSC or SECAM irrespective of the
fly with a one-button operation. You can
listen to Internet radio or watch live TV
from anywhere on your laptop. It allows
USB. The PCTV Pro is small enough to sit video system used as input to that device. you to view video in either full screen or
comfortably in the palm of your hand and The PCTV Pro has an Infrared windowed mode—this is especially useful
its silver body will look perfect on your remote that gives you access to all your if you are working on other applications
desk. The PCTV Pro can be connected to entertainment needs from a comfortable simultaneously.
your PC using a USB cable; it supports distance (approx. 10 meters). The PCTV This External TV Tuner can be used as a
high speed USB 2.0. You can connect your Pro comes with the Pinnacle MediaCenter media center PC as it gives you the option
antenna or your cable connection, to the software that offers features like to pause, rewind or play your television
port on the rear of the Tuner. At the front TimeShifting and direct-to-DVD or hard shows, so you can watch your favorite
you will find the audio connector, two drive recording. This tuner supports programs or even a cricket match the way
video connectors (the S-Video input and formats like MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4 and you want to. You can create your own DVD
the composite ports) and the video input DivX. The PCTV also allows you to record collection with Direct-to-DVD recording
(an RCA connector). The S-Video input can video clips that will run on your iPod or as well. Also, you can capture images,
be used to connect your camcorder, video PSP. The MediaCenter lets you schedule videos or shows from most consumer
recorder or DVD Player, from which you can your recordings using a feature called the devices with analog outputs (such as VCRs,
view your videos or even edit them. You Electronic Program Guide or record on-the- camcorders, DVD players, etc.). The PCTV
Pro bundles the Pinnacle Studio QuickStart
which helps you create your own movies,
complete with special effects, titles and
music; where you also have the option
of editing out the boring stuff from your
video creations.
Finally this TV tuner has all the power
required to turn your boring old PC into a
media center PC.
For: Doesn’t need external power supply,
extensive recording format support,
The audio, S-video, Composite ports are The USB and the anntenna connectoins portable.
at the front. are at the back of the card. Against: Software provided is complicated.

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


TESTED | HARDWARE 55

The fast and the fancy Hard Drive Case


Vantec NexStar 3 NST-360SU
T oday, there are a multitude of hard drive
cases available in the market. Most of
them take in a 3.5-inch parallel ATA hard
it. If your motherboard doesn’t feature
an eSATA port, you can still enjoy blazing
transfer speeds using the bundled SATA to
drive and interface with the PC through eSATA bracket. With the eSATA interface,
the Hi-speed USB 2.0 interface. Other than it’s even possible to install Windows on
this, they are pretty much head-to-head in the drive and use it as a secondary boot
performance. The only way manufacturers device. A stand to keep the drive standing
can add more value to these devices, is by vertical is the icing on the cake.
Specifications: Dimension (WxHxD): 123x206x33
throwing in a couple of extra features. So if you want the best external hard mm, Interface: Hi-speed USB 2.0 and eSATA, Body
The NST-360SU is Vantec’s latest drive case, grab the Vantec NST-360SU. material: Aluminum

addition to their NexStar series of external There’s nothing to beat this one!
Price Rs 3,500
hard drive cases which have always For: Terrific build quality, support for Contact Apical Impex
been a class apart. It features a glossy eSATA, bundled SATA to eSATA bracket. Phone 9821349177

“Onyx Black” body with a mirror finish. Against: If you don’t keep it clean, there’ll E-mail tejas@apical.in
Website www.vantecusa.com
Unlike most cases which are meant for be fingerprints all over! Warranty 1 year
parallel ATA hard drives, this one supports Scores RATINGS
SATA hard drives. To use the drive, you eSATA interface Build quality
simply need to power up the case with Sequential Random Performance
a power adapter and connect it to a USB Read: 64.3 52.5 Features
port. What sets this drive apart from its Write: 64.3 52.3 Overall Rating
counterparts is the inclusion of an eSATA Hi-speed USB 2.0 interface Value for money
port on the rear panel. This means you Sequential Random
can even connect the device directly to an Read: 64.3 52.5
eSATA port if your motherboard supports Write: 64.3 52.3

Speed up Optical Drive


Samsung SH-S182
S amsung is the first company to
release a DVD writer with a write
speed of 18X. The DVD writer uses the
We had to use the 16X media to test
the drive because there is no 18X media
available in the market as yet and
OCTO edge technology which allegedly Samsung did not bundle any 18X media
delivers improved performance. This with this drive.
writer supports all the CD/DVD media In the read test it took the drive 7.57
available in the market including single minutes to read an entire 4.34 GB DVD.
layer and dual layer media. It has a write It clocked 2.05 minutes to extract a 1 GB
Specifications: Read/Write Speeds: CD 48 X, DVD+/- R
speed of 18X for both DVD±R and 8X for VOB file using DVD Decrypter during the
18X; Media Supported: CDR/CDRW/DVDR/DVD+R/
Dual Layer DVD±R which is the highest DVD video file extraction test (where DVD-R/DVD-RAM/ Dual Layer DVD+R/-R; Interface:
for any writer at present. we extracted a VOB file). In the audio IDE; Buffer Size: 2MB.

This drive also has a DVD-RAM write ripping test it took just 86 seconds to Price Rs 3,000
speed of 12X. In addition to all these, rip three tracks from an audio CD. The Contact Samsung India Electronics Pvt. Ltd
Samsung has incorporated plenty of Nero CD-DVD Speed Tool also delivered Phone 011-41511234
E-mail hari.pandey@samsung.com
new technologies like the SAT (Speed impressive results, clocking an average
Website www.samsung.com/in
Adjustment Technology), TAC (Tilt speed of 12.2X.. Warranty 1 year
Actuator Compensation) and Double In the absence of 18X DVD media, it RATINGS
OPC (Optimum Power Control) into this would not make much sense to go in for Build quality
drive. It also has the mandatory buffer this drive, given the fact that its overall Performance
under run protection which is a norm in performance isn’t significantly greater Features
all drives these days. than the rest in its category. Overall Rating
The drive delivered very good results For: Excellent write speed, supports all Value for money
for our entire gamut of tests. It took a CD/DVD media.
spiffy 7.27 minutes to write 4.34 GB of Against: No 18X media available in the
data using Nero at a 16X write speed. market as yet.

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP


Picture-perfect pixels
With plummeting prices and great visual quality, there
is very little reason not to take home one of these
displays. We put the best of them through our wringers

Jagdish Limbachiya
TFT COMPARISON | HARDWARE 57

N
o matter how high-end your deal today is not the 15-inch variants but
computer, there is nothing quite the 17-inch versions. Not just the price,
like flaunting a TFT monitor on even the technology driving these panels
your desktop. A clear sign of being one of has seen drastic leaps—they deliver
the few who are on the leading edge of the crisper colors, greater contrast ratios,
display evolution, your decision to go in increased brightness, higher resolutions,
for a TFT—be it at home or at office—will all translating into a superb viewing
significantly upscale your image. However, experience. One of the pet peeves in
until not too long ago it was practically working with previous-generation TFTs
unthinkable for the majority of computer was the naggingly high pixel response
shoppers to even consider one of these time which often resulted in discernible
displays. As opposed to spending so much blurring and streaking during use. But
on them, the choice of spending extra all of that has changed—almost all TFT
was usually in favor of other system monitors today boast a pixel response
components like a faster processor, time of under 8 milliseconds. This means
additional RAM or a better graphics card. you can play the most intense of games or
The good old 15-inch CRT monitor (and watch the most exciting car chase movie
subsequently the 17-inch monitor) was sequences with no loss in video quality.
the mainstay in practically every home More that just being a computer display,
and office computer purchase. Until now, several TFT manufacturers even integrate
the ‘luxury’ of a TFT monitor was reserved TV tuners into their monitors, making
exclusively for the affluent home user or them devices around which all the family’s
the CEO of the company. entertainment needs can be met.
Times, however, have changed. Over TFT technology is also ushering in
the past year, we have seen a tremendous an era of high-definition video and
upheaval in TFT fabrication technologies, television—with their support of
many of which have directly contributed increasingly high resolutions, many
to a drastic 30 percent drop in prices. of these devices are now HDTV-ready.
How drastic? An entry-level 15-inch TFT Therefore, when you do finally decide
monitor can be bought today for about to go in for that Blu-ray drive or high-
Rs 8,900. For just 3,000 bucks more, you definition video signal later this year,
can get a 17-inch TFT. At these price levels, you will certainly be ready for it on the
we are now beginning to see TFTs making display front. Even though the displays
their presence well within the realm of we’ve reviewed here are not the home
entry-level consumers. Most computer theater variants (with inputs for DVD
manufacturers are now beginning to players and the like), they can certainly
configure their desktop ranges exclusively be used to view high-definition content
with TFT monitors. from your computer as their resolutions
With the advancements in well encompass the requirements for
manufacturing technology today, it demanding gaming and serious movie
actually makes more sense to create watching. To further sweeten the deal,
larger TFT panels as they turn out to be almost all TFT monitors above 19-inch
more economical to produce compared boast the widescreen form factor, fitting
to their smaller counterparts. Due to right in for all you movie and gaming buffs
this, the TFT monitor that strikes a great out there.

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP

SMS us! Story code: HCT (See Page 20 for details)


58 HARDWARE | TFT COMPARISON

Test Process 10% Warranty & Support 25% Features dead pixels on black or white screens.
It wouldn’t be fair to compare a 15-inch
monitor with a 20-inch widescreen one. Ergonomics
10% Build
To create a fair ground for comparison, Quality The TFT monitor should be easy to use. The
we grouped the monitors based on the menu buttons should be easily reachable
screen size. Thus, we have three distinct and functions should be well-described
categories—15-inch, 17-inch and 19-inch in the OSD so that adjusting the settings
& greater. We evaluated the monitors on is easy for the user. Previous and next
the basis of their features, performance, buttons for menu choices, separate
ergonomics, build quality, and warranty brightness and contrast adjustment
and support. Let’s move on to what went buttons, clarity of OSD, etc were all taken
into each of these parameters. 10% Ergonomics 45% Performance into consideration.

Features CD, quick setup guide and the user manual. Build quality
We began with noting the dimensions, The features made up for 25 percent of the Apart from good performance and
weight and screen size of the TFT monitor. overall score. ergonomics, a monitor should also be
Here, note that the depth of the monitor robust with a sturdy screen frame, stand
is not the depth of the display panel, Performance and hinges. The base of the monitor should
but the footprint. Next, we noted the Being the most important section of be stable in all the extreme positions.
technical specifications that directly the test, this section carries an overall Usage of metal in body construction was
translate into performance. For a TFT weightage of 45 percent. For ascertaining given extra points. We also evaluated the
monitor the response time, pixel pitch, the performance of the monitors, we aesthetic appeal of each TFT display.
brightness and contrast ratio are the evaluated the viewing angle, reproduction
most important factors. Viewing angle of color gradients and response time. Warranty and support
is equally important especially when you To assess the viewing angle, we viewed Since TFT monitors are expensive and
are watching a movie together with your red, green, blue and greyscale blocks at delicate devices, they must be backed by
family and friends. Presence of a DVI port the center of the screen from 40 and robust warranty and support. Should a
in addition to D-sub is preferable since 80 degree angles. Points were given problem arise, a service center must be
you can take the advantage of digital depending on the visibility of the colored present close to where you live. For this
video signal rather than analog signal. blocks. Reproduction of color gradients purpose, there should be adequate number
Additional video inputs like component, is one of the serious weaknesses in most of service centers spanning across as many
composite and S-video were awarded extra TFT monitors. To ascertain the quality of cities all over the country. We noted the
points. Integrated features like speakers, gradation, we viewed and analyzed full warranty period, number of service centers
headphone jack, FM radio, USB hub and screen gradient images transitioning from in India and the number of cities in which
card reader extend the functionality of the black to red, green and blue diagonally. these centers are present.
monitor. We took note of all these features The monitors were graded depending We concluded the roundup with the
and awarded points accordingly. The menu on the smoothness of transition without “Value for Money” index which was
functions were checked for controls like any banding along the gradations. The calculated by stacking up the features and
brightness, contrast, screen position, color response time was evaluated by analyzing performance against the price. The better
temperature and auto-adjustment. Finally, the clarity of image and text in lateral the features and performance with respect
we frisked through the package contents. motion. The monitors were graded to price, the higher this index. Based on this
It’s essential that the monitor comes with according to the intensity of “Ghosting”. we have the “Best Value” product in each
the required DVI and D-sub cables, driver Points were deduced for the presence of category in addition to the “Best Performer”.

The rear panel of the Asus PW201 Working with portraits is more convenient USB hub and headphone jack positioned
features all types of video inputs with vertical screen orientation at the side of the TFT monitor

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


TFT COMPARISON | HARDWARE 59

15-inch TFT 15-inch TFT 17-inch TFT


LG Flatron L1515S BenQ FP51G ViewSonic VP720B

Specifications: Dimensions (WxHxD): 350 x 318 x 133 Specifications: Dimensions: (WxHxD) mm 331 x 338 x Specifications: Dimensions: (WxHxD) mm 376 x 463 x
mm, Screen size: 15-inches, optimal resolution: 1024 136, Screen size: 15 inches, optimal resolution: 1024 229, Screen size: 17 inches, optimal resolution: 1280
x 768, Aspect ratio: 4:3, Brightness: 250 Cd/sq.mt, x 768, Aspect ratio: 4:3, Brightness: 250 Cd/sq.mt, x 1024, Aspect ratio: 4:3, Brightness: 280 Cd/sq.mt,
Contrast ratio: 400:1, Response time: 12 ms. Contrast ratio: 400:1, Response time: 16 ms. Contrast ratio: 500:1, Response time: 4 ms.

Price Rs 10,490 Price Rs 8,900 Price Rs 15,999


Contact LG Electronics India Pvt. Ltd Contact BenQ India Pvt Ltd Contact Roop Technology
Phone 0120-2560900 Phone 9312378705 Phone 022-26681921
E-mail shopping3@lgindia.com E-mail sudip.de@benq.com E-mail roop@vsnl.com
Warranty 4.5 years Warranty 2.5 years Warranty 3.5 years
RATINGS RATINGS RATINGS
Features Features Features
Ergonomics Ergonomics Ergonomics
Perfomance Perfomance Perfomance
Build Quality Build Quality Build Quality
Overall Rating Overall Rating Overall Rating
Value for money Value for money Value for money

The LG Flatron L1515S is quite a performer, The BenQ FP52G definitely has the looks The ViewSonic VP720B comes in with
in spite of being fairly thin and light, when it comes to sleek features—this best-of-class performance in its category
weighing in at just 2.5 kg. This TFT monitor is exemplified with its silver black color with its good specifications. This TFT has
has the lowest response time of 12 ms combination which will fit snugly with a superb response time of 4 ms, which
as compared to other monitors in the your desktop. It’s the best-priced monitor was the best across all categories. This
category which have a response time of 16 in the 15-inch category with a pricetag of was apparent from the lack of errors in
ms. As a result the L1515S had very little just Rs 8,900 and is an average performer. fast moving video. The monitor offers
ghost trails in fast moving videos making Considering its size, it weighs a bit more both D-Sub or a DVI connectivity options
it suitable for movies and gaming on a than expected at 3.7 kg and has an average (the latter offering excellent video quality
small screen. Being a 15-inch monitor this response time of 16 ms. As expected, this when used with a compatible graphics
monitor has a pixel pitch of 0.294 which monitor supports a maximum resolution card). This monitor weighs in at 5.5 Kg and
effectively translates into an optimal of 1024x768 at a 32-bit color depth. The stands on a robust base which provides
resolution of 1024x768. The monitor brightness of the TFT was 250 Cd/sq.mt. adequate support. In spite of tilting,
features a brightness level of 250 Cd/m2 This TFT comes with a D-Sub connector, swiveling, adjusting the height, and
and a contrast ratio of 400:1. but there were no DVI connections. pivoting, it remained firmly in place. The
The monitor also features good The color gradations were near portrait viewing mode especially comes in
ergonomics with amply spaced buttons and average except for the gray gradations handy for designers who do not want to
an OSD with functions clearly explained. which were visibly bad. While viewing scroll down when working on documents
As for performance, the image quality was colors at an angle, the screen display or images.
excellent with vibrant colors. If you want quality was reasonably good. If All this translated into good viewing angles
a monitor that fits in cramped space and performance is not to important a and color reproduction. If you are looking
doesn’t compromise on performance then criterion, this TFT is a great choice for for a great 17-inch TFT, the VP720B would
this monitor is the one which you should basic home and office use. suit even the most demanding of tasks.
look out for. For: Nicely priced, good-looking, easily For: Excellent response time and color
For: Good image quality; very good response accessible menu buttons. reproduction; portrait screen orientation;
time; light in weight. Against: Shallow viewing angle, no DVI DVI interface.
Against: No swivel. connection. Against: Expensive.

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP


60 HARDWARE | TFT COMPARISON

17-inch TFT 19-inch TFT 19-inch TFT


AOC LM725 ViewSonic VX2235W AOC LM925

Specifications: Dimensions: (WxHxD) mm 407 x 215 x Specifications: Dimensions: (WxHxD) mm 524 x 482 x Specifications: Dimensions: (WxHxD) mm 425 x 418 x
423, Screen size: 17 inches, optimal resolution: 1280 244, Screen size: 22 inches, optimal resolution: 1680 207, Screen size: 19 inches, optimal resolution: 1280
x 1024, Aspect ratio: 4:3, Brightness: 250 Cd/sq.mt, x 105, Aspect ratio: 16:10, Brightness: 280 Cd/sq.mt, x 1024, Aspect ratio: 4:3, Brightness: 270 Cd/sq.mt,
Contrast ratio: 450:1, Response time: 16 ms. Contrast ratio: 700:1, Response time: 5 ms. Contrast ratio: 500:1, Response time: 8 ms.

Price Rs 9,600 Price Rs 29,999 Price Rs 14,500


Contact AOC Monitor Contact Roop Technology Contact AOC Monitor
Phone 0124-2806116 Phone 022-26681921 Phone 0124-2806116
E-mail jeetika@in.aocmonitor.com E-mail roop@vsnl.com E-mail jeetika@in.aocmonitor.com
Warranty 3 years Warranty 3.5 years Warranty 3 years
RATINGS RATINGS RATINGS
Features Features Features
Ergonomics Ergonomics Ergonomics
Perfomance Perfomance Perfomance
Build Quality Build Quality Build Quality
Overall Rating Overall Rating Overall Rating
Value for money Value for money Value for money

The AOC LM725 has a slew of features and a The ViewSonic VX2235W is one TFT that Coming in at under Rs 15,000, the
great price to go along with it, making this delivers great visual performance, a AOC LM925 is the most affordable
monitor the best value TFT in the 17-inch widescreen form factor and blazing fast 19-inch monitor available in the market.
category. It is elegantly designed so it response times. Weighing in at just 6 Kg, it In fact, there are several 17-inch monitors
doesn’t take up much space on the desk. stands on a solid foot which supports the available at this price. This monitor gives a
It has a pretty good contrast rate of 350:1 TFT even in extreme positions. This monitor maximum resolution of 1280 x 1024 which
along with a response time of 16 ms. The has a diagonal screen size of 22-inches and is pretty low for a screen this size.
maximum brightness that can be achieved a stunning resolution of 1680 x 1050 while The TFT stands on a solid foot which
with this monitor was 250 Cd/sq.mt led to plenty of screen real estate. allows you only one degree of freedom and
which was average when compared to The brightness of this monitor is 280 it can withstand the weight of the monitor
other 17-inch TFT’s which are about 20% Cd/sq.mt and it has a commendable even at extreme angles. The LM925 has
brighter. The maximum resolution this contrast ratio of 700:1 which is the highest a commendable response time of 8 ms
TFT could display was 1280×1024 pixels across all categories. The menu buttons which makes it worth the buy for normal
which is normal for a panel of this size. The were not placed comfortably though, you home and office users. The red and blue
menu buttons were pretty well described would need to exert a bit of dexterity to gradations were really good but the green
and nicely placed, making them easily push them. Sporting both the D-Sub or and gray gradations were visibly washed
accessible. the DVI interface, it can be used at the out. The color performance was below
There was no DVI connection which was highest of quality levels. You also have the par when viewed at extreme angles—this
surprising for a 17-inch monitor, although audio connector for the speakers provided could translate into a visible image quality
it did have integrated speakers. The color with the monitor. If your needs involve loss. If you need to be entertained and play
gradations were pretty good except for high-end 3D graphics, page layout or games without shelling out too much, and
green. With its sub-10,000 price, this video processing, this monitor is the ideal are willing to settle for a slightly lower
monitor hits a very sweet spot for entry- complement to a fast computer. performance, the LM925 is a good choice.
level applications in homes or office. For: Excellent screen resolution and image For: Nicely priced; good response time;
For: Great price; good color gradations; quality; quick response time, built-in built-in speakers; DVI connector.
speakers. speakers. Against: Color reproduction at extreme
Against: No DVI. Against: Expensive. angles was sub-par.

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


TFT COMPARISON | HARDWARE 61

| Buying guide | Personal Take


When out on a quest to buy a TFT monitor If you’re looking towards gaming, you
most people base their buying decision can stick to the conventional aspect ratio
on the size of the screen and the brand of4:3. Most importantly don’t overlook
name. There are others who simply want the response time. If the response time of
the cheapest TFT monitor or have a fixed the TFT is high the trailing in fast moving
budget. This way you may overlook some scenes will be very evident. Don’t even Faheem Sayed
faheem.sayed@chip-india.com
of the critical parameters such as the consider any monitor having a response
response time, brightness, contrast ratio, time greater than 8 milliseconds. The first thing that came to my mind when
pixel pitch, viewing angle and so on. As a Recommended models I saw the ViewSonic VX2235WM 22-inch
result you may end up buying a monitor ViewSonic VX2235WM, Asus PW201, TFT monitor was that size does matter.
that doesn’t match your requirements. TCL 983A What with its sleek black and silver
As the saying goes “it’s better to be safe Price range: Rs 16,000 – Rs 40,000 color, it looks way bigger than a 21-inch
than sorry”, it’s crucial that you make the television.
right decision rather than repenting later. Design (Imaging, 3D modeling and This monitor was the best performer
After all a TFT monitor is a long-term desktop publishing) across all the categories and beat every
investment that will stay on your desk till If you fall into this application area you other model hands down. It delivers a
the end of its life. will need a large display with extremely resolution of 1680x1050 while skimping
The right way to make a buying rich picture quality. Find out the optimal on power consumption. At this resolution,
decision is first fixing on your resolution of the TFT monitor, as this locating icons on the huge screen was
requirements or application area before is what you will work at. With a high a tad difficult. Watching movies and
jumping to the specifications. This resolution you will get more workspace playing games on this screen was a
buying guide is based on some of the on your screen. Look at the pixel pitch marvelous experience with its 16:10
most common application areas. From too. A tighter pixel pitch means that more widescreen aspect ratio, its razor-quick
the range of TFT monitors that we have pixels are packed into the same amount response time and an absence of any
evaluated, we will suggest certain models of space. This will significantly increase visible blurring. The screen exhibited
that deserve serious consideration. Even if the details in an image. Also look for good good brightness and contrast ratio.
you come across a model that isn’t a part brightness levels and high contrast ratio There was no sign of any ghosting even
of this roundup, you can use the theory to for accurate rendering of color levels and when viewed up close.
make your buying decision. contrast. The other monitor that left me floored
Recommended models is the ASUS PW201—a 21-inch monitor
Entertainment (Movies and gaming) ViewSonic VP920B, ViewSonic VX924, which tilts in almost all the directions you
When it comes to movies and games, size ViewSonic VA1912WB want it to. It’s got a camera on top of the
matters! It’s more fun to watch movies Price range: Rs 16,000 – Rs 25,000 screen which can be moved up and down.
or play games on a large screen. If you’re As for the colors it delivered great visual
planning to build a home theatre PC keep Home and office (Office suites, quality even at extreme angles. It gives
in mind that you will need a widescreen web-browsing, e-mail, etc) you a slew of connectivity options at the
display to enjoy DVD movies as most Here, the primary objective of the TFT rear of the screen like composite video,
of them are available in widescreen monitor is to substitute the bulky CRT component, audio inputs and also a USB
format. A TFT monitor with a screen size monitor. The viewing angle in this area is connection. With such an array of video
of 19-inch or greater having an aspect not of any importance since you will be inputs, it is possible to use this display
ratio of 16:9 or 16:10 should really hit the only one working most of the time. not just with your computer, but with your
the sweet spot. If you want to connect Also there’s no need for a display greater home DVD player as well. You also have
a DVD player to your monitor, it should than 15-inches for basic applications the option of using the speakers provided
have the provision for all the necessary like word processing, web browsing, with both the above models. The colors in
inputs, namely composite, component e-mailing, etc. But if you want a larger this monitor were pretty sharp and crisp
and S-video connections apart from the display, you can stretch your budget by and there were almost no gradations in
standard DVI and D-sub inputs. Coming a few thousands for a 17-inch screen. any of the hues.
to picture quality look for high brightness If you’re on a strict budget, first take a These monitors, coupled with a good
and contrast ratio as they directly look at the products which won the ‘Best surround speaker system, will prove to be a
translate into vibrant colors. Finally, make Value’ award. great addition to your home entertainment.
sure the horizontal viewing angle is at Recommended models Although both these monitors are quite
least 160 degrees so that people viewing TCL H582B, BenQ FP51G, LG Flatron L1515S expensive they are well worth the
the screen from an angle get a clear view. Price range: Rs 8,500 - Rs 10,000 price if you crave the performance.

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP


62 HARDWARE | TFT COMPARISON

SpecScan

1 2 3
CATEGORY 15-inch
Name LG Flatron L1515S LG Flatron L1520B BenQ FP51G
Contact LG Electronics India Pvt Ltd LG Electronics India Pvt Ltd BenQ India Pvt Ltd
Phone 0120-2560900 0120-2560900 9312378705
E-mail shopping3@lgindia.com shopping3@lgindia.com sudip.de@benq.com
Price* Rs 10,490 Rs 10,490 Rs 8,900
Overall
Features (out of 25) 13.39 13.03 12.70
Performance (out of 45) 30.90 26.18 29.63
Ergonomics (out of 10) 7.21 7.21 8.36
Build quality (out of 10) 7.50 8.09 5.88
Warranty and support (out of 10) 8.75 8.75 4.72
Overall (out of 100) Total: 67.75 Total: 63.26 Total: 61.29
Value for money (out of 5)
Features
Dimensions (WxHxD) (mm) 350 x 318 x 133 364 x 331 x 220 331 x 338 x 136
Weight (Kg) 2.5 3.2 3.7
Pixel pitch (mm) 0.297 0.3 0.297
Diagonal screen size (inches) 15 15 15
Scanning freq (Hor. KHz/Vert. Hz) 63 / 75 63 / 75 63 / 75
Screen aspect ratio 4:3 (Conventional) 4:3 (Conventional) 4:3 (Conventional)
Optimal resolution 1024 x 768 1024 x 768 1024 x 768
Brightness (Cd/sq.mt) 250 250 250
Contrast Ratio 400:1 400:1 400:1
Response time (ms) 12 25 16
Video input (DVI, D-sub, RGB, S-video, Composite) ✕|✓|✕|✕|✕ ✕|✓|✕|✕|✕ ✕|✓|✕|✕|✕
HDTV capable ✕ ✕ ✕
Integrated TV Tuner ✕ ✕ ✕
Performance
Viewing Angle (out of 5)
40 degrees (right/left) 3.0 / 3.0 3.3 / 3.3 4.2 / 4.2
80 degrees (right/left) 1.8 / 1.8 3.0 / 3.0 2.5 / 2.5
Colour Gradation (out of 5)
Red Gradation 5 2.5 3.5
Green Gradation 3.5 2.5 3.5
Blue Gradation 5 3.5 5
Black to White Gradation 3.5 2.5 2.5
Response Time (out of 5)
White bouncing square 2.5 2.5 2.5
Horizontally moving RGB blocks 2.5 1.5 2.5
Pixel Persistence Analysis 2.5 2.5 2
Ergonomics
Functions clearly described ✓ ✓ ✓
All buttons and switches easily reachable Good Poor Good
Brightness/contrast separate from OSD ✓ ✓ ✓
Concealed cables ✕ ✓ ✕
Feathertouch buttons ✕ ✕ ✕
Build quality
Ease of swivel ✓ ✓ ✕
Presence of sharp edges ✓ ✕ ✕
Sturdiness of stand and hinges Good Good Good
Slide-resistant base ✓ ✓ ✓
Warranty & Support
Period of warranty (years) 3 3 3
Number of authorised service centres 250 250 40
Number of cities where service centres are present 120 120 38
* Prices are indicative and are subject to change, taxes extra
INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006
TFT COMPARISON | HARDWARE 63

4 5 6 7 8
17-inch 17-inch
Samsung SyncMaster 540N TCL H582B AOC LM525 ViewSonic VP720B Samsung SyncMaster 740N
Samsung India Electronics Pvt Ltd TTE Corporation AOC Monitor Roop Technology Samsung India Electronics Pvt Ltd
011-41511234 022-40080619 0124-2806116 022-26681921 011-41511234
v.mittal@samsung.com akhtar.khan@tcl.com jeetika@in.aocmonitor.com roop@vsnl.com v.mittal@samsung.com
Rs 9,300 Rs 8,700 Rs 8,500 Rs 15,999 Rs 11,000

12.90 11.56 12.89 16.87 15.09


20.70 24.98 21.98 33.68 30.23
7.21 8.57 6.79 7.57 9.43
6.62 5.29 3.97 5.88 6.18
7.83 4.20 5.50 7.02 7.83
Total: 55.27 Total: 54.60 Total: 51.12 Total: 71.02 Total: 68.75

337.5 x 333.8 x 180 439 x 450 x 125 432 x 440 x 198 376 x 463 x 229 366 x 378 x 201
3.65 4 3 5.5 3.4
0.297 0.297 0.297 0.264 0.264
15 15 15 17 17
61 / 75 83 / 75 60 / 75 82 / 85 81 / 75
4:3 (Conventional) 4:3 (Conventional) 4:3 (Conventional) 4:3 (Conventional) 4:3 (Conventional)
1024 x 768 1024 x 768 1024 x 768 1280 x 1024 1280 x 1024
250 250 250 280 300
450:1 400:1 400:1 500:1 600:1
16 16 25 4 8
✕|✓|✕|✕|✕ ✕|✓|✕|✕|✕ ✕|✓|✕|✕|✕ ✓|✓|✕|✕|✕ ✕|✓|✕|✕|✕
✕ ✕ ✕ ✕ ✕
✕ ✕ ✕ ✕ ✕

2.5 / 2.5 2.5 / 2.5 2.2 / 2.2 5.0 / 5.0 4.2 / 4.2
2.5 / 2.5 1.5 / 1.5 1.5 / 1.5 4.2 / 4.2 4.2 / 4.2

1.5 2.5 3.5 3.5 2.5


1.5 3.5 1.5 2.5 3.5
2.5 3.5 2.5 5 3.5
1.5 2.5 1.5 2.5 2.5

1.5 2.5 2.5 3.5 3.5


2.5 2.5 2.5 3.5 2.5
2 2 2 3 2.5

✕ ✓ ✓ ✕ ✓
Good Good Good Good Good
✓ ✕ ✕ ✓ ✓
✓ ✕ ✓ ✕ ✓
✕ ✕ ✕ ✕ ✕

✓ ✕ ✕ ✕ ✓
✕ ✕ ✕ ✕ ✕
Good Good Average Good Average
✓ ✓ ✕ ✓ ✓

3 3 3 3 3
140 24 60 102 140
120 24 60 102 120

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP


64 HARDWARE | TFT COMPARISON

SpecScan

9 10 11
CATEGORY 17-inch
Name AOC LM725 Zenith Z17 BenQ FP71G +S
Contact AOC Monitor Zenith Helpdesk BenQ India Pvt Ltd
Phone 0124-2806116 1800-22-2004 9312378705
E-mail jeetika@in.aocmonitor.com info@zenith-india.com sudip.de@benq.com
Price* Rs 9,600 Rs 11,500 Rs 10,750
Overall
Features (out of 25) 14.19 15.04 14.92
Performance (out of 45) 33.30 32.55 29.25
Ergonomics (out of 10) 8.14 8.71 8.79
Build quality (out of 10) 5.59 5.88 5.59
Warranty and support (out of 10) 5.50 1.58 4.72
Overall (out of 100) Total: 66.72 Total: 63.77 Total: 63.26
Value for money (out of 5)
Features
Dimensions (WxHxD) (mm) 407 x 215 x 423 380 x 402 x 214 362 x 378 x 135
Weight (Kg) 4.5 4.3 3.8
Pixel pitch (mm) 0.264 0.264 0.264
Diagonal screen size (inches) 17 17 17
Scanning freq (Hor. KHz/Vert. Hz) 83 / 75 81 / 75 83 / 76
Screen aspect ratio 4:3 (Conventional) 4:3 (Conventional) 4:3 (Conventional)
Optimal resolution 1280 x 1024 1280 x 1024 1280 x 1024
Brightness (Cd/sq.mt) 250 300 250
Contrast Ratio 450:1 500:1 500:1
Response time (ms) 16 8 8
Video input (DVI, D-sub, RGB, S-video, Composite) ✕|✓|✕|✕|✕ ✕|✓|✕|✕|✕ ✓|✓|✕|✕|✕
HDTV capable ✕ ✕ ✕
Integrated TV Tuner ✕ ✕ ✕
Performance
Viewing Angle (out of 5)
40 degrees (right/left) 5.0 / 5.0 4.2 / 4.2 4.2 / 4.2
80 degrees (right/left) 2.5 / 2.5 2.5 / 2.5 3.3 / 3.3
Colour Gradation (out of 5)
Red Gradation 5 5 2.5
Green Gradation 3.5 3.5 3.5
Blue Gradation 5 5 3.5
Black to White Gradation 3.5 3.5 1.5
Response Time (out of 5)
White bouncing square 1.5 2.5 2.5
Horizontally moving RGB blocks 2.5 2.5 3.5
Pixel Persistence Analysis 3 2.5 3
Ergonomics
Functions clearly described ✓ ✓ ✓
All buttons and switches easily reachable Good Good Good
Brightness/contrast separate from OSD ✕ ✓ ✓
Concealed cables ✕ ✕ ✕
Feathertouch buttons ✕ ✕ ✕
Build quality
Ease of swivel ✓ ✓ ✕
Presence of sharp edges ✕ ✕ ✕
Sturdiness of stand and hinges Average Average Good
Slide-resistant base ✓ ✓ ✓
Warranty & Support
Period of warranty (years) 3 1 3
Number of authorised service centres 60 13 40
Number of cities where service centres are present 60 13 38
* Prices are indicative and are subject to change, taxes extra
INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006
TFT COMPARISON | HARDWARE 65

12 13 14 15 16
19-inch
Asus PM17TU TCL 7005L12 Asus PW201 ViewSonic VX2235WM ViewSonic VP920B
ASUSTeK Computer Inc TTE Corporation ASUSTeK Computer Inc Roop Technology Roop Technology
022-40058891 022-40080619 022-40058891 022-26681921 022-26681921
media_india@asus.com akhtar.khan@tcl.com media_india@asus.com roop@vsnl.com roop@vsnl.com
Rs 18,000 Rs 11,200 Rs 38,000 Rs 29,999 Rs 18,999

17.04 13.82 18.64 17.62 17.41


20.78 21.38 37.24 41.14 34.16
6.64 8.36 10.14 6.29 7.57
4.12 2.35 8.82 6.32 5.88
3.80 4.27 3.80 7.02 7.02
Total: 52.38 Total: 50.18 Total: 78.64 Total: 78.39 Total: 72.04

390 x 416 x 180 210 x 455 x 460 496 x 560 x 280 524 x 482 x 244 416 x 479 x 238
4.5 7 9.7 6 6.3
0.264 0.264 0.258 0.282 0.294
17 17 20 22 19
60 / 75 80 / 75 81 / 75 82 / 85 82 / 85
4:3 (Conventional) 4:3 (Conventional) 16:10 (Widescreen) 16:10 (Widescreen) 16:10 (Widescreen)
1280 x 1024 1280 x 1024 1680 x 1050 1680 x 1050 1280 x 1024
500 300 300 280 250
600:1 500:1 800:1 700:1 500:1
4 7 8 5 4
✓|✓|✕|✕|✕ ✕|✓|✕|✕|✕ ✓|✓|✓|✓|✓ ✓|✓|✕|✕|✕ ✓|✓|✕|✕|✕
✕ ✕ ✕ ✕ ✕
✕ ✕ ✕ ✕ ✕

5.0 / 5.0 2.5 / 2.5 5.0 / 5.0 5.0 / 5.0 5.0 / 5.0
3.3 / 3.3 2.2 / 2.2 5.0 / 5.0 3.3 / 3.3 5.0 / 5.0

1 1.5 3.5 5 3.5


1 1.5 3.5 5 2.5
1 2.5 5 5 5
1 1.5 3.5 3.5 1.5

3.5 2.5 2.5 5 3.5


3.5 2.5 3.5 5 3.5
2 2.5 4.3 4.3 3.8

✕ ✓ ✓ ✕ ✕
Poor Good Good Average Good
✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓
✓ ✕ ✓ ✕ ✕
✕ ✕ ✓ ✕ ✕

✕ ✕ ✓ ✕ ✕
✕ ✕ ✕ ✕ ✕
Average Average Good Good Good
✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓

3 3 3 3 3
13 26 13 102 102
13 26 13 102 102

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP


66 HARDWARE | TFT COMPARISON

SpecScan

17 18 19
CATEGORY
Name ViewSonic VA 1912WB TCL 983A AOC LM925
Contact Roop Technology TTE Corporation AOC Monitor
Phone 022-26681921 022-40080619 0124-2806116
E-mail roop@vsnl.com akhtar.khan@tcl.com jeetika@in.aocmonitor.com
Price* Rs 15,999 Rs 16,000 Rs 14,500
Overall
Features (out of 25) 16.56 14.86 15.37
Performance (out of 45) 30.08 35.93 33.15
Ergonomics (out of 10) 9.86 8.57 8.14
Build quality (out of 10) 5.00 4.85 5.88
Warranty and support (out of 10) 7.02 4.27 5.50
Overall (out of 100) Total: 68.51 Total: 68.48 Total: 68.04
Value for money (out of 5)
Features
Dimensions (WxHxD) (mm) 451 x 391 x 197 440 x 365 x 150 425 x 418 x 207
Weight (Kg) 4.5 4.8 5.9
Pixel pitch (mm) 0.285 0.289 0.294
Diagonal screen size (inches) 19 19 19
Scanning freq (Hor. KHz/Vert. Hz) 82 / 85 80 / 76 83 / 75
Screen aspect ratio 16:10 (Widescreen) 16:10 (Widescreen) 4:3 (Conventional)
Optimal resolution 1440 x 900 1440 x 900 1280 x 1024
Brightness (Cd/sq.mt) 280 300 270
Contrast Ratio 700:1 500:1 500:1
Response time (ms) 8 8 8
Video input (DVI, D-sub, RGB, S-video, Composite) ✓|✓|✕|✕|✕ ✓|✓|✕|✕|✕ ✓|✓|✕|✕|✕
HDTV capable ✕ ✕ ✕
Integrated TV Tuner ✕ ✕ ✕
Performance
Viewing Angle (out of 5)
40 degrees (right/left) 4.2 / 4.2 3.0 / 3.0 5.0 / 5.0
80 degrees (right/left) 3.0 / 3.0 2.2 / 2.2 3.3 / 3.3
Colour Gradation (out of 5)
Red Gradation 3.5 5 5
Green Gradation 1.5 5 3.5
Blue Gradation 5 5 5
Black to White Gradation 1.5 5 2.5
Response Time (out of 5)
White bouncing square 3.5 3.5 2.5
Horizontally moving RGB blocks 3.5 3.5 2.5
Pixel Persistence Analysis 3 3 2.5
Ergonomics
Functions clearly described ✓ ✓ ✓
All buttons and switches easily reachable Good Good Good
Brightness/contrast separate from OSD ✓ ✕ ✕
Concealed cables ✓ ✕ ✕
Feathertouch buttons ✕ ✕ ✕
Build quality
Ease of swivel ✕ ✕ ✓
Presence of sharp edges ✕ ✕ ✕
Sturdiness of stand and hinges Good Average Average
Slide-resistant base ✕ ✓ ✓
Warranty & Support
Period of warranty (years) 3 3 3
Number of authorised service centres 102 26 60
Number of cities where service centres are present 102 26 60
* Prices are indicative and are subject to change, taxes extra
INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006
TFT COMPARISON | HARDWARE 67

20 21 22 23 24
LG Flatron L1950SQ ViewSonic VG2021M Samsung SyncMaster 940BW HP L1906 VU 19W1
LG Electronics India Pvt Ltd Roop Technology Samsung India Electronics Pvt Ltd Rashi Peripherals Pvt Ltd VU Suite
0120-2560900 022-26681921 011-41511234 022-67090909 022-64502424
shopping3@lgindia.com roop@vsnl.com v.mittal@samsung.com navinderc@rptechindia.com info@technologies.vu
Rs 18,990 Rs 19,999 Rs 16,500 Rs 19,990 Rs 13,000

15.48 16.26 16.85 14.64 15.64


29.25 31.13 28.88 25.05 24.68
8.14 6.00 7.57 8.64 7.07
5.59 5.88 5.15 5.88 2.50
8.75 7.02 7.83 9.44 3.80
Total: 67.22 Total: 66.28 Total: 66.27 Total: 63.66 Total: 53.69

413 x 421 x 230.5 458 x 465 x 205 439 x 327.3 x 200 422 x 427 x 203 445 x 373 x 185
5.7 8.4 5.6 5.3 5.3
0.294 0.264 0.285 0.294 0.285
19 20 19 19 19
83 / 75 82 / 76 81 / 75 83 / 76 81 / 75
4:3 (Conventional) 16:10 (Widescreen) 16:10 (Widescreen) 4:3 (Conventional) 16:10 (Widescreen)
1280 x 1024 1400 x 1050 1440 x 900 1280 x 1024 1440 x 900
300 300 300 250 250
700:1 500:1 500:1 500:1 500:1
8 8 4 12 8
✕|✓|✕|✕|✕ ✓|✓|✕|✕|✕ ✓|✓|✕|✕|✕ ✕|✓|✕|✕|✕ ✓|✓|✕|✕|✕
✕ ✕ ✕ ✕ ✕
✕ ✕ ✕ ✕ ✕

5.0 / 5.0 5.0 / 5.0 5.0 / 5.0 3.3 / 3.3 2.5 / 2.5
2.5 / 2.5 5.0 / 5.0 3.3 / 3.3 2.5 / 2.5 2.2 / 2.2

3.5 2.5 3.5 1.5 2.5


2.5 2.5 2.5 1.5 2.5
2.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5
2.5 2.5 2.5 1.5 2.5

2.5 3.5 2.5 3.5 2.5


2.5 2.5 2.5 3.5 2.5
3.5 3 2 2.5 2

✓ ✕ ✕ ✓ ✓
Good Poor Good Good Average
✕ ✓ ✓ ✕ ✕
✓ ✕ ✓ ✕ ✓
✕ ✕ ✕ ✕ ✕

✓ ✕ ✕ ✕ ✕
✕ ✕ ✕ ✕ ✕
Poor Good Average Good Average
✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✕

3 3 3 3 3
250 102 140 400 13
120 102 120 100 13

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP


68 HARDWARE | PRODUCT OF THE MONTH

Blue-eyed babies
Our products of the month this time are based on the new optical drive
technology—Blu-ray. We take a look at how it works and follow it up with
comprehensive reviews

T
he need to archive large amounts What is Blu-ray? the higher frequency segment in the
of data is a common requirement Blu-ray is the next-generation technology visible spectrum of light, thus resulting
for organizations and individuals in optical storage after VHS, CD and in a lower wavelength (refer to box).
alike as access to data becomes simple DVD. The Blu-ray standard was jointly The wavelength of the laser used in
and speedy. While organizations have a developed by a group of consumer Blu-ray drives is 405 nm. To put it into
distinct need for large capacity storage electronics and PC companies called perspective, a CD drive uses an infrared
for backup of server as well as client data, the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA), laser operating at a wavelength of
such storage requirements are not always spearheaded by Sony. It is designed 780 nm while a DVD drive uses a red laser
justified for casual users. With the increase for high-density storage of high- operating at a wavelength of 650 nm.
in broadband penetration as well as definition video and data. It is currently So, as we can see, using a light source
significant changes in the entertainment competing with the HD DVD format for that has a lower wavelength causes a
industry, high storage space requirements wide adoption as the preferred next smaller laser beam. This is advantageous
are slowly going to become mainstream. generation optical standard. because it can focus better at a point on
Optical storage consisted only of CD the media surface from a fixed distance
media in a not so distant past and the use How Blu-ray works as the wave travels faster and hits the
of DVD media is getting common with A Blu-ray drive looks and works in surface before it disperses. Thus the
the decrease in prices of DVD writers traditionally the same way as any other light ray used in a Blu-ray drive is more
and media. This month we were part of optical drive. The difference is that accurate in pinpointing a particular
another breakthrough in optical storage Blu-ray drives use a violet-blue laser to area on the media surface. As the
technology with Sony’s launch of Blu-ray read data from an optical drive media focusing capability gets finer, media
enabled devices in India—an optical rather then the infrared light that is used manufacturers can increase the track
storage writer and a notebook featuring by CDs and red laser light used by DVD pitch (refer to box) on the media thus
Blu-ray technology. writers. The violet-blue color falls into increasing the media’s storage capacity.
Jagdish Limbachiya
INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006
PRODUCT OF THE MONTH | HARDWARE 69

Advantages of Blu-ray compromised by an attacker, the licensing


Size authority can simply revoke those keys in | Jargon
The Blu-ray drive comes in a five-and-a future content, making the keys/player Wavelength
quarter inch form factor which is the same useless for decrypting new titles. So you We all know that light is a form of
as other optical storage devices like CD or cannot rip the BD content like a DVD electromagnetic waves. Like any other
DVD. This means that your Blu-ray drive content unless the encryption scheme is wave, light travels in the form of a sine
will look and feel the same as any other compromised. Blu-ray discs will also have wave. The distance (measured in the
optical drive. It will seamlessly integrate the capability to add information at a direction of propagation) between two
itself into the drive bay of PC cabinet or physical level (called ROM-Mark in case of points in the same phase in consecutive
even a laptop. A Blu-ray media supports Blu-ray) which makes it difficult to make cycles of a wave is called wavelength.
the 12 cm form factor and also has a carbon copies of the media. This helps
thickness of 1.2 mm, the same as a CD or reduce piracy. Track Pitch
DVD media. The data track of an optical disc is a
Performance spiral starting from the center of the
Storage capacity With the use of a violet-blue light, the disc; The distance (in micro meters)
Even though the Blu-ray disc supports the track densities can be increased and more between the two intersection points on
same form factor as a CD or a DVD disc, it data can be stored in the same form factor the concentric rows starting from the
supports a whopping capacity of 25 GB on of an optical disc. Blu-ray drives perform center of the circle is known as track
a single layer disk. This means that you can the read/write operations using Constant pitch. When the track pitch is reduced,
store up to 5 DVDs or 32 CDs worth of data Linear Velocity allowing them to sustain a it means that the distance between the
on a single Blu-ray disc. constant throughput rate. This would not concentric rows is lower and that the
result in any artifacts or distortions while resulting track is much longer, thus you
Copy protection and digital rights watching a Blu-ray movie, for example. can store more data.
management
The movies that are distributed on a DVD Disadvantages of Blu-ray Disc and data reliability
media use an encryption system called Costs of drive and media The cover layer of the Blu-ray disc is very
CSS (Content Scrambling System). This Just like it happens with any new thin measuring 0.1 mm compared to the
encryption system has been defeated technology, the initial costs are always 0.6 mm coating of a CD or DVD media.
thus allowing users to decode (rip) the high. The Blu-ray drive includes two lasers This makes the Blu-ray discs more prone
contents of a DVD movie. This has been instead of the single laser system used in to damage from scratches and smudges.
taken a step further in Blu-ray which uses CD and DVD drives. This is done in order to To overcome this limitation, an extra layer
AACS (Advanced Access Content System) facilitate backward compatibility with the of protective material needs to be added
which makes use of stronger encryption existing CD and DVD optical media. This to the Blu-ray disc, which in turn increases
algorithms like AES (Advanced Encryption increases the production cost due to the use the cost of the media.
Standard). The AACS standard provisions of additional hardware. The production of
each individual player with a unique Blu-ray disc will involve more cost, because Last word
set of decryption keys which are used the companies will have to add equipment Blu-ray drives are the next step in optical
in a broadcast encryption scheme. This for the cover layer. Also, because the Blu-ray storage. Now that the Blu-ray drives are
approach allows licensors to “revoke” media use a completely different design, a reality, we will be able to see 1080p
the decryption keys associated with the their production is not on the lines of a CD high-definition movies on our computer
player. Thus, if a given player’s keys are or DVD media. systems. Also, with HD cameras becoming
more mainstream, a two-hour movie can
be recorded on the Blu-ray medium. This
can be used in Blu-ray players and you can
view high definition movies on your plasma
or LCD TV. We would also like to add that
Blu-ray media is not as easily available as a
CD or a DVD disc. Also, the cost of the media
is Rs 1,000; instead one can buy six DVDs
at a total price of Rs 120 to store equal
amounts of data. In future when prices
of the drives and media plummet and the
The transition from infrared to blue laser The distance between two consecutive
leads to higher storage capacity troughs or crests is called Wavelength media becomes mainstream, Blu-ray might
be a good storage alternative.

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP

SMS us! Story code: HPM (See Page 20 for details)


70 HARDWARE | PRODUCT OF THE MONTH

Sony VAIO VGN-AR18GP Sony VAIO VGN-AR18GP Sony BWU-100A Blu-ray writer
Notebook Specifications: Processor: Intel Core Duo T2600,
Memory: 1 GB PC4200, Hard drive: 75 GB, Optical
Specifications: Interface : Internal ATAPI/E-IDE,
The Sony VAIO VGN-AR18GP desktop drive: 2x Blu-ray writer, Graphics: Nvidia Gforce Go Read/Write Speed: BD-R/BD-RE/BD-ROM (2x),

7600 256 MB, Display : 17-inch TFT, Dimensions DVD+R/DVD-R/DVD-ROM (8x), DVD+RW/DVD-RW :
replacement notebook is the first to
(WxDxH mm): 416 x 300 x 44, Weight: 3.8 kg (8x/6x), DVD-DL/DVD-RAM (4x/5x)
use the next generation Blu-ray optical
drive. Price Rs 1,99,900 Price Rs 44,300
Contact Sony India Contact Rashi Peripherals Pvt Ltd

Features Phone
E-mail
1800-11-11-88 (Toll Free)
sonyindia.care@ap.sony.com
Phone
E-mail
022 67090909
navinderc@rptechindia.com
Powered by the dual core Intel Centrino Website www.sony.com Website www.sony.com
Duo T2600 processor (Yonah) running Warranty 1 year Warranty 1 year

at 2.16 GHz, it has enough horsepower RATINGS RATINGS


to play your high-definition movie Performance Performance

content. It features 1 GB of DDR2 Value for money Value for money

memory which is pretty much standard


for all entertainment desktops. Another Build quality for Rs 1,99,900. Like most other Sony
striking feature of this laptop is the The first thing that catches your eye notebooks, it is priced very high.
Nvidia Gforce Go 7600GT graphics card when you look at the notebook is However, it is future proof and you are
that comes with 256 MB of memory its massive size. The size is justified left in awe the moment you see a HD
making it a complete gaming system. considering its massive 17-inch TFT wide movie on it.
The 1920x1200 high resolution screen. Picture quality on the LCD is crisp

Sony BWU-100A Blu-ray


facilitates playing 1080p HD video. and crystal clear. The notebook is black,
With three USB 2 ports, a mini FireWire complemented with a glossy finish.
and an ExpressCard/54 slot catering
for modern peripherals. A media card
Although this provides for good looks,
it is prone to smudges. It weighs a good
writer
reader supporting memory stick and SD 3.8 kg, so you will have a good exercise Features
formats are in the front, and a 0.37- carrying it around. The expansion slots The BWU-100A drive supports recording
megapixel webcam is hidden in the top are neatly covered with a series of flaps both 50 GB and 25 GB BD-R (write once)
bezel of the screen. The HDCP-compliant coated with a metallic finish. and BD-RE (rewritable) discs, as well as
HDMI output is welcome, and there’s 4.7 GB DVD+R/+RW/RAM, 8.5GB DVD+R
also S-Video in/out and a VGA output. Performance Dual Layer, and CD-R/-RW discs. Sony
Connectivity options include a 10/100 We were quite impressed with the bundles the Cyberlink suite along with
Ethernet, a 56K modem, Bluetooth performance of the VAIO. In our the drive that can be used to view HD
and an 802.11a/b/g wireless LAN. We performance tests, the Sisoft Sandra CPU quality movies and a Blu-ray mastering
were not so impressed with the audio arithmetic benchmark score was at par software to write to the Blu-ray writable
capability of the speakers built into this with that of most high-end notebooks and rewritable disks.
notebook. It lacked in quality sound (it recorded scores of 14,732 Dhrystones
effects like bass, treble; considering it is and 10,864 Whetstones). The heavy Performance
an entertainment notebook, Sony could duty processor underperformed in the The drive was able to copy 23.3 GB data
have done better. battery mode, which made watching HD on a single sided Blu-ray disk in about 47
movies a impossible task. The filesystem minutes at 2x speeds. This means that
benchmark crossed the 50 MB/s mark—a the drive can write at a speed of about
result of two 5400 rpm drives configured 8.44 MBps which is equivalent to that of
in RAID 0, which was pretty impressive. a 12x DVD writer but slower than recent
A record score of 5126 3D Marks ensured writers that can write to DVD media at
top spot in graphics. It meant that we speeds of about 12 MBps.
could play Doom 3 at decent framerates,
at 1600x1200 resolution with 4x anti- Verdict
aliasing enabled. It provided about an At a whopping price of Rs 44,300, we feel
hour and 10 minutes of battery life—way this writer is not meant for the average
too low for watching HD movies. user. It instead aimed at studio editors
A red and a blue laser ensures the Blu-ray who need lots of storage space for
drive is backward compatible Verdict editing HD movies. 
The Sony VAIO VGN-AR18GP retails | Kunal Rupera

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


Gaming
No matter what your budget, arm yourself with these configurations for firepower
to enjoy your favorite games
CATEGORY ENTRY-LEVEL PRICE (Rs) MID-RANGE PRICE (Rs)

Processor AMD Athlon 64 3200+ (Socket AM2) 5,750 AMD Athlon 64 X2 3600+ (Socket AM2) 8,600

Motherboard ASRock AM2V890-VSTA 3,800 MSI K9N NeoF 4,900

RAM 512 MB Transcend DDR2 533 MHz 2,900 2x512 MB Transcend DDR2 533 MHz 5,800

Hard Disk Samsung SpinPoint HD160JJ 3,350 Western Digital WD3200KS 320 GB 6,000

Graphics Card Forsa 7600GS PCI-E 256 MB 7,500 BIG 7600GT-T2D256E 256 MB 10,700

Optical Drive Lite-On SHW-1635S Dual Layer DVD Writer 2,300 Lite-On SHW-1635S Dual Layer DVD Writer 2,300

Network Card Onboard 10/100 Fast Ethernet Nil Onboard 10/100/1000 GbE Nil

Monitor Samsung SyncMaster 740N 11,250 ViewSonic VP920B 18,999

Keyboard Microsoft Wired Desktop 500 - Combo 825 Microsoft Internet Keyboard 650

Mouse — Nil Logitech MX510 2,500

Speakers 2.1 Logitech X-230 3,300 Altec Lansing MX5021 7,100

Speakers 5.1 Logitech X-530 5,900 Logitech Z-5300 11,000

Soundcard Creative Sound Blaster Live 5.1 1,550 Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 Value 24-bit 2,000

PC Case Blues MF-421 Case and Power Supply 1,375 Cooler Master Elite 330 3,000

Power Supply — Nil PowerSafe 400 Watts 1,600


Disclaimer: We’ve mentioned the lowest street prices here. These prices are indicative and subject to change.

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


Workstation
No animation or imaging application is too
strenuous for this configuration
HIGH-END PRICE (Rs) CATEGORY PRODUCT PRICE (Rs)

AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ (Socket AM2) 14,500 Processor Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 27,500

Asus M2N32 SLI Deluxe 18,000 Motherboard Gigabyte GA-965P-DQ6 16,400

2 x 512 MB Kingston KHX6400D2K2/1G 800 MHz 14,500 RAM 2x1 GB Transcend DDR2 533 MHz 5,800

Seagate ST3750640AS 23,200 Hard Drive Western Digital Raptor 1500ADFD 150 GB 15,000

XFX GeForce 7950GX2 38,000 Graphics Card Leadtek Quadro FX 540 128 MB 9,750

Optical Drive Lite-On SHW-1635S Dual Layer DVD 2,300


Lite-On SHW-1635S Dual Layer DVD Writer 2,300
Writer

On-board 10/100/1000 GbE Nil Network Card Onboard 10/100/1000 GbE Nil

ViewSonic VG2021M 19,999 Monitor Viewsonic P97F+ 18,600

Logitech G-15 Gaming Keyboard 4,850 Keyboard Microsoft Internet Keyboard 650

Logitech MX518 2,500 Mouse Logitech MX510 2,500

Klipsch Promedia GMX A-2.1 11,150 Speakers 5.1 Logitech Z-5500 Digital 23,000

Logitech Z-5500 Digital 23,000 Soundcard Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Elite Pro 27,000

Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 4 5,800 PC Case Antec Performance P180 Silver 9,950

Antec Super Lanboy 5,500 Power Supply Cooler Master iGreen 500W 6,900

Cooler Master iGreen 500W 6,900 Input Device Wacom Graphire4 Tablet 6 x 8 9,000
(Optional)

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP

SMS us! Story code: HPC (See Page 20 for details)


74 HARDWARE | PC
PRODUCT
CONFIGS
OF THE MONTH

Home
This is your no-frills, wallet-friendly
HTPC
If it’s home theater you crave, this
configuration for basic home computing system will deliver serious thrills
CATEGORY PRODUCT PRICE (Rs) CATEGORY PRODUCT PRICE (Rs)

Processor AMD Sempron 64 2800+ (Socket AM2) 3,100 Processor AMD Athlon 64 3200+ (Socket AM2) 5,750

Motherboard ASRock AM2V890-VSTA 3,800 Motherboard MSI K9NGM2 with SPDIF In/Out 4,350

RAM 512 MB Transcend DDR2 533 MHz 2,900 RAM 2x512 MB Transcend DDR2 533 MHz 5,800

Hard Drive Hitachi DeskStar 7K80 80 GB 2,300 Hard Drive Western Digital WD2500KS 250 GB 4,650

Graphics Card XFX GeForce 6200 TC 256MB 2,500 Graphics Card Onboard Graphics Nil

Optical Drive Lite-On SHW-1635S Dual Layer DVD Writer 2,300 Optical Drive Lite-On SHW-1635S Dual Layer DVD Writer 2,300

Network Card Onboard 10/100 Fast Ethernet Nil Network Card Onboard 10/100/1000 GbE Nil

Monitor Samsung SyncMaster 793S CRT 5,000 Monitor ViewSonic VX2235WM 29,999

Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop


Keyboard Microsoft Wired Desktop 500 - Combo 825 Keyboard 1,600
1000 - Combo

Mouse — Nil Mouse — Nil


Speakers 5.1 Logitech X-530 5,900
Speakers (Entry-level, Logitech Z-5300e 11,000
Creative SBS240 500
Stereo 2.0 Mid-range, Logitech Z-5500 Digital 23,000
High-end)
Speakers
Creative SBS370 1,250
Stereo 2.1 Soundcard Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2,100
Value 24-bit
Soundcard Onboard Nil PC Case Cooler Master Media 260 8,950

PC Case Blues MF-421 Case and Power Supply 1,375 Power Supply Cooler Master Extreme Power 350 2,100

Power Supply — Nil TV Tuner Compro VideoMate Gold Plus II 3,500

| Anand Tuliani and Kunal Rupera


INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006
FEATURE | HARDWARE 75

The physics
of PhysX
We put Asus’ Ageia PhysX P1 card to the
grind to find out whether it spices up your
gaming experience

A
step ahead of graphics cards, PhysX cards applications such as games, video and photo
enhance the visual aspect of games with editing software. It accelerates memory-intensive
more realistic details. As of now there work such as texture mapping and rendering
are only two players offering these cards—BFG polygons. It adds units to accelerate geometric
Technologies and Asus in partnership with Ageia. calculations such as translating vertices into
We got our hands on Asus’ PhysX P1 Physics different coordinate systems to control the
Processing Unit (PPU) with 128 MB of memory. The physics aspect of games. But now with the advent
256 MB version is yet to be launched. of the PPU, the physics aspect is taken care of and
So what is a PPU and how do we use it? The the load on the GPU is lessened.
Central Processing Unit (CPU) or the processor The PPU has approximately 125 million
takes care of all the complicated computations transistors and is based on the 130nm
for any application to run smoothly. The Graphical manufacturing process. The memory used is the
Processing Unit (GPU) or the graphics card was GDDR3 RAM with 733 MHz speed. It has 20G
invented to take the load off the CPU and make instruction/second data transfer speed and 2
it a standalone controller for graphics. The GPU Tbps internal memory bandwidth, which is way
comes handy in running all graphics-heavy higher than a high-end GPU with not more than

| Specifications Chart
Processor Type AGEIA PhysX
Bus Technology 32-bit PCI 3.0 Interface
Memory Interface 128-bit GDDR3 memory architecture
Memory Capacity 128 MB
Memory Bandwidth 12 GB/sec
Effective Memory Data Rate 733 MHz
Peak Instruction Bandwidth 20 billion instructions/sec
Sphere-Sphere collision/sec 530 million max
Pramod Jadhav
Convex-Convex collision/sec 533,000 max

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP

SMS us! Story code: HFP (See Page 20 for details)


76 HARDWARE | FEATURE

xxxxxxxxx | Upcoming Games


Here are the games based on the Ageia
Physics engine:
Joint Task Force
Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends
xxxxxxxxx
Diabolique
Alpha Prime
Cell Factor
Fallen Earth

x
xxxxxxxxxxxx Bet on Soldier: Blood Sport
Thanks to the PhysX card, controlling Blow away all the objects and watch the
Gunship Apocalypse
objects is a cakewalk in Cell Factor superb effects
Sacred II
With PhysX Card (fps) Without PhysX Card (fps) Crazy Machine 2
GRAW 48.36 48.2 Unreal Tournament 2007
F.E.A.R 75 75 Arena Online
Eye of the Storm
Doom 3 130.2 130

350 Gbps internal memory bandwidth. It card. The card has pretty good cooling enough so as to reduce the load on the GPU.
occupies one PCI slot of your motherboard. features with a 2.5 cm fan and a heat sink The card bundles two games, Tom
While testing we realized that there was an directly placed on the PPU. Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter
increase in the total power requirement of When it comes to graphics, this card is (GRAW) and a demo of Cell Factor. It is
the test rig with the physics card. The test rig a delight—whenever an explosion occurs, mandatory to have the physics accelerator
we used consisted of an AMD Athlon 64 FX you can see flying debris all around. While card to play Cell Factor, which has some
60 processor with 2 GB DDR2 RAM and an it would be great to navigate through the really good particle effects and mind-
Nvidia GeForce 7800GTX 256 MB graphics debris created, here it disappears quickly blowing graphics. The game is a futuristic

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


FEATURE | HARDWARE 77

We tested the PPU at different resolutions


(the highest resolution that the 7800GTX
card supports is 1360x786 at 75 Hz), at
1250x1024 and 1024x768 at 75 Hz and the
game ran without any hitches. However, we
noticed that there were lags in the game
with the card rather than without.
We tried testing the card with some
older games like Doom 3, F.E.A.R., etc. But
since these games don’t support the physics
engine of this card, there was no visible
Visual effects are enhanced with the PhysX In-game explosions look tamer without
difference in the gameplay as is evident
card as you can see in this shot from GRAW the PhysX card
from the table below, which shows the fps
shooter whose one demo map is replete In-game explosions look more realistic, with of the games we tested, with and without
with boxes, pipes, and other objects that bricks falling off buildings and exploding the PhysX card. However, a slew of games
behave like their real-life counterparts. cars with physics acceleration turned on. tailor-made for this card are in the pipeline
Boxes scatter and explode when hit by Without physics acceleration, the explosions (refer to box above).
grenades, heavy rolling pipes attack you; look a little tamer (see screenshot below). As this card is pretty expensive
thanks to the telekinetic abilities, you can Except for this little detailed effect, there’s (Rs 16,950 with the game bundled and
hurl yourself and plenty of objects around not much to talk about this card as of now. Rs 15,500 without it) and requires you to
the map. What really catches your attention We calculated the fps with and without the have a high-end graphics card installed
in this game are not effects, but the number card for this game and from the readings along with a game that supports the card’s
of objects that are in your control; it’s a big we obtained, we came to the conclusion physics engine, we don’t recommend as it
leap in game developing, undoubtedly. that there’s hardly any difference between does not make any tangible difference to
In case of the other game GRAW, you can the two. Without the card, the average fps your gaming experience. 
play it with or without physics acceleration. was 48.2 and with the card it was 48.4. | Faheem Sayed

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP


78 HARDWARE | TECHNOLOGY LANDSCAPE

Gorgeous Graphics
Want a more realistic gaming experience? Pick from this guide to graphics cards
Entry-level Mid-range High-end

Models: ATI Radeon X1300 Pro, Nvidia GeForce 7300 Models: XFX 6600GT, PowerColor X800GTO, Models: XFX GeForce 7950 GX2, GeCube Radeon
GS, S3 Graphics Chrome S27 Gainward 1980PCX Ultra. X1900 XTX

Budget: Rs 3,500 – Rs 5,500 Budget: Rs 5,500 – Rs 15,000 Budget: Above Rs 18,000

T his category of graphics card is mainly


aimed at users who are casual gamers
and who don’t want eye candy and enhanced
T he mid-range category of cards will
give you good performance and some
features at a reasonably good price. This
A modern high-end graphics card is an
extremely complex device as it consists
of an immense number of transistors
performance for the games they play. The category normally has 12 or more pipelines and has to provide stable operation at
cards here don’t have support for DVI-I and with Shader 3.0 version support. These cards frequencies above 500-600 MHz. The
have a lower number of pipelines, which also have support for D-Sub/DVI/S-Vid. Of power consumption of such a card should
are not more than four in this category. all the cards in this category, the Nvidia also be as minimal as possible. These cards
Most of these cards support Direct X 9.0c 6600GT delivers a superb performance. have commendable cooling features not
and so will play most of the games but at The 6600 GT is one out of a handful of present in the entry-level and mid-range
a lower resolution. In this category the cards to support Nvidia’s SLI technology. SLI cards. These cards also offer a wide range
GeForce 7300 GS is the best option as this stands for Scalable Link Interface and allows of overclocking options.
card uses the GeForce chipset. For its price it boards which support the technology to The XFX GeForce 7950 GX2 is the newest
pumps out a lot of power with good cooling utilize two similar video cards in tandem entrant in this category. It possesses
options and overclocking capability. to improve the graphics performance. tremendous power and comes at a more
This card supports Microsoft’s DirectX The 6600GT supports Shader version 3.0 jaw-dropping price. The card comes
9.0 and uses Shader Model 3.0 which enables and supports GDDR3. This is a PCI-e card factory-overclocked and has a completely
stunning and complex special effects. with ample cooling. The other card in different design. It is actually two GeForce
If you are a die hard ATI fan then the ATI this category is the PowerColor X800 GTO. 7950 video cards coupled together. So it has
Radeon X1300 Pro is what you should Also a PCI-e card, it is based on the X800 two GPUs and a total of 1 GB of DDR3 video
look out for. In the performance quarters GTO chipset. memory. Each GPU found on GeForce 7950
this card lags all the way even with The core speed of the card though is just GX2 normally runs at 500 MHz accessing its
256 MB of memory. It does not support 400 MHz. It supports the Shader version memory at 1.2 GHz.
video capture. 2.0 and has support for only DDR memory. So if you are an avid gamer and
So if you a casual gamer who doesn’t The XFX 6600GT is the best card for under price is not an issue and you like your
want to spend too much then go ahead and Rs 15k. If you want great performance cards overclocked then go for the GeForce
give the Nvidia 7300 GS a chance, you will at a reasonably good price, this is the card 7950 GX2. ■
not regret it. you need. | Faheem Sayed

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006

SMS us! Story code: HTL (See Page 20 for details)


PERSONAL TECHNOLOGY | HARDWARE 79

Lost in modulation
S
ony ex-chairman Akio Morita enjoyed headphones are comfortable to wear over
listening to his Walkman while playing extended periods. But it’s the circuitry within the
tennis. Back in 1979, the Walkman player ear piece that deserves all the credit.
was a hit because it offered both portability and Here’s a technical explanation of how active
hi-fidelity audio. But the late Mr Morita wouldn’t noise cancellation works. Miniature microphones
have enjoyed his music on an airplane. in the headset pick up both ambient sounds as
On a flight to Europe in 1978, Dr Amar Bose was well as music coming through the headphones.
trying hard to appreciate the music on his standard It is assumed that most noise occurs at the low
issue airline headphone. But the soft notes were frequencies. So the mid- and high-frequency
overwhelmed by the roar of the engines. And Bose sounds are immediately filtered out of the signal,
| Brian Pereira
wondered if headphones could actually reduce allowed to pass through, and you hear them. brian.pereira@chip-india.com
noise. Back-of-the-envelope calculations on that The circuitry in the headset analyses the low
flight indicated it was possible. That led to Bose frequencies in real time, and applies a technique
Corporation to set up an entire research group called ‘phase inversion.’ A 180 degree inverted
dedicated to noise reduction technology. It was signal (see graph) is created. This neutralizes the
only after a whole decade of research that the first frequencies, though not entirely, because you do
Earphones with
Bose Acoustic Noise Cancelling headset was ready. need to listen to low frequencies in the music (bass sound isolating
When products with such technology emerged sounds). And that’s how the noise in the headset
technology can
from research labs and went commercial, prices cancels itself out. The Bose Quite Comfort series
were prohibitively high. But in recent months prices and Sennheiser’s PXC series of headphones employ block 70 - 80
have steadily fallen. If noise canceling headphones active noise cancellation. The Bose Quite Comfort percent of ambient
challenge your budget, then consider the more 3 headphone (US$ 350) is now smaller and lighter
affordable earphones with sound-isolating designs. than its predecessors. It uses a rechargeable sounds. So you’ll
Serious music enthusiasts are investing in noise- lithium-ion battery. The kit includes a battery hear more music
canceling technology. In fact, the technology is charger, case, ¼-inch stereo plug adapter, and a
aimed at those who listen to music while traveling. five-foot extension cord.
while traveling in
Some airlines have taken note and offer noise- Passive noise cancellation or sound-isolating an aircraft and less
canceling headphones on-board. technology is used in special earphones that have a
Noise canceling technology is available in two modified in-ear design. The nozzle on the ear piece
of its engine
forms: Active and Passive. Active noise-canceling goes deep into the ear canal. Effectively this is a ear
headphones are obviously more expensive. plug that blocks out ambient sounds, but directs
Headphones with active noise cancellation sound from its tiny speaker deep into the ear canal.
have special circuitry that generates a counter So you only hear the music. The Shure E series
signal to cancel surrounding noise. Naturally, earphones (see picture on the right) have sound
these headphones are battery-powered. isolating designs. Earphones with sound isolating
Light, rechargeable batteries ensure that such technology can block 70 - 80 percent of ambient
sounds. This means you’ll hear only the music while
Signal cancellation
traveling in an aeroplane, and less noise from its The Shure E5c earphone
employs sound isolating
engine. But be ready to spend anything between
technology to keep out
US$ 100 - 550 for these high-tech earphones. ambient sounds
Noise cancellation and sound-isolating
headphones cannot block out 100 percent ambient
sounds. But they significantly improve the listening
Ambient noise
experience, especially while commuting. These
Phase-inverted signal
products are not yet mainstream; for now they are
Signal cancellation
only for enthusiasts. The Bose Quite Comfort 3
A 180 degree inverted signal is created to The writer has been tracking personal technology headphone employs active
neutralize the low frequencies or noise noise cancellation technology
for the past 12 years

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP


80 HARDWARE | INFOGRAPHICS

Satellite TV
You won’t need cable operators to watch your
favorite TV shows anymore, which means no
disturbance and no deprivation

I t’s rare to find a home today without a


television. For those of you who want
more than what the television offers
very frequently then was interference
and long distance transmission, due
to which the analog signal lost out in
can choose the alternative broadcast quality. Besides, Doordarshan was the
system—satellite TV. Today you can bypass only content provider, so the channels 1
your cable operator and still watch your were limited and there were virtually no
favorite soaps or news or sports channels. options to choose from.
Programs can directly reach your TV set Gradually, cable TV was introduced
from satellite TV service providers and and the transmission quality became
enjoy shows without compromising on the better. This was because the long distance
picture and sound quality. distribution of data was carried out with
You might still remember television the help of a direct cable connection to
broadcast containing fuzzy images and your television sets. This experience is
unclear sound decades ago. Those were poised to be further enhanced with the
the days of analog broadcasting (where advent of satellite TV.
electromagnetic waves travel in a straight In case of satellite TV too you receive
line beamed from a distant location in a electromagnetic signals, but these signals
city). Here in India, this transmitting tower are far clearer being digital and not analog.
as well the content generated from it was You will also have your own small satellite
under the control of Doordarshan. The dish which is powerful enough to accept
problem that Doordarshan encountered data beamed from a satellite in space!

1 Programming Sources 2 Compression 3 Downloading


If you follow how cable operators work, The data, received by the service provider, Your home dish antenna is a regular
you will realize that they don’t create any is compressed using MPEG2 compression. antenna that has just been designed in a
content for broadcasting. It is channels like This compression procedure can bring special way. The surface of this antenna
HBO, Star TV or ETV who are sources for the down the size of data stream from 270 is parabolic in shape and has a central
content you view. Your cable operator only Mbps to 5 or 10 Mbps. The compression receiving unit known as the feed horn.
receives these programs and distributes is done using an application called MPEG The data signal hits the surface and
them to different homes. Similarly, in the encoder. (very similar to the process used gets reflected inward due to its parabolic
case of satellite television, channels like to encode videos on to DVDs). This encoder shape. It is similar to the reflection of
HBO, Sony and the rest will create the digital scans and analyses video data, determines light on a concave mirror. The reflected
content and upload it to a satellite through irrelevant and redundant data and deletes signal converges towards a single
their own arrays of dish antennas. These them to bring down the size. All of this point. In this case the point is the feed
content streams are then downloaded at happens without any discernable loss horn. The feed horn has an element
the processing centers of satellite TV service of video quality. The encoder generally placed in its center known as low noise
providers like Tata Sky or Dish TV. It is not applies one of the three types of encoding breakdown converter or LNB. This LNB
feasible to broadcast the video data directly techniques to compress video data amplifies the received signal and filters
in an uncompressed format—the data depending upon the type of the video out the noise (radio signals not carrying
needs to be compressed to make optimum content and the available bandwidth. The any information). Once the signals get
use of the available bandwith and then satellite picks up the data signal with an amplified and filtered, the LNB sends
encrypted to ensure security. Both of these onboard dish set at receiving frequencies the signal to the receiving equipment (like
functions happen at the processing center that fall within the Ku band (see box). The a set-top box) which is placed beside
of the service provider. satellite beams back the signal to your dish. your television.

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


INFOGRAPHICS | HARDWARE 81

Pramod Jadhav

4 to an analog signal so that the signal | Ku Band


The Receiver becomes compatible for viewing on
Finally, the receiving equipment or the an analog device. Some receivers even It is a portion of the electromagnetic
receiver gets the signal and enables support the HDTV format. Apart from spectrum and it falls within microwave
the display by decrypting the signal. All this, the receiver even picks up program range. The frequency of the waves within
receivers have decoder chips which are schedule information and displays that on this range falls between 12 GHz to 14 GHz.
in sync with the encryption settings of the screen. Being electromagnetic, it supports
the service provider. A service provider It is also capable of extracting satellite-based communications.
can even communicate with the receiver information from the received signal. The This band allows a larger number of
through this decoder chip to make signal that your dish antenna sends to your transponders within an orbit. In an orbit,
necessary adjustments. This even allows receiver holds composite information of all 360 transponders with K u band can be
the service provider to change the the channels that you have subscribed to. placed. This allows for more data transfer.
encryption settings without hampering The receiver extracts every program of the
your viewing experience. A service provider individual channels separately and stores of signal at a time. If you have two TVs
also sends signals to this decoder chip with them within. For example, when you and want to watch different programs, or
the purpose of blocking illegal usage. change from Star Movies to Set Max with want to record a program from one while
Such signals disrupt the broadcasting, your remote, the signal hits the receiver watching another, then you need to install
if the chip used is not authorized by the box. As the information regarding the an additional receiver.
service provider. channel is already stored in the box, the Many receivers have a parental lock
If you connect your receiver to your change takes place immediately. feature and video recorders to pause live
analog TV, then the receiver reads the However, you need to keep in mind that broadcasting and allow recording. 
digital MPEG 2 format and converts it your receiver can transmit only one type | Pradosh Mitra

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP

SMS us! Story code: HIS (See Page 20 for details)


82

Jagdish Limbachiya

Software Center
I n this month’s selection of software,
we have a bouquet of some interesting
applications maintaining a fine balance
lets you customize your music files. On the
multimedia front, we have KaraFun—a
free karaoke application that lets you sing
between shareware and freeware. The while it plays music without the vocals.
collection consists of an image editor, a SmartDraw 7 requires a special mention
sound editor, an anti-virus, a designing as with it you can design anything from
software and so on. The freeware reviewed flowcharts to certificates to scientific
this month are some of the best in their diagrams. While we have given importance
respective categories and would meet your to entertainment and fun this month, we
Applications

application needs without you having to pay have not ignored security. Kaspersky Internet
a paisa for it. Security is a complete security package
The software of the month is Ulead that ensures your computer is free from
PhotoImpact 11, a splendid image editor the threats of cyberspace. Those who want
allowing you to modify images the way their web browsers to do more than just
you want; it even allows you to create a browsing, we have the SeaMonkey, an all-in-
new picture by adding certain tweaks. For one Internet suite consisting of a browser, an
all you music lovers out there, we have e-mail client, an IRC instant messenger and
Adobe Audition 2.0, a sound editor that HTML editor, all built into one.

| The Ratings Explained


The parameters used for evaluating by compiling the features and the utility of
software are assigned a graphical rating the application against its price.
out of a scale of 5. These measures include In case of freeware and shareware tools
performance, features and ease of use. The available for downloading from the Internet,
overall rating shown in the reviews is based we replace the price with the download size
on all these factors. (and therefore, the time taken to download
In addition, there is a value for money rating the application) for arriving at the value for
for each application. This rating is obtained money rating.

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


TESTED | APPLICATIONS 83

Image Editor
Ulead PhotoImpact 11
System requirements: Win 2000/XP, Pentium III
compatible or faster, 128 MB RAM (256 MB
recommended), 600 MB available hard disk space,
True color or hi-color display adapter with 800x600
resolutions or higher, CD-ROM drive

Price $89.99 (Approx Rs 4,140)


Contact Ulead Systems Inc.
Website www.ulead.com
RATINGS
Ease of use
Features
Performance
Overall Rating
Value for money

For that perfect picture


T here was a time when people used to
hand-paint pictures and portraits. Then
came the printing press, which translated
and tools aligned in a very user-friendly
manner. The My Workspace tab offers you
a variety of options to choose from—the
advanced HDR (High Dynamic Range)
imaging technology. PhotoImpact allows
you to use various effects on the picture,
hand-painted pictures into prints. But it Basic Photo option displays a minimum set including a slew of animation effects from
lacked the personal touch. Fast-forward to of tools, the Advanced option displays all the choices available. The various choices in
the 19th century and the invention of the the tools available and yet manages to keep the Special Effects option let you spiff up
camera gave photographs the much-desired the workspace spacious. One of the new your pictures—you can try an artistic look,
personal touch. Today with the availability features included is the Object Extraction a distorted appearance and so on; basically
of high-resolution digital cameras and Wizard with the help of which you can it lets you explore your creative skills to the
camera phones, the concept of photography extract part of an image, for instance you fullest. It has an improved photo browser—
has been revolutionized. Today every digital have a photograph of you and your friend, as it only rescans images after they have
camera user has a repository of pictures, but crop your face in the image and paint the been edited since the last time the file was
once you have such an archive, the need to area surrounding you. You can then paste opened, the pictures open very quickly.
manage all of them and also edit them the your photograph onto a different one. The menu tools are also worth a mention
way you want arises. Ulead PhotoImpact 11 Another feature worth a mention especially the undo tab allows you to undo
is your answer to these needs. is SmartCurves—an automatic image all of the options performed randomly
To begin with, the main interface has a adjustment that compensates for camera unlike the usual sequential mode. Also,
simple design, with all the required menus response curve anomalies by using combining photos of a single scene having
dissimilar exposures can be performed. For
instance, if you have two photographs of
the same scene but shot in different lighting
conditions, you can combine both into one
using PhotoImpact 11.
PhotoImpact 11 allows you to import
pictures directly from your scanner or digital
camera onto your computer. It also allows
importing of RAW files, which is useful if
you want to work on a lossless image.
For: Simple interface; loads of features.
Object Extraction being performed on an Modify your image using the Creative Against: Object extraction not up to
image to select a specific portion option
the mark.

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP

SMS us! Story code: SWS (See Page 20 for details)


84 APPLICATIONS | TESTED

Audio Editor
Adobe Audition 2.0
System requirements: Win XP with SP2, Pentium III
compatible processor or higher, 512 MB of RAM (1
GB recommended), 700 MB of available hard-disk
space (5.5 GB recommended), 1,024x768 display
(1280x1024 recommended), soundcard with
DirectSound or ASIO drivers

Price $299 (Approx Rs 13,800)


Contact Adobe Systems Incorporated
Website www.adobe.com
RATINGS
Ease of use
Features
Performance
Overall Rating
Value for money

Find it on

Spice up your music


“M usic is food for the soul’—If your
life revolves around this adage,
then at some point in time you are bound
MPG, WMA, MOV, etc and change them
from the array of tools available.
A lot of options are available to alter the
varying the slope of the graph.
Editing and recording sound is an
effortless task in Audition 2.0. Along with
to get world-weary if the food (in this case music as per your wish. The Mastering Rack the regular clipboard and fading features,
music) is the same day in and day out. So is relatively new and is a mind-blowing there are others like mix paste, trim and
how about flavoring it a bit? There are feature in Audition 2.0. It has a set of Rack the mute process. But it is the effects
various audio applications that can make Presets, wherein you can select the plug-in integrated into Audition 2.0 that had
a lot of difference to your music. But the of your choice from the dropdown menu us floored. The Time/Pitch effect offers
one that stands out in the crowd is Adobe and accordingly alter the various aspects numerous options such as the Doppler
Audition 2.0. This application from the of the sound. In all, there are sixteen Shifter effect which provides various
Adobe stable assists you with its set of plug-in slots provided. Additional controls acoustic upshots transforming the overall
splendid tools in adding the much-needed are present on the Rack interface including sound. Another sound effect called Delay
spice to your music. Power, Pre/Post routing, Freeze Track and offers a variety of options such as Chorus,
Also known as Cool Edit Pro, Adobe Effects. Master Rack also features Dynamic Echo and Reverb effects. The Chorus effect
Audition 2.0 is a complete audio Processing, which lets you preview the offers a couple of interesting presets—for
production application. It can be used sound even while making changes to instance, the Chaos Pits effect adds a sort
to edit, mix and process sound. It has a it. The sound is graphically represented of spooky touch to the sound while the
flexible and user-friendly interface; you wherein the sound can be altered by Broken Stereo effect lends a distorted feel.
can resize, dock, hide and recall panels You can also create personalized presets
on the interface, which in turn gives you in all of the above mentioned effects and
a spacious environment to work around save them along with the other presets.
with. The most interesting feature of Once you’re done with this, you can sort
Audition 2.0 is its ability to display the the effects you regularly use and save
sound in three spectral forms (frequency them under Favorites.
display, pan display and spectral phase) as Overall, Adobe Audition 2.0 meets all
also in the usual waveform display. your expectations on sound and is a good
Creating multi-track sessions is possible choice for professionals. But remember, it
in Audition 2.0. You can select tracks, is heavy on system resources.
which are pre-installed and alter them or For: Loads of features. It is very easy to
even add new files. You can also extract Use the multi-band compressor to configure this application.
audio from video files of formats like AVI, emphasize certain parts of the track Against: Expensive.

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


TESTED | APPLICATIONS 85

Defragment logically System Utilities


Auslogics Disk Defrag 1.0
I f you create and delete files and folders
on a regular basis, it wouldn’t be
surprising if your computer’s performance
performed and the entire partition space
is explained by colored legends. There are
a couple of options, one being to pause
deteriorates gradually. The only way the defragmentation and the other to stop
to rectify this problem would be to it altogether. Once the defragmentation
defragment your hard drive. However, if is over, you get a detailed report of the
you have a massive hard drive brimming entire process, including details of the
with data, it will take you ages to fragmented files and other miscellaneous
System requirements: Windows 2000/XP, Pentium III
defrag using the good old Windows fragmentation details.
compatible or faster, 128 MB RAM, 10 MB available
defragmenter. But with Auslogics Disk The features of Auslogics Disk Defrag hard disk space
Defrag, this task can be achieved in a are quite limited. For instance, there
Price Free
comparatively less time. is no option to analyze the disk before
Contact AusLogics Inc
The striking feature of Auslogics Disk defragmentation and no auto shutdown Email info@auslogics.com
Defrag is its simple interface and support after it. Website www.auslogics.com
for FAT 16, FAT 32, and NTFS partitions. In our tests, the application gave us RATINGS
Using this software is a cakewalk. The an 8 percent increase in the computer’s Ease of use
pilot screen has a dropdown menu from performance. Note that this application Features
where you can select the fragmented utilizes less system resources as compared Performance
partition. This menu also gives you the to the usual Windows defragmentation Overall Rating
basic details of the partition such as the tool—about 8 MB memory was utilized.
Find it on CHIP CD
format and the space details of the hard For: Speedy defragmentation and a simple
drive. Once the partition is selected, the and easy-to-use interface.
next screen displays the operation being Against: Limited features.

Secure in cyberspace Internet Security


Kaspersky Internet Security 6.0
T his is an age where everyone is
dependent on the Internet. But the
Internet is not a safe place anymore with
Express and The Bat!, which blocks spam
mails without any flaws.
Installing it is a cakewalk; once
zillions of viruses doing the rounds of you’re through with the step-by-step
cyberspace. Therefore there is a constant wizards, it offers the option to run a virus
need to keep this threat at bay. This is scan. The suite’s interface is designed
where an anti-virus comes to the fore. intuitively—the main screen displays the
There are numerous Internet security numerous options wherein you can easily
applications available but only a few have configure the settings of the anti-virus,
System requirements: Win 98SE/Me/NT/2000/XP, Intel
proved their reliability. Kaspersky Internet anti-spyware, firewall and anti-spam. Each Pentium 300 MHz or higher, 128 MB RAM, 50 MB
Security 6 is one such application. Though of these settings have numerous options available hard disk space

it is a relatively new Internet security under them, for instance under the firewall Price Rs 1,400
application, it has strong virus, spyware, settings you can select the level of priority Contact Communication Links
spam, and firewall tools to compete you desire for any application installed Phone 022-26736767

against established names such as Norton in your PC. Overall, Kaspersky Internet Email comlinks@vsnl.com
Website www.kaspersky.com
Internet Security 2006 and McAfee Security is not only fast and reliable but it
Internet Security Suite 2006. also offers more updates than application RATINGS
Ease of use
Kaspersky Internet Security 6 is a suites like Norton Internet Security and
Features
combination of an anti-virus program McAfee Internet Security.
Performance
and a personal firewall, along with an With loads of features, a large virus
Overall Rating
anti-spyware protection program, which database, easy configuration, and a
Value for money
makes it an excellent security suite. The comparatively low price tag, Kaspersky
Anti-spyware succeeds in detecting and Internet Security 6 is an excellent security Find it on CHIP CD
blocking web sites that contain malware application that you can try your hands on.
even before the site is loaded. There is For: User friendly and reliable.
also an anti-spam plug-in for Outlook Against: None.

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP


86 APPLICATIONS | TESTED

Internet Suite
SeaMonkey 1.0.4
No monkey business
T here existed a time when Internet
power users needed to open multiple
windows in order to surf various web sites
easily accessible Cookie Manager and
Image Manager. Browsing experience
with SeaMonkey is comparable to Firefox.
simultaneously. This of course resulted However, it lacks many extensions and the
in a cramped taskbar. Then came the age themes feature available in Firefox.
of tab browsing which eased the task of The e-mail client and newsgroups
surfing. But then again there are many features of SeaMonkey are similar to that
users who want their browsers to do more of Thunderbird. There is a tool to detect
System requirements: Win 9x/Me/NT/2000/XP/2003,
than just basic navigation. This specific phishing. Accessing mail from several
Intel pentium class processor (233 MHz or faster
recommended), 64 MB RAM, 100 MB of free hard need has given birth to the all-in-one accounts in a single inbox is possible. You
disk space Internet application suite, SeaMonkey. If can import address books mails and settings
Price Free
you use Mozilla products such as Firefox from other e-mail clients such as Outlook,
Contact Mozilla Foundation web browser or Thunderbird e-mail client Outlook Express and Thunderbird. ChatZilla
Website www.mozilla.org frequently, then SeaMonkey is just the (an Internet Relay Chat) program is built into
RATINGS application you need. SeaMonkey, which comes handy for those
Ease of use It is a multi-platform application who use IRC programs frequently.
Features integrated with the features of a web The HTML editor of SeaMonkey known as
Performance browser, an e-mail client, an IRC chat Composer provides various tools to edit the
Overall Rating
client, and a HTML composer. Although it HTML code of a web page and also to create
Find it on CHIP CD has a lackluster interface, the navigation new ones. The inclusion of HTML tags and
features are pretty much the same as HTML source makes the work easy.
that of Firefox; it also has the popular For: Multi-platform; ease of use.
Tab Browsing feature along with the Against: Lackluster interface.

Multimedia
Sing out loud!
KaraFun 1.10
O ften while listening to our favorite
number, we begin to sing along
with the artist. But then we don’t get the
fonts and color so that you can get familiar
with the lyrics.
Recording sound in KaraFun is very
pleasure of listening to our voice only, no simple. For instance, once you connect
matter how well our rendition is. With the microphone to the computer, you can
KaraFun, this is possible. It is a feature-rich record your voice by simply clicking on the
karaoke application capable of displaying record button. The recorded sound is saved
the music and the lyrics of the song without as a WAV file in the designated folder. The
System requirements: Win 9x/Me/NT/2000/XP/2003, the vocals. built-in KaraFun editor has some excellent
Intel pentium class processor (233 MHz or faster
Features are numerous with voice features namely importing of KOK, KAR, LRC
recommended), 64 MB RAM, 100 MB of free hard
disk space
recording, Key and Tempo control in order files, support for MP3, OGG, MID and KAR
to control the pitch and the pace of the files and real-time rendering, etc. KaraFun
Price Free
music respectively. The presence of Vocal supports the KFN file format, which is a
Contact Recisio Sas
Email support karafun.com
Reducer for MP3 files alters the vocal compressed file containing all information
website www.karafun.com effect of the music. Playlist management and files of the karaoke song. A single KFN
RATINGS and fullscreen or windowed display is also file can contain all the karaoke information
Ease of use present. It supports various audio and video such as music, lyrics, images and sounds.
Features file formats such as MP3, MIDI, OGG, WMA, You can download KFN files for you favorite
Performance MPEG, AVI, KAR and KFN. The settings numbers from the Internet. However, these
Overall Rating window of KaraFun offers quite a number of files are not very easily available.
options especially associating files that are Despite its glitches, KaraFun is must try
Find it on CHIP CD
required by KaraFun in either the Karaoke software for all music lovers, who want
mode or the KaraFun mode. There are to try a hand at karaoking with a little bit
settings for microphone and display as well. of assistance.
The most interesting option is the Training For: Easy usage; loaded with features.
mode, wherein you can select the type of Against: KFN files not easily available.

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


TESTED | APPLICATIONS 87

Smart ideas Presentation Tool


SmartDraw 7 Suite Edition
L ogical communication is very essential
in every aspect of life. Naturally then,
you must apply the same rule in your
as the various geometrical figures. In case
you’re lost within the interface, which is
nearly impossible, the wizard on the left
presentations as well—a step-by-step hand side guides you through the usage
explanation of the idea you want to sell. So, of the various tools. If you still encounter
is there an application that gives you the problems, the ‘Show Me’ button provides
liberty to express your ideas logically? Yes, an animated illustration.
SmartDraw 7 does and very aptly indeed. After SmartDraw 7 is installed onto your
System requirements: Win 2000/ XP, Pentium III
It is a feature-rich drawing application computer, it installs plug-ins for Microsoft
compatible or faster, 128 MB RAM (256 MB
which lets you create flowcharts, office applications. Therefore it is possible recommended), 600 MB available hard disk
certificates, calendars, floor plans, maps, to access SmartDraw directly from Word, space, True Color or Hi-Color display adapter with
800x600 resolution or higher, CD-ROM drive
scientific diagrams, marketing graphs, Excel or PowerPoint and import the design,
family trees, software designs and much which has previously been worked upon Price $197 (Rs 9,086 approx)
more! Working with SmartDraw 7 is an in SmartDraw. You can also easily copy Contact SmartDraw
Email mail@smartdraw.com
effortless task—the interface is simple to and paste text and graphics from other
Website www.smartdraw.com
maneuver; by selecting from the array of programs into your SmartDraw drawings.
RATINGS
built-in templates, you can simplify the SmartDraw 7 is an excellent design
Ease of use
task of drawing. For instance, to create a application for engineers, programmers,
Features
flowchart all you need to do is select the architects, accountants, and for all those Performance
Flowcharts tab and select the appropriate who need to communicate information Overall Rating
template of flowchart you wish to design. graphically. Value for money
You can also make changes in the flowchart For: Feature rich; user friendly.
with the help of the tools available such Against: Expensive. Find it on CHIP CD

Unlimited downloads Torrent Client


µTorrent 1.6
T orrent is the latest buzzword in file
sharing, fast replacing the good old FTP
clients. The latest entrant in the BitTorrent
file, the peers, and allows you to monitor
download speeds, peers and other details of
the active downloads. The download speed
client’s space is µTorrent 1.6. Other than is also displayed graphically.
its name, which has been derived from the The toolbar provides various options
Greek letter µ (spelt ‘mew’), this torrent such as including the torrent file in the list
proves to be anything but Greek to its users. and adding a torrent from an URL. It also
µTorrent 1.6 has a straightforward allows you to create your own torrent. An
interface with most of the basic features RSS downloader is also present. When you System requirements: For Windows 95 (Winsock2),
98/ME, NT/2000, XP and above, Intel Pentium III
required by a BitTorrent client. It is small in open µTorrent 1.6, it opens a speed guide
class processor or higher, 128 MB RAM, 100 MB of
size, free and requires low system resources. wherein you can run the speed test at free hard disk space
Its features include multiple simultaneous www.dslreports.com. Also, it has loads
Price Free
downloads, global and per-torrent speed of advanced features like associating with
website www.utorrent.com
limiting and easy configuration that lets .torrent files and automatically taking over
RATINGS
you make appropriate usage of the available whenever a torrent is open. Other features
Ease of use
bandwidth. If a file transfer is interrupted, it include skin support, file management, proxy
Features
can rapidly resume the process. support, UPnP port mapping and more. Performance
The main interface of µTorrent 1.6 is The Preferences window offers a Overall Rating
divided into three parts. On the left hand number of options to configure µTorrent
side, the files are categorized according to 1.6 such as selecting the destination folder Find it on CHIP CD
their status. For instance, it displays the for all your downloads. The configuration
files that are currently being downloaded or for the connection can also be done from
completed or whether their status is active this window.
or inactive. The center window shows the For: Easy usage; requires low system
list of torrents in the queue and the third resources.
window displays the information of the Against: Low on features.

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP


88 APPLICATIONS | FEATURE

Damn right distribution!


A minimalistic distribution that runs off a USB thumb drive and surprises you with
its super fast speed—DSL-N can make your decrepit PCs come back to life

H
aving tried our hands on Live CD Setup and installation
distributions like Knoppix and To get started with Damn Small Linux - Not, you
Ubuntu, we became well aware of can either download the latest version of the .iso
their limitations. Such operating systems load from http://www.damnsmalllinux.org/dsl-n/
themselves into memory and all the data that you download.html or find it on this month’s DVD.
have worked on is lost as soon as your system is The entire distribution is only about 95 MB in size
rebooted. If you want to store data, you will have and can easily fit on a 128 MB flash drive. Unlike
to connect a USB thumb drive or your hard disk. Feather Linux, you cannot install DSL-N directly
Although storage of data is possible using a Live to a USB flash drive. Burn the iso file that you
CD, it does not allow you to retain your network just downloaded with your favourite CD writing
and application settings, browser bookmarks, software to convert it into a Live CD. Booting off
themes, desktop wallpapers, custom changes the newly created Live CD takes you to DSL-N’s
made to configuration files, etc. It is also generally default desktop interface system. Right click to
Want to slow and takes up a large amount of system invoke the main menu and select “Tools | Install
try out resources to run with decent response times. It to pen drive”. To install this on the USB flash
provides ease of use in terms of getting used to drive, select “USB ZIP pen drive”.
DAMN SMALL the system without touching your existing hard The Install to thumb drive menu is invoked.

LINUX?
There are ten 1 GB drives to be
drive. Our quest for a solution that is not only easy
to use but can also store enough data ended with
Make sure that your flash drive has two
partitions for your applications, settings and
a distribution that could run off the USB thumb data. Also make sure that your USB flash drive
won! Simply answer this question:
Who was the creator of Damn drive. After analysing a couple of options, we is formatted with the FAT32 file-system and
Small Linux? zeroed down to DSL-N (Damn Small Linux-Not) inserted directly into a USB port and not into a
Send in your replies to that is not only lightweight and easy to use, but USB hub. Once you are done, boot up from your
contests@chip-india.com also provides a decent set of features, flexibility shiny new USB flash drive.
and speed of an installed operating system.

A menu inside the operating system facilitates a


easy install to the USB flash drive

Pramod Jadhav

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


FEATURE | APPLICATIONS 89

The distribution booted off perfectly floppy, CD/DVD drive, another flash drive, any audio/video file format. However, it
on our 2.0 GHz Celeron system with 256 internal or external hard drive if attached, is not as simple as double clicking on the
MB of memory. All hardware including etc. The lower left corner displays the file. We got the DivX movies and MP3
the graphics, network and sound was complete desktop workspace and how audio working by invoking mplayer at the
detected and worked flawlessly. The scroll objects are placed in the workspace. command line.
function of the mouse worked perfectly Objects like forms, applications, etc can The distribution even includes an
too. We installed it on a 500 MHz Celeron be dragged and dropped into different all-in-one messaging system called Gaim
system with 128 MB of memory and work spaces and can be accessed with to keep in touch with your online buddies.
the operating system was responsive. the click of a button. The top half has Most documentation out there on the
Although this distribution should work easy access to a command terminal Internet is in the PDF format and the Xpdf
on most Intel and VIA hardware, don’t for manual system control. It also viewer does a good job of displaying PDF
expect it to work on your latest AM2 has shortcuts to programs that documents and files.
platform—like most other Linux facilitate easy management of
distributions, ATI chipset support is hardware as well as software. Performance and usability
still missing. The ‘mydsl’ extension tool provides When we first used DSL-N, we were
an easy way to install additional very impressed with its minimalistic
At the desktop software contributed by users. installation process and super fast speed.
Damn Small Linux-Not features The DSL panel is like a control In fact, for normal office applications,
a neat image of the sea as the panel system that can be used to we saw no visible decrease in system
default wallpaper. The first thing set networking, printing, wireless, response even on a low-end P3 system.
that catches the eye is the graphical broadband connection, X server, So it’s time to make use of the older
system monitoring system. The backup and restore of data, etc. The computers that you were perhaps
system monitor sits on the right side lower panel at the bottom of the prepared to dump as you thought they
of the desktop and provides real time screen shows the current time and were not worthy of running Windows
information about all aspects of your date as well as holds the taskbar. XP. To cite you an example, the research
PC. Some of the information provided work for this review as well as writing
includes network bandwidth, number Applications it was done using DSL-N off a PQI 256
of active processes, CPU usage DSL-N although being a MB USB flash drive. The CUPS printing
(percentage), memory and swap minimalistic distribution, does system seamlessly integrated into our
file usage, file system usage, system not skimp on the basic necessities. It office network while also being able to
uptime and battery life if the system in features a fully featured web browser print perfectly to the HP 4100 mono laser
question is a laptop. It also displays the and a mail client called the Mozilla printer. Its Samba shares also integrated
current kernel version, hostname and IP SeaMonkey suite. This suite even includes seamlessly into our Windows network
address of the system. This information an IRC chat client system. Its office although it was not as simple as a double
can be particularly useful in analysing productivity software includes AbiWord, click in LinNeighbourhood.
how your system is being used. In the a fully featured word processor and
lower right corner lies the master volume Gnumeric, a fully featured spreadsheet Verdict
control as well as the mount feature. The software that you can open, edit Damn Small Linux-Not satisfies most
mount feature is particularly useful if and save in Microsoft Office basic application requirements. For a
you want to access storage devices like format. But don’t expect these distribution that is under 100 MB and
office productivity tools to run runs entirely out of RAM, it provides
| Note all your VB macros although blazing fast performance and a
Only get into this whole exercise if your they would sufficiently run all decent set of features. Don’t
PC BIOS supports booting of a USB flash your formulae. For audio believe us? Fire up DSL-N on
device. Most motherboards will recognize and video enthusiasts, your computer and find out
our Flash drive as an external USB ZIP it includes a version of for yourself. 
device. mplayer that plays almost | Kunal Rupera

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP


90 APPLICATIONS | FEATURE

Symbian Gear
If you use your smartphone only to send and receive phone calls then it’s about time
you used some of these tools to extract the most out of it

A
ll smartphones usually need some phone uses. A quick way to find that out screenshot utility, ideal for transferring
additional application to spice is to look up www.gsmarena.com against files via Bluetooth.
it up in some way. It could be a “OS” to know the version and series it
visual feature or some application that belongs to. However, most of the tools I CellTrack - (Signal Strength)
increases your productivity. I came to have mentioned will work on a Series 60 Type: Free, OS: Symbian version 7
realize the potential of these third party phone running Symbian version 7.0. You If you are wondering why you experience
tools through a series of events that I am should also visit the “Support” section of network outages or patchy reception
going to share with you. Two years ago, www.nokia-asia.com to look for software it is probably because of a weak signal.
I owned a Nokia 3350 and at that point specifically for your phone. If you receive CellTrack will tell you how strong or weak
in time it served my purpose, which was an error while trying to run a newly the signal strength is in a particular area.
namely, to be reachable at all times of the installed application then it could be If you are not interested in knowing your
day, set reminders and use the stopwatch because it is loaded on the memory card. service provider’s signal strength then
during hardware reviews. As time went Uninstall the application and install it on you can just use “PhoneInfo”. Make sure
by, the phone started to seem a little the phone memory. this one is installed on the phone memory
outdated in the palm of my hand. I gave instead of the card. This tool will display
in to temptation and opted for the ‘candy FExplorer – File Browser your phone’s IMEI number (unique to
bar’ Sony Ericsson T630. It looked good, Type: Free, OS: Symbian version 6.1 each phone), CellId, processor speed and
fit my budget and had enough features Smartphones have their own built in file memory details.
to keep me happy. Unfortunately, it manager, which lack basic “cut/copy/paste”
turned out to have a mind of its own so functions. It only allows users to browse BlackList
it would momentarily lose control of its through some fixed folders created on the Type: Shareware, OS: Symbian version 7
‘motor functions’ and vibrate incessantly phone or card memory. FExplorer (or File There are times when you want to avoid
until I physically removed the battery. I Explorer) for Symbian phones makes it somebody’s calls—your landlord’s or your
exchanged it for a Nokia 6600 (I had to easy to travel through folders on the phone boss’, maybe. BlackList can be configured
cough up extra, of course) hoping this or card easily and quickly. This free utility to disconnect calls from certain numbers
would future-proof my phone for a while. makes saving files received via Bluetooth in your contact list. You can even add
I was doing quite well with the phone a breeze—simply because it allows you groups you have created in your address
until the day I had to run a printer test. I to browse the “Inbox” and move the files book. BlackList will not disconnect the call
took my phone out to use the stopwatch within it to another folder. Apart from the unceremoniously. The caller will get a busy
only to find out that there is no such tool user interface, the functions are similar tone every time he dials your number and
in the 6600! The phone has image editing to Windows Explorer and the keypad
software and a wireless presenter but shortcuts are helpful too. It even has a
no stopwatch. This made me scour the
Internet for an alternative solution. The
search resulted in my installing “Pocket
Counter” – a free timer tool. While
searching for a Symbian stopwatch, I
came across many other applications that
allowed the phone to do much more than
just remember notes, buzz at a particular
time and send multimedia messages.
Here are some of the tools available for
download, both free and shareware.
All these tools will work across a range
of Symbian Series 60 phones. It also
depends on the Symbian OS version your
Pramod Jadhav
FEATURE | APPLICATIONS 91

your phone will not even ring. The BlackList phone conversations automatically or studying for their GRE. To be able to use
logs will also inform you of the number of with the press of a preset button. Offline, this tool you need to subscribe to a GPRS
calls it has thwarted for you. it will even record regular conversation connection, access the Internet and
and store it on your memory card in register on www.studystack.com to create
Oxygen Phone Manager AMR or WAV format. It will even record your flash cards. These flash cards can be
multiple conversations serially instead of made public as well so that other can also
– (Backup) overwriting. For AMR playback you can download them onto their phones for
Type: Shareware, Symbian OS: 7 install “Nokia Multimedia Player”—it is reference. The web site already contains
Always make sure you have taken a backup simple and light. “Total Recall” is another material on history, math and geography.
of all your contacts on the PC. When you application that offers the same features
decide to upgrade your phone, you’ll have as Dictaphone. PDF+ - (PDF Reader)
to transfer all your contacts, messages and Type: Shareware, Symbian OS Version: 7
notes to your new phone. This is where the ETI Camcorder Pro – (Video If you don’t want to create flash cards
Oxygen Phone Manager will save you from out of your study material, you can try
the pain of losing any data. OPM works Recorder) making PDFs of your documents (or use
in conjunction with a client file installed Type: Shareware, Symbian OS Version: 7 QuickOffice on Nokia phones). Adobe also
on the phone to transfer your messages The video recorder on a Nokia phone provides a free PDF reader for Symbian
and contacts to the PC. It is a good idea to captures only a minute’s worth of video phones but it is mainly for phones running
keep these details backed up regularly in and also offers a limited set of features. Symbian OS 8.0a (Nokia 6680).
case of any eventuality. “Pro Backup” can The Camcorder Pro extends the shooting
also be used in place of OPM if you want a period by making it depend on the amount Opera 8.60, Agile Messenger
one-stop solution in phone backup. of available free space. The footage can be and IM+ Bluetooth (Online
saved in AVI or 3GP format, whichever you Applications)
Media Safe – (Folder Security) find convenient. You can edit these files Type: Free, Symbian OS Version: 7
Type: Shareware, Symbian OS version: 7 later with Acala 3GP movies—a free video If you are going to use your phone to surf
Media Safe is for the paranoid and for editing software. the Internet then you need to have the
those who don’t like people getting nosy Opera Mini installed on your phone. It is
with their personal files stored on the
MSDict Concise Oxford English free and very configurable. You can set
phone. It provides advanced security with cached images to load on a page, saving
256-bit encryption (Blowfish method) for Dictionary – (English Dictionary) your surfing time. Agile Messenger can get
audio and video. It can be used to encrypt Type: Shareware, Symbian OS Version: 7 you chatting with your friends on MSN,
files on your memory card too. This dictionary will occupy approximately ICQ, Yahoo, AOL and Google.
5 MB on your phone because it contains Quite honestly, the list is endless. Some
Dictaphone – (Voice Recorder) 240,000 words and phrases. Not only will of the applications are a little rough around
Type: Free, Symbian OS version: 7 you understand the meaning of the word, the edges but they will only get better with
You won’t have to carry your Dictaphone you will also be taught where to use it. If time as they proliferate across handsets. I
everywhere if you install “Dictaphone” on you are interested, MSDict will also tell you will leave you with a few more applications
your Series 60 phone. It can be set to record the origin of the word you looked up. that will surely interest you.

StudyME – (Educational) Additional Tools


Type: Free, Symbian OS Version: Java- IM+ Bluetooth: Bluetooth IM tool.
enabled phone ZScreencapture: A free screenshot utility.
StudyME is apt for students who are OggPlay: A free player that accepts OGG
and MP3 files.
Control Freak2/Nokia Wireless Presenter:
A Bluetooth remote control to control your
computer and its applications.

Web sites to Visit


http://www.allaboutsymbian.com
http://www.softpedia.com
http://my-symbian.com 
| Ashutosh Desai

SMS us! Story code: AFS (See Page 20 for details)


92 APPLICATIONS | FEATURE

Alternative backup
It is important to maintain a copy of your hard disk partition for exact restoration in
case of a hard disk failure. There are numerous tools that help you achieve this. Here
are a few...

A
nyone who has lost data once we do have are individual products. After any difficulty. However, as far as special
knows exactly how it feels when testing the latest programs, we bring operations is concerned, these programs
a doctoral thesis or your only tax you a selection of the best out there. are sometimes inflexible to work with.
return sheet that you had taken so much We did not limit ourselves to simple test For instance, if you want to move a
time and effort to prepare is irretrievably scenarios like creating partitions and partition from a hard disk that is already
lost. According to a survey conducted by images. Instead, we used the example partitioned, only Partition Manager
Maxtor (now Seagate), about 73 percent of a power user who uses networks from Paragon is trouble-free as it does
of users suffered due to hard disk failures and runs Windows XP Professional. We so without you having to implicitly
at least once. The survey revealed that looked out for special features such as create free space on the drive. In case of
users are generally not in the habit of image encryption and backup over LAN. PartitionMagic from Symantec and Disk
taking regular data backups. In several The partition tool should also recognize Director from Acronis, you first need to
case, the hard disks were not even external USB drives. In case of special file create space before creating a partition.
partitioned. Therefore, a virus attack or systems used in Windows 2000 such as However, creating a partition using
a system crash invariably resulted in a software-based RAID controllers. In the Partition Manager is unnecessarily
complete data disaster. following test you will find out whether complicated because it does not mount
The only way of arming yourself these tools support special features a newly created partition in Windows.
against such disasters would be using a like these. This may not be a problem for experts,
hard disk suite that comprises a partition but it is definitely a major drawback for
tool and a drive image program. The Partition tools general users who expect it to happen
drive image program is your insurance All three contenders—Disk Director, automatically. Also, the partitions are
against data loss while the partition Partition Manager and PartitionMagic— hidden—so when you restart Windows,
tool provides for the logical formating are almost perfect when it comes to the partition is not displayed in Windows
and administration of the hard disk. delivering basic feature such as creating Explorer.
Unfortunately, there is no single package partitions, formating, deleting, moving, If you have a large number of
that boasts both these features but what copying and resizing images without multimedia files that you want to

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


FEATURE | APPLICATIONS 93

reorganize, it is preferable to split the work with partitions.


partitions or merge them. This is faster For experts, a major highlight of the | Test results
than copying the files individually. Disk Disk Director is its editor which lets you The winners: It was difficult to pick the
Director performs both these operations view the partition content on a code the perfect solution for safeguarding
without much of a problem, but there level and even manipulate it. These are and managing your PC. When it comes
is a snag here. The program displays an features for which one normally needs an to partition tools and image programs,
empty merged partition in the preview. additional tool. Most of the times, these every manufacturer has a serious weak
However, all data actually remains intact. are not free. point. However, from our tests, we can
However, this is not the same with the Fortunately, all the three programs pinpoint the ideal tools for the perfect
other tools. The split partition feature is prepare you for emergencies like system system suite. We recommend Norton
absent in Partition Manager and although crashes. Disk Director boots from the Ghost 10 from Symantec as the image
PartitionMagic does offer both these program CD. You can create a boot CD tool and Acronis Disk Director 10 as the
features, partitions can be merged in in Partition Manager. As opposed to partition tool. No other system suite apart
this program only if they have the same that, PartitionMagic still relies on a boot from Ghost restores an image without any
file system. floppy to start the system in case of problem. It also works perfectly well on a
If you want to merge your hard disk emergencies. This is disadvantageous as local network. While rival programs throw
partitions, for instance, update the old most new PCs exclude the floppy drive. up errors, this program partitions without
FAT partitions to the NTFS partitions (this The OS selection capabilities of Disk any hitches.
does not result in any data loss). In this Director has the most to offer when it
case, only Partition Manager delivers a comes to the boot manager. It comes seen in Windows XP. And if that wasn’t
satisfactory result—it not only converts along with its own small operating complicated enough, PartitionMagic
FAT 16 to FAT 32 but also FAT 32 to NTFS. system which includes the partition tool. reinstalls the boot manager from the
Also, the old NT systems can be updated The boot manager’s interface has been CD, but only on a FAT partition. If you are
by converting the outdated NTFS 1.02 to designed to adapt itself with XP and using XP, and have completely changed
NTFS 3.01. While PartitionMagic converts offers a multitude of features. It does not over to NTFS, then you first have to create
FAT to NTFS partitions, Disk Director is however recognize an operating system in a primary FAT partition before loading the
limited as it can only convert FAT 16 to a dynamic volume. So we deactivated the boot manager. This is disadvantageous
FAT 32. boot manager to boot the system with as neither of these programs can create
However, Disk Director and Partition the regular Windows boot manager. The partitions in dynamic volumes. When we
Manager can hide partitions and delete boot managers of both Partition Manager tried this, Disk Director led to a system
them as well, so the data you don’t want and PartitionMagic are no better than the crash. Only Partition Manager converts
to share is safe. The old data in such Windows boot manager, and in fact while logical drives into physical partitions
a shredded partition can no longer be using them, dynamic volumes cannot be without data loss. This can also be used
restored, even in laboratory conditions.
But when you look up the old partition | Free system suite
tables in the hard disk, both the programs Partitions and backup in Windows like the following are given: “Change disk
can conjure up partitions that have been If you are looking for unsophisticated drive designator and disk drive path”,
deleted accidentally. partition and backup features, then the “Format” and “Delete logical disk drive”.
Only PartitionMagic does not offer the Windows Tools is a good option. We help Backup: Before starting, you need to
restoration feature. Large external USB you find the corresponding tools. reinstall the corresponding tool from the
drives of over 120 gigabytes are getting Partition tools: It is more useful to use program CD to your Windows XP Home.
more and more affordable and serve as the Windows feature for the initial setup, You will find it under “VALUEADD\MSFT\
additional practical storage carriers. If you considering that with Windows you can NTBACKUP\ NTBACKUP.MSI”. After
want to partition such disks, Disk Director only create and delete partitions. To access installation, you can find the backup option by
and Partition Manager can be used “Computer Management”, go to “Start | clicking on the Start menu and following the
without any problem. PartitionMagic has Control panel | Administrative tools”. Click given directorial structure - “Accessories”>
been in the market for a couple of years on “Data carrier administration” to open the “system programs” >”backup”- in the
now but we do not recommend it for this partitioning option. program list. With the help of an assistant,
purpose. When using the program in DOS Right click on the “Free storage you can either provide a backup for
mode, it does not recognize USB drives. location”, which is shown graphically in individual files, an entire disk drive or even
Due to this reason PartitionMagic cannot green. Select “New logical disk drive” to the most important Windows system files.
find the hard disk in the first place. The create a partition. The backup can be time controlled and even
problems just seem to increase when one In the object menu, a number of options incremental as you wish.
uses a software-based RAID controller to

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP


94 APPLICATIONS | FEATURE

on the hard disk accessible. USB hard drive is a useful storage location
When it comes to usability, Disk for the backup data. The advantages are
Director far outperforms PartitionMagic evident—the configuration is not only
and Partition Manager. For additional faster and easier, but it also lets you carry
hard disk related functions, Partition your image with you. During the tests, all
Manager offers the best set of options. the three tools provided a backup to the
It features a file explorer, which opens external USB drives and even restored the
all supported file systems. In addition, it data from these drives later.
offers the capability to edit the Master Acronis goes a step further with its
File Table (MFT). This is very practical True Image, which not only saves on a
because a lot of small files are directly network drive or a USB drive, but also
Expert tool: The Editor of Disk Director saved in the MFT under NTFS. offers an option to create a protected
allows experienced users to change entries
and hidden partition in a local disk. It
in the boot sector manually
Drive image programs is here that the images are stored. This
to undo a software RAID system. This All the three tools—Norton Ghost, True prevents users from deleting images
feature is also present in Windows XP Image and Drive Backup perform the accidentally. Although this is a neat
Professional but after the operation, it basic features of creating a partition feature, it contradicts an important rule
removes all data from the disk. image, compressing and restoring it of backups—never create a backup on the
After all of these scenarios, it is over a network. Therefore, if one PC same drive.
essential that the partitions remain stable which is part of a home network fails, It is a myth that each backup must
because if they crash, it will result in a you can restore a backup from another contain the complete data of the
complete data loss. Through the tests PC connected to the same network. partition. Incremental backups provide
we conducted, only Disk Director proved However, differences would arise in the a backup of only the changes made
to be resilient against system crashes partition depending upon the system since the last image. This is a feature
but only as long as it had nothing to do configurations. offered by all the three tools, resulting
with logical drives. In this case, Partition First up, Symantec Ghost 10 uses a in efficient use of space. However, this
Manager failed to redistribute free space special Windows version (Windows PE) is only useful if you don’t restore a basic
on the drive—a rather easy operation. for its restoration console. No problems system frequently, and would instead like
The progress bar was stuck on 0 percent arose during restoration and there were to add important data like pictures, MP3s,
and we had to end the task by rebooting. no hitches in the connection to the documents and so on a regular basis.
Partition Manager returned the same network. However, we did not get the Encrypted partitions were supported
results even after restarting. same results with Paragon Drive Backup by all of these programs during the tests.
Then, we also tried to restore deleted 7, which uses a Linux system for its Protection is top priority not only for
NTFS partitions using PartitionMagic. The console and takes a while to configure to backup but for other features as well. It
program kept throwing up “error 117” and a network. Restoring a network backup is thus important for each program to
repeatedly shut down. Only Disk Director with Acronis True Image 9 was even provide an option of backing up the
could detect the lost NTFS partitions tougher as it does not have an input image with a password, which in
and restore them. Disk Director was also window for a network password; so turn protects the image against any
successful in making other applications access was denied to the backup on the unauthorized access, a feature supported
network. An external storage device like a by all the three.

The interface of Paragon Drive Backup 7 drive image tool is very complicated especially for
beginners

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


FEATURE | APPLICATIONS 95

Next, we tested the ability to restore


individual files from an image. This
| KNOW HOW
feature is helpful when you require a Partitions in the hard disk well as the identification of the file
small Word document from the backup. In When you boot your computer, the system and a specification stating
addition, all these programs offer a tool BIOS first controls the Master Boot whether an extended partition is
with which you can check and extract Record (MBR). The MBR is always in involved.
the contents of a backup set. This feature the first sector of the hard disk and the If a primary partition is marked
is particularly impressive in Acronis True first 446 bytes mainly contain the Boot as ‘extended’ then more than four
Image. Here, the application temporarily Loader. The MBR polls the start partition. partitions can be created in the hard
assigns the letter of a drive to the image. It later calls a partition table of 64 bytes, disk The extended partition has its own
With this, you can access the backup files which allows a maximum of four partition sector and its size corresponds
through Windows Explorer or through entries. This also means that only four to the MBR.
any other application. In case of the other of such so-called primary partitions are Since a BootLoader is not present
programs, you first need to extract the possible. there, this partition table offers space
data, which is indeed time consuming. The entries in the primary partitions for further 23 so-called logical disk
The image creation feature should comprise the start and end points as drives.
ideally be quick and easy. The Symantec
and Acronis tools offer an option of
Hard Disk
creating backups in the background, thus
1st 2nd 3rd Extended partition
allowing you to carry on with your work
primary primary primary Logical drive Logical drive Logical drive
without any difficulty. This feature is
partition partition partition
absent in the Paragon tool (ranked third
by us). As with other programs, users can A maximum of four primary partitions are allowed in a hard disk. One of those—the
expanded partition contains additional contain drives
set the CPU utilization for this program.
However, this feature is missing in intuitively. Above all, in case of add-ons is that features have not been explained
Paragon. For instance, if you want to edit like backup over the network drive, substantially. Another drawback of this
a picture in Photoshop, you can change they hardly assist the user, irrespective program is that its task planning icon is
the amount of CPU usage during the of whether the assistant features are not easily recognizable.
backup process and alleviate load for your in-built or not. It is especially irksome for The Symantec Ghost interface
tasks at hand. In addition, the program beginners, who would be expected to be emerges a winner. After launching, it
should be able to execute image related acquainted with jargon. offers an overview of all its features and a
tasks as per a user-defined schedule in The Paragon program is an ideal detailed description of each of the tasks.
the background. This works very well with example of this case—it does a sub- Additional features can be accessed using
tools like Ghost 10 and True Image 9. In standard job of offering any usable tabs. Users can quickly and easily create
fact, in True Image you have the option assistance to new users. On the other a backup with the help of step-by-step
of starting a program before or after the hand, the Acronis True Image interface wizards. Thanks to the special Windows
backup process. However, this timetable is pleasant and actually assists the PE version, users feels at home even while
feature is absent in Drive Backup 7. user even during difficult tasks like restoring data. 
Unfortunately, it is not possible to planned backups and using the network | Markus Mandau
operate all tested products easily and functionality, etc. Its only shortcoming

The Symantec Ghost 10 application displays the available backup size very clearly in a
window

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP


96 APPLICATIONS | FEATURE

This is how Chip tested


Partitioning and image tools were
installed on a logical drive in Windows XP
Partition tools
professional. In addition, we connected 1 2 3
an external USB drive to a 2.55 GHz P4 Product Disk Director Partition Manager Partition
Suite 10 7.0 Pro Magic 8.05
computer.
Price (approx) $49.99 (Rs 2,293) $70 (Rs 3,211) $69.95 (Rs 3,209)
Internet www.acronis.com www.paragon.com www.symantec.com
Partition tools
Overall placing
The programs must create, delete, transfer,
1 50 100 1 50 100 1 50 100
copy and convert partitions. We paid
Partitions (50%)
special attention to complicated operations
Ergonomics (30%)
like dividing, merging and restoring. We Functionality (20 %)
additionally tested the performance
of the tools with USB drives, which are Price/performance Very good Satisfactory Fair
Conclusion A robust partition with A powerful partition, Outdated software with
increasingly being used. Besides, we took powerful professional but not stable and not only basic features
into consideration the fact that the test features very comfortable included
candidates should be able to deal with Partitions
dynamic disks. Creating/deleting/ •/ • / • •/ • / • •/ • / •
formatting
Splitting/merging •/ • –/• •/ •
Ergonomics Moving/copying •/ • •/ • •/ •
How robust are the partition tools? In case Resizing partition • • •
something goes wrong, can the user stop or Converting • (FAT 16 to FAT 32) • (From FAT to NTFS, • (FAT to NTFS)
NTFS 1.02 to NTFS 3.01)
cancel the action? Besides, during the tests
Hiding/deleting •/ • •/ • •/ •
we also paid attention to error messages Restoring • • –
displayed by the programs and whether the In external hard disk Works when rebooted Works even without Works only if rebooting
features offered by these programs are of rebooting is not required
Working with dynamic Does not work; leads to Converts dynamic in Does not work
any further help to users. Additional points
data structures * a system crash basis data carrier
were given for functionality and usability. Ergonomics
Assistant features Has integrated the Has start assistant Has integrated the
Functionality assistant feature assistant feature
Usability Well-designed interface Simple interface Well-designed interface
What is the use of the accompanying boot
Reliability Stable, but the system When an action Does not function at
manager and does it display Windows on crashes in case of cannot be executed, it all when it detects an
the logical drive? The partition tools should dynamic data structures freezes error
at least master the operations of the latest Help Detailed help Well-structured help Detailed help
Error report, Reports when an Partly incomprehensible Partly cryptic error
file systems along with additional tasks like
hard disk state operation cannot be messages in case of messages
changing the drive alphabet or the cluster executed failed tasks
size. They should have alternate mediums, Functionality
ideally a CD at their disposal. File systems NTFS, FAT, Ext2, Ext3, NTFS, FAT, Ext2, Ext3, NTFS, FAT, Ext2, Ext3,
ReiserFS, LinusSwap ReiserFS, LinusSwap LinusSwap
This can be helpful in case of an
Boot manager Starts OS from all Starts OS only from Starts OS only from
emergency and a user can boot a backup partitions, finds deleted primary partitions, primary partitions,
system to undo the damage. A Disk Editor OS entries, comprises can invoke old MBR, requires FAT partition
offers users additional advantages for the Disk Director, does and does not have a for installation
not have a good de-installation routine
task partitioning. de-installation routine
De-fragmenting hard • (Uses Windows •(Separate even the • (Uses Windows
| How CHIP assessed disk
Testing hard disk
defragmentation)
Easy check
MFT)
Intensive check
defragmentation)
Easy check
Functionality Partitioning Boot medium Program CD Recordable recovery Recordable disks
CD
20% Additional options Extensive Editor for Data protection during Rearranges references
experts with an access power failure, complete to delayed files,
50% to MBR and partitions physical copy of a determines the boot
table creates a backup partition, has script partition newly
30% copy from MBR control
CHIP assigned score boxes as per this grade key: 100–90 points = 5 boxes,
Ergonomics 89–75 = 4 boxes, 74–60 = 3 boxes, 59–45 = 2 boxes, 44–20 = 1 box, 19–0 = 0 c. [• = ja – = nein]
* Used in external drives

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


FEATURE | APPLICATIONS 97

This is how Chip tested


Partition and image tools were installed
Image programs on a logical drive in Windows XP
1 2 3 professional. We connected another
Product Norton Ghost 10.0 True Image 9.0 Drive Backup 7.0 external USB drive to a 2.55 GHz P4
Price (approx) $69.99 (Rs 3,209) $49.99 (Rs 2,293) $70 (Rs 3,211) computer.
Internet www.symantec.com www.acronis.com www.paragon.com Mentioned below are some of the few
Overall placing factors we kept in mind before going
1 50 100 1 50 100 1 50 100 ahead with our tests.
Images (50%) 100 90 65

Functionality (30%) 95 98 55 Images


Ergonomics (20 %) 100 58 56 Till now, saving and restoring was never
as simple as this. The programs must
Price/performance Satisfactory Good Fair
support backups on the USB and network
Conclusion An excellent image The program is Although the basic
drives. The process of incremental image
tool that is easy to use. convincing thanks to features work fine, the
Does a good job with its pleasant interface. tool neither supports saving should exist on the feature list.
the network report, However, the absent the backup in the Additionally, we took the stability factor
which is optimal and network report background nor a time into consideration—the programs must
easy to handle is met with some table
disappointment secure the system and not cause it to
Images crash or create faulty backups.
Creating images on • With its own network • Difficult installation of • Without password
network drive possible report the net driver Functionality
Creating images on • • • Compression and safety of the images
USB dives possible are two crucial factors. Besides that, it
Creating incremental •/ • • • was important for us to know whether a
image possible
backup process can run in the background
Support for dynamic • – •
and whether it can be compatible with the
data carrier available
system capacity. The Hot-backup feature
Functionality
is of great importance especially in case
Compression stages Four stages (standard, Four stages (standard, Four stages (standard,
middle, high not middle, high not middle, high not of new versions of image programs. In this
present) present) present) case, the tool saves the data in an image
Automatic backup Possible Possible Absent during a Windows session. The programs
(time table) should also have an image explorer.
Adjustment of backup Adjustable through Adjustable in three Absent
speed as per the elevator bar stages
system resources
Ergonomics
The programs should be easily functional,
Encryption through • • •
password must be efficient, easy to find and operate
Restoring individual Possible Possible Possible easily beginners. Above all, we focussed on
files from image the assistant features, because beginners,
Backup in the • (Adjustable through • (Adjustable through the – in particular, should be able to work with
background elevator bar) option menu) the tools without any problem. Programs
Backing up system Without problems Without problems Without problems with detailed descriptions of jargon were
partition without
restarting given additional marks.
Displaying image – • (Integrates the images • (Integrates the images
as disk drive in the through a virtual disk through a virtual disk | How CHIP assessed
Explorer drive) drive)
Ergonomics Ergonomics Images
Assistants Has integrated Has integrated No assistant 20%
assistant assistants
Usability Simple interface with Simple interface but Complicated interface 50%
tab not always clear (task
planning) 30%
Manual Detailed manual with an Brief manual with Brief manual with
in-depth insight into the the most important the most important
Functionality
program features questions explained questions explained

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP


98 APPLICATIONS | FEATURE

Chat Security
Chatting online is dangerous. After tormenting e-mails and browsers, hackers have
now turned their attention to instant messengers. With ICQ and other IMs installed,
is your PC well protected from viruses, spyware and phishing?

“H
ey, I’ve found a picture of CHIP has tested six instant messengers, the hacker is free to enter the system and
you.” If you were conned into including the latest Beta versions from download any information or file which
clicking on this link, then you Microsoft and Yahoo. We bombarded test is of particular interest to him. If that
won’t get an image file instead an I-Worm. accounts with infected links in an attempt isn’t bad enough, hackers usually insert
NewPic file instead. Any guesses what kind to penetrate firewalls and exploit chat a backdoor which leaves the victim’s PC
of a file this is? A classic backdoor spoof, sessions and the results were astonishing. open to attacks in the future.
it prepares an entry point for hackers to The security holes left open by instant Phishing in messengers works in
retrieve data from victims. messengers were extremely dangerous. pretty much the same way as in the case
The Internet mafia has made instant Worse still, not one messenger managed of phishing-mails. A common phishing
messenger applications its new target and to offer protection for child users. In this practice would be to lure a victim to
has started spreading malicious programs article, we discuss the methods used by a false web site and thereby lead him
through them. According to research Internet hackers and how you can avoid into providing personal online banking
conducted by ‘FaceTime Security Labs’, the potential threats while chatting online. information. The recent case of AOL
number of attacks on chat programs have and MSN messengers being attacked by
increased 20-fold in the last year alone. Phishing and spyware the ‘Maniccum’ worm provides further
The hacker’s current favourite is Hackers exploit the natural curiosity in evidence of the increasing rate of phishing
Microsoft’s MSN Messenger although humans in order to plant Trojans and steal attacks through instant messengers.
ICQ, Yahoo, and AOL are all experiencing passwords. Usually, users are sent a short
increasing attacks as well. A poll recently message which contains a link to a ‘photo’ Dangers: Advice not to open files from
revealed that nearly 50 percent of online or ‘video clip.’ When the user clicks on this unknown senders is already outdated with
chatting via instant messaging is done in link, an embedded micro-program will newer worms choosing to directly take
the office, thereby allowing attackers to put a stop to any safety and protection advantage of a user’s contacts list. Expect
slip through enterprise networks, firewalls program that may be running. to receive messages asking you to ‘click on
and other available protection. After the programs are suspended, this image link to view a photo’ from your

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


FEATURE | APPLICATIONS 99

| Security Check
 Be cautious with links and download
Don’t accept files from unknown
senders. If the file is sent from a
friend, verify this with them before
downloading the file.
 Installing updates
Spyware and Trojans may gain access
to your PC through any messenger
program. It exploits the same security
hole that Windows has. Remember to
Security through encryption: Encrypt your chat conversations with SimpLite to prevent frequently run automatic updates to
hackers from getting access to them
cover these holes.
friend or colleague listed on your contacts targeted as much as other programs all  Activate firewall and virus scanner
list. More impressively, there are worms this while, it doesn’t mean they are safe Without a firewall, the PC is more
which can participate in chat sessions and from attacks. Most of the time users vulnerable to attacks from hackers.
answer basic questions accurately leading chat using a specific instant messenger. Virus scanners may also provide extra
users to believe that they are chatting with When this becomes a hacker’s target, it protection for your PC.
real people. becomes your main cause for concern. To  Don’t allow others to spy on you
attack a chat client through the Internet, Each conversation you have could be
Solution: As currently there are no existing hackers need to penetrate security holes recorded. You should encrypt your chat
tools to filter spam or phishing effectively, open to them. For a chat program, that conversation with a tool like SimpLite.
the most important safety principle defence breach is in the form of ports
would be NOT to open ANY links sent used for sending or receiving Internet How we test IMs
through chat windows. If you really need packets. The typical scenario would be a Phishing filters, child protection, update
to click on that link or receive a sent file, buffer-overflow attack when the packets functions, and encryptions merit extra
confirm whether the sender wants you start transferring. Here, the hacker sends a marks. Facilities to block unknown senders
to do so first. Formulate your question in packet which gets misinterpreted by and the messenger’s ability to work with
a way that worms will not be able to give the target’s PC and therefore allows a a firewall or virus scanner are important
questions with standard replies. You can Trojan to run. factors as well.
also try installing basic protection from
new Internet security suites available in Dangers: Half of the messengers tested by Survey
Which chat program do you use?
the market. CHIP did not offer any software updates 40
even with known security threats. The 35
30.43 %
Bugs open doors to hackers dangers of not plugging these holes have 30 35.59 %

Source: www.chip.de
25
Any program that connects to the Internet already been made known to many web 20 14.70 %
has a possible risk of being attacked. sites that offer hacker tools. Exploiting 15 14.49 %
10 1.03 %
Even if instant messengers have not been this security could not only cause the
5 2.93 %
messenger to crash, but might affect 0.83 %
| Test Summary Windows as well. For script-kiddies
0
AOL Google
Messenger Talk
ICQ Microsoft
Messenger
Trillian Yahoo
Messenger
Others

We seldom get so many negative results or a newbie this might be a tad too From this global survey, we can see that
from one batch of programs, but this is complicated, but for expert hackers, this is ICQ is still the hot favorite.
indeed a fact. Microsoft Live Messenger a cakewalk.
Attack Watch
which won the test also faltered at two
Attacks on Messenger
important Security Check points. The Solution: Maintain the quality of your
PROGNOSIS
Source: FaceTime Security Labs

900
test showed that chat clients created messenger program. It’s best to use an
800
a hole in the firewall which could be IM with automatic update functions 700
600
exploited as an entry point for hackers. such as the one found on Microsoft’s 500
Before fixing or upgrading, we advise Live Messenger. Other tools such as AOL 400
300
you to stop using Internet messengers and Trillian also have their own update 200
if your PC or network contains sensitive functions. If you are chatting through 100
0
information. Not only at workplaces, Yahoo Messenger, Google or ICQ, you Q1 ’05 Q2 ’05 Q3 ’05 Q4 ’05 Q1 ’06 Q2 ’06
users at homes should also learn to should regularly check their web sites to Since early 2005, the number of attacks on
protect themselves. download the latest versions. The lack of IMs has increased dramatically.

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP


100 APPLICATIONS | FEATURE

an automatic update feature is an several instances where children not to save a conversation log file in the
obvious weakness and should be below 12 years of age chat on the first place. Most programmes allow this
made compulsory for all instant internet without any restriction. feature to be turned off.
messengers. Our tests proved that none On Microsoft, AOL, and ICQ, the
of the instant messengers logging function must be activated
Children targeted prevent this from occurring manually. As long as you didn’t turn it
“They act like children to either. If the date of birth is on, you’re safe. For other messengers,
gain the kid’s trust”, said not provided by a registering the log file setting can be done during
Joerg Pecanic, an authority user, there is no way providers setup. If you fail to turn this feature
from Coalition Against Child Pornography can identify their age. Moreover, even if the off, the program automatically creates
when asked about paedophiles on the date of birth was keyed in, there still isn’t unencrypted log files.
Internet. Despite severe criticism from any mechanism in place to verify whether Google Talk gives an extra line of
security experts, many chat programs the provided age is true or not. defence for protection against hackers.
have still not adopted any security By default, all your conversation logs are
mechanism such as having a master Solution: Parents should explain the saved in your Gmail account server. This
password for required for setup. ICQ, dangers of chatting online to their kids. means, your log files will not be obtained
for instance, has an option to block They should realize the importance of even if a hacker gains access to your PC.
any unknown contacts from sending setting clear guidelines and should tell If you’re conscious about saving a copy
messages. However, curious children will their kids not to meet other chat users of your conversations in spite of these
not find it difficult to deselect a checkbox. in person. risks, then use an open-source tool called
All other IMs have also failed in this child TrueCrypt. With the help of this tool, you
protection test. Who knows your secrets? can create an encrypted drive and install
Technically, chat providers can spy on messenger there. Every time you start up
Dangers: Instead of coming up with a your conversations but no one actually the PC and want to start a conversation,
solution for providing security for children, pays attention to this fact. In ICQ’s you will be prompted to access the drive
providers dodge the responsibility and EULA, it is stated that instant messenger with a password. That’s not all. Whether
cover their own ignorance with a special providers are legally allowed to read your your private conversations are being
clause found on their End User License conversations. Any information sent recorded or not, you still have the lurking
Agreement (EULA) which states, “Kids through the provider may also be publicly fear that the messages you are sending
under the age of 12 may not use this published. The EULA from ICQ says clearly, over the Internet are being read. To solve
service”. If it comes to attention that a “You agree that ICQ Inc has the rights that problem, you should install a plugin
registered user is a child under 12 years to use any material sent… including or tool such as SimpLite, which can
of age, the provider cancels that user’s publishing it”. encrypt the data while it traverses.
account. This is not a measure to prevent SimpLite can be used on any
kids from creating accounts. There are Dangers: Regardless of which instant messenger program which supports a
messenger you are using, data transfers firewall. It allows you to create a strong
between participants are not encrypted. cryptographic key which protects
Besides that, any chat session can be messages traveling in and out of chat
stored in a log file which may be read by programs from being attacked. In case
other users of the PC. It’s not only the of most chat clients, the configuration is
providers you should be worried about automatically set. However, lesser known
but hackers too. Usually hackers attack chat programs need to be configured
hotspots and cybercafes. To spy on one’s manually.
conversation, the hacker has to be within
the same network as that of the IM user. Trojans posing as chat programs
Tools such as Ethereal or Cain & Abel The first voice-chat program to have
allow the hacker to record all of the con- become popular with users is VoIP Skype.
versation data and proceed to filter out It’s been a while that users around the
sensitive information such as passwords world have been communicating over
or home addresses. Skype and ever since then security experts
have warned of the possibility of attacks
Phishing: Links or file names like Humor.txt Solution: You can prevent hackers from by Trojans and bots pretending to be
intend to deceive the curious user. Little do reading your conversations by encrypting normal chat or VoIP programs. The MyTob
they know the ‘humorous’ joke is on them
your chat and log file. The easiest way is bot is one such example.

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


FEATURE | APPLICATIONS 101

Overview Position1 Position2 Position3 Position4 Position5 Position6


Developer Live Messenger AIM Trillian Basic ICQs Google Talk Yahoo Messenger
Freeware/Hardware Microsoft AOL Cerulean Studios ICQ Google Yahoo
Internet http://ideas.live.com www.aim.com www.ceruleanstudios.com www.icq.com http://talk.google.com www.yahoo.com
Security Test
Security Score 74 Points 67 Points 67 Points 61 Points 48 Points 47 Points

Phishing Filter ● (only filter links) ●


Anonymous User Block ● ● Plus reminder ● ● ● —
User Authorization ● ● ● ● ● ● (ignore mode)
Auto-Update ● via Win-Update ● ● — — —
Child-protection — — — — — —
Chat encryption — — — — — —
Deactivate log file ● ● — ● On Google Server —
Virus scanner: ● ● ● — — —
Firewall support Proxy only Proxy only Proxy only Proxy only Proxy only Proxy only
Other features
VoIP Support Only in America Direct Connection Direct Connection Direct Connection Direct Connection Yahoo via-Voice
Video Chat ● ● Pro version only ● — ●
Themes Wallpaper+icon ● ● ● — ●
Conference Chat — — ● ● — ●
File sending 1 folder per user General folder, General folder, General folder, — Direct sending
direct sending direct sending direct sending
Email support Live/Hotmail AIM and POP3 Pro version only — Google Mail Yahoo Mail
SMS ● — — ● — —
Extra functions Games support, City map service, Pro version only Games support, — Games support,
MTV stock-market-ticker partner-finder newsticker
• -yes no Excellent (100-90) Good (89-75) Average (74-45). All scores are calculated based on points (maximum 100)

Dangers: Malware infects the system and administrators decide to block all chatting will also be of no help. The best form of
allows the hacker to assimilate all the activities, surely the Internet will be protection is offered by security suites,
conversation data without letting the user a safer place. However, this can only firewalls and updated virus scanners.
know about it and therefore the firewall be realistically implemented in offices Needless to say, even with the latest
is not able to prevent these packets from rather than home users. So if you intend updated protection programs (Recently,
entering your system. to continue chatting online, it’s best to Symantec released an enhanced security
use a proxy or firewall with password suite catering specially to instant
Solution: Security experts have warned protection. However, if a Trojan gains messengers) there will always be newer
against the use of chat programs. If access to the data stream then passwords Trojans and viruses released by hackers. 
| Loh Ken Wei

Hacker’s paradise: Programs like Ethereal allows a hacker to easily spy on a chat
conversation over the Internet

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP


102 APPLICATIONS | FEATURE

Dddddddddd

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


FEATURE | APPLICATIONS 103

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP


104
104

Dr. CHIP
Dr. CHIPGarbled display memory that is failing – if you have two
Mobile screenshotsmodules (of 128 MB each) then
Q> I own an Intel 865- until you move it som
either
based computer with one or both are faulty. If it isn’t the RAM
Q> I use a Symbian-based cellular instance to a memo
a Pentium 4 running then it could be the memory slots on
phone.
at 2.4GHzIt andalso
512has anthe in-built
motherboarddigital memory.
that is the reason. The
camera.
MB of memory.I have tried only
I have takingway screenshots
to find out is to actually remove
been intermittently your RAM modules and try them one at
of my phone’s screen but when I
experiencing a strange a time in different RAM slots. This will
take a look
problem with my at the result,
isolateitthealways
problem area. If swapping
appearsThere
computer. completely slots different.
does notIthelp
is as
and you only have a
are times when my single 512 MB memory module then try
if the phone’s capture utility ‘sees’ totally
computer’s display replacing your memory with a working
different colors!
goes berserk. The graphics The image
one. is neither
If you cannot get hold of one
smooth
become totallynor accurate
illegible and in terms
module of its colorthen you will need
temporarily
gets transformed into gibberish. to give your memory/motherboard to a
reproduction. Are there some tweaks or
It looks like something out of technician.
some
a movie. The settings
problem seems that have been overlooked?
to be worsening as the display XP Activation Problem -Atul
has started getting garbled right Q> The strangest thing happened the
Just like the times when you need
after initial boot screen. When other day. I had to reinstall Windows XP
to capture
the problem wasn’t thatan entire
bad I PC screenProfessionalandbecause
you hitof a virus. After the
the ‘PrintScreen’
had reinstalled the video drivers button,reinstallation
there is a similar
I tried activating my copy
thinkingutility
that it would help. But it of
for the mobile phone. Download Windows XP but it refused to do so. I
did not. What could the problem be? kept getting an error saying, “exceeded
‘ScreenTaker’ from www.symbianware.
- Sanjay number of installations”. I have reinstalled
com. After installation, you only need
and activated tothe past but
XP in The
thisentire
is image dis
You are experiencing
run it and read a hardware the firstClick
the directions. time I ‘Hide’
have ever receivedcanandbe captured usin
related problem. If the video is getting SymbianWare
an error like this. I never knew there was
to hide the application before
garbled even before Windows XP boots
capturing
such a thing as an “activation limit”. What
onHands on

screenshots.
then it has nothing to do with the Now videoall youdohave to do is
I do now? Remove old restore
drivers installed in Windows. You will
run the application that you would like to Q>- IMaheep
am running out
need to check the memory installed
capture from or any other items
on your motherboard. It could be the
displayed. my computer. After
Yes, disappointing as it sounds
By pressing the combination there isofan‘ABC+
activation limit thataround
MicrosoftI found that
| How to Read the Code
Menu Key’ or ‘ABC+ *’, ScreenTaker has set to thewilloperating
snapsystem. After
“_restore{05BB0736
installing the operating system you need
All code lines theandscreen. On Nokia
commands are phones, the ABC key D92F52FD225C}”. W
to activate the installation within 30
written in the following manner:
has a pencil icon. If donedays. correctly, youofwill delete this folder? It
A maximum three activations
netsh•int•ip•reset•tcpreset.txt
can be carried out in these 30 days.MB!
700 ApartSomeone t
where the •get a menu
symbol denotes toanamespace. the image captured.
from this, Microsoft allows only eight to
This code
Hence, the above image linewill then
should be be stored (default scr. something to do wit
eleven activations per product – which
typed as utility
jpg). When the text ‘Image Saved’
is what appears,
you might have exceeded. It in XP and rem
netsh<space>int<space>ip<space
press ‘Back’. You can seecould
>reset<space>tcpreset<dot>txt
also happen
the results if you change
in the your
advisable. What sho
hardware. For this you should get in touch
‘Images’ folder on your phone. ScreenTaker
will store the image in the phone’s memory
INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBERYes,
2006 the folde

Restore. Each partiti


DR. CHIP | HANDS ON 105

“Plug and Play” for its installation. It could


also be because of a damaged registry key.
First of all try to resolve the problem by
downloading the latest HP printer drivers
from the main website. If that does not
work then restart the computer. If you still
get the “Found New Hardware Wizard”,
don’t worry. Uninstall the drivers from the
Device Manager, disconnect your printer
and open the Registry Editor to delete the
damaged key. Click on Start | Run, type
“regedit” and click on Ok. Navigate to
Select the location to obtain country- Prevent Windows from shutting the USB the following registry key in the Registry
specific toll-free numbers so as to change root hub down so that other devices can Editor,
your product key connect to it [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\
with Microsoft on the toll free number obtain power from an outlet and not from CurrentControlSet\Enum\LPTENUM]
and get yourself a new product key. The the notebook’s port. Or make sure your Right-click the registry key and Delete
old product will work to complete your handheld is connected to a power source it. Confirm the removal and close the
installation since there is no limit to the so it does not require the hub’s power. It Registry Editor. Restart your computer.
number of times you reinstall Windows could also be that your handheld device Windows XP will detect the printer once
XP. But it will not help during the is not communicating all the time since again. Install the drivers again and the
activation. your external USB hub is going into a next time you restart XP will not ask you
You can call Microsoft India’s toll- “power save” mode. This causes the hub for the drivers again.
free numbers for this. BSNL/MTNL lines to close down all communication to the
can call 1800 111100. You will find the ports. Your laptop may have “Allow the Zlob malware
numbers at, “http://www.microsoft. computer to turn off this device to save Q> I have Spybot – Search ‘n’ Destroy
com/india/connect/tollfree.aspx” power” enabled for the “Root Hub” in installed on my machine. It has detected
You will get a computerized phone the Device Manager. This sets the hub to “zlob.downloader” on my computer but it
service, which will request you to enter power down when not in use resulting in is unable to remove it. It also mentions a
the “Installation ID”. Make sure you punch its ports to go stop communicating with file name “stdole3.plb”. How do I remove
the entire ID without the hyphens. the devices connected to it. Have you this piece of malware?
Alternatively, you can also get the toll- tried connecting your handheld directly to - Suboddh
free number from the activation window your notebook? Try it. Alternatively, turn
when you choose to “activate by phone”. off power saving on USB in the Device To remove Zlob you will have to
Select the country and you will get the Manager. You can do this by opening download and install the fix file from
numbers you need to call. the Device Manager (from “System” in http://siri.geekstogo.com/SmitfraudFix.
“Control Panel”), right click on “Root hub” php. It is a zip file so you will need
USB Malfunction (under Universal Serial Bust controllers) to extract it to another folder. After
Q> I use an Windows Pocket PC-based and select “Properties”. Click on the extraction, run the “SmitfraudFix.cmd”
HP iPaq handheld. Sometime ago when “Power Management” tab and uncheck
I connected it to my notebook via the “Allow the computer to turn off this
cradle I got an error stating, “USB Device device to save power”.
has malfunctioned and Windows does
not recognize it”. Ever since this problem New Hardware Wizard
has started I have not been able to use Q> I use an HP printer to print most of
my handheld. I have other USB devices my project work and other personal
connected to my notebook at the same things. These days, whenever I restart
time too – this is via a USB hub. Could my computer the “Found New Hardware
that be the problem or is this related to Wizard” will start. What do I do? I have
my iPaq? reinstalled the drivers many times over.
- Jo - Pradhan

Does your USB hub obtain power This might be because the device
from the notebook? It should be able to is not “Plug and Play” or it does not use

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP

SMS us! Story code: HDC (See Page 20 for details)


106 HANDS ON | DR. CHIP

CHIP-INDIA KNOW HOW | (www.chip-india.com/knowhow)


Host a site will cost you extra), Microsoft .net
I want to host a site. What would be the Applications 1.1, Active PERL, Free Web
cost for 100 MB of hosting space? based Control Panel, Hosting platform
- Vipin Radhakrishnan - Windows and Linux.
You can take up the Rediff 100 MB You can read more about the
package. It offers the following for Rs packages they offer at: http://
3200 per year, No. of Subdomains – 5, hosting.rediff.com/hosting/scripts/
ODBC Data Source Support – 5, MySQL HostingSolutions.phtml
Free for Linux (Using Microsoft’s SQL - sunny1552

Use the SmitfraudFix file to locate and


remove the Zlob.downloader malware.

file. In the command prompt window


that appears, press [1] and then [Enter].
This will run a search and create a report
in the root drive as “rapport.txt”. Restart
your computer in Safe Mode. This involves
pressing the F8 key after the memory
test till the Advanced Startup Menu
appears – select Safe Mode and press
[Enter]. In the Safe Mode double click
on the file “SmitfraudFix.cmd” again
and then press [2] and [Enter]. This will
remove the infected files. Press [Y] and Rediff offers three web hosting packages depending on the storage space required
[Enter] to confirm a registry cleanup.
This will remove the desktop background Mobile Videos whatever I copy onto any brand of optical
and remove the infection left behind in Q> I own a Motorola L7 camera phone. I media, it is not read properly on my
the registry keys as well. You might also have some video files stored on the phone machine. I do not get any errors while
be asked if a “wininet.dll” file can be that I transferred to my computer. The copying and when I try to access the
replaced. This might appear if the file is files do not play in Windows Media Player. media later on, it just does not respond.
found to be infected. Press [Y] and [Enter] I have the latest version of the player Even the icons of the files on the CD are
to confirm and restart the computer. but it refuses to play. There aren’t any not displayed correctly. They are just blank
(The option 3 in the fix command prompt additional codecs provided by Motorola boxes (like the displayed for batch files).
window is to restore the Trusted Zone on their CD. The files have a “.3gp” Accessing my drive also has been quite
settings in IE. If you want you can run that extension. What sort of files are these? slow. I decided to check the DMA settings
command also.) - Surendran of my optical drive from its properties in
the Device Manager. To be able to see the
Media Player cannot play the DMA mode it is working in there should
3GP (or 3GPP) format simply because be an “Advanced Settings” tab but it does
it does not provide support for it. This appear on my computer. What could the
format supports the MPEG-4 standard problem be?
of compression and is mainly used in - Rajat
3G phones – both GSM and CDMA2000
handsets. Quicktime player will play the You have not mentioned the
3GP files. You can also install K-Lite’s Mega motherboard you use. You will have to
codec pack and view the files in Media uninstall and reinstall the IDE controllers
Player Classic. from the Device Manager. In the Device
Manager (click on Start | Settings | Control
Cannot check DMA Panel | System and then on the “Hardware”
Q> I have been able to burn CDs on tab) expand “IDE ATA/ATAPI Controllers”
my machine easily all this while. Lately and right click on the ATA Storage

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


DR. CHIP | HANDS ON 107

and even if I have one, I am


Need a hand with your PC travails?
not using it. This pop-up is
Log on to www.chip-india.com/
extremely annoying. How
knowhow and post your query. Voila!
do I get rid of this?
You’re on your way to a glitch-free
- Dhruv
future.
This pop-up is a known issue
with NVIDIA older video
drivers – version 91.31, Info | For Accurate Diagnosis…
to be precise. The issue is
harmless but nonetheless, it 1. Mention system specifications.
is annoying. You can either 2. Mention new hardware or software
edit the registry to disable installed recently.
Select the Standard Storage Controller if the “DMA this notification or you 3. Note the error message, including the
Settings” tab is not visible. can just install the latest action or event that triggers the error.
video drivers from NVIDIA’s For instance, the error message comes
Controller (it will be above the Primary/ website (you will get the up only during startup or shutdown, or
Secondary Channel”. Depending on your latest drivers on the CHIP DVD). To edit the when starting a particular application
motherboard’s chipset, the controller registry click on Start | Run, type “regedit” and so on.
will be Intel, nForce or VIA. Right click on and click on Ok. Navigate to the following 4. Mention any changes you’ve made
it and select “Update Driver”. During the key, just before you started getting the
update wizard, choose “Install from a list [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\ error. For instance, have you deleted
or specific location” and then “I will choose NVIDIA Corporation\Global\NVTweak] some files recently or uninstalled
the driver to install”. Click on “Next” and Right click in the right hand pane and some applications?
select “Standard Dual Channel PCI IDE select “New | DWORD Value”. Rename
Controller” and click on Next. Restart your it to “NvCplEnableMultiGPUConfigura for a Symbian phone will only affect
computer and now check to see if the tionPage” and double click on it. Make devices that run the OS. For example,
DMA Settings tab re-appears. If you have sure the “Base” is “Hexadecimal” and the viruses affecting the Windows platform
an Intel-based board then try uninstalling Value is “00000000” (8 zeros). Click on Ok. have no effect on a Linux machine. If you
Intel’s Application Accelerator first before Close the Registry Editor and restart your want to scan your mobile phone then
trying the above steps. Only if uninstalling computer. install an anti-virus solution on it. After
IAA does not help, update the storage installing the software just make it run
controller. Mobile Anti-virus in the background so that it will detect
Q> I own a Series60 Nokia phone. I do not infectious files in real time. It will also
SLI Multi-GPU pop-up have any anti-virus software for it. I use Bit scan your memory card. Here are a few
Q> I own a PCI-Express motherboard, Defender as my anti-virus solution on my you can consider installing on your phone:
which is fitted with an NVIDIA-based computer. I was wondering if I can connect F-Secure: www.f-secure.com
graphic card. Windows XP Professional to my phone via a data cable and scan my SimWorks: www.simworks.biz
is the operating system that has been mobile phone for viruses. Is it possible to Symantec Mobile Security for Symbian:
installed on my computer. Every now scan the multimedia card that is installed in www.symantec.com 
and again a little balloon pops up from the phone also? Is it a safe way to do this?
the system tray saying, “SLI multi-GPU - Nilesh
rendering has been disabled.” As far as I
know I do not own an SLI motherboard You can scan the memory card
in your phone with Bit Defender if it is
detected as a “Mass Storage Device” in
the Device Manager. But you cannot use
Bit Defender to scan a mobile phone
simply because the software does not
contain signature files with which it
can detect any infections on your Nokia
phone. The anti-virus you are using is
The DWORD value is Hexadecimal and specifically meant for PCs and does not
contains eight zeros to disable the Multi- offer additional protection to handheld
GPU notification devices. This is because an infection built

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP


108 HANDS ON | WORKSHOP

The third eye


Play James Bond—with a few devices up your sleeve you can monitor your home
even in your absence

I
t has become very important to keep an We all know security cannot prevent any wireless IP camera from Level1. We opted for
eye on your house considering the stories crime from being committed but at least this camera as it best suits the requirements
we hear frequently on how easily houses you’ve the satisfaction that the accused of home users and small businesses. It is also
are broken into. Also, it is necessary to keep will not be scot free. Today with terrorism quite affordable when compared to other
a watch over all the happenings inside on the rise, devices like CCTV cameras and devices in the same category. This camera is
your house, be it keeping an eye on your monitoring devices like proximity detectors, a video surveillance device that makes use of
children or the servants or the front door for motion detectors, metal detectors, etc are Internet Protocol (IP) to transmit images. It
instance to see if anyone has meandered in being used extensively. These devices are also supports the 802.11g standard, enabling
the premises. Also, keeping an eye on the easily available in the market. These can be wireless transmission for video surveillance.
surroundings is something you have to do connected easily to your PC or notebook It can be connected to a high-speed 10/100
if you live alone or spend most of the day and can record videos and take pictures of Mbps LAN.
alone in the house. In this workshop we tell intrusions if any, while you’re away. You can record VGA quality video at 10
you how to monitor your home easily. In this workshop, we used the WCS-2030 fps at the highest resolution of 640x480
and directly save it as a MPEG4 file. Being
entry-level, this cam doesn’t have a zoom
or swivel feature present in other expensive
CCTV cameras. However, this feature
is not required for home or small office
surveillance. The built-in microphone records
audio at 24-bit; it can also capture audio
within a range of 10 meters with very little
background noise.
The surveillance software bundled along
is capable of letting you view 16 different
live feeds at a time. You can view these
feeds in a 4x4 matrix simultaneously. The
motion detection system takes pictures
only when there is a movement in the line
of sight of the cam and thus doesn’t take up
unnecessary space on your hard drive. You
can also schedule recordings.

What you need


To use the WCS-2030 wireless IP camera as
a wired device, you need:
A PC with an Ethernet card and sufficient
storage space on you hard drive.
IP cam with the surveillance software.
Ethernet cable.
To use it as a wireless device, you need
A PC with a PCI wireless card or a
laptop with Wi-Fi built in or a wireless
Pramod Jadhav
access point.
IP cam with the surveillance software.
Sufficient amount of hard drive space.

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Step 1 Connecting the camera Step 2 Installation Step 3 Changing IE settings

First configure the camera while Insert the installation disk into the After you have finished installing the
it is connected to your PC via an CD-ROM drive. In case it doesn’t run surveillance software, you will need
Ethernet cable. Connect one end of automatically, click on “Start” on the to change one of the IE settings so
the Ethernet cable to the PC and the lower left corner of your screen and open that you are ready to start running
other end to the camera’s Ethernet “My Computer”. Then double click on the Monitor program. Enable the
port. After connecting the Ethernet the CD-ROM icon and the IP surveillance option for submitting non-encrypted
cable, connect the power adapter to recorder installation window will appear data after clicking on “Start | Settings
the camera otherwise the camera as in Figure 1. Click on “Install Software | Control Panel | Internet Options |
won’t get detected. Plug the adapter DVR”. Next, set a password and confirm Security | Custom Level”. After the new
into an electrical outlet. A blue LED will it—this will be your administrator window opens up, search for the “Run
flash while the camera is initializing password. Select the location where component signed with Authenticode”
after which you are ready to set up the you want to install the files and click on and then click on “Enable” as shown in
software for the camera. “Next” and then on “Finish”. the above screenshot.

Step 4 Authentication Step 5 Monitoring window Step 6 Alerts and recording options

The next step is to click on “Launcher”. A new window will open up which asks On the top of the monitoring window,
This step walks the user through the for the camera’s IP address and once the you have the alert and recording
process of configuring the camera. PC detects it, the monitoring window will window. In the alert window settings,
The first things it will ask you for is the open up. If you want to use more than enable motion detection and specify
username and password. This is known one such camera, then use the “Insert” the recording time or recording type i.e.
as the Root username and password and option to insert a remote Network whether you want to record video or
is used to authenticate users once the Camera to the camera list. Click on the voice or both. Here you can also configure
camera is connected. To further configure “Insert” button, and you will see the the video input—for example, specifying
the camera, you will need to log in using “Insert New Channel” dialog popping alerts for motion detection and also the
these details. You can then proceed to up. Specify the IP address, port and root type of triggering you want for the digital
configuring the Server/Network Camera password of the remote Network Camera input. Once this configuration is over, the
in the “Camera Configuration” option, as series product, and click on the “OK” camera is ready to record. 
shown in the figure in step 2. button to close the dialog box. | Faheem Sayed

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110 HANDS ON | WORKSHOP

Image makeover
If all the scanned images of your last trip seem blurred,
dull and lifeless, you can color-correct them with a little
help from Photoshop

H
ave you ever compared a scanned The most visible difference will be a slight
image with the original source? loss of sharpness and mismatch in color
You’ll notice that the scanned levels, brightness and contrast. In some
image is never as accurate as the source cases you will even notice the presence of
with regard to details like sharpness, color, noise in the scanned image.
contrast, brightness, saturation and so The only way to correct scanned images
on. The results will be close to accurate is using a power imaging application like
only if you have a high-end scanner which Adobe Photoshop. You can eliminate noise,
is properly color-calibrated. However, sharpen the details, manipulate color
for most of us who own neither a multi- levels, adjust the brightness and contrast
functional device nor a conventional and do much more to bring your scanned
flatbed scanner, getting accurate results is images nearer to the original.
a distant dream. The reason that most people hesitate
The accuracy of a scanner depends on to correct scanned images is because they
the quality of its CCD sensor and the lamp feel that Photoshop is tough to use or
present on the carriage assembly. The they’re afraid they might do more damage.
better the CCD sensor, the more details it But in reality, it’s very simple. You don’t
can register and hence, higher the output have to be a wizard at Photoshop. It takes
quality. Other than the scanner itself, just a few minutes to correct an image. This
the output also depends on the post- workshop will guide you through the entire
processing done by the imaging application process of correcting scanned images from
that comes bundled with the scanner. scratch and achieving the best results.
Since, most of the factors that determine
the output quality cannot be controlled, | Note
you have no other option but to save the Before trying this workshop, make sure
scanned image as it is. you first calibrate your monitor so that
If you haven’t yet bothered to check the it displays colors accurately with right
difference between the scan result and levels of brightness and contrast. You
the source try this—scan a photograph can use the Adobe Gamma Tool which is
and compare the scanned image with the a part of Photoshop, for calibrating and
actual photograph and note the difference. profiling your monitor.

Before you hit the scan button, here are a


few tips that will help you achieve better
scanning results.
The default scan resolution in some
scanning applications is 150 dpi. For
better details step up the resolution to
300 dpi.
When saving a scanned image, set
the image format to TIFF. If you want
to save images in JPEG format, make
Set the scan resolution to 300 dpi for sure you set the image quality to
good image quality
maximum.
Pramod Jadhav

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1 2 3

If your scanned image is tilted, first After fixing the tilt, crop the required The “Dust and scratches” filter gets rid of
rectify the tilt: area using the Crop tool from the Tools most of the noise. However, if you take a
Right-click on the image and select sidebar. The actual image correction closer look at the image, you’ll still see a
“Fit on Screen” after selecting the process starts now. In the first stage, get little bit of noise. To get rid of this, use the
Zoom tool from the Tools sidebar. rid of the noise in the scanned image. Gaussian Blur filter.
Keep pressing “Shift+i” until the Go to “Filter | Noise” and select the Go to “Filter | Blur” and select
Eyedropper tool located above the “Dust and scratches” filter “Gaussian Blur”.
Zoom tool changes to Measure tool. Set the Radius to 1 pixel keeping the Set the radius between 0.3 to 0.5
Now, drag a line across the border of Threshold to 0 level. pixels. Check and uncheck the
the scanned image and select “Image You can check and uncheck the “Preview” option to notice the effect
| Rotate canvas | Arbitrary”. “Preview” option to view the effect. of the plug-in. Keep the radius low or
Click on “OK” to rectify the tilt. Click on “OK” to apply the filter. else it may affect image details.

4 5 6

Before Auto Contrast After Auto Contrast

Applying the Gaussian Blur results in a If you have Photoshop CS2 installed, Finally, it’s the overall tone of the image
slight loss of details. To compensate for you can go a step further and use which has to be corrected. The easiest
this, you need to sharpen the image. the “Surface blur” filter. This filter is way to correct the colors is by using the
Go to “Filter | Sharpen” and select the useful for further eliminating noise and “Auto contrast” feature. To do this go to
“Unsharp mask” filter. graininess. It uses the blur effect while “Image | Adjustments” and select “Auto
In the filter’s dialog box, set the preserving the sharpness of the edges. contrast” or simply use the keyboard
radius to 2 or 4 pixels with the Go to “Filter | Blur” and select shortcut “Alt+Shift+Ctrl+L”. You’ll
threshold set to 0. “Surface blur”. immediately notice the increase in
Now drag the amount slider to 25 Set the radius to 1 pixel and set the vibrance. If you’re familiar with Adobe
percent and note the difference using threshold value to 27. Photoshop you can even try adjusting
the “Preview” option. The value If you aren’t satisfied, you can further the color levels manually. 
should be between 25 to 30 percent. increase the threshold by 3 to 5 levels. | Anand Tuliani

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Jagdish Limbachiya

One-stop recreation zone


Get a kick out of your system... build a media center PC. This workshop tells
you how

G
one are the days when a television set even grab songs playing on the radio to MP3
and a DVD player were considered the format. Last but not the least, a media center PC
best home entertainment devices. is a full-fledged PC. Apart from entertainment
Today, the entire scenario is beginning to take a you can use it for gaming, surfing the net,
sharp turn with media center PCs being the most imaging, video editing, burning CDs and DVDs,
powerful entertainment platform. It’s true that office suite and so on.
DivX players can play diverse audio and video Media center PCs are available off the shelves
formats. Most of them even have provision for in the market. But you have to stick with what the
digital multi-channel audio and digital video manufacturers offer. If you don’t want to settle
outputs. But at the end of the day, there’s for a branded media center PC, the only option
nothing to beat a PC that integrates hundreds of you have is to build one yourself. In fact, building
other functions. a media center PC is the best option because
The biggest advantage that a PC enjoys is you have the choice of components such as the
the presence of a storage device on which you graphics card, hard drive, processor, motherboard,
can store hundreds of movies and thousands monitor and so on. You can build a media center
of songs and photographs. A television set only PC that can double up as a gaming machine. Or
allows you to surf channels or connect your you can build a PC with a fixed budget in mind.
gaming console. But a computer gives you the The reason why most people refrain from
flexibility of pausing live TV and capturing your building a media center PC is the availability of
favorite programs at the press of a button. What suitable hardware and Windows XP MCE. The
if you feel like tuning into your favorite radio reality is, you can build a powerful media center
station? With a media center PC, there’s no need PC using standard hardware without the need for
for a separate radio set – all the functions are Windows XP MCE. Read this workshop to find out
integrated in a single box. If you wish, you can how it’s possible!

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What you need In case of the processor, memory, hard graphics card, and TV tuner card, you are
There are various components that go into drive, optical drive, monitor and speakers, restricted to very few models as they
builing a PC. But in case of a media center you can take your pick depending on should fit into the case.
PC, you need a collection of certain specific your requirement. But with regards The table below elaborates what
components. to components like the motherboard, specific components you need and why.

Components Recommended models Price (Rs) Why you need


PC case Cooler Master C Media 260 8,950 If you’re going to keep your media center PC in your living room,
you’ll need a sleek case which looks more like a player than a PC. We
recommend this case as it doesn’t require special hardware. If the PC is
not going to be placed in your living room, go in for an ATX case of
your choice.
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-945GM-S2 6,750 The Cooler Master C Media 260 case supports only micro-ATX boards. Also,
Asus A8N-VM CSM 5,300 it makes more sense to opt for a motherboard that offers onboard DVI
Asus M2N-PV-MX 4,800 output and high-definition audio. AMD users, stick to the Nvidia GeForce
MSI K9NGM2 4,200 6150 chipset. The Intel 945G chipset is recommended for Intel users.
Graphics card BIG 7600GT 11,000 Are you going to use your media center PC for gaming? If your answer
(Optional) XFX GeForce 6600 4,300 is ‘Yes’, then spend some extra cash for a good graphics card. However,
BIG 7300GT 5,000 keep in mind that the C Media 260 only takes in a single-slot PCIE card.
TV tuner card Hauppauge WinTV-PVR-150 For compatibility with Media Portal or Windows XP MCE, the TV tuner
Hauppauge WinTV-PVR-350 card must comply with certain hardware requirements. So far, TV tuner
cards by Hauppauge are best suited for media center PCs.
Wireless Microsoft Wireless Desktop 1000 1,600 If you want to control your PC from afar, you’ll need freedom from
keyboard and Logitech Cordless Desktop LX 300 2,000 cords. Hence, we strongly recommend a desktop combo comprising a
mouse wireless keyboard and mouse.
Power supply Cooler Master Extreme Power 350W 2,000 A regular 350 watt power supply unit will suffice for a basic media
unit Cooler Master Real Power 450W center PC. But for a high-end PC with multiple hard drives and a
graphics card, you’ll have to invest in a better PSU that will provide
enough juice for the components.

Optical disc drive


Standard ATX Power
supply with a
120 mm base fan

A compact case calls


for serious cable
management

40 mm side fan

Outlet for the power cord Standard PCI & PCIE cards can be IGP-based Hard drive mounted
fitted using the riser card Micro ATX motherboard in the rack

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114 HANDS ON | WORKSHOP

Media Portal Listen to the radio


If you thought using the features of If you’re in a mood to listen to the radio,
a media center PC is difficult, you are you can tune in to your favorite radio
mistaken. The brilliant interface of station. You can switch between the
Windows Media Center will let you various stations using the “Previous” and
use the basic functions of a media the “Next” buttons.
center PC with ease. The interface is so
intuitive that one can switch between Watch videos
live television, radio, music, pictures and If you have movies or video clips on your
movies at the press of a button. hard drive, you can select and watch what
You don’t require a copy of Windows you want. You can view VCDs and DVDs The interface of Media Portal is similar to
that of WIndows Media Center
XP Media Center Edition to build a media and even create video playlists.
center PC. There are many applications
which offer all the features that Windows Groove to the music
Media Center does. These applications Do you have thousands of songs on your
also sport a similar interface. One such PC? Add all of them and your music library
application is Media Portal. And you don’t is complete! Sort the songs by artist,
have to have to pay a paisa for it as it is album or genre. You can create playlists,
available free of cost! The look and feel of listen to audio CDs and do a lot more.
the interface is also completely similar to
that of Windows Media Center! View pictures
After installing Media Portal, you have After specifying the location where all
to configure it at the first run. You have your pictures are stored on your PC, click
Organize your music library by defining
to specify the different locations of your on the “Create Thumbs” buttons to create
artist, album and genre
music, video and picture files so that a thumbnail of all the images. Once done,
they get displayed as items under the you can view the images as thumbnails What you miss out on
respective sections. along with the preview or view them As I mentioned earlier, a media center
Here are the list of things you can do in full screen. If you have photographs PC should look more like a player than
with the Media Portal: to share with your friends and family, a system especially if it’s for your living
you can create fancy slideshows with room. If you’re willing to shell out extra
Watch TV transition effects. bucks you can build a powerful system.
Apart from watching live TV, you can However, you will encounter some
record what’s being aired on TV. If you Weather forecast and games shortcomings only because of the case.
don’t want to miss the show but have Don’t underestimate the capabilities of Firstly, the cases available for media
to uproot yourself from your couch for a Media Portal. It’s much more powerful center PCs are very few. If you want to
compelling reason, you can hit the “Time than Windows Media Center. It allows you buy a case, they you will have to spend
shifting” button to pause live TV and then to view weather forecasts and also play as they come at a premium. Some cases
resume the program when you get games through plug-ins. So transform are so expensive that they cost nearly
back to your seat. Using the scheduler, your PC into a complete entertainment four times as much as a regular PC case,
it is possible to schedule recording at a hub by install Media Portal. You can find it excluding a power supply unit. Secondly,
specified time. on the CHIP DVD. since the case is compact, it can only take
in bare minimum components because of
the space constraint within. You cannot
have more than one optical drive and
two hard drives. Furthermore, it is not
possible to throw in a full-fledged ATX
motherboard. This means that you have
no choice but to stick with a micro-ATX
motherboard. And finally, even though
provision has been made to add a PCIE
graphics card, it’s difficult to fit in a
powerful mammoth graphics card that
View and capture live television; you can View pictures and create slideshows with will occupy two slots. 
schedule recordings using the scheduler transition effects
| Anand Tuliani

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116 HANDS ON | TIPS & TRICKS

Tips&Tricks OCTOBER 2006

WINDOWS 117
1. Windows XP Removing Shared Documents 117
2. Windows XP Removing My Sharing Folders 117
3. Windows XP Preventing auto-run of CDs/DVDs 117
4. Windows XP Commands & shortcuts 117

APPLICATIONS 117
5. Microsoft Word Batch print Word documents 117
Umesh Dahiwalkar
6. Microsoft Word Customizing dropdown menus 117
7.
Tip of the month | Hardware Microsoft Word Text animation 117
8. Microsoft Word Increasing the recently used file list 118
Front audio connection 9. Microsoft Word Obtaining the file size of current document 118
My PC’s case has a front audio panel, but it 10. Microsoft PowerPoint Package your presentations 118
doesn’t give any output. This causes a lot of 11. Media Player Reducing cache for Winamp 118
inconvenience when I want to hook up my
headphones to the PC. How do I get the front
INTERNET & COMMUNICATION 120
audio working? 12. Adobe Acrobat Speeding up Acrobat reader 120
13. Download Manager Optimizing Flashget 120
For the front audio panel to work, it 14. Download Manager Auto virus scan in Flashget 120
must be connected to the front audio header 15. Web Browser Removing Thunderbird from the taskbar 120
of your motherboard. If your front audio 16. Mozilla Thunderbird Accessing Gmail through Mozilla Thunderbird 120
doesn’t work, it means that the front audio 17. Mozilla Thunderbird Viewing message headers 121
panel of your case isn’t interfaced with the 18. Opera Sorting downloads by file types 121
motherboard. 19. Opera Reading mail in full browser window 121
To get the front audio panel working, first 20. Outlook Accessing Gmail via Outlook 122
open your case and locate the front audio 21. Internet Explorer Disabling automatic resizing of images 122
22. Internet Explorer Removing username/password
header on your motherboard by referring to
for a site 122
the user manual. By default, the front audio
23. Internet Connection Sharing Sharing your Internet connection in
header has two jumpers fitted. Remove these
Windows XP 122
jumpers and then refer to your motherboard’s
24. Adobe Illustrator CS Applying colors on multiple outlines 123
manual for the front audio panel connection.
25. Adobe Illustrator CS Reducing anchor points 123
Since the connectors of the case’s front audio 26. Adobe Illustrator CS Editing images on a layer 124
panel are labelled, connecting them shouldn’t
be a problem. If done correctly, both the
HARDWARE 124
rear and the front panel audio should work
27. Storage Optimum use of the IDE channels 124
without any problem.
28. PC Handling internal PC components 124

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Windows 4 | Windows XP saved. Make sure only the files you want to
1 | Windows XP Commands & shortcuts print are placed in that folder.
Removing Shared Documents Can you give me a useful list of “Run” Click on “File | Save As”. In the “File
How do I remove the “Shared commands for Windows XP, and shortcuts Name” field, enter the file name along
Documents” folder from My Computer? for Microsoft Word? with its extension—all within quotes.
For example, if this script is to be
To eliminate the Shared Documents Useful Run commands for Windows named “Print All” then this is what you
folder from My Computer: XP are: should type (with quotes): “Print All.
Launch the registry editor by typing devmgmt.msc – Device Manager vbs” and click on “Save”.
“Regedit” in “Start | Run” fsquirt - Bluetooth Transfer Wizard Now, whenever you want to print files
Now navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_ desk.cpl – Display Properties from the “Test” folder (for example),
MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\ main.cpl – Mouse Properties all you need to do is double click on
Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\ gpedit.msc - Group Policy Editor “Print All.vbs” and it will run the print
MyComputer\NameSpace\ compmgmt.msc - Computer Management command on all the files without you
DelegateFolders Some of the useful Word shortcuts are: having to manually select and right
“DelegateFolders” has a subkey: Ctrl + Shift + W - Underlines the words but click on them.
{59031a47-3f72-44a7-89c5- not the spaces in the selection.
5595fe6b30ee}. Once you delete this Shift + F7 - Finds a synonym for the 6 | Microsoft Word
subkey, the Shared Documents folder selected word (Thesaurus). Customizing dropdown menus
displayed in My Computer will be Ctrl+D - Brings up the “Format | Font” Can I animate the dropdown menus in
gone. The effect is immediate. You dialog. Word?
don’t need to reboot your PC.
APPLICATIONS To customize dropdown menus:
2 | Windows XP 5 | Microsoft Word Click on the “Tools” menu and choose
Removing My Sharing Folders Batch print Word documents “Customize”.
After installing Windows Live Messenger, I mainly work on Microsoft Word On the multi-tabbed dialog box that
a new item called “My Sharing Folders” documents. There are times when I follows, select the “Options” tab.
has appeared under My Computer. How need to print a whole bunch of Word Next to “Menu animations”, you will
do I remove it? documents at a go. Is there a way I can find a pulldown menu. Click on the
quickly send all files to print without pulldown menu and select from the
Go to “Start | Run” and type the having to open each one separately? options “Random”, “Unfold”, and
following command and press [Enter]: “Slide”. Then, press the “Close” button.
regsvr32 -u “C:\Program Files\MSN Making multiple Word documents
Messenger\fsshext.8.0.0xxx.00.dll” print with a single command is quite 7 | Microsoft Word
where “xxx” is the version of MSN Live straightforward. Text animation
Messenger (found in “Help | About All you need to do is open Windows How do I use different underlines and also
Messenger”) Explorer, select the files, right click and animate text in Word?
If you get a message saying, select “Print”. This is one way of doing
“DllUnregisterServer in ... succeeded”, it things. Multiple Word files can also be To animate text in Word:
means everything went fine. printed with the help of a VB script. Highlight the text with your mouse,
When this script is run, it references a then right-click and select “Font”.
3 | Windows XP particular folder (which you set in the Now, underneath the “Underline
Preventing auto-run of CDs/DVDs script) and prints all the files in it. Style” pulldown, select your desired
How do I prevent CDs and DVDs from To create the script, open “Notepad” underline type. You can use a solid line,
auto-running when I insert them into the and copy these lines, dashes, waves, and more. Underneath
optical drive? set shApp = createobject(“shell. “Underline Color”, you can turn
application”) underlines into a different color other
It is very irritating when CDs and set shFolder = shApp.namespace(“C:\Test”) than the normal text color.
DVDs auto-run particularly when you set shItems = shFolder.Items() Check out the “Preview” section to see
don’t want them to. So the next time you for each shItem in shItems how your underline will look.
insert a disc into the optical drive, close shItem.invokeverb “&Print” To animate your text, select the font
the drive tray keeping the “Shift” key next you want to animate and right click on
pressed and release it after the drive’s LED “C:\Test” can be replaced with the path the text.
stops flashing. where the Word files you want to print are Click on “Font” on the multi-tabbed

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118 HANDS ON | TIPS & TRICKS

dialog box that follows, and select When the “Properties” multi-tabbed “Viewer” in the package. This will
“Text Effects”. dialog box appears, select “General”. require the Office CD or download it
Now, select an effect for the text and Next to “Size”, you can view the current from the Microsoft web site. That’s
press “OK” when you’re done. document’s file size on disk. all; the folder is ready to be saved on
Note: These animated effects will not be CD or external storage. Now you will
visible while printing. 10 | Microsoft PowerPoint need to unpack it on your destination
Package your presentations computer. Any changes made to the
8 | Microsoft Word I need to take my PowerPoint presentation after the packaging
Increasing the recently used file presentation to my college. I am worried means you will have to repeat the
list that the campus computer might not process again.
Can I make Word remember more number have the fonts and styles that I have used. Unpacking the presentation:
of files that I opened in the file menu? Should I take the font types with me also? There are multiple files in the folder
where the packaged presentation has
Normally, when you click on “File”, There is a way you can take your been stored.
Microsoft Word 2003 will show you the PowerPoint presentation with you Double click on “pngsetup.exe”. The
names of the last four files used. If you wherever you go without the fear of unpacking begins with the Pack and
want, you can increase this list up to 9. unavailable fonts or even the application Go setup.
Select “Tools” and then on “Options”. itself. PowerPoint has a feature known Select the destination folder where
When the multi-tabbed “Options” as Pack and Go (in Office 2000/XP) or the presentation should be unpacked.
dialog-box appears, click on the Package for CD (in Office 2003), which lets Once the unpacking is complete,
“General” tab. you do this. you only need to double click on the
Next to the text “Recently used file presentation to start it. If you have
list”, enter 9. to use the PowerPoint viewer, then
Click on “OK” to close the dialog box. double click on that first to install it.
If you use Office 2003 then it is
9 | Microsoft Word referred to as the Package for CD
Obtaining the file size of current feature. If you use Windows XP then
document it directly allows you to package
How can I obtain the current document’s the presentation on to the CD. The
file size without going back to Windows 10 Select PowerPoint Viewer if the CD will auto-run the PowerPoint
Explorer? destination computer does not have it viewer to display the presentation. It
installed
To obtain the current document’s file also provides the option to save the
size, save the current document. In Office 2000/XP: package to a folder on the computer.
Use “File | Save” or “File | Save As” Open your presentation and click on
if you haven’t already given the “File | Pack and Go”. You will, in all 11 | Media Player
document a name or want to save a probability, be prompted to install this Winamp
backup copy. feature. Go ahead with the installation When I use Winamp for a long time my PC
Once the file has been saved, choose and keep the Office CD, just in case. becomes sluggish. Is there any way I can
“File | Properties”. The Pack and Go wizard will appear. use Winamp and still make my PC work
Follow the wizard and select the faster?
presentation you want to take with
you to another location. While playing files on Winamp, your
Select the destination folder for the PC slows down because Winamp starts
packaged files. Make sure you have a using the cache to save up all your MP3 files
folder created specially for this. It is being played in your Winamp player. You
better to use a USB storage device or a can reduce the amount of cache you want
CD instead of spanning a presentation Winamp to use while saving these files.
across many floppies. Open up your “system.ini” file, which
If you are using linked files and True can be found in the Windows directory.
Type fonts in your presentation, check Find the line entitled “[vcache]”, and
“Include linked files” and “Embed True add these lines given below:
Type fonts”. [vcache]
If the destination computer does MaxFileCache=X
not have PowerPoint, include the MinFileCache=Y

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120 HANDS ON | TIPS & TRICKS

Where X and Y are the largest and smallest am using Flashget to manage downloads. Thunderbird doesn’t have a built-in
sizes, you want to allow for the file cache Besides pausing and resuming downloads, option to minimize it to the system tray.
(in kilobytes) respectively. I suggest what are its other useful features? But there are some third party utilities
putting in a value that is about 25 percent with which you can do this. One such nifty
of your system’s RAM. Restart Windows When using a dialup connection, utility is Thunderbird-Tray, which you can
for these effects to take effect. what worries you the most is the thought find on this month’s CHIP Tools CD.
of getting exorbitant telephone bills. After installing Thunderbird-Tray, it
12 | Adobe Acrobat Downloading in parts by pausing and sits in the system tray. You can launch
Speeding up Acrobat reader resuming downloads is the best way to Thunderbird.
My Adobe Acrobat files (PDF) take a long download huge files. Other than this, Now, when you minimize Thunderbird,
time to open. How do I speed up the you can instruct Flashget to hang up it will minimize to the system tray
process? the telephone line when downloads get instead of the taskbar. The context
completed. To enable this feature: menu also gives an option to instantly
PDF files take time to open because Go to the “Tools” menu and select the compose an e-mail message.
Adobe Acrobat reader loads all the plug-ins option “Hang up when done”. This way you
at the startup. However, you can disable need not be at your computer when your 16 | Mozilla Thunderbird
the plug-ins from loading in order to files are downloading. Accessing Gmail through Mozilla
decrease the time required for Acrobat You can also tell Flashget to shut down Thunderbird
reader to start. For this purpose, you can the computer after the download is Having been invited recently for the
use a utility called Adobe Reader Speed-Up complete by selecting “Shut down popular Gmail account, I decided to give
available on this month’s CHIP Tools CD. when done” from the “Tools” menu. it a shot and was quite happy using it. I
On running Adobe Reader Speed-Up for have lots of important mails on my Gmail
the first time, you will be presented with 14 | Download Manager account but I would like to have a copy
a dialog box with an option saying “Speed Auto virus scan in Flashget of them on my hard drive. I use Mozilla
Up”. Check the radio button next to it and How do I automatically scan downloaded Thunderbird as an e-mail client. Can I
proceed. files for viruses in Flashget? configure Thunderbird as a mail client for
In the next dialog box, set the speed-up To protect your computer from viruses, my Gmail account?
mode as “Speedup – Fast”, which is the it’s recommended to scan files for viruses
recommended setting and click on “Start” as soon as they get downloaded. Flashget Yes, it is possible. Here is a step-
Click on the “Finish” button after the has an option to automatically scan by-step guide to setting up Thunderbird
settings are applied. downloaded files for viruses. To enable this to access your Gmail account. First of all
Now PDF files will open as quickly as feature: make sure that POP3 is enabled in your
Word documents, not taking more than a Go to the “Tools” menu and select Gmail account.
few seconds! “Options” to bring up a dialog box. Log into your Gmail account and click
Under the “File Manager” tab, check on “Settings”.
13 | Download Manager the option “Use virus scanner to scan the Select the “Forwarding and POP” tab
Optimizing Flashget downloaded file(s)”. followed by “Enable POP for all mail”.
It takes ages to download large files on a Click on the “Browser” button next to Click on the “Save Changes” button to
dialup Internet connection. At present I the empty field and specify the path to enable pop access.
the executable file of your anti-virus. The Select “Tools | Account Settings” from
executable file resides in the folder where the menu in Thunderbird mail client.
your anti-virus software is installed. Click on “Add Account”.

Internet and Communication


15 | Web Browser
Removing Thunderbird from the
taskbar
I use Mozilla Thunderbird as an e-mail
client. Since it automatically checks for
mails every few minutes, I have to keep
it running at all times. Is there a way I
can minimize Thunderbird to the system
tray instead of it occupying space on the 16 POP has to be enabled on the server first
taskbar? so that it is accessible to the client

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


TIPS & TRICKS | HANDS ON 121

Make sure “E-mail account” is selected to sort all your files into different folders
and click on “Next”. according to the type of file in question.
Type your name under “Your Name.” To setup this feature in Opera, go to
Enter your Gmail address under “E- “Tools | Preferences” and click on the
mail Address” and click on “Next”. “Advanced” Tab.
Make sure POP is selected under Select “Downloads”, followed by the
“Select the type of incoming server” appropriate file type.
you are using. Also make sure that the “Save to disk”
Type “pop.gmail.com” under option is checked.
“Incoming Server” and click on “Next”. Select the “Do not ask for folder, but
Enter your full email address save directly to” option.
17 Enable detailed headers to get complete
(“abcdef@gmail.com”, for example) information about an e-mail Choose the folder to download
under “Incoming User Name”. the particular file type and click on “OK”.
You’ll just have to append “@gmail. Detailed mail headers help you
com” to what Mozilla Thunderbird has troubleshoot mail problems as well as give 19 | Opera
already entered for you and click on you more information about a particular Can I read my mail in the full browser
“Next”. e-mail. In order to view detailed mail Can I read my mail in the full browser
Give the Gmail account a name headers in Thunderbird: window in Opera?
(something like “Gmail”, for example) Select the “View | Headers | All option”
under “Account Name”. in the main window. Yes you can read mail in the full
Now click on “Done”. browser window. First eEdit the following
Highlight “Server Settings” under the 18 | Opera three files. Close Opera before editing any
new Gmail account. Sorting downloads by file types .ini file
Make sure SSL is selected under “Use I use Opera as my default web browser. Is Edit the Menu.ini file,
secure connection”. there any way I can save all the files that Item, “View in browser” = Go to page, “%s”
To setup SMTP in Thunderbird, I download to different folders based on Edit the Toolbar.ini file
Select “Outgoing Server” (SMTP) in the file type? For example, all the .zip files Button, “In browser” = Go to page,
the list of account on the left and click should be downloaded to a zip folder and “%s”,,,View
on “Add”. the .exe files to an executable folder. Edit the Input.ini file
Type “smtp.gmail.com” under Server m = Go to page, “%s”
Name. If you have downloaded files off the Open Opera, and your mail folders
Type “587” under Port. Internet using Internet Explorer or Mozilla or newsgroup lists will have “view in
Make sure “User name and password” Firefox, you will often find managing the browser” in the context menu, and there
is checked. downloaded files a cumbersome process. will be a button “In browser” on the folder
Type your Gmail address under “User You have to select the destination manually toolbars. Use the menu, or click on the
Name”. in IE while Firefox downloads all your files button to have the mail items open in
Make sure TLS is selected under “Use in a single folder. The process of sorting the full browser windows. An added bonus is
secure connection” and select “OK”. files becomes a time-consuming process, you can now also refresh a web page by
Highlight the Gmail account that we especially if your download requirements pressing ‘m’.
created beforehand. are very heavy. Opera web browser has
Under “Outgoing Server” (SMTP), a neat little feature that will allow you
make sure “smtp.gmail.com” is
selected.
Open “Server Settings” under the
Gmail account.
Select TLS under “Use secure
connection” and click on “OK”.

17 | Mozilla Thunderbird
Viewing message headers
I use Thunderbird as my e-mail client. By
default, Thunderbird only shows short
message headers. How do I get it to 18 You can also manage other file types by
display full headers for all messages? adding additional extension types

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP


122 HANDS ON | TIPS & TRICKS

20 | Outlook (SMTP) authentication is checked. Press the down arrow until the name
Accessing Gmail via Outlook Select the option “Use same settings to be removed is highlighted and then
How do I access my Gmail account using as my incoming mail server”. press the “Del” key. Internet Explorer
Outlook? Go to the “Advanced tab”. will ask whether you want to delete the
Make sure “This server requires username and password information.
It is very simple to access your an encrypted connection (SSL)” is Click on “Yes” and it’s gone.
Gmail account in Outlook. You can do this checked under both Incoming server
using the POP3 server. You can specify if (POP3) and Outgoing server (SMTP) 23 | Internet Connection Sharing
you want to keep the mail read in Outlook Type 465 under Outgoing server Sharing your Internet connection
in your Gmail account or delete it. The (SMTP). Check if the number under in Windows XP
following steps will guide you as to how Incoming server (POP3) is changed to I have just installed a broadband Internet
this can be done: 995 automatically; if not then enter connection at home and want my PC
Turn on POP access in your Gmail 995 manually there. as well as laptop to access the Internet
account. Click on “OK”. Then click on “Next” simultaneously. How do I connect both?
Open Outlook and select “Tools | and finally on “Finish”.
E-mail Accounts”. If you have a broadband connection,
Select the option “Add a new e-mail 21 | Internet Explorer chances are that you are connected to the
account” from the new window that Disabling automatic resizing of Internet either by a USB DSL modem, a
opens up. images cable modem or you have a direct Ethernet
Click on “Next”. Choose POP3 as the Each time a high-resolution image loads line to your PC. Many Internet service
server type and click on “Next”. in Internet Explorer, it automatically gets providers provide an ADSL router that
Enter your Gmail account details in resized to fit in the browser window. To allows you to share the Internet connection
the Internet e-mail settings view it in its actual size, I have to manually off the shelf. If you don’t have a router,
(POP3) dialog: expand it. How do I disable automatic you can use Windows XP to share your
1. Put in your full name under the option resizing of images? Internet connection with some additional
“Your Name”. hardware.
2. Type in your Gmail email address Disabling automatic resizing images To share your Internet connection
under “E-mail Address”. is easy! Here’s how you do it: using Windows XP, make sure the PC that
3. Type your full Gmail address under Launch Internet Explorer and go to is connected to the Internet directly has
“User Name”. “Tools | Internet options” to bring up the
4. Type your Gmail password under the “Internet options” dialog box.
option “Password”. Select the “Advanced” tab and scroll
5. Type pop.gmail.com under “Incoming down to the “Multimedia” section.
mail server (POP3)”. “Enable automatic image resizing” is
6. Type smtp.gmail.com under the first option. Uncheck it and click on the
“Outgoing mail server (SMTP)”. “OK” button to apply the changes.
Click on “More Settings”.
Go to the “Outgoing Server tab”. 22 | Internet Explorer
Make sure “My outgoing server” Removing username/password
for a site 23a Enabling ICS allows you to effectively
Is there any way I can remove the saved share your single broadband connection
username and password of a single
web site and keep all of my other saved
password data of other web sites intact?

It’s really simple to remove a stored


username/password for a particular site:
First navigate to the site. When
Windows prompts you for the
username and password, click on the
username box and press the down
arrow. This will show all the usernames
23b Change the IP address on the client
stored for this particular site (usually
system to enable access to the Internet
just one).

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


TIPS & TRICKS | HANDS ON 123

two network cards. The PC and the laptop


can be connected to each other via a hub or
a switch or if you want to save costs, they
can be connected directly via a cross over
cable. Once you have established physical
connectivity, follow these steps to share
your Internet connection. [Note: You cannot
share your Internet connection if you are
running Windows XP Home Edition.]
Open “Network Connections” in
Control Panel or right-click on the “My 24a Change the thickness of a stroke either 25a The Autotrace tool creates a graphic by
Network Places” desktop icon and select by selecting a preset or by typing a value selecting similar colored pixels
“Properties”.
Here, you should have at least two
connections listed: one for your Internet
connection, and one for your local area
connection.
Right-click on the entry corresponding
to your Internet connection, and select
“Properties”.
Choose the “Sharing” tab, and turn
on the “Enable Internet Connection
Sharing” option. Click on “OK” to finish
setting up ICS. 24b Apply complementary colors to your 25b The Simplify window lets you reduce the
strokes to create a glow effect number of anchor points
On the client side,
Open “Network Connections” in from the menu bar. This will create the shape of the image is a tedious and
Control Panel or right-click on the “My separate outline for each and every complex process. To reduce the number
Network Places” desktop icon and select text character. of these anchor points, follow the steps
“Properties”. Apply a stroke color and then increase mentioned below:
Right-click on the Local area network the stroke weight. Make sure the stroke Place an image on the art board by
connection and select “Properties”. is really thick. clicking on “File | Place” from the menu
Select TCP/IP and click on “Properties”. Next, to convert this stroke to a graphic bar.
Change the IP address to 192.168.0.2, so that you can apply a color to its Select the “Autotrace tool” from the
subnet mask to 255.255.255.0 and the outline, click on “Object | Path | Outline toolbar, the third one from the bottom,
gateway system as 192.168.0.1 and click Stroke” from the menu bar. Reduce the and click on the image. The Autotrace
on “OK”. stroke weight to half of what it was tool will select all the pixels with similar
Fire up the web browser and you should earlier. Apply a different stroke color colors and apply one single fill color to
be ready to access the World Wide Web. and you will get an object or text with give a flat appearance. In the process
multiple strokes or outlines. it creates numerous anchor points.
24 | Adobe Illustrator CS You can repeat the last step. Remember
Applying colors on multiple outlines that every time you apply “Outline
How can I create a logotype with multiple Stroke”, reduce the stroke weight to
outlines and apply different colors on them? half the last value.

There may be occasions when you 25 | Adobe Illustrator CS


need to add multiple strokes or outlines Reducing anchor points
to a logotype or headline, which add a Whenever I trace an image in Illustrator, it
certain weight to the graphic. Below are creates numerous anchor points. Is there
the steps to get the desired effects: a way I can reduce the number of these
Type a headline with a big font size, so anchor points?
that you have the space for bigger text
on the artwork. It is really cumbersome to work with
Convert the text into graphic by an image, which has numerous anchor
clicking on “Type | Create Outlines” points. Adjusting the points to modify

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP


124 HANDS ON | TIPS & TRICKS

All these anchor points eat up a lot of


virtual memory, which eventually leads The reason you could be facing this
to your machine slowing down. problem is because you have probably
To reduce the number of the anchor linked up the IDE hard drive and the optical
points, click on “Object | Path | Simplify”. drive on the same IDE channel. When both
This will open the Simplify window; the devices are on the same channel, the
check the “Preview” and the “Show bandwidth gets divided between them.
Original” box for the shape of the new The same amount of data needs to travel
path when you adjust the settings through the bus in both the directions
against the original path that got thus causing a bottleneck. Under such
created while using the Autotrace tool. 26a The Smart Objects Layer clubs the two circumstances, put the IDE hard drive and
Adjust the “Curve precision” slider to objects in one layer but allows you to the Optical drive on seperate channels
edit them separately in a different file
reduce the number of anchor points. if your motherboard supports 2 IDE
When you decrease the curve precision Channels. If not, consider investing in a
percentage value, the number of anchor SATA hard drive. They cost the same as
points gets reduced and along with it their IDE counterparts and provide better
even the path loses the details. performance when simultaneous access
Once you are satisfied with the number to he hard drive and the optical drive is
of anchor points, click on “OK” and required. If you only have a single cable
return to the path to get better details. but two IDE ports, consider investing in a
seperate IDE cable for each device and it
26 | Adobe Photoshop CS will pump up the performance of your hard
Editing images on a layer drive and the optical drive.
My artwork has two images on a layer. I 26b Save to apply the changes on the Smart
want to edit them separately but as they
Objects Layer
27 | PC
overlap, it is difficult. What is the way out? click on the “Smart Object layer”. When Handling internal PC components
the dialogue box appears, click on the I am about to assemble a PC for the first
In case of such an artwork, you don’t “OK” button. This will treat that layer as time. I have heard that static electricity can
have any option of editing the images on a separate file, and will open it showing harm the internal components. Can you
one layer separately. However, you can try two layers with your created images also tell me what precautions I need to take
out the following option: separately. while assembling a PC?
Create images on two layers separately. The canvas size of the new file will be in
Next, select both the layers and click proportion to the objects. You can also Static electricity is created when there
on “Layer | Smart Object | Group into adjust the canvas size from the menu is friction and separation between certain
New Smart Object” from the menu bar by clicking on “Image | Canvas size”. types of materials. When two materials
bar. This will bring both the images on Remember to increase or decrease the are separated, a transfer of electrons takes
one special layer known as the “Smart canvas size proportionately. Once you place from one to the other. The amount of
Object layer”. are done with setting the proper canvas static electricity generated depends on the
To edit the images separately, double size, you can edit the images without type of material and the amount of friction
any problem. generated. Conductors like metals easily
Crop the images proportionately transfer electrons and get charged unlike
otherwise they will appear distorted in the case of non-conductors like plastic.
and you might have to resize them. When a conductor is charged, the less
Finally, save your file and you will have number of free electrons gives it the ability
two images in one layer in your artwork. to rapidly discharge when it comes in close
proximity to another conductor. Plastics
Hardware generate a high amount of static electricity.
28 | Storage Follow these steps when you plan to
Optimum use of the IDE channels assemble a PC.
When I try to burn a DVD or copy data from Before installation, always store the
a DVD media to the hard drive, data access components in anti-static bags.
is slow. What do you think is causing this? I Wear an anti-static wristband attached
have a 7200 rpm IDE hard drive with 8 MB to a metal part of your case.
cache and a fast 16x DVD writer. Hold internal parts by their edges. 

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


TIPS & TRICKS | HANDS ON 125

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP


126 UNWIND | FEATURE

Down to the Core


Take a ride on our trivia train that brings you to the very source of next-gen gaming

W e have seen a huge transition


in computer gaming in the past
few years—the seventh generation of
used as a demo platform for upcoming
Nvidia graphics cards. Running graphic
demos, this engine was way before its
a heavily extended version of the original
CryENGINE supporting Shader model
2-based HDR (High Dynamic Range), depth-
console gaming is a reality now. Thanks to time—its intricate coding and multi-tasking of-field and motion blur. No official details
supercharged hardware, we have high- capabilities were awesome for a first version of the engine’s capabilities and features
definition games that look realistic and engine. Nvidia and Crytek made use of this have been released, but the demo of
provide for a fantastic experience replete kernel to develop the real-world first person Crytek’s next-generation game Crysis slated
with fun and thrill. In our past issues, we shooter, Far Cry. The engine has multi- to be released in March 2007, will prove its
have talked about how advanced hardware platform support for the PC as well as for credibility. The engine supports features
has enhanced gaming. In this feature, we consoles like the Xbox, Xbox 360, PS2, PS3. like volumetric clouds, dynamic ambient
will narrow down to game engines and how The sequel to this game, Far Cry: Instincts lighting, soft shadows and extremely
they affect gameplay. Predator was released next for the PC and detailed models. Crysis will raise the FPS
Today there are more than thousand 3D then for the Xbox 360. But the immovable bar with its player-defined environmental
engines, but only the special few like Unreal in-game physics was a big glitch. The engine reactions, which means when you shoot a
Engine 3, Doom 3 Engine, CryENGINE2, had to be modified further too boost leaf, it will drop to the ground. Keep an eye
RenderWare and Gamebryo provide gameplay. Crytek having mastered real- out for this one!
abundant visual development tools in world levels wanted to step up and this is
addition to reusable software components. how CryENGINE2 was born. The CryENGINE Renderware
Take a look at our mapping on seven such engine has been licensed to NCSoft for their RenderWare, developed by Criterion
extreme game engines. forthcoming MMORPG, Aion. Software is committed to game
development—having powered over 500
The Cry Series CryENGINE2 games till date. This engine is home to
CryENGINE In 2004, Crytek in cooperation with ATI titles like Burnout 3: Takedown. Call of Duty
The engine developed by Crytek was initially spawned the v2 engine. The latest core is Finest Hour, Grand Theft Auto as well as

Pramod Jadhav

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


FEATURE | UNWIND 127

Black. Boasting multi-platform support, the


engine did not really seem to be a next-
generation engine and went through three
facelifts since v1. The latest RenderWare
release is the v4.x engine, taking over its
predecessors—the v2.x and v3.x kernels.
Thanks to its active GUI, this tiny engine
gave its competitors a run for their money.
Its biggest advantage is its rendering map. Hence the desired effects were
capabilities. Its power lies in the fact that it achieved. Another flaw was overtly
allows computers with lower configurations detailed shadows in Doom 3, for instance,
to run games at high frames per second. the edges were too sharply defined. This
Some of the hot releases based on this was corrected in subsequent releases of
engine are: the engines as seen in the game Prey. Apart
Burnout: Revenge PlayStation from this game, the other hot releases based
Call of Duty: Finest Hour on this engine are:
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Doom 3
Black Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil
Quake 4
Doom 3 Engine
Doom 3 is one of the most sophisticated and RAGE
highly modified engines. Developed by id RAGE, short for Rockstar Advanced
Software, it was designed by John Carmack Game Engine, is a game engine
who also created the previous Doom and crafted by Rockstar Games poised
Quake engines. Although the Doom 3 to unlock the potential of the
engine was originally modeled on that Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3
of Quake 3, the current one hardly bears consoles to the fullest. The
any resemblance to it. In fact, the Doom 3 Grand Theft Auto IV is going
engine filled up for several effects absent to use the RAGE engine and
in Quake 3 such as bump mapping, normal if the visuals seen in the new
mapping and so on. Rockstar Table Tennis game
The original version of the Doom 3 are in any way indicative, we
engine needed high hardware requirements could well be in for a surprise.
to run it optimally. The engine’s texturing The previous Grand Theft Auto
did not support quality outdoor scenarios games were however powered
and the need for detailing was apparent. by the RenderWare engine. GTA
The Mega Texturing technology solved the IV is slated for release in October
problem of outdoor scenes with the help of 2007. So will all future Rockstar
a single massive texture covering the entire games released on the Xbox360

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP

SMS us! Story code: UFG (See Page 20 for details)


128 UNWIND | FEATURE

and PlayStation 3 be also powered by the The Unreal Engine


RAGE? Watch this space. This powerful engine developed by Epic
games was first used in the 1998 first
Gamebryo person shooter Unreal. It lay the foundation
The Gamebryo engine is one of the for many such games since then including
most flexible engines present today and Unreal Tournament and Tom Clancy’s
supports a variety of game types. It is Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield. The engine
a successor to NDL’s (Numerical Design is truly versatile as it has been used in
Limited) NetImmerse engine. This engine myriad areas other than gaming such as
takes game development to a new construction simulation, design training
level—now the scenes appear as if they simulation and driving simulation. The
are in the high definition format. This is engine’s blistering speed has been raved
a multi-platform engine supporting PC, about. The 3.0 core in Unreal
PS3, PS2, Xbox 360, Xbox and GameCube. Tournament 2007 enables
Gamebryo has been around for quite terapixel graphics and
a while now and has powered loads of high-speed vehicular
arcade, simulation, action and strategy battles against three
games as well as 3D software. Some story monsters. The
of the multi-genre games built on this engine supports
engine are: HDR, soft-shadows,
Empire Earth II depth-of-field,
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion rag-doll dynamics
Zoo Tycoon 2 and volumetric
Sid Meier’s Civilization IV environments. The

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


FEATURE | UNWIND 129

engine has gone through two transitions along with in-game cinematic physics.
from v1.0 to v2.0 and v3. Unreal technology Scenes depicting a two-story building or a
is currently working on the v4.0 version to large bridge collapsing without animation
power next-generation consoles. Some of will be an experience worth waiting
the games powered by this engine are: for. As part of this engine’s transition to
Postal2 next-generation consoles, multi-processor
Unreal Tournament 2007 optimizations have been added. This
XIII has resulted in faster processing in PCs
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3: Raven and the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3
Shield consoles that run dual core processors. A
significant advancement in Half-Life 2’s
Source Engine Xbox release was file streaming, in which
Source Engine has been developed by a map’s resources could be loaded as the
Valve Corporation. Basically coded in C player moved around in it. One of this, the
and C++, it boasts of all the best features loading time was reduced to as little as 15
such as HDR2, soft-shadows, depth- seconds. This is one the most widely used
of-field, rag-doll dynamics, buoyancy, game engines today. Here are some of the
volumetric environments, lip sync and titles powered by Source:
facial expression technologies. Games Counter-Strike: Source
running on this engine are superb to play Day of Defeat: Source
because of its powerful and efficient Half-Life: Source
physics system. Advanced characteristics Half-Life 2
seen in CryEngine such as motion blur and Half-Life 2 Episodes (One, Two
depth-of-field are present in Source. Half- and Three)
life: Episode Two, powered by this engine, SiN Episodes
will in all probability come packed with You must have played all or some of
the HDR2 feature. It is being speculated these games mentioned in this article
that it will support DirectX 10 as well. and we can bet at least one of these titles
Landscape is depicted more realistically would be your favorite. So the next time
with open gorge-like environments in you witness an in-game effect, you have
Half-life: Episode Two, unseen in Episode 1. the game-coding geniuses to thank! 
Soft particle systems will be seen as well, | Erick Rustomji

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP


130 UNWIND | REVIEW

Slash, cut, hack and loot this sunday afternoon...

P eople who have sworn allegiance to


the legendary pirate Captain Jack
Sparrow, have one more thing to rejoice
they generally stay out of the way, and you
never have to worry about them dying on
you.
are Molotov cocktails, hand axes, and fish
to use as grenades or just to cut or break
something. There is this bit of interactivity
about with Bethesda Softworks’ recently The enemy AI is nothing to write home in each of the game’s environments
released game, based on the much talked about. It is as stale and bland as it can get. where you can slash at pillars and support
about movie Pirates of the Caribbean. It’s a Your enemy stands right beside you doing beams to bring down evil pirates. You can
little late though, considering the sequel to nothing waiting for you to cut him to bits also place explosive barrels throughout
the movie has already been released. and pieces. At some point in the game you each stage to unlock secrets, and certain
The game starts off with both our have to use a ram to open a huge door. objects like lifts and mine carts can be
pirate heroes Captain Sparrow and Now in order to do that you have to keep manipulated in different ways.
blacksmith turned pirate Will Turner, pressing a particular button that will show The graphics aren’t anything special—
hunting down a valuable jewel hidden in up as an icon on the screen, but if you except for some environments, most of
a Spanish fortress off the Spanish coast, don’t manage to do it in time, you start all it looks pretty dull. The characters look
only to find themselves double-crossed, over again. pretty much the same as in the movie.
captured, and getting ready for a public In addition to the lackluster Jack, for example, is instantly recognizable
hanging. While standing at the gallows, gameplay, the game has a series of in his drunken stupor, and he remains his
Jack attempts to buy some time by glaring programming flaws. For instance, crafty, cunning self . It would have been a
recounting past exploits and this is when when playing alone, you’ll notice the AI lot more convincing, however if Elizabeth
the game really gets going. The game controlled allies get stuck behind barrels didn’t fight quite so much like a man.
can be played as a single player or with and walls. When not trying to sprint The storyline is pretty good considering
a friend, with player two taking on the through a doorway, they’ll sometimes the fact that you experience it from Jack
role of Will Turner or Elizabeth Swann, just stand and stare while your enemies Sparrow’s point of view. You get to travel
depending on the story Jack is currently tear you to shreds. The good part is your to China, Spain and lots of other places
thinking of in flashbacks. You can easily enemies don’t fare any better either. They which were not featured in the film.
swap between the characters you want to also just wait and watch even when you’re Come and join in the thrill of hacking,
play with just the click of a button. Though walking right next to them. The swordplay slashing, cutting and looting to your
it seems to take the friendly AI a few more is the same with just two basic sword heart’s content. If you have nothing better
slashes to cut the enemy down to size, slashes that you can later string together to do on a boring afternoon and would
into three-hit combinations. You like a little action or a throwback to your
RATINGS 6.0 / 10 can block attacks, perform rolling childhood when you played pirates with
For: Good storyline, superb soundtracks from the dodges, and toss objects around makeshift swords, then this is the perfect
movie. with absolutely no idea how or game for you. 
Against: Stupid AI, stale gameplay, tough controls. where it’s going to end up. There | Faheem Sayed

Price: 1,299 Publisher: Bethesda Softworks Distributor: e-xpress Interactive Phone: 022-28843736 e-mail: info@e-xpressindia.com System: Windows XP,
Pentium III 800 MHz or Athlon 800 MHz or higher, 256 MB RAM, DirectX 9.0c compatible graphics card with 32 MB, hard disk with 3.5 GB free space, 4X CD/DVD drive.

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


REVIEW | UNWIND 131

Joinin’ the Mafia ain’t exactly a walk in the park. The


shootin’ and cursin’ is cool, but will you live to tell the tale?

T
here are some people who love Quentin way you want. To drive home your point with
Tarantino’s movies and others who don’t. especially hardened opponents, butt-whacking
Me? I’m one of the former. Modeled on your hostage with your weapon will make them
the cult-inspiring Quentin Tarantino movie take you seriously.
in ’92, Reservoir Dogs promises a lot. After True to the movie, the game begins from
spending time with this PS2 title, we found that the diamond heist that went wrong. You get to
it delivered on some counts but disappointed play each of the characters in the movie where
on others. you will proceed through alleyways, deserted
Fans of the movie will appreciate the garages and industrial complexes. Depending
various nuances that went into defining this on the ferocity with which you plough
groundbreaking movie—from the snappy wit, through the levels, you will either be rated as
funky soundtrack (all of which you hear as the a professional, a criminal or a psycho! At the
game’s background score) and of course the zenith of your adrenalin rush (this is visible from
characters. However, with the movie’s cult an on-screen indicator) you can unleash a ‘Bullet
status primarily emerging out of the snappy Festival’ which takes you into a Matrix-inspired
dialog sequences in the warehouse, the slow-motion sequences of bullets. Besides
developers needed to take obvious liberties moving around on foot, there are regular
from the original storyline to impart the opportunities to hop into a car to get across a
requisite amount of action sequences in level. The in-game driving largely consists of
the game. either getting between two points within a
It all starts off in the warehouse where predefined time or staying above a speed limit
you, as a new recruit need to prove your to shake off pursuing cops and is functional
mettle in displaying competence for joining more than exciting.
the group. This serves to introduce you to the However, it isn’t difficult to get accustomed
various weapons like the pistols, shotguns to the scripted nature of the game. A generous
and submachine guns, and provides a training number of checkpoints let you save your
Jagdish Limbachiya
ground in learning to use them correctly. More progress at regular intervals. The
than just shooting, your survival depends banter, along with the signature
heavily on the ability to take hostages and use mafia one-liners are fun, but
them to disarm security personnel along the remember to turn down the
way. From guards to cops to SWAT teams, the volume as the profanity-
amount of coercion you need to exercise varies, studded humor might not
but if you do it right, you can have them drop appeal to all at home. 
their arms and back up against a wall—just the | Marco D’Souza

RATINGS 7 / 10
For: Engaging gameplay, entertaining voiceovers
and funky retro soundtrack.
Against: Linear level flow.

Price: 2,499 Publisher: Eidos Interactive, SCi, Volatile Games Distributor: Milestone Interactive Phone: 022-28203319 e-mail: sales@milestoneinteractive.
com System: Playstation 2 console, 128 KB free space on memory card for saving games, controller

OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP

SMS us! Story code: URR (See Page 20 for details)


Ultimate Collection
Model railroads and control realistic locomotives in a lifelike
simulation

I
f you’re a fan of simulations, by now you from a list of over 130 different engines and
surely must have driven a Ferrari or flown a cars! When driving a train, you have complete
Concorde at full throttle. But if you haven’t control over the degree of realism. You can set
yet jumped into the cab of a locomotive, here’s the control mode as DCC or Cabin. While in the
how you can! Trainz is an all round railroad DCC mode, you only need to control the speed,
simulator that has something to offer every in the Cabin mode, you have to control the
railroad junkie right from modeling railroads to pressure brakes, throttle and speed. For those
controlling your dream train. who wish all rules to be similar to that in real
To begin with, the complete installation of life, the level of derailment can be specified.
the game takes around 700 MB of drive space With the derailment level set to maximum, you
after which you don’t require the game disc to dare not speed up at turns and bends!
play. The game is very light on resources and Finally, there’s a Scenario mode wherein
doesn’t require a fancy graphics card. Even a the gameplay is mission based. The easy
decent graphics card like the Nvidia GeForce missions are the ones where you’re in charge of
6200 can run it at the highest settings—at a passenger trains. Signals and speed limits have
resolution of 1024x768. to be obeyed failing which the scenario comes
Trainz can be played in three modes— to an end. Complex missions involve manually
Surveyor, Driver and Scenario. In the surveyor switching tracks and carrying out complex
mode you can model railroads. With a complete shunting maneuvers.
set of tunnels, bridges, buildings, vehicles and While the game is enough to thrill any
flora and fauna, you can create a fully featured railroading buff, it does have its share of quirks.
layout with great details. With an easy-to-use The interface isn’t intuitive at all. You cannot
interface, creating lavish landscapes featuring master the controls without referring to the
rolling hills, lakes, mountains, beaches and manual. Apart from the manual, there isn’t any
other geographical formations is a breeze. It is way you can learn the controls—the control
possible to model the railway network of your map is missing from the game! And since the
city also if you have a railway map! controls are mapped on the numeric pad, it will
The Trainz ‘Driver’ module provides an be difficult playing this game on a laptop.
opportunity to step in the cabin of a locomotive If you’re a fan of railroad
and take complete control of the train. You can simulation, you shouldn’t
build trains of your choice using locomotives, miss this game. 
passenger cars, tankers, wagons and hoppers | Anand Tuliani

RATINGS 6.5 / 10
For: Great details and realism.
Against: No in-game tutorial; the interface isn’t
intuitive.

Pramod Jadhav

Price: 399 Publisher: Auran Distributor: Aladdin Multimedia Pvt Ltd Phone: 022-56936795 e-mail: aladdin@vsnl.com System: Windows 98 SE/ME/2000/
XP, Intel Pentium III or above, 128 MB RAM, 8x CD/DVD Drive, DirectX 9.0c compatible graphics card, 600 MB free HDD space, soundcard

INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006

SMS us! Story code: URT (See Page 20 for details)


Post: J2EE Developer Profile: Should have lead a team of 50 - 80 Exp.: 4-7
Company: Liquid Hub members that would comprise of software Location: Mumbai
Profile: Should have experience working on engineers, team leaders and senior Email: careers@del.aithent.com
J2EE Technologies with experience in JSP, software engineers with 8 to 11 years
Servlets, JSP and JDBC. experience in the related field. Post: Sr. ASIC Engineer
Exp.: 2-5 Exp.: 8-11 Company: Portal Player Pvt. Ltd.
Location: Hyderabad Location: Pune Profile: The candidate should have Master’s
Email: indiajobs@liquidhub.com Email: gltjobs@hsbcglt.com Degree in engineering with over 6 years
of experience or a Bachelor’s Degree in
Post: Technical Specialist- UAS Post: Technical Specialist Engineering with over 8 years of experience
Company: CSR India Pvt. Ltd. Company: Wipro Infotech with project management skills.
Profile: Candidate must have experience in Profile: Candidate should have knowledge Exp.: 6-10
developing UMTS RLC/MAC Layer protocol. of TCP/IP with basic understanding and Location: Hyderabad
Knowledge of Configuration and Process familiarity of oracle database. Email: indiacareers@portalplayer.com
Management tools. Exp.: 5-9
Exp.: 7-12 Location: Gurgaon Post: Sr. Test Engineer
Location: Bangalore Email: pallavi.kapoor@wipro.com Company: Xansa
Email: bangalore@csr.com Profile: The candidate should be BE / BTech
Post: Associate Head- IT / MCA / M.Sc with 60% and above and 5.5
Post: Testing Practice Head Company: DS Group Ltd. to 9 years experience of functional and non
Company: JK Technosoft Ltd. Profile: The Candidate must be an functional testing using tools.
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excellent people management skills & Computer Science. CCNA & MCSE will be Location: Noida
experience in managing full scale projects. preferred, with an experience of more than Email: india.rec@xansa.com
Exp.: 9-14 7 years in the IT administration field.
Location: Delhi/NCR Exp.: 6-8 Post: Unix Administrator
Email: bhavnidhi.sharma@jktech.com Location: Noida Company: Unisys India Pvt. Ltd.
Email: amit.kumar@dsgroupindia.com Profile: Candidate must be a graduate in
Post: Solutions Architect- Embedded computer science/ IT or equivalent with
Company: Adya Systems & Software (P) Ltd. Post: Project Manager 4+ years of experience and knowledge of
Profile: Should have understanding of OS Company: Conexant Systems (PB) Pvt. Ltd. Administration.
Kernels, device drivers, embedded system Profile: Candidate should have embedded Exp.: 4-7
hardware, software architecture for system development experience in Location: Bangalore
networking applications. Strong coding Linux2.4/ Linux2.6, kernel or any other Email: recruitindia@unisys.com
experience in C++. RTOS with knowledge in broadcasting
Exp.: 8-10 standards like DVB, ATSC/ ARIB. Post: Java Specialist
Location: Delhi Exp.: 6-11 Company: ACL Wireless Ltd.
Email: jobs@adyasystems.com Location: Noida Profile: Candidate will be responsible for
Email: karishma.chandna@conexant.com timely development of all services, work
Post: Sr. Developer with client team for client server protocol
Company: Ventrum India Post: Solution Architect- Domain Expertise refinement and definition.
Profile: The candidate should be a BE/ Company: Satyam Computer Services Ltd. Exp.: 5-7
BTech/ MCA with mandatory Skills C, C++, Profile: The Candidate should have 6 to 15 Location: Delhi/NCR
MFC, Active X, Windows Programming, years experience with Domain expertise. Email: sanjaysadana@acl-wireless.com
good grasp on OOAD UML principles is plus. Exp.: 6-11
Exp.: 4-8 Location: Mumbai Post: SAP Portal Developer
Location: Bangalore Email: deeptiyogi@gmail.com Company: Kanbay Software (India) Pvt. Ltd.
Email: rohit.misra@ventrum.com Profile: Candidate should have implementation
Post: Sr. Developer experience with excellent communication skills.
Post: Project Leader- Mainframe Company: Aithent Technologies (P) Ltd. Exp.: 4-7
Company: HSBC Software Development Profile: Should have 5+ Years Experience with Location: Hyderabad
(India) Pvt. Ltd. Unix , DB2 with good Communication Skill. Email: alad@kanbay.com
Post: System Analyst Post: ASP.Net Professional Profile: Should have Quality Manager/
Company: Southern Ocean Software Company: Blue Star Infotech Ltd. Testing Manager with strong testing skills
Solutions (P) Ltd. Profile: Candidate should have knowledge & experience on all kinds of testing. Prior
Profile: The candidate will be responsible of ASP.Net and C#. experience in Product testing would be
for business analysis, functional Exp.: 4-7 desirable.
verification and validation of the Location: Bangalore Exp.: 8-12
deliverables. Email: amitabh.bhakri@bsil.com Location: Delhi/NCR
Exp.: 4-6 Email: kunal@adobe.com
Location: Chennai Post: Project Leader- J2EE
Email: chennai@southernoceansolutions. Company: Polaris Software Lab Ltd. Post: Lead Software Engineer- Dot Net
com Profile: Should have 5+ yrs in IT with 4+ Company: Interglobe Technologies (CMM
yrs exp in Java/J2EE with atleast 1+ yrs i Level 5)
Post: General Manager- Software TL/PL Exp in Struts, EJB, JSP is mandatory. Profile: The candidate should lead team
Company: TVS Infotech Ltd. Sun Certified Professional will have an of Dot Net Professionals. Design and
Profile: Candidate must be a Senior added advantage. implement small to large size projects.
Management person who is technically sound Exp.: 5-7 Exp.: 5-8
and has good people management skills. Location: Chennai Location: Delhi/NCR
Exp.: 12-22 Email: annie.wilson@polaris.co.in Email: igt@interglobe.com
Location: Chennai
Email: padma@tvsinfotech.com Post: Team Leader Post: BI/DW Analyst
Company: Aspire Systems India (P) Ltd. Company: Agile Software Enterprise Pvt.
Post: Tech Lead- Software Engineering Profile: Should be highly proficient in Ltd.
Company: Yahoo Software Development atleast one of the following technology Profile: The candidate should have 5+
India Pvt. Ltd. streams: - ASP. Net, VB.Net, C#, Core Java, years of technical/systems analysis, 3-5
Profile: Candidate must have a B.Tech JSP, Servlets, EJB, RMI, CORBA. years experience in Database, Process
degree or better and a minimum of 7 years Exp.: 4-9 Mapping / Diagrams, Data warehouse
experience in developing high quality C++ Location: Chennai architecture , ETL experience.
applications in a UNIX environment. Email: work@aspiresys.com Exp.: 5-8
Exp.: 7-9 Location: Bangalore
Location: Bangalore Post: UDB Professional Email: gayathri.navaneethan@agile.com
Email: ta-jobs@yahoo-inc.com Company: Syncata (a ProQuest Co.)
Profile: The candidate must have 5 years Post: Sr. Software Engineer- Java Script
Post: Project Manager of DBA experience using UDB, logical and Company: Corbus India Pvt. Ltd.
Company: CLC Technologies Ltd. physical design of database, ETL tools and Profile: Should have 4 years of
Profile: Incumbent should be competent OLAP tools. Development experience using Java, JSP,
enough to handle a team with complete Exp.: 5-9 Servlets. Must be familiar with Onsite-
knowledge of ERP, VB 6.0, SQL Server, & Location: Delhi/NCR Offsite Model.
Crystal Report. Experience on CODING is a Email: indiajobs@syncata.com Exp.: 5-7
must. Location: Delhi/NCR
Exp.: 4-8 Post: Sr. Software Engineer- .Net Email: mchopra@corbus.com
Location: Gurgaon Company: Procentris India Pvt. Ltd.
Email: hr@clctechnologies.com Profile: Candidate should have knowledge Post: Sr. Java (J2EE) Engineer
of .Net Framework with strong knowledge Company: Bebo Technologies Pvt. Ltd.
Post: Sr. Software Engineer of caching mechanism, .Net data Profile: Must be a BE/MCA with
Company: AOL Bangalore Development providers, server and user controls, relevant experience in JAVA/J2ee/EJB/
Center validation etc. JMS/WebLogic/IBM MQ Workflow/
Profile: Candidate should have experience Exp.: 4-7 Webmethods. Should know script
in designing and developing back end Location: Mumbai Suburbs programming, with ability to take
systems. Email: jobs@procentris.com initiative.
Exp.: 4-6 Exp.: 4-7
Location: Bangalore Post: Quality Manager Location: Chandigarh
Email: sanjuktahr@aol.com Company: Adobe Systems India Pvt. Ltd. Email: chdjobs@qasource.com
138 Classifieds

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TO BOOK SPACE HERE CONTACT


Mumbai
Hafeez Shaikh
Phone: (022) 24232872
Bangalore
Harish Kamat
Phone: (080) 5597282/83/84
New Delhi
Pranav Saran / Jitendra Gupta
Phone: (011) 55303287/79/80/82
Hyderabad
Vasudevan Iyer
Phone: (040) 23392226
Chennai
O. K. Gurumurthy
Phone: (044) 28295050/54
Kolkata
A. K. Roy
Phone: (033) 2468637/2468638
Pune
Yogita Vaidya / S. Naidu
Phone: (020) 56031234

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OCTOBER 2006 | INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP


148 LAST WORD

Intelligence where?
A fter being surrounded by geeks and
mind-boggling technologies right through
the week, and with deadlines squeezing every
drive, which resulted in a new 80 GB disk”. I
concealed my laughter and explained to him
calmly that a hard drive cannot be upgraded to
ounce of life out of me, I was left desperately a higher capacity; it needs to be replaced. The
seeking a weekend. Though the weekend appreciation I received in return was equivalent
seemed light years away, it finally arrived, to the accolades a person would receive had he
though it seemed to me it was I who rushed managed to avert the Third World War!
towards it with lightning speed!
Whatever the case was, all that matters is Head-spinning experience
once Friday beckoned, I was out of the office in a The next day, the same friend who by now
jiffy. I wanted to run away from the clutches of regarded me his Gadget Guru, urged me to
technology and sink in the serenity of nature. But accompany him to purchase a Discman he so
when one is so used to the maniacal demands wanted to possess. I agreed. We checked out a
of city life, getting away from it is a tad difficult; reputed electronic store in our vicinity.
also nature seemed far far away. The sales personnel at the store were so
So it struck me that the perfect thing to presentable that I got an inferiority complex.
do would be to hang out with friends, who Forget about being immaculately dressed,
were free men unlike me—a faithful slave to I looked like something the cat dragged in.
technology. But this seemingly temporary detour Anyway, I inquired about the various brands of
from this world of technology proved to be an Discman available, in the most impeccable
unforgettable and enlightening experience. manner possible.
After browsing through a fairly large number,
20 GB PATA + 60 GB = 80 GB SATA! we narrowed down to a Panasonic Discman
I met this friend (whose identity I dare not featuring a transparent panel and capable of
reveal, since I don’t want to risk personal injury), reading audio CDs, MP3 CDs, and VCDs. My
an engineering student with a tech handicap. friend noticed something peculiar about the
He recently shifted his loyalty from Intel to Discman—when the music played, the disc
AMD. The new PC he purchased has an AMD would rotate for a brief period and then come
Athlon 64 processor while the old one had an to a standstill even though the music continued
Intel Pentium 4 processor. When I heard about playing. So he inquired about this rather odd
it, I couldn’t resist asking him about his PC’s feature. Before I could explain that the music
configuration. While he answered most of the was buffered in a RAM chip from where the
obvious aspects like brand of the monitor and music was played even though the disc did not
speakers, answering queries about the internal rotate, the salesman’s prompt reply made my
components made him a tad uneasy. The jaw drop. His masterpiece quote, “While playing
blank look on his face was discouraging; so the disc, initially the disc is spun and later the
instead of bothering him, I decided to take a lens is spun and that explains why the CD is
look at the computer myself. stationary after a while.” Before yours truly—
I figured that an 80 GB SATA hard drive crusader of technology could strike the salesman
was installed in his computer; so I asked him in frustration, I decided it would be wise to pay
what he had done with his older 20 GB PATA for the Discman and get out of there.
hard drive. I of course had an ulterior motive When we stepped outside the shop, a
here. My hard drive was brimming with Motorola banner caught my attention. It proudly
data and getting a second-hand drive for proclaimed, ‘Intelligence everywhere’. I looked at
a friendly price would be a blessing. But my friend next to me and thought of the tech-
his reply left me dumbfounded. His exact challenged salesman and sighed. To me, only
words were, “The computer assembler ‘Intelligence nowhere’ seemed more apt! 
added 60 GB of space to the older hard | Sharon Lobo

Jagdish Limbachiya INTELLIGENT COMPUTING CHIP | OCTOBER 2006


Technology in Design | 24 TFTs reviewed | Build a Media Center PC
2006

Rs 100
11

RNI Registration No. MAHENG/2003/12687

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