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Sony VAIO PCG-GRX616SP

Sony VAIO PCG-GRX616SP

Whenever you are handed a notebook with a price tag of two-and-a-half grand (and that's excluding VAT, by the way), you have a right to expect something pretty special. After all, you can get a fairly decent portable for £1,000 (ex. VAT) nowadays, so you could argue that Sony's £2,554 VAIO PCG-GRX616SP should be 2.5 times as good as a 'fairly decent' notebook to justify its price. Obviously, it's going to have its work cut out.

February 24, 2003 by in Laptops

Spybot Search and Destroy

Spybot Search and Destroy

For years, removing ad-serving software (often called adware or spyware) from your desktop has been the job of one product: Ad-aware by Lavasoft. But there's a new game in town. PepiMK Software's Spybot offers a wealth of useful features that, frankly, should send Lavasoft back to the drawing board. Spybot delivers useful tools such as an email list of opt-out addresses to stop unwanted solicitations and a file shredder to securely overwrite unwanted files deleted from your PC -- all of which Ad-aware Standard Edition lacks. Best of all, Spybot does it all for free. For protection against ad-serving software, Trojan horses and other means of tracking your surfing habits, get Spybot immediately.

February 18, 2003 by in Security

Creative Labs Inspire 5.1 5100

Creative Labs Inspire 5.1 5100

The Inspire 5.1 5100 speaker set from Creative Labs is a no-frills surround sound system suitable for gaming and watching movies on your PC. Its low cost (£59 ex. VAT) is achieved by having the bare minimum of hardware and by not using an overpowered amplifier. Although you'll have to add cable extensions and mounting brackets or stands for living room use, you can use the system at a PC desk without modification.

February 17, 2003 by in Hardware

Dell OptiPlex SX260

Dell OptiPlex SX260

Don't mistake the tiny Dell OptiPlex SX260 for a thin client, 'dumb' terminal or Web appliance. This mini-system is about the size of a thick dictionary but packs a desktop Pentium 4 or Celeron processor and runs the full Windows XP Professional operating system. It's aimed at offices where space is tight, such as call centres, broking houses and hospitals, and can be installed on top of or under a desk. Configurations run from a modest £604 (ex. VAT) but can balloon to over £1,500 (ex. VAT) for a fully-kitted machine. Although it can handle most office tasks, don't expect it to be a multimedia or 3D graphics monster.

February 17, 2003 by in Hardware

HP iPAQ Pocket PC H1910

HP iPAQ Pocket PC H1910

It may not use the latest and greatest processor, but HP's iPAQ H1910 is the first Pocket PC we've seen that truly rivals the form factor of the Palm V. There's other good news to report about this compact unit, which is barely larger than its screen: it's relatively inexpensive; it boasts a sharp, bright screen; and it has a removable battery. On the downside, however, we're a little miffed that this iPAQ's headphone jack is not the standard size, which means that you can't use your favourite headphones with the device without buying an adapter. Also, no protective cover is included. If you can forgive those small shortcomings, this is a slick handheld that should appeal those who value form over performance.

February 14, 2003 by in Mobility

HP iPAQ Pocket PC H5450

HP iPAQ Pocket PC H5450

With more and more manufacturers joining the Pocket PC ranks, it's been getting harder for HP to differentiate itself. But the intense competition seems to have galvanised the company, which has now released the breathtakingly powerful H5450, a handheld that offers integrated Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and biometric functions.

February 13, 2003 by in Mobility

TerraTec Aureon 7.1 Space

TerraTec Aureon 7.1 Space

Music fans -– that is, listeners rather than creators -– could find something in the Aureon 7.1 Space from TerraTec to tickle their fancy. Its impressive technical specifications make it suitable for playback of the latest audio format (DVD-Audio), although whether the specs translate to an enhanced audio experience remains unproven. For the rest of us, there are few compelling reasons to upgrade.

February 12, 2003 by in Hardware

Apple PowerBook G4 (867MHz, 12.1in. TFT)

Apple PowerBook G4 (867MHz, 12.1in. TFT)

The smallest Apple notebook packs an appealing punch. At 2.1kg, the company's new, 12in. PowerBook G4 is smaller, lighter and faster than the 12.1in. iBook, although it costs nearly £300 (ex. VAT) more in the UK. Instead of the iBook's G3 processor, you'll get an 867MHz G4 and faster Nvidia GeForce4 420 graphics hardware. The 12in. is cheaper than its larger PowerBook G4 counterparts, but lacks a few of our favourite PowerBook features -- namely, an L3 cache, a PC Card slot and built-in Wi-Fi. However, it trounces older Titanium models with a delightfully firm and large new keyboard, built-in Bluetooth and a slot for the 802.11g-draft-compliant AirPort Extreme card. It also stacks up well against PC notebooks -- even in terms of price. Get the AirPort card and toss in the optional DVD-burning SuperDrive, and you have a thin-and-light notebook that should please anyone on any platform.

February 12, 2003 by in Laptops

ViewSonic airpanel V110

ViewSonic airpanel V110

According to Microsoft, 'life is too short to be chained to a desk'. Enter the first Smart Display, a portable LCD monitor with built-in 802.11b wireless networking. ViewSonic's airpanel V110, which will be launched at CeBIT 2003 in Hannover next month, lets you work remotely from your wireless-enabled computer, as if you were sitting in front of it -- but it isn't a notebook replacement. The airpanel V110 acts as a PC extension, which lets you quickly, easily and reliably conduct short sessions of email, Web surfing and other computing activities via your main PC from any room in the house. But at the moment, the £999 (inc. VAT) airpanel V110 is way too expensive. Until it comes down in price, Microsoft expects that only early adopters and the wealthy will buy one. Otherwise, we recommend a notebook with built-in wireless. You'll spend almost the same amount, and your files and applications can go anywhere you do.

February 10, 2003 by in Hardware

Sony CLIE PEG-NZ90

Sony CLIE PEG-NZ90

Although the majority of handheld makers seem to be targeting the budget sector of the market, Sony hasn't been shy about going after high-end buyers. Last year, the company delivered the super-slick but pricey <A href="http://reviews.zdnet.co.uk/review/12/1/2372.html">CLIE PEG-NX70V</A> (£449 inc. VAT), and by mid-March, it'll begin selling the step-up NZ90, a CLIE with a swivelling screen. This top-tier handheld also boasts a built-in 2-megapixel camera, a keyboard, and Bluetooth support, as well as a whopping £599 (inc. VAT) price tag. This is neither your everyday handheld, nor is it meant for the average user. And while the NZ90 is clearly loaded with features and offers top-notch performance, it's a shame that Sony didn't include built-in Wi-Fi -- especially at this price.

February 7, 2003 by in Mobility

Fujitsu Siemens Lifebook E2010

Fujitsu Siemens Lifebook E2010

Fujitsu Siemens knows a thing or two about notebook design, and its products tend to have a classy, upmarket look to them. The new E-Series Lifebook is no exception: the E2010’s colour scheme of light and dark metallic greys matches rather than shows up the keyboard, and the overall lines work well. Just what you’d expect from a German/Japanese technology company, in fact.

February 6, 2003 by in Laptops

Opera 7 for Windows

Opera 7 for Windows

Opera won't unseat Internet Explorer as the top Windows browser in the foreseeable future. But judging from the latest version 7, the plucky Norwegian browser is actively seeking to wrest the number-two spot from Mozilla/Netscape. Opera 7 is roughly the same size as the previous version, yet adds a number of new and improved features -- from a slick new email client to simplified password management. The interface looks a bit cluttered, and we found a few HTML page-formatting glitches along the way, but this is still a solid upgrade. Current Opera users -- especially those who use the built-in email client -- should upgrade now to get the benefits of the nifty email program. And even if you're happy with your non-Opera browser and email, give the free trial a whirl. You may find the email client hard to resist.

February 5, 2003 by in Developer

Keynote

Keynote

Apple has another weapon in its campaign to end Mac users' reliance on anything Microsoft. Its new presentation software, Keynote, takes on the formidable foe PowerPoint and exploits some of the cracks in that program's Goliath-like armour. PowerPoint is the most lacklustre component of Microsoft's Office X for Mac suite, so its drab colours and stuck-in-the-'80s themes are no match for Keynote's crisp, fresh graphics. And whereas a single PowerPoint licence goes for £300, Keynote costs just £79 (inc. VAT) and can import and convert PowerPoint files. PowerPoint does offer some wizards and clip art that Keynote lacks, but we can live without them -- especially given the price. If you're looking for presentation software on the Mac, give Keynote a try.

February 5, 2003 by in Developer

NEC MobilePro 200E

NEC MobilePro 200E

NEC’s previous Pocket PC handheld, the <A href="http://reviews.zdnet.co.uk/review/12/1/686.html">MobilePro 300E</A>, was something of a mixed bag -- it was nice and light, but short on built-in expansion slots. The company has learned from its earlier mistakes to some extent, and the MobilePro 200E is a neater device than its predecessor, with a cleaner design. But NEC has missed a couple of tricks: most notably, it has abandoned its removable rechargeable battery idea. The MobilePro 200E is aimed at the low to middle end of the market, and, to some extent, needs to convince those looking at Dell’s new <A href="http://reviews.zdnet.co.uk/review/2/1/2472.html">Axim X5</A> to pay a little more money for their handheld.

January 31, 2003 by in Mobility

ViaVoice Pro USB Edition 10

ViaVoice Pro USB Edition 10

If you want the best that money can buy in speech recognition, IBM's ViaVoice Pro USB Edition 10 is it. The program's improved speech-recognition engine records dictation accurately more than 96 percent of the time, and reacts to voice commands faster than the competition does. So if you're serious about consumer-targeted voice recognition, upgrade now for £39.67 (ex. VAT; £46.61 inc. VAT). If you're new to speech recognition, put your money down (£80.54 ex. VAT; £94.64 inc. VAT) for this best-of-breed speech engine. It's worth every penny.

January 31, 2003 by in Developer

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