Tag: review

Consumer Reports will not bow to Apple pressure

apple-dalek-2The nonprofit outfit Consumer Reports is standing by its damning verdict on the MacBook Pro and is refusing to print testing results from the Apple marketing department instead.

Apple, and its legends of fans in the Tame Apple Press, was insisting that Consumer Reports re-run its tests until they are similar to those Apple uses in its advertising.

Apparently, that is how IT product testing is done in the US these days. However CR has said it doesn’t think re-running the tests will change anything and it is standing by them.

It said that experiencing very high battery life on MacBooks is not unusual for us – in fact we had a model in our comparative tests that got 19 hours. We confirmed our brightness with three different meters, so we feel confident in our findings using this equipment. Finally, we monitor our tests very closely. There is an entry logged every minute, so we know from these entries that the app worked correctly, it added.

Apple’s VP of Marketing, Phil Schiller said the company was working with the magazine to understand the review. Schiller insisted that Consumer Reports’ findings didn’t resonate with their “extensive lab tests or field data.”

Apple must have been stunned. This was the first time that Consumer Reports hasn’t recommended a MacBook Pro model. The review said that battery life on the new MacBook Pro was all over the place, hitting 19 hours in a test, but less than four hours in another. Apple could not believe that it was at fault and it must have been those pesky people in the press getting their reviews all wrong.

It also confirms complaints that some users have had with the notebook. A report on Bloomberg earlier this month claimed that Apple had faced challenges with an improved battery module on the new MacBook Pro and it settled with older battery technology to meet the holiday shipping target.

US spooks gets poor review

A US government review has called for the reigning in of the National Security Agency.

The US legal and intelligence experts ordered by President Barack Obama to review National Security Agency practices called for a sweeping overhaul of US surveillance programmes.

The panel also called for reforms at a secret national security court and an end to bulk store age of telephone “metadata” by the spy agency.

Of course Obama does not have to obey the 308-report but failing to do so will open him up to the same sorts of allegations of constitution breaking which have dogged the US government since the extent of NSA spying was revealed by the whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The report called for “significant steps” to be taken “to protect the privacy of non-US persons”, and urged better cooperation with allies to avoid the diplomatic fallout from revelations of US intelligence gathering.

“We conclude that some of the authorities that were expanded or created in the aftermath of September 11 unduly sacrifice fundamental interests in individual liberty, personal privacy, and democratic governance,” it said.

It thinks that its recommendations would “strike a better balance between the competing interests in providing for the common defense and securing ‘the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity’.”

Like most government committee reports there was much that it does not say. It steered away from calling for bans on spying on foreign leaders, but said that such things needed to be approved at the highest level, rather than by Colin, who filled the drinks dispenser as a pet project he carried out in his lunch time.

Richard Clarke, a former White House counterterrorism aide who is a member of the review board, said while the board did not say the struggle against terrorism was over, the mechanisms can be more transparent and can have more independent oversight.

“In a free society, public officials should never engage in surveillance in order to punish their political enemies; to restrict freedom of speech or religion; to suppress legitimate criticism and dissent; to help their preferred companies or industries; to provide domestic companies with an unfair competitive advantage; or to benefit or burden members of groups defined in terms of religion, ethnicity, race, and gender,” the report said.

One of the key recommendations is to reform the law allowing the NSA to hold phone records or “metadata” on millions of calls both within and outside the United States. It felt that the storage by the government of bulk metadata creates potential risks to public trust, personal privacy, and civil liberty.

It thinks that metadata should be held by private providers or another private third party, with the government allowed access if “justified”.

It also said the secret court handling foreign intelligence requests should have a “public interest advocate” so that it can hear more than only the government’s arguments.

What is interesting was how the panel agreed with technology companies which have been seeking to release more information on the numbers of national security requests they receive. The panel added that the government should be issuing figures of its own. 

We review the new Pope Francis Mark I

Due to our proximity to the VaticanTechEye was given a chance to review the new St Peter v50 Pope which is code named Pope Francis (Mark One).

The good: The marketing of Pope Francis is slightly better than the earlier Pope Benedict model. The style looks less scary, and has a more user friendly “rabbit in the headlights” approach. The brand is untainted by a scandal involving the Nazis in its early design days. The fact he comes from Argentina will be good for Roman tourism which has suffered under a German pope. Germans only buy postcards and haggle over the price.

The bad: The software is based on Jesuit OS 2013 which was been taken off the market before for corrupting the Church’s operating system with its hidden binaries and other trickery. It was rebooted but has never shaken off its image of being a shadowy behind the scenes outfit. Pope Francis may also have been a little close to the Argentinian Junta and was implicated in the kidnap and arrest of two priests who made the grave mistake of helping the poor, which was not in the Vatican design spec.

There are some concerns that the keyboard and the operating system on Pope Francis is not flexible to meet the new market requirements.

The bottom line: Pope Francis is a fairly typical variant of the St Peter franchise with no great surprises.

Comparing the roughly half-dozen St Peter variants is relatively easy. The last two, the Pope John Paul reboot, and the rickety Pope Benedict were built around essentially identical hardware platforms. Inside was a CPU which was too conservative to actually run it.

Indeed, if the Pope John Paul had not assisted in the collapse of the old Stalinist central mainframe model, it would be remembered as an underpowered ultra-conservative which, while popular, failed to make a difference in the developing markets. Its attempts to launch new Saint apps may have flooded the market and resulted in the St Terresa  of Calcutta app being pushed through before anyone realised that she was not that nice.  The Benedict (St Peter v50), which was a stop gap brand, became swiftly bogged down with child abuse malware and there were rumours of corruption of financial files within the Vatican’s hard disk.

With its new Glasses trademark, the Pope Francis is seen as being more visually attractive, but lacks the design finesse of some of the more recent religions, such as Neo-paganism, Mormonism, or Apple fanboyism. Clearly St Peter v50 would benefit from some sort of makeover deal, such as Apple’s game changing rounded rectangle. However, it seems that Pope Francis will stick to the traditional cup and flatbread approach which has kept its existing clientele happy for centuries.

Fortunately Pope Francis has become equipped with enough memory to do something useful. Something that its predecessor appeared to be lacking, probably due to the age of the spec.

On paper, at least, these two products are remarkably similar. Both stick to the guidelines and are unlikely to do anything radical.

There are differences, and they don’t always favour the allegedly more consumer-friendly market. The Pope Francis still lacks the super-fast and friendly connections we have come to expect in the top of the range models. While its battery life might be slightly longer than the Benedict, the design is still too long in the tooth to expect much from, particularly when the pressure is increased under some hard operating conditions.

This model feels more ultraportable when plugged into its clam-up base, but it doesn’t stack up to the John Paul II in terms of hands-on utility and usability. Annoyingly, the Vatican’s website doesn’t seem to have a dock for sale as of this writing, but it has been spotted at Amazon, Staples, and others.

As a standalone, the Francis feels less substantial, certainly than the John Paul II model. The back seems a little plastic, although that might be useful as the model tries to appear to make reforms to the Vatican’s business plan, while not making any at all. Of course, it will continue to run Stainedglass Windows, but not the touch variant.

As a standalone the Francis is thick and heavy but that is the way its users like it. The main problem is the cost and its inability to use any practical apps other than the various flavours of guilt.

We give it three stars for now.



CPS hammered for not charging BT or Phorm

Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service is being blasted for refusing to prosecute BT or the advertising outfit Phorm for spying on customers.

Privacy watchdogs fear the CPS has sent a message to big corporations that they are free to violate UK internet users’ rights.

In 2006 and 2007 it was revealed that BT and Phorm were secretly trialling software that tracked peoples’ internet behaviour in order to deliver targeted advertising.

There was an outcry and BT ditched the controversial system in 2009.

Now the CPS has ruled that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute BT and Phorm under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA).

RIPA made it an offence to intercept internet traffic without either the user’s explicit consent or a judicial warrant.

The move has infuriated Simon Davies, director of the campaign group Privacy International who told the Guardian his organisation would appeal for a judicial review of the CPS ruling.

However he feared that the appeal would “fall flat on its face” into a “legal black hole”.

Davies said that there’s a real risk that big corporations are escaping scot-free whenever they violate the rights of people in the UK. This is because there is no legal infrastructure to tackle these companies.

Budget cuts were forcing law enforcement agencies to be more selective with investigations.

The CPS has said that a prosecution against BT and Phorm “would not be in the public interest”. It claims that the offending was “the result of an honest mistake or genuine misunderstanding of the law” and that there was no evidence that anyone “suffered any loss or harm” as a result of the trial. 

Here comes TechEye's appallingly late iPad review

About a year on from the iPad’s original release and TechEye is late off the mark. We’ve finally, finally, finally had a chance to play at length on Apple’s shiny luxury gizmo. Everything you need to know about the iPad is out there online already, and chances are if you’re any sort of news punter you’ve read opinions on the thing, mostly fawning. We won’t be able to tell you anything new, but – biting the bullet – we have to admit that we like it. 

First impressions are of a speedy user interface which will be familiar to anyone who has played with an iPhone and very cool innards which quickly figure out whichever way you’re holding it. The 64GB Wi-Fi model feels weighty in a nice way – lighter than a netbook but heavy enough to make it feel like a real product. Whether you’re aware of the Bill of Materials or not the product is designed to handle expensively. Unlike the unwieldy netbook which finds itself in a laptop bag along with other assorted bits and pieces like cables and hastily folded scraps of paper, you feel almost hesitant to take it anywhere without a case.  

The panel sitting at the front is clear, bright. pleasing and the prospect of cracking it is terrifying. Crispier than Gary Linnekar’s heavily comp’d crisp cupboards and the kind of quality that is giving rivals and netbook manufacturers the shakes. 

The design is superb but then that’s what Apple is known for – branding products in an appealing way to the average consumer. And beyond anything we have to suggest that this is the only market, save a few professional graphic artists or similar, that will truly benefit from an iPad. Even then the benefits are unclear.

There was a recent survey that suggested your average computer user is a couch potato. Tweeting and Facebook use shoots up when in front of the telly, casual surfing is king. This is where the iPad really shines. Rather than sitting at a computer and craning your neck to see Simon Cowell bellow approval or denial on the X Factor you’ve got something sitting in your lap that you can easily dip in and out of, during the ad breaks or otherwise.

The iPad is the new coffee table book and a true laptop rolled into one. As in you can put it on your lap. 

What can you do with it? At the same time, a lot and not much. It really depends what capacity you need mobile computing for. If it’s in any traditional professional role, forget about it. There are keyboards you can buy for the iPad, as well as portable speakers, which as far as we’re concerned defeats the purpose of a tablet computer.

Writing an article on this thing would be an utter nightmare: the iOS auto-correct is notoriously unintentionally funny or it’s downright terrible. Navigating back to a typo is painful without backspacing your way through: bad for copy editing. Office tools on the device aren’t great. 

Pulling the thing from your coffee table and starting up Google Earth is swift and frankly very cool.

There’s a lot of software you can show off to friends that is impressive. Instant stand-out apps include Shazam, already available on a multitude of different kit, which can understand and track down whichever song happens to be on. Virtuoso is the piano app you see in all of the iPad adverts – one of the “iPad is” bits between “magical” and something else – that while incredibly simple, the addition of a clear screen and touch turns it into a fun toy to screw around with. Shopping is made easier – clear winners being the eBay and Rightmove applications – transforming clunky web pages into an intuitive and fun way to browse and buy, or more accurately, consume, consume, consume. 

Meanwhile there are apps like Soundrop and Beatwave that let you tinker around with sound and visuals at once. Again they’re fantastic to show off your shiny new toy but they’re essentially pointless. Something that goes against the grain is Amplitube which has received rave reviews from musicians – hook your guitar up with the iPad and you have a powerful mixing desk on a touch screen. 

Sketchbook Pro, for a miserly amount, will let you draw on your fancy rectangle.

As for reading and the future of publishing: magazines are much the same as their physical, older brothers but with high definition screens and embeddable videos. The Times, which has most of its eggs in the iPad basket, is not revolutionising journalism with a digital focus. Actually, contrary to other apps, reading a newspaper feels clumsier than turning pages. The bonus is with applications like The Guardian’s Eyewitness, which brings you a stunning slice of HD photojournalism every day. 

For workers who need to access content on their PC, LogMeIn Pro helps you connect remotely: but the application’s popularity goes further to prove that the iPad is an intermediary, more of a remote control than a production engine: great for email but not for work. That’s TechEye’s official position on the first generation iBad – UK councillors skavving the device as a laptop replacement beware. 

So far, so fun. As the IT industry at least in the consumer space moves towards connectivity it appears the tablet PC could be the missing link between devices – not quite a smartphone and not quite a computer, instead straddling the line between the two. Mostly useless but engaging anyway. 

In the month I have been toying with mine it has got a lot of use. And I mean a lot. Where and how it got used is a different matter: ad breaks on the TV means having a quick go on Fruit Ninja HD and, yes, Angry Birds. Games actually lend themselves very well to touchscreen tablets – the reemergence of the point and click adventure game being a case in point. A remixed Broken Sword and Monkey Island are popular on the slate because you can touch and it works. Not cumbersome at all.

It’s very hard to justify the £700.00 price tag for something that is steamrolling into homes across the world as, essentially, a vehicle for Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. It is also hard to predict where tablets are going from here. We are aware that the iPad 2 is looming somewhere on the horizon and it’ll probably go that extra mile, meaning you can do more, none of it particularly useful. Every consumer electronics manufacturer wants you to buy their tablet and we’ll bet they’ll get their way for a time.

Anecdotally it is a popular device among friends. You show it off and they want to hog it. TechEye found itself lazing about one evening, iPad in tow, casually sweeping between the different pages with small finger swipes because it’s tactile, not really doing anything: only just about more active than rotting in front of Countdown. 

What is fantastic is that it is easy to use and we suspect the other tablets that follow will take a similar route, encouragingly simple designs and for the layman, less technological options to toy with but more toys with more options. This is the tablet’s key strength and weakness. They are simple and there are developers building interesting out-of-the-box content, as well as creative professionals doing the same for advertising or otherwise. You can pull up a Google search in seconds but for the day-to-day you can’t do much more, yet, than the basics.

We can see it having a use in the educational space and we’ve heard kids love it too. The colourful nature of using the iPad, we’re told by a former professional in the industry, means it would be perfect for adult classes for those with learning difficulties – and it probably has a space in music and art therapy as well.

The iPad hypnotises you into thinking it’s better than it is by its nature.

Tablet computing so far seems to be the realm of the bored, ADHD electronics that demand and deliver quick fixes when you need them. The novelty still hasn’t worn off and we definitely want to keep it.

We’re just not sure why. 

*EyeSee Many thanks to Expansys which flogs iPad deals along with stuff such as high end laptops and pre-emptively sells the Motorola Xoom in the UK

Intel's Sandy Bridge delivers Speedy Gonzales results

For 18 months now the hot phrase has been the clocking potential of the Intel i7 CPUs and mainboard based on the X58 chipsets.  Along came Lynnfield,  six months later bringing with it  “bang for buck” for those who could not reach the ultimate offerings from Intel.  Over the last year,   Intel’s i7 CPU and the X58 chipset had us in awe at how much could be squeezed – and then some.   

Today’s offering of the Lynnfield successor is Sandy Bridge with the new Intel Core i7 2600K Processor.   Muhammad Ali once said “Champions aren’t made in gyms.   Champions are made from something they have deep inside them.  They have a desire, a dream, a vision.  They have to have the skill and the will.   But the will must be stronger than the skill”.

Within these 18 months the dawning of time has changed the way gaming and workstations function.   Intel’s i7 CPU and the X58 chipset most certainly had us in awe.    This brought forward our articles on “The Need for Speed”.   Whether a single socket Nehalem CPU or dual socket Nehalem CPUs  many have seen life changing opportunities for their gaming rigs, or as we fully focus on, the workstation environment.   

The changes have been huge and productivity has taken the biggest of leaps forward in many years. Not withstanding the costs of SSD’s has dropped dramatically and improved substantially meaning some of the fastest systems around are being built, today being a primary example.

Once more we see a significant change in focus with Intel’s offerings from the Nehalem family -enter the Sandy Bridge variant.  This variant, again, brings with it some very clever technological changes to the CPU and mainboard, and these will be covered briefly as we delve into the workings of both.  

The first Sandy Bridge chips to be unveiled today are as listed below

This range of CPUs from Intel is a serious choice for end-users, if cost is not a problem for those whose budgets just cannot reach the top end I7 CPUs. Performance is surprising to say the least. For a budget range CPU, in our opinion, the end-user is actually walking away with a very high end performing CPU.

Yes, you have read the Turbo Boost settings correctly.   On firing up for the first time we bounced straight into the BIOS and were nicely surprised seeing 3.8GHz in the Turbo Boost.   Pretty overwhelming.

With the new Intel DP67BG mainboard that we are looking at today we now see a mainboard schematic looking like this.

On arrival of the parts we took our normal analytical look at what we perceived the possible builds with the equipment we have to hand. 

Taking into account that these new CPU’s and Mainboards are not only aimed at the general public but the system builder too that supports the professional arena,  we see a rather juicy multimedia system that can be supported by either ATI’s or Nvidia’s Multimedia Cards. 

Or, a superb mid-range professional graphics workstation that fully utilises the new SATA ratification and if you really wish to push the boat out, overclock the system in either mode. 

There are a few professional system integrator companies now providing this, though take heed, overclock the system in the professional market and you null and void your warranty.   Current system integrators suppliers are providing their own warranties as we go to print.   So for once the mid range units are now affordable and we have at our disposal another excellent workstation to clarify oddities that some might see or hear of.

The plethora of benchmarks available in this arena; one could spend all day producing results if the time permitted, paralysis by analysis! 

In order to keep this a factual article we look carefully at what the community really needs  to see as timescales ran against us in providing you with more information.  So we chose the following to highlight just how good the new complete architecture really is in all arenas. 

In order to expedite the proceedings, all tests shown within are at their primary display default settings.  System left at default with the only exception of BIOS intrusion was to manually adjust the memory settings from 1333MHz to 2133MHz to obtain the full potential of Crucial’s new memory modules.



Confucius once wrote: “The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.”

Today we have seen from within a marvellous array of choice, superb overclocking potential and finally something that will suit the needs of many a pocket looking for that all important upgrade they have been holding back on.  

On the arrival of new technology of this magnitude, it is sometimes hard to sit back and gather thoughts after witnessing some pretty remarkable performances being produced. After all that we have collated today; the results speak very clearly, this is without a doubt yet another winner that Intel has brought to the fore.  

From a Multimedia aspect, this mainboard has got a whole load of bang to it. Overclocking potential is great and we are sure that many will bring some remarkable results to the fore.  Though with the mainboard and CPU at stock levels the synthetic results gained from both Nvidia’s GTX 480 and the Sapphire Radeon 6970 are quite astonishing.   

However one must take into due consideration the helping hand within the systems I/O from Crucial’s supply of its superfast  C300 SSD and the almighty new Crucial Ballistix, DDR3 PC3-17000.  We took the system to the maximum at stock and ran it without falter for 8 days flat out. 

To conclude this sector, a hands down winner for all manufacturers concerned.

After many years of paying premiums for mid entry level workstations we have options that are affordable and have the power within to provide the end-users a substantial stable workstation that will last for some time to come.  

We have over these last few months completely stressed this unit to its fullest without any problems.   The mainboards offer plenty of room for expansion in whichever way they are utilised as a home gamer, SoHo Workstation. 

Or, and more probable within the corporate market, place as a stand alone desktop unit as there is so much power inside.  More probable, the studios, CAD/CAM and DCC market as the system shown within fully combined and once more reiterating, a sound solid fast system.

Onboard Audio replay was very good producing a crisp pleasant sound back to the ear.  The onboard LAN, fast and efficient as we did not encounter any problems whatsoever hooked up within our tasking units here.

Each of the professional graphics cards performed well above everyone’s  expectations, returning from the SPEC tests some very impressive results.  The driver optimisations from both ATI and NVIDIA have embraced the new technology marvellously.  One point of note is that ATI’s drivers are now catching up, so we should see a change here soon. 

Though once more we have to take into consideration the whole I/O as without this we would not be seeing such excellent performing scores from both companies supplying the professional graphic cards.

Consequently and once more we have to reiterate the objectivity of choice. 

Choice to the budget user that sees the complete unique benefits the mainboards have to offer – Firewire and Bluetooth on the same mainboard.  This novel concept we see normally on notebooks, therefore the beneficial choice to the end-user means more simplistic productivity. 

Choice in CPU, whether a budget entry or a more upscale CPU that brings them in close proximity to to the high-end i7 chips.  We must recount just how much Turbo boost is hidden under the hood at default – yes, 3.8GHz is something to behold.  

So once more “bang for buck” is here without spending a fortune.  Those wishing to move up a gear but have not got the funds to reach the high-end i7 CPUs, then without doubt the Intel Core i7 2600K Processor is tremendously powerful and will last the end-user for many years to come.

We also see choice within our multimedia graphic cards. 

Whether ATI’s CrossFire or NVIDIA’S SLI, both multi card scenarios will keep many a gamer happy for hours.  Though those wishing to use a single GPU from either will see huge differences in performance uptake. 

As for the professional cards, in a tandem array, we need to further investigate, so watch this space for more news.   

Whichever way this is perceived the purchaser is onto a “win win” – as importantly, we have to remember that the Dual Channel memory choice means a upgrade path when the timing and the budget is right as the baseline memory bandwidth shows a very respectable result.

Penultimately we come back to the vogue “need for speed and the option of choice”.  Previously this was for the few who could afford, now it is within the reach of the many.

Finally we return for one last recount.  We have just skimmed over the iceberg of what really lies underneath,  so a more in-depth article will follow covering much more than today’s brief appearance. 

We have fast affordable CPUs, mainboards with a whole remit of functionality which will flummox many.  Upgrades are easily achievable and, the “need for speed” is there now for everyone to enjoy.  An exceptional piece of post-Christmas marketing by Intel’s  public relations team.  

Overall Intel has surpassed itself with this upgrade, allowing many to have what they could only read about or place on their wish lists.   Sandy Bridge is without a doubt the fastest CPU on the block in this sector and for a reasonably priced CPU you get  superb performance.    

Positioning your confidence in motherboard auto-overclocking and the i7 2600K and 4GHz is easily reached,  and for those who want more it’s all within your grasp, yes, on fresh air,  without any fancy cooling arrays.

UK Digital Economy Act to be subject of a judicial review

TalkTalk and BT have succeeded in being granted a judicial review of the Digital Economy Act by the High Court.

The decision means that the courts will now investigate the controversial act and view whether it is legal and justifiable.

The pair argued back in July that the legislation had been “rushed through parliament” and voiced the concerns of many ISPs who said they were unhappy with part of the act that requires them to take action against suspected file sharers.

They also argued that smaller ISPs could benefit from having to grass up illegal filesharers as they would leave larger ISPs to avoid detection.  According to the Act, only  providers with more than 400,000 customers are subject to the rules

The pair even went as far as saying the Act contradicted EU directives on the nature of ISPs, which state that they are not responsible for how people use the internet connections they provide.

The judge today obviously agreed with some of the points made after its favourable decision to the ISPs.

Andrew Heaney, director of strategy and regulation at TalkTalk said he was “very pleased” that the High Court had recognised the concerns of ISPs.

“The act was rushed through parliament in the ‘wash-up’ with only six percent of MPs attending the brief debate and has very serious flaws,” he said.

“The provisions to try and reduce illegal file-sharing are unfair, won’t work and will potentially result in millions of innocent customers who have broken no law suffering and having their privacy invaded.”

BT also rejoiced with a spokesperson telling TechEye: “We are pleased that the Court has recognised that our concerns about the copyright infringement provisions in the Digital Economy Act should be considered in a full hearing. It is important for everyone involved – copyright owners, consumers, ISPs and institutions like libraries and universities – to have certainty on the law before proceeding.”

However, the BPI (British Phonographic Industry) is none too pleased about the decision, calling it “disappointing” that “a couple of ISPs are trying to frustrate this and resist any action being taken to reduce illegal file-sharing on their networks.”

A spokesperson said: “We continue to believe that their case is misconceived and will fail. The act remains in full force and we will continue to work with government, Ofcom and other stakeholders to implement it.”

Deborah Prince, Head of Legal Affairs at consumer watchdog magazine Which?, says:

“Instead of challenging digital initiatives, it would be good if all stakeholders – rights holders, ISPs and the legal profession – came together to make the process of graduated response advocated by the Digital Economy Bill (DEB) work.

“The DEB approach could benefit all concerned. Rights holders could get protection, consumers could get better education about file-sharing, and the courts could only be used for persistent offenders.” 

TuneUp 2010 revives old dud of a machine

TuneUp Utilities 2010 – $49.95 (trial available)

Having been raised on DOS and defragging and refragging and registry cleanups and windows installs and manually reformatting PCs again and again and again and over and over and over to try and squeeze the last life out of the buggers, I’ve always been strangely sceptical of optimisation software. Which is stupid, because as I’ve just learned, they really take the pain out of it for you,

TuneUp Utilities 2010 is a ridiculously easy to use and powerful product, bringing together all the stuff you can do to make your PC run that much smoother in a slick and minimal UI. A quick and dirty analysis of your rig’s shortcomings takes about a minute, and as soon as it’s done you’re presented with a bunch of options to make it run faster.

That green tick makes the pain go away.

While many of the options presented to you won’t be a surprise to those familiar with Windows, having them all in front of you and explained in laymens is a nice touch. I said “OK, whatever” to everything and let TuneUp get to it.

It took about a good five minutes to be through with. That’s to say, it cleaned up my admittedly cluttered registry, defrag’d my registry, got rid of broken shortcuts, deleted cached and temp files I didn’t want or need, boosted my system startup and shutdown by getting rid of crap that I manually closed every single time I booted up and defrag’d my hard drive. Again, all fairly obvious stuff to keep in mind, but the kind of thing I, and I suspect other PC users, get lazy about – I had recently doomed my laptop to the dangerous mindset of “It’s borked. Oh well.” My laptop is still borked, but it’s borked a hell of a lot faster and runs really smoothly.

A report shows you just how lazy you've been.

One feature I really dig about TuneUp 2010 is the ‘Turbo Mode’ – while conjuring up images of third-party joysticks from the Amiga days, it promises a lot more than you’d think it does. By putting turbo mode on, TuneUp disables or lowers the priority of all the other system processes in the background, meaning you can get along smoothly with whatever heavy-duty application you happen to be running at the time.

This sits neatly in your taskbar for instant info.

TuneUp Utilities isn’t essential, but it’s damn useful and it’s got a recommendation from the Eye.

Review machine: Acer Ferrari 5000, AMD Turion 64 X2, 2GB Memory, Windows Vista