Sony SRS DZ10 21 Speakers Review

Sony SRS-DZ10 2.1 Speakers Review

While it’s entirely possible to have surround sound for your PC, the reality is that most people find it far too impractical. Unlike home theaters, desktop PCs generally live where there is room for them, and arranging the various speakers and hiding the cables is a chore.

As a result, many people prefer 2.1 systems, which benefit from being small, affordable, and easy to set up, and many companies produce a range of systems of varying quality. Sony is just one of those companies and has sent us a set of their new 2.1 speakers, the SRS-DZ10s, which are available for a not inconsiderable £85.

Sony SRS DZ10 21 Speakers Review

At first glance, the SRS-DZ10 look quite unusual; The tubular subwoofer in particular is a unique component. However, as a set they are undeniably stylish with a supremely elegant brushed aluminum finish and satellites that are elegant in their simplicity. The sub’s unusual design is designed so that you can place it horizontally or vertically on your desk, but why you’d want to do that rather than keep it under a desk is beyond me.

From a technical point of view, the set delivers a total of 37 W, with the two satellites delivering 6 W each and the sub delivering 25 W. The set is also magnetically shielded to prevent noise interference and damage to your monitor if you’re still using a CRT.

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The satellites measure 63 x 143 x 63mm, while the Sub, with its rather bulky shape, measures 374 x 149 x 183mm. The set also comes with a control center for adjusting volume and bass levels – this device has two input sockets, so you can connect an MP3 player along with a PC or notebook. Finally, there’s a headphone jack on the front of the control center for easy access.

Consisting of two small drivers, the satellites have the typical Sony look and feel of quality products. If you want speakers with a bit of style and panache then the SRS-DZ10s are certainly worth considering, and while the sub is an acquired taste it’s at least: a) hideable and b) eye-catching.

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While 2.1 channel speaker sets offer many benefits, there are challenges to overcome. Because you’re separating the high and low range with two different sets of speakers, getting a balanced sound is often a problem. one that the SRS-DZ10 often fails to solve.

That’s not to say they’re poor quality speakers, they aren’t, but they’re not quite as versatile as one would like. For music they are certainly very crisp, especially in the upper range, but at times percussion can sound quite grating and even get annoying at times.

Of course, sharpness and clarity aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but balance is always important and that high-end clarity isn’t matched by a strong mid-range. Turning up the bass does mitigate the problem somewhat, but never balances the sound enough, as the bass is quite harsh at high settings and the midrange tends to be anonymous.

The lack of mids is particularly noticeable when watching films and videos, the voices sound rather distant. The speakers didn’t get along too well with action scenes either, although the high-pitched tone again spoils the overall impression.

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The lack of midrange performance is also noticeable when listening to music at low volumes, where once again the percussion dominates to the detriment of everyone else.

Predictably, this problem carries over into games where shots sound very tinny and unconvincing. While these speakers are certainly primarily intended for music, it’s still important to be versatile, especially if you’re paying a moderately sized sum for a 2.1 set.

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Luckily there are some positives as the set creates a nice spatial effect that fills spaces well. This makes them a good choice for casual music listening in the living room when connected to a notebook or even an MP3 player. This at least partially makes up for the shortcomings in the balance, and it’s certainly much less noticeable when the sound is given more time to mix.

But even with that caveat, the SRS-DZ10s are in a difficult position considering what you can get for the same price – or even less. For £50 you get the excellent Logitech Z3s, which are still excellent value for money, and their replacements, the Z4s, are also available for around the same price.

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Alternatively, for around the same price, you can pick up the Acoustic Energy Aego M speakers that Benny tested late last year, which featured musical fidelity. As an added bonus, they also offer an option for a third center speaker to create a 3.1 channel setup ideal for watching movies on your PC.


Though stylish and eye-catching, the SRS-DZ10s don’t deliver a compelling overall performance. The music playback is mixed with rather weak mids and exaggeratedly powerful highs. They are also not really suitable for films and games. They’ll do a reasonable job for the style-over-substance consumer, but there are plenty of alternatives that offer superior quality and better value for money.

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Epson P 5000 Multimedia Storage Viewer Review

Epson P-5000 Multimedia Storage Viewer Review

I should imagine there aren’t many digital photographers who don’t run out of space every now and then; The dreaded card full symbol is enough to get anyone muttering a few swear words to themselves. Luckily, Epson has come to the rescue with a handy little storage viewer that fits in just about any camera bag. Now there’s no need to panic when you’re down on those last few megabytes of disk space!

Epson P 5000 Multimedia Storage Viewer Review

The P-5000 is a versatile, fairly well put together package that goes beyond a simple image viewer. It offers a variety of card formats, video and audio capabilities, and a respectable list of handy features, including a gorgeous HD LCD screen, a fast 80 gigabyte hard drive, a rechargeable Li-On battery for long life, and a high USB High-speed 2.0 connection for comprehensive storage and management functions for PC and Mac operating systems.

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Physically, the device is intuitive to use, comfortable to hold as most of the work is done with the right thumb. The two memory card slots are usefully placed on the top for easy access along with the headphone jack. The rest of the connection hardware is under flush-fitting rubber tabs on the left edge. These consist of an A/V output, two high-speed USB2.0 ports, a power supply socket and a reset button. An interesting point is the placement of the speaker. Unfortunately, it’s on the underside and nestles neatly within the confines of a remarkably soundproof rim. If you want to enjoy movies or music, you need your headphones. The 4-inch, 640×480 resolution screen is probably one of the nicest I’ve seen on a device of this size. Using low-temperature polysilicon TFT technology, the quality of this display is superb, colors are warm and well-defined, while grayscale has excellent contrast and sharp, crisp edges.

The range of media supported by the P-5000 is impressive overall, but leaves a little to be desired on the photographic side. It loads JPEG and RAW files with ease (with limitations, see specs), but surprisingly there’s no support for TIFF files, or any other still image format for that matter. Video formats, on the other hand, include most MPEGs, DivX, AVC, Windows Media Video, Motion JPEGs and even the new H.264 format.

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On the audio side, there is the standard MP3 and AAC, as well as Windows audio. Memory card support is limited to two slots, one Secure Digital and one Compact Flash. However, in fact, you can use SD/SDHC, Multimedia, Compact Flash and Microdrive formats. Other cards can be used, but only with an appropriate adapter. The only limit is the multimedia card, which is limited to one gigabyte.

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To get an accurate picture of the comparable speeds, I ran a series of read/write tests, the results of which are shown here. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed with the result. Granted, there’s not a lot in it as you can see, but if I were to spend anything under £500 on a dedicated machine like this I’d expect at least similar results to what I get from my home PC or laptop. The tests included reading and writing half a gig chunks of data, one with numerous small JPEG files, one with several large video files, and another with an average mix. I didn’t expect a huge difference between the two considering they do the same job in both cases, transferring data to and from a hard drive and a memory card.

Epson P 5000 Multimedia Storage Viewer Review

However, the data speaks for itself, the P-5000 performed slower in every test, with the exception of the Microdrive, which wrote faster in all three tests. Unless you’re too concerned about access times or don’t have access to a computer these numbers won’t tell you much, after all they’re just for comparison, but since you can’t get a decent laptop for much more than the cost of the P- 5000 it is worth considering.

This brings us straight to general connectivity. The device features two high-speed USB ports that can be used for a variety of tasks. The first, a “host” connection, is used to connect a computer or camera. The second connection, “Device”, is for using a PictBridge printer or an external storage device. Which is odd, because surely the P-5000 IS an external storage device? To use the computer support, you need Windows 2000 Pro, XP Pro, XP Home or Mac OS X (10.2 or higher). The software itself does not come on a CD-ROM as expected, but as an executable file on the unit’s drive. After some tinkering I got the application working. It does what it says on the box, transfers files. It has no notable features, certainly nothing notable.

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The control system for the P-5000 is similar to the software, reasonable and functional. It consists of clear, text-based menus that include: My Music, View Rated Files, My Videos, My Photos, Backup Files, Memory Card, USB Devices, and Settings. Most entries are simple folder navigation menus that give you access to files. Videos and still images are all displayed as thumbnails and highlighting and pressing OK displays that image or video. The Memory Card option allows you to back up or browse an inserted card. It would have been nice to have seen a little imagination in the design, but it does the job. Just.

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There’s no doubt that the P-5000 is a handy, versatile viewer that performs well enough. Its hardware is up-to-date and powerful, uses fast USB 2.0 technology and supports the most common card formats. The heart of the machine, the screen, is beautiful, sixteen million colors in high definition look really good. The video is smooth and crisp, with an excellent choice of formats. Audio is the same, nice and clean with a good frequency response. I would have liked to see more photographic formats, especially TIFF. What really lets the device down in my opinion is the software, both the OS and the PC/Mac software could be so much better. If as much effort had been put into the OS as into the hardware, it would be a whole different beast.


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Kingston 1GB DataTraveler ReadyFlash Review

Kingston 1GB DataTraveler ReadyFlash Review

Where would you be without a USB stick? Seriously, if you don’t have one, you must be some kind of insane lunatic still blown away by the invention of the digital watch. There’s simply no easier way to carry important files around, and with flash memory being so cheap, there’s little excuse not to have one.

Because of this cheapness, USB drives cost 100 cents, and normally we wouldn’t bat an eyelid when a USB flash drive lands on our desks. But in this case we were intrigued because this 1GB drive from Kingston boasted “Enhanced for Windows ReadyBoost”.

Kingston 1GB DataTraveler ReadyFlash Review

So what is ReadyBoost you ask? It acts as an extension of Vista’s SuperFetch feature, which loads frequently used files and programs into system memory so that they load significantly faster than if they loaded directly from the hard drive. As a result, Vista is much better at taking advantage of large memory configurations greater than 2GB, and power users will surely reap the benefits.

ReadyBoost does almost the same thing as SuperFetch, albeit with some limitations because while flash memory offers excellent access times, it’s still much slower than a hard drive for transferring larger files.

Still, there are some benefits, and ReadyBoost uses compatible flash memory to cache system files and the system paging file to provide some sort of performance boost.

Note that you cannot use old flash memory for ReadyBoost. To avoid performance degradation, you must use flash memory that meets certain minimum requirements. If you are using a USB flash drive, it must be USB 2.0, while each memory must support 3.5 MB/s for 4 KB random reads and 2.5 MB/s for 512 KB random writes.

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This applies to any flash memory you use, and you can also use memory cards like Secure Digital and Compact Flash. Each storage drive must also have at least 64MB of free space, and you can use up to 4GB of flash memory for ReadyBoost.

The USB flash drive Kingston sent us is 1GB, and the company claims it exceeds data transfer requirements. Aside from the ReadyBoost certification, it’s a very typical and completely unremarkable flash drive. It looks just like any you’ve seen or used in the past, and it’s not rugged enough to survive being run over by a car or some nonsense like that. It’s just some plastic; nothing to get too excited about.

Setting up ReadyBoost is an extremely simple case of inserting a compatible storage device into a Vista PC and then, when prompted, selecting the option to use it for ReadyBoost. By going to the device’s Properties dialog box, you can select the amount of memory you want to allocate to ReadyBoost, allowing you to choose to keep some memory for storage if you wish.

To test the validity of ReadyBoost and see if Kingston ReadyFlash would improve performance, we first ran PCMark’s HDD tests on a notebook running Vista. Since notebooks are generally less powerful and more difficult to upgrade, they are the most likely candidates that could benefit from ReadyBoost, making this a real test.

The notebook in question was the Asus U1F recently reviewed by Riyad, which has an Intel Dual Core U2400 clocked at 1.06 GHz, 1 GB of system memory and a 60 GB hard drive. Riyad noted in his review that he found it quite sluggish on Vista and suggested that potential buyers should specify 2GB of RAM when purchasing. Does ReadyBoost have an effect?

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First, the PC Mark tests suggest that this is certainly the case. We ran the hard drive tests again without ReadyBoost and got a score of 2310, and subsequent tests showed significant improvements when the USB device was plugged in and scheduled for caching.

With the full 1GB used, the score was 3106, which is 796 more than the score without ReadyBoost. Further testing returned results of 3017 at 880MB, Windows’ suggested memory usage, and 2680 and 2600 when using 512MB and 256MB, respectively.

Although PC Mark tests are more of an indicator of performance, these numbers suggest that there is certainly a significant amount of additional performance to be gained when using ReadyBoost. In addition, the notebook was noticeably faster in general use when loading programs. That’s not to say it was a revolutionary improvement, but it was noticeable enough to be worth checking out.

As another indicator, we decided to run a quick and easy test on our gaming machine, which is equipped with a slightly more powerful AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 Dual Core 2.63 GHz CPU and 2 GB Corsair Pro Series RAM.

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We measured how long it took to load a game file from Oblivion and compared the times when using 1GB of ReadyBoost cache to none at all. After running the test multiple times, we found that ReadyBoost reduced load time by just under 15 seconds on average, an impressive return on a £13 investment.

Over time, you’ll surely notice this kind of difference, and we’d love to see if ReadyBoost has a similar impact on in-game loading, although that’s a little harder to test.


It appears that ReadyBoost does indeed work, and the Kingston 1GB DataTraveler ReadyFlash drive is an excellent and dirt-cheap way to boost Vista performance. Ideally we’d like it to be smaller, as we already know Kingston can make much smaller USB flash drives, but other than that it does a good job.

Kingston 1GB DataTraveler ReadyFlash Review
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Freecom FSG 3 Storage Gateway WLAN Review

Freecom FSG-3 Storage Gateway WLAN Review

It’s been over a year, but Freecom has finally added wireless capabilities to its neat little desktop NAS appliance, the FSG-3 Storage Gateway. We first looked at the Storage Gateway in 2005 and were very impressed with the range of features on offer. The wireless model offers essentially the same features, but now includes an 802.11g wireless access point.

Freecom FSG 3 Storage Gateway WLAN Review

The gateway uses a standard ATA drive with four models available ranging from 160GB to 500GB. It offers shared network storage via CIFS/SMB or FTP, so Linux or Macintosh systems must access it via one of those protocols as it doesn’t support NFS or AFP. Four USB 2.0 ports are available and can be used to connect other external storage devices or printers for sharing. Unfortunately, Gigabit Ethernet isn’t on the menu, as the gateway still only offers four switched Fast Ethernet ports, one of which is dedicated to WAN tasks.

Internet access can be provided to all users simply by connecting an ADSL or cable modem, and the gateway offers firewall protection. Four connection modes are available, supporting PPPoE and PPTP along with dynamic and fixed IP addresses. Using dynamic addressing, we plugged in a simple intelligent ActionTec ADSL modem and had internet access in seconds. In addition to the USB variant, the gateway also offers an eSATA connection for connecting external hard drives via a high-speed connection with 3 Gbit/s.

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When we looked at the default gateway, eSATA devices were very few and far between, but things have improved since then. Freecom offers its own Hard Drive Pro models with eSATA interfaces, and Seagate also has a range of external drives. The gateway must be powered off before adding an eSATA drive, which must also be preformatted as FAT32 if you want read and write access. A great idea, but if you’re sharing an eSATA drive over the network, any speed benefits are lost as the Fast Ethernet switch just chokes off its performance potential. In fact, Seagate’s drives are primarily aimed at connecting directly to a PC, as they come with a PCI eSATA card (see our Seagate eSATA drive review).

Installing the appliance doesn’t take long, as the included FSG wizard finds the gateway on the network for you. The web management interface has been redesigned and, while still somewhat basic, offers easy access to all features. Shared folders are easy to set up and security options have been improved as you can create users and groups and set whether they have read-only or read/write access. Storage usage can be controlled by assigning quotas in MB or GB to selected users.

Performance over CIFS has improved over its predecessor with a 690MB video file written to the gateway from a Supermicro 3.2GHz Pentium D system on the LAN in 130 seconds at an average of 5.3MB/s , not improved. As expected, read performance was slightly better when copying the file from the gateway at a speed of 6.5 MB/s. These speeds are roughly equivalent to most single-drive desktop NAS devices using Fast Ethernet ports. Wireless file copy performance was uninspiring when the same test file was copied from a Fujitsu Siemens LifeBook equipped with a Proxim 802.11g wireless PC card in 356 seconds at an average of 15.5 Mbps.

A big bonus of the Gateway is the sheer variety of features to play with. It offers an email server that allows you to set up your own internal email addresses without the need for an ISP. The FetchMail utility can be used to fetch email from an external server and assign it to selected local accounts on the gateway. The main point to note is that the appliance uses DDNS and as noted in the manual you may find that many mail servers consider email from these types of addresses as spam. You don’t get much help setting it up, but the appliance uses the TwonkyVision MediaServer v3.1 to distribute multimedia content to UPnP devices.

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The bundled Acronis True Image software allows you to back up disk images to the appliance, although this is the OEM version that only allows imaging and restoring entire disks. For around £20 you can upgrade to the full version, which adds features like scheduled and incremental backups. The appliance runs MySQL so it can manage a database, while the Apache web server can serve your own web pages to the internet over HTTPS. The same applies to FTP services, while port forwarding can be used to open access from the Internet to specific PCs. Wireless security extends to WEP and WPA/WPA2 encryption, and an access control list uses client MAC addresses to block or allow access to specific systems.


A compact NAS device that offers a full range of features at a reasonable price. Performance is on par with similar devices in this price range and security has been improved over the previous model, although documentation could be a little more helpful for many services.

Freecom FSG 3 Storage Gateway WLAN Review

Quotas can be applied to local user accounts to control storage usage.

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Security has been improved to allow the application of read and read/write permissions.

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The appliance had no problems identifying USB storage devices and printers during the test.

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With the integrated mail server, you can retrieve emails from an external server and forward them to gateway user accounts.

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Noise levels are unremarkable, but don’t go for “hot and quiet” if you value your hard drive.


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Motorola MOTORAZR V3xx Review

Motorola MOTORAZR V3xx Review |

We might not like the way Motorola is naming its phones here at TrustedReviews, or the way it’s been caught up in some kind of design rut lately with its wannabe, flat-keyboard, size-zero look seems.

But the company doesn’t seem to be showing much sign of either of those conventions being retired just yet, and here we are on the cards with two new RAZR phones. One of them is the MOTORAZR Maxx, the other is the current test cell phone, the MOTORAZR V3xx.

We’ve never reviewed a RAZR incarnation before – unless you count Riyad’s glimpse of one in passing as he reviewed BT Fusion, so hold on to your hat while I take the plunge.

Motorola MOTORAZR V3xx Review

Like many Motorola phones, the MOTORAZR V3xx isn’t at the top of the tech specs – except for one thing. It supports HSDPA with speeds up to 3.6 Mbit/s. It’s the first handset in 3 to support HSDPA at this speed and if you buy it you’ll be well ahead of the curve. However, you might as well spend your money on a chocolate teapot. After checking with the marketing folks at Three, I was told that this HSDPA speed is “hopefully” coming out in the first half of this year, but there are no firm commitments there. Of course, using the old 3G standard, the phone will keep roaring when there is a signal.

In terms of design, the MOTORAZR V3xx will not surprise anyone familiar with the RAZR concept. This is a flip phone that’s slightly taller (102.9mm) and wider (53mm) in closed mode than seems reasonable. It just feels a bit big to hold comfortably. It’s not exactly thin at 14.9mm and at 107g it surpasses the magical 100g barrier.

For an extremely thin alternative, take a look at Samsung’s SGH-D830 (just don’t try to open it with one hand – ed.).

Like many other Motorola phones, the Flip doesn’t extend the full height of the bezel – there’s a 15mm plus full handset-thick lip along the bottom front edge. The front bezel and rear case are mostly black with some flashes of silver around the edges and where the clapper meets the lip.

In the front case sits a small CSTN screen with 65,000 colors, 19 mm wide and 16 mm high, displaying 96 x 80 pixels. It looks a little lost in the vastness of the outer shell, and both it and its large frame picked up more fingerprints than a US immigration officer. The rest of the front outer case is mostly glossy and has managed without trying to look dirty.

Open and we move from black with a silver border to silver with a black border. This is where the two plus points of the large clamshells come to the fore: both the main screen and the number pad are relatively large.

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The main screen is a TFT and manages 262,000 colors in 320 x 240 pixels and fits in an area I measured at 55mm corner to corner, 34mm wide and 45mm high. It’s clear, sharp and bright – impressive and with the best screens I’ve seen on a handset.

I have to admit that I never really like the flat RAZR number pad, no matter how many times I see and use it. I like the tactile feel of real buttons. Still, I have to say in its favor that significant advances have been made since Motorola’s earliest flat number pads.

The buttons, in particular, are all large, they’re separated by slightly raised lines, and the numbers and other elements glow blue in dim conditions (of course it has to be blue), making them relatively easy to use.

As an HSDPA handset, the MOTORAZR V3xx is capable of video calling and for this purpose a small VGA camera is embedded in the hinge area between the screen and the keyboard. While the super-fast HSDPA is something of a tie, as I’ve mentioned, the MOTORAZR V3xx is a shade behind the times in every other respect.

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The main camera has a resolution of up to 1.3 megapixels, which is far below today’s megapixel average. Its lens sits on the front flap so it faces outward when you open the phone, while when you close the phone it faces you. You can use the front screen to snap shots of yourself, but without a side button to activate the camera, you’ll have to launch it with the flip open. At the very least, this is a one-step process, as the camera software responds to a soft menu button.

The lens didn’t like being too close to its subject, and even slight movement of the handset during recording resulted in blurry images. Photographing everything that moved was a real challenge. It took many, many tries to get the test shot of the cat, and even then his face is a little blurry – people with shaky hands should take note.

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There is a music player on board that can handle the file formats MP3, AAC and WMA. It produced reasonable sound quality from the device speaker and really impressive music quality through a headset. There’s 50MB of built-in memory and a microSD card slot under the battery to add more song storage.

As far as sound quality goes, I could easily listen to music with this phone, but as a portable music player, there are two issues: the MOTORAZR V3xx has a mini-USB headphone jack, meaning it’s difficult to use your own wired headphones, and the battery life is appalling. I played just over four hours of continuous music from a microSD card. Four hours 11 minutes to be exact. That’s pretty bad, and it might prove difficult to get through a daily commute and lunch break on a single charge.

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Other applications include a web browser (the excellent Opera browser), calendar, calculator, alarm clock, voice recorder, email, MMS, SMS and IM support.


The MOTORAZR V3xx feels a bit like “more of the same” and its only saving grace from that moniker is 3.6Mbps HSDPA support. However, I’m not sure if that will be enough to earn a place in the collection of the best handsets. The camera and battery life in particular are serious disappointments.

We put every cell phone we test through its paces. We use industry standard tests to properly compare features and we use the phone as our main device during the review period. We will always tell you what we find and we never accept money to rate a product.

Learn more about how we test in our Ethics Policy.

Used as our main phone during the period

Verified against respected industry benchmarks and real-world tests

Always has a SIM card installed

Tested with phone calls, games and popular apps

points in detail

  • Ease of use 7

  • value 7

  • functions 7

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Nikon CoolPix L5 Review

Nikon CoolPix L5 Review |

Last week I reviewed the Fujifilm FinePix A700, a camera so basic I had a hard time finding enough to write about it. This week I have another one that’s even easier, if anything. I’d better try another DSLR soon or I’ll forget how to use a real camera.

Nikon CoolPix L5 Review

The Nikon CoolPix L5 was launched in the UK in September last year alongside the slightly more sophisticated L6 as the top end of the lifestyle-oriented L-series of Nikon’s CoolPix L-series of simple pocket compacts. It has an exterior design that bears a superficial resemblance to the budget 4-megapixel CoolPix L4, but the resemblance is no more than superficial. The L5 offers the benefits of a 7.2-megapixel sensor, a 5x optical zoom lens, Nikon optical VR image stabilization and the current must-have gimmick, face recognition technology. It’s also a lot more expensive than the L4, currently available for around £152. Compared to other similarly-specified point-and-shoot big-zoom compact cameras like the Kodak EasyShare C875 (£140), Olympus FE-240 (£170), Ricoh Caplio R5 (£200) and Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX07 (£220 £), the L5 is quite cheap.

Although the CoolPix L5 has a few technological tricks up its sleeve, it’s a very easy-to-use camera designed for those who don’t want any frills, where all they have to do to take a picture is aim at it and push a button. Measuring 97 x 61 x 45mm and weighing around 220g including standard alkaline batteries, it’s quite large and surprisingly heavy for a compact camera, especially given the rather chunky 6.3 – 31.4mm (38 – 190mm Equiv.) lens and the fact that it is powered by two AA cells. The lens doesn’t retract all the way into the camera body, giving the camera an awkward shape to fit comfortably in your pocket. The extra size means it’s a fairly easy-to-hold camera, with well-spaced controls and plenty of gripping space front and back, but the slippery glossy finish and lack of a real hand grip mean you’ll have to keep a firm grip.

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While the case itself is mostly plastic, it’s strong and well constructed, and that glossy finish helps resist smudges and scratches. The controls are solidly mounted and the battery door has a locking latch so it won’t open in your pocket. That’s a good thing, too, since the batteries don’t have an independent latch and can easily fall out when you open them to change the memory card.

The LCD monitor is clear and bright, with an effective anti-glare coating, so it can be used in bright sunlight if you can find any. However, it’s not particularly sharp at just 115,000 pixels and has a fairly low refresh rate, so it can appear slow and jerky as you move the camera to follow the action.

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The overall performance is not impressive. The camera takes a slow four seconds to boot up to the point where it’s ready to shoot and over 3 seconds to shut down again as the lens retracts quite slowly. The AF system is about average, taking around a second to lock on in most lighting conditions, although the lack of an AF illuminator limits its usefulness in low light.

In burst mode, it can take about one picture every second and a half, which isn’t too bad for a budget camera, and it can maintain that rate until the memory card is full. At maximum resolution and image quality, the L5 produces JPEG files averaging around 2.2MB, which is very small for a 7MP camera, but means a 1GB SD card will do around 282 images, or 11 minutes 36 seconds of video material is sufficient for the highest quality setting.

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The built-in flash is nice and powerful, with a maximum range of 5.5m wide-angle and excellent frame coverage, but it takes a long time to charge between shots, often over eight seconds.

As I mentioned before, the L5 is very short on features. It doesn’t have a manual ISO setting, just an automatic adjustment with a maximum of ISO 400. Unfortunately, the maximum setting is very noisy, and as there’s no way to stop the camera from selecting it, it means some low-light photos are very poor quality.

Of course, there are no manual exposure settings, but the L5 has 15 scene program settings including all the standards such as portrait, landscape, sports, night scene, beach/snow, dusk/dawn, sunset and more. There are no surprises, but there are enough choices to handle most shooting situations.

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Color customization is also limited to the basic defaults, with a vibrant high-saturation mode, sepia, monochrome, and the blue-toned cyanotype option. White balance and flash modes also cover all the usual bases as detailed in the feature table on page 4. There is a manual preset option for white balance.

The only two special features are the VR image stabilization (Vibration Reduction) and the face recognition system. I have to say I wasn’t particularly impressed with the VR. Most optical or CCD Shift IS systems offer about 2 stops of extra stability when shooting at low shutter speeds, but I found the VR system to be very inconsistent and shots that were just a stop below the recommended minimum speed in hand were held, were often blurred. It doesn’t appear to be as effective as similar systems used by Canon or Panasonic.

Face ID, as I mentioned earlier, is more of a gimmick than a really useful feature. While the Nikon system is as good as any, it only recognizes faces looking directly at the camera, and even then, things like large sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats, and strong sidelights can confuse it. It’s really only useful for basic portraiture, and even then it doesn’t make much difference to standard AF and metering systems. It’s certainly very clever technology, but certainly not worth paying extra for.

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Finally, moving to image quality, and this is where the L5 falls badly. As I mentioned earlier, even the maximum quality setting produces very small and heavily compressed image files, severely limiting image quality. In addition, the lens is not one of Nikon’s best, as it produces very noticeable barrel distortion at wide angle with very poor edge and corner sharpness. While color rendition and exposure were generally accurate, the level of fine detail was much lower than most 6MP compact cameras I’ve tested. One has to wonder what exactly is the point of putting a powerful 7.2 megapixel sensor in a camera crippled by poor noise reduction, high compression and an inferior lens.


The Nikon CoolPix L5 is something of a mixed bag. It offers a decent zoom range and resolution, ease of use and ease of use, but its slow performance, clunky appearance, and poor image quality are major drawbacks. There are better cameras for not much more money.

Nikon CoolPix L5 Review

“There are no ISO test shots for this test because the CoolPix L5 doesn’t have manual ISO control. Some of these images can be downloaded in full size. Click on the images as directed.”


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With a wide-angle end equivalent to 38mm, the L5 isn’t great for panoramic landscapes, but it does have panoramic stitching capability.


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The telephoto end of the 5x optical zoom range is 190mm, which is pretty handy for capturing distant detail but falls short of superzoom standards.


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Color reproduction and exposure are good in normal lighting conditions.

“Here, the full-size image has been scaled down for bandwidth reasons, and a crop of the original full-resolution image has been placed underneath so you can appreciate the overall quality.”


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Here is a shot of the front of Exeter Cathedral, my favorite shot for detail comparison. Below is a full-resolution crop of the center of this image.


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Compare the level of detail in this shot to similar images I’ve taken with other cameras to see how the L5 performs. For this shot, the camera’s light meter selected 79 ISO. I’ve seen better detail from six-megapixel compact cameras, largely due to the L5’s high compression JPEG files.


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Although it’s only equivalent to 38mm, the wide-angle end of the zoom range creates significant barrel distortion.


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This image is cropped from the top right corner of the previous shot. As you can see, the corner sharpness is very poor.


camera typeDigital compact
megapixels (megapixels)7.2 megapixels
Optical zoom (times)5x
image sensorCCD
image stabilizationoptical
LCD monitor2.5 inches
flash modesAuto Flash, Red-Eye Reduction, Flash OFF
Video (max resolution/format)640×480
memory card slotSecure Digital (SD) card, MultiMediaCard (MMC)

Nikon CoolPix L5 Review | Read More »

Rock Pegasus 335 Review

Rock Pegasus 335 Review |

We’ve been looking at a whole range of laptops over the past few weeks, ranging from the extremely rugged Panasonic ToughBook CF-Y5 to the more fashion-forward Sony VAIO VGN-C2SL and Samsung Q35, and today I’m looking at another twist on the portable computing theme, the Pegasus 335 by Rock.

Dubbed the “entertainment center you can take with you on the go,” the Pegasus 335 is as close to a mid-range notebook as you can get. It’s not an ultra-fast slot machine, it’s not a dainty fashion accessory, and it’s not a cheap underpowered hunk of chips. Starting at £799 – our trial is around £1,100 – it’s a powerful work laptop with a good dose of multimedia capabilities.

Rock Pegasus 335 Review

The last Rock notebook we tested was actually the previous version of this Pegasus, the 330. Spode consistently gave it an eight out of ten, but that was back in June of last year and of course the technology has evolved a bit since then. So will the new version still fly high or did the Pegasus have its wings cut off?

In terms of looks, the 335 bears more than a passing resemblance to the 330. It retains the black and silver theme and the exact same dimensions of 316mm x 224mm x 31.9-34.4mm, the weight also remains at 2.1 kg. In fact, physically it’s pretty much identical. I really like the clean and simple look and the rounded edges make it very comfortable to use.

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The screen size and resolution remain the same at 13.3 inches and 1280 x 768 respectively. It has a high-gloss contrast finish called X-Glass that really makes the glassy windows of Vista’s Aero finish stand out. Unfortunately, Aero’s rendering is about as much as the Intel 945GM graphics can handle, so you won’t be playing games with it.

However, the inclusion of a 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 ensures the 335 flies through any 2D work you throw at it. In fact, the Pegasus 335 has a feature that overclocks the CPU by five percent when it’s plugged in, giving you a nice boost when you’ve got some intense tasks to do. Our review unit shipped with 2GB of DDR2 memory, and based on our experience with Vista, it’s wise to go for that amount as well. The included hard drive is 100 GB and rotates at 7,200 rpm. You can also get slower 5400 RPM 120GB and 160GB drives. For maximum performance, however, I would stick with the 100GB hard drive. Then, if you really need more storage space, you can always use an external hard drive.

In terms of connectivity, the Pegasus 335 isn’t exactly packed to the brim, but you’ll find all the essentials are there. A modem socket, two USB 2.0 ports, a DVD burner and an SD/MMC/MS/MS Pro card slot are on the left. Along the front is a switch for turning the wireless network on and off, as well as headphone and microphone jacks.

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On the right side you will find a PC card slot, a third USB 2.0 port, a mini FireWire port, an S-Video out and an Ethernet port. Finally, the DC input and the VGA connector are located on the back. That’s a pretty standard list of ports, but the lack of a DVI-out and an ExpressCard slot may limit your options going forward.

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The keyboard is a delight with its responsive, well-weighted keys. Most of the buttons are where you expect them to be, with just a few exceptions. I’d prefer to see the left ctrl key just below the left shift key, as I regularly use keyboard shortcuts (e.g. copy and paste) and found that I kept hitting the Fn key instead. I’d also like to see the backslash key in its usual position – the left shift key could easily be shortened to accommodate it. As for the touchpad, it’s very sensitive and accurate, and my only complaint is that since it’s not recessed, it was easy to accidentally swipe your thumb over it and let the cursor fly across the screen.

The integrated speakers aren’t great, with little overall volume and obviously very little bass, but you can’t expect much from a notebook of this size. Of even greater concern is that the headphone jack has a constant background hiss that can be quite annoying if you’re using some sensitive headphones.

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There are two buttons next to the power button, both of which have unfamiliar markings. These are indeed two unique features of the Pegasus 300 range. The first is the InterVideo InstantOn button. When the computer is off, you can press this key to boot into a Linux-based media center. It has DVD, CD, MP3 and video players and a TV – a USB tuner is supplied with the notebook. The idea is that you need to avoid fully booting into Windows to take advantage of all these features. However, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it turns on instantly, as it takes about 15 seconds to start up. The software looks pretty snazzy but isn’t particularly intuitive to use and seemed to have trouble locating media on my computer. Also, since Vista has a built-in media center, you really have to worry about the extra 10-20 seconds it takes for Windows to boot to even bother using that. However, there are no Vista drivers for the included TV tuner yet, but Rock has assured me that the driver is on the way.

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The second button is the Silence button, which lowers the clock speed of the CPU so that the fan does not have to be turned on. The system is pretty quiet anyway, but this feature is certainly welcome for avoiding the fan kicking in while you’re watching a movie or listening to music, and of course you’ll extend battery life while this is on. Combined with automatic overclocking, this notebook gives you decent control over the balance between performance and battery life.

I tested the 335 using PCMark 05 and our in-house 2D benchmarks. Sysmark and MobileMark are still not compatible with Vista, so we can’t use them yet. Therefore, to test the battery life, I simply used the laptop until the battery died, and I managed to work with it for about three and a half hours. For comparison, I used the results of our test reports on the Sony VAIO VGN-C2SL and Samsung Q35. They are all based on similar platforms and roughly the same price.

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As you’d expect, the faster processor and larger amount of RAM means the Rock outperforms the rest across the board. The differences are generally between 10 and 40 percent, with the exception of the PCMark graphics score, which reflects the fact that all computers use the same weak graphics processor.

Overall I found the Pegasus 335 to be a joy to use – touchpad and shortcut slips aside – and for general everyday use I couldn’t fault it. However, I can’t help feeling that this notebook is just a little behind the competition. Using LEDs to backlight the screen would increase battery life and reduce weight. I’d also like to see a webcam built into the display bezel, and there’s no Bluetooth. After all, without an ExpressCard slot, you’re limiting yourself for future expansion.

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If you’re looking for a decent notebook that’s portable yet powerful, then the Rock Pegasus 335 is for you. However, like the Sony Vaio VGN-C2SL, the Samsung Q35 offers more features, weighs less and costs less, and would still get my vote in the end.

Rock Pegasus 335 Review
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Unlike other websites, we thoroughly test every laptop we review over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to properly compare features. We will always tell you what we find. We never accept money to rate a product.

Learn more about how we test in our Ethics Policy.

Used as our main laptop during the period

Tested for at least a week

Consistent benchmarks used for fair comparisons to other laptops

Verified against recognized industry benchmarks and real-world usage

points in detail

  • performance 9

  • value 7

  • functions 7

Rock Pegasus 335 Review | Read More »