Back in July of last year Steelseries announced two headsets specifically designed for Xbox 360 gaming: the Spectrum 5xb and 4xb, and over the last couple of weeks we’ve had our hands on the former of these to see how well it matches up not only to the pretty good pedigree that Steelseries have created for themselves but also against the competition.
The SteelSeries Spectrum 5xB Gaming Headset is their first (or more correctly, the better of their first two) headsets specifically designed for gaming on the Xbox 360 which means that not only do they come with the usual headset paraphernalia but also a neat little box that allows you to adjust the audio from your Xbox to ‘optimise your gaming experience’.Continue reading »
Just over a year ago we took a look at CleanMyMac, a utility from MacPaw that removes any unnecessary language files and universal binary files from your OS X drive and leaves you with more space to play around with for more important things, like your music.
Coming from a company named MacPaw, I never expected the utility to make its way over to Windows, but sure enough the developers have decided to venture into a world already containing free software such as CCleaner. Is it likely to be a successful move, or should MacPaw have stayed on Apple’s side of the fence? Let’s check out CleanMyPC for Windows!Continue reading »
Amazon has been growing its arsenal of tablet worthy software and services for some time now, and from a business standpoint it makes perfect sense to enter a market in which it is already so familiar. With the Cloud Drive, their controversial cloud-based music streaming service already available, and a number of other digital distribution networks for the many forms of media commonly demanded on tablets, Amazon is all set to head straight to the top of the increasingly congested tablet market, with a potentially impressive combination of tablet hardware and software.
One of the key services that will undoubtedly be implemented onto an Amazon tablet will be Kindle functionality. Amazon’s eBook service is far and away industry leading, it sells more eBooks than physical hardbacks now, and is already hosted on its own hardware as well as being available as an app on every other device under the sun (almost). But could this be a hinderance to the large scale adoption of an Amazon tablet?Continue reading »
Sidefolders for Mac OS X is a simple utility that’s available from the Mac App Store – it positions a drawer-style pane on your desktop, in which you can store links to any files and/or folders you currently have on your Mac. The premise of the app is extremely good, offering quick access to those hard to reach places that you have to dive into fairly regularly.
You can decide whether you want Sidefolders docked on either the left or right of the desktop, which may depend on your preference regarding the OS X dock. Down the inner tab of the pane, you have a few controls. ‘+’ and ‘-’ are pretty self explanatory, in that they allow you to add or remove directories to your Sidefolders pane, and underneath that there’s a typical settings icon. Clicking it opens a simple context menu, which allows you to quickly hide or show the default directories, switch the position of the pane to the other side of the screen, check out what Sidefolders is about, or quit the app. You can also set it to open on startup, which is helpful as ever.Continue reading »
For the last few months, in fact since the announcement of the 3DS, we have all had mixed feelings regarding the state of 3D technology. The small screen, in my opinion, negates the necessity for 3D, providing only a strain on power and subsequently precious battery life, as illustrated perfectly by the Nintendo 3DS, which has an almost embarrassing endurance.
The thing is, though, 3D is moving fast. So fast, in fact, it may not even be worth buying a 3DTV right now, instead saving your pennies for a day when 3D does not require the awkward and sometimes expensive glasses.Continue reading »
If you’re like me, or the millions of other ordinary folk on this wonderfully rewarding planet of ours, then you need to keep a track of your finances. There are any number of tools about that can help you do this, some even provided by the banks, but I’ve been reluctant to take the plunge and spend a great deal of my hard-earned money on an all-inclusive finance management package just to keep track of a few outgoings here and there.
But, then I came across the Account Tracker iOS app, and on the face of it, it’s the ideal, simple solution for just noting down what you’re spending and producing a few forecasts here and there so I know how much to spend and save each month. Well, I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks now so here’s the full review.Continue reading »
Haven’t you heard? USB 3.0 is all the rage nowadays! At least until Thunderbolt takes centre stage anyway… We’ve checked out a few super speed USB peripherals in the past here at Zath, including LaCie’s FastKey and Startech’s Hard Drive dock, but what happens when all of those new peripherals of yours are too much for the ports built in to your machine to handle? You need a high speed hub, of course!
The TruLink USB 3.0 Hub contains four ports, but the unit itself is deceptively small compared to the mock-ups of the product that we saw upon release. The top of the device is coated with a material that is given a brushed metal look, and it looks great compared to a lot of the cheaper USB 3.0 hubs you are likely to see on the market.Continue reading »
Almost a decade ago, a small group of relative unknowns from the relatively unknown nation of Estonia developed what would later become known as Skype. From a diminutive background, the Internet Telephony software has endured a turbulent history, a series of name changes and an ‘interesting’ takeover by eBay back in the latter end 2005.
As a result, the growth of Skype has been exponential, and it’s branched onto all manner of platforms, and the end product is a gargantuan buyout by software behemoth Microsoft. A wise move? Certainly from Microsoft’s point of view, but is it in the interest of the consumer? And will it have any knock on effects for the loyal user base? All questions that need answering. Urgently.Continue reading »
Almost every office in the world has a collection of computers, yet paper seems to be as stubborn as Windows XP: it just won’t disappear. The hunt for a truly paperless office is still ongoing, and it doesn’t look like we’re going to get there anytime soon. If you’re a Mac user, though, you may be able to take the first step with Paperless.
Paperless for Mac does exactly what it says on the tin: helps you to get rid of all those messy collections of paper and digitalise your life; it can take care of everything from receipts to the electricity bill. The developers of Paperless kindly gave us a review copy of the application, so let’s take a look at how it performs!Continue reading »
We all knew that this would be announced one day, even if it has taken longer for news of Wii 2 to arrive, well now Nintendo have officially come out with the announcement that the Wii 2 will be unveiled in June at E3 2011 with a release date of late 2012 and there’s now news and rumours appearing.
An official name is yet to be released for Wii’s successor, but it currently has a working title of Project Cafe and there are rumours of the console being called ‘Stream’.Continue reading »
Everyone is well aware of the recent PSN hack that has caused Sony no ends of problems, not to mention the 77 million PSN users whose details have been stolen. It’s been two weeks since the hack and still the PSN is down, infuriating gamers still. But Sony have released some details of their ‘Welcome Back’ offer to all registered PSN users.
Every user of PSN will get a free month subscription of Playstation Plus, including those who are already signed up to the service. On top of that, users will be receiving some free “entertainment content” which is going to be different for each region, but no details have emerged as yet as to what each region will get.Continue reading »
It was criticised at first, many calling it no more than a giant iPod Touch, and that was probably the reason I promised myself I would wait for at least the second rendition of Apple’s tablet before I hopped aboard the bandwagon.
Not because I didn’t like the iPad since of course, it was ‘magical’. But more because it was obvious to me that the tablet industry would take time to truly discover itself, and it’s questionable as to whether the point has yet been reached when people know what tablets are for, exactly. I mean, it’s clear that each manufacturer has it’s own view as to what a tablet should be, with many opting for smaller screens, slide-out physical keyboards or what have you, but one thing is clear: nothing quite came close to the original iPad.Continue reading »
We’re slowly transitioning in to a more cloud orientated computing world, where our files are stored on Dropbox, our documents managed in Google Docs and our social lives managed on Facebook (or something along those lines). However, one very common scenario for me is the frustration of wanting to quickly share a file with someone over IM, only to find that their client doesn’t support the transfer protocol, or that they are using Facebook chat and can’t accept incoming files.
Sure, you could put a file in your shared Dropbox folder and copy the URL, but it isn’t very seamless. CloudApp takes a different, far simpler approach to file sharing on the net. You can simply take a file on your hard drive, drag it on to the icon in the menu bar, et voilà! The URL to the file is put in your clipboard ready to share. Simple huh?Continue reading »
Every Mac now ships with QuickTime X, which has been re-built for 64-bit compatibility, looks great and has a few nifty features thrown in for good measure. The only problem with QuickTime is that, well, it doesn’t exactly play a lot of formats. In fact apart from the odd .mov or .mp4 video file, it won’t play anything! At least not without some third-party from Perian.
On the flipside of that coin you’ll find VLC Media Player. It’s a powerhouse in terms of the formats that it can handle; throw anything at it from .mkv to .avi and beyond, and it will find a way to give you video playback. So what’s the problem then? For those that care about aesthetics VLC isn’t exactly up there with the best, especially compared to QT.Continue reading »
It’s been a while since we last took an in depth look at Linux – we had a Linux training week early last year – and a lot has changed since then. Gnome 2, the default desktop environment on many distributions since the first time I dabbled with Linux, has been replaced by both Ubuntu and Fedora. Ubuntu now runs on a desktop environment previously only available on Netbook editions called ‘Unity’ and Fedora 15 is the first major distribution to come with Gnome 3 out of the box.
It’s for this reason that the new version of Ubuntu is so crucial in the future of the distribution. This isn’t just another 6-monthly update, it’s a completely different direction for both the developers and users alike. Switching to an entirely new interface is risky for any piece of software, but when you’re one of the most popular Linux operating systems out there it can be a dangerous move. If people don’t like Unity then they can easily switch to a different distribution — after all, there are more than enough out there.Continue reading »
The eBook lending service Overdrive has been distributing digital content via the web for over a decade now, and has gathered an enormous arsenal of digital content in the form of eBooks, audiobooks, music and video, that amounts to over half a million titles. For years now, it has focussed intently on the eBook arena, and offering an old-fashioned library-style approach to lending books in the ePub format – an open and widely adopted format for eBooks – in contrast to the Amazon Kindle‘s proprietary system based on the Mobipocket format. There are many issues with this, namely the debate over DRM restrictions placed on them. Anyway, let’s cut to the chase, shall we? Amazon is now partnering with Overdrive to offer US users, at least, the opportunity to borrow books for a set period of time in the .mobi format for their Kindles.Continue reading »
One could argue that with social networking and IM services freely available across the internet, email has lost some relevance in the past few years. However, 107 trillion emails were sent in 2010 with an average of 294 billion emails being sent every single day. That’s a lot of email being sent from one end of the globe to the other (or from one room to another… people are so lazy these days!), so you need a client that you can rely on to manage everything going on behind the scenes for you.
Many clients such as Thunderbird and Postbox follow a similar formula: give users a big window full of awesome tools that not many people know how to fully use, fill it with lots of dialog boxes and panes and let people manage their email as well as they can.Continue reading »
Considering how long it took many of us to be wrestled away from the clutches of Windows XP – the 2001 operating system has only just succumbed to Windows 7 in US market share last month – it may surprise users to learn that Windows 8 is just around the corner.
Rumours are still mounting up across the internet following the leak of an early version of the new operating system, and a series of screenshots supposedly showing an App Store in Windows 8 have flamed speculation that Microsoft is moving towards a more controlled app model for its new operating system.Continue reading »
Back when Steam was finally released on the Mac, many users (myself included) got their first taste of the original physics-based puzzle game: Portal. It was unique in so many ways and earned rave reviews from even the most critical of judges thanks to it’s relaxing, yet challenging tests; humerous, yet at time frustratingly difficult characters; and altogether brilliant storyline, gameplay and visuals.
However, one criticism of the original though, was its length. It really was a game that could be completed in just a couple of hours, and that grinds with many people who were left wanting more of such a potentially classic title.Continue reading »
When it comes to user interface design, the vast majority of Mac developers create stunning interfaces for their applications that blend in to OS X and make it really user for the user to get around. Just take a look at Things for Mac or iStudiez Pro for a examples of how a Macintosh user interface should be designed.
Now, take a look at Skype 5 for Mac OS X. This, folks, is how NOT to create a user interface on the Mac. In jumping two whole version numbers from Skype 2.8 straight up to Skype 5 the development team has seemingly forgot the platform for which it is developing, leaving Mac users with a Windows-like interface that looks clumsy, wastes space and moves in the wrong direction from the previous version.Continue reading »