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Games for Christmas: PC on Earth

PC GAMES: A quick look at some good game titles this Christmas

IT is the most exciting time of year for retailers and children alike as we are bombarded by adverts from all directions and the kiddy winkles are putting their finishing touches to their Christmas wish lists.

If your children are as demanding as most they’ll probably be nagging for the latest and greatest gadgetry goods this year. I imagine it must be tough having to explain what a recession is to a young child and argue that Apple iPads and Xboxes just aren’t in Santa’s budget this year.

But, if you already have a workable PC installed at home, games as gifts are the perfect solution to making everyone happy this Christmas. PC games are not frightfully expensive these days and I can assure you from experience that there is nothing more exciting than being given a new game to play for Christmas.

I have compiled a list of a few great PC games that cover several genres and are suitable for a variety of ages. It is also useful to know that most PC games today are not gender-specific. What may have once been considered as boys’ games are now being played considerably by the growing number of girl gamers.

Civilization V (ages 16+): R360 (PC)

Civilization VSid Meier’s award-winning Civilization series is a treat to the mind that will appeal to strategy gamers who enjoy turn-based games. Civilization takes one back to the beginnings of time where you can play as one of the great leaders from history. Discover new technologies and lands, build great wonders, forge alliances and sign treaties as you lead your people through time.

Civilization is a challenging game that promises hours of unique gaming. The previous release (Civilization IV) is now available for only R66 and includes three expansion packs.

Fallout New Vegas (R18): R350 (PC)

Fallout New VegasIn a post-apocalyptic world set in the not too distant future, you are one of several survivors who were preserved in underground vaults. After humanity emerges from living underground for generations, they have already begun to form tribes and allegiances. Conflict is inevitable as different tribes compete for clean water and survival, but one city has mysteriously been preserved from complete destruction. That city is New Vegas.

Stunning visuals and complete immersiveness make this game a personal favourite of mine. Outcomes differ depending on how you play the game and engage with its moral choice system. Just a warning: Fallout does have a gambling component and suggestions of prostitution — hence the age restriction.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (ages 16+):

The Elder Scrolls IV: OblivionThe Elder Scrolls places the player in the fantasy realm of Cyrodil — set in the Middle Ages. Made by the same company as Fallout 3, this game is equally stunning and immersive. Players are given endless quests which may see you fighting in the arena or battling mythical creatures with both magic and steel.

The Elder Scrolls is a great example of a sandbox game, whereby the player can literally venture where he or she pleases until the edge of the map. Like Fallout 3, it also features a weather system­, whereby players will experience rain, snow or shine and changes between day and night.

The game is not excessively violent or naughty, but perhaps a little complex for younger players.

Zoo TycoonZoo Tycoon 2 (ages 3+): R309 (PC)

From Railroad Tycoon to Zoo Tycoon — these games are great educational simulators. Players will learn the fundamentals of zoo upkeep and design in a fun and visually stimulating way. Zoo Tycoon is available with four expansion packs, namely the Zookeeper collection, the Marine Mania collection, Endangered Species and the Extinct Animals expansion pack.

Need for Speed Hot PursuitNeed for Speed: Hot Pursuit (ages 12+): R303 (PC)

If your offspring are into fast cars and adrenaline rushes (i.e. racing games) you need look no further than the Need for Speed series. Hot Pursuit is one of the more popular releases that will make car fans drool at the well-rendered graphics and sporty cars they get to drive.

Fifa 2011 (ages 3+): R308 (PC)

The ever successful Fifa series is back with Fifa 2011 released this year. Football games are a lot of fun with a lot of effort put into their design. Players look like the real deal, stadia are modelled­ accurately and the roar and buzz of the fans creates a high-energy atmosphere.

Fifa 2011Fifa 2010 is a good choice considering that the World Cup was hosted by our country this year. Unfortunately this release is currently out of stock; but if it becomes available again before Christmas it is selling for just R129.

GAMES BARGAIN BIN:

(these are games I haven’t personally played, but have certainly heard of. Suitable for all ages):

  • Ultimate Monster Trucks R14
  • Football Manager 2007 R14
  • Winter Games R14
  • Puzzle Quest R90
  • Zoo Tycoon (stand alone) R66

NOTE: All PC games mentioned here are available at www.take2.co.za which is also offering free shipping this festive season on all orders over R350. Games may be available in stores or on other shopping websites, yet prices may differ.

Happy gaming and Merry Christmas!

Bring on Broadband Baby!

NEWS: Motorola ships 10 000th WiMAX access point base site

WiMAX leader’s second WiMAX shipment milestone follows shipment of one millionth CPE device, helping further its efforts to bring broadband everywhere.

Motorola, Inc.’s Home & Networks Mobility business announced that it has shipped its 10 000th 802.16e WiMAX Access Point (WAP) base site. This milestone shipment represents more than a 40% compound annual growth rate since Motorola’s first WiMAX access points were shipped in 2007.

Motorola’s WAP portfolio includes a variety of solutions designed to meet specific needs for coverage and capacity. The 2.3GHz, 2.5GHz, and 3.5GHz models currently shipping include the WAP 400 with 2×2 antenna technology and the WAP 450 – a higher power 2×2 unit. In addition, the WAP 800 in the 3.5GHz has the versatility to support both coverage and capacity models with 4×8 beam-forming antenna technology.

The recently announced 4×4 WAP 650, which is an easy field upgrade from the WAP 450, offers operators 30% reduction in total cost of ownership compared to average 2×2 base stations. Each new generation of the WAP product line is designed with improved energy efficiency to be eco-friendly and reduce operating costs. For example, there is a more than 100% relative energy efficiency improvement from the first to second generation radio frequency (RF) unit.

“This shipment milestone is further evidence of the success we’ve achieved in delivering mobile WiMAX,” said Bruce Brda, senior vice president and general manager of  Motorola Home & Networks Mobility. “Motorola, the No. 1 market share leader in WiMAX, is committed to 802.16e mobile WiMAX and to the future path of WiMAX 802.16m. In fact, Motorola is on the IEEE 802.16m Task Group m leadership board and helped design the 16m standard.”

Motorola has been a pioneer in developing mobile WiMAX since 2005 when it was one of the first companies to declare its support solely behind 802.16e. Motorola now stands poised to help launch the next iteration of this mobile broadband technology, 802.16m – also known as WiMAX Release 2, with continued development of its WiMAX portfolio.

Motorola has more than 35 WiMAX contracts in every region of the world, in 2.3 GHz, 2.5 GHz, and 3.5 GHz, including the recently announced deal with Imagine in Ireland. Its WiMAX customers, which range from Greenfield to mature operators, are delivering fixed, nomadic, and mobile service to meet their unique market needs and business requirements.

For more information on Motorola’s WiMAX solutions, please visit www.motorola.com/wimax. For updates visit www.mediaexperiences2go.com or follow them on Twitter at www.twitter.com/motomobilemedia.

Samsung R610 notebook review

REVIEW: Samsung R610 – a new noteworthy notebook

LAPTOPS may have been all the rage in 2008, but now attention has shifted to focus on their slimmer counterparts, namely notebooks and netbooks. It seems that slimness and light-weight mobile devices will always win favour over heftier ones, and none is lighter than the Samsung R610.

Weighing in at around 2.7kgs, the Samsung R610 is part of the latest generation of notebook PCs. It may be the lightest notebook currently available, yet it does have a hefty price-tag (close to R10 000). However, after playing with one for a week I’m confident that you get what you pay for. Let’s take a closer look.

Samsung R610 notebook

Operating system
The Samsung R610 should come equipped with either Windows Vista Ultimate or Windows 7 Ultimate – the latter being the latest operating system to date. If you are currently a Vista user, Windows 7 should be a warm welcome. It is the most user-friendly operating system I have ever experienced and by far the most visually-appealing.

If you shave off what Windows 7 Ultimate would have cost if purchased separately (roughly R2000), the cost of the notebook in question may seem less frightening.

CyberLink DVD Suite
Unlike netbooks (which are specifically designed and optimised for web-browsing and related activity), the Samsung R610 notebook encourages users to engage in multimedia production. It offers a software package called CyberLink DVD Suite, which has great programs such as PowerProducer and PowerDirector, which are all you need for managing data, photos, music, movies, creating DVDs and backing up your content.

What’s the difference between notebooks, netbooks and laptops?

  • LAPTOPS are mobile computers with full-sized keyboards, flip up monitors and space for built in optical or floppy disk storage drives. They are not usually as powerful as desktop PCs.
  • NOTEBOOKS are often referred to as portable “desktop replacement” PCs, which can do as any normal computer can. The latest models have full-sized keyboards as well as relatively large storage drives. In other words, a notebook is a more potent laptop.
  • NETBOOKS are ultra-mobile computers with keyboards smaller than full size and therefore a lot smaller than laptops and notebooks. They are designed and optimised for Internet use and can handle small programs such as MP3 players.

Touchpad
I have never quite managed to get used to using the touchpads on laptops as appose to a standard mouse. I’d rather plug in a mouse even if it’s a miniature one. Unfortunately the touchy bit on the Samsung R610 is smaller than usual and a bit of a nightmare to use. To make matters worse it has a scroll function on the same pad which changes the function of the mouse pointer into a scroller. This is really annoying if you fingertip ventures too far to the right, which will happen unless you’re a veteran laptop user.

I don’t understand why they don’t make the touchpad bigger, or at least separate the scroll function by placing it further away. There seems to be a lot of wasted space alongside the touchpad, which I would call a design flaw.

Keyboard
What often puts a lot of people off ever buying a laptop is the idea that the keyboard is a lot smaller than that of a desktop PC. It’s hard enough trying to operate a cellphone with small keys if you don’t have the slim and nimble fingers of a 13-year-old. However, this is not the case with most notebooks – the keys are simply more compact and just as easy to use as any standard keyboard.

Samsung R610 notebookLaptop keyboards have also taken things a step further by introducing function keys. When pressed, these give certain keys on the keyboard additional functions, such as checking battery life, adjusting monitor settings and managing volume control.

Battery
Battery life may be a second major concern for those considering buying a laptop. While some standard laptops can’t get more than two hours work done before going to bed, the Samsung R610’s battery can last for over three hours.

However, it’s important to note that battery life is relative to what you use your device for. There is a useful function key that makes it easy to monitor how much battery life you have left and I’m confident that it’s reliable enough to keep you entertained on a long trip.

Screen
The Samsung R610 has a sixteen inch HD gloss screen. I treated myself with a huge HD Samsung screen over Christmas last year and have never looked back. The picture quality of Samsung screens is really something to be admired, especially when viewing something recorded in HD. However, even watching low-quality videos on a smaller notebook screen will still look better than expected.

Other features
To be honest I can’t actually think of anything that the Samsung R610 doesn’t have. Apart from the above, it has 4 USB ports (for inserting flash-drives, cameras, external hard-drives or a good old-fashioned mouse), a 3-in-1 SD card slot (for quickly uploading photos), a slot for attaching a camcorder, a DVD drive, micro-phone and headphone holes and an internal 1.3 mega-pixel webcam (great for Skype).

It really has everything you could want in a well-designed notebook that will certainly make a statement. If you’re prepared to spend ten grand I would certainly recommend the Samsung R610. Christmas is right around the corner and prices might even drop during the festive season. It would make a great end of the year treat. Feel free to email me for my address details 🙂

Samsung R610 notebook specs

• Operating System: Windows Vista Home Premium or Windows 7 Ultimate.
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T6400 (2.00GHz, 800MHz, 2MB).
System Memory: 3GB (DDR2 / 1GB x 1 + 2GB x 1 ).
LCD: 16” HD (1366 x 768) 16:9 Gloss.
Graphic Processor: nVIDIA GeForce Go 9200M GS; HDMI ouput.
Sound: HD (High Definition) Audio; 4W Stereo Speaker (2W x 2).
Multimedia Player: Play AVStation.
Camera: 1.3MP Web Camera.
Storage: HDD: 250GB (5,400rpm S-ATA).
ODD: Super Multi Dual Layer (S-ATA).
• Connectivity: Wired Ethernet LAN: Gigabit LAN.
Wireless LAN: Intel 802.11a/b/g/n 1 x 2 (MIMO).
Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR; 4 x USB 2.0
• Multi Card Slot: 3-in-1 (SD, SDHC, MMC).
Keyboard: 100 Key (Silver Nano Anti-Bacteria Keyboard).
Battery: standard 6-cell, (up to 3 hours battery-life).
AC Adapter: 90W.
Dimensions: 379.2 x 265.2 x 31.8 — 38.45mm.
Weight: 2.75kg

Related Review: The Samsung NC10 netbook

Samsung S3500: Budget Bundle

REVIEW: The Samsung S3500 Quad-band

Samsung S3500I’VE had the same brand of cellphone since I was 16, and that’s not because I’ve had the same phone since I was 16. On the contrary, I’ve been through about seven phones in the last eight years.

There was my first phone that drowned in a fishpond, another that committed suicide by jumping out of a six-storey window, a third phone that died in a freak electrical-induced accident, and a few others that were simply tossed aside because something sexier and more exciting had come to town.

But of all the phones I’ve had in my life, they’ve all had one thing in common — they all belonged to the same brand. My current phone is the same brand. I believe this is because of a fundamentally human thing — that we tend to resist change, especially in the technology department. There is something comforting about the familiar and we don’t want to have to faff about learning something new when we already have something old that works perfectly fine.

This brings me to the Samsung S3500, which was a pleasant introduction to Samsung mobile phones. This model seems to be marketed as a fairly up-to-date budget phone, because apparently we’re in some kind of merciless economic recession. It’s not a bad marketing strategy, although I would argue that what actually appeals to consumers the most is the idea of paying less for more.

And it’s not a bad bundle that you get for around R3 000 (prepaid).

It has one unique function called “fake call” which is a little strange. This function enables you to activate a bogus incoming call so you can free yourself from awkward conversations or dodgy situations by pretending to take a call.

It has EDGE connectivity capabilities, an embedded music player, FM radio, Bluetooth, a WAP browser and a camera, among other things. It also looks really slick and there is something very pleasing about a slider phone.

Let’s take a closer look (a full list of specs appear at the end of this post):

DISPLAY
The Samsung’s display, on the other hand, is great, with each of the main keys of the D-pad bringing up a different set of options. It is easy to navigate and all the functions are neatly displayed on the main menu. It has a nice selection of themes, the icons are large and the screen is bright. Top marks for presentation.

SOUND
One thing that cellphones today are really starting to perfect is the way they sound. Gone are the days of fake-sounding, mosquito-like noises emanating from phones as they ring. Most mobiles today sound so good that they make for great portable radios and MP3 players. The Samsung S3500 is both and they sound great.

KEYPAD
Until this year I had always been reluctant to get a phone on contract. The thought that yet another phone might drown or kill itself, leaving me with the responsibility of having to pay for it every month for two years, doesn’t really appeal to me.

However, one needs to consider that as long as you take good, vigilant care of your cellphone, having one on contract should be a lot cheaper in the long run. I am finally content with my current phone with the exception of its keypad, which is very similar to that of the Samsung S3500.

I find these newer, flat and hard keypads difficult to operate, especially when trying to type an SMS in a hurry. This does not bode well for someone who SMSes more than he/she phones.

My fondest memory of my very first phone was its spongy buttons, which almost massaged one’s fingers. With these flatter, more plastic-like keypads, such as that of the Samsung S3500, I find that I have to use my fingernail to type … if it hasn’t yet been chewed off from frustration.

GAMES
The Samsung S3500 has a large library of games, which tells me that this phone is really suited for the teenage market. The phone comes with seven free games with the option of downloading more. And these are not the standard, outdated games such as Snake, but classier, more challenging digitalised treats such as Harry Potter, Midnight Pool and Sudoku.

If mobile games are your thing, these should keep you entertained for hours.

INTERNET
As soon as I read “Quad-band” on the side of the Samsung S3500’s box I got rather excited as I expected to experience lightning-fast Internet speeds. However, if you have experienced ADSL Internet speeds, then connecting to the web using this phone (or most phones for that matter) is nothing special and can be painfully slow. To make matters worse, this particular model doesn’t have 3G capabilities, which can be a bummer.

CAMERA
Considering that most modern phones today have five-megapixel cameras, the Samsung S3500’s two- mega pixel camera is a bit of a disappointment. It’s fine for taking photos (and even video) to view on the phone itself, but if you are wanting to preserve your mobile memories by printing out your pictures from your phone, this one really isn’t quite up to the task.

OTHER FEATURES
With the exception of 3G and GPS, there seems to be very little that the Samsung S3500 is missing when compared to other cellphones of 2009. It has a standard phonebook and messaging interface, the usual call log, a separate folder for all your downloaded or produced content, an organiser with a clock, alarm, calendar, calculator and converter, a voice recorder, timer, stopwatch and numbered buttons from one to nine.

FAKE CALL
There is, however, one unique function called “fake call”, which is a little strange. Many of Samsung’s more recent handsets include this feature, which enables you to activate a bogus incoming call, so you can free yourself from awkward conversations or dodgy situations by pretending to take a call.

For added authenticity, you can record your own fake voice “call” that plays back when you answer. Potentially useful perhaps, but don’t be caught using it!

Apart from that, the Samsung S3500 is nothing too special but is a decent upgrade if you currently have on older Samsung model. I think I’ll stick to my particular cellphone brand for now and simply avoid getting too close to fishponds, hanging around high-rise windows, and make an extra effort to stay away from electrical experiments.

SAMSUNG S3500 SPECS:

  • GPS: No
  • Java: Yes, MIDP 2,0
  • Games: 7 + downloadable
  • Bluetooth 2,0 + EDR and USB
  • Messaging: SMS, MMS, e-mail
  • Size: 100 mm x 48 mm x 14 mm
  • 2-megapixel camera (1600×1200 pixels)
  • FM radio with RDS and recording feature
  • MicroSD card support with up to 8GB support
  • 30MB of internal memory • Phonebook: 1 000 contacts
  • EDGE: Class 10; 236,8 kbps • Browser: WAP 2,0/xHTML, HTML
  • 2,2-inch TFT; QVGA resolution (240 x 320), 16 million colours
  • Quad-band GSM/EDGE connectivity (850/900/1800/1900 MHz)
  • Standard Li-Ion 800mAh battery with talk time of up to 7,5 hours
  • Embedded music player supports MP3/AAC/AAC +/MIDIplayback
  • Video: Record 15 f/s QVGA video in MPEG4 and H.263 formats (playback in 25 f/s QVGA)

Related Reviews:
Jet-setting with the Samsung Jet
Samsung Corby: Teen dream machine

Let’s do the Twisp!

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NEW AGE SMOKING: Kick the habit with an electronic cigarette

The newest 'desgins' of the Twisp electronic cigarette

The newest 'desgins' of the Twisp electronic cigarette

AS someone who smoked cigarettes for a few years (and still experiences moments of weakness, especially when alcohol comes into the mix), some might find it strange that I am a complete advocate for anti-smoking laws. In fact, I look forward to the day when smoking in public is banned entirely and punishable by law, at least for my future children’s sake.

And it seems that it won’t be long before this happens. Some new laws under the Tobacco Act were signed recently which make smoking illegal in “any partially enclosed” public place (areas like covered patios, verandas, balconies in apartment buildings, covered walkways and parking lots). Also in the pipeline is making smoking illegal in sports stadia, on railway platforms, at bus stops, in fully outdoor areas where food is served, and outside the entrances to buildings.

This may be a little extreme, but I fully agree with banning smoking in partially enclosed areas. I used to sneak outside whenever the craving set in so as not to bother anyone. In my estimation, lighting up in a small enclosed room is worse than breaking wind deliberately. At least the latter doesn’t linger as long.

Some scary facts & figures
Now there is a reason to be more considerate, as any breach of the above anti-smoking laws carries a maximum fine of R50 000 payable by the pub, bar, workplace or restaurant owner and R500 payable by the individual smoker.

This may be enough to discourage non-smokers from carelessly taking up the habit, but the real goal is to get the 22% of adult South Africans who continue to smoke to quit. I know from experience that this is no easy task. I’ve witnessed people try several different methods to help them quit, ranging from the “scientifically guaranteed” to the most bizarre self-remedies.

anti-smoking lawsThe strangest case was that of my grandfather. He basically went cold turkey but still carried cigarettes with him. He would simply pretend to smoke without actually lighting his cigarette, replacing it with a new one whenever it got a little soggy. It was really strange to watch.

But now there is now finally an alternative that the tobacco companies can be really afraid of — the electronic cigarette, or more specifically, the Twisp. Here’s a description from the Twisp Electronic Cigarette website:

“Twisp is not a real cigarette, but a personal and portable vapouriser, that uses micro-electronics and a lithium polymer cell to evaporate nicotine in ‘smoke’ from a replaceable cartridge. The vapour does not smell nor does it contain tar, carcinogens or smoke particulate found in first and second- hand cigarette smoke, but it feels, tastes and looks just like the real thing. Best of all you can ‘smoke’ your nicotine machine virtually ANYWHERE!”

Being able to ‘smoke’ one of these devices ANYWHERE may be questionable, but if the law had to fine someone for smoking a Twisp they may as well fine anyone who burns incense or wears pungent perfume.

The smell and taste of a Twisp has been described as similar to a hookah pipe. Like hookah tobaccos, Twisp cartridges are available in a variety of flavours and strengths, including tobacco, vanilla, coffee, chocolate, cherry, strawberry and mint — all in high, medium, low and zero nicotine concentrations.

Similar to a cellphone, Twisp batteries require a deep cycle charge before first use for eight hours or overnight. After which one to three hours will completely charge the battery (depending on the model).

Similar to a cellphone, Twisp batteries require a deep cycle charge before first use for eight hours or overnight. After which one to three hours will completely charge the battery (depending on the model).

The device consists of a battery (white part), an atomiser (silver part) and a cartridge (yellow/orange part), and comes with five replacable cartridges. An optional purchase is a small jar of liquid, which contains propylene glycol, water, flavour and nicotine. This can be used to refill the cartridges or dripped directly onto the atomiser to create a superior amount of flavour and vapour.

In essence, a Twisp is a miniature atomiser which heats the ingredients to the point of vapourisation. When someone puffs the Twisp, a flow sensor activates the rechargeable lithium polymer battery, which starts the process of atomising, heating and evaporation, creating a thick vapour that looks like smoke.

What is in it?

  • Propylene Glycol is a common food grade additive, generally regarded as safe by the Food and Drug Administration and used to suspend flavour and create the simulated smoke. It is also found in toothpaste, mouthwash and as a humectant in tobacco products (keeps tobacco moist).
  • Nicotine is an alkaloid found in certain plants, predominantly tobacco, and in much lower quantities in tomatoes, potatoes, bringles (eggplants) and green peppers. Nicotine itself isn’t carcinogenic (a cancer causing agent) nor does not have any mutagenic properties.

Because a Twisp doesn’t burn tobacco, the vapour you are inhaling is free of hazardous smoke particulates, tar and carcinogenic compounds produced when tobacco and additives are burned. There is no smokey smell nor does the vapour stain teeth or fabric.

To be extra safe a Twisp has a built-in safety mechanism to prevent the user inhaling more than 15 times in a minute. If the device feels that it is being dragged too hard for too long it shuts down and LED flashes for a short period of time.

How long does it last?
Electronic cigarette smokers are no longer compelled to smoke the entire cigarette, so about 10 puffs is the average use. The “mini” cartridges last between 10 to 15 cigarettes, the classic carts between 30 to 40 cigarettes. Liquids last about 300 to 400 cigarettes per 10 ml and the cigars between 1 800 to 2 000 puffs or 200 cigarettes.

  • The Twisp mini is available for around R800 and comes with five refillable cartridges and a three- month warranty. If you are the average 20 a day smoker and use a Twisp as an alternative to smoking, it should pay for itself in fewer than six weeks.

Twisp is only intended for smokers with a pre-existing nicotine addiction. It is also not recommended for pregnant or lactating women, or those sensitive to nicotine or propylene glycol. It is not for sale to children under the age of 18.

Make way for Shweebways

SHWEEBS: personal pedal-powered pods

TRAFFIC jams. Being stuck in traffic has got to be in the top five on the list of peoples’ most hated things in the world – right after Bob Mugabe, taxes, Telkom and getting toffee stuck on the roof of your mouth.

I have seen murder develop in the eyes of the calmest looking drivers when caught between throngs of cars. It’s hard not to get slightly ticked off and lose it – suddenly finding yourself bashing your way through the metallic queue, foot flat on the pedal, with a criminal reputation mounting up, and laughing hysterically.

No. We need to restrain ourselves from doing that. I find that the best self-therapy is to turn up the air-con (or heater), wind up the windows thus blocking out the sounds of hooting and swearing, and listen to Bob Marley.

The Shweeb monorail system consists of two 200 metre long overhead rail circuits that vary in height between two and four meters above the ground. Under the tracks hang high performance pedal powered vehicles. Between one and five vehicles can be loaded onto each track enabling teams to race each other or race against the clock.

The Shweeb monorail system consists of two 200 metre long overhead rail circuits that vary in height between two and four meters above the ground. Under the tracks hang high performance pedal powered vehicles. Between one and five vehicles can be loaded onto each track enabling teams to race each other or race against the clock.

However, our traffic nightmares may soon come to an end thanks to an invention known as the Shweeb. And this is not just some fancy new swearword, but the world’s first human-powered monorail.

“Shweeb” means “to float” in German, and is a self-enclosed, pedal-powered pod which is already in use at an amusement park in New Zealand. The team of designers who developed the Shweeb not only see the pod as a vehicle of amusement, but as an environmentally-friendly replacement for personal motor vehicles in traffic congested cities.

The idea was conceived by designer Geoffrey Barnett while on holiday in Tokyo – one of the world’s most heavily conjested cities. Barnett implemented the idea in his adventure park – Agroventures – in New Zealand, which is partially a proof-of-concept for an ingenious, high efficiency, no emission urban transport system.

How it works
The Shweeb uses a monorail system to guide users along a pre-determined path, with each pod being powered by the rider. According to the official Shweeb website, to travel in a Shweeb takes only half the energy required to ride a regular bicycle, and only 1/3 the energy of a mountain bike to pedal (since it is enclosed and there isn’t the rolling resistance of the tyres to compensate for). For even greater efficiency, Shweebs can be linked together for less air resistance and more pedal power.

Speeds
The pods are far more aerodynamically efficient than a bicycle too. Most riders see speeds of around 45 km/h, but on a longer circuit with a much longer straight, the Shweeb can reach up to 70 km/h.

Shweeb insideSuch speeds are rather impressive when considering that the average speed of a car in London these days is a mere 13km/h (due to traffic). This is the same speed that cars could reach 100 years ago – before the demonic birth of rush-hour.

What’s more, when taking tight corners the pods can swing out as much as 60 degrees; but unlike a bike or motorcycle, there is no danger of losing traction and crashing.

Barnett has spent six years developing how to efficiently transfer pedal power to drive wheels enclosed within a monorail track while allowing the vehicle to swing freely underneath. The hard wheels on the steel rail mean that there is very little rolling resistance, and riders have shown that you do not have to be an Olympic athlete to power the pedals.

The future
Shweeb futureBarnett foresees the future use of his high efficiency, no emission urban transport system: “Here’s how it works. You get up in the morning; descend to the second level of your apartment building where there’s a Shweeb port and empty Shweebs waiting for you. You cruise over the top of the traffic jams. You don’t pay parking. You’ve produced no pollution. You arrive at work fit, healthy and ready to go!” says Barnett.

An exciting aspect of the Shweeb is how it could address problems of health and fitness relating to lack of exercise in certain nations. Of course you will always get lazy Shweebers who don’t pedal, hold up the traffic and simply get taken for a ride; but any ticked off, speeding Shweebers won’t be able to knock others off the rails.

“Shock absorbers between the vehicles ensure that vehicles come together smoothly. When a fit rider comes up behind a slower rider, the impact is cushioned and they act as a single unit. The rider at the rear is sitting in the slipstream of the leading rider and is able to put all their power into pushing the lead vehicle,” says Barnett.

So it appears that road rage would no longer be an issue in a Shweeb world. In fact, two Shweebs acting together will always travel faster than either rider separately. Even if the lead rider were to stop pedaling, the energy required to maintain a vehicle’s momentum on a flat track is minimal.

Make way for Shweebways
The logistics of getting Shweeb systems up and running in countries around the world is not as difficult as one might think. “The urban Shweebrail network is inexpensive, has a tiny footprint, and each Shweebway requires only a square meter of airspace,” says Barnett. “It’s safe, silent and sustainable.”

Not only are Shweebways inexpensive to build, but the pods come cheap too. In fact, you would never even need to buy one. “You don’t own the Shweeb,” says Barnett, “you use it like a shopping cart. Empty vehicles are restocked to wherever they are needed.”

Imagine it now: climbing into a slick Shweeb after a day’s work, laying back and sailing above congested traffic during rush hour, getting a daily workout with gentle pedaling, enjoying a great view of the city, all while listening to Bob Marley… Sign me up!

Jet-setting with the Samsung Jet

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SAMSUNG JET’S innovative smartphone-like features take handsets to the realms of being ‘smarter than a smartphone’

THE Samsung Jet has opened up a whole new world of mobile web browsing with its high performance Dolfin web browser and revolutionary 3D cubic interface, allowing super-fast surfing. The device also supports the option of multi-window browsing – allowing one to surf up to five pages simultaneously.

Samsung JetThe 3.1″ Samsung WVGA AMOLED display is four times sharper than a WQVGA screen, has a fast touch response, and is also very efficient in its power consumption – consuming 40% less energy than a mobile phone equipped with TFT-LCD display.

When it comes to music, Samsung Jet’s unique features give users the option to operate simultaneous playback audio and scroll through the phone’s music library.

For video, the DVD-like video playback recording (with D1 Video Playback and D1 30fps Video Recording) enables seamless playback without residuals and the ability to instantly download and play DivX and Xvid formats without converting and resizing- all in HD-like quality.

This full-touch mobile phone boasts revolutionary speed thanks to its 800MHz Accelerated Application Processor. This sophisticated high-performance processor is the Samsung Jet’s secret to speed and versatility, integrating multiple applications and functions, such as navigation and viewing.

Samsung Jet also has an A-GPS application, to provide navigation services in life-like 3D, to convey real places, information and directions in real-time. This incorporates 3D Map Navigation, GPS on Google maps and location-based services. And if all that isn’t enough, it also includes a Geotagging feature.

SAMSUNG JET SPECS:

  • HSDPA 3.6Mbps (900, 2100 MHz)
  • Revolutionary 3D Cubic Interface
  • Display: 3.1″ 16M WVGA AMOLED
  • Camera: 5.0 Megapixel AF camera+ Dual Power LED
  • Face Detection, Smile Shot, Panorama Shot, Blink Detection, Geo-tagging, Photo Editor
  • Video: D1 Video Playback/D1 30fps Video Recording, Video Editor
  • Supports: MPEG4, H.263, H.264, WMV, DivX, XviD
  • Audio: Music Player with DNSe & SRS WOW Sound Effect
  • Find Music, 3.5 Ear Jack, FM Radio/Recording
  • Supports: MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, WMA, AMR, MIDI, SP-MIDI, i-melody, WAV, MMF, XMF, OMA DRM v2.1, WMDRM,
  • DivX VOD & Wi-Fi
  • Active Sync for Push Mail

Value Added:

  • In-house developed Dolfin Browser, WAP 2.0, One finger Zoom
  • Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, Share Pix & Mobile Widget
  • A-GPS, On Board Navigation(3D Map), TouchWiz 2.0
  • Motion UI, Media Gate 3D, Multi-tasking Manager
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth® v2.1, microUSB (USB v2.0 Hi-Speed), Wi-Fi
  • Memory: 2GB onboard memory & 8GB microSD card (included)
  • Battery: 1,100 mAh – Talk time : 2G/492 minutes, 3G/300 minutes
  • Standby: 2G/422 hours, 3G/406 hours
  • Size: 108.8 x 53.5 x 11.9 mm

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Samsung S3500: Budget Bundle
Samsung Corby: Teen dream machine

– issued on belhaf of Samsung Mobile Phones
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