Archive for March 28, 2009

Three fine new camera phones: Samsung Memoir and Omnia, LG Incite

Samsung Memoir smart cell phone for the T-Mobile wireless network
Mobile phones continue to boast better cameras, as demonstrated by our Ratings of both cell phones and (especially) smart phones (both available to subscribers). These three new arrivals to our labs have cameras that fared impressively in preliminary tests in our labs.

Here are details on those test results, along with other information on the phones, which we continue to test. Prices are from the indicated wireless service carrier, with a two-year contract.

Samsung Memoir, $250, T-Mobile. (Click on the image at right for a closer look.) The best camera we've seen on a phone, whether a regular cell phone—as the Memoir is—or a smart phone. The Memoir's full-featured 8.0-megapixel camera, among the highest resolutions we've seen on a cell phone, produced excellent 8×10 prints, and very good 13×19 prints, in our tests. The camera was also less sluggish in taking shots than other 3- and 5-megapixel camera phones we’ve tested. It also has manual ISO settings up to 1600, allowing you to capture images in low-light conditions (though not without noise). Other camera features include a flash, autofocus, anti-shake control, face, smile and blink detection, and video recording.

The Memoir has an impressive array of other features, too. For example, it can view Office documents such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. That ability is usually the purview of the smart phone, which further confirms the blurring line between cell phone and smart phone.

Samsung Omnia smart cell phone for the Verizon wireless network
Samsung Omnia, $100, Verizon.
(Click at image right for a closer look.) A feature-packed smart phone
that boasts a fine, full-featured 4.9-megapixel camera. The camera
produced very good 8×10 photos in our tests.

One of the thinner phones we've tested lately, the Omnia has a relatively large 3.2-inch touch-screen
display with widget bar navigation, and its interface is similar to
Windows, which makes navigation intuitive to PC users. It synchronizes
easily with Microsoft Outlook on a PC. It's also easy to switch between
applications and run multiple programs, and you can create and edit
Office documents.

The Omnia has built-in Wi-Fi for fast Web surfing, though it can't be used to swap data with other devices.

LG Incite, $100, AT&T. LG's first smart phone for the U.S. market, while small, manages to squeeze in a more-than-decent camera—albeit one that's not quite as good as the cameras on the new Samsungs. At 3.1-megapixels, it has fairly-high resolution for a phone and produced good-quality 8×10 prints in our tests.

The Incite has a relatively large 3.0-inch touch-screen display and its interface is similar to Windows, which makes navigation intuitive to PC users.

All three phones are now in testing, and will post soon to our Ratings. — Mike Gikas

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Conficker worm: Imminent threat, or another Y2K?


The Conficker worm—as in an online worm,  a type of virus that lives unnoticed in your PC while spreading itself to others over the Internet—has been one of the hottest online-security stories over the past few months. The worm started infecting systems big-time last fall. But the biggest chapter in this story might be yet to come.

Up to now, Conficker, which affects only Windows computers, has clogged networks and infected an estimated 12 million computers. It's also been able to shut down antivirus and other security software. "But it hasn't implemented a nasty functionality, yet," says Ed Skoudis, co-founder of IntelGuardians.

However, experts fear it may, come April 1. There's plenty of speculation about what exactly could happen on April Fool’s Day, the day Conficker is programmed to connect to other PCs forming a “botnet”, but no one knows for sure. So you'll want to take whatever steps you can to protect yourself.

That means ensuring your security-software subscription is current and checking that updates are being implemented. You should also run Windows Update—look for that or Microsoft Update on your Programs menu—to get the latest critical patches and the malicious software removal tool which will kill Conficker. Finally, this is a great time to make sure your data is fully backed up, using one of the several available options.

For more on staying safe online, take a look at our Online Security Guide for more tips. — Donna Tapellini

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