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Hand Help Scanners Roundup – Brother DS700D Compact Duplex Scanner

$185.99 on at time of writing.

The cheapest offering in the current handheld scanner roundup, the Brother DS700D Compact Duplex Scanner is, as the name suggests, capable of duplex i.e. both sides of a document at the same time scanning, at up to a very respectable 600dpi.

First impressions are very good, as the matte black plastic design feels sturdy and capable of sustaining some rough usage, and the inclusion of a carry-bag, while not of fantastic quality, is a welcome addition and one that should help protect the scanner. Size-wise the DS700D is much like its competitors, a slightly squashed-looking wand shape (12.5 inches wide) that will comfortably fit into a briefcase or similar sized bag without much impact on your carrying experience (weighing a mere 1.3 pounds you will hardly notice it). The unit is powered by a single USB port, which adds to its portability, but unlike some other handheld scanners, it does not have a sheet feeder.

This lack of a sheet feeder is a quite important omission and means that you have to input documents by hand, which can be a pain, especially as there is no sliding width guide to ensure documents are fed in straight. Like all the other scanners in its class, the single sheet feed mechanism prevents you from scanning things like books unless you are prepared to rip the pages out (perhaps more viable for magazines and the like). However, the duplex scanning works well and the scanning times are perfectly acceptable, with 10 pages per minute in Black & While and 3 pages per minute in Color (at the default 200dpi), although this is nowhere near as fast as, for example, the Canon ImageFormula P-215. Scan quality is also perfectly acceptable, although nothing to get too excited by.

The Brother DS700D comes with the standalone DSmobileSCAN II utility which lets you select scanning mode (Black & White, Greyscale, Color or Custom), resolution (up to 600x600dpi), scan size, brightness, contrast, gamma, highlight, and shadow, etc. The scanner is also fully TWAIN and WIA compatible so it can be used directly by any program that supports those standards (nearly all office and graphics programs).

The included Presto! PageManager 9 software is working well, and will manage scanned files, sending them off for email, OCR, etc. For Optical Character Recognition (OCR), Page Manager did a reasonable job but users might like to consider upgrading to Omnipage to get the most from this printer.

The Good

  • Lightweight and compact with good build quality (lightest in this roundup)
  • Capable of 600dpi output
  • Powered by a single USB port
  • Comes with a carry-bag
  • Quite cheap

The ok

  • Performance-wise is fine but unexciting

The Ugly

  • No sheet feeder or even feed guide (although the DSmobileSCAN II software does feature automatic skew detection and correction which helps to combat this problem).


For the money, this is a good little scanner that will fulfill all the basic needs of a business user on the road. However, for those willing to spend a little extra money it is probably worth considering the Fujitsu S1330i ScanSnap or the Canon ImageFormula P-215 which are both superior scanners.

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Hand Help Scanners Roundup – Xerox Mobile Scanner

$220.99 on at time of writing.

Scanners have come a long way in recent years and this wireless hand-held scanner from Xerox demonstrates how far technology has shifted towards convenient, portable devices. Designed for the businessman on the move, this lightweight (22.5 oz) scanner will comfortably slip into a briefcase, and can scan documents up to 8.5″ x 14″ (international A4 sized) via single sheet feeder. What really sets it apart from the competition however, is the inclusion on an Eye-Fi card which doubles as SD storage (4GB) and as a wireless connection.

Xerox Mobile Scanner

This means the scanner can operate totally independently and does not need to be plugged into a computer using USB. Scanned images are sent to the Eye-Fi company servers from where they are sent to your PC or Mac, and can also be posted to Facebook or Flickr etc. for sharing. This transfer process is very convenient, but it does add 40 seconds to the scanning time which is a bit of a chore. Xerox have thought of this however, and have included a USB connection so the scanner can be used in a more conventional manner, and it is also possible to store images to SD card (including the 4GB Eye-Fi card). Additionally, the scanner can be set to Wi-Fi direct mode to establish a peer-to-peer connection with a mobile device such as an iPhone or tablet (free aps are available for both iOS and Android), which could prove very useful to business travelers who do not want to keep on changing WiFi settings for each different location.

Scanning is a simple process of feeding documents into the single sheet feed. This is fine for scanning photos and office documents, but rules out scanning things like books and there are only two buttons – power and function (mainly for cycling between the three available scan formats). Full page documents are scanned in under 11 seconds, and photos take just 5 seconds (although wireless transfer times will add 49 seconds to this). Scans are saved as PDF files by default, while images can be saved as JPGs.

The scanner resolution is 300dpi which, while not going to wow anyone, is plenty to give clear text scans which can be easily converted into editable text thanks to the bundled popular OmniPage OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software. Photo scans also look good, with balanced and well reproduced colors, although the 300dpi scan resolution would prevent you from magnifying them without making the photos looking ugly. However, for normal business use and for the web the quality is perfectly fine.

The Xerox mobile scanner comes with a strong selection of bundled software which, in addition to  OmniPage 17 for OCR work, includes NewSoft Presto BizCard for scanning and storing all those business cards you are presented with, and Nuance Paperport 12 for organising and filing all your paperwork.

The Good

  • Effective wireless scanner that works well
  • Fast scans (ignoring transfer delay)
  • USB connection and SD memory storage options available
  • Clear, good looking scans
  • Good software bundle
  • Rechargeable battery lasts for 300 scans

The less good

  • 300dpi scans  are a bit limiting for photos
  • Single sheet feeder cannot scan books
  • Documentation is weak (e.g. does not mention airplane mode)


This is a great little scanner that does exactly what it sets out to do. For the business traveller looking for a portable scanning solution that is compact, self-contained and wireless, this is a reasonably priced yet effective solution.

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Best SSD for under $200

24 September 2012. Prices correct on at time of writing.

SSD (Solid State Drive) prices have been falling dramatically in recent months, so the objection that they are pricey and have a low capacity is increasingly failing to hold water. I have decided to look at three top brand names in this competitive field to see what is on offer as prices approach the $200 mark.

SAMSUNG 830 Series 2.5-Inch 256GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) MZ-7PC256B/WW ($196.83)

First up we have Samsung’s consumer level offering with the 256GB model slipping in under our price point. At only 0.28” thick this is a sleek little drive that will fit snugly into laptop or ultra-slim PC cases. While it is impossible to test without years of day to day use, Samsung’s own test results for this drive’s reliability (always a big problem with early SSD drives) are very encouraging, showing a 64 year lifespan for the SSD 830 (calculated on 10 GB written onto it each day), which if true is very impressive.

This reliability should also be further helped by the bundled SSD Magician software which keeps the firmware up-to-date and performs various system optimisation and management tasks to keep everything running smoothly. Unfortunately, the Samsung’s 830’s reliability is not matched by its performance which, while acceptable for an SSD at this price point, is not going to wow anyone.

  • Competitively priced
  • Impressive claims to reliability
  • Slightly lacklustre performance (e.g. sequential read /  write speeds up to 520 /400 MB/s)

Intel 520 Series Solid-State Drive 180GB SATA 6 Gb/s 2.5-Inch – SSDSC2CW180A310 ($189.99)

Offering less drive for the money than its closest competition with only 180GB on offer, the Intel 520 has garnered an enviable reputation for reliability. This is in no small part thanks to the integrated SandForce SF-2281 controller, which has a proven track record for strong performance. Another point in the Intel 520’s favour is its speed which, while nowhere near as impressive the OCZ Vetex’s performance, remains solid.

  • Low capacity compared to the competition at this price point
  • Proven track record for reliability
  • Good performance (e.g. sequential read /  write speeds up to 550 /520 MB/s)

OCZ Technology 256GB Vertex 4 Series SATA 6.0 GB/s 2.5-Inch Solid State Drive (SSD) VTX4-25SAT3-256G ($189.99)

OCZ is something of a newcomer in the field of high-tech electronics but has become something of a pioneer of solid state technology, and the Vertex 4 series is its flagship product. Let’s say up front that this is a fast drive, with a boasted 120,000 IOPS (Input / Output Operations per Second), easily outpacing its competition.

In addition this, the Everest 2 controller chipset ensures consistent performance regardless of the level of data compression, which is a weak point with Intel’s SandForce controller. As has been noted on the subject of reliability, only time will really tell how long a solid state drive will last in day to day use but OCZ does not have the reputation of Intel’s SandForce based offering. However, OCZ do seem very optimistic about the longevity of these drives as it has increased the warranty from 3 years to 5, which should bring customers a lot of peace of mind.

  • Very fast  (e.g. sequential read /  write speeds up to 560 /510 MB/s)
  • Competitively priced
  • 5 year warranty


The clear winner here is the OCZ Vertex Series 4. With 255GB of storage, blisteringly fast performance and a 5 year warranty, what’s not to like?

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Best 1900×1080 PC Screens for $200

24 September 2012 (All prices based on and correct at time of writing)

For a while now the falling price of monitors has meant that the ‘sweet spot’ when buying a new screen for your pc is a 22” to 24” full HD 1900×1080 pixels (or just 1080p) model which can now be had for well under $200. It is therefore a great time to update that older screen of yours, as this new quality / price point makes upgrading from even the fairly recent 19” 1400×900 standard an attractive proposition. So, without further ado, let’s look at three sub $200 monitors.

Samsung SyncMaster S23A550H ($199)

With a generous 24” of screen space (well, 23.6” if you want to get pedantic) and super thin (19mm at its thinnest) design, it is easy to forgive the slightly plain ascetics on this LED backlit screen.

The good

  • Large 24” screen
  • Thin and lightweight
  • Picture quality is good, looking cool and well balanced, although text rendering is not perfect
  • Energy efficient – the LED backlit screen helps the SyncMaster S23A550Hto pull only 23W, which is great for a screen of this size. There is also an eco-mode which Samsung claims to meet the standard of zero electromagnetic radiation.
  • 1x VGA, 2x HDMI ports

The ugly

  • Inconveniently menu keys provide access to a confusing menu system
  • A bit plain looking
  • No DVI ports


This is a good monitor for the money. The large screen looks good yet is impressively thin, and the eco features make it an attractive buy for green conscious consumers. However, the inaccuracies in text rendering mean that if you want a monitor for office type work, you should probably look elsewhere

Dell Ultra slim S2230MX $138.89

Another impressively thin screen, the Dell Ultra slim S2230MX looks good (if a little flimsy).  At 22” (27.1” if you really care) it lacks the screen real estate of the Samsung SyncMaster S23A550H, but at over $60 cheaper, do you care?

The Good

  • 1 x VGA and 1 x DVI ports
  • Good text definition
  • Low 24.8W power consumption
  • Games display clearly with no noticeable colour bleed

The ok

  • Picture quality and color performance is  good overall but there is a noticeable green tinge, some backlight bleeding, and a lack of vibrancy during movie playback
  • Heavy ant-glare coating – this comes down to personal preference whether you like it or not

The Ugly

  • Flimsy construction


While this monitor will not shake the world in terms of performance, it is a very solid offering for such a low price point.

LG IPS235T ($199)

Featuring a gorgeous IPS panel instead of the PN panels usually found on budget monitors, this 23” offering from LG sets out to impress.

The good

  • Good looking design
  • Fantastic picture quality for the price, with  good color performance and saturation, and a vibrant picture (but faint greenish tinge)
  • Good viewing angles thanks to IPS technology

The ok

  • VGA, DVI, and HDMI connections (which is good) but they are awkwardly placed
  • Power consumption is fair at 25.01W

The ugly

  • Chassis feels plasticky and low quality


Overall, this is one of the best budget monitors available. This is mainly due to IPS screen, which is rarely seen at this price point.

Final Thoughts

I think that what this round-up shows is just how much you can get for your money when buying a computer screen these days. All the monitors on test perform extremely well, and make great purchases. The LG IPS235T is the clear winner thanks to its fantastic IPS panel, but the big screened Samsung SyncMaster S23A550H remains a fine monitor. While the Dell Ultra slim S2230MX cannot compete on a performance level with the other two screens on test here, it does offer very good value for money and is still a very usable bit of kit.

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Hand Help Scanners Roundup – Canon imageFORMULA P-215 Scan-tini Personal Document Scanner

$284.99 on at time of writing.

The canon imageFORMULA P-215 is portable document scanner that, thanks to the incorporated automatic document feeder (ADF), includes much of the functionality normally associated with full sized scanners or multi-function printers.

The first thing you notice is how compact this device is, with a sturdy protective lid that folds back to form the paper chute. That whole thing is powered by USB ( a second USB cable can provide extra power but doesn’t dramatically improve performance) rather than by an external power supply which greatly improves its portability, and while the whole thing feels surprisingly heavy (coming in at 2.2lbs), this only adds to the impression of workmanlike solidity. In order to keep the design to a minimum there is no paper-out tray, although this is par the course for scanners of this kind. Overall, the design impresses with its functionality rather than with its looks which are, well, functional.

In use, the image FORMULA P-215 works very well. The feed tray can hold up to twenty sheets and it can scan 15 pages or 30 images per minute in full duplex (scanning both sides) mode, with the software doing a good job at detecting mixed images and text. The feed tray works well with standard office paper, although scanning ripped out bits of magazine etc. will require supervision of the process. If any jams do occur, the inner surface hinges forward allowing to allow them to be quickly fixed. Scanning in color takes a bit longer, with full page color scans taking up to 40 seconds at the default 150dpi resolution and a still reasonable minute and a half at 300dpi. It is to the P-215’s credit that it offers full color scanning at up to 600dpi (not always available in other hand-held scanners), although this can take over five minutes to complete.

While the resolution can be set manually for all scans, the scanner has an auto-resolution mode that works well at selecting the appropriate settings. Canon’s fantastic CaptureOnTouch software will also sort through scanned documents, ignoring blank pages, re-orientating upside down pages and correcting skewed pages before offering up a preview for you.

The imageFORMULA P-215 also comes with a slot for scanning plastic cards such as ID cards (and is also good for business card scanning) which is a nice bonus and works perfectly. PaperPort document organization and OCR software is included with the scanner, although it needs to be installed from disk which is an easy thing to miss, as the basic software needed installs directly from the scanner when it is first plugged in. PaperPort is a good piece of software that should be up to most document or image scanning needs, but it does fall short of the power offered by OmniPage OCR 9to which you can upgrade).

The Good

  • Compact and functional design
  • Good scan quality
  • Integrated 20 sheet feed tray
  • Fantastic CaptureOnTouch software
  • Auto-resolution works well and makes scanning easy
  • Can scan up to 600dpi in full duplex

The not so good

  • Color scanning at higher resolutions is bit slow


This is a compact and versatile scanner that should be able to cope with almost any scanning tasks when you are away from the office.

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Best gaming keyboards money can buy: Steelseries 7G Gaming Keyboard

all prices correct on at time of writing.

Continuing with our overview of top-end gaming keyboards, this time we’ll look at the Steelseries 7G Gaming Keyboard which takes a completely different approach to its competitors. No flashy LED backlighting, no LCD screen and no banks of assignable buttons. What you do get is probably the sturdiest, most well-made keyboard available, with lightning fast key response times, so let’s have a closer look…

Steelseries 7G Gaming Keyboard $198.98

The Good

  • Very robust build quality
  • When connected via PS2 (the default connection, with a PS2 to USB converter included in the box), the 7G can instantly register every single key being pressed simultaneously. This is in contrast to the 7 simultaneous key presses most boards can register, and could be could be a life saver when pulling off a difficult move in your favorite shoot-em-up
  • Each key is uses its own mechanical switch and has 18k gold connectors with a guaranteed lifetime of 50 million keystrokes. This amazing build quality results in incredibly responsive keys with almost no (an astoundingly low 2ms) lag time. Touch-typers will gain even more benefit than gamers from this keyboard!
  • The large and robust wrist-rest provides plenty of support for your wrists, and the design, which slips over and surrounds he whole keyboard, makes it very sturdy and practical in use
  • Convenient thigh holes on underside make it comfortable to place on your lap
  • Large non-slip rubber pads on corners
  • 2 x USB ports, mic and headphone jacks
  • 4 High quality gold pated 6 foot long cables (USB 2.0, PS2, 2 x sound cables). The connections on these cables are very heavily covered inn gold to the best possible connection possible and the cable braiding is of exceptional quality
  • Each key can be removed for cleaning or to prevent accidental key-presses.

The ok

  • With its severe, minimalist ascetic, devoid of any unnecessary borders (when the wrist guard is not deployed) the G7 look like it means business. It’s down to personal taste of course, but some may prefer the gaudy LED backlighting and LCD screens offered by its rivals
  • Very conventional keyboard design, featuring neither low-profile nor any curved styling to make it more comfortable to use. Again, it’s down to taste.

The ugly

  • No cushioning on wrist-rest for comfort
  • It is perhaps a bit unfair to put the lack on bells and whistles under this heading as this goes to the heart of the design principle behind the Steelseries 7G Gaming Keyboard, but it can’t be ignored that many gamers will miss these extras. The lack of extra assignable keys seems to be a major omission, although of course it is possible to bind the regular QWERTY keys.


This keyboard oozes quality and is almost certainly the most responsive, sturdily built with the highest quality components keyboard on the market. The lack of bells and whistles may be an understandable put-off for many gamers, especially at this this price point, and they may prefer to look at more feature rich offerings such as the Logitech G19 gaming keyboard instead.  Those who value premium build quality and functionality over features however, will find in the Steelseries 7G a keyboard that will prove its value for over 50 million keystrokes (per key).

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Best gaming keyboards money can buy: The G19 Gaming Keyboard

All prices correct on at time if writing.

For hard-core gamers who need every edge they can get in that multiplayer frag-fest, or who want total mastery of their character in World of Warcraft, having the right gaming peripherals can mean the difference between life and death. In addition to the advantages good peripherals can give you in-game, having gear that is comfortable to use is also an important factor when you spend a lot of time in front of your computer screen. I have decided to start looking at high-end keyboards for those of you who accept no compromise in their gaming setup, and first up is the new, top of the range G19 from Logitech.

G19 Gaming Keyboard ($241)

An upgrade to Logitech’s popular G15 and G12, the main new feature on the G19 is the 320 x 240 ‘GamePanel’ screen, so let’s take a look…

The Good

  • The G19 looks very good with a streamlined design and smart looking matte and glossy blacks with bluish and metallic insets which match Logitech’s other G-series gear
  • The LCD backlighting looks stunning and (apart from the M-key and LCD control keys which remain orange at all times) is programmable to any color
  • Despite not having a rubberized coating the keys respond well with a nice click, and provide a good grip with noticeable (if a little on the soft side) feedback response
  • Overall excellent build quality with the LCD screen attached by a thick metal bar
  • 12 fully programmable G-keys with cycle-able M1, M2 and M3 keys to effectively  give a total of 36 keys you can assign to macros, keystrokes, shortcuts or scripts
  • Automatic game detection and profile loading
  • 2 x USB 2.0 ports
  • The full color LCD screen looks good and works well, displaying RSS feeds, system performance information, clock and calendar info and includes a  picture and move viewer and even a YouTube player. The screen is easy to control using the 8 dedicated control keys and D-pad and video looks great on it
  • The GamePanel is great for displaying game stats and info in compatible games

The ok

  • Logitech have stuck with a fairly traditional keyboard layout, with the alphanumeric keys offering a very familiar experience to those upgrading from the G15. This is ok, but it is a bit of a shame that there is no moveable number pad, such as the one featured on the Microsoft SideWinder x6
  • The G-keys could be better laid out
  • The screen is a bit of a novelty and of debatable long term use although useful for keeping an eye on incoming emails and such-like

The ugly

  • The wide distance between keys can make things a bit awkward at times
  • The detachable wrist-rest feels a little flimsy
  • All the advanced features of the G19 take a lot of power to run and the keyboard needs its own power supply
  • Expensive


The G19 gaming keyboard is a great but of kit for those wanting one of the best keyboards currently available, no matter the cost. Sturdily built, thoughtfully designed for maximum functionality, comfortable to use and beautiful to look at, this keyboard will definitely add to your gaming experience.

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Hand Help Scanners Roundup – Fujitsu S1300i ScanSnap Instant PDF Sheet-Fed Mobile Document Scanner

$284.99 on at time of writing.

A compact portable scanner that will scan documents sized up to 8.5″ x 14″ (international A4 sized), the Fujitsu S1300i will slip comfortably into a shoulder bag or briefcase, so that you would hardly notice it. Capable of scanning up to ten pages at a time from its integrated automatic document feeder (ADF) at up to 600dpi, this scanner should make an ideal accessary for businessmen away from the office.

The ten page paper-shoot doubles as a protective cover and the unit can be powered using the provided mains adapter or by USB connection. When powered by USB however, the scan time can take up to twice as long, but the option does improve the scanners portability.

Scanning is a simple matter of loading up the tray and pressing the single blue button, and can be done in full duplex (both sides of the paper scanned in one pass) at almost no loss in speed. Any additional setting changes need to be done using the supplied ScanSnap Manager software, which is functional, is a little sparse.

Once scanned, documents appear as PDFs in the ScanSnap Organizer where they can be converted to all standard Microsoft office formats or converted into a searchable PDF using the included, and rather Abby Finereader OCR software, which produces reasonable results.

Image quality is pretty good, certainly good enough for accurate OCR coverage (although better software such as Omnipage would produce better results), and the scans are performed quickly, with each page taking under 6 seconds on the default 150dpi settings.

However, it should be noted that scan time more than doubles when powered by USB instead of by the mains adapter but scanning in duplex has almost no impact on the speed, which is impressive. Image scans also produce good results, with 300dpi scans taking an extra four seconds and 600dpi scans giving a clear, detailed result.

The Fujitsu S1300i ScanSnap can also scan business cards using the bundled CardMinder program which could be better and gets to the heart of the biggest problem with the Fujitsu S1300i ScanSnap. It is a good quality, functional bit of hardware that is let down somewhat by being bundled with a bunch of ok programs that really should have been combined into a single user interface. The result is a bit a mess, but not fatally so as it all works and the hardware is pretty good.

The Good

  • Compact portable scanner
  • Up to 600dpi
  • Good quality scans

The not so good

  • Uninspiring software


This is a decent bit of kit and with the right software, it would really shine. As it is, the Fujitsu S1300i ScanSnap provides all the functionality a businessman on the move is likely need. A good alternative, however, offering a similar range of features at a similar price point, is the Canon image FORMULA P-215, which might also be worth considering.

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Top 3 Methods to Send Files via Fax

Although there are numerous kinds of advanced devices used by companies today, there are still those who find fax machines functional and practical. This is why these machines are still used when sharing documents and important papers from one company to another. Since technology is improving from time to time, faxing has become more convenient and easier to use. Through incorporating fax with the Internet, companies are now able to share files and fax messages even without the use of a fax machine. Below are the three best methods on how to send files via the modern internet fax:

1. Internet Fax Features in VoIP Services

VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol services function via the use of the Internet. In the United States and Canada, there are a lot of companies that offer VoIP services that provide unlimited online fax (,, itsournet fax). Another functional feature of an Internet faxing is the ability to send fax messages to emails and receive them as well. There are various kinds of VoIP plans in which you can choose from. Some of these plans offer international faxing wherein the provider will not charge additional fees. With these available features, it can be considered that this is the most advisable way of sending fax messages whether it will be for your business or for personal matters. For companies who prefer sending fax messages over other methods, this process can also be used for advertising and even sending several promotional information to numerous clients and customers at the same time.

2. Online free fax services

Another practical way of sending fax messages is through services that one can find online. There are hundreds of sites such as My Fax, Pam Fax, Pop Fax that offer faxing services wherein you will need to upload a scanned version of the document, and enter the fax numbers on the chosen sites.  Although some sites offer free faxing, it is still not adequate for big businesses. This is because these companies will need to use the service more as they grow bigger and these sites only offer limited number of fax messages to be sent daily. Because of this, you will need to subscribe to these websites and pay monthly fees that offer unlimited VoIP faxing services.

3. Creativity of ScanR

One more method of sending fax messages is the ScanR. ScanR is one of the sites that let you send fax messages through the internet and offer free basic faxing. Unlike other sites that require you to scan your documents, this site allows you to use your digital cameras or camera phones to directly transfer the files into PDF forms. Some other sites also have the same unlimited type of faxing service. However, some may find this method a bit impractical since there are documents that are not clear when using camera phones in taking pictures.

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Best Gaming Card for under $100

AMD vs NVidia smackdown!

Although you will never be able to play Crysis 3 with all the details turned up to the max up on a budget graphics card, those of you with limited funds will be pleased to know that a decent gaming experience can be coaxed out of even quite modestly priced cards.

At the time of writing two cards slip just under the 100 buck price barrier on Amazon, one based on NVidia’s GT 640 chipset, and the other on AMD’s HD 7750 architecture, so I thought it would be a good idea to examine which of these similarly priced options is the one for the discerning budget-minded gamers to go for.

VGA/DVI/HDMI PCI-Express Video Card N640GT-MD1GD3

A newly released chipset designed to get NVidia back in the sub $100 game, the GeForce GT 640 is a compact card (approx, 6” by 2 ¾”) that will fit into all but the tightest casing, and boasts a 900MHz clock speed. Three video outputs (DVI, HDMI, and VGA) are provided, which allow up to three monitors to independently display at the same time thanks to NVidia’s Surround technology, which is very impressive at this price point and the inclusion of Express 3.0 compatibility is similarly impressive.  Pulling just 65W of juice from the mains, the GT 640 is an energy-efficient card that does not require any additional power connectors, making it look neat in a PC’s case.

This MSI version of the chipset comes with 1 GB of the older (and slower) DDR3 memory and features a compact design with a single large fan.

Sapphire Radeon HD 7750 1GB DDR5 

HDMI / DVI-I / DP PCI-Express Graphics Card 11202-00-20G

Repeatedly voted best in its class, the HD 7750 chipset from AMD has a reputation for delivering blistering performance for its price.  With a power rating of just 55W, the HD 7750 runs straight from the PCI-E connecter, obviating the need for extra connectors.  This Sapphire model does however hog two PCI slot bays, which gives it room for a good-sized fan to help keep temperatures down when the gaming gets hot. Like the MSI GeForce 640 above, this card sports 1GB of memory, but this time of the faster DDR5 variety. Also, like its competitor, the HD 7750it supports up to three monitors, albeit this time through HDMI, dual-link DV-I, and DisplayPort outputs.

The showdown

In features, these two cards are fairly closely matched. However, what gamers need is frames per second, and this is where the HD 7750 really begins to strut its stuff. When playing Skyrim, the HD 7750 pulls off an average of 66.5 fps compared to the GT 640’s 42.2 fps at the same settings, while in Crysis 2 these figures are 44.3 fps the GeForce card compared to 28.5 fps on the GT 640. In short, there is no competition; the HD 7750 wipes the floor with the GT 640.


While the Radeon HD 7750 is clearly the superior card, boasting spectacular performance for such a low price point (as well as impressively low power consumption). The GeForce GT 640 is still a good card, however, and one that flings out quite playable frame rates. If the price for it drops a bit, it may still be a very attractive choice for gamers on a super-limited budget.

*figures courtesy of

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