Newest Review: ... the part that compares there views with other publications and the views of the PC Pro forum members. The letters section shows a great c... more
Propeller Head Heaven
Member Name: philmar
Date: 06/01/01, updated on 08/01/01 (185 review reads)
Advantages: Entertaining and Readable
Disadvantages: sometimes there aren't enough hours in the month to read it all
Overall Design and Layout
The overall impression is of a well laid out magazine. Adverts, as previously mentioned, though plentiful are not too obtrusive. Articles and sections are easy to find and navigate, especially the Real World Computing section that has different coloured pages. Articles appear well spaced which makes them easy to follow and read. Every month the magazine is packed full, running to hundreds of pages which if you wanted to read cover to cover would take quite a bit of spare time.
Cover CD / DVD
Cover CD’s are pretty much like most other magazines, giving away older commercial software, updates and drivers. They autorun and load a menu from which you can choose what to install. I rarely buy a magazine on the strength of free software but do find the drivers and service packs useful. I’ve never felt the need for a DVD drive so far and so can’t comment on the quality of the cover DVD’s.
The news section runs over several pages with more detailed items on the centre of the pages and small snippets down the edges. Not really any different from the other mags and by the nature of printed magazines a lot of it will be old news compared to other sources such as the Internet.
s is where PC Pro starts to stand out, writers pick a current topic and give their opinions of what is happening, why and what they think is likely to happen. Other mags do this as well but as I have said I like their style, which is readable and doesn’t assume you know everything about everything in the computer world.
Each month the PC Pro team pick a hardware product and invite suppliers to submit their products for testing, for instance this month they have reviewed Socket A motherboards from the major named manufacturers. The whole article is broken down into bite sized chunks, first of all they explain how they tested the products and then give the results of the tests in bar chart format so that you can see which particular products did best or worst. Then comes a huge two page spreadsheet giving all the relevant features for each product, this is perhaps one of the most useful parts because you can compare and contrast all the products and make up your own mind which is best suited to your needs. Next come individual reviews of each product where they give their awards of Winner and Honourable mention. Lastly are more in-depth descriptions of the winning products. If a product has more advanced or out of the ordinary features they will do a cut out explaining what it is and how it works.
The way these tests are done means you can dip in anywhere you like if something catches your eye and don’t have to read the entire thing, also you don’t have to be a complete propeller head to understand what they are raving about (which gets my vote, when you can compare relative speeds and access times of hard drives off the top of your head it is definitely time to go and find out where your social life wandered off to)
Well what can I say; the guys they get to review the software know their stuff. The major reviews for things like Photoshop 6 go on for pages. I don’t preten
d to know half of what they are talking about but I’m certain the people who use this stuff day in and day out will find these reviews invaluable for making their minds up as to whether they should fork out for an upgrade or not.
Real World Computing
This is definitely my favourite section; It is split up into different subjects as varied as answers to readers technical problems, legal advice and Networking. The writers in this section are people who work in the industry and write about the problems and experiences they come across in their particular field, again, in a very readable and entertaining way. For instance one month one of them had the problem of getting a dual head matrox graphics card working with two lcd monitors just to have a play with, not something I will ever be able to afford to play with let alone come across at work but fascinating to read about (oops the propeller is starting to show).
This is a small section at the very back with brief reviews of games and related hardware, which almost seems to be an afterthought which isn’t really a problem because if you wanted a games mag you wouldn’t be buying this anyway. The one thing that stands out though is the cartoon strip Dilbert, an old favourite.
While not exactly part of the magazine that you buy in the newsagents I do feel it is worth mentioning. I wouldn’t say that the web site is outstanding but it has a clean design and is easy to navigate. It provides up to date news and has articles from the magazine archived, which makes it easier to look things up if needed. I can’t help feeling the web site is slightly sparse and could with more detail.
While aimed at professionals it isn’t quite the industry rag that Computing and Computer Weekly are, though it does deal with the techie details that they don’t. Overall it is extremely entertaining and readable. The best par
t is it only costs £2.99. A good buy for propeller heads everywhere.