funkyfresh computers and accessories

The Best Antivirus Software - Extended Use Experience



Over the last several years we've been testing a variety of free and subscription based antivirus programs on multiple systems running Windows XP and Windows 7. This includes products from AVAST Software, AVG, ESET, Microsoft, McAfee, Panda Security, Symantec and others.

Over the years antivirus programs tend to leap frog each other in features and performance. But fundamentally they have a simple goal, to protect you from bad stuff on the web. Whether it's from malware on a website or Trojan horses in email, viruses are no fun and can make your life miserable so effective antivirus software is essential to keep your PC healthy.

Most of the products offered by the manufactures above are actually pretty good. A lot of it boils down to the end user and avoiding some obvious pitfalls of being connected in a virtual world that's not so friendly sometimes. Often, a user gets infected by simply opening the wrong email or visiting the wrong web site. Good antivirus and malware packages will protect you most of the time. Subpar products will let you down and the worst part is you often won't realize you've been compromised until it's too late.

Based on years of experience and empirical data with friends, family and lab mates we prefer AVAST and Norton Antivirus. AVAST is at the top of our list. The free version works great, it's lightweight, easy to use and has a huge user base which also helps it stay current on the most ubiquitous threats. Norton is a reasonably priced solution and is embraced by the Fortune 500 for protection.  We've never had a serious infection using either of these products on multiple machines.

The other quality we really like about these two products is the seamless installation and transparent operation.  The software gives clear information on what was found, what the risks are and recommended solutions.  The "Sandbox" feature in AVAST is very handy in that it lets you run software in a virtual sandbox without affecting the rest of the PC.   This is also useful for running beta versions of software.  Overall, on full system scans AVAST and Norton consistently delivered good performance, sometimes even finding problems the other programs missed.

As far as the other products go, your mileage may vary. We've had poor luck with AVG and Panda both from a protection and usability standpoint and would generally shy away from their offerings. We found Panda products especially bloated and somewhate ineffective.  ESET has been solid and is another good choice.  Microsoft essentials is okay for experienced and disciplined PC users that want a lightweight and ultra compatible antivirus package. For example, on one of our video editing workstations we used Mirosoft Essentials because AVAST gave us trouble activating the sotware key over the Internet.  Since the system is rarely online or used for communication we were okay with this compromise.

Like anything, the choice is not absolute.  The antivirus package you run should be a function of  how the computer is used, who will be using it and what type of professional support will be offerred.  AVAST is a very good choice in a consumer environment and Symantec for corporate use.

Visit AVAST for more information.
Visit Symantec for more information.

HP Envy 14-2135NR Laptop Review























The HP Envy 14-2136NR Laptop is a good starting point when considering a “back-to-school” laptop for students. For about $600 you get an Intel® i5 2.4GHz CPU, 6GB of memory, 1GB ATI Radeon graphics, Beats Audio™, DVD burner, SD card slot, USB 3.0 (1 port) a decent 14.5 inch screen and the whole package weighs in just over 5 pounds.

The fit and finish is quite good on the HP Envy. The full size keyboard feels good and is reasonably spaced for hands both large and small. The system boots up and loads Windows quickly. It’s not as fast as an SSD based system but reasonable nonetheless. Built-in wireless networking is fast and we had no problems jacking into the network or keeping our network connections. Networking to the HP printer on the network took literally 5 seconds. The beats audio is great for background music, streaming Pandora that kinds of thing. It sounds better than your typical laptop.

Overall, the HP Envy 14-2136NR offers solid performance for everyday computing; Web, Facebook, MS-Office, Picassa...etc., and should serve mainstream users well.

The weak links are the display and the hard drive. Both offer reasonable performance for this price range but if you plan on gaming or editing video you need to step up to a 7200RPM Hard Drive or Solid State Drive and a better video card.    The display is okay but not that vibrant and off axis viewing is poor. Again, reasonable for this price range but know that going in.

We highly recommend buying a Laptop at a retailer where you can get some quality hand-on time with the product before you make your purchase and one that offers a longer return period such as Costco. With laptops in the $500-$600 price range you’ll find a lot of the same specifications. However, the subtle differences all add up. Be sure to make sure you like the way the keyboard feels and the overall design works for you.

Costco has a special on the Envy as of this writing.

Too find out more about the Envy lineup visit HP.

NTI Echo 3 Disk Cloning Software Review


























Echo 3 from NTI is an easy to use disk cloning application that also includes the ability to select and omit specific files in the cloning process. Echo 3 calls this “Filter Cloning” and it can be handy when you want to clone a drive as fast as possible by eliminating any unnecessary data from the cloning process.

Echo 3 also includes a simple performance utility which will test the read/write capabilities of your HDDs and SSDs before or after you proceed with any drive changes in your PC. It’s helpful to get a perspective on the different performance levels of your drives. We used a system with several Western Digital HDDs and one Corsair SSD.

To test, we simply made a clone of the Corsair SSD to a Western Digital Velociraptor. Normally you would clone an HDD to an SSD or SSD to another SSD for better performance but in this case we’re temporarily replacing the Corsair SSD because the write speeds have become so slow and we didn’t have the new SSD in house yet.

























The cloning process just takes a couple of mouse clicks to run. Then it’s a matter of how much data you’re copying. More data = more wait time. But, it really couldn’t be any simpler. Grab a cup of coffee, relax and your clone is complete.

However, it’s important to go into the BIOS before booting with the new drive to make sure it’s now set as the boot drive for the system. Otherwise you may get the following boot manager error. By the way, you’ll get the same error with Acronis, Ghost and other cloning software if the BIOS is confused about which drive is the proper boot drive. So be sure and check this to avoid any frustration.
























We created two separate clones of the Corsair SSD. 1 worked and 1 didn’t. Both examples ended with a successful confirmation screen. However, one of the drives would not boot regardless of BIOS settings or simply making it the only drive in the system

Echo 3 is an affordable and extremely easy to use solution for cloning your computer drives. The interface is clean and the process was painless . We still don’t know why the first drive didn’t clone properly because the software did not give us any error messages. However, we experienced no problems with our second attempt. 

Our next order of business is to replace this slow Corsair drive with something much faster. We’ll provide an update with our SSD to SSD clone.

Visit NTI to get more information about Echo 3 and system requirements.

More Articles ...

  1. Best PC Case Fans For High Performance Cooling and Low Noise
  2. TP-LINK TL-WR1043NDT Wireless Router Review
  3. StarTech SATA Dock eSATA and USB 3.0 Review
  4. Synology DS1511+ NAS Review
  5. iRig Mic Review
  6. Hitachi Ultrastar 7K3000 3TB Drive Review
  7. Linksys E1000 Wireless Router Review
  8. Seagate GoFlex Ultraportable External Drive Review
  9. Lenovo Idea Center K300-52162FU Review
  10. The ASUS UL30Vt-A1 Thin and Light Notebook Review
  11. SanDisk Blade USB Flash Drive Review
  12. Samsung S2 USB Portable Drive Review
  13. HP P6310Y Desktop PC Review
  14. Motorola SB6120 Extreme Cable Modem Review
  15. Hawking HWREN1 Hi-Gain Wireless-300N Range Extender Review
  16. Corsair P256 SSD Review
  17. Pioneer BDR-205 Blu-ray Burner Review
  18. KIDO'Z Fun and Safe Website for Kids
  19. Windows 7 Is Worth It
  20. Linksys WMP600N Wireless Network Card Review
  21. Dell 3007WFP-HC 30 Inch Monitor Review
  22. Averatec D1200 All-in-one PC Review
  23. Dell Latitude 6400 Review
  24. Getting Cozy wtih Mozy: Review
  25. SanDisk Ultra Backup USB Flash Drive Review
  26. Western Digital Passport™ Essential™ Review
  27. Verbatim PhotoSave DVD Review
  28. Altec Lansing Orbit-MP3 Speaker Review
  29. Aluratek USB Internet Radio Review
  30. Pinnacle PCTV HD Pro Stick Review
  31. Xobni Email Plug In
  32. Verbatim Corporate Secure USB Drive Review
  33. Airlink101 300N Review
  34. Norton Antivirus 2008 Review
  35. Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000 Review
  36. Buffalo Technology DriveStation Duo 1TB Review
  37. Carbonite Online Data Backup Review
  38. Vantec Nexstar 3 Review DIY hard drive expansion made easy
  39. Sony BWU-100A Blu-ray Burner Review
  40. D-Link DWL-G132 Wireless USB Adapter Review
  41. Primera Bravo SE Review
  42. Canon Pixma iP6700D Review
  43. Samsung 940T Review
  44. Belkin Pre-N Router and PCI/PCMCIA cards Review
  45. USR 9600 USB Phone and Skype Review
  46. HP Photosmart 2575 Review
  47. IBM R51 ThinkPad Review
  48. Primera Bravo Pro Duplicator Review
  49. SageTV 2.2 Hauppauge PVR-150 Bundle Review
  50. Cambridge PC SoundWorks Review
  51. Velocity Micro Review
  52. Averatec 3270 Notebook Review
  53. World Tech Keyboard for Sony Vegas Review
  54. ATX Power Supply Recommendations
  55. Digital Audio Labs Card Deluxe Review

Fresh Reviews

Game of Thrones Viewing Party…

Sep 16, 2018 House Stuff
Default Image

Crucial MX500 1TB 3D NAND…

Jul 23, 2018 Computers and Stuff
crucialmx500
The Crucial MX500 is a 2.5 inch SSD designed to be installed inside a notebook computer.…

G-Drive Mobile SSD R-Series…

Jul 23, 2018 Computers and Stuff
gdrive ssd r series
The G-Drive SSD R-Series includes a USB-C port and is USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt 3…

Nvidia Quadro P4000 Review

Jul 21, 2018 Production
p4000 ff
We like the single slot GPU because it allows us to use all the available PCIe slots in…

Moog Subsequent 37

Apr 17, 2018 Production
Default Image
great demo of this amazing synth

An Incredible Story of Life,…

Dec 31, 2017 House Stuff
Default Image

Lynx E22 Versus RME Audio…

Sep 06, 2017 Production
When it comes to audio cards that go inside your workstation the options are getting more…

Amazing A-Frame in LA

Nov 06, 2016 House Stuff
Default Image
yes, at one time, this was a kit you could buy from Sears.

How to Make a Candy Corn…

Oct 27, 2016 House Stuff
Default Image
A good one for the season and fun for the kids.

How to Install a Rain Barrel

Oct 01, 2016 House Stuff
Default Image
Get ready for the rainy season.

A Couple’s Garage Becomes…

Sep 14, 2016 House Stuff
Default Image
This is a pretty cool zen lifestyle

Edius 8.22 Review - Powerful…

Sep 13, 2016 Production
EDIUS 8
Edius 8.22 from Grass Valley is the latest update that adds LUT and tracking support.…

See a Funky Beach Home Made…

Jul 08, 2015 House Stuff
Default Image

Ultimate Man Cave: Missile…

Apr 08, 2015 House Stuff
Default Image
This is awesome!

NVIDIA Quadro K4200 Review

Jan 09, 2015 Production
We've been doing an extended review of the Quadro K4200 and it's been rock solid. It's…

JBL EON206P Portable PA Review

Jan 08, 2015 Production
The JBL EON206P portable PA system surprised us with how much sonic punch it packs into a…

Panasonic AJ-PX270…

Jan 06, 2015 Production
Default Image
The PX270 is an amazing HD camera for ENG, corporate and documentary work. Over the years…

Boris FX BCC 9 Review 2014

Nov 26, 2014 Production
If you buy only 1 VFX package for your NLE this year we highly recommend Boris Continuum…

HP Z230 Workstation Review

Jul 15, 2014 Computers and Stuff
The HP Z230 is a single CPU workstation that looks similar to other workstations in the Z…

Logitech Harmony 650 Remote…

Jul 05, 2014 Electronics
The Logitech Harmony 650 Universal remote is super easy to program and works great but is…

Sony Vegas Pro 13 Review

Jun 24, 2014 Production
Sony Vegas Pro 13 feels a lot like Vegas Pro 12 with some minor updates to the UI. It…

Samsung 1TB 840 EVO SSD Review

Jun 11, 2014 Computers and Stuff
Samsung 840 EVO 1TB SSD is one of the best values in a high performance SSD. We used it…

Convergent Design Odyssey7Q…

Jun 09, 2014 Production
The Odyssey7Q combines a high quality 7.7 OLED monitor with an SSD based recorder to…

Pixelan DissolveMaster Review

Feb 13, 2014 Production
Default Image
Pixelan Software’s DissolveMaster provides endless options for creating compelling…

Beautiful Holiday Tabletops…

Dec 13, 2013 House Stuff
Default Image
Check out the hurricanes. Super cool.This design is moderm but still warm and welcoming,…

Hot and Funky

Dream Garden on the…

Aug 08, 2018 Art and Design
Default Image
Take a respite from your hurried day to learn how this architect abandoned his career and…

Coffe Mugs Made from Recycled…

Aug 05, 2018 Art and Design
Default Image
They're are pretty cool looking too.

The Fall Colors of New…

Sep 22, 2016 Art and Design
Default Image
Another reason to love the fall.

Take the Mesmerizing Tour of…

Sep 09, 2015 Art and Design
Default Image

Incredible Bodypaint Art -…

Apr 02, 2015 Art and Design
Default Image
This is awesome.

Man Turns His House Into…

Dec 21, 2014 Art and Design
Default Image
This is one house you have to see in action to believe. Amazing!!!

Danny Macaskill...Always…

Oct 06, 2014 Art and Design
Default Image

Logitech Harmony 650 Remote…

Jul 05, 2014 Electronics
The Logitech Harmony 650 Universal remote is super easy to program and works great but is…

24 Hours of Happy - Just…

Dec 18, 2013 Art and Design
This is one of our favorite creative projects we've seen in 2013. Great song and steady…

HP Unleashes Thunderbolt for…

Sep 12, 2013 Technology
The new HP ZBook 17 Mobile Workstation should make a lot of mobile video editors happy.…

Bose SoundLink II Mobile…

Feb 21, 2013 Electronics
The Bose SoundLink II mobile Bluetooth speaker sounds very good, is extremely easy to use…

Sanyo eneloop Rechargeable AA…

Feb 02, 2013 Electronics
Sanyo eneloop AA rechargeable batteries are good a place to start when investing in…

iPad mini Versus Kindle Fire…

Dec 27, 2012 Electronics
The Kindle Fire HD is an appealing product and a great choice if you consider it a media…

The Roku 2 XS Review

Dec 18, 2012 Electronics
The Roku 2 XS is a great gift for anyone with a high speed Internet connection that wants…

Fuji XP50 Waterproof Camera…

Jul 24, 2012 Electronics
The Fuji XP50 waterproof camera is an affordable option that takes pretty good photos…

How to Install an SSD Drive…

Jul 07, 2012 Technology
Default Image
If you've been thinking about upgrading your system to an SSD there's never been a better…

How to Install an SSD Drive…

Jun 08, 2012 Technology
Default Image
Here's a short video that shows you how to install a solid state drive in your notebook…

7200RPM Hard Drive Versus an…

Jun 02, 2012 Technology
Default Image
Another reason to love SSDs. Those faster boot times really add up over time. And wih OS…

LED versus Plasma versus LCD:…

Apr 12, 2012 Technology
Samsung is cranking out some amazing smart televisions with Internet apps and menu…

How To Choose A Memory Card…

Mar 05, 2012 Technology
Default Image
There are lots of suppliers of memory cards out there. SanDisk breaks it down in under 2…

First Android OS Watch: Sneak…

Mar 01, 2012 Technology
Default Image
Synch this to your smart phone using Bluetooth and you can do quite a bi with this watch…

ASUS ZENBOOK™ Ultrabook…

Jan 13, 2012 Technology
Default Image
One of our favorite new products from CES is the new ASUS ZENBOOK. This is going to be a…

Sonos Play:3 Review

Jul 25, 2011 Electronics
The Sonos Play:3 sounds great for background music but is slightly underpowered and lacks…

Join Me - The Fastest and…

Jul 15, 2011 Technology
If you’re looking for the fastest and simplest way to share what you see on your computer…

Reverb Controls on Lexicon 224

Jul 08, 2011 Technology
Here's a brief demo of the Lexicon 224 in action. Using a simple drum beat you can hear…