Review: Musique is the simple and beautiful music player you've always dreamed of

Yaara Lancet Contributor, PCWorld

Yaara is a foodie, horse-lover, and biologist who enjoys being a geek as a full-time job.
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When listening to music on your computer, you can go several different ways. The first is to use a huge, well-known music player such as iTunes or Windows Media Player; the second is to opt for streaming using Spotify, Pandora, Last.fm, and others; and the third is to go for a smaller, lesser-known player that suits your exact needs. Musique (€8.99/$12 after 20-day free trial; Linux, Mac, and PC) is just such a player, and one that is definitely worth your attention.

Simple yet eye-catching, Musique is everything you always wanted from iTunes and were afraid to wish for. Interface-wise, it loosely resembles old versions of iTunes without any of the confusing elements. Right from the get-go, using Musique is completely straightforward, with clear buttons and keyboard shortcuts to accomplish any task.

The tiles and playlist make it easy to find and play what you're looking for
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Review: Helium Music Manager 9 jazzes up music management

Liane Cassavoy , PCWorld

Liane Cassavoy is a veteran technology and business journalist. She contributes regularly to PCWorld and has written about business issues and products for Entrepreneur Magazine and other publications. She is the author of two business start-up guides published by Entrepreneur Press.
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You don't have to be a hard-core audiophile to appreciate Helium Music Manager, but music fans with will get the most out of this application. This music organizer and player that helps you stay on top of extensive collections of files. It features an attractive design, but sometimes it's just a bit harder to use than it should be.

Helium Music Manager 9 add music
Helium Music Manager features a wizard that makes it easy to add music files.

I like how easy Helium Music Manager makes getting started: Launch the application, and it displays a wizard that lets you select which files you'd like to add to its music library. The process is quick, though adding thousands of files obviously takes a bit of time.

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Acronis True Image 2014 review: Still powerful and feature-rich, now easier to use

Jon L. Jacobi Freelance Writer, PCWorld

You might think Windows has you covered with its own imaging/system backup, but there's still a need for programs such as Acronis True Image. Windows' built-in utility is extremely limited and reacts badly to new hardware. True Image handles bare-metal restore and diverse hardware without hiccup. Owners of recent versions of True Image probably won't find anything particularly compelling about this latest rendition, as only the online service is really new, but the new interface is a breeze to use. It also takes Acronis Backup to the cloud for the first time.

Acronis True Image 2014 backup pane
Acronis True Image 2014's new backup pane is simplicity itself.

If there's one thing that stands out about the latest version of True Image 2014, it's how friendly it is. Gone are the poorly rendered dialogs and oddly phrased instructions. The interface is clean, efficient, and simple. You can perform a backup without answering a confusing stream of questions. All the options advanced users want—including password protection, sector-by-sector backup (the program defaults to backing up only occupied sectors),  pre- and post-run commands, splitting (or not) of files, and validation—are still present. They're simply hidden away in a very cleanly organized dialog.

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Review: ZipItFree compresses files tightly, doesn't make you tighten your belt

Mark O'Neill , PCWorld Follow me on Google+

Expatriate Scotsman now living in Wurzburg, Germany, freelance writer, frustrated future bestselling author, obsessed bibliophile. Other interests include trying to understand The Architect in the Matrix movies, decrypting codes and ciphers, and trying to persuade my landlord and my wife to let me have a Highland Cow for a pet.
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Compression software ZipItFree doesn't just make files smaller, it makes its interface smaller. This handy freebie lets you roll up its interface into its top bar, so you can minimize the screen space it occupies without closing it entirely. When you need ZipItFree again, you just click the button and the interface drops down again, just like a set of window blinds. It's a small design touch that proves quite useful.

Unfortunately, the same thought didn't go into the software's default steel skin, which is not pleasing to the eye. Luckily, it's easy to change the design. I'd suggest either the Vista or Windows 7 design options, both of which make ZipItFree far easier on the eyes.

Aside from the one design horror, ZipItFree checks all the right boxes. It features strong encryption, support for 15 compression formats, and, like PeaZip, the ability to split up the file into multiple chunks of a set size for easier burning or emailing. For example, it can make an exact size to fit onto a 700MB CD disk or a 4GB DVD disk. You can also attach comments to an archive to remind yourself what's in it.

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Review: Hamster Free Zip Archiver 2.0 compresses files in a snap

Mark O'Neill , PCWorld Follow me on Google+

Expatriate Scotsman now living in Wurzburg, Germany, freelance writer, frustrated future bestselling author, obsessed bibliophile. Other interests include trying to understand The Architect in the Matrix movies, decrypting codes and ciphers, and trying to persuade my landlord and my wife to let me have a Highland Cow for a pet.
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Hamster Free Zip Archiver comes across as cute and cuddly, thanks to its nicely designed user interface and a bouncy GIF animation. And once you start using it, you can almost hear a whirring hamster wheel. It's fast.

The Hamster website claims that it takes advantage of multi-core computing to go faster. That claim held up when I tested Hamster on a new Windows 8 PC Quad-Core. The company claims it's faster than its competitors on older machines, too.

Thanks to its drag and drop interface, it's easy to use, too. To create a compressed file, you simply drag and drop the files you want to include onto HFZA main screen. Hamster tells you the folder's current size and asks you to choose between the ZIP and 7Z formats. Choose your file format (ZIP is faster, as it was when using 7-Zip), whether or not you want to split the file up, and whether or not you want to lock the file. You then press "compress," and Hamster does its job.

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Review: Tweeki 2 brings the best of Twitter to Pokki

Yaara Lancet Contributor, PCWorld

Yaara is a foodie, horse-lover, and biologist who enjoys being a geek as a full-time job.
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I'm always on the hunt for truly great Twitter clients for the PC desktop, and one of my finds from last year was Tweeki. Despite some drawbacks, I was impressed with Tweeki's mobile-like interface, and deemed it an excellent client for anyone with one Twitter user. Shortly after, Tweeki, which ran on the Pokki platform, shut down due to Twitter API changes, and has re-emerged as Tweeki 2, a whole new iteration of the Pokki Twitter app.

Tweeki 2 single column
Tweeki shows one column at a time on a simple mobile-like interface.

The change becomes apparent before you even log in. Tweeki 2 is based on a new partnership with Intel, which means you must create an Intel Services Identity before you can start using Tweeki. Once you do, you can use this single log in to bring up all your Twitter users on any PC, including unread counts for timeline, mentions, and DMs. This feature works surprisingly well, but it's important to note than when logged in on two PCs at once, actions you perform on one PC, such as switching between users, will also affect Tweeki on the other PC.

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Review: ProDrenalin fixes home action video problems

Jon L. Jacobi Freelance Writer, PCWorld

So you just rode your bicycle off a cliff with a parasail attached, landed on top of an off-road vehicle, then bungeed off a bridge as you grabbed a six-pack off a riverboat captain's lap. And you recorded the whole experience on an action cam. The problem is, when you played the video back for your friends, they all got nauseated from the fast-action camera jump, fish-eye effect, and rolling shutter effect plaguing your video.

ProDrenalin_1.0_video_processing
ProDrenalin processes video quickly.

What you should do before screening your masterpiece is run it through ProDad's ProDrenalin ($49, free demo with registration). PC software ProDrenalin is a combination of the image stabilization, de-fishing, and color correction found in the company's DeFishr and Mercalli products. It's specifically designed to simplify the process of making your wide-angle action video more palatable for the masses.

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