Sunday, July 3, 2011

IT Magazines 2011

9. CIO 

CIO box shot 

CIO is an IT magazine that covers interesting information technology subjects but doesn't give you a lot for your money. The magazine only offers a handful of articles, and just as many ads, with each issue. We would have liked to see something more substantial for the price you pay. Overall, we liked the few IT articles they include, but we didn't see anything impressive in this magazine's content or design.

Content Quality:
CIO is geared toward those who love information technology, and they really do have thought-provoking articles about the latest emerging technologies. We were pleased to see articles about the latest computer technology including, of course, interesting insights into the battle between Apple and Microsoft and the current competition in the booming tablet arena. The articles are divided into a variety of categories including: Start, Grow, Run, Connect and Columns.
We have nothing against the provided content in CIO. The problem stems from the fact that the 50-page magazine is half ads. There are other magazines with a similarly high percentage of ads, but we feel that a magazine that can only provide 25 pages of information may not be worth our time or money in the long run – and this magazine doesn't come cheap. We were surprised at what it takes to subscribe to it, so if you treasure your time, you may find this periodical especially costly.

Design Quality:
The design of the magazine is not nearly as good as we would like to see because the actual content has to work around so many ads. That means you end up constantly flipping through pages to find the next few lines of the article you want to read, which is more than a little distracting. We wanted to see more focus on the articles and less on the advertisements. We feel this would have made the overall presentation of the magazine much better.
The digital version of the magazine has a little more going for it than the print magazine. This is because the digital version is set up like a webpage and the ads are more contained and easier to breeze past without noticing. We would have liked to see more pictures in both formats, just to add a little color and variety to the text.

The magazine is poorly organized. One of the big reasons for this is that there isn't even a set number of issues that come out every year. They do promise to release at least 12, but some years they have 23 while other years they have 16. They do always come out with an issue on the 1st of the month, but you never know if there will be a mid-month issue. It's always a crapshoot.
Their website looks a little cluttered because of all of the images and text. They list all of the current articles, and we did appreciate the technology subheadings. The digital archives of the magazine don't actually list the subheading for the technology that is being discussed. We thought that if they could include them on the main page, they should be able to include them on the archives page as well.

If you are interested in getting the most for your money, you may want to think twice before investing in CIO. They present good information, but their issues are half the length of typical IT magazines and pack in twice as many ads. The online content isn't quite as ad-dominant, but as far as a magazine goes, there's just too little tech content per issue to justify the subscription cost.

8. Technology Review 

Technology Review box shot 

Technology Review covers a wide range of technology-related topics. This IT magazine doesn't specialize in one field of information technology, but instead includes a little bit of everything. Its design is straightforward, and the digital archives are available in two formats. You may find this magazine interesting if you are interested in more than just mobile and computer technology.

Content Quality:
This periodical is aptly named. Not only does Technology Review cover computer basics, but it also discusses a variety of technology topics and news. While all of this information is interesting, it also means that this magazine doesn't quite cut it if you are looking specifically for an IT magazine.
If you are interested in more than just information technology you will probably enjoy reading this publication. Some of its reoccurring topics include:
  • Notebooks
  • To Market
  • Q&A
  • Imaging
  • Briefing
  • Reviews
  • Hack
  • Demo
  • From the Labs
There are just more than 90 pages in this magazine, and we counted just fewer than 20 full-page ads. This is a good ratio, and plenty of articles are uninterrupted by ads, which is nice. Since MIT produces this magazine, we were pleased to see that all of the ads are applicable to its readership, and the information it provides is tailored to its audience.

Design Quality:
The magazine's layout is clean and looks nice. What really bothered us about its design, however, is the way the table of contents is laid out. There doesn't seem to be any pattern to how it presents that information; we feel that a table of contents is key because it lets readers know where they can find the information they are looking for right away. We really liked the images throughout the issues. They are classy and bright. They convey a lot of good information. Our only lament is that we wanted to see a few more to accompany some of the articles.

The magazine's biggest failing is its table of contents. If readers can't find the information they are looking for in a reasonable amount of time, they are unlikely to pick up the periodical again. While there are footers with page numbers on every page, we would have liked to see headers on the pages to let us know which section we were reading. This would be especially useful for articles that run for more than two pages, which is common in this periodical.
The online option for this periodical is decent. Technology Review has archives of both the web and PDF versions. You can access the PDF version through a login, but everyone can see the preview PDF, which is convenient for prospective subscribers. We were impressed that the magazine has both versions of the digital copy available so you can chose which one will be best for the device you are using.
The downside to this publication isn't its content quality or design, but the availability of new content. This magazine is only produced six times a years instead of monthly. This means that you don't get the same quantity of information that you can get from other IT magazines. You will have to decide if the price is fair for a magazine that only releases an issue every other month.

If you want quality content on a variety of technological topics, long articles and few ads, Technology Review is a great choice. If you want access to an online digital copy and a PDF archive, you can't go wrong with this periodical. However, if you're looking for a monthly magazine, you may want to look elsewhere. This magazine is a good choice, but it only publishes six issues per year, which might not be enough for your situation.

7. PC Magazine 

PC Magazine box shot 

PC Magazine is the only magazine we reviewed that doesn't have a corresponding print edition. While having only a digital edition of an IT magazine is perfectly acceptable, we found that this magazine seems to be designed like a print publication, which can make it awkward to read on a mobile device. The topics it covers are varied and interesting, and they not tied to one particular platform.

Content Quality:
What we first have to note with PC Magazine is that it is only available in a digital format. Its content covers a wide variety of topics, not all of which are associated with PCs. It has information on Apple products and gaming consoles as well. All in all, it has a good selection of articles but still seems a little confined. There are very few ads in this magazine, even ones that aren't full-page spreads. Considering the fact that this magazine is only 60 pages long, we were pleased that nearly all of it is devoted to information about technology.

Design Quality:
What really blew our minds is not that the layout is terrible; in fact, it has one of the cleanest designs of any magazine we reviewed. We were shocked that the publisher doesn't take advantage of its digital-only distribution model. When you are working with a digital format, you don't have to worry as much about text size because people can always adjust the magnification to suit their needs. We feel that the publisher should at least make the magazine's text the traditional 12-point size, or at least close to it. Instead, the font size is huge. It almost seems like they increased the font size so they don't have to write as much material. While this isn't a bad thing, it seems odd.
The other design aspect that made us curious is the publisher's choice to have designs cross the spread. There are a couple occasions where the title is split across a page, which would look fine if the magazine were printed. Since it isn't, it can be difficult to read and comprehend if you are only looking at one page at a time on your eReader, which is quite common with digital publications. While this isn't a big deal, it does make us question the reasoning behind the magazine's layout and design.

The magazine may have an odd design, but we cannot fault its organization. The magazine is neatly organized, and is complete with headers and footers. It also utilizes the linking options available in digital documents so that you can easily navigate through the various articles with single clicks. We would have liked to see a bookmark option that lists all of the articles so you don't have to continually go back to the title page to see what you want to read next.
The online portion of PC Magazine contains useful information that is easy to access and read. The site is set up with similar articles grouped together, which make it simple to see which articles you may be interested in reading. Something we would have liked to see here is an option to access the archives of older issues.

If you aren't interested in paying money for a hard-copy magazine, you may find what you are looking for in this IT magazine. PC Magazine offers a wide variety of articles and a clean design, which may be a little more appropriate for a print periodical even though there is no print version. Overall, this magazine didn't take our breath away, but we thought it presented technology news well.

6. Windows IT Pro 

Windows IT Pro box shot 

While Windows IT Pro does cover a variety of devices, it is limited to Windows-based products and doesn't offer much help with other operating systems. We were impressed with the print version as well as the digital version and website. If you are looking for an IT magazine that covers Windows heavily and discusses some of the other options occasionally, you will probably find this particular periodical valuable.

Content Quality:
The content of this IT magazine is geared towards the Windows side of everything, as you can tell from the name alone. They do have information from other platforms, but it isn't as consistent. The information itself is useful in that they provide a variety of types of articles divided into:
  • Interact
  • Products
  • Letters
  • CTRL + ALT + DEL
  • Columns
Not only are articles informative and interesting, but the magazine isn't saturated with ads. Coming in at just under 100 pages, there were under 25 ads. This kind of article-to-ad ratio is ideal because you are actually getting your money's worth out of your purchase. The ads pertain to the technological field and contain some useful information in and of themselves.

Design Quality:
The design of the print version is similar to what you can find in other IT magazines. The pictures are clean and the text neatly organized. There is nothing spectacular or original about the design, but it is a tried and true format that makes it easy to read and not half bad to look at. We thought that they did a good job presenting their information. The digital version of the magazine is in webpage format so it works well when you need to read it on a screen or even a mobile device.

The magazine has a good layout that keeps it organized, but it doesn't do anything extra to help find specific articles such as color coordination. The online digital copy of the magazine is a slightly different story. As we looked through the archives of past issues, we found that we really liked the digital copy. There is a copy of all of the issues. Within each archive copy is a list of all of the articles complete with a title and a brief blurb explaining what the article was about. We wish they would follow a similar pattern in the print version.
What would have made this just that much better is if they divided the articles online into the same categories that they had in the print version. They also have a search option that makes it really easy to find the articles you are looking for. Overall, we thought that Windows IT Pro offers several options that make their digital version a little more organized than their print version.

Windows IT Pro offers great content on Windows-based products and a few good articles here and there on other platforms. You'll find the digital version of the magazine very useful, and although the print version features the same content, it doesn't have the same clever organization. But we will say, this magazine effectively reaches its specific audience.

5. Macworld 

Macworld box shot 
For those of you who are interested in all things Apple, this IT magazine will keep you updated on just about anything you could want to know about the world of Macs. Macworld has all the newest insights into new product releases, and it's especially ideal for readers who are into the audio and visual fields since it includes content focused specifically on those technologies. The magazine itself is a tribute to the clean and classy look of Apple, and for any Mac enthusiast it's virtually a must-have.

Content Quality:
Macworld does indeed cover all things Mac, and it offers far more than a superficial overview of Apple technologies. And what's great about this IT magazine is that it doesn't ignore other operating systems such as Windows and Linux; it offers tips and tricks to get Macs and PCs to play nice together. There is also an entire section dedicated to those who work in professions related to graphic arts, architecture, audio mixing or any other career that primarily uses Macs. The magazine is divided into the following sections:
  • Cover Story
  • Feature
  • Opinion
  • Mac User
  • iPhone Central
  • Working Mac
  • Playlist
  • Digital Photo
  • Create
  • Helpdesk
The ads in this magazine take up about a quarter of the page space giving nearly 75 pages of space to the articles. You aren't dealing with ads every other page, which means you can spend more time reading and enjoying the articles and less time avoiding ads and searching for interesting content.

Design Quality:
When most people think of Macs they think clean and classy. This IT magazine's layout follows the same elegant design principles Apple products embody. The layout of the magazine is simple and intuitive. It doesn't clutter the pages with too much text or too many graphics. Everything is neatly organized and uses a set layout throughout, which is nice. They know how to use white space and color to their advantage without looking sparse or tacky.

The organization of the magazine is clean. The table of contents is set up in a two-column format with the list of titles on one side and images on the other. The images are a nice draw for their respective articles, but it doesn't make it look cluttered. The header at the top of the right page let us know exactly what section we were reading from. We also liked the consistency of the icons in the magazine. They used the same icons when rating the product whether the article was in the iPhone section or in the feature article.
The website for Macworld is very clean. The first page that comes up is just a list of titles of the latest stories. This is useful because it conveys a lot of information, but it is sometimes difficult to tell what type of article is listed by the title alone. There is no official archive of the magazines, but all of the articles are available online – you just have to do some searching to find them. There is a useful search, but it doesn't have a way to sort the search by date or by title.

Macworld is a wonderful IT magazine if you are interested in anything Apple related. It covers a variety of topics each month that relate to the various products as well as audio and visual topics. While all of this is useful, because of its limited platform scope, you may want to look elsewhere if you're searching for a more broad range of technology news. 

4. PCWorld 

PCWorld box shot 
With the title PCWorld, you may think this IT magazine only covers PC computers. However, it contains articles on many kinds of technologies and gives you the information you need to stay on top of the latest devices. The magazine has a solid online presence, and you can find all of the articles on its website, although there isn't a set location for the magazine's archives. Overall, we were pleased with the magazine's presentation and what it offers its readers.

Content Quality:
This IT magazine presents good content, but the available amount is limited. While it does have more than just information about computers, it doesn't cover Macs. Overall, the magazine contains a lot of information about various emerging technologies, including software and hardware.
The topic it consistently covers that we thought most useful is security. Every issue has articles that fall into these topics:
  • Consumer Watch
  • Business Watch
  • Security Alert
  • Reviews and Rankings
  • Here's How
The ad to article ratio isn't unreasonable. With roughly 130 pages, the issue we looked at had approximately 60 pages of ads that are spaced throughout the magazine so you don't feel like you are flipping past more pages than you are reading. The majority of the ads related to technology in some fashion. Some of those ads were designed more like buying guides that are useful to people looking for a new computer.

Design Quality:
The magazine doesn't have a defining layout or design. While the design varies from article to article, the magazine's layout is clean, and it is easy to tell where one article ends and the next one begins. The images are clear and crisp, and they don't take up too much space on the page, so there is plenty of text per page to read before you have turn to the next page. While it isn't the snazziest layout we saw as we researched IT magazines, it is serviceable.

We were pleased with all of the options available for navigating through the print magazine. It has headers and footers on each page. This makes navigation simple because you can always tell which page you're on and in which section. The table of contents at the beginning of the magazine is great. Everything is neatly organized, and we appreciated the fact that it is all contained on a single page. We thought the blurbs about the featured articles were also useful.
PCWorld's website is useful. We were pleased to see that the articles are up to date. We were concerned that the site lacks an archive, however. Having a digital copy of the magazine in either an archive or digital subscription is important for today's readers. While all of PCWorld's articles are available online, they are difficult to find because they are not organized by issue. Instead, you can search for them by topic. We also thought it would be more helpful if the company moved the subscription sign-up option from the bottom of the page to a more visible location.

Overall, we were pleased with the available content in PCWorld. We gleaned a lot of information from the magazine – not just about computers, but concerning other technologies as well. The lack of a digital copy may be troublesome for some, but there is still a lot of good information located on the website that you can access from a mobile device, which helps offset this concern.

3. Wired 

Wired box shot 

When looking into IT magazines, we focused mainly on the technical information that the publications have to offer. For people who aren't interested in learning how to build their own servers and just want to stay up to date on the latest technologies while being entertained, Wired may be the perfect IT magazine. Because of its accessibility and entertaining take on technology, Wired wins our TopTenREVIEWS Bronze Award.

Content Quality:
We can't deny that Wired covers a broad range of topics in the IT world, and while all of the articles are entertaining, they aren't as technical as other IT magazines articles are. In Wired, we found articles about movies, music and television, but not as many on how to improve the performance of your computer or which tech products are best. For this reason, we didn't feel that the quality of the content is as high as we were looking for in IT magazines.
The other reason Wired didn't rank as high for content quality is the sheer number of ads in the publication. Granted, at almost 200 pages, this IT magazine is the largest of the publications we reviewed, but nearly half of those pages are full-page ads. This still leaves nearly a hundred pages for articles, but flipping past that many ads was annoying. The magazine's table of contents doesn't even appear until page 11, and it is split in half by two pages of ads. Another minor detail we noticed is that the advertisements aren't for as many technical services or products, and are geared more toward selling hotels, vacation getaways and cars.

Design Quality:
One of the best features of this magazine is its table of contents. It lists all of the articles in the issue with a graph that explains which topics they cover. One of the designs that bothered us, however, is the footer with the page number. It isn't as consistent in location or design as we would have liked it to be. The layout of the magazine is clean, but it isn't always consistent. The digital version is web-based, with the typical formatting for news articles. The setup of the digital version makes it easy to view the articles on a mobile device. The design of the digital version is much better than the print version.

The articles are divided into four main categories: Features, Start, Test and Play. Beyond the Test section, it is difficult to determine which section would contain which type of article. There were times when we couldn't tell which page we were on in the print magazine because there wasn't a page number, or if there was, it was in a different location on the page. This can make it frustrating to find a specific article quickly.
The Wired website is snazzy. Its articles are neatly organized, and it is easy to search for specific content. We were pleased by how easy it is to get from one article to another and read through the text. The website has more information than the print version provides, and it is something to keep track of on a daily basis because it is constantly updated.

Wired is an IT magazine that covers many technology topics. While it does a good job of touching each base, it doesn't give the technical depth and support that we looked for in the magazines we reviewed. Wired will keep you up to date on what is new and hot, but don't expect it to explain how to boost the performance of your machine with step-by-step instructions.

2. Maximum PC 

Maximum PC box shot 

MaximumPC is a good IT magazine with one drawback; it focuses too much on Microsoft. This magazine provides a lot of interesting information for people who are interested in this side of the IT field. It continually provides information on many topics that a wide audience of Microsoft users will find helpful. Because of its comprehensive information and sleek look, it wins our TopTenREVIEWS Silver Award.

Content Quality:
The one concern with this magazine is that its content is limited to PCs, about which it provides quality content. There is a long-standing debate surrounding which operating system is better: Mac or Windows. We aren't here to debate the topic, but more people own Windows machines than Macs. Some of the magazine's consistent topics include:
  • News – Articles covering new technologies
  • Deathmatch – A one-on-one comparison of similar products and technologies
  • Autopsy – An in-depth review of a particular piece of equipment
  • Build It – Step-by-step instructions for building systems of all sorts
  • Best of the Best – A part-by-part guide to building a better PC
As we looked through the magazine, we kept track of the number of ads. The magazine is nearly 100 pages long, and we counted roughly 30 full-page ads. All of the ads relate to some form of technology and aren't too distracting overall. The online version of the magazine doesn't have many of these ads, which is nice and unique. Many of the ads in the print issues were similar to informative product comparisons and are useful in their own right.

Design Quality:
The design of the magazine is fairly clean. The digital version of MaximumPC is the same as the print issue, but as a PDF file. The articles are laid out in multiple formats, and the headers vary depending on the section, which gives the magazine an eclectic look. The varying formats make it easy to tell where one article ends and the next one begins. Incidentally, we found it a little odd that the digital issue shows the desktop-publishing trim marks in the page corners.

As we've stated, this magazine is available in both print and digital form. The digital version is a PDF, which makes it simple to increase the font size for easier reading. We would have liked to see working links within the PDF or bookmarks that would enable you to jump to different sections. Overall, however, the table of contents impressed us the most. It fits neatly on one page, and it is categorized so that if you can't tell what an article is about from its title, you can tell by its category.
The MaximumPC website contains more articles than are contained in the actual magazine. It is easy to navigate through the site and find the information you want. We were also pleased with how accessible the PDF archives of the magazine are. You don't have to worry about packing your print issue with you when you are on the go.

MaximumPC has a set formula for its content and an eclectic design that separates the articles, giving them their own identity within multiple categories. The archives of the digital issues are easily accessible online. Unless you are a Mac user, you will glean a lot of information from the magazine's pages every month. Overall, this IT magazine will keep you up to date on the latest news and trends in the technology field.

1. Smart Computing 

Smart Computing box shot 

Smart Computing stands above the other IT magazines for one simple reason: quality. Even after looking at other magazines, this one remained fixed in our minds for what we want to see month after month, year after year. For this reason alone, it would win our TopTenREVIEWS Gold Award, but that isn't all. This magazine offers content for a variety of platforms, hardware and information technologies and presents it in an appealing manner. It has something for everyone, and its design is clear and uncluttered by ads.

Content Quality:
If there aren't any articles you want to read, why buy a magazine in the first place? An IT magazine should cover information technology from a variety of viewpoints. Smart Computing gives you a variety of articles that cover everything from mobile technology to hardware. We were pleased to see that every issue covers topics for both Windows and Mac. The articles are written for a variety of knowledge levels and contain technological information as well as an entertainment factor.
When reading an article, it is annoying to have an ad break up the information. Sometimes magazines have so many ads that you have to flip several pages before you can find the rest of an article. As we looked through different issues of Smart Computing, we were impressed by the number of ads in relation to the number of pages. The magazine has roughly 90 pages, and only about 10 percent are full-page ads. With this IT magazine, you definitely get your money's worth in articles and not advertisements.

Design Quality:
Not only do magazine publishers focus on the content they produce, but also on the presentation. Smart Computing is a magazine that has presentation down to an art. The magazine doesn't have overcrowded pages with small text and useless images. All of the images of products, processes and screenshots are clear and have labels and captions that are easy to distinguish from the rest of the text.
Since this is the digital age, we also looked into the design of the web version of the magazine. The digital version is basically a scanned image of the print version. The layout and formatting are the same. While this means that the design stays snazzy, it may be difficult to view the magazine in a digital format if the screen of your device is small.

The world is shifting from print to digital. Smart Computing is available both online and in print. The magazine is organized in a clean fashion. The headers and footers on every page make it easy to tell which section you are reading. The online version uses an application that makes browsing through the magazine easy. You can increase the magnification, jump to pages and view a list of all the articles in a dropdown content menu for easy perusal. You can also download a PDF copy of the complete magazine or individual articles if you want to keep a digital copy.
While doing our research, we looked into the magazine's website. From the website, you can access the digital copy of the magazine and individual articles. The website isn't nearly as impressive looking as the product, but it gives you all the information you need to know. It has some additional information that the magazine doesn't, but its focus is on getting the magazine and the information in it to its readers.

If you are looking for a magazine to help you stay on top of new technologies that are continually coming out, you should look into this magazine. It doesn't go in depth on every subject, but it covers all the bases and is a great choice for a general IT magazine. Smart Computing sets a high standard for quality content in a quality package.

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