Software & Hardware Reviews

Educational, Business and Entertainment Software Reviews

March 2016 Vol 22 # 3 Syma X5SW Copter & Vipre® Anti-virus

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Syma X5SW FPV RC Quadcopter

By Howard Berenbon

This was my first attempt at buying and flying an RC quadcopter.  I spent some time researching several low and high cost models, and decided on the low cost Syma brand for about $60. It had a 2MP camera with wireless WiFi that allowed real time video recording through your iPhone or iPod.  The X5SW is the newest of the Syma X5 series. The only difference is the WiFi connection built into the camera and taller landing skids, which may add more protection on crashing. And I have to say, all I did was crash the copter for the first couple of days, but with no apparent damage.  Inside the house, I found I moved the throttle up too fast, and quickly hit the ceiling.  Outside, I had a problem controlling the copter when winds were just 5 or 10 miles an hour.  I eventually learned to compensate, but one of my first flights I got it stuck in tree branches, caught by the propeller guards.  I’ve attached a video of that crash.  I was looking at the DJI Phantom copter, but decided I'd practice on the $60 Syma before I plunged into the much more stable programmable $1,000 quad copter with GPS, high resolution gimbal stabilized camera, 5 mile range and 25 minute flying time, just to mention a few of its features.  Losing or crashing a $60 toy isn't a tragedy, but letting a $1,000 copter disappear into the sunset, never to be seen again, would be quite a loss.

I placed my order with a US based company, and 4 days later it arrived.  However, the box was slightly different from the one pictured, displaying an HD camera reference, but not saying 2MP.  It turned out to be a 0.3MP camera, which was a disappointment since 2MP is somewhat better.  To run the camera, you download the Syma FPV app, which allows you to take a picture or record a video through your iPhone, iPod, iPad or Android mobile device. After I installed the app, I went on to the assembling the X5SW. It stores the files and then you can later transfer them to your photo album, and later transfer the files to your computer (I used FileManager) over your home WiFi.


The above quadcopter has a 2MP camera.

Assembly required adding the propeller guards, the camera (just snapped in), attaching the landing skids and then mounting the battery (which had a charge) into the battery compartment.  They included a small Philips screwdriver to do the job.  Then mounted my iPod Touch on the transmitter and headed out for a test flight. That was a mistake.  Turns out that there's a real learning curve for flying this copter, and I bypassed it.  Outside I synced the drone with the copter, and linked the iPod with the camera WiFi, pressed record in the app, and was ready to fly.  Moving the throttle up gradually, the drone headed skyward, but the wind caught it, and before I could react, it blew into a tree, and got caught on a branch through its propeller guard.  I couldn’t believe that my first outdoor flight and I managed to get it stuck about 25 feet up in a tree.  Embarrassed, I proceed to work on getting it down.  First I decided to throw a broom, and then a wooden stick up to dislodge it, and was somewhat successful causing it to drop down about 10 feet, but into another branch.  In the end, I was able to reach it with a length of 20 foot PVC tubing I built with a water hose attachment used to clean my gutters.

My future flights were more successful because I tried to keep the copter closer to the ground, and learned to regulate the throttle, with slight up and down movements, to prevent it from getting away, mainly in the wind.  I have now advanced to "expert pilot", and I'm very proud that I mastered the throttle and now land it safely. Just got to keep it out of the wind..  For more information visit

My Copter Youtube Videos

Below are links to my youtube quadcopter videos including a video from the onboard camera. However, I have included links to my new and very unusual reviews using a Puppet and Ventriloquist Dummy--indoors only. Let me know what you think!

Syma X5SW RC Quadcopter Review with a Killer Bunny

Nano sized Quadcopter Review with Nathan the Dummy

Nano Quadcopter Test Flight (missing from review)

Nano Quadcopter Update Repair and Flight with Nathan the Dummy

Syma S5XW Quadcopter 2.4GH .3MP WiFi Camera Crash on Roof

Syma X5SW Quadcopter Flight into a Tree with Real Time Video


Vipre® Internet Security Pro from ThreatTrack Security

By Howard Berenbon

I have been reviewing Vipre Internet Security just about yearly since 2008. I was interested in trying Vipre because at the time, it was the only anti-virus software that allowed you to use your computer normally while it was scanning for those nasty programs that were trying to invade your machine and steal personal information, and your money. You know the drill. Malicious people on the other side of the world (and some local) are designing malicious programs to data mine our computers for credit card numbers, bank accounts and steal our e-mail contacts to send virus laden spam to your friends. They’ll even try to hijack your computer so they can use it to send out virus stuffed spam to the world, and at your expense. Some viruses will disable your computer just for the fun of it, wiping out your hard drive so it’s unusable. But I think most malware would rather keep your computer functional, so they can use it maliciously without your knowledge. You will find out sooner than later because if you get infected, you’ll eventually notice a slow down. By then, it’s usually way too late and the only fix is to reformat.

In the past year or two a few deviously creative virus makers have introduced what is called “ransomware.” You’ll know it when you see a large ad pop up in the dead center of your display trying to extort money by selling a fix to rid your computer of the invader. Ad that point the malware has disabled your computer. Usually a number is displayed so you can call to pay for the repair. DO NOT CALL! If you do, they’ll ask for your credit card to download their anti-virus program. If you give out your credit card, then it will likely get stolen; and maxed out to boot. This has never happened to me, but I know a few who were shocked to see their computers handcuffed with that dreadful message. If this ever happens, you’d better have that Windows factory recovery DVD ready to restore your computer to original factory settings, because most people can’t recover from those malicious programs.

Hint: when you buy a new PC based computer, either pay for a set of restore DVDs or make your own set of backup disks. It will save you a lot of grief if your anti-virus program fails you, and they can fail you.

No PC based computer should run without one or two anti-malware programs. Vipre has been working well for years, and now with added features to help you make your Internet journey safer. But it can’t hurt to pick up one or two of the freeware programs just for backup. I have been recommending Malwarebytes, the free version, which should be used periodically to double check your computer. Even though the Vipre malware database is updated frequently (maybe daily), no program is perfect. I have found a virus or two using Malwarebytes just after a clean scan with Vipre. It happens and you have to be prepared.

The “Bad Website alert" is one of my favorite Vipre features. It works in the background while you’re surfing the Internet. I do a lot of research, and often Vipre displays a full screen message warning “you’re trying to enter a known bad site.” You can bypass the warning and enter at your own risk. But, don’t do it! It’s highly likely you’ll it will attempt to enter malicious code into your computer even if Vipre will stop the attack. Other important features include e-mail protection, Facebook scans, fast database updates, removeable memory device scans and 24/7 technical support via chat, e-mail or the Vipre forum.

Installation and Testing

ThreatTrack Security (formally GFI Software) offers 3 versions of Vipre for home use with a number of license options: single, multi-computer and even lifetime licenses. You can buy the Vipre Ant-virus 2016, Internet Security 2016 with more features, and Internet Security Pro, which is what I am using. Vipre Pro includes Instant Behavioral Analysis and Cloud enabled assessment for improved threat detection. You can download a 30-day free trial before you buy—no credit card required.

The program installed in about 10 minutes, and I was up and running, active protection, bad sites protection and all. You’ll probably want to a Quick Scan at first, and go to a Full Scan if Vipre finds any viruses. My quick scan revealed nothing, that’s because I use Vipre daily. After your scan it proudly announces that it has protected your computer from 4200+ threats. Of course, if you haven’t used Vipre, you won’t have any number listed. If Vipre doesn’t find any problems, I would still run a full scan to check. This can take several hours, depending on the number of files on your computer. I would definitely run the full scan, overnight, so you can check it in the morning. Most of my full scans come up empty, happily. For more information visit

Here’s What Vipre Pro Offers

Cloud-Enabled Advanced Active Protection
Immediate Detections of Emerging Threats
Instant Behavioral Analysis
Live URL Lookup
An Intuitive User Interface
Edge Protection—defends against drive-by download attacks
Social Watch—scans your Facebook page for bad links
Search Guard—bad link detector
Auto Updating
Two-Way Firewall—protects against incoming and outgoing traffic
E-mail Spam Filter/Virus Protection
All-in-One PC Security—detects and removes viruses, spyware, rootkits, bots, Trojans and everything else
Bad Website Blocker
Real-Time Monitoring and Protection
Removable Device Scanning
Advanced Rootkit Technology
History Cleaner for removing browsing and search histories
Secure File Eraser, a utility added to Windows Explorer for deleting all traces of a file


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