Goodbye malware, hello micro-projector

After weeks of wrestling with malware on one of his Windows XP machines, Gibbs seems to have found a way to get rid of it . . . but he has no idea what was actually removed. Then he checks out a micro-projector. Busy, busy, busy.

I have two topics this week. First, it appears my malware saga has come to a satisfactory solution. As I discussed two weeks ago, I tried Malwarebytes AntiMalware to exorcise demons on a system running XP Professional SP2. It worked . . . for 24 hours. The next day the PC started acting flaky again (see last week's column) even though AntiMalware was declaring the system clean.

I was about to throw in the virtual towel and strip and rebuild the machine when I discovered an online service called Reimage. Reimage downloads an ActiveX control to your Windows PC, which then launches an Internet Explorer shell that scans your system.

Reimage then produces a report of what its found and offers, for a price of $65 for a single PC ($79 for three machines), to fix your problems. The way this magic is done is by removing bogus files and replacing modified files from Reimage's online repository of Windows systems components.

So, I downloaded, rebooted in safe mode, ran the scan, let Reimage perform the fix, and voilà! I can't detect any signs of anything amiss. The machine runs better than ever, no popups are appearing, and processor utilization from deferred procedure calls and all other services are within normal limits. Amazing.

Reimage is the result of some two and half years of development and real-world testing on over 6,000 PCs affected by malware and corruptions. The company claims a 99% success rate on repairs (the remaining 1% are unrepairable due to hardware issues) and offers a money-back guarantee with no questions asked if not satisfied.

Now the downside: Being relatively new, the user interface is poor. When you run in safe mode (which locks you into 640-by-480-pixel resolution) the client-side control uses relatively enormous fonts that use up way too much screen, making it hard to see what's going on. At the end of the run I allowed the repair, which is followed by a reboot, but there's no log to tell me what was done! That said, Reimage seems to have fixed my malware problems.

The repair also didn't preserve all of my settings. Windows XP thought my time-zone information was out of date (looks like a damaged registry key), the Start bar configuration was changed, the Quicklaunch toolbar was disabled, and my logon screen background was set to black rather than the usual blue for no obvious reason.

There are a few other oddities that also need to be fixed, but all the same, if you have a compromised PC and no time to rebuild, then Reimage may be a cheap way to resolve the problems. I'll give Reimage 3 out of 5. If they make it so the service tells me what has been fixed they'll get 4 out of 5, and resolving the other oddities should get them full marks.

My second topic this week is a micro-projector, the 3M MPro 110, which is similar to the Nextar Z10 my Cool Tools colleague Keith Shaw covered last week. For 25% more money than the Z10, the MPro 110 offers the same resolution in a box that is about 25% smaller and just a quarter of the weight. Conversely, the MPro 110 is purely a projector and cannot show content from memory cards like the Z10 can.

While the MPro 110 has good image quality, it also has a few notable flaws: Its image is not very bright (you'll need to really darken the room), there's a tiny but noticeable "pin cushion" distortion, there's light spill around the image from a casing around the lens (a weird oversight), there's no "keystone" correction (that is, the image can't be corrected if the device is off normal to the screen), and there's no tripod mounting so, as the MPro 110 is so lightweight, you'll need to put a book or something on top of it to hold it in place.

The MPro 110 is cool but mostly for its novelty value, and at $400, it's pricey. The 3M MPro 110 gets a rating of 2 out of 5.

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