Peter Stephenson, technology editor, SC Magazine
Peter Stephenson, technology editor, SC Magazine

Here at the SC Lab, we have been preparing for an exciting 2012 as we somewhat change up the format of our product pages. We know that you have wanted a bit more depth in our Group Test reviews, and just about the only way to do that is to increase the space that we allot to each product. That is exactly what we have done. Now, instead of a half-page per product, we will be devoting an entire page to each. That will let us tell you a bit more about our impression. That's just one of our changes, though.

In addition, instead of having two Group Tests in each issue, we now will focus on a single group. This is important for a lot of reasons. First, taking up twice the space for an individual product doesn't leave room for as many products in the same number of pages.

The second, and perhaps more important reason, is that the complexion of the groups that have been tried and true over the years has changed markedly. Today, we have seen the demise of vendors in some groups to the extent that there simply are not enough players in that niche to make a worthy set to review. These vendors have been acquired, have gone out of business or have significantly changed their business. That attrition has left us with little to work with in some cases.

This month, we grouped multifactor and biometric authentication together in a single group. Even so, with numerous companies in the biometric space selling off their technology, we were left with just one.

There always are unintended consequences to things that we change. The big one for us is that we have the opportunity to carry out something that we started over the past year or so: developing themes. Our theme this time is authentication, and we have a great crop of multifactor products keeping our lone biometric authentication tool company.

Also, we're breaking down our star ratings system to include, in some cases, fractional designations – ¼, ½ and ¾ stars – to reflect the accumulated Overall Rating tally better. Too, readers can expect at least quarterly, if not more, Emerging Technology Group Tests.

The last change this year? Our new lab dog, Dillon. So with that, we at the SC Labs wish you a spectacular 2012, and my personal wish for you hasn't changed in 20 years of writing here: May your net work!