Eight air-purifying plants

clean air

Dealing with headaches, sinus pressure, itchy eyes, or drowsiness? ‘Tis the season for allergies, but before reaching for more medicine, consider getting an especially effective, cost-efficient, and very Earth-friendly air purifier: a houseplant. (If it is an actual air purifier that you seek, check out our report on the Best Reviewed.)

A NASA study spearheaded in the late 1980s by Dr. B.C. Wolverton found that “indoor air pollution is a realistic threat to human health,” and that commonly found chemicals in the air such as formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene can lead to symptoms of “sick building syndrome,” a phenomenon found in enclosed settings from airplanes to homes to remodeled buildings. Wolverton, whose books include How To Grow Fresh Air and the most recent Plants: Why You Can’t Live Without Them, experimented with a variety of everyday houseplants to test just how well they could improve air quality.

The results? Even the familiar ficus excels at pulling out trace amounts of harmful chemicals from the air–including formaldehyde, which can be found in plastic grocery bags, paper towels, carpet backing, and foam insulation and is suspected by the Environmental Protection Agency to cause a rare form of throat cancer found in long-term mobile home residents.

“Plants in general are pretty great at improving interior spaces, for a variety of reasons,” says Dave Ehrlinger, director of horticulture at the San Diego Botanic Garden.

Besides being easily available and inexpensive, these pollution-controllers are nearly indestructible, requiring little light and water (similar to the greenery in our roundup on house plants you can’t kill). Check out our slideshow of some plants that help purify the air.

English ivy, Hedera helixPrev


English ivy, Hedera helix

Considered a weed by some, this evergreen rapid grower works well for ornamental purposes. It is especially good at removing benzene, which is found in gasoline, inks, dyes, rubber, detergents, and pharmaceuticals. Low-level exposure to benzene can cause loss of appetite, headaches, nervousness, and drowsiness, while more serious exposure can cause dermatitis, inflammation, liver and kidney damage, and even anemia, bone marrow disease, and leukemia.

Spider plant, Chlorophytum comosumPrev


Spider plant, Chlorophytum comosum

Resilient and easy to propagate, spider plants produce delicate white flowers and filter formaldehyde, benzene, and xylene, which is often in lacquers, varnishes, adhesives, and cleaning fluid.

Gerbera daisy, Gerbera jamesoniiPrev


Gerbera daisy, Gerbera jamesonii

Besides providing a burst of cheerful color, gerberas work well as an all-around filter, also getting rid of trichloroethylene—a potent liver carcinogen found in printing inks and adhesives.

Peace lily, SpathiphyllumPrev


Peace lily, Spathiphyllum

Weekly watering and partial light will keep this dark green, leafy plant thriving. Elegant white flowers also help remove toluene and ammonia from the air.

Devil’s ivy, Goldon pothos, Epipremnum aureumPrev


Devil’s ivy, Goldon pothos, Epipremnum aureum

Known also as the centipede tongavine, the silver vine, and the money plant, pothos can sustain itself on almost total darkness and very little water. Give it more care, and a cascading vine will quickly grow. It is excellent for filtering out formaldehyde.

Weeping fig, Ficus benjaminaPrev


Weeping fig, Ficus benjamina

This little tree can be tricky to get started, but once it grows, it needs almost no follow-up care. Ehrlinger suggests putting it by a western-facing window for good light.

Chinese evergreen, Aglaonema Prev


Chinese evergreen, Aglaonema

Even low light can prompt this leafy, lush plant to grow bright red berries and flowers. It is especially effective at filtering out benzene and formaldehyde.

Dracaena Marginata Prev


Dracaena varieties: Warneckei, Marginata (pictured above), Massangeana, Janet Craig

Just about any of the 40 varieties in this genus are a favorite of malls, airports, and other high-traffic indoor spaces—and with great reason. Striking, easy to grow, and very low-maintenance, these tropical-looking trees were an all-around favorite in the NASA study.

Recall recap: Auto recalls by BMW and General Motors and tires, plus peanut and milk allergy alerts


Auto manufacturers topped the list of recalls this week, with BMW recalling nearly 3,000 vehicles for potential fire hazard, and GM recalling some 50,000 Buick Enclave, Chevy Traverse and GMC Acadia vehicles for wiper blades that may become inoperative. And you might want to check your vehicle for tires from Cooper, Del-Nat, and PT. Multistrada.  In other news, Harry David recalled its Premium Kansas City Style Barbecue Almonds because of undeclared peanuts.

In auto safety

BMW recalled some 3,000 vehicles, 2011 BMW 5-Series and 5-Series Gran Turismo, and 2012 6-Series, 7-Series, X5 SAV, and X6 SAV vehicles because the circuit board for the electric auxiliary water pump can overheat, which could lead to a vehicle fire. BMW will notify owners, and dealers will replace the auxiliary water pump, free of charge, with the safety recall beginning in April. Owners may contact BMW at (800) 525-7417.

GM recalled 2011-2012 Buick Enclaves, Chevy Traverse and GMC Acadia, 50,001 vehicles, currently registered in 29 cold-weather states, because snow and ice buildup can cause the wiper blades to become inoperative, creating poor visibility and increasing the risk of a crash. GM will notify owners, and dealers will fix the wiper blades, free of charge, with the safety recall expected to begin on or about April 16, 2012.

In tire safety

Cooper Tire and Rubber Company recalled 1,084 Discoverer H/T / LT245/75R16 tires manufactured from February 12, 2012 through March 10, 2012. Inaccurate tire labeling could lead to overload or under inflation, increasing the risk of a crash. Cooper has begun notifying owners, and dealers will replace the noncompliant tires, free of charge. Owners may contact Cooper at (800) 854-6288.

PT. Multistrada Arah Sarana recalled more than 36,000 Achilles and Radar light truck tires because they may experience blistering on their sidewall or tread separation that may cause sudden loss of air, increasing the risk of a crash. PT. Multistrada Arah Sarana will notify owners beginning sometime in April, and replace the noncompliant tires free of charge. Owners may contact the company’s customer hotline at (800) 944-8414.

For the same reason as PT. Multistrada, Del-Nat Tire Corporation recalled more than 2,600 Chaparral/ Radial XT / P235/75R15 tires. The recalled tires were produced from September 2008 through December 2009. Del-Nat has already begun to notify owners and replace the tires, free of charge. Owners may contact Del-Nat’s consumer relations department at (901) 775-8125.

For replacement tires, consult our reviews of the best car and truck tires.

In food safety

Harry and David is voluntarily recalling approximately 205 2 oz. bags of Harry David Premium Kansas City Style Barbeque almonds, because the bags may contain peanuts, an undeclared ingredient. The recalled almonds have a Best By date of 9/28/12 and were sold in at Harry and David stores in California, Colorado, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon and Virginia.

Mission Foods announced a voluntary recall of taco dinner kits, distributed by Kroger, Hannaford, Winn-Dixie and Food Lion stores nationwide, because of an undeclared milk allergen. Food Lion previously issued its own recall of the taco kits which was covered in last week’s recall recap.

Win big with our Lucky 7′s Facebook contest

Lucky 7's

Are you feeling lucky? At ConsumerSearch, we know luck is on our side, especially since the launch of our Lucky 7′s Facebook contest. From now until May 9, we are giving away one of seven Best Reviewed products – everything from tablets, computers, BBQs, treadmills, TVs, and more  – plus weekly $77 gift card drawings throughout the contest.

Before you enter, you get to select the Best Reviewed product you would like to win. To learn about the seven products in the selection pool, visit our entry form. Once the sweepstakes is over, we will select one lucky winner.  Also, every Monday during the promotion, a lucky someone will get a $77 American Express gift card!

The best part: there are ways to increase your luck. Here’s how: 1- Invite your friends to enter by sharing the contest. For each friend who you get to enter, you will receive an additional chance to win! 2- Help us grow our fan base. If we hit Lucky 7′s and get to 7,777 likes before the end of the promotional period, we will unlock an additional Grand Prize. So instead of only one person winning the Best Reviewed product of their choice, there will be two winners!

Good luck with Lucky 7′s! We hope to see you on Facebook.

Marvel vs. Capcom 2 Headed to iOS

Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is headed to iPhone and iPod Touch next week. According to Capcom, the game will include the full 56-character roster of the console versions and features the same “insane, action-packed, tag-team arcade fighting experience.”

Gameplay from Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 on Xbox Live Arcade

Capcom notes that the game will stay true to the original release. Fighting will still consist of teams of three, including the “Variable System” tag-team format that allows different characters to be swapped in at any time. The game will also feature the trademark Team Hyper Combo that allows all three team members to join forces for a group attack.

Marvel vs. Capcom 2 was originally released on Dreamcast, Xbox and PlayStation 2 in 2000. The game also came to Xbox Live and PlayStation Network in 2009.

Marvel vs. Capcom 2 will hit the App Store on April 25th. Capcom hasn’t revealed a price or any details about how the game will be different on iOS, but check back to IGN for more information next week.

Are you excited to play Marvel vs. Capcom 2 on iOS? How do you think the game’s complicated control system will work on a touch screen? Let us know in the comments below.

Andrew Goldfarb is IGN’s associate news editor. Keep up with pictures of the latest food he’s been eating by following him on Twitter or IGN.

App Store Update: April 20

Every day hundreds of new apps make their debut on the App Store, and hundreds more are updated or reduced in price. We have sifted through the noise and highlighted those select few that might be worth your attention.

The Island: Castaway HD – ($6.99)

The Island: Castaway might be a little derivative, but for iPad owners that can’t get enough of the growing “tribe management” casual game genre, G5′s latest looks to be another solid entry.

Sam Max Beyond Time Space Ep 5 – ($4.99)

The epic conclusion to Sam Max’s third Telltale adventure is now available on iOS! Are you ready to face The Devil himself?

Jazz: Trump’s Journey – ($0.99)

This time-freezing historical platformer from Bulkypix is available for just $0.99 for a limited time – the game’s first sale since it launched in January.

Companions – ($0.99)

This unique strategy/RPG hybrid is once again available for $0.99. Gamers looking for something deeper than the usual breezy App Store hits should give it a look.

Dungeon Raid – ($0.99)

Exceptionally addictive indie puzzle RPG Dungeon Raid is on sale for $0.99. We named this one of the absolute best games on the App Store. So don’t miss it!

Zenonia – (Free)

Gamevil’s hit 2009 Action RPG is once again free. Jump on it!

Zenonia 2 – (Free)

Zenonia’s much-improved sequel is also free.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Zombies – ($4.99)

Activision has put their newest zombie-slaying FPS on sale for the first time.

Puzzlejuice – ($0.99)

Grab color-matching, word-forming hybrid puzzler Puzzlejuice on the cheap for a limited time.

Justin is Editor of IGN Wireless. He has been reviewing cell phone games since the dark days of Java flip phones. You can follow him on Twitter and IGN.

Torchlight II Opening Cinematic Revealed

No, sorry, Runic Games did not announce a launch date for Torchlight II, but the studio did release the opening cinematic for its upcoming action-RPG. The video embedded below was a group effort between Runic and Klei Entertainment, and showcases Runic’s commitment to developing Torchlight’s story elements a little more for the sequel.

“We’re still not making a ‘story game’, but I think we do a much greater job for providing context and motivation with Torchlight II,” said Runic in a post on their official site.

This won’t be the only cinematic in the game, either. “We tried to focus on the opening and closing cinematics and treat the two cinematics in the middle more as transitions. You could consider the cinematics in Torchlight II as having two majors and two minors.”

For more about how Torchlight II plays, you can check out our recent coverage.

UPDATE: New Nintendo Direct Coming Tonight

UPDATE (11:50AM): Clues have sprouted up as to what tonight’s Nintendo Direct broadcast might include. Kid Icarus Uprising director Masahiro Sakurai took to Twitter, hinting to his followers that they can expect news pertaining to the recently released Uprising from tonight’s video.

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy news might also be on the way, as Masanobu Suzui, head of developer Indies Zero, urged his followers not to miss the broadcast.

Finally, a swapnote was sent to Japanese 3DS systems from Nintendo president Satoru Iwata announcing the forthcoming Nintendo Direct video. The swapnote include a picture of Iwata beside a giant Kirby doll, perhaps indicating that Kirby-related news in on the way.

Thanks to Andriasang for the translations. Again, be sure to check back in to IGN 3DS tonight for all the breaking Nintendo Direct news.

UPDATE (11:20AM): Nintendo of America has announced via Twitter that news will be arriving for the U.S. at around 8:30pm PT. This is around the time the Japanese version of Nintendo Direct should be concluding. Check back to IGN 3DS tonight for all the details.

UPDATE (9:40AM): We now know that there will also be a European version of this Nintendo Direct broadcast, showing at 1pm CET (that’s 4am PT). Still no word on a U.S.-specific version.

ORIGINAL STORY (9:00AM): Nintendo plans to broadcast its next ‘Nintendo Direct’ presentation this Saturday at Noon in Japan. That’s 8pm PT in the United States and 4am in the UK. Currently the online video has only been announced for Japan, meaning products revealed will only immediately pertain to that region. Nintendo typically focuses its Direct videos on its plans for the next several months.

Past Nintendo Direct videos have revealed new features for games like Mario Kart 7, Kid Uprising and Fire Emblem: Awakening, as well as 3DS system update information, 3DS game demos, the North American localization of The Last Story and more.

Check out the following links for an idea of what kind of news these broadcasts tend to bring:

First Nintendo Direct

Second Nintendo Direct

Third Nintendo Direct

Stay tuned to IGN for all the news this video brings, as well as for any word we hear on a possible U.S. or UK version – but keep in mind the broadcast doesn’t always receive a U.S. counterpart. In fact, we’ve only gotten a U.S.-specific version twice (this past February and October).

Audrey Drake is an Associate Editor of IGN.com and a proud member of the IGN Nintendo team. She is also a lifelong gamer, a frequent banisher of evil and a wielder of various legendary blades. You can follow her zany exploits on her IGN blog and Twitter. Game on!

Rich George is an Executive Editor of IGN.com and the leader of the IGN Nintendo team. Follow his ridiculous adventures through his IGN blog and Twitter. Keep it cool, Koopalings.

UPDATE: Black Ops 2 Info Coming in May?

Update: An IGN reader has provided us with the following promotional box set to be displayed at retail stores.

What do you expect to see revealed on May 2nd? Take the poll below, and let us know your detailed thoughts in the comments.

What Call of Duty info will be revealed on May 2nd?

Original story follows:

A leaked retail poster suggests that our first look at the next Call of Duty game is coming next month.

A picture of a poster obtained by Kotaku says to “return for debriefing” on May 2, 2012. Is this when we’ll see the game revealed?

Previously, Activision announced that a new Call of Duty game is coming in 2012. While it hasn’t been confirmed as Black Ops 2, Activision purchased blackops2.com earlier this year, and Amazon posted a listing for the game in France.

We’ve reached out to Activision about the poster and will update this story with any comment we receive.

Andrew Goldfarb is IGN’s associate news editor. Keep up with pictures of the latest food he’s been eating by following him on Twitter or IGN.


Recently, I needed to create a quick floor plan of an office layout to upload to a wireless network site surveying tool. Microsoft’s Visio is probably the most well-known program for creating diagrams but I didn’t have a copy. Instead, I tried Gliffy, a cloud-based application for creating diagrams. While some diagramming purists may find Gliffy too simplistic for high-level engineering or other intricate technical diagrams, Gliffy provided me with just what I needed.

Gliffy is an easy-to-use diagram builder that can create not only floor plans but also flowcharts, organizational charts, Venn diagrams, and more.

Getting Started with Gliffy

Gliffy is free to try for 30 days and offers three subscription tiers. The free subscription comes with one user account, five diagrams and 2MB of storage. Diagrams made in the free subscription are only available as public diagrams, meaning a read-only version of the diagram is available for anyone on the Internet to access. I would assume that for most business users, at least, this would be unacceptable. Fortunately, the paid options are pretty reasonable.

For $4.95 per user, per month, you can create up to 200 diagrams, get 200MB of online storage, make diagrams either public or private, and share with an unlimited number of collaborators via sending an email link.  A Gliffy Pro account costs $9.95 per user, per month, and provides an unlimited number of diagrams which can be made either public or private, unlimited storage, and an unlimited number of collaborators.

 After creating an account and logging in you can create a new document from scratch or import a GIF, JPG, or PNG file to use as a template. There are also many built-in templates, include those for website and software design, network diagramming, and all sorts of floor plans for both residences and business. I selected the template for a typical office layout.

My template was already populated with images of items you would find in a typical office: chairs, desks, phones, and even plants and water coolers. By default, the images on the template are a bit too large and cartoonish for my tastes. No matter, though; images can easily be re-sized and you can add your own images to your personal Gliffy image library.

I customized the floor plan to create the layout I wanted.  This was simple to do since you can just drag and drop images from the listing on the left side panel into the diagram.  A hover of the mouse pointer over any icon in the library displays a description of that icon. I created walls where I wanted, added cubicles, and other office equipment such as copiers, PCs and phones. It’s quite easy to work within a diagram, although without the grid displayed, it’s tricky to line objects up precisely by free hand.

You can select multiple objects to delete them all at the same time. Clicking an object on a diagram— a cubicle image for instance—allows you to rotate, resize or access the properties of the image. Within properties you can change the colors, size and position of the image. For even greater precision, set the diagram’s gridlines to display on the canvas as well as drawing guides and page breaks.

I was able to create a nicely-detailed, sharp- looking office floor plan. I also created a network diagram using a built-in template for a business network. The template is useful for diagramming networks of almost any size and includes icons for most enterprise networking equipment such as servers, switches, WAN connections, firewalls and more.

Templates aren’t just for business, however. Home users who may be planning a renovation project have a choice of some well-designed residential templates for bathrooms, kitchens and other areas in a home.

Intel Core i7-2700K

When Intel released its line of second-generation Core processors a year ago (under the “Sandy Bridge” code name), it offered consumers new opportunities in various areas of CPU performance, regardless of how much you wanted to spend. The top chip at launch was the Core i7-2600K (4 stars), a four-core, eight-thread, 3.4GHz powerhouse that clearly defined the high end of the mainstream space. But as Sandy Bridge approached the end of its brief life span, a minor update was needed to help guide the family into a more Ivy Bridge¬–friendly world. That CPU, the Core i7-2700K ($332 list) was to serve as a bare replacement for the Core i7-2600K, without upsetting too many digital apple carts along the way. At that job, and any others required of it, it succeeds—if not dazzlingly.

The Core i7-2700K represents a mere 100MHz speed bump above its predecessor, to 3.5GHz. But all of its other characteristics are identical: 8MB of cache, four cores and eight threads (thanks to Intel’s Hyper-Threading technology), integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000, and the full line of shiny Sandy Bridge features, ranging from Turbo Boost 2.0 (which temporarily increases processing speed when the appropriate head room is available), Quick Sync Video (for faster rendering and conversion of video files), and so on. Of course, the Core i7-2700K also shares some of the same limitations of the Core i7-2600K, most notably in that graphics system. It supports only DirectX 10.1 (DX10.1), not DX11, and won’t provide more than adequate support for any builder who declines (for whatever reason) to use a discrete video card.

For those who don’t already own a Core i7-2600K, the evidence is clear: There’s no reason to upgrade. Testing both the older chip and the new one in the same desktop revealed that there’s practically little performance difference between the two. As you might expect, the faster chip inspired a few marginal improvements. We saw, for example, scores of 7.28 versus 7.26 in CineBench R11.5, 3,725 versus 3,679 in the Futuremark PCMark 7 full-system test, and the newer chip needed five fewer seconds to complete the POV-Ray 3.7 single-CPU rendering test (14 minutes 54 seconds versus 14:59). But in other tests we saw no substantial changes at all; both chips took 2 minutes 50 seconds to apply a dozen filters and effects in Adobe Photoshop CS5, both took 32 seconds to convert a video in Handbrake 0.9.6, and both achieved the same 206MBps rate in our TrueCrypt 7.1a cryptography trial. Even power usage was functionally identical between the chips, with the full systems for both idling at 71 watts and achieving about 167 watts under full load.

We ran as much of our suite of gaming tests on the Core i7-2700K as we could to measure its graphics prowess, but the lack of DX11 support limited what we could do. As it was, it proved inadequate for most basic 3D gaming at a fairly standard gamer’s resolution of 1,920 by 1,200; in Tom Clancy’s HAWX2, usually the benchmark at which lower-tier video hardware does best, the Core i7-2700K could eke out only 15fps with all the details maxed. If you’re willing to dial back on the eye candy and play at a lower resolution, you will be able to get playable frame rates using just the Core i7-2700K. But our recommendation about this likewise hasn’t changed much from the Core i7-2600K days: Buy a discrete video card, even an inexpensive one, so you can leave the CPU to what it does best. (For better integrated graphics at this point, AMD APUs are the preferred way to go—but you’ll sacrifice raw performance as a result.)

At this point, with Ivy Bridge just around the corner, the Core i7-2700K is an upgrade that will appeal primarily to enthusiasts looking for every last drop of speed they can squeeze from a CPU. Its unlocked multiplier means it’s every bit as overclockable as its forebear, and that extra 100MHz gives you a nice, if subdued, additional nudge out the starting gate. But if you already have a Core i7-2600K, there’s no reason to replace it now. If you want to stay within the Sandy Bridge family, our favorite remains the Editors’ Choice Core i5-2500K (4.5 stars), which lags behind the Core i7-2600K by 100MHz, lacks a bit of cache, and doesn’t have Hyper-Threading, but delivers nearly equivalent performance in most areas and costs considerably less ($216 list). If, however, you’re seeking out the fastest second-generation Core chip you can find, and aren’t concerned about its relationship to the Core i7-2600K or its rapidly approaching obsolescence with Ivy Bridge, the Core i7-2700K is a potent choice for powering a high-end middle-of-the-road PC.

More Chipset and Processor Reviews:
•   Intel Core i7-2700K
•   Intel Core i7-3820
•   Intel Core i7-3930K
•   AMD A8-3870K
•   Intel Desktop Board DX79SI
•  more