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Published: Sun, 25 Feb 2018 14:56:07 -0800

Last Build Date: Sun, 25 Feb 2018 14:56:07 -0800


Huawei's Matebook X Pro is a svelte Surface Book with a hidden webcam for the paranoid

Sun, 25 Feb 2018 12:13:00 -0800

Huawei’s Matebook X Pro is what happens when designers boil down Microsoft’s Surface Book line to its essentials, sprinkling a bit of paranoia on top for extra flavor.

Huawei’s flagship notebook improves upon the Huawei Matebook X that the company launched last year. Now with a 3,000x2,000-pixel display that takes after the Surface Book line, the 13.9-inch notebook will be sold in three configurations, with prices beginning at 1,499 Euros ($1,845 USD). Huawei will ship it to North America this spring, the company said. 

Three features distinguish the Matebook X Pro. First, the company is offering a discrete -graphics options within a 0.57-inch (14.6 mm) form factor—not ultrabook thin, but not as chunky as the 0.9-inch thick Surface Book 2, either. Huawei also achieved a 91-percent screen-to-body ratio, which helps pare down the bezel to create something that looks close to an edge-to-edge display. But that design feature also comes at a cost: Huawei removed the webcam and placed it underneath a function key on the keyboard.

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Samsung's Galaxy S9 debuts with big changes to DeX

Sun, 25 Feb 2018 09:10:00 -0800

With the Samsung DeX Pad, the company has improved its innovative dock that allows you to use your premium Samsung Galaxy phone as a desktop computer. While the makeover coincides with the launch of the Galaxy S9 and S9+, the DeX Pad is backwards-compatible with Galaxy S8, S8+ and Note 8—but with a major caveat exlained below.

The DeX refresh, combined with new software, strengthens Samsung’s argument that  travelers can leave their laptop or tablet at home, and work entirely off their smartphone by connecting it to a monitor via the dock’s HDMI port.

This new DeX version positions the phone flat on your desktop, as opposed to standing at an upright angle as in the original dock. With the phone flat, the screen can be used as a trackpad, negating the need for a mouse. It appeared to work well during Samsung’s demo, and it’s a clever solution that probably had a few Samsung engineers wondering, “Why didn’t we think of this approach the first time around?”

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Galaxy S9+ hands on: Testing AR emojis and Samsung's dual-aperture camera

Sun, 25 Feb 2018 09:05:00 -0800

Ten years ago, I wouldn’t be caught dead using emojis. Now, I probably text or Slack more than 10 a day. Enter the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+, which create the world’s most technologically advanced emojis. They’re personalized emojis in my own image. They doppelgang the whiskers on my face. Samsung’s emojis are way, way better than Apple’s Animoji—but is that saying much? 

Along with a Dual Aperture camera and a clever new Super Slow-motion video mode, Samsung is pinning its S9/S9+ innovation story on so-called AR Emoji. Yes, these three features move the smartphone ball forward. And the new S series introduces a few other upgrades too. But in sum total, the Galaxy S9 experience feels quietly iterative.

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Galaxy S9 early camera test: Let's scrutinize Samsung's Dual Aperture photos

Sun, 25 Feb 2018 09:01:00 -0800

Samsung just announced its first dual-aperture smartphone camera—and our very early testing shows that the Galaxy S9’s wider f/1.5 aperture does help in low-light conditions, but the f/2.4 setting is no slouch either in capturing detail in the very same lighting.

Head on over to your high-resolution desktop display, and click (and expand!) the video above for the full story. The Histogram at the top right of the screen clearly indicates the aperture mode of each photo we review.

Below we share our testing approach, as well as some top-line first impressions.

How we tested

All of the photos in the video were taken during a 90-minute Galaxy S9/S9+ demo last week. For our Last Cam Standing series, we always compare the latest smartphone cameras to our current camera winner (in this case, the Huawei Mate 10 Pro), but Samsung didn’t allow us to take comparison shots with other phones. We even had to put stickers over the cameras of our personal smartphones (to prevent press leaks, and not necessarily to deny comparative testing).

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The Galaxy S9 looks like an S8 on the outside, but is all new on the inside

Sun, 25 Feb 2018 09:00:00 -0800

The Galaxy S9 and S9+ may have the same size, shape, and screen as the Galaxy S8 and S8+ they replace, but don't be fooled. Inside, Samsung has completely retooled its flagship phones where it counts: in the processor, the camera, and even its emoji.

In a first for the smartphone industry, Samsung is introducing a dual-aperture camera tuned for low-light situations, and chasing Apple's Animoji, the company has introduced augmented-reality-tooled emoji of its own.

You can read our first hands-on impressions of the Galaxy S9 here. We also conducted some early Galaxy S9 camera tests.

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Nokia goes retro again with the 8110, but who's really going to buy it?

Sun, 25 Feb 2018 08:55:00 -0800

At last year’s Mobile World Congress, HMD Global whipped the geek crowd into a frenzy with a fun reboot of the Nokia 3310, complete with bright colors, hard keys, and candy bar nostalgia. They’ve done it again at MWC 2018 with the 8110, but this time around the game might be a little played out.

Popularized by Keeanu Reeves’ character in The Matrix, the 8810 was a weird phone for 1999 and it’s even weirder in 2018. On the outside, the 8110 looks very much like that 20-year-old phone, with a slider mechanism that pulls down to reveal a full set of keys. It's just as long, cumbersome and clunky as it was back then, and the specs haven't been upgraded all that much either:

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LG's V30S ThinQ has last-generation speed and next-generation smarts

Sun, 25 Feb 2018 05:04:00 -0800

LG is starting to think different about phone releases. If you were hoping for a new LG flagship phone at Mobile World Congress, you got your wish. Well, sort of. Instead of the G7, LG has launched the V30S ThinQ, which freshens the V30 with smarts, not specs.

The V30S has the same display, chip, battery, and camera as the V30, but bumps the RAM to 6GB and the storage to 128GB. It also comes in two new colors, Platinum Gray and Moroccan Blue. But those minor changes do not a new model make. To justify the name, LG has given the V30 some new smarts thanks to an infusion of AI.

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Assassin's Creed: Origins's Discovery Tour mode shows how great educational games could be

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 05:00:00 -0800

Do you know what a “Hippodamian Grid Plan” is? I didn’t until I played Assassin’s Creed: Origins’s new Discovery Tour mode.

Turns out Hippodamus of Miletus is known as “the father of European urban planning,” a Greek born in 498 B.C.E. who argued that cities should be built rationally (a.k.a. on grids) instead of devolving into haphazard labyrinths. Most important: His ideas were adopted by Deinokrates, principle planner for the city of Alexandria.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Walk like an Egyptian

I’ve been waiting for Assassin’s Creed: Origins’s “Discovery Tour” mode ever since Ubisoft showed it off to us last year. The gist: Ubisoft took the world from Origins, the sprawling recreation of Ptolemaic Egypt that played host to Bayek’s adventures last year, and stripped most of the “game” elements out of it. There are no missions here, no throats to slit, no Phylakes to fend off.

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This week in games: Final Fantasy XV adds Half-Life's star, Blizzard hosts a Warcraft III tourney

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0800

The Papers Please movie finished up its paperwork and nabbed a release date, Overwatch had puppies play Capture the Flag, Warcraft III is hosting a tournament, you’ll soon (probably) be able to buy Geralt’s bathtub figurine, and Final Fantasy XV is doing a Half-Life crossover.

Yes, it’s certainly been a weird week in video game news. Let's recap February 19 to 23.

Humble Classics

As far as bang-for-your-buck goes, the new Humble Classics Return Bundle (that’s a mouthful) might be the best the company’s ever featured. It’s full of those isometric CRPGs that suck up dozens and dozens of hours of your time, plus a few strategy and adventure games to boot.

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Walmart has the Intel Core i7-8700K for just over $300 today

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 10:28:00 -0800

Today's a good day to get a deal on a powerful Intel processor: Walmart has the Intel Core i7-8700K for $313. That's $26 cheaper than the retailer's competition, and one of the lowest non-coupon prices we've seen yet.

The Core i7-8700K is part of Intel's newest line of CPUs that rolled out in late 2017. These eight-generation "Coffee Lake" chips were a notable upgrade over previous generations, due to an increase in core count: While Kaby Lake (and earlier) Core processors offered two or four cores, Coffee Lake parts offer four or six cores. Thanks AMD.

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Massive EA Origin game sale slashes prices on Battlefield, Star Wars, Mass Effect, and more

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 06:58:00 -0800

Now's a great time to snag EA games on the cheap. The gaming giant is running a massive "Publisher sale" on its Origin storefront and Amazon through March 6, with more than 50 games and DLC packs discounted heavily. Let's look at some of the highlights.

Mass Effect: Andromeda is $10. Our resident games critic didn't think it was a particularly great game, but still called it "eminently playable," and you'll get a lot of hours out of your tenner. If you missed the legendary original series, you can dip your toe in the Mass Effect waters with the Mass Effect Trilogy pack for $7.49.

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Google takes Assistant worldwide with new languages and custom phone integrations

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 06:12:00 -0800

Google Assistant had its coming out party at Mobile World Congress 2017 with the announcement that it was expanding beyond Google’s own Pixel phones, and now it’s ready to take on the world. Literally. Google has announced it will be expanding Assistant to nearly two dozen more languages this year as it expands its influence to some “95 percent of all eligible Android phones worldwide.”

Google Assistant already speaks English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and Portuguese (Brazil), but its linguist capabilities will be greatly expanded over the next 10 months as Google plans to add support for more than 30 languages. First up will be Danish, Dutch, Hindi, Indonesian, Norwegian, Swedish and Thai, all of which should arrive by summer.

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TrackNet Tabs review: Security and location tracking in one very capable system

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 06:00:00 -0800

A slick mobile app powers both a solid security offering and an impressive locator system.

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MWC 2018: Samsung's Galaxy S9 reveal and everything else you need to know

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 04:00:00 -0800

The new phones are coming! Mobile World Congress is nearly upon us, and soon we'll be feasting our eyes on the latest and greatest Android has to offer. So whether you're attending the big show or just checking out the keynote streams online, here's everything we expect (and hope) to see:

MWC 2018: Samsung

(image) Venture Beat

Renders of the Galaxy S9 and S9+ have leaked in all their glory.

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10 great PC games that recovered from disastrous launches

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 03:30:00 -0800

“Games as a Service” has become a buzzword in recent months, especially in the wake of November’s Star Wars Battlefront II lootbox controversy. The lootbox association has also tainted the term, tying it inextricably to what’s at best seen as a “necessary evil” in the industry.

But the basic idea behind Games as a Service is a net positive in theory: The games you like get expanded upon after release. Not just one big expansion or a handful of smaller DLCs, but near-constant support for years at a time. It’s what people liked about MMOs, but for all genres—the silver lining to this digital future, with its Day One patches and all the other stuff players like to grumble about.

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Origin EON17-X review: This monster gaming laptop challenges high-end desktop PCs

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 03:00:00 -0800

Spoiler alert: We’ve never tested a gaming laptop as all-around powerful as the Origin PC EON17-X.

This big, badass notebook pushes the pedal to the metal with the most potent hardware available, and then Origin PC cranks things to 11 by overclocking both the full-fat GeForce GTX 1080 and the Core i7-8700K processor. Yes, this laptop rocks a desktop processor, and not just any desktop processor—it’s the fastest one currently available. With 6 cores and 12 threads, the EON17-X demolishes CPU benchmarks. It blazes through triple-A games. Hell, it might be able to literally crush its slim, trim Nvidia Max-Q competition.

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Logitech Craft review: This $200 keyboard can do two things its competitors can't

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 08:41:00 -0800

The Logitech Craft keyboard is what happens when a keyboard engineer glimpses Microsoft’s Surface Dial hockey-puck peripheral and decides: We can do that, too. But if you want to spend $200 for just a keyboard, don’t bother: The only way the Craft makes sense is if you see value in its Surface-Dial-like navigation knob that also integrates with Logitech’s PC-spanning Logitech Flow software. 

Aesthetically, there’s room for improvement. The Craft weighs a ponderous 2.08 pounds, anchored by a broad metal bar that runs across the top of the keyboard and houses the 1,500mAh battery, plus the electronics driving the crown. You can’t adjust the Craft’s slope. And personally, I found the Craft’s scalloped keys to have a shallower travel than I’d like. 

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Meltdown and Spectre FAQ: How the critical CPU flaws affect PCs and Macs

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 07:14:00 -0800

Massive security vulnerabilities in modern CPUs are forcing a redesign of the kernel software at the heart of all major operating systems. Since the issues—dubbed Meltdown and Spectre—exist in the CPU hardware itself, Windows, Linux, Android, macOS, iOS, Chromebooks, and other operating systems all need to protect against the first exploits that have begun circulating. And worse, plugging the hole can negatively affect your PC’s performance.

Everyday home users shouldn’t panic too much, though some proof-of-concept exploits are being circulated in the field. Just apply all—well, most—available updates and keep your antivirus software vigilant, as ever. If you want to dive right into the action without all the background information, we’ve also created a focused guide on how to protect your PC against Meltdown and Spectre.

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How to find your motherboard's Spectre CPU fix

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 06:46:00 -0800

Operating system patches alone can protect against the nasty Meltdown flaw affecting Intel processors, but fixing Spectre—Meltdown’s nasty sibling, which affects all CPUs—requires firmware updates for your hardware. Those firmware fixes are finally starting to appear after Intel’s first round of Spectre patches were yanked for causing system instability and potential data loss. Stable patches for 6th-gen Intel Skylake CPUs and newer chips are now available, and both Intel and AMD are working on CPU microcode updates for other chips.

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How to protect your PC from the Meltdown and Spectre CPU flaws

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 06:29:00 -0800

A pair of nasty CPU exploits have serious ramifications for home computer users. Meltdown and Spectre let attackers access protected information in your PC’s kernel memory, potentially revealing sensitive details like passwords, cryptographic keys, personal photos and email, or anything else you’ve used on your computer. These are serious flaws. Fortunately, CPU and operating system vendors pushed out patches fast, and you can protect your PC from Meltdown and Spectre to some degree.

It’s not a quick one-and-done deal, though. They’re two very different CPU flaws that touch every part of your operating system, from hardware to software to the operating system itself. Check out PCWorld’s Meltdown and Spectre FAQ for everything you need to know about the vulnerabilities themselves. We’ve cut through the technical jargon to explain what you need to know in clear, easy-to-read language. We’ve also created an overview of how the Spectre CPU bug affects phones and tablets.

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Intel expects PCs with fast 5G wireless to ship in late 2019

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 06:00:00 -0800

With the first deployments of 5G high-speed wireless technology within the U.S. scheduled for later this year, Intel and its PC partners are already thinking about the next step: rolling out 5G-equipped PCs late in 2019.

Intel, along with Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Microsoft said Thursday that the companies expect the first 5G Windows PCs to become available during the second half of 2019. That’s about the same time that Intel plans to begin shipping its XMM 8000 commercial modems, marking the company’s entrance into the 5G market.

Intel will show off a prototype of the new 5G connected PC at Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona. In addition the company will demonstrate data streaming over the 5G network. At its stand, Intel said that it will also show off eSIM technology—the replacement for actual, physical SIM cards—and a thin PC running 802.11ax Wi-Fi, the next-gen Wi-Fi standard.

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Nvidia's GeForce Now cloud gaming service feels like playing on a high-end gaming PC

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 04:15:00 -0800

The promise of cloud gaming holds clear appeal. High-end gaming on any Internet-connected PC, even crappy old laptops that couldn’t dream of running games normally? Yes please!

But the reality has been much more disappointing. Forebears like OnLive and Gaikai are remembered more for their bugginess and lag than genuine gaming goodness. The small horde of cloud gaming services popping up over the last couple of years likewise struggle with reliability issues.

Nvidia’s GeForce Now game streaming could be the real deal.

The GeForce Now beta finally landed on PCs in late January, and it’s the first cloud gaming service I’ve used that doesn’t require major compromises on a regular basis. Hell, it actively takes a lot of the headaches out of maintaining a gaming rig. If your network can handle it—and even my humble 25Mbps Comcast home Internet connection could—and you can wrap your brain around some weird interface quirks, you’ll be pulling off headshots and executing other precision moves in-game in no time.

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How to test how much Spectre and Meltdown hurt your PC's performance

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 04:14:00 -0800

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GogoToro Outlet Evaders review: A fun, powerful, and portable power bank

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 04:00:00 -0800

GogoToro recently released a series of power banks inspired by classic video games: There’s the DexCharge, Cheeky-Charger, and Outlet Evaders. Each pack comes with a different color scheme, as well as a sheet of stickers for the user to customize the pack. For this review, I’m specifically evaluating the Outlet Evaders pack, available for $39 from GGTR’s site or Amazon.

Note: This review is part of our roundup of portable power banks. Go there for details on competing products and our testing methods.

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Spectrum quietly tries a la carte TV streaming, but restrictions apply

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 03:00:00 -0800

Hands-on with Spectrum's new a la carte TV streaming service

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BrandPost: How new PCs can result in a smarter, more agile small business

Wed, 21 Feb 2018 13:16:00 -0800

For small businesses (SMBs) the margins between success and failure are tiny. So, it’s vital to do everything possible to maximise employee performance and minimise costs, and this is where the company’s choice of business technology plays a pivotal role.

Yet research has continually shown that many SMBs are slow to move to modern PCs, even though such a PC Refresh – the act of regularly upgrading computers being used in the organisation -- enables them to cut bottom-line costs and improve productivity.

A 2014 study by Techaisle [1] found that 36% of SMBs had PCs that were four years or older, which resulted in application and system performance issues, malware attacks and connectivity issues for many of the respondents. This, in turn, had a direct impact on diminishing productivity and employee satisfaction.

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Best true wireless earbuds: Free yourself from the tyranny of cords

Wed, 21 Feb 2018 12:36:00 -0800

Truly wireless earbuds let you ditch all cables in our post–headphone jack world, but like with anything else, their quality varies. Our top picks offer great audio without sacrificing battery life or comfort.

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Walmart's selling a white Philips Hue lightbulb for $10 today

Wed, 21 Feb 2018 12:25:00 -0800

Today's a good day to stock up on light bulbs for your smart home. Walmart is selling a single Philips Hue White A19 bulb for $10—or for 33 percent off the usual price. This deal is particularly nice since you can buy the exact amount of bulbs you want. Previously, the best price we've seen is a two-pack for $30.

The Philips Hue White A19 is a plain white LED bulb (read our review here). It doesn't have colors and doesn't come with a Philips Bridge. The Bridge is the go-between for the ZigBee-based Hue bulbs and a home network.

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Best soundbars to improve your TV's audio

Wed, 21 Feb 2018 11:04:00 -0800

Find the best soundbar for music and movies and that's the perfect fit for your budget.

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