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Published: Thu, 21 Sep 2017 05:45:59 -0700

Last Build Date: Thu, 21 Sep 2017 05:45:59 -0700

 



Google buys HTC's smartphone brains for $1.1 billion to bolster its hardware push

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 05:12:00 -0700

Nearly four years after selling Motorola off to Lenovo, Google is buying into yet another longtime Android partner. But instead of purchasing HTC outright, Google is buying its brains.

“A team of HTC talent will join Google as part of the hardware organization,” Google hardware SVP (and former Motorola president) Rick Osterloh said Thursday. “These future fellow Googlers are amazing folks we’ve already been working with closely on the Pixel smartphone line, and we’re excited to see what we can do together as one team.” Google also gets non-exclusive rights to HTC intellectual property as part of the deal. Somewhat surprisingly, the agreement doesn’t include any of HTC’s manufacturing capabilities.

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Ecobee4 smart thermostat review: Retains the great functions of the Ecobee3, and adds Alexa

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 04:00:00 -0700

Our favorite smart thermostat gets a little smarter thanks to Alexa, but it's otherwise identical to the previous generation.


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The Amazon Fire TV just got a lot more annoying

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 03:00:00 -0700

Amazon's latest Fire TV software update makes banner ads way more intrusive.


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Windows 10 digital ink: All the improvements with the Fall Creators Update

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 03:00:00 -0700

Inking and navigating with a digital pen or stylus within Windows 10 will become easier within the Fall Creators Update, for those of you who use a tablet as, you know, a tablet.

The improvements include two major elements: navigation, including using the pen or stylus to select and scroll text; and better interpretation of inked words as text, via a more accurate and responsive handwriting panel. Combined, it’s a love letter of sorts to Surface and other tablet users who use the pen to input data. It's amazing how well Windows can interpret your chicken-scratch into text that can be edited in Word and elsewhere.

General Windows 10 users won’t be able to take advantage of the new features until the launch of the Fall Creators Update on Oct. 17. However, members of Microsoft’s Windows Insiders beta program have been able to experience the new inking experience since Build 16215 in June. While Microsoft may make further refinements before the OS launches, the experiences we describe here should be pretty close to what you'll get at launch. 

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Nest jumps into home security with Nest Secure

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 13:44:00 -0700

Nest is hoping to revolutionize home security with Nest Secure, a smart security system that offers several advantages over conventional systems.


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Google kicks off Android One in the U.S. with the Project Fi-equipped Moto X4

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 13:38:00 -0700

Google is finally bringing its Android One program to the U.S., but not in the way you think. Instead of a super-low-priced phone with bare-minimum specs, the first U.S. Android One phone is actually the Moto X4. And it’s a Project Fi exclusive.

The Android One Moto X4 is essentially the same phone as the one you get direct from Motorola, with a 5.2-inch 1080p display, Snapdragon 630 processor, 3,000mAh battery, dual rear cameras (12MP and 8MP), and fast charging. What’s different is all on the inside.

For one, it will run on Google’s Project Fi network, which until now was limited to Pixel phones. It will also run what Google describes as a “pure Android experience with a clean software design and a carefully curated set of preinstalled apps to give you just what you need.” That means you’ll be leaving Alexa behind, as well as Moto’s suite of proprietary apps. But you will get timely updates.

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Comcast quietly acquires Stringify and will use the IFTTT rival to power its Xfinity Home smart-home platform

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 13:37:00 -0700

Stringify-the automation tool that's more powerful, but less well known than IFTTT-will be incorporated into Comcast's smart-home system.


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Microsoft Surface Pro (2017): Everything you need to know

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 12:05:00 -0700

Updated Sept. 20: A U.K. shopping site has leaked prices and configurations of the Surface Pro (2017) with LTE. See "Price and release date" below for more details.

With the the Surface Pro (2017), Microsoft has rebooted its flagship Surface product, one of the leading 2-in-1s in the category. It’s also shedding the numerical designations of prior products. If you’ve owned a Surface Pro 4, however, you already have a good idea of what Microsoft has in store for you with the new Surface Pro. 

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Shopping site leaks Microsoft Surface Pro LTE price, features, and December ship date

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 11:53:00 -0700

Microsoft’s Surface Pro LTE upgrade has appeared in the wild, complete with pricing—and it’s a lot more reasonable than you might expect.

Misco, a U.K. retailer, lists two versions of the Surface Pro LTE for preorder, both based on the Intel Core i5. The first, with 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, is priced at about $1,283.11. The second, with 8GB of memory and 256GB of SSD storage, is priced at $1,589.08. Both prices do not include the U.K. VAT, which make them more comparable to what a U.S. retailer could charge.

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Spoiler alert: Google's Pixel event will still be more exciting than Apple's iPhone X reveal

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 08:46:00 -0700

So much for the element of surprise. With two weeks to go until Google’s big end-of-year event on October 4, we already know everything that’s going to be announced. After months of rumors and speculation, especially about the Pixel 2 flagship phone, Droid-Life dropped a bomb yesterday and published images and prices for everything Google is about to release.

You might remember that the same thing happened right before the iPhone X event last week, reducing the presentation to a checklist rather than a show. Granted, Apple relies more on the wow factor than Google does, but yesterday’s massive leak must have rankled CEO Sundar Pichai just a little. We already had a pretty good idea about what was coming, but now there’s little reason to get excited. 

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ExpressVPN review: A good service with no public leadership

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 05:00:00 -0700

ExpressVPN in brief:

P2P allowed: Yes

Number of servers: 1,500+

Business location: British Virgin Islands

Number of country locations: 94*

Cost: $99.95 per year

Running a business is a public act. That’s why I don’t understand why some VPN providers go to such great lengths to keep the identities of their leaders private. Today’s review looks at one such company, ExpressVPN.

Business anonymity is an issue we’ll get into in more depth in the trust section. For now, let’s dive into the app.

ExpressVPN uses a very simple single-panel interface. It doesn’t have a map you can click on or anything like that. All you have is a simple on/off button that takes up the majority of the panel. Under that is a suggested VPN server to connect to and then two buttons: Smart Location and Choose Location. Click the former and ExpressVPN will choose a server for you based on your location.

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Xbox One X: Everything you need to know about this powerful gaming console

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 04:49:00 -0700

Xbox One X.

That’s the official name Microsoft has given to Project Scorpio, the upcoming 4K-ready cousin to the Xbox One. It will, in Microsoft’s words, be “the most powerful console ever.”

That was Microsoft’s main message during the console’s reveal at E3 2017, repeatedly emphasizing the Xbox One X’s advantages over the competing PlayStation 4 Pro (without ever mentioning its rival console by name, of course). And it sure is a powerful console. Read on for details on Xbox One X pricing, availability, specs, noteworthy features, and compatible games.

Editor’s note: This article is constantly updated as new info comes out. It was last updated September 20, 2017 with information about standard edition Xbox One X preorders and “enhanced” games.

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Ezviz Mini Trooper review: Weatherproof and wireless security

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 04:00:00 -0700

This indoor/outdoor camera offers strong security monitoring in an easy-to-install package.


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Lego Boost review: Yup, tablet-connected Lego robots are as cool as they sound

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 04:00:00 -0700

Build really cool Lego robots, and then control them with your tablet? Yes, please. Lego Boost ($160 on Amazon) is aimed at kids ages 7 to 12, so I was a little worried that it would be too hard to enjoy with my son—he’s 5 (and a half!) and just started kindergarten. But while I had to direct the complicated builds, controlling the finished robots and vehicles with the iPad app was well within his grasp—and so much fun for both of us.

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Best smart sprinkler controller

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 03:00:00 -0700

Whether you’re motivated by water conservation, saving money, a drive to render every aspect of your home smart, or all the above, a smart irrigation controller will scratch that itch.


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How to buy the perfect PC case

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 03:00:00 -0700

No matter whether you treat your computer as the centerpiece of your home office or just stuff it under your desk, buying the right PC case matters.

At a minimum, you want to pick a PC case that’s the right size for your needs and has room for all your hardware and USB devices. But some PC cases offer much, much more. Spacious innards, lower temperatures, muffled sound, extensive water-cooling support, and fancy-schmancy tempered glass panels or RGB lighting are just the tip of the iceberg.

Here’s a guide to buying a PC case that’s perfect for you. This is just the first step in your DIY journey; be sure to check out PCWorld’s guide to building a PC, too.

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The best fitness trackers at every price point

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 14:08:00 -0700

It's time to get serious about your health and fitness goals. These activity trackers can help.


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Microsoft releases a Forza Motorsport 7 demo for Windows 10

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 13:20:00 -0700


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Pixel 2: Everything we know about Google’s next flagship phone

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 12:35:00 -0700

Google flipped the script last year when it retired the Nexus line in favor of its own branded handsets. Now all eyes are on the Pixel 2. With improved specs and even better cameras, the new phones are poised to propel Google back to the head of the class with a pure Android O experience.

Since the Pixel and Pixel XL landed, the LG G6 and Galaxy S8 have upped the ante for premium phones with their slim bezels and 16:9 screens. So, like last year, we’ll be watching to see whether the next version of Google’s handset can chip away at Samsung’s dominance. Details are already starting to leak about the Pixel 2 phones, so stay tuned to this article for the very latest information.

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GoG's giving away Abe's Oddysee right now as part of its Big Deal Sale

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 11:53:00 -0700

GoG's Big Deal Sale is happening right now, and as part of the ongoings, you can get a free copy of Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee. First rolled out in 1997, this game might be old, but it's a fun platformer that can still entertain. The offer lasts until 5 AM Pacific on September 21.

Once you've grabbed your free game, GoG has a bunch of other games on sale you should check out. The popular Kerbal Space Program is $24 instead of the usual $40. Obduction, which we found to be thoroughly enjoyable, is $18 instead of $30.

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Amazon's updated Fire HD 10 is a fast, powerful iPad competitor for $150

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 07:33:00 -0700

In the world of consumer-level 10-inch tablets, there are basically two to buy: At the high end, there’s Apple’s 9.7-inch iPad, and at the lower end, Amazon’s Fire HD 10. But Amazon’s newest tablet aims to blur that line as much as possible.

Amazon’s fresh 10-inch Fire HD tablet ($150 and up on Amazon) is a huge improvement over the prior generation in nearly every way. It starts with the screen, which is now 1080p Full HD (1900x1200 resolution) rather than 720p (1200x800). It also has a 30 percent faster 1.8GHz quad-core processor with 2GB of RAM, which is double the amount the previous model. There’s more storage too—32GB in the base model instead of the paltry 16GB—and battery life has been upped from 8 hours to 10 hours.

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Fitbit Ionic review: A great fitness tracker, a mediocre smartwatch

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 06:00:00 -0700

Fitbit's new Ionic smartwatch outpaces Apple and Android Wear watches when it comes to fitness tracking, but it falls short as a smartwatch.


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Rexing V1 dash cam review: A good basic model, but grab the GPS add-on

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 03:30:00 -0700

Rexing’s $100 V1 dash cam takes very good day video, decent night video, and is easy to set up and use. We like it. But it’s bare-bones: Adding GPS, which we recommend, costs an additional $30. If you have room in your budget, for $170 you could step up to Rexing’s dual-channel, dual-camera V1LG with integrated GPS, or go to our full list of up on dash cam reviews for more options.

Design and features: On the spare side

The Rexing V1 is a little on the large size. Not large enough to interfere with anything if it’s mounted in the correct location (behind the mirror is good), but if you’re looking for tiny—this isn't it.

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iOS 11 review: Apple’s most ambitious and impressive upgrade in years

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 03:00:00 -0700

iOS 11 is a must-have for any iPad user—it'll increase your productivity. It's great for iPhone users, too.


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Dishonored: Death of the Outsider review: A fine follow-up to a stealth masterwork

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 03:00:00 -0700

The biggest flaw with Dishonored: Death of the Outsider is that it released after Dishonored 2. Memories of Dishonored 2’s busted PC launch are still all-too-easily conjured up in my mind, but there’s another aspect we don’t talk about as often: Its level design. Here’s an excerpt from my review last year:

Dishonored 2 takes first-person stealth to new heights...As far as this type of Thief-style steal-everything-that-isn’t-nailed-down stealth game goes, Dishonored 2 is a masterwork.”

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PayPal is offering a free one-year ShopRunner membership right now

Mon, 18 Sep 2017 11:45:00 -0700

Successful holiday shopping is all about preparation, and right now you can start getting ready with a free one-year membership for ShopRunner. The only requirement is that you have a PayPal account, and sign-up for your ShopRunner membership using the same email address you use on PayPal.

This is a pretty good deal, as ShopRunner memberships usually costs $79.95 per year, though there are other ways you can get a free account. American Express and select Mastercard cardholders, for example, get complimentary access to ShopRunner as part of their credit card accounts.

If you've never heard of it, ShopRunner is a multi-retailer alternative to Amazon Prime. With ShopRunner you also get free, 2-day shipping, free return shipping, and members-only deals. ShopRunner service works with all kinds of retailers that include technology shops like Newegg, MacMall, and Staples.

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Prep to Ace 11 IT Certification Exams with This Cisco Training (90% Off)

Mon, 18 Sep 2017 10:30:00 -0700

Across the globe, we enjoy a state of constant connectivity, and we have Cisco Systems to credit for much of it. The world's leading designer, manufacturer, and provider of networking equipment, Cisco Systems plays a pivotal role in keeping today's networks up and running, which is why demand for Cisco-trained professionals is through the roof. Of course, before you can break into this booming field, you'll need some certifications to validate your knowledge. That's where the Cisco Associate Certification Training Bundle comes in, and it's on sale for over 90 percent off.

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Samsung Bixby Voice: How to set up and use the Galaxy S8 assistant

Mon, 18 Sep 2017 10:22:00 -0700

Update 9/18/17: Samsung will finally let users turn off the side button so it doesn't open Bixby Home when accidentally pressed. See our Bixby tips section for how to do it.

It’s been a long time coming, but Bixby has finally found its voice. Samsung has begun pushing out the final piece of its AI package, Bixby Voice, to all Galaxy S8 phones in more than 200 countries and territories. Before long, millions of people will be saying, “Hi Bixby” to summon the new assistant—though Bixby still only supports English and Korean despite the worldwide rollout.

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CCleaner hacked with malware: What you need to know

Mon, 18 Sep 2017 07:33:00 -0700

It seems that CCleaner, one of PCWorld’s recommendations for the best free software for new PCs, might not have been keeping your PC so clean after all. In an in-depth probe of the popular optimization and scrubbing software, Cisco Talos has discovered a malicious bit of code injected by hackers that could have affected more than 2 million users who downloaded the most recent update.

On Sept. 13, Cisco Talos found that the official download of the free versions of CCleaner 5.33 and CCleaner Cloud 1.07.3191 also contained “a malicious payload that featured a Domain Generation Algorithm as well as hardcoded Command and Control functionality.” What that means is that a hacker infiltrated Avast Piriform’s official build somewhere in the development process build to plant malware designed to steal users’ data.

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