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Preview: PC World Latest Technology Reviews

PCWorld Reviews





Published: Sat, 24 Sep 2016 20:34:02 -0700

Last Build Date: Sat, 24 Sep 2016 20:34:02 -0700

 



Xbox One S controller review: New features and custom colors make for a great successor

Sat, 24 Sep 2016 07:00:00 -0700

My $80 powder-blue-and-orange Xbox Design Lab controller arrived recently, and I’ve fallen in love with its look. Maybe you’re not so easily swayed. Maybe you hate it. That’s fine. More than fine, actually—that’s kind of the whole point.

Last year Microsoft released the $150 high-end Elite controller for a segment of the market traditionally supported by third parties and aftermarket parts dealers. That undertaking was by all accounts a rousing success, way beyond Microsoft’s predictions.

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Fitbit Charge 2 review

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 06:15:00 -0700

The top three reasons why Charge 2 is Fitbit’s best activity tracker yet.


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Acer Liquid Jade Primo review: Acer bets big on a Windows phone as your next PC

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 03:30:00 -0700

Acer’s first Windows 10 Mobile phone, the Liquid Jade Primo, doesn’t just double down on Microsoft’s belief that your phone can replace your PC: It’s thrown down its cards, spit on the floor, and dared you to do better.

Inside the box is the phone, a case, a display dock, a mouse and a keyboard. All you need is a monitor to take your work out of your pocket and onto a big, productive screen. If the Liquid Jade Primo’s camera didn’t struggle so much, this might be the Windows phone to beat.

Unfortunately, it’s not—but you don’t have many alternatives. HP’s Elite x3 smartphone is just around the corner, and HP promises business users will be able to tap into a world of virtualized Win32 apps that power traditional PCs. Acer doesn’t offer this capability. Otherwise, the Liquid Jade Primo is simply a larger, more powerful, more expensive Lumia 950, the basis for this comparative review.

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Fitbit Charge 2 review: A worthy upgrade elevates the fitness-tracking essentials

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 03:30:00 -0700

Fitbit owns the activity tracker market, but its most popular fitness band was in need of a reboot. The Fitbit Charge HR has everything you could want in an inexpensive fitness tracker, but its tiny display was outdated and its features were in need of an upgrade. So Fitbit launched the Charge 2, which offers a suite of new features in a package that’s just as chunky as its predecessor.

That may be unfair. I was hopeful that the Fitbit Alta was a sign of less Fitbit-looking bands to come, but Fitbit kept the HR’s width and textured elastomer band—both signs that you are very obviously wearing a fitness tracker.

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Fitbit Charge 2 review: This activity tracker goes the extra mile

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 03:00:00 -0700

With notifications, deep breathing, sleep tracking, and heart rate monitoring, the Charge 2 has everything you could want in a tracker.


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5 high-tech gadgets for an outdoor cookout

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 02:30:00 -0700

These gadgets will make every outdoor event more fun.


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Nixon Mission review: A hardcore Android Wear watch for surf and snow

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 04:00:00 -0700


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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga review: This 2-in-1's OLED screen will color your computing world

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 03:30:00 -0700

Rich, vibrant color. Real black. You don’t realize how much you’ve missed them until they pop up again, as they do on Lenovo’s new X1 Yoga. I can’t overstate just how much nicer its OLED display looks compared to the cold LCD screens we’ve grown accustomed to. The images Lenovo sent us don’t come close to doing it justice, so you’ll have to trust us—or take a look yourself at a live unit.

Design and specs

The vehicle for this excellent technology, the X1 Yoga, is a riff on the X1 Carbon, and it sports several notable improvements. It has an active pen/stylus on board, a larger array of ports, and you can fully rotate the display to use the laptop in orientations from tablet to tent to traditional clamshell. Lenovo refers to all this as being Yoga-ized, which definitely sounds more appealing than a Yoga being carbonized.

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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga review: Brilliant OLED color and performance to spare

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 03:30:00 -0700

The OLED version of the X1 Yoga is a fantastic blend of incredible display and great hardware.


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Steve Jackson's Sorcery! review: A sprawling adventure of mind-boggling scale

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 20:00:00 -0700

When last I visited Steve Jackson’s Sorcery, only the first two episodes ($10 on Steam) had made their way to the PC. We’d crossed the low foothills of Analand and survived the back-alleys and ne’er-do-wells of Khare, Cityport of Traps, but we were little more than halfway to the city of Mampang and its evil Archmage.

Six-ish months later, it’s time for Sorcery! to come to an end with the release of Episode Four simultaneously across all platforms, and thus time for us to revisit the series. Did it hold up?

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World of Warcraft: Legion review: The excitement returns in this online role-playing game

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 06:00:00 -0700

For the first time in several World of Warcraft expansions Blizzard is flexing its world-creation and storytelling muscles.


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iPhone 7 review: Its speed and camera are crazy-good, but it still drives me crazy

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 03:48:00 -0700

Every year, Apple releases the best iPhone ever, but the iPhone 7 feels different somehow. All of its major details leaked ahead of time, not to mention a good handful of rumors about next fall’s iPhone, which could be a major redesign with an OLED screen and no Home button. For now, the iPhone 7 makes minor changes to the phone’s form and bigger improvements to its function. But it adds a couple new annoyances at the same time, which makes the iPhone 7 feel a bit like a beta version of what’s to come.

A10 Fusion

The biggest advancement is under the hood. At the September event, Apple explained that the A10 Fusion chip powering the iPhone 7 has four cores: two high-performance cores for the most intense tasks, and two low-energy cores to handle easier jobs while saving power. All I noticed when testing the iPhone 7—we bought a 128GB rose gold model on launch day—was speed.

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Splice is a cloud based platform that lets musicians collaborate

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 21:00:00 -0700

The founders of splice wanted to usher in a new era of music creation by using open source software to find and share music files.


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V-Moda Crossfade Wireless headphone review: Musical excitement, with or without wires

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 06:57:00 -0700

V-Moda CEO Val Kolton set out to make a splash in the headphone market by merging superb sound with impeccable style. Judging by V-Moda’s Crossfade line of headphones, he’s achieved his goal and then some. In a relatively short period, DJs have made V-Moda their headphone brand of choice and audiophiles have also embraced the brand. The 12-year-old company’s success drew the attention of the electronic musical instrument manufacturer Roland, which took a majority stake in V-Moda in August.

No wires, few compromises

Kolton’s latest creation brings Bluetooth connectivity to the V-Moda bag of tricks, and it’s battery is rated to deliver up to 12 hours of music listening (with a 30-minute “quick charge” providing more than three hours of battery life). It can pair with two devices simultaneously, but it surprisingly doesn’t support the aptX codec. 

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Review: Microsoft's Surface Special Edition NFL Type Cover delivers an unofficial benefit

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 03:30:00 -0700

Few tech products in this world warrant a voiceover from late NFL Films narrator John Facenda, but we’ll make an exception for Microsoft’s Special Edition NFL Type Cover, which seems deserving of the “voice of god.”

As the name implies, the NFL Type Cover is basically a standard Surface Pro 4 Type Cover with an officially licensed NFL team logo printed on the back. All 32 team logos are offered, including the generic Cleveland Browns (sorry, Cleveland.)

(image) Microsoft

Only Cleveland fans could tell that the NFL Type Cover has the Browns' “new” logo.

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Hybrid tablet showdown: Huawei Matebook vs Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Sun, 18 Sep 2016 22:00:00 -0700

CIO.com's Sarah White puts these two hybrid tablets through the paces to see which one is the best fit for the enterprise.


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Singer-songwriter Julietta

Sun, 18 Sep 2016 21:00:00 -0700

Julietta creates an alternative electronic pop sound through the use of a keyboard and Logic.


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Event[0] review: An ambitious 2001: A Space Odyssey-tinged adventure you can talk to

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 06:28:00 -0700

I’m aboard the Nautilus, a derelict vessel in orbit around Jupiter’s frozen moon of Europa, and the only thing I’ve come in contact with so far is the ship’s artificial intelligence. Sure, it seems friendly. It even has a friendly name—Kaizen, which translated into English means “Change for better.” Kaizen’s waiting for me to respond, there in the friendly blink of a command prompt on a terminal straight out of the 1970s.

But I’ve seen plenty of science fiction films, and so I still hold my breath as I ask Kaizen to open the airlock doors, prepared for an “I can’t do that, Dave,” and the slow strains of “The Blue Danube” to accompany my floating corpse into the blackness of space.

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Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless headphones review: They sound better than the original

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 03:00:00 -0700

Bowers & Wilkins has earned its place as the BMW of high-end audio. The company’s loudspeakers are legendary: Its five-figure Nautilus speakers have been displayed in museums; Abbey Road Studios has used their monitors for more than 20 years; and the company’s new 800 Series Diamond (which I auditioned during last year’s NYC launch event) are receiving rave reviews.

The company’s headphone line, on the other hand, has been the black sheep in the family. The wired versions have been judged as pretty good, but not truly great; they’ve certainly never achieved the acclaim afforded the company’s best speakers. Just before Apple’s iPhone 7 announcement, Bowers & Wilkins upgraded its P7 over-the-ear model to Bluetooth. The question on just about every audiophile’s mind is whether this new model simply adds wireless capability to the previous generation, or if it ups the ante. I was among the first reviewers to get my hands on the B&W P7 Wireless, so I was anxious to find out.

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Corsair Lapdog review: An ideal candidate for compromise

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 14:15:00 -0700

In designing the Lapdog (available on Amazon for $120), Corsair seems to have operated under the tenet of “Why solve the problem with a penknife when you could use a tank?” This lapdesk embodies the belief that there’s no need for compromise just because you’re in the living room.

But...maybe sometimes compromise is a good thing, because the Lapdog is huge.

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Razer Turret review: This compact lapboard works around the living room

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 14:15:00 -0700


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Cree A19 soft-white dimmable LED bulb review: Great light and perfect dimming

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 06:00:00 -0700

Far too many LED bulbs choke when it comes it comes to being paired with a dimmer switch. The problem can be particularly acute when you pair an LED with a smart dimmer. The bulbs I’ve tested—including those advertised as being dimmer compatible—typically sputter, buzz, hum, or fail to work altogether when I install them in a fixture controlled by one of my in-wall Z-Wave dimmers. I was beginning to wonder if I’d need to replace my smart lighting controls with dumb switches as I change over from incandescent to LED lighting when Cree told me they were about to ship a whole line of new LED bulbs that work perfectly with dimmers.

I should qualify that statement to say that Cree has so far provided only a multi-pack of its A19, 60-watt-equivalent bulbs. The company has promised to send a few representative samples of the rest of its new soup-to-nuts line, which Cree’s VP of marketing, consumer products Al Safarikas characterizes as “from A to PAR.”

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Huwaei Matebook's first hybrid tablet may leave you wanting

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 22:00:00 -0700

CIO.com's Sarah White explores Huawei's most recent tablet design to see how it competes in this growing market of Windows 10 hybrids.


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Hasselblad True Zoom review: A curiosity with almost nothing to recommend it

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 16:55:00 -0700

We’ve seen plenty of products that snap a lens over top of your existing smartphone lens, but nothing quite like this. The Hasselblad True Zoom is a Moto Mod that works with Moto Z phones, and completely replaces your phone camera with a point-and-shoot that gives you 10X optical zoom. It certainly doesn’t come anywhere near approximating the quality of Hasselblad’s famous medium-format cameras. Frankly, Hasselblad should be ashamed to have their name on this.

It’s a curiosity, a technical “huh, that’s kinda neat” exercise that delivers lower quality and less value than a comparably priced point-and-shoot camera.

Hasselblad in name only

Hasselblad is famous for its high-quality medium-format cameras. When NASA took cameras into space on Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions, they were (somewhat modified) Hasselblads. This Moto Mod will not deliver quality deserving of the name.

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ReCore review: The first Xbox Play Anywhere game is a beautiful chore

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 05:00:00 -0700

The biggest disappointment reviewing ReCore is how strong it starts. You awake from stasis on the distant planet of Far Eden expecting to find a lush, terraformed planet capable of sustaining human life, 200 years in the making. Instead you find sand dunes. Miles upon miles of sand dunes, broken only by craggy brown rocks and the occasional half-built skyscraper.

It falls to you to figure out what happened, traipsing off across the desert in search of answers with your trusty robo-dog companion Mack. And it all goes downhill from there.

Openworlditis

ReCore doesn’t know what it wants to be. It has the aesthetic of a lighthearted kid’s game paired with an incredibly grim story. It has combat so easy you could sleepwalk through it, but matched with a complicated three-tiered upgrade system, and further plagued by a terrible interface. It has main missions tallying about six-to-eight hours, but forces you to dither around with side content for hours on end in order to access it. Side content that doesn’t at all, I should mention, match the main story either in tone or mechanics.

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Enclave Audio CineHome HD review: Plenty of bang for the home theater buck

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 03:00:00 -0700

Most people settle for a sound bar when they want something better than the pipsqueak sound their TV’s speakers put out. And since most sound bars have limited abilities when it comes to bass response, a big percentage of those folks buy one that’s pre-paired with a wireless subwoofer. But when it comes to delivering true surround sound, only the most-expensive sound bars can compete with a 5.1-channel speaker system driven by an A/V receiver.

But many people are allergic to all the boxes and wires that such systems entail, especially when you need to drag speaker cable from one end of the room to the other to connect the surround channels.

Enlave Audio’s CineHome HD simplifies things somewhat. I say somewhat because all six of its components are tethered to a power source (the sub uses an in-line brick and the other speakers rely on wall warts).

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Moto Z Play review: Long-lasting, affordable, and modular too

Thu, 08 Sep 2016 04:00:00 -0700


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Michael Kors Access review: A fashion-first approach to Android Wear

Mon, 05 Sep 2016 21:12:00 -0700

If the Michael Kors Access has taught me anything, it’s that Android Wear watches from fashion-first brands—like Michael Kors—can’t spin Google’s smartwatch story in an entirely different direction. I’ve been testing the Dylan version of the Access for the last two weeks, and while it’s a perfectly good-looking watch, I can’t say it offers dramatically better materials or design compared to the best Android Wear watches from tech-first manufacturers like LG, Huawei, and Motorola.

The Dylan version of the Access bears the familiar “MK” logo on the top of its crown, but that almost invisible flourish will always be a little secret between you and your watch. Beyond that, we can admire the Dylan’s chunky lugs, chiseled bezel, and stark, monochrome palette. The design is effectively butch for anyone who needs that vibe from a watch, but unless you’re already familiar with Michael Kors timepieces, no one will spot the Access on your wrist and ask, “Yo, brah, are you wearing Michael Kors?”

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BeOn key fob review: A convenient accessory for BeOn Smart Security Lighting

Mon, 05 Sep 2016 03:00:00 -0700

When we reviewed BeOn’s Home Protection System last December, we complemented BeOn for its ingenuity and ease of use, but lamented the bulb system’s lack of support for any of the major smart-home systems The company said such support was in the works, but it’s been nearly a year and we’re still waiting.

BeOn has improved the user experience with its bulbs in one other way: They’ve introduced a new two-button key fob that reduces reliance on the company’s mobile app.

While you still can’t control individual lights with it, you can quickly toggle between home and away modes with the push of a button. That’s a whole lot faster than whipping out your smart phone and waiting for the BeOn app to launch.

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Hardcore Hardware: Falcon Northwest's FragBox 2 isn't overkill afterall

Fri, 02 Sep 2016 06:18:00 -0700

Insomiac Game's Shaun McCabe says having a burly 10-core CPU will make a difference in VR gaming and DirectX 12. Two Titan X videocards don't hurt either.


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EVGA GTX 1060 3GB review: A compelling $200 graphics card with a questionable future

Fri, 02 Sep 2016 03:00:00 -0700


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The Turing Test review: A brisk, breezy test of your humanity

Thu, 01 Sep 2016 12:00:00 -0700

Every year there’s a Portal. I mean, it’s not called Portal or anything, but every year there’s a puzzle game that wears its influences so obviously on its sleeve so as to invite comparisons. Quantum Conundrum, QUBE, Antichamber, The Talos Principle, and now—for 2016—The Turing Test.

Here, the gimmick is electricity instead of portals. But still, it fits the genre. So, how does it stack up?

Fork in a socket

As you might expect from the title, The Turing Test revolves around similar questions of human consciousness and machine intelligence as The Talos Principle. Hell, there’s a reference to the story of Talos hidden within one of The Turing Test’s optional chambers.

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Cat S60 Review: Batman called and wants his phone back

Thu, 01 Sep 2016 04:00:00 -0700

A rugged phone designed for someone who puts durability ahead of performance.


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Asus Zenbook Pro UX501VW review: Killer specs and pricing, offset by small flaws

Wed, 31 Aug 2016 11:30:00 -0700

Asus doesn’t seem to shy away from suggesting that the Zenbook Pro is its version of Apple’s MacBook Pro. First there’s the design, which Asus specifically describes as “uni-body” (a term Apple uses for the MBP, albeit sans hyphen). The Zenbook Pro is also aluminum, quite thin, and stuffed with powerful hardware, not unlike the MacBook Pro. Oh, and there’s the name, lest the other similarities aren't enough.

But one massive difference between this laptop and its Apple equivalent does exist, and it’s one that Apple will never, ever be able to compete with: price. This fully loaded Zenbook Pro not only features massively better specs than the aging 15-inch MacBook Pro, it costs a whopping $1,000 less than a similarly configured model.

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The Warlock of Firetop Mountain review: Another 1980s sword-and-board adapted for the modern era

Tue, 30 Aug 2016 12:00:00 -0700

Steve Jackson’s in the midst of a renaissance, it seems. Earlier this year we took a look at Inkle’s Sorcery!, which adapts the 1980s adventure gamebooks of the same name into a modern hybrid of choose-your-own-adventure and RPG—with the help of Inkle’s fantastic writing.

And so imagine my feelings of deja vu as The Warlock of Firetop Mountain crossed my desk—another adaptation of a Steve Jackson adventure gamebook, this one from 1982 and co-authored with Ian Livingstone.

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Alcatel Idol 4S review: Just a bit too late to the $400 party

Tue, 30 Aug 2016 04:00:00 -0700

Alcatel has made a name for itself selling phones that won’t drain your wallet, while at the same time walking the ultra-fine line between affordability and providing a valuable experience.

With the Idol 4S, Alcatel has priced itself alongside other "premium-but-affordable" phones, competing with the likes of ZTE’s Axon 7 and the OnePlus 3. Both are really good phones, easily capable of challenging flagship caliber phones.

The Idol 4S is no slouch, but amid stiff competition at the $400 mark, does it bring enough to the table to keep pace? Let’s take a look.

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Grace Digital CastDock X2 review: A clever Chromecast Audio companion

Mon, 29 Aug 2016 06:00:00 -0700

But when it comes to bass, this speaker delivers a little too much of a good thing.


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Dell Inspiron 15 7569 review: An affordable and solid midrange 2-in-1

Mon, 29 Aug 2016 03:00:00 -0700

Dell’s new Inspiron series of 2-in-1 notebooks come in three distinct classes that go from mild to spicy: the 3000, 5000, and 7000 series. As the number goes up, so does performance. Today we’re looking at the 15-inch model in the higher-end 7000 series. Dell offers four configurations for the 15-inch model in this series, and this one is the most affordable at $749.  As its midrange price suggests, this laptop’s specs are moderate: a Core i5 dual-core CPU with Hyper-Threading, 8GB of memory, and a 256GB SATA SSD.

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Dell Inspiron 17 7778 review: This massive 17-inch 2-in-1 is a worthwhile desktop replacement

Sat, 27 Aug 2016 07:00:00 -0700

Dell recently refreshed its Inspiron notebook line with a new batch of 2-in-1s that come in a variety of configurations and sizes. Within the line’s flagship 7000 series, the 17-inch models are held up as “high-performance,” compared to their 13- and 15-inch kin. Here we review the Inspiron 17 7778, which is one rung down from the top of the heap and retails for $1,149. The only difference between this config and the top dog is that our unit has both a 128GB SanDisk SATA SSD for the OS and a 1TB 5,400rpm hard drive for data, whereas the more premium model comes with a lone 512GB SSD for an extra $200.

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