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Preview: PC World Latest Technology Reviews

PCWorld Reviews





Published: Sat, 24 Jun 2017 03:35:58 -0700

Last Build Date: Sat, 24 Jun 2017 03:35:58 -0700

 



Best DVR for cord cutters

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 08:36:00 -0700

Here’s the hard truth for cord-cutters right now: The ideal over-the-air DVR doesn’t exist. And if you're on the fence about even needing one, you should read the June 22 installment of this column.

While some products are better than others, all of them—from Tablo and TiVo to Channel Master DVR+ and HDHomeRun with Plex—have at least one critical weakness. If you want to record broadcast TV channels from an antenna, you must decide which of those weaknesses you’ll tolerate.

The good news is that the lowly antenna is experiencing a rebirth, and we’re likely to see more over-the-air DVR products later in 2017 and beyond. But if you want to start recording broadcast channels now, here’s a rundown of where the current products stand:

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here


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Dell XPS 15 (2017) review: Kaby Lake and a 4K display make a difference

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 04:38:00 -0700

Dell’s XPS 15 is proof that iterations—no matter how small—still matter. Externally, even owners of the previous XPS 15 would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between new and old.

The ports are the same, the keyboard and the trackpad are the same and, well, just about external thing with the XPS 15 looks identical. Yet the internal changes make this year’s XPS 15 a markedly better laptop than last year’s.

(image) IDG/Gordon Mah Ung

The keyboard on the XPS 15 appears unchanged, which isn’t a good thing because it’s still slightly too small.

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MacBook 2017 review

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 16:38:00 -0700

Apple's third-generation Macbook offers a performance boost with Intel's Kaby Lake and lower prices.


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Focal Spark Wireless in-ear headphone review: Audiophile sound at a budget price

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 05:00:00 -0700

The French manufacturer's in-ear-headphones will bathe you in intoxicating audiophile sound and a smart set of accessories without breaking your budget. And they won't fall off while you run.


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Focal Spark in-ear-headphones review: Refined audio and French style on a budget

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 05:00:00 -0700

These modestly priced headphones sound leaps and bounds beyond their price tag.


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Mingis on Tech: Is the new iPad Pro enterprise-ready?

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 03:00:00 -0700

Apple's top-end tablet hardware was already workplace worthy, but iOS still required some workarounds for things to go smoothly. iOS 11 may change that when it arrives later this year.


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Galaxy S8 and S8+ case roundup: Protect your investment in style

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 13:00:00 -0700


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Wemo Wi-Fi Smart Dimmer review: Smart lighting, plus a snazzy dimmer

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 04:00:00 -0700

This in-wall dimmer switch gives your room an instant upgrade.


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Iris Smart Hub (2017) review: Lowe’s offers an affordable smart-home system for the hacker mindset

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 03:00:00 -0700

A new professional monitoring option puts the focus squarely on security.


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Intel Core i9 review: The fastest consumer CPU prepares for Ryzen war

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 06:00:00 -0700

We’re reviewing the first Core i9 chip—Intel’s 10-core Core i9-7900X ($1,000 on Newegg)—as a veritable CPU storm looms. Sure, Core i9 blew in as the most powerful CPU the company has ever sold to consumers, and it’s currently the fastest Core-series CPU available. But an ill wind is blowing: AMD’s Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 chips offer stiff competition in the low end, while its massive 12-core and 16-core Threadripper CPUs loom on the high end.

Because there’s so much to say about Core i9, we put the prices, features and FAQs into a separate story you’ll want to read for background. For this review, we’ll walk through some of the under-the-hood issues directly related to performance, and then we’ll dive into the benchmarks. 

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Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 Review: Active noise cancellation on a budget

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 03:00:00 -0700

But the low price tag comes at the cost of other desirable features.


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iPad Pro 10.5 review: Meet the best iPad Apple has ever made

Fri, 16 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0700

Apple has perfected the iPad Pro with this year's new 10.5-inch model, which is faster, bigger, and better than its already-powerful predecessor.


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

Thu, 15 Jun 2017 15:20:00 -0700

Updated June 15: We have our official review of the Surface Pro, which we’ve added below. 

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. 

We’ve assembled everything we know about the new Surface Pro: the price and release date, the specs, and our official review. We’ve also answered some of the questions we think you’ll have about Microsoft’s new device.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here


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The best laptops of 2017: Ultrabooks, budget PCs, 2-in-1s, and more

Thu, 15 Jun 2017 13:44:00 -0700

Choosing the best laptop can be difficult these days. With companies like Dell, HP, Acer, and Asus continually launching updates of popular notebooks and expansions of product lines, we’re all but swimming in options right now.

Summer will push even more convertibles, 2-in-1s, and traditional notebooks onto store shelves. The most interesting ones poke holes in existing assumptions about certain categories. Microsoft’s Surface Laptop, for example, is an attempt to revive the company’s battle with Chromebooks, while Dell’s Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming—our “Best budget gaming laptop” pick—offers 1080p gaming for just $850. Vendors also are serious about squeezing AMD’s new CPUs into their lineups, with Asus recently debuting the first Ryzen laptop at Computex.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here


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Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) review: More power for more money

Thu, 15 Jun 2017 06:00:00 -0700

Set Microsoft’s Surface Pro (2017) next to its predecessor, the Surface Pro 4, and I defy you to tell the difference. With the same dimensions and weight, the two are virtually indistinguishable—a kickstand that reclines further and a few cosmetic changes are all that separate them. What sells the new Surface Pro, though, is on the inside: a dramatic upgrade to the processor and graphics that propels it to the head of the 2-in-1 class.

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Samsung Galaxy Book review: An excellent 2-in-1 for a good price

Thu, 15 Jun 2017 06:00:00 -0700

Samsung’s Galaxy Book is a 2-in-1 tablet with a detachable keyboard that gets pretty much everything you care about right. Its price, performance, and battery life are all among the best we’ve tested.

While it lacks the razzle-dazzle of flagships like the new Surface Pro, it's still the sort of all-around performer that will attract a buyer looking for good value. Samsung’s only real swing and miss is a somewhat gimmicky integration with its Galaxy smartphones, which replaces the Windows Hello features that are becoming more common.

(image) Adam Patrick Murray

Price: Galaxy Book's value proposition

While some competing 2-in-1 products we’ve reviewed cost upwards of $1,400, the version of the Samsung Galaxy Book we tested ships for $1,300. The price includes 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, plus optional LTE connectivity via Verizon. A more full-featured version starts with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. There’s also a microSD card slot that accepts cards up to 256GB. Inside you’ll find 2x2 802.11ac Wi-Fi plus Bluetooth 4.1 BLE. 

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Stack Downlight Starter Kit review: These truly smart bulbs practically think for themselves

Tue, 13 Jun 2017 05:00:00 -0700

These white LED bulbs can automatically adjust their color temperature based on the time.


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Surface Pro 2017 Review

Tue, 13 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0700

Microsoft's new Surface Pro (2017) Windows tablet packs the power of Intel's new Kaby Lake chip inside, offering a powerful, pricey upgrade to the Surface Pro 4.


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Best color LED smart bulbs

Mon, 12 Jun 2017 14:00:00 -0700

Smart color light bulbs—LED-based bulbs that can be controlled by a smartphone and “tuned” to emit any hue in the rainbow—are no longer a new idea. What is new is how far this technology has come since its advent just a few years ago. Also new: Products like the Nanoleaf Aurora that fundamentally change the light bulb concept. Aurora is a system of interlocking LED panels that let you decorate with light. You'll find our review here.

Color LED bulbs aren’t quite a commodity yet, but they are getting close to maturity as far as the market goes (the Aurora being an exception). Today’s bulbs are more compact, much brighter, have better color representation, and, for the most part, feature control apps that do more than ever, and are easier to set up. Prices have also come down, with some no-name color-tunable bulbs now available for less than $10 each. (Buyer beware: You get what you pay for.)

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here


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MartinLogan Unison review: This DTS Play-Fi and AirPlay preamp will stream anything—including your vinyl

Mon, 12 Jun 2017 03:00:00 -0700

The Unison will stream just about any audio source in your home—including hi-res audio—while correcting your room's acoustic anomalies with Anthem Room Correction.


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Nanoleaf Aurora review: Forget smart light bulbs, light up the entire wall

Mon, 12 Jun 2017 03:00:00 -0700

This modular, wall-mountable LED system is giddily entertaining.


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Logitech Brio 4K Pro review: A superb webcam ready for a ultra high-resolution world

Fri, 09 Jun 2017 04:30:00 -0700

To understand just how far webcams have come since the stuttering, pixelated video streams of yore, look no further than the Logitech Brio 4K Pro. With support for 4K recording, high dynamic range, and 5X zoom, it offers a level of video quality that surpasses the needs of most users.

But while casual Skype callers might not dramatically benefit from pixel-popping resolution or more accurate colors, streamers, vloggers, and tech enthusiasts certainly can. In fact, the Brio 4K Pro makes a costly DIY setup far less necessary to produce higher-quality video.

Compact and feature-packed 

The Brio stuffs all of its power in a pretty slim package. It’s just four inches wide and one inch high and deep. Thanks in part to its metallic-gray aluminum casing, the camera is a lightweight two ounces.

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The System76 Galago Pro is a fierce featherweight competitor for Linux lovers

Fri, 09 Jun 2017 04:00:00 -0700

For most people running Linux on a laptop, chances are they had to go through the ritual of wiping Windows and installing the Linux OS. It’s a time-honored tradition in the Linux world, but things are slowly changing, with Linux now coming preinstalled on some very nice portables. Case in point: the ultralight System76 Galago Pro, a laptop that pleasantly surprised me more than once.

System76? Never heard of 'em

Traditionally, getting your laptop to work with Linux can be a pain. Old ThinkPads are still a favorite among Linux users for their reliability and compatibility with the Linux kernel. And though modern kernels have come a long way in hardware compatibility, just grabbing a laptop and hoping for the best can still be a big gamble. 

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HTC U11 review: A powerful Android phone that knows how to have fun

Fri, 09 Jun 2017 03:00:00 -0700

The annals of Android are littered with one-and-done gimmicks that were originally hailed as the next big thing. Indeed, from slide-out game pads to built-in projectors, way too many Android phones have included features that never caught on. So, will the new Edge Sense feature in the HTC U11 meet a similar fate? Probably. But the U11 is still a great phone that’s fun to use.

A more pocketable version of the ill-conceived U Ultra, HTC’s newest flagship isn’t just another spec’d-out handset with good looks and a great camera. The new Edge Sense feature lets you launch apps and actions by squeezing the sides of the phone. It’s a gimmick for sure, but one of the funnest gimmicks ever to grace an Android handset.

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HTC U11 Review

Wed, 07 Jun 2017 22:00:00 -0700

The HTC U11 is fast and powerful, and it isn't afraid to embrace its fun side.


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Oppo UDP-203 4K UHD Blu-ray player review: A class act with awesome audio capabilities

Tue, 06 Jun 2017 16:25:00 -0700

There's no question about it: The Oppo Digital UDP-203 is the best 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player you can buy. It's not just a high-end video device, it can also play high-resolution audio from SACD and DVD-Audio discs or audio files encoded with nearly any codec you can think of, and it's MSRP is $150 less than our previous high-end top pick, the Panasonic DMP-UB900. It’s the most feature-blessed player we’ve tested, and as of June 6, 2017, it supports Dolby Vision, too.

The UDP-203 features a handsome, black brushed-aluminum faceplate with an LCD status display right below the disc tray. A front USB 2.0 port provides easy access for files stored on mass storage devices, including 60 frame-per-second 2160p video. You’ll also find a complete set of transport controls here (play, pause, stop, track forward, and track back) that can also be used to navigate menus.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here


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Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind review: Nostalgia makes a decent expansion something special

Tue, 06 Jun 2017 05:00:00 -0700

“Wake up, we’re here.” Words whispered by a stranger in the bowels of some dimly lit ship. It’s been more than a decade since I first played The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and I’m starting to suspect that, for me at least, there will never be another game like it, never another introduction I remember so fondly.

Off the ship into the grubby port town of Seyda Neen, with its imposing Census and Excise office, that crooked little lighthouse off to the side, a weird long-legged flea thing off in the distance. It seemed so much larger than six homes and a main road back then. Overwhelming, even. Nowadays every game’s an open-world monstrosity packed full of hundreds of activities, but in 2002? Morrowind seemed incredible. Each tiny town was a bustling metropolis.

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ZTE Quartz watch review: The Best Android Wear value, plain and simple

Tue, 06 Jun 2017 04:00:00 -0700

Android Wear might not be the most powerful or versatile wearable OS, but it’s always had one big advantage over its competitors: variety. The first round of Android wearables was a diverse lot—square and round, classic and sporty, big and small—and no matter your taste, you were pretty much guaranteed to find an aesthetic that suited your wrist.

With the new crop of watches, however, variety has taken a back seat to size. Nowhere is that more evident than with the ZTE Quartz. It doesn’t have NFC, LTE, or a heart-rate monitor, but it’s just as big and bulky as its higher-priced peers that do.

Maybe it’s the beefy battery and 3G chip that makes the Quartz so big, but whatever the reason, it’s one more watch that will just be too much for most wrists. That said, its attractive price makes it an excellent entry-level watch for people who want to stay connected while leaving their phone (and charger) at home. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a first-generation Android Wear watch for this price, with or without cellular connectivity.

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Samsung Q9F series QLED smart TV review: Samsung's best 4K UHD TV yet

Tue, 06 Jun 2017 03:00:00 -0700

Quantum dots and improved backlighting make for outstanding 2160p HDR. It takes LED-backlit LCD to another level.


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Samsung Galaxy Book Review

Mon, 05 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0700

We put the new Samsung Galaxy Book two-in-one through its paces, and find that this Kaby Lake-powered tablet offers a compelling mix of performance, price, and battery life.


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Endless Space 2 review: Mood meets 4X strategy

Thu, 01 Jun 2017 12:30:00 -0700

Don’t judge a book by its cover, they, say but you know what? Having a beautiful, state-of-the-art cover sure can help.

Such is the case with Endless Space 2, the latest and prettiest 4X strategy game from Amplitude. This is the part where I say, “Endless Space 2 has quite a few issues at release” though—and it does. It’s not a flawless game, nor does it feel as fresh as Amplitude’s fantasy spin-off Endless Legend.

I love it anyway.

A chaotic universe

It’s just so damn slick. Almost too slick, with Amplitude apparently concerned more with artistry than creating an intuitive user interface at times. There were many moments in Endless Space 2 where I sat staring at some random menu, trying to figure out how to do the thing I wanted to do and not quite understanding which button would allow me to do it.

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Tablo Dual OTA DVR review: Less clutter at a cost

Wed, 31 May 2017 06:00:00 -0700

Built-in storage makes the new Tablo simpler to set up, but you might still be better off with the old model.


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HTC Vive Deluxe Audio Strap review: The Vive finally feels complete

Tue, 30 May 2017 06:00:00 -0700

When I reviewed the HTC Vive last April, I wrote that Valve and HTC had created “the most forward-thinking VR headset on the market,” with one huge exception: design.

The Vive had its sole competitor, the Oculus Rift, completely beaten—this amazing room-scale experience, motion controls, Steam integration—except that the Rift was simply more comfortable to wear for long stints of time. “The Vive is in line with the Rift’s second-gen developer kit,” I wrote, and I stand by it. The Vive felt like a work in progress.

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