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Preview: PC World Latest Technology Reviews

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Published: Mon, 20 Nov 2017 09:49:30 -0800

Last Build Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2017 09:49:30 -0800

 



C by GE smart LED bulb review: Not the right choice for enthusiasts

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 07:59:00 -0800

The C-Life is an inexpensive choice, but its value is undercut by the price of the C-Sleep.


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Today, Eufy Genie Speaker With Alexa is Just $19.99 - Deal Alert

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 06:50:00 -0800


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Need for Speed: Payback tweaks awful progression system amid loot box controversy

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 06:49:00 -0800

Reviewing Need for Speed: Payback earlier this month I said it was “the first game to be ruined by loot boxes,” calling it “a totally decent arcade racer undermined at every turn by rampant and predatory monetization.” And I evidently wasn’t alone in that, judging by the game’s OpenCritic page.

So while all the attention is currently on the changes EA is making to Star Wars: Battlefront II’s loot boxes, it’s worth highlighting that Payback’s getting tweaked too. Taking to Reddit, Ghost Games recently rolled out a lengthy list of updates.

To read this article in full, please click here


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Roku Express review: Cheap, decent, and probably still not the streaming box for you

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 04:00:00 -0800

The new Roku Express is much faster than its predecessor, but the best Roku still doesn’t cost much more.


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Best Bluetooth speakers

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 03:11:00 -0800

There was a time when Bluetooth speakers were like jelly beans: They were cheap, they all looked the same, and they were invariably of dubious quality. Times have changed. Every major audio manufacturer has at least one model on the market today, and most have several. If you haven’t listened to a Bluetooth speaker lately, you’re in for a very pleasant surprise.

The industry’s progress doesn’t mean that every Bluetooth speaker justifies its price tag, no matter how inexpensive it might be. There’s still plenty of dreck floating around. Don’t worry, we’re here to help you steer clear of the junk and point you to the best speakers at the price range that fits your budget. To that end, we’ve picked the best Bluetooth speakers in four broad price ranges: budget, mid-range, high-end, and—yes, there are ultra-high-end Bluetooth speakers—price is no object. We also added an outdoor category to our coverage, with Soundcast’s VG7 the first to win our praise, with the Bose Soundlink Revolve+ taking the runner-up spot.

To read this article in full, please click here


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Five hidden features of Android 8.0 Oreo you should be using

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 03:05:00 -0800

Google is pushing Android 8.0 Oreo to Nexus and Pixel devices as device makers scramble to get their phones updated. Google's devices will be the only ones running the new software, at least for a while. What's this Oreo update all about, anyway? Everyone knows about the big stuff, like picture-in-picture and autofill apps, but a lot more is going on if you dig deeper. Here are six awesome hidden Oreo features to get you started.

Widgets via app shortcuts

(image) Ryan Whitwam/IDG

Google has changed the location and appearance of the home screen widget picker several times, and Oreo brings yet another alteration. This one might make using widgets much easier, though. All of an app's widgets are accessible with a long-press on the app icon. This works in the app drawer as well as on the home screen.

To read this article in full, please click here


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Black Friday deals: The cheapest gaming PC you can build

Sun, 19 Nov 2017 14:16:00 -0800

The one thing we like more than building our own PCs is doing so for very little cash. Now’s the best time for that: Black Friday deals often include amazingly low prices on components, fantastic combo and bundle deals, and extras like a copy of a video game.

Last year, I decided to see just how low you could go using Black Friday deals. I came up with three budget gaming builds, all based around a Micro Center combo deal on AMD’s FX-8350 and a compatible AM3+ motherboard. The cheapest of them was $350, inclusive of the Windows license.

To read this article in full, please click here


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Black Friday 2017: The best early deals

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 14:21:00 -0800

Black Friday is no longer just the day after Thanksgiving. Now deals spill out willy-nilly from retailers at almost any given time in November.

Just a year or two ago, most discounts weren’t any good. But that’s changed.

While the deals that command headlines (those so-called “doorbusters”) are typically still available on only Thanksgiving or Black Friday, some worthwhile sales are already trickling out now. 

We’ve begun rounding those up here, so keep an eye peeled for further updates as the days tick by and we add new deals as we spot them. And don’t forget: Holiday return windows have just expanded (most will run into early January), so you can buy now and repent at leisure—assuming you can float the cash.

To read this article in full, please click here


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Microsoft's Surface Book 2 has a power problem

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 17:33:00 -0800

Microsoft’s Surface Book 2 has a power problem. When operating at peak performance, it may draw more power than its stock charger or Surface Dock can handle. What we’ve discovered after talking to Microsoft is that it’s not a bug—it’s a feature.

You can understand our confusion, given how Microsoft initially positioned the Surface Book 2. “This is a desktop,” Microsoft’s corporate vice president of devices, Panos Panay, went so far as to call it. “For many, this is likely the most performant desktop they’ve ever seen.” Most models come with a discrete Nvidia GTX 1060 GPU (the lowest-end model has a GTX 1050). At the launch event, Microsoft showed off Cuphead and Gears of War 4 playing at high frame rates on the Surface Book 2, implying that it was capable of playing PC games.

To read this article in full, please click here


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Asus ZenBook Flip (UX360CA-DBM2T) review: A sleek, affordable 2-in-1 for everyday tasks

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 13:38:00 -0800

Not everyone needs a beefy laptop, which usually comes with a beefy price. For many folks, a capable, portable, flexible device like the Asus ZenBook Flip is just the ticket. At just $749, the 2-in-1 Flip doesn’t try to be the most powerful or most advanced option. Instead, it offers a slim and portable design that’s affordable and easy to use.

Really, this laptop reminds us a little of the netbooks that existed about 10 years ago. However, unlike those painfully underpowered systems, the Flip’s Core m processor can actually get work done. Storage is plentiful, too: Asus offers two versions of this 2-in-1, and they’re essentially the same aside from the SSD. The base model comes with a 256GB SSD for $699, and the second model comes with a 512GB SSD for $50 more. Our review unit sported the 512GB drive, but our critique applies to both models.

To read this article in full, please click here


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Acer Chromebook 14 review: You can brag a little about this laptop's luxury details

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 12:27:00 -0800

Chromebooks can be a crap shoot. It’s easy to get sucked in by a low price, only to find yourself with a disappointingly low-quality device on your hands. But you don’t have to step up into the higher-priced territory of the Dell Chromebook 13 or HP Chromebook 13 to find satisfaction. For a midrange price ($286 on Amazon), the Acer Chromebook 14 gives you an all-aluminum chassis and a very nice display, even if its performance and other attributes are less remarkable. 

To read this article in full, please click here


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Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 review: HD video and stereo sound add polish to video calls

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 12:07:00 -0800

Don't settle for the built-in webcam on your PC. At best, it provides mediocre audio and video quality, which just won't do if you're trying to make a strong impression in a professional Skype call or as a serious online broadcaster. You'll get far more polish from Logitech’s HD Pro Webcam C920 provides, which offers 1080p resolution and stereo sound at a very affordable price (currently less than $50 on Amazon).

To read this article in full, please click here


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This week in games: Battlefront II disables microtransactions, Total War goes to Britain

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 12:00:00 -0800

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve done a news wrap-up, thanks to a knee-deep pile of review games I’m still slowly churning through. But my Total War sensors went off this week, so it’s time to return.

That’s right, there’s news on an honest-to-goodness historical Total War—the first since Rome 2 spin-off Attila . Also up this week: Pillars of Eternity 2 hits beta, Thermaltake’s new gaming chair cools your butt off, the end of Marvel Heroes, the start for Verdun sequel Tannenberg, and of course all the internet (and real-world) drama surrounding loot boxes.

This is gaming news for November 13 to 17.

To read this article in full, please click here


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The best SSDs of 2017

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 08:40:00 -0800

Switching to a solid-state drive is the best upgrade you can make for your PC. These wondrous devices obliterate long boot times, speed up how fast your programs and games load, and generally makes your computer feel fast. But not all solid-state drives are created equal. The best SSDs offer solid performance at affordable prices—or, if price is no object, face-meltingly fast read and write speeds.

This article was last updated on November 17, 2017 to include Intel’s Optane SSD 900P and the WD Blue 3D SATA NAND SSD.


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Star Wars: Battlefront II review: The Dark Side

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 06:19:00 -0800

No review is ever truly conducted in a vacuum, but Star Wars: Battlefront II arrived in a storm. And rightfully so, I might add. Battlefront II is the perfect capper to a holiday game season plagued by predatory monetization schemes, a game so unabashedly toxic it finally became a scandal. You’ll find a rack of pitchforks in the corner, or for those who prefer to observe internet drama from a safe distance there’s a popcorn maker on level two. 

Consider: Monday, EA received the most downvoted comment in Reddit history over Star Wars: Battlefront II's progression system. Tuesday, it cut all hero costs in the game by 75 percent in response. Wednesday, DICE employees hosted a disastrous Reddit Q&A session that only further fanned the flames. Thursday, the scandal grew so large it hit mainstream sites like CNN, prompting a phone call between EA CEO Andrew Wilson and Disney CEO Bob Iger, and then the temporary removal of Battlefront II’s real-world currency.

To read this article in full, please click here


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Hex TLS Bluetooth speaker review: 808 Audio delivers solid mono thump and good looks, but few amenities

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 06:00:00 -0800

This speaker is attractive, rugged, easy to pack, and it delivers an authoritative thump, but it's missing a few key features, including speakerphone functionality and the ability to charge other USB devices.


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iMovie 10 review: Free video editing that's elegant and easy

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 05:00:00 -0800

Apple’s iMovie has been around for a long time, and it has always focused on one philosophy: ease of use in a clean and elegant interface. After many years, this hasn’t changed. It’s still a delight to use, if a little bit obtuse at times in its pursuit of minimalism. It lacks some of the formats and features supported in other programs, but what’s there is implemented beautifully.

iMovie doesn’t offer the tutorials or wizards that some other programs for beginners do—though there is a neat movie trailer generation tool. Rather, it keeps the interface as basic as possible while guiding you with simple tooltips as you mouse over specific buttons and features. Total beginners might end up scratching their heads a little more than they would in apps with more explicit tutorials, though.

To read this article in full, please click here


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Buffered VPN review: It gets the job done

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 05:00:00 -0800

Buffered VPN in brief:

P2P allowed: Yes

Business location: Budapest, Hungary

Number of servers: 30+

Number of country locations: 46

Cost: $99 per year

Budapest-based Buffered VPN isn’t an exceptional product. It ‘s not particularly speedy, its Windows app is serviceable but nothing special, prices are a little high, and its server count and country locations aren’t that impressive. Still, in my time with it, I found the VPN to be pretty good.

(image) Ian Paul/IDG

Buffered VPN’s primary interface.

To read this article in full, please click here


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BTV brings local TV to your phone and desktop for free

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 04:00:00 -0800

There's a new way to watch local TV on your PC or smartphone—for free. Didja, a Silicon Valley-based company, is taking over-the-air TV channels and packaging them for streaming to a smartphone app.


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WD Blue 3D NAND SATA SSD review: One of the fastest TLC drives you can buy

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 04:00:00 -0800

The WD Blue 3D SSD is a SATA SSD with a not-so-secret twin: Sandisk’s Ultra 3D SSD. They are in fact the same drive with different labels, WD owning Sandisk and all that. The ‘3D’ term means the drives use stacked (layered, vertical, etc.) NAND. Practically speaking, that means more storage in less horizontal space.

The only real differences between the drives are the outward appearance, the marketing, and the fact that the WD Blue 3D ships in the M.2 form factor, while the Ultra 3D does not.  Beyond that, they’re peas in a pod. Given their superior performance compared to other TLC NAND drives—that’s a really good thing.

Design and capacity

Though available in the 2.5-inch form factor, WD sent us the M.2 2280 (22mm wide/80mm long) Blue 3D, which is handy for upgrading laptops or desktops that feature an M.2 slot. It’s SATA, not NVMe—just to be clear. Be sure to check which flavor your M.2 slot is before you buy. Just FYI, NVMe is a lot faster.

To read this article in full, please click here


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OnePlus 5T first thoughts: This phone could have made a great Pixel 2 XL

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 03:29:00 -0800

What would you pay for a phone with a 6-inch OLED screen, Snapdragon 835 processor, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a 3,300mAh battery? $850? $950?

Now consider this number: $390. That’s the difference in price between the 128GB OnePlus 5T and the Pixel 2 XL. For $559 (just $20 more than the OnePlus 5), you get a phone that looks an awful lot like a Pixel 2 XL, with slim bezels, a rear fingerprint sensor, and an OS that’s very faithful to stock Android. And the entry-level model costs less than $500.

To read this article in full, please click here


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How to install PC game mods: A beginner's guide

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 03:00:00 -0800

One of PC gaming’s biggest strengths is its flexibility, and that advantage shines brightest when you mod your PC games. While console games remain restricted to the gameplay and features shipped by developers, many PC games can be modified by the community to tweak almost any aspect of the experience. Mods can offer enhanced graphics, bug fixes, fresh quests, you name it. The best PC mods can change games completely—and sometimes kickstart whole new genres of their own.

To read this article in full, please click here


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The FCC gives 4K, next-gen TV the green light

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 17:25:00 -0800

The Federal Communications Commission has approved plans for the launch of next-generation TV broadcasting that could include 4K programming, improved interactive services and greater targeted advertising.


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Dash cam reviews: What you need to catch the maniacs and meteors of daily driving

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 11:24:00 -0800

Dash cams are already essential in many countries because of scam artists who try to create accidents so they can sue you. They’ve also proven useful for catching the occasional meteor, as happened in Thailand and in Russia a few years ago.

But while auto cons aren’t as common here, recording your excursions is a reasonable precaution to take—especially if you’re driving professionally.

November 16, 2017: Updated with our review of the Blackvue DR750S-2CH, which offers great day and night video, a convenient mounting system, and a handy phone app as well as browser access. But all these goodies will cost you. Read our full review

To read this article in full, please click here


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Blackvue DR750S-2CH dash cam review: A clever, high-quality two-camera bundle

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 10:58:00 -0800

The Blackvue DR750S-2CH dash cam impressed us right out of the box. With similarly-styled front and rear cameras, a clever mounting system, and tubular good looks, it just looks like it will do its job well. It can also be accessed from across the Internet and uses Wi-Fi to communicate with the company’s Android and iOS apps.

But you pay for all the goodies: At $399 ($283 without the rear camera), the DR750S-2CH plays in the same rarefied pricing sphere as Thinkware’s top-of-the-line cameras. If this lies beyond your budget, check out all of our dash cam reviews for a better match.

To read this article in full, please click here


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Stardock's stellar Groupy organizes windows and programs like browser tabs

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 10:19:00 -0800

Compelling free programs are a dime a dozen on PCs these days. But for years, Stardock has offered software worth paying for by following a simple formula: Identify a problem with Windows, then fix it for a reasonable price. Start10 restores the ho-hum modern Start Menu to the glories of its heyday. Fences helps manage disheveled desktops. And Stardock’s newest superb offering, Groupy, turns your myriad open windows into the equivalent of browser tabs.

To read this article in full, please click here


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OnePlus 5T upgrades the OnePlus 5's great specs with a new screen and design

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 09:00:00 -0800

With the arrival of the 5T, OnePlus has fixed some of the biggest complaints about the 5.

While the $499 OnePlus 5 was still a good value in the face of the Galaxy S8 and LG G6, it wasn’t the unbelievable bargain the 3 and 3T were. With a recycled display, uninspired design, and dismal low-light camera performance, the OnePlus 5 felt like a phone on the edge of being obsolete.

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Microsoft Surface Book 2 review: The ultimate laptop improves in every way but one

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 06:00:00 -0800

Microsoft’s Surface Book 2 solves a big problem for Microsoft: How do you market the Surface Book as a performance notebook when it’s two years out of date? As our review shows, by making it bigger and faster, with longer battery life.

With the Surface Book 2, Microsoft brings 8th-generation Intel Core processors and powerful, discrete Nvidia GPUs with enough horsepower to start thinking of the Surface Book 2 as a graphics workstation. But Microsoft’s big October surprise was the debut of not one, but two Surface Book 2 devices: a 13.5-inch and a new 15-inch model (we reviewed the latter). Neither is a simple clamshell notebook, though calling them convertible 2-in-1s instead seems like we’re selling them short.

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The state of 4K gaming: What you need to know, from pricing to performance needs

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 05:48:00 -0800

4K gaming started life as a hobby for the wealthy one percent and, well, you still need a beast of a PC to push all the pixels on a 4K monitor. Fortunately, in the fast-paced world of technology, today’s elite options trickle down to tomorrow’s mainstream hardware in the blink of an eye. Current Nvidia GeForce GTX 10-series and AMD Radeon RX Vega graphics cards represent a two-generation technological jump over prior options, making 4K gaming more viable than ever.

But 4K gaming demands more than a fresh GPU.

Editor's note: This article has been updated repeatedly, most recently on Nov. 16 2017 to include the Xbox One X and Nvidia's GTX 1070 Ti as well as update monitor prices.

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HyperX Cloud Alpha review: One of the best gaming headsets for the money

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 03:23:00 -0800

HyperX has been a victim of its own success. The brand burst onto the scene in 2014 with the HyperX Cloud, a sub-$100 headset that was not only as comfortable as its namesake, but sounded as good or better than most of its higher-priced competition.

The Cloud instantly leapt to the top of most people’s headset recommendations and there it’s stayed. In the years since, HyperX has released a half-dozen new headsets—the Cloud II, the Cloud Revolver (and Revolver II), the Cloud Stinger—and while all have been perfectly fine additions, none have dethroned the HyperX Cloud.

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