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Skip the holiday shipping with this unlimited digital learning bundle feat. Rosetta Stone
Fri, 02 Dec 2022 08:00:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
As the year comes into its final weeks, it’s time to start thinking about New Year’s resolutions. And what’s a better resolution than committing to learning something new? With the Unlimited Lifetime Learning Subscription Bundle, you’ll have lifetime access to some of the best learning resources on the web. It’s also a great last-minute gift that doesn’t require any shipping, but it’s only on sale for $199 until December 8. First, you’ll get lifetime access to Rosetta Stone, a language-learning platform trusted by international organizations like NASA and TripAdvisor for nearly three decades. Then, using speech recognition technology and a proven curriculum, you can learn up to 24 languages (one at a time), from the basics of ordering a meal to more intermediate skills like having an entire conversation. In addition to Rosetta Stone, you’ll also get StackSkills Unlimited, a collection of more than 1,000 courses covering everything from blockchain and growth hacking to graphic design, finance, and more. So whatever you want to learn, you’ll have access to lessons from hundreds of the web’s top instructors on-demand. Commit yourself to learn something new. During our Last Chance Sale, you can get the Unlimited Lifetime Learning Subscription Bundle for just $199 by December 8 — no coupons or shipping required!   The Unlimited Lifetime Learning Subscription Bundle ft. Rosetta Stone – $149 Learn Something New Prices subject to change. Deep Learning
Melting GeForce RTX 4090 power cables: A timeline of events
Thu, 01 Dec 2022 22:12:20 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Nvidia’s glorious GeForce RTX 4090 wowed reviewers and set a new bar for just how stupidly fast a graphics card could be. Unfortunately, the launch of the $1,600 GPU has been marred by multiple reports of melting 12VHPWR connectors used in the cards damaging both the connector and the GPUs at times. The new 12VHPWR connector is a compact power connector that combines the capability of multiple older 6- and 8-pin connectors into one tiny plug. It was originally adopted with the GeForce RTX 3090 Ti Founders Edition and is now used in the GeForce RTX 4090 Founders Edition as well as custom versions of the RTX 4090 built by the likes of Asus, MSI, et cetera. The 12VHPWR connector will also be used in the impending GeForce RTX 4080 Founders Edition, slated to release on November 16. Update: The latest updates we’ve added to the saga of the melting 12VHWPR connectors is an official statement from the PCI-SIG, the group that publishes the spec for the connector saying the spec addresses inter-opability, not safety and reminds vendors that they are each responsible for their own safety testing on their products. GeForce RTX 4090 Founders Edition Read our review MSRP: $1,599 Best Prices Today: $1599.99 at Best Buy With this fast-moving, confusing, and also very serious situation, PCWorld has decided to round up the facts you need to know to help separate fact from fiction. Nvidia officials have declined to comment while it investigates, but the latest development seem to point to bad 12VHPWR adapter cables. There’s also the possibility that not fully inserting the cable may cause increased resistance and enough heat to melt the connectors. We’ll update this story as new information is released. Sept. 10 Hassan Mujtaba of WCCFTech reports of an alert issued from PCI-SIG to members of a “thermal variance, which could result in safety issues under certain safety conditions.” The member alert advises vendors to “work closely with their connector vendors and exercise due diligence in using high-power connections”Sept. 14 The full email and additional details from the PCI-SIG are reported by Stephen Burke of Gamers Nexus and notes that “failures have been observed in certain cable routing conditions from PSUs and test boards that generate side load on the interface.” Burke said the report—apparently created by Nvidia—from PCI-SIG showed three different manufacturers have been tested with 10 sample assemblies with failures manifesting from 10 hours to 30 hours with melting. It’s worth pointing out that the internal report seems to refer to the connection on the PSU side—not the GPU side. In general, however, ATX 3.0 power supplies PCWorld have seen indicate the cables to be identical on both ends.Brad Chacos/IDG Sept. 22 VideoCardz’s editor WhyCry reports that GPU maker Zotac’s guidance on the new 12VHPWR connector is rated for 30-insertion cycles which raises alarms as to the lifespan and durability of the new connector. VideoCardz later amends its report to say that while 30 cycles appears very low, many Molex connectors introduced over the last 20 years have had similar mating cycles.Oct. 24 The first report of a melted 12HPWR connector is posted on the Nvidia sub-reddit. The GPU appears to be a Gigabyte 4090 Gaming OC using an Nvidia-branded 12VHPWR adapter cable. Both Nvidia and Gigabyte reach out to the owner who reports a replacement card has been received. A second report of a melted dongle is received as well on that day with damage to the adapter cable and an Asus RTX 4090 TUF Gaming OC Edition occurring. The Reddit post immediately goes viral on the high-profile graphics card with many assuming the new connector to be at fault.Oct. 24 A few hours after the initial melting report on Reddit, renowned power supply reviewer and the principle behind PSU certification company Cybenetics, Aristeidis Bitziopoulos, attempts to replicate the melting 12VHPWR connector by subjecting it to 600 watt loads for more than 90 minutes. He is unable to damage the cable while seeing only a small thermal variance. It should be noted that the test used a native 12VHPWR cable on an ATX 3.0 power supply rather than Nvidia’s adapter. Bitziopoulos concludes the 12VHPWR connector doesn’t seem to be an issue in his testing.Oct. 24 Overclocker Buildzoid of Actually Hardware Overclocking, posts a video criticizing the new 12VHPWR connector noting that the new connector drastically reduces the number of pins and wires carrying power. Oct. 25. With failures now reported at three,  Nvidia officials tell the Verge’s Tom Warren that “we are investigating the reports” and are in contact with the owners of the impacted cards. Oct. 25 Former HardOCP editor Kyle Bennett reports AMD’s upcoming RDNA3 GPUs will not use the 12VHWPR connector in its reference designs. Neither Bennett, nor his sources at AMD indicate when the design decision was made to skip 12VHPWR.Oct. 25 Showing what a distraction the 12VHPWR has become, AMD’s Scott Herkelman publicly confirms the new Radeon cards will skip 12VHPWR and receives responses such as “That is a HUGE relief, happy with that news.”Oct. 26 The official Reddit megathread listing showing documented failures now numbers five damaged 12VHWPR connectors.Oct. 26 Jason Langiven, aka JayzTwoCents, who has long been critical of the connector being “dangerous,” attempts to replicate the failure on a native 12VHWPR cable and is unable to induce a failure on the cable under heavy loads.Nvidia’s 12VHPWR adapter needs to connect to three or four 8-pin power cables.Brad Chacos/IDG Oct. 27 Igor Wallossek of IgorsLab.de conducts a tear down and failure test of a 12VHPWR power adapter and concludes that the issue doesn’t appear to be the 12VHPWR design itself nor the much-touted insertion cycle concern raised previously. Instead, Wallossek concludes it is the design of Nvidia’s adapter itself, which he describes as “inferior quality (and) can lead to failures and has already caused damage in single cases.” Wallossek said he believes bending and kinking of the adapter can cause weak solder joints and bridges to break and increase the resistance causing the melting.Oct. 28 Ronaldo Buassali of TecLab.net.br posts his own failure tests, including swinging a power supply using just the connector and subjecting to a stress test of 1,532—well beyond its rated sustained wattage of 600 watts.Oct. 29 The number of confirmed damaged connectors on Reddit now numbers 15. Oct. 30 Stephen Burke of Gamers Nexus attempts to replicate the melting failure by intentionally damaging a 12VHPWR adapter similar to what IgorsLab.de had reported and subjected it to a 99 percent load for 8 hours with no melting observed. Burke also notes that his five adapters all appear to be constructed the same—and yet differently than the adapter IgorsLab had. Burke said his five 12VHWPR adapters use wires labeled for 300 volts versus the 150 volts the adapter Wallossek had. Burke concludes that we just don’t know what the issue is, but it is a real problem on some adapters—but not all of them. He also mentions a theory being floated that the smaller connector may not easily seat as well as the larger traditional power connectors. He also points out that contrary to what many consumers believe, a native connector that plugs directly into a power supply may also fail the same way if the native cable is constructed the same as the failed adapters. Burke also asks owners of RTX 4090 cards to report which cable adapters they have. Just keeping everyone updated: Out of about 130 emails so far to the 4090cable inbox, we've received 7 that are 150V rated wires (and therefore potentially indicative of different supply), so 5%. That rating doesn't instantly mean it's bad. Replying to a few for info— GamersNexus (@GamersNexus) October 31, 2022Oct. 30 With news that there appear to be different 12VHPWR adapters being provided, Stephen Burke of Gamer’s Nexus reports via Twitter that of the 130 emails he has received, 7 percent of owners report they have the 150V cabling that was used in IgorsLab’s adapter cable. Burke notes that while the cable marking may say 150V, that only means it uses the same apparent spec cables—and does not indicate they are may have the low-quality solder joints that IgorsLab found. Burke also notes that of the 130, “not many are burned.”Oct. 30 Andreas Schilling of Hardwareluxx.de conducts his own poll of forum members who have purchased RTX 4090 cards. He reports that 12 have a 4-pins-to-12VHPWR adapter marked “300V.” One has a 3-pins-to-12VHPWR marked “150V,” and two people have 4-pins-to-12VHPWR marked “150V.” Nov. 1 Ronaldo Buassali of TecLab.net.br posts a longer video of testing from the original live stream with additional explanations of how he tested the 12VHPWR. Unlike most of the testing so far, which used actual GeForce RTX 4090 cards, Buassali physically removes the 12VHPWR connector from the GPU and wires it up for stress testing. This lets Buassali push the connector assembly well past the 600 watts called for, including loads of 900 watts, 1,200 watts and 1,500 watts. Buassali’s conclusion? The 12VHPWR connector itself is “well sized, so much so that it supported much more than its specification.” However, Buassali concludes that even though the connector can handle more than it’s rated for, a poorly inserted connector that creates resistance could indeed be behind the melting of the connector. Buassali also doesn’t rule out a batch of bad cables, but that implies a manufacturing issue, not a design problem.Nov. 2 Jon Gerow, director of R&D at Corsair and formerly of Jonnyguru.com, posts results from intentionally damaged 12VHPWR cable adapters under load and is unable to induce melting as well. Gerow was able to source multiple 12VHPWR adapter cables for destructive testing, and despite breaking off solder joints, he was unable to induce melting or a failure. He did note that some of the adapters weren’t constructed very well but even the worst of the batch passed stress testing without failing. Gerow concludes that some of the problems may have occurred when the owners didn’t fully seat the 12VHPWR adapter cables and also posts images of installed PCs where even a small gap of 1 mm could result in increased resistance.Nov. 3 AMD formally announces its RDNA3-based Radeon 7900XT and Radeon 7900XTX and proudly notes that it did not use 12VHPWR connections. However, the company points out that the general perception that it changed its designs only after the melting problems cropped up a few weeks ago is not correct. AMD made the decision to stay with conventional 8-pin power connectors more than a year ago.Nov. 4 A new post in the Nvidia subreddit, taken from a Facebook post of a Hong Kong-based RTX 4090 owner, is the first reported damaged 12VHPWR cable from a native cable plugged directly into a power supply. Previous to this report, all of the reported issues had only occurred in 12VHPWR adapter cables, not native cables. The following day, another person reports a melted connector using a native 12VHPWR cable from an ATX 3.0 power supply. This appears to dash hopes that a native plug would solve the problem.Nov 7 The number of confirmed failed connectors now numbers 23 on the Reddit megathread, with issues spread among many graphics card makers. Oddly, there are no Nvidia Founders Edition cards listed with failures. There are also five unconfirmed cases listed from other board makers as well.Nov. 7 VideoCardz editor WhyCry reports that a person on Reddit has been told his or her Gainward GeForce RTX 4090 will be delayed until the middle of November as it waits for replacement 12VHPWR adapter cables. The email, sent from Australian PC company Techfast to a customer, said “While investigations are still continuing and Nvidia has not released a public statement, Gainward has told us that cables shipped with their cards will (are) being replaced. As a result, they are holding shipping of all cards until this has taken place. We also understand this cable replacement will not be limited to Gainward alone.” PCWorld reached out to Techfast who confirmed the authenticity of the email.Nov. 8 Despite Australian PC builder Techfast confirming an email sent to customers saying some RTX 4090 cards would be delayed while Gainward ships replacement cables and implying other GPU makers would do the same, Gainward’s EU Facebook page says that is not the case and has issued a clarification. “There is incorrect information suggesting Gainward is delaying the RTX 4090 shipment to replace the cables lately. Here we would like to clarify that—Gainward is not holding any RTX 40 shipment to replace the cables, and has no plan to do so. The cables Gainward currently used on the RTX 40 have been inspected by NVIDIA team and found no issues. All Gainward shipment is being made as usual. Please don’t hesitate to grab the Gainward graphics cards if you plan to buy one!”Nov. 11 UK hardware site KitGuru receives an update from Nvidia that it is continuing to investigate the situation. “”We continue to investigate the reports, however we don’t have further details to share yet. NVIDIA and our partners are committed to supporting our customers and ensuring an expedited RMA process for them,” KitGuru says via Twitter.Nov. 13 There are now 26 confirmed GeForce RTX 4090 GPUs with melted connectors documented in the Nvidia subreddit including for the first time, a report of an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 Founders Edition with a melted connector.Nov 14 Igor Wallossek of Igorslab.de confirms there are at least two manufacturers of the Nvidia supplied adapter plugs with one of the adapters seemingly using a rougher casting making insertions more difficult. Wallossek, who said he has spoken with Nvidia’s director of engineering Gabriele Gorla, doesn’t blame end users, but does believe the rougher castings may possibly have lead some customers to to rock the 12VHWPR connector into the socket which may be why so many reports show melted connectors starting from one side of the connector with few to none melting from the center. The solution, Wallossek said, may indicate the PCI SIG needs to issue guidance on keep out zones to give consumers better access to the socket to directly inserting it rather than rocking the connectors in from one side. Wallossek also notes that of the two adapter cables used supplied by Nvidia, one design only grabs pins on two sides while the other design grabs pins on all four sides. Nov. 16 In an exhaustive investigation relying on third-party failure analysis using X-ray examination as well as electron microscope exam, as well as reproducing the failures, Gamers Nexus’ EIC Stephen Burke concludes debris inside the connectors from manufacturing or from insertion as well as improperly seating the cables is largely behind most of the failures seen. Burke also cites numbers from a vendor that the risk of failure is from 0.05 to .1 percent at this point. Although improperly seating the cables while putting it under strain seems to get most of the blame, Burke also wonders if the design of the connector shouldn’t have anticipated the issues. Nov. 16 Tom’s Hardware reports that a GeForce RTX 4090 owner has filed a class-action in the US District Court for the Northern District Court of California over the melting connectors. Filed by Lucas Genova on Nov. 11, the suit alleges Nvidia “marketed and sold the RTX 4090 with a defective and dangerous power cable plug and socket, which has rendered consumers’ cards inoperable and poses a serious electrical and fire hazard for each and every purchaser,” according to the Tom’s Hardware report.Nov. 17 Looking to pour a little salt into the wounds of its competitor, AMD officials have been touting their fortune of not implementing the new 12VHPWR connector in its upcoming Radeon 7000-series of cards. Stay safe this holiday season. @amdradeon pic.twitter.com/DOpg0f2qaP— Sasa Marinkovic (@SasaMarinkovic) November 17, 2022Nov. 18 After weeks of mostly silence, Nvidia finally issues a statement that it has received 50 known reports of melted connectors and after analyzing the returned cables, has largely found improper insertion to be the likely cause, according to a report by Gamers Nexus. The company also poured cold water on building concern that use of third-party 12VHPWR cables would void warranties. The company told Gamers Nexus EIC Stephen Burke that it would honor warranties related to the issues and would expedite the RMA process. While improper insertion would indicate user error during installation of the the cards is to blame, Nvidia also told Gamers Nexus it is looking at ways to improve the connectors that was homologated by the PCI-SIG.Nov. 18 The official Nvidia Reddit megathread closes out its logging of reported incidents which appear to drop off after Gamers Nexus video and Nvidia’s official notice. However, one Reddit user posts an image of a melted RTX 4090 12VHPWR connector in the PCMR subreddit on Nov. 24.Dec. 1 With concern over melting 12VHPWR connectors greatly subsiding after reports that improper insertion is likely the primary cause, the PCI SIG releases a statement reminding people that its spec addresses inter-opratability, not safety and each member is responsible for their own products. “PCI-SIG wishes to impress upon all Members that manufacture, market or sell PCI-SIG technologies (including 12VHPWR connections) of the need to take all appropriate and prudent measures to ensure end user safety, including testing for the reported problem cases involving consumers as alleged in the above-referenced lawsuit. Members are reminded that PCI-SIG specifications provide necessary technical information for interoperability and do not attempt to address proper design, manufacturing methods, materials, safety testing, safety tolerances or workmanship. When implementing a PCI-SIG specification, Members are responsible for the design, manufacturing, and testing, including safety testing, of their products.” GPUs
Best computer deals: Top PC picks from desktops to all-in-ones
Thu, 01 Dec 2022 20:43:01 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Whether you’re looking for a productivity desktop, a gaming PC powerhouse, or a stylish all-in-one Windows machine, we’ve got you covered. We at PCWorld sort through all of the daily computer sales and put together a curated list of the best deals available. But not all deals are really deals, so we only choose those offered by reputable companies and include great hardware to ensure you get the best value for your money. We’ve also included some helpful answers to common questions about buying a computer at the bottom of this article. If you’re considering a laptop instead, be sure to check out our best laptop deals, updated daily. Note: Tech deals come and go quickly, so it’s possible some of these computer discounts will have expired before this article’s next update. Best desktop computer deals Currently, we’re seeing some great deals on gaming computers from the likes of Skytech, HP, and a slew of deals on CyberPowerPC gaming desktops. HP Pavilion Desktop, Ryzen 3/AMD integrated graphics/8GB RAM/256GB SSD/1TB HDD, $459.99 (34% off on HP)Skytech Blaze 3.0, Ryzen 7/RTX 3080/16GB RAM/1TB SSD, $1,799.99 (25% off on Newegg)CyberPowerPC Gamer Xtreme, Core i7/RX 6700 XT/16GB RAM/500GB SSD, $899.00 (25% off on Walmart)CyberPowerPC Gamer Xtreme, Core i7/RX 6700 XT/16GB RAM/1TB SSD, $999.99 (48% off on Adorama)CyberPowerPC Gamer Xtreme Liquid, Core i9/RX 6700 XT/16GB RAM/1TB SSD/Liquid cooling, $1,499.99 (35% off on Adorama)CyberPowerPC Gamer Master, Ryzen 5/RTX 3060/16GB RAM/500GB SSD/2TB HDD, $1,089.99 (27% off on Adorama)CLX SET Desktop, Core i9/RTX 4080/32GB RAM/1TB SSD/4TB HDD/Liquid cooling, $3,589.99 (10% off on Adorama)If you’re just looking for a basic work computer or something cheap to browse the internet than the HP Pavilion Desktop on sale for 34 percent off at HP is a decent choice. Alternatively, CyberPowerPC makes excellent gaming desktop PCs and a bunch of them are on sale for the holidays. They each come with slightly different hardware so choosing the best deal is more of a personal choice. However, the stand-out offers are the budget-friendly Gamer Xtreme edition on sale at Walmart for 25 percent off or the Gamer Master model with an RTX 3060 and a huge 2.5TB of storage on sale at Adorama for 27% off. Best all-in-one computer deals All-in-one desktop computers combine a PC’s hardware with a modern display to make a desktop computer that has both form and function. Since everything is built together, you can save space precious desktop space with an all-in-one. They make capable work computers and they can also be excellent home computers with the wide range of features appealing to the whole family. Currently we are seeing great deals on Dell’s line of Inspiron all-in-ones as well as an allusive deal on an Apple iMac. Inspiron 27 AiO, Core i7/MX550/16GB RAM/512GB SSD/1TB HDD/27-inch 1080p touchscreen display, $1099.99 (23% off on Dell)Inspiron 24 AiO touch, Ryzen 7/AMD Radeon integrated graphics/16GB RAM/512GB SSD/24-inch 1080p touchscreen display, $799.99 (22% off on Dell)Inspiron 24 AiO, Ryzen 5/AM Radeon integrated graphics/8GB RAM/512GB SSD/24-inch 1080p display, $599.99 (25% off on BestBuy)Apple iMac, Core i5/8GB RAM/256GB SSD/27-inch 5K display, $1,199.99 (33% off on BestBuy)HP Pavilion 27 AiO, Core i7/RTX 3050Ti/16GB RAM/1TB SSD/1TB HDD/27-inch 1080p touchscreen display, $1,349.99 (21% off on HP)Right now you can take your pick from Dell’s line of Inspiron all-in-ones as multiple models of the 24-inch and 27-inch computers are on sale. If you’re budget isn’t too tight than the Inspiron 27 AiO on sale from Dell for 23 percent off is probably the best value. Alternatively, if you’re an Apple fan, BestBuy is offering a deal on an Apple iMac model for 33 percent off which is a rare find indeed. FAQ 1. What are good websites to find computer deals? There are a ton of sites that sell computers, and scouring through all of them would take you a lot of time—that’s why we do it for you here and highlight the best deals we find. However, to save you some time and frustration, you need to be smart about where you look at any given time of the year. If you’re looking for a new computer during the holidays or around popular sale periods such as Black Friday or back-to-school, then you are likely to find great deals directly through first party vendor websites. These include the retail storefronts of popular computer manufacturers such as HP, Dell, and Lenovo. However, if you are looking in between sales periods, it’s generally a good idea to search through large third-party retailers such as Amazon, Adorama, Walmart, BestBuy, and Newegg. Oftentimes these websites will offer limited Deals of the Day type sales in hopes of getting rid of excess stock. On the upside, you can score still-decent PCs at a steep discount. 2. When are the best times to find computer deals? Generally speaking, the best deals are offered during the big sales events each year. These include Prime day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the back-to-school period, among others. You will typically see the lowest prices of the year for computers during these events. That being said, there are opportunities to find one-off sales on computers throughout the year from both first- and third-party vendors. These sales are much harder to predict and usually have a time limit, such as one day or one week. Realistically, the only way to find these sales is by checking vendor websites every day. 3. What specs should I look for in a good gaming computer? Since desktop computers don’t have the same restrictions on component size or portability as laptops, the price-to-component ratios are mercifully cheaper than they are in gaming notebooks. This means you can get more gaming bang for your buck in a desktop gaming PC. When it comes to gaming, the two most important pieces of hardware you’ll want to focus on are the CPU and GPU. Think of the CPU as the heart of your computer, ultimately determining how your system will perform when running software. When looking at a computer’s CPU, you should pay attention to the processor core count which usually ranges from two to 16 cores. At a minimum, you will want four cores, but you might be able to get up to six or eight cores without stretching your budget too much. For high-end systems, you should be looking at between eight and 16 cores. Although even for high-level gaming, having more than eight cores won’t add much benefit. A good GPU is essential for gaming and it is going to be the component you will want to splurge on the most. For budget gamers a card that offers affordability and ray tracing is the sweet spot. These include the Nvidia RTX 3060 or AMD RX 6600 or 6600 XT. If you want to game in 4K, it is probably best to go with Nvidia’s RTX 3080 or AMD’s RX 6800 XT. Beyond the CPU and GPU, the other hardware components are less crucial. As for RAM, you should opt for a minimum of 8GB, but ideally 16GB is better—anything over 16GB is largely unnecessary for gaming purposes. RAM is also relatively inexpensive and easy to upgrade if you need more in the future. For your hard drive, you will want to have at least one SSD, preferably an M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD if you can afford it. SSDs are faster than their spinning disc predecessors and will boot your games faster and provide improved load times. Storage size is more of a personal preference. You should consider the types of games you will want to play and how many you intend to download. If you plan to store a lot of games on your computer, then you will most likely want a 1TB or larger drive. Note that it’s not uncommon for modern games to have file sizes over 100GB. 4. What makes a good home office computer? A home office computer should fulfill all of the needs you have for your work. If you work with spreadsheets and multiple programs, you will want a good processor. If you are a content creator then you will need lots of RAM and a blazing fast hard drive. You should also consider other points such as available space and portability. If you are limited on space, you might want to consider an all-in-one which combines the computer component and monitor into one compact unit. If you don’t want to be fixed to one location, then you might consider purchasing a laptop over a desktop. If so, check out our best laptop deals section. 5. What are the benefits of buying a desktop computer over a laptop? The main benefit is the cost-to-component ratio. Due to the nature of their use, laptops have design restrictions that desktops simply don’t have. This means you can generally find better hardware in a desktop for cheaper than you can in a laptop. Desktops also have the unique advantage of being able to pack in better cooling systems. These dissipate more heat and allow your hardware to run more effectively. Also, desktops are easier to upgrade and expand if you choose to do so.  For a more in-depth analysis you can read our 5 reasons to buy a desktop PC instead of a laptop. Desktop PCs, Gaming PCs
Intel Evo NFTs are the latest thing no one wants
Thu, 01 Dec 2022 18:47:39 +0000
Source: PCWorld
At this point, NFTs have been derided as useless, a route to potential scams, and a simple waste of money. So, inexplicably, Intel is helping produce one. A livestream shopping platform that we’ve never heard of, NTWRK, has teamed up with a visual artist that we’ve never heard of, King Saladeen, to design the Intel x King Saladeen line of NFTs—one of which is shown in our primary image, above. We have no idea who will own this particular NFT now that we’ve published it, but that’s not really our problem. “Each NFT features King Saladeen’s iconic bear image graphic,” according to a press release that dropped in our inbox. “In one eye, viewers see a wifi [sic] symbol to symbolize the lightning fast internet speeds of Intel Evo Laptops, while the other eye features the visual artist’s signature money sign.  Each unique piece of digital artwork in this series will be created exclusively using Intel Evo Laptops, and celebrate the power of innovation while uplifting creators, like King Saladeen.” Intel and King Saladeen are debuting the NFTs at the NTWRK x Galore’s Art Basel exhibition, which is taking place in Miami Beach. But the “exclusive NFTs will be turned into limited-edition art prints” which will be then be available via the NTWRK app. We’re very confused about who will actually own the resulting Intel Evo Money Bear images, but we’re getting bored of this whole concept already. Apparently King Saladeen is big enough to produce a mural that appears in the Philadelphia International Airport, however. “Having been raised in a tough urban environment where artistic outlets were few and far between, Saladeen instead turned his attention to basketball,” Saladeen’s bio reads. “Through traveling, Saladeen saw numerous places where his eyes were opened to the landscapes, shapes and colors that were vastly different from what he saw on a day to day basis. These opportunities allowed him to daydream on a greater scale and be influenced and inspired in a fresh way. In an effort to promote fearlessness and the idea that no one should be boxed in, Saladeen’s art continues to meld the art world with fashion, music and now tech.” As one of our colleagues pointed out, at least it’s not an Intel Evo cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency, Laptops
LG’s new 240Hz OLED gaming monitor remains the cheapest yet
Thu, 01 Dec 2022 18:08:48 +0000
Source: PCWorld
The floodgates seem to be opening for OLED monitors, with Dell, Asus, and of course, LG all releasing multiple models. Unfortunately they’re all rather on the pricey side—LG in particular can chop a grand off its price tags and still be unaffordable for most consumers. But the latest LG gaming monitor is a little more attainable: The Ultragear 27GR95QE-B has a retail price of just $999.99. We first saw this price drop 10 days ago, and LG continues to offer the discount to this day. Alas, however, the monitor remains on preorder, and it appears no stock is ready to ship. Granted, at $999.99, this model is firmly in the ultra high end of the monitor category. But this 27-inch gaming display justifies the high price, particularly with a blistering 240Hz refresh rate, something that’s hard to find on other OLED monitors at the moment. It also claims a lightning-fast .03-millisecond response time and 2560×1440 resolution, making it an ideal contender for eSports players who demand speed and frames in equal measure. HDR10 support is a nice bonus. LG Other hardware goodies include a pair of HDMI ports, one DisplayPort input, support for G-Sync and FreeSync/ActiveSync, a pair of USB-A 3.0 ports for peripherals, a headphone/microphone port, and a splash of RGB lighting. The display is compatible with a standard 100mm VESA mount, if you’d like to mount it to your own arms or include it in a multi-monitor setup. While it’s nice to see the price of OLED monitors continually go down, the 27GR95QE-B might not be the best deal in terms of pure hardware. Were I in the market for a new monitor (and inclined to spend a month’s rent on one), I’d add a hundred bucks and go for Dell’s Alienware AW3423DWF. For a little extra dough you get a curved 34-inch ultrawide, with the only real downgrade being a slightly slower 165Hz panel.
The Ultragear 27GR95QE-B doesn’t seem to be in stock at any retailer (it’s only available vis preorder). So, apologies if you were looking to stuff an extremely large, rectangular stocking. Monitors
LastPass got hacked again, and this time it affects customers
Thu, 01 Dec 2022 18:01:58 +0000
Source: PCWorld
It’s been a rough year for LastPass. Back in August, the popular password manager suffered a security breach, in which the company’s developer environment was infiltrated. At the time, LastPass said that while part of its source code and proprietary technical info were taken, customers were unaffected. Now the company has experienced a second related hack, this time impacting customers. As reported Wednesday on its blog, LastPass recently detected unusual activity within a third-party cloud storage service. An investigation has so far revealed that the breach stemmed from knowledge gained during the August 2022 incident, and that “certain elements of customers’ information” have been accessed. Further information is unavailable, as the investigation is still ongoing. LastPass says that customer passwords remain safely encrypted, however. If you find this news unsettling despite the service earning recommendations (including ours) for its day-to-day experience, your reaction is a fair one. LastPass has suffered hacks of its service in previous years, with notable incidents including 2015’s unauthorized access of user account email addresses, password reminders, and authentication hashes. Other security lapses include 2017’s browser extension vulnerability, which allowed websites to steal passwords. In 2019, the same security researcher who discovered the 2017 issue also discovered another browser extension vulnerability that allowed the last used password to be leaked. The company has even made communication bumbles, like security alert emails sent to customers unaffected by a credential stuffing attack. Other top-notch password managers haven’t reported nearly as many incidents over the years, and if you’re so inclined, you can make a switch to one of them pretty easily. You can also review the security on your LastPass account, making sure it falls in line with best practices, including the use of a strong password, enabling two factor authentication, and keeping a close eye on authorized devices.  But as discomforting as this transparency may be, the underlying issue isn’t the general concept of a password manager. They remain a vital part of online security, and you can find ways of making them more comfortable to use, even in the face of security breaches. Don’t abandon them outright. Security
The best free VPN: It’s important to choose wisely
Thu, 01 Dec 2022 17:00:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Here’s the thing: We’re not fans of free VPNs because you have to be even more careful with these than a regular, paid VPN. If it’s a free ad-supported VPN, for example, then your data is likely being used to earn money, which may defeat the whole point of a VPN. If privacy isn’t an issue, then you have to deal with restrictions such as speeds, a bandwidth cap, or a limit to the countries you can access. The bottom line is that if you truly want to use a VPN on a regular basis then it pays to pay for the privilege. With some VPNs charging the equivalent of just $5 a month or less there are definitely affordable options out there. But we know that not everyone shares this point of view. Some people are just looking for something to use quickly and easily without paying for yet another service. Here, then, are the top free VPNs we can recommend. If you’d like to see what you can get with a paid service, and which ones we recommend most highly, hop over to our comprehensive roundup of the best VPNs. Updated 11/30/22 to include our updated review of Windscribe Pro. It remains one of our favorites, as you can tell by its continued placement at the top of our picks. Read on to learn why we still think Windscribe is the best free VPN. 1. Windscribe – Best free VPN Pros Simple setup Good performance Great free plan Cons Tricky security track record with 2021 server incident Slow loading of browser extension MSRP: $9.00 per month Best Prices Today: $9.00 at Windscribe The Windscribe VPN service seems to get better and better each time we review a new version. It not only has an excellent Pro version that is reasonably priced, but it has a stand-out free service as well. What makes Windscribe’s free service really stand out is all the perks. You get a maximum 10GB of bandwidth per month and no device limits. To get that bandwidth you need a confirmed email address. If not, you’re stuck at 2GB per month. The free service offers 10 regional connections including the U.S., Canada, UK, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway, and Romania. It also has a ton of privacy features such as blockers for site notifications and “we use cookies” banners, WebRTC leak protection, location spoofing, user agent rotation, and more. The service is also extremely easy to use with a simple setup and solid performance for a free VPN. We not only recommend the Windscribe free service on its own, but also as an easy way to get to know the service before committing to a paid tier with premium features. Read our full Review Windscribe Pro 2. ProtonVPN – Best free VPN for speed Pros Fantastic speeds Easy-to-use multi-hop feature Supports TOR over VPN connections Cons Expensive MSRP: $96 Best Prices Today: $96 at ProtonVPN AG If you’re looking for speed and excellent privacy in a free VPN then ProtonVPN is an excellent choice. There are some big limitations with this service, but thankfully no limitations on speeds. Instead, ProtonVPN limits you to one device connection at a time, and you only get three countries to choose from including the U.S., the Netherlands, and Japan. Still, that’s a good deal, making this a very useful free VPN. ProtonVPN is the second-fastest VPN in our tests making this the one you want if speed is important to you. Read our full Review ProtonVPN 3. Hide.me – Best for speed runner-up Pros Good download speeds Easy-to-use Windows app No-logs promise Cons Speeds were inconsistent in our tests Expensive paid-tier subscription MSRP: $100 Best Prices Today: $100 at eVenture Ltd. It’s close to two years since we last reviewed this VPN, but even so, its speeds are within the top 20. That makes it plenty speedy for the typical use cases for a free VPN. When you use Hide.me free you are limited to 10GB per month and one device at a time, as well as five region choices including Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, U.S. East and U.S. West. Read our full Review Hide.me 4. TunnelBear – Best free VPN for get-in, get-out chores Pros Easy-to-use interface Good speeds Good Wi-Fi security detection Cons Logging of generic data MSRP: $60 Best Prices Today: $60 at TunnelBear We’ve always really liked TunnelBear. It’s simple to use, affordable, and the speeds are fine. In our speed tests, TunnelBear was outside the top 20, but its speeds were still good last we looked, with an average global speed of 30.6 megabytes per second. That’s more than enough for what this free VPN would be suited for, since you get a maximum of 500MB per month. The idea is to provide a trial for testing out the service before making a bigger commitment. Nevertheless, it’s enough for quick hits when you’re on the road for checking email, or some basic web browsing. Plus, TunnelBear keeps track of your bandwidth usage so you can see when you’re getting too close to the limit. Read our full Review TunnelBear What to look for in a free VPN Choosing a free VPN is a question of weighing the trade-offs with each service. Do you want unlimited bandwidth, but a restriction on devices? Or is it preferable to have more devices but deal with a bandwidth limit? One thing you definitely want to avoid is a VPN that is ad supported. Ads expose you to tracking by the company delivering ads, which is probably something you don’t want. You also want to stay away from any deal that suggests you can get a VPN by “sharing” your bandwidth like we saw with the Hola VPN scandal back in 2015. You also want to watch out for any VPNs you’ve never heard of, or that haven’t been reviewed much by third parties. After that, you want to consider the usual issues such as the privacy policy, Netflix support, operating system support, and the countries that you’re looking for. How we test VPNs All VPNs are tested on a Windows machine with an Ethernet connection. Our approach is not to show you actual speeds, since those can vary based on any number of factors like your ISP, time of day, device quality, and so on. Instead, we show the average bandwidth loss as a percentage since there’s always going to be bandwidth loss with VPNs. Each VPN is tested over three days. On each testing day, we first take the base speed with no VPN active. Then we test the speeds in five different countries three times each. Once all the testing is done we create a global average and compare that to the average base speed, and then express the drop in bandwidth as a percentage for the reasons we mentioned above. Free VPNs aren’t a top recommendation, but if you’re going to go that way we’d strongly suggest the five VPNs mentioned here. If you’re interested in using a VPN for a specific purpose, check out some of our other best VPN roundups to learn more: Best VPN for Amazon Fire StickBest free VPN for ChromeBest free VPN for WindowsBest VPN for streaming Netflix FAQ 1. What is a VPN? A VPN, or Virtual private network, is a way to encrypt your internet traffic and disguise your identity while browsing the internet. Through a VPN provider, you connect to their anonymized server with end-to-end encryption which redirects all of your traffic through that intermediary server thereby looking to outside viewers as if your location is that server itself. Additionally, VPNs allow you to connect to servers all across the world. So if you are looking to access location restricted content, such as streaming services, you can gain access via connecting to the appropriate country’s server. 2. How does a VPN work? A VPN hides your IP address by redirecting it through a intermediary server hosted by the VPN provider. To anyone watching, the VPN server then becomes the source of your traffic instead of your own IP address. These remote servers can not only be in your own country, but they can also be located in different countries around the world. All of your network traffic from your computer to the VPN is sent over a secure and encrypted connection.  While browsing the internet and connected to a VPN, the VPN acts as a middleman between your computer and a website. Your computer sends a request to the VPN which then passes it on to a website. The website in return sends its response back to the VPN which forwards it through the secure connection back to your computer. All of the traffic rerouted through the VPN appears as if it is coming through their server rather than your own computer. This keeps your ISP and other third parties from potentially snooping on your internet activity. 3. Are VPNs legal to use? Absolutely! In most countries, including the United States, it is perfectly legal to use a VPN. You might notice that some websites try to block VPN connections, but they are still okay to use. Please note, while using a VPN is legal, some of the activities done while using a VPN might be illegal. Activities such as downloading pirated copyrighted content or accessing dark web markets are both illegal with and without a VPN. VPN
Bundle up your cold controller in a tiny, adorable Xbox hoodie
Thu, 01 Dec 2022 16:21:29 +0000
Source: PCWorld
The history of gaming is littered with ridiculous accessories and add-ons. The Powerglove comes to mind, as does the Xbox Kinect. But the latest gaming accessory from Microsoft might just be the cutest little thing I’ve ever seen precariously and superfluously stuck onto a gaming gadget: a hoodie for your controller. The Xbox Mini Controller Hoodie is exactly what it sounds like, a tiny little jacket to keep your controller warm. According to the Xbox store — yes, this is an official Microsoft product! — it’s made of 100% polyester and comes complete with a teeny-tiny zipper and hood. Microsoft Functionally, I suppose you could argue that the hood acts as an entry point for a charging cable. But who are we kidding? It’s just freakin’ adorable. The style-conscious can buy it in white or black to match or complement your controller color. I’m partial to the Xbox green lining on the black one, but the faux-camo pattern on the white does have a certain charm. A tiny windbreaker for your controller costs just $24.99, about half the price of the controller itself. And, before you scoff, someone’s definitely buying these things because the initial batch is already sold out. Place an order today and it’ll be delivered in late February. Presumably they’ll work on your PlayStation or Switch controller too, but you know how unreliable cross-brand sizing can be. Gaming
Best monitor deals: Gaming monitors, 4K workstations, and more
Thu, 01 Dec 2022 15:57:25 +0000
Source: PCWorld
When it comes to finding the right monitor deal, there’s a lot to consider. From screen size and resolution to refresh rate and connectivity options, it’s easy to get lost. That’s where the team at PCWorld comes in. Whether you’re on the hunt for a monitor for the home office or a 4K workstation for photo editing, there’s a wide array of options for you to choose from. The monitor deals highlighted below hit a number of different price points as well as screen sizes and resolutions. Gaming monitor deals There’s nothing more annoying than playing a competitive game on a monitor that lags. When every second matters, you need something that can keep up with the flow. That’s where gaming monitors come in. Their high refresh rates are designed to make your game look as smooth as possible. Lenovo G27-20, 27-inch 1080p display/144Hz refresh rate/1ms response time/AMD FreeSync, $229.99 (17% off at Lenovo)Lenovo Legion Y25g-30, 24-inch 1080p display/360Hz refresh rate/1ms response time/Nvidia G-Sync, $499.99 (28% off at Lenovo)Lenovo G34w-10, 34-inch 1440p curved display/144Hz refresh rate/1ms response time/AMD FreeSync, $349.99 (30% off at Lenovo)Samsung Odyssey G5, 27-inch 1440p display/165Hz refresh rate/1ms response time/FreeSync Premium (AMD Adaptive Sync), $269.99 (27% off at Best Buy)The Lenovo Legion Y25g-30’s 360Hz refresh rate is just plain ridiculous, and I mean that in the best way possible. This monitor will surely provide the ultimate gaming experience. For more options, check out PCWorld’s best gaming monitors roundup. 4K workstation monitor deals Are you a content creator? If so, you should consider picking up a 4K monitor. These monitors are perfect for video editing thanks to their high resolution displays. They’re also a good pick for movie buffs. There’s nothing quite like watching your favorite flick on a 4K display, where the details are ultra-sharp. ThinkVision P32p-20, 31.5-inch 2160p display/60Hz refresh rate/16:9 aspect ratio/4ms response time, $499 (51% off at Lenovo)Dell 32, 31.5-inch 2160p display/60Hz refresh rate/16:9 aspect ratio/5ms response time, $759.99 (20% off at Dell)Dell S2722QC, 27-inch 2160p display/60Hz refresh rate/4ms response time, $279.99 (35% off at Best Buy)Samsung LS32AM702UNXZA, 31.5-inch 2160p display/60Hz refresh rate/8ms response time, $199.99 (50% off at B&H)The ThinkVision P32p-20 is a solid deal because of its resolution, screen size, and response time. In other words, you’re getting the best bang for your buck. For more options, check out PCWorld’s best 4K monitors roundup. FAQ 1. Which retailers offer good monitor deals? Online retailers like Best Buy and Walmart have good discounts, that’s for sure. However, we’d recommend widening your net and buying directly from the manufacturers. Lenovo, for example, is currently having a Cyber Week sale. You can pick up a monitor or laptop for up to 78% off, which is nothing to sneeze at. Dell’s offering a similar sale in which you can save up to 60% and get free shipping. 2. What should I look for in a good gaming monitor? When it comes to gaming monitors, refresh rate is important. The refresh rate is how fast a monitor can pull up an image on screen. The faster the fresh rate, the smoother your game will look. For competitive first-person shooters, where every second counts, we’d recommend 144Hz as the minimum rate. Anything higher is good enough for the eSports realm. Resolution is another important feature to consider. Much like the refresh rate, the higher the number, the better. The resolution has a direct impact on image and video quality. 1080p is the best resolution for 24 inch monitors. For 27 inch monitors, 1440p is ideal. Response time is a big one, too. Response time is how long it takes for a pixel to change color. A monitor with a 1ms (millisecond) response time, for example, is going to be faster than a monitor with a 5ms response time. This directly impacts how a monitor handles motion. What about the size? Well, it depends on the distance from the screen. 24 inches is a good option if you’re about three feet from the screen, as it’s small enough to see everything without having to move your head around. 27 inches is better if you’re further than three feet away from the screen. 3. What should I look for in a good workstation monitor? 4K monitors produce ultra-sharp sharp images and video, so bigger is better in this case. In order to see all those tiny details, we’d suggest springing for a 31 inch monitor (at the very least). You need room for all those delicious pixels. That’s why 4K monitors are perfect for photo or video editors. Watching movies on these monitors is a delightful experience as well. 4. What size monitor should I buy? In terms of monitor size, 27-inches is the most common. That’s a good size for a home office. For gaming monitors, 24 or 27 inches is best. You don’t want to be swinging your head around too much in the middle of a fast-paced match. Plus, a larger screen may cause eye strain if you’re sitting too close so it’s better to go smaller. For 4K monitors, go with a 31 inch. 4K resolution brings next-level visuals, so you definitely want to go bigger. Monitors
Windows spyware from North Korea steals data from your phone
Thu, 01 Dec 2022 15:25:45 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Information security usually focuses on a single device, at least as far as consumers are concerned. But in an increasingly connected world, it might be worth re-examining that approach. Case in point: a newly discovered piece of malware in use by state-sponsored hacking groups. Private security company ESET found that the tool, once established on a Windows PC, will search the storage of any phone connected for even more information to steal. The “Dolphin” malware is connected to multiple spyware and digital espionage groups believed to be working for the government of North Korea, primarily for the purposes of gathering information on South Korea and other Asian governments and industrial interests. It’s being deployed to specific targets. The tool uses fairly standard Python-based methods of searching a victim’s machine, then uploading sensitive information like passwords and other security credentials to a Google Drive account, where hackers can easily retrieve it. It also collects keystrokes for passwords, targeted extension files, and screenshots. The ESET report was spotted by BleepingComputer. What’s interesting is the expanded hardware scope. Once installed on a Windows device, the Dolphin program will also scan any portable storage connected via the Windows Portable Device API. This is the system that recognizes an Android or iPhone’s storage as different from, say, a USB flash drive. Upon connection, Dolphin performs the same search for sensitive information and files on the phone’s storage. It doesn’t appear that there’s a means of actively compromising a phone once it’s physically disconnected from the PC. So far, Dolphin is being deployed in “watering hole” attacks, which infect websites frequented by high-profile users connected to governments, banks, and other potential high-level targets. It indicates that it’s being used to target specific users or groups with access to valuable data or systems. In other words, this isn’t the kind of infection you get from downloading a sketchy browser extension. Even so, it’s a sobering reminder that the data storage on your phone isn’t any more or less secure than that on your PC…and both can become points of vulnerability to the other. Security
Beyond fans: AirJet’s radical CPU cooling chips can double laptop performance
Thu, 01 Dec 2022 14:30:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Fans keep chips cool. Most consumers know that, whether they’ve opened up their laptop or heard the whiny hiss of a fan. But a startup involved with Intel is using chips to keep microprocessors cool, massively boosting performance and changing laptop design forever. Frore Systems is manufacturing two chips, the AirJet Mini and the AirJet Pro, that will be affixed to a laptop’s processor in place of a heat pipe or fan. Both chips actively, but nearly silently, cool the laptop’s CPU, supplying more air pressure but less acoustic noise than a conventional fan, according to company executives. But it’s the overall performance advantage — up to double! — that you’ll care about. This is the argument behind the AirJet: “Very often, it’s the thermal solution capability that dictates how good the performance you’re getting out of a device,” said Dr. Seshu Madhavapeddy, Frore’s chief executive. Virtually all processors include thermal sensors that “throttle” the chip to avoid overheating. At the same time, processors are designed to overheat; by putting the chip into an overclocked “turbo” mode, desktop and laptop chips alike will push past those thermal constraints to offer a brief period of increased performance. After that period expires, however (sometimes known as the “tau”) the processor drops back down to what we generally consider its rated speed, or PL1. What Frore and the AirJet Mini and Airjet Pro are designed to do is to extend that “tau” period. In the case of an Arm-based PC notebook, Frore believes that the tau can be extended indefinitely. By pairing the processor with four AirJet Minis, a 1.8GHz Arm chip will run at its boosted speed of 3.5GHz “forever,” Madhavapeddy said. AirJet Pros, designed for X86 laptops, have a similar effect: a chip which could boost to 4.8GHz could instead drop down to a new PL1 of 2.1GHz, rather than the normal 1.4GHz you’d get using a pair of conventional fans. Frore predicts that its AirJet chips can dramatically cut the internal heat within a laptop, and thus allow that laptop to run longer in a higher-power mode. In the case of a laptop, that would be about 1.5 times its current performance.Frore Systems Frore’s AirJet chips use a combination of fluidic, acoustic, and electrical resonance principles to suck cool air in from the top of the chip and push it out the sides at approximately the same temperature of the heat coming from the surface of the laptop processor itself. It’s then up to the laptop maker to vent that heat outside. What it all boils down to is simple: by running a processor in its turbo mode, for longer, the laptop’s performance can increase dramatically. Or, as Frore itself puts it: “AirJet doubles processor performance.” How Frore’s AirJet chips work Desktops use a variety of techniques to cool chips and extend the tau time: radiators and coolers, large fans, even water cooling through a number of hoses. But a desktop case affords the physical space to make those solutions viable. Laptops and tablets are extremely space constrained, making these solutions far less practical. That’s why Frore’s AirJet is so interesting. “Heat is by far the biggest hurdle we need to overcome in computing,” said Patrick Moorhead, chief analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, and a former AMD executive, in a statement. “Thermally stressed hardware doesn’t perform optimally, and current thermal solutions fall short. I believe Frore Systems has reinvented thermal technology with its AirJet chip that doubles active heat removal with a thinner, silent solution that provides greater performance.” The Frore AirJet chips work by sucking air through the top of the chip inside of it, where the heat is exchanged and then vented out to the sides of the chip. To create the suction, Frore placed vibrating membranes inside the chip, which resonate at tens of microns of amplitude. According to Madhavapeddy, the membranes resonate at what he calls “structural resonance,” to create the maximum vibration using the least amount of power. Sensors in the chip dynamically adjust the resonance frequency as the temperature changes, he added. Frore claims that the heat transferred is near saturation, pulling the most heat possible from the processor itself. (It’s up to the laptop maker to vent the hot air to the outside world.) Air is sucked in from the top of an AirJet via a series of vibrating membranes, which then “squirt” the air down onto the processor’s heat spreader.Frore Systems “As [the membranes] vibrate, they pull air in from the top — they create the suction force which automatically pulls the air from the top into the chip,” Madhavapeddy said. “And then the air is pushed down through, kind of like a sieve at the bottom of the cavity. And it’s kind of like a showerhead, so the air comes through the top, and it’s pushed down through this sea… And these [shower] vents are impinging on the copper heat spreader on the bottom. Heat transfer happens when these pulsating vents of air are hitting the copper heat spreader. They extract heat from the copper heat spreader with very high efficiency, and then the air exits.” This all happens in a chip that’s only 2.8mm thick, Madhavapeddy added. Madhavapeddy claimed that the AirJet chips deliver more then ten times the pressure of a typical laptop fan, while falling beneath the acoustic floor (21 to 24dBA) of a “silent” solution. Because of the high back pressure, he said, the intake holes can be covered with an IP68 waterproof/dustproof material, allowing a laptop maker to prevent dust and other particles from coating the inside of a laptop. “A big advantage…is how your notebook operates when you place it on a pillow or on a mattress,” Madhavapeddy said. “In a typical notebook, the inlet vents are at the bottom of the notebook. You’ll see a lot of holes at the bottom for almost every notebook. And if you place it on a desk, that’s okay because they have little stacks in order to lift the notebook a little bit so that there’s a gap, and the air can go through the gap up through the vents at the bottom of the notebook into the fans. But when you place it on a pillow or mattress, those walls are all blocked and the fans get choked. As a result, you don’t get the benefit of the fan.” “We completely eliminate that problem because, in our case, you don’t need to have any vents at the bottom,” Madhavapeddy added. How the AirJet Mini and AirJet Pro compare to a typical laptop fan, according to Frore.Frore Systems Right now, the MiniJet solution is targeting mobile devices — laptops, tablets, and VR headsets. The next generation, designed to be thinner and lighter, will take aim at smartphones, Madhavapeddy said. Though Frore manufactures its chips in a fab in Taiwan, the company uses a variety of techniques from various industries (from flat-panel manufacturing to aerospace) to affix the vibrating membrane to the anchor. Madhavapeddy said that Intel is working with Frore to explore how the AirJet technology could improve its own chips. It’s unclear, however, how much this solution will add to the cost of a laptop or laptop processor. “We’re competitive relative to the value that we’re delivering,” Madhavapeddy said. “We are engaged with several OEMs and we expect you will see products in the market in 2023.” How Intel is involved with Frore’s AirJet According to Intel, the two companies are involved in an “engineering collaboration” designed to improve the performance of Intel’s Evo laptops, which are co-designed with the laptop makers themselves. Intel, Frore, and select PC makers are working together to co-implement the MiniJet technology and help Frore bring it to market. “Intel’s mission with Intel Evo is to unite the open PC ecosystem to deliver the best possible laptop experiences that people want,” said Josh Newman, vice president and general manager of mobile platforms at Intel, in a statement. “Engineering thin, light, stylish laptop designs that offer great performance while remaining cool and quiet are foundational to that mission. Frore Systems’ AirJet technology offers a new and novel approach to help achieve these design goals in new ways and Intel is excited about the engineering collaboration with Frore Systems to help ready their technology for future Intel Evo laptops.” An Intel spokeswoman said via email that there is no financial arrangement beyond a development agreement. In the past year, Intel has helped Frore implement prototype chips into real notebooks, helped set engineering targets like fan noise and skin temperature, redesigned some of the surrounding motherboard architecture, invited Frore engineers to Intel’s Bangalore lab for debugging and tuning, and gave “practical guidance” to help Frore work with more hardware makers via improved layouts and prototyping. At this point, it’s not clear how much cost the AirJet will add to a laptop, or in what numbers AirJets can be manufactured. Will AMD sign on to use the technology? Will an AirJet competitor emerge? All these questions will eventually be answered. But the fact remains that Frore, and its AirJet technology, are one of the most interesting additions to laptops and PCs in years. Clarification: One quote from Madhavapeddy was mis-transcribed. Two words have since been corrected: “sieve” in place of “sea,” and “vents” instead of “jets.” CPUs and Processors, Laptops
Score this fast Logitech wireless gaming mouse for $45
Thu, 01 Dec 2022 14:04:06 +0000
Source: PCWorld
When it comes to PC gaming, a good mouse can really make or break the experience. It needs to be fast, customizable, and comfortable to use. If you’ve been shopping around for a solid gaming mouse, you’re in luck, as we’ve got an excellent deal for you today. GameStop’s selling the Logitech PRO wireless gaming mouse for $44.99, which saves you $85. Let’s jump right into the details. The Logitech PRO has a maximum DPI of 25,600, four to eight programmable buttons, and an ambidextrous design. It weighs only 80 grams, which really ups the maneuverability factor. According to the manufacturer, if you switch off the lighting, this mouse can last for up to 60 hours on a single charge. If those numbers ring true, that’s pretty darn impressive. This is an awesome deal. You better swoop in now before it’s gone. Get the Logitech PRO wireless gaming mouse for $44.99 at GameStop Mice
Best laptop deals: Top picks from budget to extreme
Thu, 01 Dec 2022 13:39:22 +0000
Source: PCWorld
If you’re on the hunt for a discounted laptop, you’re in luck. From powerhouse gaming machines to everyday laptops, the list below features a wide array of options. As of this writing, we’re seeing steep discounts on day-to-day rigs and Lenovo Legion gaming laptops. If you need further guidance on laptop deals, we’ve also included a helpful shopping advice section at the end of the article. For more options, check out our roundup of the best laptops. The best laptop deals in 2022 HP 15 ef2723od From: Office Depot Was: $509.99 Now: $254.99 ($255 off) HP The HP 15 is a solid laptop for day-to-day tasks or basic productivity. It has an AMD Ryzen 3 5300U CPU, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of SSD storage. That’s fast enough for web browsing, word processing, and so on. The roomy 15.6-inch display is has 1920×1080 resolution—a welcome find in a laptop this cheap. According to HP, this machine can last over eight hours on a single charge. Depending on brightness level and how you’re using the laptop, you may be able to squeeze another hour or two out of it. This is a fabulous deal, especially if you need a simple everyday laptop. Don’t miss out. See the HP 15 ef2723od at Office Depot Lenovo Legion 5 From: eBay Was: $899.99 Now: $589.99 ($310 off) Lenovo The Lenovo Legion 5 is an excellent laptop for the gamer on a budget, and you almost never see gaming laptops going this cheap. It has an AMD Ryzen 5 4600H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti GPU, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. The display has a resolution of 1920×1080 and a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz. Given the entry-level GPU, you may want to scale the graphics back to medium or high on newer titles. That said, this laptop shouldn’t have any trouble running older games. For ports, it has one HDMI, one USB Type-C, one DisplayPort, and one headphone/microphone combo. This laptop will likely sell out fast, as it’s a killer deal. See the Lenovo Legion 5 at eBay Samsung Chromebook Plus From: Amazon Was: $500 Now: $284.44 ($215.56 off) Samsung The Samsung Chromebook Plus is a good option for someone who needs a lightweight convertible. It has an Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of memory, and 32GB of eMMC storage. It’s a little light on storage and memory, but this shouldn’t be a problem if you store most of your stuff in the cloud. The 11-inch touchscreen display has a resolution of 1900×1200, and the Chromebook has two USB-C ports. It’s powerful enough for everyday browser tasks like checking e-mail, writing papers, listening to music, and so on. The 2-in-1 also weighs a little under three pounds, making it a capable travel companion. Plus, it comes with a stylus for doodling or note taking. See the Samsung Chromebook Plus at Amazon Acer Aspire 5 A515 From: Amazon Was: $399.99 Now: $351.35 ($48.64 off) Acer If you’re looking for a solid everyday laptop, you’ve come to the right place. The Acer Aspire 5 has a 15.6-inch 1080p display, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of onboard SSD storage. The processor is a Ryzen 3 3350U, which has four cores, four threads, and a maximum boost to 3.5GHz. It’s packed with modern features like Wi-Fi 6, a backlit keyboard, and a fingerprint reader for biometric logins. Acer starts this laptop off with Windows 11 in S mode, but there’s no reason not to do a one-way upgrade to full Windows 11. This is being sold by a third-party retailer, but Amazon is handling shipping, which means it falls under the company’s return policy. See the Acer Aspire 5 A515 at Amazon Gigabyte Aorus 15 XE5 From: Newegg Was: $2,299 Now: $1,499.99 ($799.01 off) Gigabyte If you’re looking for serious graphics power, the Gigabyte Aorus 15 XE5 is a great option. It’s rocking an Intel Core i7-12700H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of SSD storage. This laptop should be able to whiz right through most or content creation tasks without breaking a sweat. The 15.6-inch display has a resolution of 2560×1440 and a refresh rate of 165Hz—the perfect pixel-packed, fast screen for a GPU with this much power. The bezels are also quite skinny. This is a stunning laptop at a killer price. Don’t miss out! Get the Gigabyte Aorus 15 XE5 for $1,299 at Newegg Acer Swift X From: Amazon Was: $1,069.99 Now: $781.89 ($288.60 off) Acer The Acer Swift X is a fantastic laptop for content creation. It’s rocking a Ryzen 7 5800U CPU. an Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti GPU, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. That’s more than enough power for streaming, editing, lightweight gaming, and so on. The 14-inch display has a 1920×1080 resolution and a 60Hz refresh rate. It’s also pretty light and portable for a laptop with a dedicated graphics card. The Swift X tips the scales at just a little over three pounds. All in all, this is a phenomenal value laptop. You best nab it now before it’s gone forever. See the Acer Swift X at Amazon Gigabyte Aorus From: eBay Was: $1,650.99 Now: $1,499.99 ($151 off) Gigabyte The Gigabyte Aorus is a powerhouse, that’s for sure. This gaming laptop comes equipped with an Intel Core i7-11800H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of SSD storage. The 15.6-inch display has a 1920×1080 resolution and a 240Hz refresh rate. Not only can you expect strong performance, but also smooth visuals thanks to the high refresh rate. Only a limited number of units are available though. We don’t expect this deal to last much longer, so you better get on it sooner rather than later. See the Gigabyte Aorus at eBay Lenovo Legion 5 Pro From: eBay Was: $1,969.99 Now: $1,399.99 ($570 off) Lenovo The Lenovo Legion 5 Pro is a blisteringly fast gaming laptop. It has a AMD Ryzen 7 6800H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of PCIe NVMe SSD storage. That means you should be able to run most competitive games on high or ultra graphics. The 2560×1600 display measures 16-inches and has a refresh rate of 165Hz. In other words, you can expect a sharp and vibrant picture. For connectivity options, it has one HDMI, three USB 3.2 Gen 1, three USB 3.2 Gen 2, and a headphone/microphone combo. This is a super hot deal and it’s selling out fast (20 sold in the last 24 hours as of this writing), so you better grab it now before it’s too late. See the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro at eBay Asus ROG Flow X13 2-in-1 From: Amazon Was: $1,359.99 Now: $1,057.99 ($302 off) Asus Rarely do we see 2-in-1 gaming machines, but that’s exactly what the Asus ROG Flow X13 is. This unique machine has a 360-degree hinge, which means you can rotate the screen all the way around. The device weighs a little under three pounds, which makes it a capable traveling companion. Despite the smaller size, it still manages to pack a punch. It has an AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS CPU, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of PCIe SSD storage. That’s plenty peppy for playing most games on low to medium graphics, but Asus also sells an external RTX 3080 GPU that can connect to the laptop if you need even more firepower when your stationary. The display measures 13.4-inches and has a resolution of 1920×1080. It’s not the biggest or most vibrant screen, but it’s perfectly fine for most games. This is a fantastic deal, especially if you’re looking for a gaming laptop you can travel with. See the Asus ROG Flow X13 at Amazon Lenovo Legion 5i Gaming From: B&H Was: $2,029 Now: $1,349 ($680 off) Lenovo If you’re on the prowl for serious graphics power, the Lenovo Legion 5i Gaming is definitely worth considering. It has an Intel Core i7-12700H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of NVMe PCIe SSD storage. That’s powerful enough to run most games on high or ultra graphics. The 15.6-inch display is roomy and has a resolution of 1920×1080 as well as a refresh rate of 165Hz. It’s also G-Sync compatible, which helps with any screen tearing or stuttering issues. This is an awesome deal. Availability is limited, though, so you’ll need to act fast. See the Lenogo Legion 5i Gaming at B&H Laptop deal buying tips If you’ve shopped online before for laptop deals you’re probably aware that there’s a vast range of laptop configurations available. A good place to start is with the processor. Buy laptops with Intel 10-series Core chips or higher, such as the Core i5-10510U, or the Core i7-11800H (for even more details see our Intel 10th-gen mobile CPU buying guide); or go with an AMD Ryzen processor (but not an AMD Athlon or A-series chip). Avoid laptops with Pentium or Celeron processors unless it’s a Chromebook (running Chrome OS). You’re going to need to pay attention with gaming laptops, too, as some GPUs, like the RTX 3050 Ti, don’t offer much boost over their RTX 2xxx-series cousins, and Nvidia has dropped the Max-Q designation on certain low-power options. Our laptop CPU and GPU cheat sheet can help you shop smart. Display resolution is a gotcha. If you see a laptop labeled as “HD” resolution that means 1366-by-768 and often isn’t worth your time for a laptop under 13 inches unless the deal is absolutely standout. What you want is “Full HD” or “FHD,” which means 1080p. Don’t buy laptops with under 4GB of RAM or 128GB of SSD storage—though on a Chromebook, this configuration is acceptable. We have more explanation in our laptops versus Chromebooks buying guide, as well as in our primer on how to buy a budget laptop without getting screwed. Also watch out for eMMC storage, which is something we don’t recommend for a Windows laptop but works fine for a Chromebook. Reviews can be helpful. Even if you can’t find a review of a specific configuration, try related models. They’ll often give you a good idea of the build quality and performance. Also buy from brands you trust. Amazon’s daily laptop deals right now are full of brands we’ve never tested or talked to (Broage, Teclast, DaySky, Jumper) and it’s just a good idea to be wary. Most older laptops will run Windows 10, and that’s fine—there’s no rush to upgrade. Windows 10 in S Mode, though annoying, can be switched out of easily if you find it on a budget laptop. If you want to buy a Windows 10 PC with the intent of upgrading it to Windows 11, we recommend you start here with a list of older laptops that are Windows 11-eligible. Updated on December 1 with new pricing and to remove expired deals. Laptops
Asus ExpertBook B3 review: A flexible PC that feels punishingly slow
Thu, 01 Dec 2022 11:45:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
At a glanceExpert's Rating ProsIncluded keyboard and penNice displayLong battery lifeConsSluggish performanceLimited connectivityNon-backlit keyboardOur VerdictThe Asus ExpertBook B3 has a decent display and impressive battery life, but the sluggish performance really holds it back. Price When Reviewed$599.99 Best Prices Today: Asus ExperBook B3 Retailer Price Asus $599.99 View Deal $599.99 View Deal Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide What can I say? I love a tiny computer. It seems like only yesterday that there were weird, cheap Windows machines galore, using small screens anywhere from 7 to 10 inches. Some of these tablets had active pens and almost all of them were incredibly slow or had a washed-out screen or some other terrible shortcoming. But, if you were willing to wait for their slow chips to chug along, they could be “good enough” in a pinch when running old apps or simple Office tasks. That’s why the new Asus Expertbook B3 seemed so intriguing. Not only is this a small computer with a kickstand and a keyboard cover, it’s a tiny device with a pen that neatly tucks away into a silo. It’s even based on a newer Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 processor, which promises power-sipping, fanless operation. Can this little tablet overcome its modest spec sheet and give users a decent Windows 11 experience? In a word, no. Asus ExperBook B3 specs and features Our review unit came equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 CPU, Adreno 618 graphics, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of eMMC storage. Read on to learn more: CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 (8 cores) Memory: 4GB LPDDR4Graphics/GPU: Adreno 618 graphicsDisplay: 10.5-inch IPS WUXGA (1920×1200) 16:10 touchscreenStorage: 128GB eMMCWebcam: 5MP front-facing/1080p for videoConnectivity:  1x USB-C 3.2 Gen 1, 1x 3.5mm headset jackNetworking: Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.1Digital Pen: MPP 2.0, charges from deviceBattery capacity: 38WhDimensions: 14.29 (W) x 9.36 (D) x 0.70 (H) inches Weight: 1.31 pounds (tablet-only), 2.22 pounds (tablet with keyboard and stand), 2.79 pounds with chargerPrice: $599.99Design and build IDG / Brendan Nystedt Microsoft’s Surface basically invented the modern 2-in-1, putting the keyboard cover front-and-center and balancing the whole widget on a kickstand around the back. The ExpertBook B3 is a similar design, except the kickstand isn’t built-in. Instead, it’s a piece of fabric-wrapped plastic that attaches with magnets to the tablet. What this enables is a mode that lets you stand it up in vertical orientation, not just horizontally.  Unfortunately, I found the stand to be loosely connected except in its horizontal orientation with the keyboard attached. You certainly can’t use it as an easel for drawing with this stand–the angle it folds to is far too shallow to get it down to the tabletop. And then when you have it in vertical mode, there’s no way to connect the keyboard and the USB port is inaccessible, under the edge that’s facing the tabletop. I can see this degree of flexibility being helpful is you use your tablet in the kitchen as a cookbook, but otherwise it seems like a lot of engineering and bulk for an edge case. At least Asus includes the kickstand attachment and keyboard cover in the box, so they’re not separate purchases. But the whole package feels a bit bulky when all put together, but the tablet on its own is impressively slim. Connectivity Given its small size, we can’t say we were surprised to find only two ports on this Asus tablet–a standard headset jack and a USB-C port. The USB-C port pulls double duty as your only charging port and the single option for I/O. At least there’s a huge market out there for dongles and hubs, making it simple to turn one port into a bunch of others, including display-out. In terms of wireless capability, the B3 has Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 5.1 as default, making it a bit behind the curve on Wi-Fi tech but totally usable for day-to-day tasks.  It would have been really nice to see a microSD card slot in this tablet as well, which can help make up for a lack of storage, but alas you’re stuck with the 128 GB eMMC this tablet has built-in. It seems like since it has a US MIL-STD 810H durability rating that Asus removed as much as possible to reduce the possibility for failure. All things considered, the B3’s connectivity definitely feels like a downgrade from something like a Surface Go 3, which has a magnetic dock/charging port, USB-C, headset jack, as well as a microSD card slot.   Keyboard, trackpad, and pen IDG / Brendan Nystedt One of the worst things about buying a Microsoft Surface is that the pen and keyboard cover are separate purchases. Here, everything comes in the box. I found, however, that the accessories that are necessary to turn this tablet into a laptop are a decidedly mixed bag. The keyboard is okay, but the keys are definitely small compared to, let’s say, a 13-inch class laptop or tablet. While the inside of the keyboard cover is plastic, the whole thing feels slightly bouncy to type on, which is less than ideal in my eyes. Then, when the lights go out you discover–gasp!– these keys aren’t backlit! I hate to put a bunch of expectations on this little device but when you use something called ExpertBook, you tend to expect a better-than-basic typing experience.  Beneath the keyboard is a dinky touchpad that I didn’t quite get along with. It’s responsive enough, but the surface feels plasticky and rough. Furthermore, it’s so small on this keyboard cover that I found it was super easy to hit the edges with the palms of my hands. Finally, the floppiness of the keyboard cover made it easy to accidentally trigger the trackpad’s click. This might be an edge case for a device designed for schools and businesses, but this was something I noticed when using the device on the sofa, when it has little support underneath the keyboard and trackpad. IDG / Brendan Nystedt One of the more unique aspects of the Asus B3 is that is has an included digital pen that has its own silo for storage–no magnets, no hidey hole in the keyboard cover. The pen charges when replaced into the back of the display, which is pretty great. For notes, this pen works well enough but I’d skip this tablet for art purposes due to some noticeable jitter in lines I drew. That and the pen’s less-than-ergonomic skinny body make this a nice bonus, but far from a star attraction. Display, audio, and webcam IDG / Brendan Nystedt The only aspect of this device I have a slight gripe with is the small display and big bezels. The screen has a piano black surround, and then a big black border. Before you turn it on, you’d expect that the screen would fill the inside of the black plastic border, but instead it’s nested way inside the glass with a thick border doesn’t look super premium in 2022. At least the screen is great to behold. The Asus B3’s dinky 10.5-inch display is a high 1920×1200 resolution, looks vibrant from every angle, and reaches a bright and consistent 350 nits. The glossy surface might pick up glare or make it hard to see in direct sunlight, but in any other conditions I loved the way it looks. It’s also a laminated display, which can make the interaction with the screen feel more direct than one with a gap between the cover glass and the display itself below (digital pen users will notice the difference!). The punchy colors, nice contrast, and crisp pixel density make this a device that’s at least nice to look at, even if it’s maddening to use in other regards.   The front facing camera on the B3 is pretty good all things considered. It’s a far cry from the 720p and 1080p units in a lot of laptops, actually letting you get 5 megapixel stills. For video calls, the higher megapixel camera helps but I still looked a little blotchy in anything less than bright light. The speakers and microphone are both decent. That said, the speakers are a bit quiet and might struggle in a chatty classroom or office setting Performance If there’s one frustratingly weak point for the Asus ExpertBook B3, it’s performance. This tiny tablet has a decent enough Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 processor, but the slow solid state drive and limited RAM seriously limit its abilities. This thing feels like using Windows 11 while it’s stuck in quicksand. In use, B3 takes forever to boot up, as if it’s emerging from a deep sleep, and Edge needs to sleep browser tabs constantly to free up memory. Sitting here with OneNote and four browser tabs open, Task Manager says 3.3 GB of RAM are in use…yikes! Even things you’d want to be snappy and satisfying, like pressing the Start button on the touchscreen lag. If you didn’t know much about computers, you’d suspect something was wrong. It’s made worse by the lackluster ability of Windows 11 Pro to emulate older apps. Even though it should cut the mustard when it comes to lightweight mobile-friendly software, I found the B3 rendered an indie game like Donut County unplayable under emulation. But don’t take my word for it–let’s take a look at some benchmarks. In the PCMark 10 Apps test, which runs natively on Snapdragon devices like the Asus B3, we saw a score that was less than impressive. In fact, it missed the standard of a Lenovo Snapdragon-based device that’s almost four years old. For the sake of comparison, we’ve included a Surface Pro from last year running a premium Intel chip just to demonstrate how sluggish this tablet is. This test uses Microsoft’s own apps to run different task in order to measure the responsiveness of the system in Office and Edge scenarios. IDG / Brendan Nystedt The Asus ExpertBook B3 turned in a disappointing showing when its graphics were put to the test in the ARM-friendly Night Raid benchmark. This poor performance makes a certain amount of sense, however, since we’re dealing with a cheaper Snapdragon chip with a worse GPU. The rest of the bunch we had tested all had that year’s best graphics, which this decidedly does not. IDG / Brendan Nystedt Since web browsing is an essential part of today’s computing experience, we ran the WebXPRT3 benchmark to get an sense for how this system performs with a variety of tasks in the Edge browser. Although the B3 outperformed the older Lenovo Yoga C630 in this test, it’s still a poor performer on the whole.  IDG / Brendan Nystedt Battery life One bright spot in the performance tests was the long-lasting battery. In our looping 4K video test, the Asus ExpertBook B3 nearly made it to 14 hours of runtime, which is stellar for a tiny Windows tablet like this. Anecdotally, while writing this review on the Asus, I saw the battery drain around 5% for an hour of light work.   IDG / Brendan Nystedt Conclusion At the end of my time with the Asus ExpertBook B3, I was left with one question: who is this for? The marketing makes it seem like it’s for frontline workers or the education market, but I’d feel bad handing this off to an employee and even worse for the kids stuck with this in a computer lab. It’s also available on Best Buy for anyone to purchase, which I’d advise against unless it’s deeply discounted. Even without thinking of competing options, there’s not a great case for its $600 price. Even with stellar battery life, included accessories, and a nice screen, the Asus B3 reminds us that Windows on a Snapdragon chip can still have a lot of drawbacks, especially in a cheaper configuration like this. Sure, the overall experience has improved a lot on the high-end with the Surface Pro 9 and ThinkPad X13s Gen 1, but for now you may want to steer clear of these low-end Snapdragon Windows PCs. Laptops
The best vertical monitors: Displays that go long
Thu, 01 Dec 2022 11:30:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Nearly all monitors, and most of the content viewed on them, are meant for horizontal, or “landscape,” orientation. But if you want to use a monitor as a secondary display, or if you work with, say, portrait photos or video meant for smartphones, a vertical layout makes more sense. But a screen’s ability to rotate into a vertical orientation is just one feature among many, so it pays to know the best vertical monitors, as we identify here, so you’re sure to get an all-around solid performer. To learn more about choosing a vertical monitor, scroll below our recommendations for a summary of important specs and features. 1. LG DualUp 28MQ780-B – Best vertical monitor Pros Unique aspect ratio is useful for photo, video editing Makes an awesome second monitor  Highly adjustable stand  Vivid, accurate color Cons Difficult to fit in a small home office  USB-C port offers limited downstream connectivity  Can lack immersion in some content MSRP: 699.99 Best Prices Today: $609.00 at Amazon$699.99 at LG When it comes to vertical monitors, there’s the LG DualUp 28MQ780-B, and then there’s everything else. This monitor’s dominance is due to its unique 16:18 aspect ratio, which can be rotated 90 degrees for an 18:16 aspect ratio. In this orientation the monitor is roughly as tall as a 24-inch monitor in vertical orientation, but much wider. You can view 3:2 or 9:16 content in a photo or video editing program at its full height and still have room on either side for the program’s tools. It’s also a wonderful fit for editing large, complex documents, like a magazine layout or PDF. The LG DualUp 28MQ780-B scores well in other areas, too. It’s bright, color accurate, and has a wide color gamut. Connectivity is solid and includes a USB-C port with DisplayPort Alternate Mode and up to 90 watts of Power Delivery for charging a connected device. It also ships with a highly adjustable monitor arm that’s perfect for positioning the monitor alongside another display. Priced at an MSRP of $699.99, and sometimes on sale for around $650, this monitor is not inexpensive—but it’s affordable enough to make most high-end alternatives irrelevant. The only significant downside is its resolution which, at 2560×2880, comes in a bit shy of 4K. Read our full Review LG DualUp 28MQ780-B 2. Dell U3223QE – Best 4K vertical monitor Pros IPS Black panel fulfills its promise  Accurate color with wide gamut  High brightness in SDR   USB-C hub with 90 watts of power  Cons Edges of display are noticeably bright  HDR performance disappoints  Only a 60Hz panel MSRP: $1,149.99 Best Prices Today: $839.00 at Adorama$859.99 at Amazon$859.99 at Dell Home The Dell U3223QE is an awesome monitor and currently ranked at the top of PC World’s best monitors guide. It ships with a versatile ergonomic stand that can rotate 90 degrees for vertical use, which is rare for a 32-inch monitor. Image quality sets the Dell U3223QE apart from the pack. It has a 4K IPS Black panel with a contrast ratio roughly double that of older IPS panels. This provides a richer, deeper, and more realistic image. The U3223QE also has extremely accurate color, a very wide color gamut, and high maximum brightness. The monitor has a buffet of connectivity which includes a USB-C port with DisplayPort Alternate Mode and up to 90 watts of Power Delivery. The USB-C port connects to five additional USB-A ports, ethernet, and DisplayPort-out, which makes a USB-C hub or dock unnecessary.  Dell sells a smaller version of this monitor, the Dell U2723QE, which packs the same features into a smaller footprint. It’s a couple hundred dollars less than its bigger sibling but retains the stand that can rotate the monitor into vertical orientation. Read our full Review Dell U3223QE 3. NZXT Canvas 27Q – Best budget vertical monitor Pros Attractive and robust design Four video inputs including USB-C Great color performance High motion clarity at 144Hz and 165Hz Cons Limited image quality adjustment Speakers not included HDR mode is barebones MSRP: $319.99 Best Prices Today: $249.99 at NZXT NZXT’s Canvas 27Q is a great budget monitor with an unusual wrinkle that makes it ideal for vertical use: The stand, which does rotate for vertical use, is a $40 option. NZXT also sells a monitor arm for $100. Why is this a perk? Vertical monitors are often used in less common situations and spaces, so it’s likely you’ll want to replace the stand with a monitor arm. As a result, a bundled stand is dead weight. But if you do want the optional stand, that’s also fine—NZXT’s stand is sleek, sturdy, and can rotate for vertical use. Either way, the Canvas 27Q is an excellent monitor. It delivers 1440p resolution, exceptional color accuracy, a wide color gamut, and a high maximum brightness. The monitor’s overall image quality isn’t far off the Dell U3223QE and rivals the LG DualUp 28MQ780-B. The Canvas 27Q also supports an enhanced refresh rate of up to 165Hz. Selling the display without a stand helps NZXT achieve a competitive price. The Canvas 27Q has an MSRP of $319.99 but frequently sells for just $249.99. This monitor is such good value, in fact, that it eliminates other 27-inch 1440p monitors from consideration. If you want to go vertical, and you don’t need 4K, this is your best bet. Read our full Review NZXT Canvas 27Q What to look for in a vertical monitor The most important trait in a vertical monitor is, of course, support for vertical use. This is technically possible with any monitor that has a 100x100m VESA mount, as you can add a third-party monitor stand or arm that allows rotation for vertical use. However, an ideal vertical monitor will support this from the factory or, in less common cases, make the stand optional (so you can decide on your own). Aspect ratio matters, but you don’t have much choice A monitor’s aspect ratio has a big impact on its usefulness. A standard 16:9 monitor rotated for vertical use becomes a 9:16 monitor. That’s a somewhat awkward fit for a lot of content. That’s why the LG DualUp 28Q780-B is the top pick. Its unusual 16:18 aspect ratio, which becomes a 18:16 aspect ratio in vertical use, is a far more versatile and practical choice. No other monitor on the market has this aspect ratio. There are other options. A few monitors have a 16:10 aspect ratio, which becomes 10:16 in vertical use. This is less awkward than 9:16 but still not excellent. There’s also a handful of specialty monitors with a 3:2 or 5:4 aspect ratio. Unfortunately, these alternatives are rare and often lackluster in image quality when compared to more common widescreen monitors, which is why we can’t recommend them. Image quality depends on your needs Aspect ratio aside, the features that make for a good vertical monitor are no different from a monitor used in the standard, horizontal orientation. 4K resolution, or something close to it, is ideal, while 1440p is a good compromise for more affordable monitors. Also look for a monitor with a maximum brightness of at least 300 nits, as this will help overcome glare. Good color accuracy and a wide color gamut aren’t necessary for all people, but preferable, and all the vertical monitors we recommend score well in these areas. USB-C is useful for vertical monitors USB-C with DisplayPort Alternate mode is an alternative to HDMI and DisplayPort. It adds a DisplayPort video connection to the familiar USB-C port supported by many laptops and tablets (which is now mandated in Europe). Unlike HDMI and DisplayPort, USB-C has the option to provide power through a standard called USB Power Delivery. This will charge a connected laptop, tablet, or other device. The LG and Dell monitors on this list support this feature, while the NZXT monitor does not. Want to know more about how USB-C works on a monitor? Our guide to USB-C hub monitors has the details. A monitor arm can be useful for vertical use A desktop monitor stand is acceptable for vertical use if it supports rotation into vertical orientation, but a monitor arm is preferable. An arm provides a wider range of movement in all directions. A vertical monitor will, in most cases, be used as a second display—and an arm makes aligning the first and second displays easier. How we test monitors PCWorld’s monitor guides are informed by hundreds of reviews from our team of staff and freelance experts. These guides combine tens of thousands of hours of testing and decades of combined expertise. We test monitors using a SpyderXElite color calibration tool. This tool provides objective measurements of color accuracy, color gamut, color temperature, brightness, gamma, and contrast, among other metrics. Objective results help us compare dozens of monitors without bias to find the best in each category. Monitors
Need a last-minute gift? This top cybersecurity device will arrive in time for Christmas.
Thu, 01 Dec 2022 08:00:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Everybody should have some measure of concern about cybersecurity today. So whether you’re worried about your own connection or you want to help out a family member or friend, right now is a great time to invest in the Deeper Connect Pico, a decentralized VPN and cybersecurity hardware. And now’s your last chance to order and have it arrive by Christmas with free shipping. Successfully funded on Kickstarter, the Pico is the world’s thinnest and lightest cybersecurity hardware device. The decentralized private network gives you a fully decentralized VPN experience (DPN) with multi-routing, smart routing, and unrestricted access to content worldwide without throttling your bandwidth or threatening your security. It’s plug-and-play, so minimal configuration is required to protect your devices. In addition to the DPN, it also offers a 7-layer enterprise-grade firewall and elite ad blocking to improve your browsing experience and block malware all over the web. There are even one-click parental controls so you can feel better about what your kids are doing online. Invest in your personal cybersecurity. During our Last Chance event, if you purchase the Deeper Connect Pico for $199.99 by December 8, it’ll be under your tree just in time for the holidays.   Deeper Connect Pico Decentralized VPN & Cybersecurity Hardware + Wi-Fi Adapter – $199.99 Protect Your Privacy Prices subject to change. VPN
Hands on with Microsoft Designer, an AI art masterpiece
Wed, 30 Nov 2022 21:59:02 +0000
Source: PCWorld
The upcoming Microsoft Designer is a visual art design tool that you simply must try for yourself. It’s simply one of the best consumer apps Microsoft has ever made, following in the footsteps of Clipchamp. Why use Designer? Two reasons: AI art and templates. In Designer, you can combine apparently unlimited amounts of AI art with intelligently suggested templates that can generate finished projects in just seconds. Microsoft announced Microsoft Designer in October, and it’s currently locked to a small group of testers in preview mode. PCWorld obtained access via preview codes shared on Twitter, and that’s the way Microsoft is slowly adding users—after you download your first creation, you’ll be given a code for three additional Designer licenses that you can share with whomever you’d like. Microsoft Designer will eventually be part of Microsoft 365, though the AI art features will apparently be shared with Image Creator, a tool for Microsoft Edge. Interestingly, though, Designer is very much not an enterprise tool, at least for now. The preview codes being shared do not work with enterprise or education accounts. Instead, only consumer versions of Microsoft accounts can use Microsoft Designer, which feels very much in keeping with the overall theme—this is a consumer tool, first and foremost. In fact, Designer feels very much like the complement to Microsoft Clipchamp, the fantastic web-based video editor launched earlier this year. Microsoft bought Clipchamp, and it’s not clear where Designer’s resources were pulled from. But Designer’s UI and layout feel reminiscent of Clipchamp, with more polish. If you’ve set up a new Windows 11 PC recently, it will all feel familiar. But as our hands-on review of Clipchamp noted, the web-based nature of the app introduces some wrinkles. My Designer tabs that I had open generated an error message when I returned to them the next morning, forcing me to reload the page. (My project, though, was intact.) How to use Microsoft Designer Microsoft Designer is simply brilliant at delivering professional-quality designs, fast. Here’s how you begin.Mark Hachman / IDG Chances are, you’ll be able to whip out a professional-looking image in, honestly, just a few minutes. Designer doesn’t waste any time: After a short animation at designer.microsoft.com, Designer gets right to work. There are three points of entry: what you want to say, what you want to show, and what you want to create. Where Designer shines is how it intelligently uses whatever signals you give it to get your design off the ground. Type “Happy 50th Wedding Anniversary” into the Your design headline (Add text) field, and Designer will create a number of anniversary cards in just a few seconds, with imagery of rings and cakes. Enter “Little League Pizza Party” and you’ll see about a dozen different designs featuring background images of pizza, with various fonts and layouts. It’s AI, but not the flashy kind: just a smart, helpful app contributing what it can and then getting out of the way. Microsoft Designer just needs a few words from you to start making suggestions.Mark Hachman / IDG Designer also allows you to start with an image or photo you have saved on your computer. Here, Designer can’t really tell what message you’re trying to get across, so you’ll have to tweak the layouts to get across the intent—say, an invitation, or “wish you were here.” Designer seemed to do a pretty good job of correctly identifying the focal point of a photo to center. Once you select a template, you can always make quick changes on the fly to another template, too. You can also use some of the suggested elements (that you see to the left of the workspace) to add to the scene. But, honestly, the templates are so clean and polished that it almost seems like a waste to clutter it up. I selected this by first uploading a picture of a Bay Area sunset, then selecting from the available templates. There are even more to the far right.Mark Hachman / IDG Designer’s AI art is powerful, not flashy Designer also downplays what should be the centerpiece of the app: AI art. The third field on the Designer start page is Generate an image using a description, and it’s certainly the sexiest part of Designer: the ability to create custom backgrounds of just about anything. AI art started to take off this past summer, and the concept is simple: Enter a text description of what you want to see, however fantastical, and the AI service will attempt to create it. A wedding scene on the back of a beach ball? A gorilla at the dentist in the style of Andy Warhol? A pencil sketch of a koala samurai? These are all possible. In fact, once you type in your text prompt, Microsoft will then list suggestions that tweak it even further, to give you ideas of how to adjust the final result. It’s honestly a trifle confusing, as it’s not wholly intuitive that you simply need to click the purple arrow icon to begin generating the results, which will give you three to choose from. No, the result isn’t perfect, but this AI art is a really good response to what sounds like a random query in Microsoft Designer.AI art nerds will be interested to know that there are apparently no limits on how many images you can create. Microsoft has said before that instead of using the older DALL-E algorithm, it’s using the more sophisticated DALL-E 2 algorithm. My prompts took about a dozen seconds to produce results. While you can’t directly save the results to your hard drive (Designer uses them as the genesis for new projects) you can right-click and open or save the images in a new tab. Doing so reveals that Microsoft is generating 1,024×1,024 images. There are some restrictions: You can’t use one of your own images as the source of the AI art. There’s no apparent inpainting or outpainting, the terms used to limit the AI to a certain portion of a scene. Don’t expect any risqué birthday cards, either: trying for topless or even “pinup” images generated a rather generic error message (“We were unable to generate an image this time.”) Celebrity images seemed to work, but not political figures like Donald Trump. “Barry Bonds dressed as an airline pilot” and “George Washington and Abraham Lincoln in a boxing match” produced results, though the latter presidents are long dead. The representations of actors like Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman are off enough that you probably won’t bother, either. Is this home run king Barry Bonds as an airline pilot? Microsoft Designer seems to think so.Mark Hachman / IDG Microsoft is undoubtedly using its Azure cloud network to generate the AI images, which will help bring AI art from a rather prized luxury like Midjourney to a commodity in a matter of months. But Microsoft has rather archly moved past all that: Microsoft’s stance seems to be that AI art is just another tool to quickly create lovely, finished pieces to be shared among friends, colleagues, clients, and customers. Designer’s editing tools are sprinkled with AI, too Microsoft takes the same “it’s just a tool” approach to more detailed editing. If you move elements of the page around, expect to see visual guides to help you line them up with other elements on the page. You don’t need to add custom-generated AI art, either; Designer will let you search in-app for something like a “beach scene on Maui” and return dozens of photos that you can add to your creation, with various tweaks like opacity, size, and so on. Did you find a nice shot of your child holding your cat? The in-app AI will let you blur the background of that photo or else remove it entirely. It’s not perfect, and seems to lack the specific tools of say, a Photoshop. But again, it’s quick, and generally effective. What’s nice is that we’re seeing some of these tools that Microsoft has scattered within its other apps finally coming together within Designer. Paint 3D’s Magic Select, for example, seems to be the genesis for Designer’s background-removal feature. Designer also provides an Inspire Me button in the Visuals tab, which tries to (I think) bring an image more in line with the project as a whole; we’ve seen a similar AI tool in the Photos app within Windows. This is a pretty amateurish effort that I was playing around with, just to highlight the various options you can apply to the visuals, as seen on the left.Mark Hachman / IDG Interestingly, Microsoft is making no distinction between a “free” tier and a “premium” tier, as it does with Clipchamp. Maybe that’s because Designer is part of Microsoft 365. But it’s very possible that Microsoft is consciously taking aim at rival Canva, which offers Canva Premium for $12.99 per month. Canva Premium includes background removal, premium animations, and a database of over 100 million premium photos, (and yes, text-to-image AI art) along with a terabyte of cloud storage per month. All these sound similar to what Microsoft Designer and Microsoft 365 potentially offer, though I don’t yet see the diversity of Designer templates that Canva claims to offer. About the only thing I don’t like about Designer is that there is an opt-out (not opt-in) watermark, so when it comes time to save your creation, you have to make sure you check the correct box. Otherwise, Designer makes it super simple to complete your project: You can download your creation, or you can simply share it on Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn directly from Designer. You can even share the image to your phone; Designer will create a QR code that your phone can scan to download the image. (This didn’t work for me, but that’s likely because my Android phone defaults to Chrome, and there are likely permission issues with the beta software.) I also noticed the absence of a link to or integration with printing services—if Designer allows you to whip up your own slick, professional e-book cover, poster, or greeting card in seconds, why not offer the option of printing out your finished project on some nice, thick card stock? Otherwise, Designer is already excellent: fast, efficient, smart, simple, and slick. Along with Clipchamp, it’s the best consumer-facing service I’ve seen from Microsoft in years. There’s a creative renaissance under way at Microsoft—and we’re seeing it happen, app by app. Microsoft 365, Utilities
Windows 11’s borked gaming performance is mostly fixed, Microsoft says
Wed, 30 Nov 2022 16:23:23 +0000
Source: PCWorld
A couple of weeks ago Microsoft confirmed what gamers suspected: the big 2022 update to Windows 11 was affecting the performance of high-end games. It said as much in an official bug-tracker, and delayed the rollout of the big 2022 Update for quite a few users. According to the same changelog, the issue isn’t fully resolved, but it’s now limited to only “small subset of games and apps.” So the latest update is heading out to a lot more users. The update was spotted by The Verge, and indeed, I can confirm that my desktop with an Nvidia GPU got the Windows 11 2022 Update last night. Exactly what the problem was — is? — is still somewhat nebulous. Microsoft originally blamed the issue on games “inadvertently enabling GPU performance debugging features not meant to be used by consumers.” Based on the advice to update games and apps to the latest versions, we can infer that the problem can be solved by updates to the software itself instead of Windows. Presumably that’s why the safeguard hold (which prevents the update from going out to users who might have issues) is now limited to a much smaller subset of users with those affected games and apps. Microsoft has yet to mark the issue as “resolved” in its bug tracker, which indicates that there’s still work to be done. Whether that work is by Microsoft itself, developers of the affected games and programs, or some combination of the two, wasn’t made clear. Windows 11
Vanture Element 3 dash cam review: Classy, three-channel goodness
Wed, 30 Nov 2022 15:30:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
At a glanceExpert's Rating ProsThree channel, front, interior and rearGreat captures from all three cameras–day and nightEmbedded, watermarked GPSClever adjustable lens bodyConsRear camera cable needs angled connectorsOverly sensitive g-sensor at defaultBright default exposure setting on front cameraOur VerdictVantrue is back on form with this affordable (relatively) three-camera (front, interior, rear) system. The video from all three cameras is very good in both bright and low-light situations. It also features GPS, voice control, and phone connectivity. Good stuff. Price When Reviewed$299.99 Best Prices Today: Vantrue Element 3 dash cam Retailer Price $299.99 View Deal Vantrue $299.99 View Deal Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide My last look at a Vantrue dash cam was the Element 1 (E1), a clever, compact design with weak video captures. Day captures were passable, but important details in night captures such as license plate numbers were nearly impossible to discern. To optimize the image required either adding or removing a polarizing filter. That was then; the three-channel Element 3 (E3) is now, and it’s a different animal entirely, producing very good captures day and night from all three of its cameras. Good on the company for the polished comeback. Of course, the E3 is also twice the price at $300, but in performance and features, it’s competitive with the top-ranked Cobra SC 400D, which costs $100 more. The E1 wasn’t competitive with a whole lot when it came to video. mentioned in this article Cobra SC 400D MSRP: 399.95 Best Prices Today: $319.95 at Amazon | $319.99 at Best Buy | $399.95 at Cobra Note: This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best dash cams. Go there to learn about competing products, what to look for in a dash cam, and buying recommendations. Vanture Element 3: Design and features The Element 3, as the name hints at, is a three-channel system featuring 160-degree field-of-view 1440p front captures, plus 165-degree FOV/1080p interior and 160-degree FOV rear captures. All at 30 frames per second. There’s also a 2560x1994p mode for the front camera, though the uptick in detail is mild. Note that 1994p takes around 120MB of storage per minute, 1440p takes about 100MB, and the 1080p less than 80MB per minutes. Recordings are, of course, deleted as need be (unless saved by you or the camera), but the larger the TF (micro SD) card, the better. The Element 3 will accept up to 512GB (U3/Class10/A2). The Element 3 has a 1994p mode, but it’s the same 2560 horizontally for a narrower appearance even with greater vertical detail. The front and interior cameras are housed in the same single body, while the rear camera attaches to the back window and is connected via a cable. All connections are Type-C. Nice. However, this brings me to the one issue I had with the Element 3—the cable that connects the rear camera to the main body uses straight rather than right-angled Type-C connectors. The cable being thick makes it somewhat difficult to bend and the straight connections stick out in ungainly fashion. This made hiding the cable difficult on the rear window, and negatively affected my ability to place the front camera where I wanted it. Hardly a deal breaker, but puzzling on such an otherwise clever design. Note that there are angled Type-C adapters available on Amazon for less than $10. Not that that excuses Vantrue. The three main components of the Element 3: front camera (interior is on the back), rear camera, and Bluetooth emergency save button. The dotted lines are Vantrue’s attempt to tell you that the lens body is positionally adjustable. Vantrue might’ve mitigated the effect on front placement if you could connect the rear camera to the semi-adhesive mount, but that only supports the Type-C power cable, which, ironically, is angled! If you forego the rear camera, you can connect the angled power cable to the main body. Then again, buy a cheaper front/interior camera is that’s what you want. While the semi-adhesive mount of the front/interior unit is adjustable only vertically, the front camera’s lens body can be tilted both vertically and horizontally—a clever trick I haven’t seen before. It will also accept the optional $20 polarizing filter. The rear camera also uses a sticky mount. The Element 3 opts for physical multi-function buttons on the bottom of the main body rather than a touch display for navigating features and setting things up. Said setup was relatively easy and you’re walked through the process when you first power on the camera. The provided display, while not touch, is a very crisp and colorful 2.5-inch IPS unit with wide viewing angles. Vantrue includes a Bluetooth remote “emergency” button that can be mounted in a convenient location so you don’t have to reach up to the camera to save a snapshot or the current video. The E3 also supports voice commands, including such all-time hits as: “video start” (start recording), “take photo,” “lock the video” (emergency file save), “turn off/on audio” (microphone off), “turn off/on screen,” “turn on/off Wi-Fi,” “show front/rear camera,” and “inside video on.” The Vantrue Cam app lets you offload videos and track your travels with the GPS info. Of course, everything must connect to your phone these days and the E3 does that. I wax cynically, but the app is very handy, allowing you to offload videos and interact with the embedded GPS info to see exactly where you’ve been. Note that the E3 and phone communicate via Wi-Fi so your phone will lose its Wi-Fi internet. Vanture Element 3: Video and performance Having been singularly unimpressed with the Vantrue Element 1’s video (especially at night), it was nice to see the company back on its game with the Element 3. The video captures from all three cameras were excellent during the day. Of course the 1440p front was more detailed than the 1080 interior and rear captures, but all still showed good detail, color and motion compensation. I’m paying special attention to the latter these days after my recent experience with the Garmin DriveCam 76 and its shot-through-jello wobbling issues. (Once a hallmark of older GoPro technology.) The Element 3’s capture quality isn’t quite the best I’ve seen, but it keeps the horizon steady. As with the Element 1, I found the front captures slightly over-exposed at the default setting. This can be ameliorated in the settings section. All the captures shown below were taken at the default exposure settings. The E3’s normal 16:9 2560×1440 mode offers plenty of resolution and uses less memory than the already discussed 1994p mode. Pilot and co-pilot on a daytime test run via the interior 1080p camera.Jon Jacobi You might notice an extremely faint horizontal line through the rear captures (the first is directly below). It’s a heater wire, not a defect in the camera. It’s what happens when you install without measuring. Regardless, you can see that the general quality from the rear camera is quite good. The 1080p rear camera has a better default exposure setting than the front. I did have to reduce the g-sensor sensitivity to stop the camera from saving everything in the “Event” folder. But that’s not unusual for my car with its stiff street/track suspension (Ohlins, if you must know). The Element 3’s biggest area of improvement over the Element 1 is the night captures shown below. They were A-OK all around—i.e., from all three cameras. This is, again, without the polarizing filter. This E3’s night capture is vastly better than the Element 1’s. Detail is good both directly in front and in the surrounding areas. Above is the front nighttime capture, which shows far more detail with the Element 1. Below, you can see that the nighttime interior shots are also great thanks to the infrared lighting. Infrared lighting helps capture detail in the cabin area. It even shows detail outside the rear window. Kewl. You can even discern detail out the rear window using the interior camera, and there’s none of the blow-out from the infrared that you see with some cheaper units. The rear captures at night are more than passable, as well. Note that my window wasn’t pristinely clean and there’s still the blurry line in the middle from the heater wire. Sorry, I was finished testing by the time I discovered it. Don’t make the same mistake with placement if you want perfect captures. The rear night captures are just as good as those taken during the day. In fact, they’re better than the front captures we saw from the Element 1. One small issue with the E3 was super sensitive/aggressive power cycling. Merely turning the ignition key from interior power-on to crank-the-starter position caused the camera to shut down and restart. Not a huge deal, but a tad annoying and it takes 10 seconds or so before you’re recording again. If you haven’t read our “What to look for” section in our Best dash cams roundup, a super capacitor such as that in the E3 will last many more charge cycles and function better in the cold, but rarely keep the camera powered on for longer than it takes to save files. Batteries allow the camera to stay on longer in case the 12-volt is killed in in incident, but eventually wears out and doesn’t perform well under really cold conditions. Should you buy the Vantrue Element 3? The Element 3 proves Vantrue back on point in terms of video captures and design—the adjustable lens body is a particularly clever feature. If it weren’t for the ungainly rear camera cable and slightly over-zealous default exposure setting on the front camera, I’d have no complaints at all. Still, it’s a worthy bargain of a three-channel system. Dash Cams
Keychron shrinks its premium keyboards with new S1 design
Wed, 30 Nov 2022 15:19:03 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Keychron continues to wow us with its Q series keyboards, which incorporate premium features from boutique mechanical builds into designs that are attainable (if not exactly cheap). While they’re all lookers, the Q series keyboards are a long way from portable, and they won’t appeal unless you’re already a fan of big, chunky mechanical keyboards. Enter the Keychron S1: a new design that combines the low-profile looks of Keychron’s portable wireless designs with the more premium materials and features of the pricier boards. The S1 uses a 75% layout, with a full function row and arrow cluster, plus a few extra keys like page up and down. The milled aluminum case and Gateron low-profile mechanical switches (clicky blue, tactile brown, or linear red) make the entire package just 13.7mm tall sans keycaps. The keyboard includes removable feet to adjust the typing angle from three degrees to six, and naturally, every key is backlit. Each board comes with high-quality PBT keycaps, which is nice, since your options for custom keycaps will be much more restricted than with regular MX switches. Keychron But those are fairly pedestrian features for keyboards these days, albeit not usually seen in low-profile designs. For the true customizer, the S1 has optional hot-swap switches (with choices somewhat limited by the form factor), full QMK and VIA programming, and a 1000Hz polling rate to keep gamers happy. Inside the case is sound-absorbing foam, to keep your housemates/coworkers sane. The only feature that seems to have been omitted is wireless functionality — it seems odd to me that such a small, bag-friendly keyboard is limited to a USB-C connection. The similarly-proportioned K series manages it. I’d rather have Bluetooth and a battery than the somewhat antiquated Mac/PC hard switch. The Keychron S1 is shipping now, starting at $109 for the base model with white LEDs and your choice of switches. Upgrading to full RGB lighting will cost you $119, and a further hot-swap upgrade brings the fully-laden price to a reasonable $129. Expect more S-series keyboards in a variety of sizes over the next few months. Keyboards
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