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Best power banks 2019: The top portable chargers for your phone

Anyone who uses a smartphone knows the importance of carrying a backup battery pack. But given the large number of options on Amazon, you might feel overwhelmed, understandably. Besides the various charging specs, ports, and even cables you have to consider, there are a ton of competing brands. But how do you know which ones actually deliver on their promises? Is it worth saving a few bucks if a battery pack’s performance is lacking?

Cheat sheet: Best power banks 2019

  • Mophie Powerstation XXL: Best overall [mophie.com]
  • Xiaomi 10,000mAh Mi Power Bank: Most portable [amazon.com]
  • Sherpa 100AC Portable Power Bank: Best for road warriors [goalzero.com]
  • Anker Powercore+ 26800 PD: Best USB-C pack with Power Delivery [amazon.com]
  • RockPals 300W Power Station: Best portable power station [amazon.com]

We decided to do the legwork for you, acquiring a wide range of power banks from different manufacturers, some offering unique features. We then spent weeks testing the packs (read about our testing process in detail below).

To read this article in full, please click here


Tuesday December 10, 2019

The best gaming headsets: Reviews and buying advice

The next great peripherals war is being waged over your ears. After every company on the planet put out a gaming mouse and then a mechanical keyboard, they turned their attention to headsets. So many headsets.

We know you don’t want to scroll through every single headset review when all you want is a simple answer: “What’s the best gaming headset I can buy with my hard-earned dollars?” This page holds the answers you seek, no matter what your budget is.

We’ll keep updating our recommendations as we look at new products and find stronger contenders. 

Updated 12/09/19 to include our reviews of the Razer Kraken Ultimate, which improves on the Kraken V2 in all the right ways, and the Corsair Virtuoso RGB, which makes a worthy companion for Corsair’s premium K96 mechanical keyboard. See the bottom of this article for links to all of our headset reviews.

To read this article in full, please click here


Tuesday December 10, 2019

Yale Assure Lever with Connected by August review: Yale lets you ditch its own app for August’s

Alas, Yale’s hardware and August’s wireless technology make for truly unhappy bedfellows.
Monday December 09, 2019

Google first ‘Pixel feature drop’ enhances Photos, Call Screen, Duo, RAM

When the Pixel phone landed in 2016, the promise was that the handset would be continuously updated, not just with regular Android security and version updates, but with new features like Apple does with the iPhone. Over the years, Google has obliged by regularly bringing newer Pixel features to older phones, but it’s stopped short of delivering big feature-packed updates. That’s changing with the first ever “Pixel feature drop.”

According to a blog post, the updates are already rolling out and involve two steps: a system update and app updates via the Play Store. It’s unclear whether the update is part of the December security update that began rolling out last week (and has yet to hit the Pixel 4) or a newer Android 10.1 update, but it should reach all Pixel phones “in the coming weeks.”

To read this article in full, please click here


Monday December 09, 2019

Razer Kraken Ultimate review: Tournament Edition features with consumer polish

The Razer Kraken Ultimate is not new, but “new.” What I mean is, Razer’s latest flagship headset is a sizable upgrade over 2016’s Razer Kraken V2, the last proper iteration of the Kraken line. But the Kraken Ultimate’s tentpole features—THX Spatial Audio, better volume controls, cooling gel—debuted with 2018’s esports spin-off, the Kraken Tournament Edition.

Thus the Kraken Ultimate mostly brings the consumer edition up to parity with the competitive edition. And that’s undoubtedly necessary, but not exactly jump-out-of-your-seat exciting for a product labeled “Ultimate.” I thought there’d be more to it.

To read this article in full, please click here


Monday December 09, 2019

A cord-cutters guide to watching sports without cable TV

You probably don't need cable to watch your favorite sports teams. Here's how to get all the action through online streaming services instead.
Monday December 09, 2019

Microsoft ends support for Office 2010: What you can do

Office 2010 users, we know you're out there. As recently as 2017, according to a survey published by IT marketplace Spiceworks, Office 2010 was being used in 83 percent of the companies surveyed. Most companies seemed to have a mix of Office versions active, with Office 2007 the next most prevalent, at 68 percent.

While time and Microsoft's relentless efforts to get users to switch to Office 365 subscriptions have surely shifted the data somewhat in the past two years, it's very likely that Office 2010 is still popular. And if you're one of those Office 2010 users, you might have seen this screen pop up recently as you launched Word or another Office program:

To read this article in full, please click here


Monday December 09, 2019

BetterAir Biotica800 review: Using probiotics to combat indoor pollutants

This unconventional air purifier claims to tackle organic irritants like mold, dust mites, and pet dander at their source.
Monday December 09, 2019

This week in games: Henry Cavill takes The Witcher to late night, Rune II controversy gets spicy

Last week I was too busy eating to care about news. Cows wearing VR headsets? Neat. BioWare wants to remind everyone that Dragon Age 4 exists? Fascinating. Now pass the mashed potatoes, please.

But we’re back for a few short weeks before year’s end, and I’ve returned to my weekly news-gathering duties despite suffering from some rather severe senioritis. This week, a look at Destiny 2’s new Season of Dawn, a sequel to Pathfinder: Kingmaker, our first fight scene from The Witcher, Human Head controversy, and more.

To read this article in full, please click here


Saturday December 07, 2019

Best gaming keyboards: Our picks for the top budget, mid-tier, and RGB boards

Choosing a gaming keyboard is a matter of personal taste. To that point, there are a plethora of options, with a dizzying mix of features. One person could be into Cherry Browns and white backlighting. Another might favor Razer Greens and a rippling RGB glow. Gigantic wrist pads, compact shapes, numeric keypads, macro keys, volume controls.... You get the picture

To help you sort through the many options, we’ve rounded up a large number of planks, putting them through their paces, to come up with our top recommendations. All of these are mechanical keyboards, and for good reason—they’re simply more comfortable to use over the long haul. But we’re open-minded, so if we encounter an alternative that works well, you may see it appear on this list. We’ll keep updating it periodically as we test new keyboards.

To read this article in full, please click here


Saturday December 07, 2019

A year in, the Epic Games Store's fight against Steam has made PC gaming better for everyone

A year ago, I wrote these words: “Epic Games is creating a Steam rival and Valve should be scared.” And for good reason: The Epic Games Store debuted December 6, 2018 and upended the PC gaming market. Valve, once unassailable, suddenly seemed very vulnerable. Flush with Fortnite money, Epic provided the first real competition to Steam since its inception 15 years prior. What company wouldn’t worry?

If I could amend that headline now though, I’d instead write “Epic Games is creating a Steam rival and Valve should be grateful.”

Grateful, not because Valve fended off the newcomer and solidified its own position, but because Epic spurred Valve out of complacency. The Epic Games Store is better now—but so is Steam. As we look back on the past year, that might be Epic’s most valuable contribution to the PC thus far.

To read this article in full, please click here


Friday December 06, 2019

Hallelujah! Google Keep notes and lists are finally coming to Google Assistant

After years of promises, changes, and utter confusion involving what should be a staple feature of all assistants, Google appears to finally be rolling out the ability to create and manage notes and lists using Google Assistant. Yeah, we can’t believe it either.

A short history: When Google Assistant launched back in 2016, it offered the ability to create lists in Google Keep. It was quickly moved into the Home app as part of Google Express, which wasn’t ideal but kind of made sense since it’s a shopping thing. Then Google teased full Keep integration in 2018 as part of its “proactive” push, and again earlier this year, and now finally it appears to be rolling out.

To read this article in full, please click here


Friday December 06, 2019

Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition review: This stripped-down plank is laser-focused on 'pro' features

About a year ago we reviewed the Razer Huntsman Elite, arguably the first mainstream foray into optical keyboard switches. And uh...the only one, really. Optical switches still haven’t made much headway against traditional mechanical keyboards.

Razer is doubling down though, introducing the Huntsman Tournament Edition for 2019. Like the rest of Razer’s Tournament Edition boards, the Huntsman TE ditches the numpad—and a lot of the Huntsman Elite’s personality, in the process. But if you’re looking for a simple keyboard with some enthusiast-grade influences, the Huntsman TE is a pretty interesting proposition.

To read this article in full, please click here


Friday December 06, 2019

Hands on with the Snapdragon 8c and 7c, Qualcomm's value-PC play

Let’s be honest: We’re a bit skeptical of the new Snapdragon 7c and 8c story, Qualcomm’s latest expansion of its Snapdragon Compute lineup into cheaper markets. But we had a chance to play around with them, and they’re...fine?

At the Qualcomm Snapdragon Technology Summit in Maui, Hawaii, the company offered reporters a chance to try out a pair of 7c and 8c demo machines. Both of the units we saw were reference designs, with pre-production hardware.

Miguel Nunes, senior director of product management for compute products, supplied us with a few more details about each chip. The 7c includes a pair of ARM Cortex-A76 “performance” cores, with six Cortex-A55 cores serving as the low-power “efficiency” cores. There’s an X15 LTE modem, too.

To read this article in full, please click here


Friday December 06, 2019

20 gorgeous PC games that will punish your graphics card

Pixel-pushing, PC-melting graphical firepower
best looking games primary

Image by Gordon Mah Ung/Rob Schultz

So you built yourself a brand-new gaming rig, you’ve slotted your sweet new graphics card into the PCIe slot, you’ve sealed up the case, and you’ve heard it all POST—congrats! Now it’s time to throw games at your fresh build until it breaks, then cry at the thought that if you’d spent just 200 dollars more you could’ve played at 4K instead of a mere 1080p!

To read this article in full, please click here


Friday December 06, 2019

Amazon Echo Buds review: An excellent value plagued by small annoyances

They sound pretty good. They have active noise reduction. They let you summon a digital assistant hands-free. They are relatively comfortable and not too big. And the Echo Buds true wireless earbuds from Amazon only cost $129. What’s the catch?

The catch, besides an obvious and expected bent toward Alexa and Amazon services, is that these earbuds annoy you with a series of small aggravations that make them feel like the economical choice, not the best choice.

My time with the Echo Buds alternated between being surprised at what you get for “only” $130 and frustrated that Amazon didn’t put more care into their design, craftsmanship, and quality. Echo Buds are a good value, especially if you’re already all-in with Alexa, but those who don’t care about hands-free Alexa integration should probably consider other options.

To read this article in full, please click here


Friday December 06, 2019

XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc III Ultra review: A roaring muscle car, barely heard

The XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc III Ultra takes the delicious muscle car-evoking design of its namesake and tunes it into something even more kick-ass.

We enjoyed the original XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc II Ultra, which only launched in September. But while XFX’s throwback Double Dissipation aesthetic was alluring, the graphics card wasn’t perfect. “It’s high-performing, a little loud, extremely impressive, and in need of some slight tinkering for peak performance,” we said, continuing the hot-rod theme this hardware begs for. Fan control bugs common to third-party Radeon RX 5700 models dragged it down, requiring a BIOS update out of the box, and the fans roared to tame the card’s power-pushing clock speeds.

To read this article in full, please click here


Friday December 06, 2019

Chamberlain myQ Smart Garage Hub review: The smart garage controller to beat is also the least expensive

This wire-free smart controller doesn’t just work well, it’s also priced to move (just be aware of the cost to control a second door opener).
Friday December 06, 2019

Cord cutting: A beginner's guide

How to cut the cord: All the devices, services, and knowledge you need to ditch cable and save money.
Friday December 06, 2019

Best Android phones 2019: What should you buy?

Choosing the best Android phone for you is a big decision. The Android universe is teeming with options, from super-expensive flagship phones to more affordable models that make a few calculated compromises, to models expressly designed for, say, great photography. 

Chances are that whichever phone you buy, you’ll keep it for at least two years. So we’ve made picks for the best Android phone in key categories. Check out our summary Cheat Sheet, or keep reading for details on each pick and the runners-up. At the bottom of this article, we link to all our recent Android phone reviews—in case you have your eye on a model that didn’t make our cut.

To read this article in full, please click here


Friday December 06, 2019

Best Android phones 2019: What should you buy?

Looking for the best value in an Android phone, the best for photography, or the best at everything? We've tested them all and have our top picks right here.

To read this article in full, please click here


Friday December 06, 2019

Qualcomm's Snapdragon 7c and 8c aim for low-end and midrange PCs

Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon 7c and 8c at its Snapdragon Technology Summit in Maui, Hawaii. The chips, two derivatives of the Snapdragon 8cx, will provide opportunities for cheaper PCs to take advantage of the Snapdragon 8cx’s advantages: fanless platforms, long battery life and constant connectivity.

It's a gutsy move. Qualcomm's premium Snapdragon 8cx PC processor has arguably struggled to compete with Intel’s Core and AMD’s Ryzen, at least from a performance standpoint.. Nevertheless, the company’s decided that cheaper, presumably less powerful Snapdragon chips for PCs are the way forward.

To read this article in full, please click here


Friday December 06, 2019

Qualcomm's Snapdragon XR2 platform takes aim at true mixed reality

Qualcomm will use its newly announced Snapdragon chips to take another swing at the mixed reality market, adding 5G to the mix with the Snapdragon XR2 platform.

Announced at its Snapdragon Technology Summit in Maui, Hawaii, Qualcomm said it believes that the on-device horsepower of the recent Snapdragon chips, combined with the “edge cloud” capabilities of the 5G connection, should be enough for true mixed reality: augmented reality in one context, and virtual reality in another. 

Niantic, the developer behind the popular Pokemon Go game, even announced a multi-year partnership to develop AR glasses based on the platform.

To read this article in full, please click here


Friday December 06, 2019

Qualcomm's Snapdragon 865: Four of its best new features

Qualcomm described the Snapdragon 865 in detail on Wednesday, with a long list of new features that included 5G, PC-like gaming features, high-resolution camera imagery, and much more.

At the Snapdragon Technology Summit in Maui, Hawaii, Qualcomm set up a demo room where we could go hands-on with some of the features. We took the opportunity to shoot some short videos to go with our descriptions, and you can see them all below.

Single-camera video bokeh

We’ve all probably used “portrait mode” on a smartphone camera—that’s the feature that blurs the background to create the “bokeh” effect of a traditional lensed camera. It’s a nifty way to make the eye zero in on the subject of the image. Smartphone cameras use AI to distinguish the subject from the background, which usually works pretty well.

To read this article in full, please click here


Thursday December 05, 2019

Why the Snapdragon 765, not the 865, will make the biggest impact on 2020 Android phones

Every year about this time, Qualcomm trots out its newest flagship processor and we all ooh and aah over the potential. Speed boosts! Battery efficiencies! Graphics boosts!

I expected this year to bring more of the same, and for the most part, it does. The Snapdragon 865 is a predictable upgrade over the 855, bringing 25-percent faster performance, a 20-percent graphics boost, and “unbelievable battery life,” according to Qualcomm. In fact, the company says its new chip represents “the culmination of Qualcomm’s more than 30 years of wireless leadership and innovation.”

To read this article in full, please click here


Thursday December 05, 2019

HP Spectre x360 13t Review: A thin-and-light that hasn't taken away all the good stuff

HP’s latest Spectre x360 13t has something to say to other thin-and-light laptops, which, it seems, are all about taking good things away from you. Keyboards with travel, USB Type-A ports, and even the opportunity to replace your SSD are features that have all gone by the wayside in some of Dell and Apple’s newest and thinnest laptops.

In the face of all that No, the HP Spectre x360 13t simply says Yes. You want a standard M.2 SSD? Got it, the Spectre x360 13t says. NBA-level of travel in your keys? Sure thing. USB Type-A port?! Of course the Spectre x360 13t has that, too.

hp spectre x360 13 5th gen 14 Gordon Mah Ung

HP gets a USB Type-A using a “drop-jaw” type design typically seen for ethernet connections. And yes, you’ll have to pry my USB Type-A from my moist sweaty hands.

To read this article in full, please click here


Thursday December 05, 2019

Best smart lock for a keyless home

Keys are yesterday’s tech, your smart home needs a smart door lock.
Thursday December 05, 2019

Best cheap laptops: We rate the best-sellers on Amazon and Best Buy

The best cheap laptops right now are the Black Friday specials! Click over to our special story on the best deals you’ll find this week. 

When you’re looking for a good, cheap laptop, knowledge is power. Every budget machine (which we’re defining as Windows laptops costing $500 or less) is the product of compromise—corners carefully cut here and there to hit a price point.

Your job is to find the one that checks off the most boxes for your needs—and doesn’t saddle you with features (or lack thereof) that you’ll regret in a year. We’ll show you what to look for by highlighting which budget laptops among the best-sellers currently listed at Amazon and Best Buy are worth buying. We haven’t necessarily tested these specific machines (we’ll let you know if we have), but we’ve seen enough similar ones to have a good idea of the pros and cons. We’re also focusing on 14-inch and larger laptops, because part of the great deal should be getting a decent-sized display.

To read this article in full, please click here


Thursday December 05, 2019

Inside the Snapdragon 865: Qualcomm reveals the features you'll find in 2020's best Android phones

Qualcomm’s next-gen Snapdragon 865 smartphone chip will support 5G, certainly. But more practical features will probably affect phone users in more immediate ways, such as 200 megapixel still photos, 4K HDR/8K video capture with optional portrait mode and Dolby Vision support, dynamic lighting options for mobile gaming, and real-time audio translation. 

Qualcomm unveiled the Snapdragon 855 a year ago, and unveiled its successors—the Snapdragon 865, the Snapdragon 765, and the Snapdragon 765G—on Tuesday at the company's Snapdragon Technology Summit in Maui, Hawaii. On Wednesday, Qualcomm dove deep into what phone makers and end users can expect from its new processors. Improvements to each of its cores—the new Kryo 585 CPU, the Adreno 650 GPU, the Spectra 480 image signal processor, the Sensing Hub, and the X55 5G modem—will all add new capabilities to phones.

To read this article in full, please click here


Thursday December 05, 2019

Halo: Reach PC impressions: The prodigal son returns to the PC, with some quirks

The original plan, if I recall correctly, was to have the entire Halo: The Master Chief Collection on PC by the end of 2019. Alas, that’s not going to happen. But 343 Industries did manage to get Halo: Reach out before the end of the year, the first Halo game to hit PC since Microsoft’s ill-fated attempt to use Halo 2 to sell copies of Windows Vista back in 2007.

So how is it? I won’t lie, it’s kind of janky. Given how many rounds of testing Reach went through this year, I expected a more exhaustive PC version. But it works! If that’s all you care about, if you simply need to satiate your nostalgia...well, you’re probably already playing. After all, Halo: Reach “reached” the top of the Steam sales charts on release day.

To read this article in full, please click here


Wednesday December 04, 2019