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The Microsoft Surface Duo arrives in September with sky-high pricing

The Microsoft Surface Duo, the dual-screen smartphone unveiled last October, brought good news and bad news for eager fans in a blog post on Wednesday. The good news is it will ship September 10. The bad news is it’s very expensive.

Microsoft will be charging $1,399 for the base configuration of its dual-screen Duo with 128GB of storage (add $100 for 256GB). You’re not getting much for your money other than the pleasure of being first. It has last year’s top-of-the-line Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, just 6GB of RAM, a relatively small 3577mAh battery, and a single 11MP camera. It’s also quite heavy at 250 grams, and not all that pocketable at 145.2mm x 93.3mm x 9.9mm (versus 164.8 x 77.2 x 8.1mm for the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra). It’s more like a tiny touch-screen laptop than a phone, though you can use it to make calls.

To read this article in full, please click here


Thursday August 13, 2020

Trump ban of Tencent Holdings could affect Fortnite, League of Legends and other games

Could President Trump stop you from playing Fortnite or League of Legends? That spectre arose when Trump unexpectedly added Tencent Holdings to the list of Chinese companies being targeted by recent executive orders. Tencent, however, believes it's safe. 

Trump's probably not trying to ruin your fun, at least not explicitly. But by roping in Tencent he's potentially affecting a huge swath of holdings that the Chinese conglomerate owns or invests in.

The latest order actually targets WeChat, a popular messaging application owned by Tencent. The language and restrictions closely follow the wording of Trump’s first executive order extending his previous ban on TikTok, basically stating that the United States would ban the video-sharing service outright if an acquisition by Microsoft or another company were not completed in 45 days. 

To read this article in full, please click here


Wednesday August 12, 2020

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs S20 Ultra: Which ultimate flagship should get all of your money?

The Ultra phone is here to stay. At its Galaxy Unpacked event last week, Samsung announced two sizes of its Galaxy Note 20 phone. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra model replaced last year’s Plus model at the top end. That makes two Ultras for Samsung, along with the previously announced Galaxy S20 Ultra.

Which one should you buy (if you can afford the prices, both well north of $1,000)? We’ll go through the major points of comparison to help you decide.

To read this article in full, please click here


Wednesday August 12, 2020

Giveaway: Win a Kodak Smile camera or printer

We’ve partnered with Kodak for our next giveaway—win one of these Kodak Smile instant print products to capture and print your favorite summer moments! Enter now for your chance to win either a Kodak Smile Classic 2-in-1 Camera & Printer, Instant Print Digital Camera, or Instant Digital Printer.

Signup is free! All you have to do is enter your email address in the Gleam widget below. You can receive extra entries by following one of our video/social channels, but it’s not necessary! Only legal residents of the 50 United States, including the District of Columbia, or Canada (except Quebec) are eligible to win.

The contest ends at noon on August 26. The winners will be notified via the email address they provided at signup. Good luck!

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Wednesday August 12, 2020

Evercade review: A charming cartridge-based handheld for retro gaming enthusiasts

These days, you’ve got endless ways to play retro games using emulation on PCs, Raspberry Pis, or even Android phones—most with varying degrees of performance or legality. But the new Evercade handheld console is tackling retro gaming emulation in a highly focused and legally legitimate way. Unlike the recent flood of Chinese-based handheld emulators like the PocketGo V2, Evercade (the company) works with major publishers to release physical cartridges featuring tailored emulation so that each game plays the way you remember.

To read this article in full, please click here


Wednesday August 12, 2020

The best smart switches and dimmers: Lighting is the foundation of the smart home

In-wall lighting controls bring convenience, security, luxury, and sophistication into your home.
Wednesday August 12, 2020

What remote learning will look like this fall in Meet, Teams, and Zoom

In March and early April, schools flipped from in-school instruction to distance learning seemingly overnight. Now, this fall, teachers using Microsoft Teams, Google Classroom and Meet, and Zoom are returning to teach online once again.

How each teacher and school district will use each tool may vary. But we’ve spoken with Microsoft and Google, and teachers who are using these applications, to understand what each “virtual classroom” experience will be like when kids go back to school this fall, and how it will differ from this past spring.

Signing up school districts and teaching students the ins and outs of their respective platforms is an enormous strategic win for tech platforms like Google and Microsoft. Both companies have rolled out a dizzying rush of new features to meet the urgent demands of these users. 

To read this article in full, please click here


Wednesday August 12, 2020

Android users now have a personal earthquake detector right on their phone

Your Android phone can do a lot of things, but if you live in an earthquake-prone area, it just might save your life. Rolling out as part of the latest Google Play Services update, Android phones everywhere will be able to detect when an earthquake is about to hit—and possibly alert users to take cover.

Google is teaming with ShakeAlert in California that taps into a network of hundreds of seismometers installed across the state that “sends data to a central site where ground motion signals are analyzed, earthquakes are detected and warnings are issued.” According to ShakeAlert, studies show that the warning time would range from a few seconds to tens of seconds. That might not seem like much time, but even a few seconds could give someone time to take protective actions and save a life.

To read this article in full, please click here


Tuesday August 11, 2020

HyperX Cloud Flight S review: An improvement, even if Qi charging still fails to impress

When Astro integrated charging into the A50 base station in 2016, I figured it was only a matter of time before other headsets followed. Finally, a headset I’d remember to charge. Finally, a headset that wouldn’t die on me mid-game. The A50 base station was so intuitive, so effortless, so convenient. Surely, others would “borrow” the idea in due time.

Alas, four years and an A50 redesign later, nobody’s been so bold.

To read this article in full, please click here


Tuesday August 11, 2020

Cubo AI Plus review: This baby monitor's smart alerts ensure your infant sleeps safely

AI detection watches for newborn sleep risks such as rollovers, back sleeping, and a covered head.
Tuesday August 11, 2020

Why your laptop's SD card reader might be terrible

For content creators, a laptop with a built-in SD card reader is a preferred feature. Some users go so far as to consider laptops only if they have a reader.

One mistake with that choice is it assumes all SD card slots are created equal. Our tests clearly show they're not. It's also difficult to know how fast the SD card reader in your laptop is. If SD card speed really matters to you, the best way to get what you want is to buy an external reader whose specs are clearly designated. 

PCWorld put four newly manufactured laptops' SD cards through their paces. For this challenge we looked at:

To give us a control point, we also recorded the performance of a SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-II USB 3.0 card reader inserted into one of the Dell G5 15 SE's USB 3.0 slots.

To read this article in full, please click here


Tuesday August 11, 2020

The best video baby monitors: Keep eyes—and ears—on your bundle of joy

Today's baby monitors are more capable—and more complex—than ever. Here's how to find the right one, so you and your baby can get some sleep.
Tuesday August 11, 2020

The best laptops: Premium laptops, budget laptops, 2-in-1s, and more

The best laptops of 2020 are experiencing a seismic shift. With the near-simultaneous launches of AMD’s Ryzen 4000 and Intel’s Comet Lake-H mobile CPUs, we have a real fight for the first time ever: Ryzen 4000’s cores vs. Intel’s clock speeds. 

On the gaming side (where the GPU matters more than the CPU), Nvidia has unveiled a new generation of mobile graphics technologies. Check out the latest news and reviews below. 

To read this article in full, please click here


Tuesday August 11, 2020

Nvidia GeForce Ampere may arrive on August 31, tweet suggests

A cryptic tweet posted by Nvidia’s GeForce Twitter account seems to suggest that the highly anticipated GeForce Ampere GPU could show up as soon as August 31.

The tweet from 6 a.m. PDT Monday shows what looks like a Big Bang explosion and the sound of a ticking clock. The header art for the @NvidiaGeForce account says: “The #ultimatecountdown. 21 days. 21 years.”

August 31 and 21 years is significant, because the original GeForce 256 was announced on August 31, 1999. The GeForce 256 was the first graphics card to features hardware transform and lighting effects. It also included hardware MPEG2 decoding. Up until then, a separate MPEG2 decoder card was required to watch a DVD on your PC.

To read this article in full, please click here


Tuesday August 11, 2020

Minecraft: Education Edition can now run on Chromebooks

Kids going back to school will probably be happy to learn that Minecraft: Education Edition isn’t just for PCs any more. Now they’ll be able to run it on their Google-powered Chromebooks, too.

Originally released in 2016, Minecraft: Education Edition is essentially a version of Minecraft that’s been optimized for the classroom, with the ability for teachers and students to use the platform to learn how to code and perform other education-related tasks. Google began telling teachers about the Chromebook port late last week, though a Minecraft blog post indicates that support for the Chromebooks began on August 6. 

To read this article in full, please click here


Monday August 10, 2020

They're not in the box but Samsung is still offering free earbuds with the Galaxy Note 20

If you're planning to buy a Galaxy Note 20 when it ships next week, you might be in for a surprise when you unbox it. Samsung has opted to ditch the wired AKG earbuds from the box, but there’s some good news: It isn’t leaving customers high and dry. If you prefer to get a pair of wired USB-C earbuds, Samsung will send you a pair free of charge.

According to Samsung, “consumers that prefer the USB-C wired headphones, our customer care team can offer them on request” and will receive a pair free of charge. It’s not clear how long it will take, but likely several weeks. The offer is only for Notes that don’t include the USB-C buds in the box, which applies to all North America phones.

To read this article in full, please click here


Monday August 10, 2020

Samsung takes pressure off Apple by dumping the Galaxy Note 20 earbuds

If you decide to spend $1,300 on the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, you’re getting a lot for your money: the best processor, biggest display, and most RAM you can get in a phone, a gorgeous design, and a greatly improved S Pen. But there’s one thing you won’t be getting: headphones.

We got our Galaxy Note 20 Ultra review unit on Friday and have already started testing it, but there was a surprise right off the bat. The cardboard sleeve that traditionally holds a USB-C cable and a pair of AKG headphones had an empty slot where the buds should be. After Apple had been criticized for its own rumored decision to dump its Lightning Earpods from the box, Samsung snuck in and did the same with its own flagship phone.

To read this article in full, please click here


Monday August 10, 2020

HP Envy x360 13: An affordable laptop with Ryzen 4000 and other perks

HP’s Ryzen 4000-powered Envy x360 13 proves that you can get first-class features for coach pricing. Don’t believe me? Here are some of the goodies included: 

  • Decent 13.3-inch IPS panel with good off-axis viewing, touch and optional pen support
  • Solid all-aluminum body with 360-convertible hinges
  • Speakers that actually sound better than the ones on a lot of larger 15.6-inch gaming laptops
  • And the crown jewel, a mid-priced Ryzen 4000 CPU with high-end CPU performance

In fact, the HP Envy x360 13 we tested is so good, yet so affordable (despite a few corners cut to save cost), that you might not be able to get it. At the time of this writing, our exact, $799 configuration was sold out. However, you can customize it into being by upgrading components on this nearly-identical model (with a smaller 128GB SSD by default), currently $700 on HP.com. For $820 at Walmart you can get another nearly identical version, the difference being a higher-end Ryzen 7 4700U CPU. You can find another Ryzen 7 4700U-based model (Envy x360 13-ay-0021nr), with a heftier 16GB of memory and 512GB SSD, for $1,000 on HP.com. If you’re a Costco member, the best alternative deal is there: A Ryzen 7 4700U with 8GB of RAM and 512GB SSD, for $750 through August 30 (discounted from $900 list). 

To read this article in full, please click here


Monday August 10, 2020

Photoshop Blur filters: What they are and how to use them

Photoshop Blur filters are designed primarily for retouching images—to soften, haze, cloud, fuzz, or distort specific areas of a picture or the entire image. Backgrounds are often blurred out to accentuate the main subject of a photo, or to reduce clutter in the environment. Blur filters also collect, then fuse the colors in a selected area to create a specific effect such as motion.

Blur effects explained

When you select Filter > Blur, Photoshop displays a dropdown menu with 11 Blur effects. They are defined as follows (and grouped by similarity):

Average: Photoshop considers all the colors of a selected area, then calculates the average color of the combined hues, and fills the area with that color. Once the area is “averaged,” you can apply additional effects such as a soft gradient, a simple texture, or a modest pattern to create an uncluttered background that doesn’t “compete” with the main subject of the image.

To read this article in full, please click here


Monday August 10, 2020

Sony HT-G700 review: This Atmos- and DTS:X-enabled soundbar boasts a trifecta of virtual 3D modes, but no Wi-Fi

Its arsenal of virtual 3D modes is impressive, but without Wi-Fi, the HT-G700 is missing a bevy of key features given its price tag.
Monday August 10, 2020

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 vs iPhone 11 Pro: This $1,000 spec showdown has a clear winner

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and the iPhone 11 Pro cost the same but they're not created equally.
Monday August 10, 2020

If you ever set up a Google+ account, you might be due some money

Google+ might be gone but it’s not forgotten. At least not by the courts. On June 10, Google agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit over the “software bugs” that led to some 50 million accounts having their data leaked. The settlement is a relatively small one, just $7.5 million, but if you ever set up a Google account, you may be eligible for a piece of it: $12 to be exact.

Previous Google+ account holders have likely already received an ominous email claiming “You are not being sued,” but if you banished it to your spam folder, here are the details. All claims must by submitted by October 8 and as per usual, any claims forfeit all rights “to sue Google and/or any other released entities regarding the legal claims in this case.” If you’d like to retain these rights, you must opt-out of the settlement.

To read this article in full, please click here


Friday August 07, 2020

The best free PC games

Worth the price of admission
apex legends intro slide

Image by Respawn

There was a time when “free-to-play” was a dirty term in the games industry. There are still terrible, exploitative free-to-play games on the market—more every day, in fact.

But occasionally—occasionally—we get something...miraculous. We get a free-to-play game that doesn’t try to con players out of money or make the design intentionally boring in order to make those purchasable unlocks more exciting.

To read this article in full, please click here


Friday August 07, 2020

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ delivers iPad Pro-level hardware—but Android (or DeX) is no iPadOS

The Galaxy Tab might be a distant second to the iPad when it comes to tablet market share, but Samsung is hardly ready to concede the crown. Its newest tablet, the S7+, isn’t just its best and biggest, but it’s easily the closest you’re going to get to an iPad Pro without shopping in an Apple Store.

Samsung's Galaxy S tablets have always showcased the latest tech and specs, and the S7+ is no different. It boasts the Snapdragon 865+ processor, up to 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, a giant 10,090mAh battery, and 5G support.

But what gives the S7 its “plus” designation isn’t the specs--rather it’s the 12.4-inch screen, the biggest in a Samsung-made Android tablet since the 18.4-inch Galaxy View. That’s about two inches bigger than the 10.5-inch Tab S6 and gives Samsung a true competitor for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

To read this article in full, please click here


Friday August 07, 2020

Hisense H9G 4K UHD TV review: Excellent color and HDR performance for the price

Hisense's H9G 4K UHD TV offers an excellent picture for the price. It's available only in 55-inch and 65-inch flavors, but if that's what you're shopping for, it should be on your short-list.
Friday August 07, 2020

Owl Car Cam review: 24-hour surveillance redefines the dash cam


Friday August 07, 2020

Owl Cameras is reborn as Owlcam, rescuing bereft users and promising new products soon

Update 08/06/2020: After the startup Owl Cameras Inc. dissolved rather untidily earlier this year (see original news story below for more on that), users were stuck with expensive dash cams and no support. But there's hope! Xirgo Technologies, the company that acquired Owl Cameras Inc.'s intellectual property, has partnered with CallPass to take over the consumer service. Existing Owl customers should have received a notification via their app or email. Read more about the rehatching of Owlcam, and stay tuned for reviews of the new product promised for later this year.

To read this article in full, please click here


Friday August 07, 2020

Owl Car Cam review: The easiest, classiest, most phone-centric dash cam on the market


Friday August 07, 2020

Dash cam reviews: Catch the maniacs and meteors of daily driving

The dash cam market is changing fast, as vendors hop onto the 4K-resolution bandwagon. We just reviewed four of the first models out the door and can’t deny the allure of supercrisp 4K images. But there are caveats, which we’ll discuss below and in the individual reviews. Until we review a few more 4K models, our top picks remain 1080p dash cams, which you can find in the chart below.

Say, did you buy an Owl Car Cam? After the startup Owl Cameras Inc. shut down abruptly, users were stuck with expensive dash cams and no support. But there's hope! Xirgo Technologies, the company that acquired Owl Cameras Inc.'s intellectual property, has partnered with CallPass to take over the consumer service. Read more about the rehatching of Owlcam, and stay tuned for reviews of the new Owlcam products promised later this year.

To read this article in full, please click here


Friday August 07, 2020

Owlcam is the security-focused dash cam rehatched from failed startup Owl Cameras

Goodbye, Owl Cameras; hello, Owlcam. The well-regarded Owlcam dash cam, which nearly died when startup Owl Cameras, Inc. ran out of money earlier this year, officially rehatched Thursday as a consumer security service run by CallPass, under license from Xirgo Technologies.

Xirgo, the enterprise IoT company that acquired all the Owl Cameras intellectual property in February, 2020, will continue to develop the technology pioneered by the failed startup. The company immediately sought a partner to continue the consumer service, and in May licensed the brand to Clearwater, Florida-based CallPass.

To read this article in full, please click here


Friday August 07, 2020