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Get a $20 Digital Costco Shop Card* with a Gold Star Costco membership
Fri, 21 Jun 2024 08:00:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Everybody likes to save money, and when it comes to saving money, Costco takes it up a notch. If you’ve been wondering if it’s time to get a Costco membership, now’s the time to do it because we’re offering a $20 Digital Costco Shop Card* when you sign up for a Costco 1-Year Gold Star Membership. Your gift card will be sent to the valid email address you provide at sign-up.  Costco offers unrivaled value on everything from groceries and furniture to electronics and more. With hundreds of locations across the country, you can always find a store nearby, and start locking in savings on all kinds of products. You can also enjoy discounts on travel by shopping with Costco Travel, save at the tank with Costco Gas, and find all kinds of great deals online at Costco.com. Lock in a year’s worth of savings and more. Right now, when you sign up for a $60 Costco 1-Year Gold Star Membership, you’ll also get a $20 Digital Costco Shop Card*.   Costco 1-Year Gold Star Membership + $20 Digital Costco Shop Card – $60 See Deal StackSocial prices subject to change. *To receive a Digital Costco Shop Card, you must provide a valid email address at the time of sign-up. If you elect not to provide a valid email address, a Digital Costco Shop Card will not be emailed. Valid only for nonmembers for their first year of membership. Limit one per household. Nontransferable and may not be combined with any other promotion. New members will receive their Digital Costco Shop Card by email within 2 weeks of sign-up. Costco Shop Cards are not redeemable for cash, except as required by law. Digital Costco Shop Cards are not accepted at Gas Stations, Car Washes, or Food Court Kiosks. A Costco membership is $60 a year. An Executive Membership is an additional $60 upgrade fee a year. Each membership includes one free Household Card. May be subject to sales tax. Costco accepts all Visa cards, as well as cash, checks, debit/ATM cards, EBT and Costco Shop Cards. Departments and product selection may vary. Accessories
Age verification laws threaten Pornhub, but a VPN can help
Thu, 20 Jun 2024 22:36:30 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Picture this, you’ve settled down to enjoy your favorite adult content, you’re alone, you’ve set the mood, everything is ready. But before you can click play, you’re asked to provide multiple pictures of yourself and official ID in good lighting with the documents clearly visible. Then upload all of this and pass it through an age verification system. And then still be in the mood to get back to your original business.  This is the recent reality for many in the U.S. after certain states have passed age verification laws for adult websites. In March of this year, the popular adult site PornHub went dark in Texas in order to protest new strict laws imposed by the state requiring just such verifications, following similar standoffs in other states. Now, Pornhub is set to block access to five more states including Indiana, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, and Nebraska in response to similar age verification laws in those states as well. Fortunately, even if you live in one of these states, getting around site-specific geographical restrictions is easy enough with the right VPN. Below you’ll find more info about these new laws, how to use a VPN to access mature content, and why you should use a VPN no matter what websites you visit. What are age verification laws and why do they matter? AndrewFall/Shutterstock.com AndrewFall/Shutterstock.com AndrewFall/Shutterstock.com In recent years, age verification laws have emerged in response to a growing concern that minors can too easily access adult content online. Regulations have long struggled to keep up with the rapid pace of technology and this is seen as a belated response to the current widespread availability of online pornography. Porn and other adult content have been labeled by some as a public health crisis, with increasing rates of porn addiction and other negative psychological impacts seen as a concerning consequence, particularly to the younger generations. It’s always been illegal for minors to visit a porn site, but previously this has usually been enforced with a simple self-verification check, asking users to confirm that they are over 18 years of age. Some officials see these as too simplistic and ineffective leading to a call for stricter age verification methods. The first state to enact such a law was Louisiana in 2022. Since then, more states have followed suit and many more are considering them in their respective state legislatures as we speak. The reason why this matters is that it has far-reaching effects not just for minors, but all of us. Beyond the possible First Amendment infringements, these laws can have serious consequences for a user’s personal data. Most of these age verification systems require users to submit pictures of themselves and personal identification, which are uploaded and stored on a third-party database. Anytime personal data such as this is collected, it’s at risk from data breaches and exploitation by cybercriminals (or sovereign governments). Furthermore, there’s the issue that these restrictions will drive people away from well-regulated and legal adult content sites to less secure, shady sources potentially further endangering users. It’s not dissimilar to previous attempts to regulate pirated content — most people won’t stop pirating content if you take down the site; they’ll just find an even dodgier site to access what they want. Which states have an age verification law for adult websites? PornHub’s official statement to those trying to access its content in Texas. PornHub’s official statement to those trying to access its content in Texas. Sam Singleton PornHub’s official statement to those trying to access its content in Texas. Sam Singleton Sam Singleton Currently, nine states including Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Virginia have already enacted laws requiring verification to access adult content sites. Six more states, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, and South Dakota, are all poised to join them. Age verification bills in these states have cleared their respective legislative houses and appear on their way to becoming law soon. Currently Pornhub is blocking traffic from residents in all nine of the states with active age verification laws. On June 12 they announced further restrictions, which will take effect in July, for residents of Indiana, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, and Nebraska. How to use a VPN to access adult websites When sites like PornHub are no longer accessible in your state, the best option to turn to is a VPN. By connecting to a VPN server located in a location that isn’t affected by the ban, you’ll once again have access to all of the site’s content. When you connect to a VPN, all of your traffic is encrypted and routed through an independent server operated by the VPN provider. These servers can be located in different U.S. states, or different countries. While connected to one of these remote servers, your web traffic will exit through that server, appearing as if you’re browsing from that remote physical location instead. If you find that you’re unable to access the adult content you want in your location, you can boot up your VPN and connect to a remote server. For example, if you’re located in Texas, where PornHub has a self-imposed ban, you can connect to a VPN server in another state and then go back to PornHub and, voilà, the content should be available once again. As a side note, it’s also recommended to have a strong antivirus and ad-blocker installed and browse in incognito mode while accessing adult content. Adult websites are notorious for having annoying pop-ups and dubious links. Plus, incognito mode will save you the blushes of having these sites show up in your browser history — nobody needs to see your kinks laid out in Google’s autocomplete recommendations. If you don’t already have a VPN or are in the market for a good option, check out our roundup of the best VPNs to help you decide. PCWorld's pick for best vpn ExpressVPN Read our review Price When Reviewed: $6.67 per month Best Prices Today: $6.67 at ExpressVPN Is it legal to use a VPN to access adult content? Here is where the issue becomes tricky. There’s nothing inherently illegal about using a VPN in the U.S. The problem arises in what you do while connected to a VPN. Think of it like this, if it’s illegal to do without a VPN, then it’s still illegal to do with a VPN. For example, if you’re underage, accessing adult content is illegal with or without a VPN. Since some laws vary state to state, it’s important to research and properly understand the laws and regulations surrounding adult content in your own legal jurisdiction before attempting to access any of this content — via VPN or not. The content in this article should only be used as guidance to get around certain adult sites’ restrictions, such as PornHub’s recent embargo. It should not be construed as advice nor advocacy to circumvent any state or federal laws. VPN
Microsoft hunts for fix to annoying Windows 10 taskbar bug
Thu, 20 Jun 2024 18:17:19 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Microsoft has confirmed an annoying bug in Windows 10: users who right-click on the taskbar are shown an incorrect “Open with” dialogue with the meaningless “How do you want to open the file?” instead of the usual drop-down lists and program-specific context menu. This problem is apparently caused by some of the latest updates that Microsoft provided for Windows veterans in recent months. Windows 10 version 22H2 and Windows 10 version 21H2 are both affected. get windows 11 pro for cheap Windows 11 Pro Price When Reviewed: 199.99 Best Prices Today: $59 at PCWorld Store – Win 11 Pro Upgrade Only | $79.99 at PCWorld Software Store Specifically, optional update KB5036979 from April 2024 is causing this misbehavior, as reported by BleepingComputer. Updates KB5039211 (June 2024), KB5037849 (May 2024, optional) and KB5037768 (May 2024) are also said to cause this problem. Microsoft writes: After installing the April 23, 2024 Windows update (KB5036979) and updates released after it, certain applications may display an “Open with” dialogue box asking you how you want to open this file. This problem can occur when you click with the mouse on an application icon in the taskbar or in the Start menu and right-click on the application to perform a task in that application. As a result, the “Open with” dialogue box may appear instead of running the selected task. Microsoft continues: This issue has been reported by users of Teams, the new Outlook for Windows, and Snip & Sketch. This issue may also affect other applications if you right-click on their icon to find a context menu with a list of tasks. However, not all computers seem to be affected by the problem. On some, the right-click menu works as usual. Microsoft says it’s working on a solution to the problem and will make it available with an update. Until then, you’ll have to select the desired tasks directly in the menus of their respective programs. Windows
This dual USB wall plug is just $18 and charges phones really fast
Thu, 20 Jun 2024 16:54:15 +0000
Source: PCWorld
I hate having to search the house for that “one” wall charger that actually has enough oomph to fast charge my phone. But that issue is easily solved with a handful of fast chargers around the house. And now’s a great time to stock up because Belkin’s Dual Wall Charger is currently on sale for $18 at Walmart, down from its usual $25. This compact and speedy Belkin charger is perfect for when you need a reliable charging plug, whether at home or out and about. This charger features dual USB ports—one 25W USB-C and one 12W USB-A, for a total output of 37 watts—and it has Programmable Power Supply (PPS) technology that dynamically adjusts voltage depending on what kind of device is plugged in. It’s ideal for charging multiple devices simultaneously, and it’s versatile enough to work with iPhones, Samsungs, and more. Another nice point: it’s tiny! While the prongs don’t fold away, it’s still small enough to toss in a bag and take with you while traveling if needed. Otherwise, keep it plugged in at home without being an eyesore. If I were you, I’d hurry because this deal won’t last forever. With the Belkin Dual Wall Charger for just under $18, this is a great opportunity to save money on something you won’t regret. This dual-USB Belkin wall plug is so cheapGet it now at Walmart Mobile Phone Chargers
This humble flash drive is really a speedy 1TB SSD – and it’s $50 off
Thu, 20 Jun 2024 16:17:26 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Even though portable SSDs have become quite compact these days, still nothing compares to the SK Hynix Tube T31, which is an SSD the size of a thumb drive. And wouldn’t you know it? This 1TB tiny SSD is only $85 at Amazon right now, down from $135. (Snip the coupon!) This compact stick-type SSD is a solid solution for gamers and professionals who require high-speed data transfer in a small enough package that can slip right into a pocket. The SK Hynix Tube T31 boasts lightning-fast data transfer speeds of up to 1,000MB/s (10Gbps), making it possible to transfer large files in seconds. And with its 1TB capacity, you’ll be able to load and unload all kinds of size-heavy files, like videos and games. You can use the Tube T31 with pretty much any device, including PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, as well as Windows and macOS computers. Imagine seamlessly moving your data between different devices and platforms in a flash! The 1TB version of the SK Hynix Tube T31 at $85 is a remarkable deal you won’t want to miss. (Don’t forget to apply the $15 coupon!) If you want to spend a tiny bit less, you can opt for the 512GB version that’s down to $80—but the extra $5 is worth it for double the storage space. The 1TB SK Hynix Tube T31 is only $85Claim this deal on Amazon Computer Storage Devices
Best monitor arms 2024: The ultimate in flexibility
Thu, 20 Jun 2024 16:00:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
A quality monitor arm is one of the best upgrades you can make to your home office setup. A monitor arm gives you more ways to move and position your display/s around your desk, and it can free up usable space on your desk surface. Plus, a monitor arm can make your desk setup look really cool. The only catch is the price. Most monitor arms worth buying will cost close to $200, and heavy-duty arms capable of holding two large displays are even pricier. The good news is that if you buy a good-quality monitor arm, you’ll likely never need to replace it. That’s why it’s important to choose wisely with your first monitor arm purchase. To help you with that, we’ve put several popular monitor arms through their paces to find the best of the bunch. Below you’ll find our curated list of recommended monitor arms, with thorough explanations of what qualities made them stand out. And below that, we point out some arms that we weren’t so keen on — to provide a point of comparison. If you’re still on the fence about whether a monitor arm is worth the money and the time it takes to set up, read our article that answers why a monitor arm is most definitely worth it. If you’re looking for a new monitor to go with your monitor arm, see our roundups of the best monitors and best home office monitors for recommendations. We recently reviewed the Dell S2722QC, which offers a compelling combination of 4K resolution, USB-C connectivity, and affordability, making it a nice addition to any home office. Ergotron LX – Best monitor arm Price When Reviewed: $172.33 Best Prices Today: $183.99 at Amazon$205 at Lenovo$275 at CDW The Ergotron LX is a sturdy, practical monitor arm that can handle most monitors. It’s easy to set up, easy to use, and (when purchased in its white or polished aluminum colorway) attractive. Ergotron positions the LX as an entry-level monitor arm, but the company’s definition of “entry level” exceeds most competitors. The arm is primarily constructed from metal, with some plastic cladding, and can support monitors that weigh up to 25 pounds. Ergotron recommends sticking to monitors 34 inches wide or smaller. The monitor arm is backed by a 10-year warranty. The arm has a healthy range of adjustment that includes 13 inches of lift, 75 degrees of tilt, 360 degrees of rotation, and 360 degrees of pan (or swivel). While not as smooth as the Herman Miller Flo, I was able to adjust the monitor arm left, right, forward, and back without standing. Setup is simple. The monitor has an included clamp and grommet mount. Installation is mostly handled with a bundled Allen wrench, though you’ll still need a Philips head screwdriver to attach your monitor to the VESA mount. Most owners will be able to install smaller monitors (24 to 27 inches) alone, but help is recommended for larger displays. Ergotron also avoids any serious flaws. I have a few nitpicks, sure. I think the clamp could be smaller. The white colorway doesn’t have a color coordinated VESA mount. And the arm’s overall design looks a bit industrial. Still, this is a bomb-proof mount, and it’s available under $200.   Workstream by Monoprice – Best budget monitor arm Price When Reviewed: $59.99 Best Prices Today: $52.34 at Amazon$59.99 at Monoprice$59.99 at Walmart The Workstream by Monoprice single monitor arm is a no-frills solution that delivers basic monitor arm features at an exceptionally low price. The monitor arm has an all-metal construction that in some ways feels sturdier than the Ergotron LX, as the Workstream doesn’t include as much plastic cladding. It’s not entirely a win, though, as the plastic that exists feels frail (and I even broke a small, though unnoticeable, bit while adjusting the monitor). It provides a good range of adjustment, with 13.2 inches of height and 90 degrees of tilt, swivel, and rotation. The arm’s height and tilt adjustment are comparable to others on this list, but it can’t swivel in a full circle, which may prove annoying if you frequently move a monitor arm to share your screen with colleagues. The Workstream’s slim budget is felt in its difficult setup and stiff operation. Users will need to install several screws for a clamp or gromet mount. More screws may need to be adjusted once the arm is in place, as its default tension proved inadequate for supporting a 32-inch monitor. Monoprice lists the monitor as capable of supporting 20 pounds, but I felt the 32-inch monitor (which weighed 15 pounds) was pushing the Workstream to its limits. Monoprice also skimps on the warranty, offering just one year of coverage. These flaws are easily excused by the Workstream’s $60 price tag. It’s clearly less capable, less attractive, and more difficult to use than Ergotron’s LX, but it offers a good range of adjustment and durable construction for less than half the price. It’s an ideal choice for shoppers on a tight budget, as well as those who plan to install a small, light 24-inch or 27-inch monitor. Herman Miller Flo – Best upscale monitor arm Price When Reviewed: $295.00 Best Prices Today: $295 at Herman Miller Want a monitor arm that gets the job done and looks good doing it? The Herman Miller Flo is for you. The Flo’s design sets it apart from the pack. Herman Miller ditches the angular, industrial design of many competitors for a smooth, natural look. While clearly designed for a corporate office, it also fits in with a home office setup, where its friendly, approachable look helps it blend in with its surroundings. The Flo is backed by a 12-year warranty and offers 24/7 customer service. It’s easy to set up and use. The monitor’s clamp works similarly to other monitor arms I tested, but it’s more refined and requires fewer screws (a grommet is also available). The VESA mount is also excellent, providing a simple clip design that’s secure and can be easily pre-mounted to a monitor for simple installation. The way this mount works accommodates monitors that have a slightly recessed mount position, which may cause problems for other monitor arms. The monitor’s range of adjustment isn’t much different from other high-end monitor arms. It offers 13.3 inches of vertical adjustment, 80 degrees of tilt, and 360 degrees of swivel and rotation. That’s essentially identical to the less expensive Ergotron LX. The Flo’s operation is smoother, however: I found I could adjust a monitor’s height with a mere nudge. Surprisingly, the Flo has a listed weight limit of 20 pounds and recommends use with monitors weighing at least 7 pounds. Most monitors fit within this range, but some heavier models won’t be compatible with the Flo. Herman Miller lists the Flo at $295, which is a lot to ask for a single-monitor arm. The Ergotron LX offers similar features at a much lower price. However, the Flo is a smoother, more appealing monitor arm, and worth the upgrade if you want form with your function. Ergotron HX – Best heavy-duty monitor arm Price When Reviewed: $345.00 Best Prices Today: $339.99 at Amazon$345 at Lenovo$345 at Walmart It’s natural, given the only slight difference in name, to think the Ergotron HX is merely an uprated version of the Ergotron LX. That’s not the case. This is an entirely different monitor arm which pairs its increased capacity with improved build quality and a more professional look. First, let’s talk weight. The Ergotron HX is rated to hold monitors that weigh up to 42 pounds and screen sizes up to 49 inches. That’s an extraordinarily high weight limit—I haven’t reviewed a single monitor in 2023 that exceeds it. I attached both a 32-inch widescreen and 38-inch ultrawide monitor, which weighed roughly 15 and 20 pounds, respectively, and the HX easily handled both. The use of plastic is minimal and reserved for small portions of cladding that appear used only for cable routing. The arm’s moving parts include larger, sturdier mechanisms, and felt extremely smooth in my use. Ergotron backs the arm with a 10-year warranty. The monitors range of adjustment is a bit limited compared to the LX. It offers 11.5 inches of height, 75 degrees of tilt, 180 degrees of swivel, and 360 degrees of rotation. However, a somewhat more limited height adjustment is typical in this category due to the size of monitors these stands are expected to carry. The monitor arm’s impressive design also provides a more robust look. This could be a con for some, however, as the arm can seem a bit…much in a home office setup. It’s an expensive arm, as well. Expect to pay about $350. The Ergotron HX is an obvious choice if you want to mount an ultrawide, super-ultrawide, or large format widescreen monitor on your desk. Humanscale M2.1 with M/Connect – Best monitor arm w/ built-in dock Price When Reviewed: $356 (dock starts at an additional $214) Best Prices Today: $356 at Humanscale The Humanscale M2.1 with M/Connect laptop docking station is an attractive, robust, and modern monitor arm that can expand your laptop’s connectivity without taking up additional space on your desktop. Humanscale’s entry-level M2.1 doesn’t include a laptop dock, but it’s designed to accommodate the M/Connect 3, which nestles snuggly into the base of the arm. Most home office shoppers will likely choose the M/Connect 3 USB Data Hub, which currently retails for $253 (on top of the M2.1’s base price of $356). The hub adds three USB-C ports and two USB-A ports. If you want even more ports, the $600 M/Connect 3 Pro Dock adds two more USB-A ports, two more USB-C, Ethernet, and two DisplayPort ports. The M/Connect 3’s added connectivity is an excellent way to expand the ports on a laptop. Its central location makes the ports easy to access and keeps them firmly located in a set position on your desk (as opposed to freestanding hubs and adapters, which tend to get shoved around, or off, a desk). It’s also a good alternative to a USB-C monitor. We like USB-C monitors, but packing connectivity into the monitor can make it difficult to access some ports, as most are located on the rear of the display. Connectivity aside, the Humanscale M2.1 is a robust, if conventional, monitor arm. It can handle monitors between 5 and 15 pounds, which is enough to support the vast majority of widescreen monitors under 32 inches in size. It also has a “smart stop” feature, which lets users customize the amount of rotation the arm allows, and easy-to-use quick release joints that are handy when disassembling or moving the arm. The arm isn’t as smooth in operation as the Herman Miller Flo, but it remains easy enough to adjust. Ergotron LX Dual Monitor Arm – Best dual monitor arm Price When Reviewed: $356.41 Best Prices Today: $401 at Amazon$405 at Lenovo$415 at CDW Two monitors are always better than one, and the same goes for monitor arms. It’s no surprise, then, that Ergotron’s LX Side-by-Side ranks as our best dual monitor arm. The Ergotron LX Side-by-Side pairs two LX monitor arms together on one mount. The look, feel, and specifications of each arm are close to its standalone sibling. Monitor size is one exception: While the standard LX is rated for monitors up to 34 inches, the Side-by-Side’s arm is only rated for monitors up to 27 inches. The monitor arms aren’t long enough to fit two 32-inch or 34-inch monitors side-by-side. Vertical arrangements are also supported, though only if one of the two monitors is small (less than 23 inches diagonal). Look and feel is otherwise similar to the standard Ergotron LX, and that’s why the dual monitor arm also earns a recommendation. The dual-monitor arm provides the same winning balance of build quality, adjustability, and smooth operation, and it’s backed by the same 10-year warranty.  Pricing is a bit higher at $330, which is a slight savings compared to buying two LX arms individually. Workstream by Monoprice Dual Monitor Arm – Best budget dual monitor arm Price When Reviewed: $99.99 Best Prices Today: $84.99 at Walmart$99.99 at Monoprice The same logic that applies to our favorite dual monitor arm also to the budget model, giving Monoprice’s Workstream Dual Monitor Arm a clear path to victory. In fact, the dual arm’s pricing is even more impressive. The Workstream Dual Monitor is four times less expensive than the Ergotron LX Side-by-Side. I’m a bit shocked by the quality Monoprice can offer at a $100 price point. Ergotron’s alternative is more attractive and easier to use, but is it four times better? That’s a tough call. The Workstream’s downsides are identical to standard model. Build quality is impressive for the price, but the arm is difficult to set up and not as smooth in operation. I’m also doubtful the arm is capable of handling two 20-pound monitors, as its spec sheets claim. Fortunately, 27-inch monitors (the largest this arm can handle side-by-side) usually weigh less than 10 pounds, so weight capacity shouldn’t be an issue. Huanuo HNDS12 – Best mid-range dual monitor arm Price When Reviewed: $139.99 Best Prices Today: $139.99 at Amazon$139.99 at Huanuo The Huanuo HNDS12 represents a middle ground for shoppers who want an upgrade in quality but need to respect their budget. Each monitor arm is almost all metal with only a small piece of plastic to provide cable routing. The arm also has gas springs capable of lifting up to 26 pounds of weight, which is enough to handle 32-inch widescreen and 34-inch ultrawide monitors. There’s one unusual feature: a USB hub. This includes two USB ports that are placed at the front of the arm base. Each of these will need to plug in to your computer, which might be a problem if you have a laptop with just a few ports, but it’s a functional bonus. The Huanuo HNDS12, like the HNDS6 (below), is a bit fiddly to set up. It has two clamps that need to be adjusted and roughly a dozen screws that need to be installed. The gas springs also require a bit of adjustment to reduce the force provide, at least when used with a 24-inch or 27-inch monitor.  Still, the HNDS12 is a good pick at its regular retail price of $140, which often drops as low as $110 when on sale. It looks attractive and offers plenty of force for holding larger monitors. Monitor arms that we don’t recommend Humanscale M8.1 Price When Reviewed: $545 Best Prices Today: $545 at Humanscale Humanscale is synonymous with high-end office furniture: The Freedom chair is something of an icon in executive offices across the globe. But Humanscale’s high-end office hardware is at times an awkward fit for a home office, as the M8.1 demonstrates. The Humanscale M8.1 looks similar to the M2.1, but it’s upgraded to handle monitors between 6 and 28 pounds (almost double the M2.1 in our list above). That’s enough to handle nearly any monitor available today, including large ultrawides like the Dell Ultrasharp U4025QW. The arm can also handle two monitors of the appropriate combined weight and offers a “crossbar” to support them both on a single arm. That’s good, and useful, but pricing is an obstacle. The arm starts at $545, but the crossbar (required to use two monitors) ups the price to $686. The M/Connect 3 laptop dock is also available to the M8.1 but, of course, adds even more to the price. That’s a bit hard to accept when the Ergotron HX, which supports monitors up to 42 pounds, starts at $350, or $585 for the dual-monitor crossbar version. Ergotron’s alternative feels as sturdy, supports even larger and heavier displays, and is less expensive. The Humanscale M8.1 has features you won’t find on the Ergotron, such as an optional laptop dock and customizable arm rotation, and it’s a fine selection if price is no obstacle. In most cases, though, the M8.1’s price will be hard to justify. Huanuo HNDS6 Price When Reviewed: $67.99 Best Prices Today: $59.99 at Amazon$67.99 at Huanuo Huanuo’s HNDS6 is a budget dual-monitor arm that’s popular on Amazon (in fact, it’s listed as the best-seller in Computer Monitor Arms). It provides a reasonable level of quality at a low price but fails to unseat the Workspace by Monoprice Dual Monitor Arm on our list. We’ll begin with the positives, which, to be clear, outweigh the problems. The Huanuo HNDS6 carefully walks the value tightrope to deliver a decent dual-monitor arm at a typical price of $60 (which can dip below $50 on sale). The arm’s metal construction feels rigid and looks durable. Each arm is rated to hold between 4.4 and 14.3 pounds. That’s not a lot: The Workstream by Monoprice arm is rated up to 20 pounds. Still, it’s enough to handle a huge majority of 24- and 27-inch monitors, and the monitor arms provided plenty of lift in our testing. We’re not a fan of the arm’s installation. It has two clamps instead of one unified clamp, which is strange, because the base of the monitor arm is one solid piece. There are roughly a dozen screws to install. And the included cable routing can prove hard to tighten once several cables are held within the routing. The Huanuo HNDS6 is a decent dual-monitor arm for the price and worthwhile on a discount (it was once sold for just $38). In general, though, we think the Monoprice Workstream Dual Monitor Arm provides more for a similar price. What to look for in a monitor arm Purchasing a monitor arm is a bit different from purchasing most home office gear. A monitor arm, unlike a monitor, is a hefty, durable piece of equipment that never really goes obsolete. It must also support the specific functions you want out of the box, since upgrades and customization tend to be limited. Adjustability and range of motion The range of adjustability and motion a monitor arm can offer is a critical but often overlooked feature. A monitor arm should adjust for height, tilt, swivel, and pivot—and it should do so without tools. All the monitor arms we recommend meet this standard, but some differences remain. Only some monitor arms provide 360 degrees of swivel, meaning the neck of the monitor arm can be rotated to any position. That’s handy if your desk is in the middle of your room since you can use the monitor from various positions. Most inexpensive monitor arms ditch adjustability and stick with simple tension mechanisms that are secured by a screw. It’s inexpensive but fixes the monitor’s position in place once it’s adjusted. We recommend avoiding mounts that use this strategy. Ease of installation and adjustment None of the monitor arms tested were difficult to install, but the difference between budget and premium models was clear. Budget models require more screws to install, and the default tension of the arm’s adjustment mechanism is less likely to be suitable out-of-the-box. The ease of adjustment varies greatly, too. All the monitor arms we surveyed require an Allen wrench to adjust tension (which is necessary if the arm seems too stiff or loose), but some were much more difficult than others. The Herman Miller Flo felt smooth and effortless, while the Workstream by Monoprice required serious torque. Cable management Proper cable management is important if you value a clean, clutter-free desk. This is one aspect of design that didn’t improve with pricing. The Herman Miller Flo’s cable management was basic, while the Workstream by Monoprice hid cables well. This did come with a trade-off, though, as the Flo’s seemed least likely to cause cables to bind while moving the monitor. While cable management is useful, none of the monitor arms I tested can handle the full complement of cables that might be attached to a high-end USB-C monitor (like the Dell U3223QE). This is an aspect of monitor arm design that manufacturers could improve. Maximum supported size and weight It’s important to buy a monitor arm that can handle the monitor you own. This won’t be a major concern if you own a 24-inch or 27-inch monitor, as most such monitors weigh 10 pounds or less. With that said, it’s wise to double-check the monitor’s weight before buying a monitor arm. Remember the monitor’s weight can exclude its stand. Larger 32-inch, 34-inch, and 49-inch monitors are more difficult to handle and may require an upgrade to a “heavy duty” monitor arm. Monitor size limits should be respected as well. It might be possible to attach a 40-inch monitor to an arm meant for a 32-inch monitor. The 40-inch monitor may even come within the arm’s weight limit. A larger monitor will distribute weight differently, however, which could cause an arm’s tension mechanism to fail. How we test monitor arms Every monitor arm we recommend was personally tested first-hand at a PC World contributor’s home or the PC World office. We examine the quality, ease of installation, and range of adjustment of each arm to verify it meets the manufacturer’s claims. The monitors we use to test arms can vary over time, but generally include at least one 27-inch and one 32-inch widescreen monitor. Monitor arms rated for “heavy duty” use were tested with at least one monitor that weighs 20 pounds or more. FAQ 1. Is a monitor arm worth it? Whether a monitor arm is worth the price is subjective, but we believe our recommended monitor arms are worth making the investment. A monitor arm is easier to use than a stand, allows a wider range of adjustment, and keeps your desk clear of clutter. They’re also durable—there’s a good chance you’ll replace a monitor before the monitor arm. 2. Are monitor arms compatible with my monitor? Nearly all monitors, and nearly all monitor arms, use the VESA mounting standard. The 100x100mm bolt pattern is by far the most common, though 75x75mm is sometimes used as an alternative. All the monitor arms we recommend support both bolt patterns. Not sure that your monitor supports VESA? Check the rear of the monitor. The VESA mount can be found in the center of the monitor, and the bolt pattern can be verified with a ruler or tape measure. This is likely beneath the neck of your monitor’s stand if you have one attached. It’s possible to mount a monitor that lacks a VESA mount, but you’ll need to purchase a VESA adapter. It’s a large, X-shaped device that clamps to the rear of the monitor. 3. Are monitor arms compatible with my desk? Most monitor arms offer two mounting options: clamp and gromet. A clamp mount is the most common for home office use. A U-shaped clamp fits over an edge of your desk. A screw mechanism is used to secure it. Most clamps are adjusted by hand and fit a wide range of desks. It’s important to double-check a monitor arm’s specifications if your desk is more than an inch thick, as some clamp mounts are too small to work with a thick desk surface. The clamp also requires an edge that’s free of obstructions on both the top and bottom of the desk. Grommet mounts insert into the circular cut-outs found on many desks built and sold for corporate offices. A grommet mount is also a form of clamp, but size of the mechanism is different, and the mount attaches the monitor to the interior of the desk instead of an exterior edge. Nearly all monitor arms ship with a clamp and grommet mount, but grommet mounts are less common. It’s wise to double-check that a grommet mount is supported if that’s how you plan to mount the monitor arm. 4. Will a monitor arm damage my desk? It’s possible that a monitor arm’s clamp mount, if used, will cause minor damage to your desk. It may scratch the desk’s surface when mounted or removed, and over-torquing the clamp might cause a dent on some softer desks, such as those which use a veneer over particleboard. A glass desk can also prove troublesome—refer to the desk’s manufacturer to make sure it’s safe to use a monitor arm. 5. Do monitor arms wobble? A quality monitor arm will tame minimal monitor wobble, though some might come through if the arm is mounted to a thin, light desk. Make sure to mount the monitor arm to a secure surface and adjust the arm’s tension to a level suitable for the monitor you’ve mounted. 6. Should I buy a $25 monitor arm on Amazon? A monitor arm’s price tag can intimidate budget shoppers. Most budget monitors sell for $200 or less. Spending another $150 to $300 for a monitor arm can seem hard to justify. Still, we encourage shoppers to avoid cheap monitor arms found on Amazon and other retailers. The least expensive monitor arms lack a dynamic tension mechanism, like a gas piston or spring. A few arms in the $35 to $50 range use a gas piston, but it’s often a wimpy example barely sufficient for holding a 27-inch monitor. Inexpensive monitor arms also lean more heavily on plastic. That’s not necessarily a problem out-of-the-box, but plastic tends to become brittle over time, which may reduce the lifespan of a monitor arm. Accessories, Computer Accessories, Monitors
Stay cool this summer in any room with this $190 portable AC
Thu, 20 Jun 2024 15:52:41 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Even though the PCWorld team is global, we’re all melting from heat waves and complaining about them daily. This has sparked quite a few chats about portable AC units—and if you need relief from sweltering hot weather, now’s your chance to jump on a fantastic deal. This Coolblus Portable AC is down to $190 right now, down from its list price of $248 for a savings of $58 (23% off). Suppose you’re looking to cool down a specific room in your home and you don’t want to upgrade your central AC system—or you don’t even have one to begin with. That’s when you need a portable AC, like this one that delivers 3-in-1 functionality. In addition to cooling down your room, it also works as a dehumidifier and a fan with adjustable speed and auto air swing, which helps distribute the cold air better and cool the space down faster. This 8,500 BTU model is perfect for rooms of up to 360 sq. ft., able to cool things down to your desired temperatures within 15 minutes. It also has a Sleep Mode, which quietly keeps you cool through the night with reduced volume. It’s also energy efficient with a CEER of 6.5, and it uses eco-friendly R32 refrigerant for peace of mind that your energy bill won’t explode. Important: As with any portable AC, you’ll need a container for the drainage pipe (to eliminate condensation) and you’ll need to place it close to a window where you can connect the exhaust hose (to eliminate the hot air that’s pulled from your room). Fortunately, it comes with a window slide bar and adapter for easy setup. With summer now heating up, you’ll want a portable AC sooner rather than later. Save $58 on this Coolblus Portable AC with this limited-time deal and look forward to a more comfortable summer this year. The 8,500 BTU Coolblus Portable AC is $190Get it now on Amazon Gadgets
Jonsbo’s new wood SFF case is adorable and functional
Thu, 20 Jun 2024 15:52:38 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Small form factor PC builds are as popular as they’ve ever been, maybe more so. But it’s become pretty rare to see a case that’s actually designed to take advantage of the small size and let you carry it around. The new Jonsbo T6 does just that, and adds in some practicality for when it’s sitting on your desk, too. Jonsbo is a smaller China-based case manufacturer that doesn’t pop up much here in the west, but I’ve admired some of its unique designs, like the D41 that puts a case-mounted screen somewhere it might actually be useful. The T6 is more about trending wood aesthetics and teeny-tiny mini-ITX sensibilities, but it’s also got a few ideas that make it more useful than the standard SFF design. The top-mounted handle not only matches the front wood finish, it makes this thing “luggable” in the old-fashioned sense. “But Michael,” I hear you cry, “I haven’t been to a LAN party since 2003. After I build my fabulously stylish mini-ITX PCs, they sit on my desk until I build another one.” I’m glad you pointed that out, convenient strawman reader. If you prefer your SFF builds a little more sedentary, you can move that handle to the front of the case where it makes a perfect headset holder. You can even put it on the side to…hold tiny figurines, apparently. Of course if you prefer a cleaner look, you can just leave the handle off entirely. Jonsbo Jonsbo Jonsbo The T6 comes in black and silver models, both with a glass panel on the right side of the case in a bit of a departure from the standard; the motherboard is mounted to the left side. The entire bottom is taken up by space for a 140mm-long power supply (looks like a tight fit for modular cables), with two 2.5-inch drives mountable above it. As Tom’s Hardware points out, you might want to opt for an SFF PSU just to be on the safe side. It has plenty of room for an air-cooled CPU with a 160mm of cooler clearance, but if there’s an Achilles heel it’s the GPU support. You can only get a 215mm length card in there, severely limiting your options. Even with Nvidia’s new SFF standard, that’s going to max out your power at approximately the RTX 4070 level (if you’re lucky). Jonsbo Jonsbo Jonsbo Even so, I bet there will be plenty of builders eager to try out this new design. It has that trendy cottagecore wood aesthetic with the good old “maximum power, minimum footprint” feel. There’s no indication of how much it’ll cost or when you can buy it, but Jonsbo cases tend to be on the more affordable side of the market. Computer Components
Good news! Most apps I’ve tried on Microsoft’s Copilot+ Surface just work
Thu, 20 Jun 2024 15:29:05 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Have you been burned before by Windows on Arm? Are you worried whether the apps you need will actually run on Copilot+ PCs? I was, too. But after playing around with one myself, I’m fairly optimistic that those days are over, as Qualcomm executives promised. After receiving a Surface Pro (2024) 11th Edition from Microsoft for review, I spent a good chunk of my first day just downloading various applications and seeing if they’d run—and if they did, how well. I came away with three key conclusions: First, this is indeed a productivity tablet, and Microsoft and Qualcomm have done a good job making sure most common productivity application work without hassle. Second, Copilot+ PCs are not gaming PCs, and there’s a good chance your favorite games won’t even run. Third, the type of app you run on the tablet matters in an absolutely enormous way. If you run an emulated app, especially on battery, expect battery life to drop considerably as the Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite chip chews through the unoptimized code. Here’s what I’ve found through my testing so far. This is not an absolutely exhaustive list! There may be apps that I haven’t tried out that hide issues or performance problems. Browsers on Arm: Spoiled for choice Most browsers are now available in Arm versions, so I didn’t expect much trouble running any of the popular ones. (The only major browser without a native Arm version is the latest Arc browser, which Arc won’t even let you download to a Copilot+ PC right now.) Chrome, the most popular browser by user count, worked just fine browsing a number of rich media sites. My browser extensions—which are mainly ad-blocking—worked as well. I also tried Firefox, Vivaldi, Opera, and Brave to great results. The only glitch I noticed was that Brave would crash when I tried to import settings from another browser. Some browsers (and apps) will call out the Windows on Arm version, just to be sure you’re downloading an optimized app. Some browsers (and apps) will call out the Windows on Arm version, just to be sure you’re downloading an optimized app.Mark Hachman / IDG Some browsers (and apps) will call out the Windows on Arm version, just to be sure you’re downloading an optimized app.Mark Hachman / IDG Mark Hachman / IDG I couldn’t help but try to determine which browser would prove to be the best browser for Copilot+ PCs, so I ran the available browsers through some benchmarks to come up with an answer. There are two browsers that definitively pull away from the pack, but I really didn’t notice many differences between them. They all handled the multimedia-rich sites I surfed, plus a handful of plugins. Productivity apps: Slack is back on track If you’ve followed our earlier reviews, you’re aware that Microsoft’s tablets run Microsoft’s Office (Microsoft 365) apps just fine. I spent just a few minutes confirming this. Stay tuned for a future story on benchmarks, specifically PCMark 10’s Apps benchmark, which measure the performance of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and the Edge browser. We’ll compare them to the older Surface Pro 9 as well as other Intel Core Ultra devices. I was able to edit an existing Clipchamp video template, adding new text, transitions, and music. It worked just fine, too. I have yet to try Microsoft’s PowerToys utilities, but the download page reports an Arm version, which seems promising. I have yet to try Microsoft Teams, as my “team” was out for the Juneteenth holiday. The Microsoft Teams (new) app loaded, crashed once, then opened as expected when I relaunched it. Zoom was one of the few applications that has some quirks. I wasn’t able to test calling with coworkers, but Zoom hasn’t yet migrated video avatars to its Arm port, so that’s one of the features that’s unavailable to Copilot+ PCs. But that seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Be careful that you don’t click the big button to download Zoom, as it will give you the x86 version. The Arm version is hidden behind a much smaller link. Zoom avatars aren’t supported by Windows on Arm and Copilot+ PCs, at least not yet. Zoom avatars aren’t supported by Windows on Arm and Copilot+ PCs, at least not yet.Mark Hachman Zoom avatars aren’t supported by Windows on Arm and Copilot+ PCs, at least not yet.Mark Hachman Mark Hachman Slack, the popular communication app, was one of the notorious apps that never quite worked well on Arm. But Slack published a 64-bit beta for Windows on Arm machines not long ago, and it seems to do the trick. I was able to send messages back and forth across a couple of machines, play videos back, and so forth. I wasn’t able to test some advanced features yet, like video and audio chats, but Slack’s core features appear to work just fine now on Arm. Stream to your heart’s content on Arm Streaming services worked great on the Surface Pro (2024) 11th Edition. I used the web version of YouTube to stream my standard 4K test stream that I use while testing Thunderbolt docks and USB-C hubs and it worked without a hitch, dropping just a handful of frames. I downloaded the Netflix and Prime Video apps and watched video from those services, too. (Only 1080p, no 4K because the pricing is exobitant.) I haven’t tried Hulu, but Disney+ and Tiktok ran flawlessly as well. I used the Microsoft Store versions of each of these apps. As far as prerecorded movies go, I have some older videos in various MPEG and older formats, so I downloaded VLC to take care of those. VLC has a native 64-bit Arm version, which worked just as well as my copy for x86 processors, as far as I could tell. I also used the open-source OBS tool (which has an Arm version) to do some screen recordings. To be honest, I should dive a little deeper to check what format it was recording in, but I noticed no stuttering or hitches in either the app or the recorded video, which was in 1080p. The preinstalled Spotify had absolutely no problem loading playlists or playing back or searching out music. I can tell you that the Surface Pro (2024) 11th Edition retains the Surface knack of loud, crisp, audio, though it does get a little distorted at roughly 75 percent volume or above. Content creation apps look good so far Adobe Photoshop has a native Arm version, and I was able to download, install, and run it with my company’s Creative Cloud subscription from the Adobe Creative Cloud app. It appeared to be full featured with all of the AI elements intact, though the generative art is still generated by the cloud, not locally. I plan to run some benchmarks for a future story measuring Photoshop’s performance more exactly. I do not have a subscription to Adobe Lightroom, however. Adobe Photoshop approves of the Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite’s Adreno GPU. Adobe Photoshop approves of the Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite’s Adreno GPU.Mark Hachman / IDG Adobe Photoshop approves of the Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite’s Adreno GPU.Mark Hachman / IDG Mark Hachman / IDG And while I haven’t been able to test it personally, you should know that Adobe Premiere Pro is catching flak for issues on Copilot+ PCs. Some reviewers are saying that videos take twice as long to encode versus Meteor Lake CPUs, and the app slows down when GPU-based effects are in play. Samsung also warns of Copilot+ PC incompatibility with Adobe After Effects, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe InDesign. I haven’t yet tried Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve, but Qualcomm has been trumpeting their Arm port since last fall, which I tried then. It didn’t have any issues then, so I don’t imagine it has any now. Games are a problem for Copilot+ PCs Games are a huge stumbling block for Copilot+ PCs right now. Here’s how the story has played out so far: Qualcomm initially said that most PC games on Steam would be totally playable on Copilot+ PCs, then started backing off. Qualcomm will have its hands full optimizing games in perpetuity. Then, a top Microsoft Surface exec told me that Surfaces would excel in running productivity apps, not games. As my testing above shows, that seems accurate. All cloud games, all the time on the first Copilot+ PCs. All cloud games, all the time on the first Copilot+ PCs.Mark Hachman / IDG All cloud games, all the time on the first Copilot+ PCs.Mark Hachman / IDG Mark Hachman / IDG When I opened the Xbox app on the Surface Pro (2024) 11th Edition, I expected to find at least one game I could play natively on the tablet. Nope! As it turns out, Microsoft just waved local gaming away and made every game on the Xbox app only playable via cloud gaming. To be fair, those cloud games do work. I tried the very timing-dependent MLB: The Show via cloud gaming and managed to swat a few big flies in the game’s home-run derby. But I also tried two games locally on the tablet: Neon Chrome (a simple top-down 3D shooter) and Saints Row IV (a more complex action-adventure game). The first ran without issue, at full frame rate. The latter downloaded but couldn’t get past Epic’s services; when downloaded from Steam, it ran just fine even though Epic stuck its nose in. I haven’t tried any other games as of yet. A game like Neon Chrome runs perfectly on a Copilot+ PC, but it’s not that demanding to begin with. A game like Neon Chrome runs perfectly on a Copilot+ PC, but it’s not that demanding to begin with.Mark Hachman / IDG A game like Neon Chrome runs perfectly on a Copilot+ PC, but it’s not that demanding to begin with.Mark Hachman / IDG Mark Hachman / IDG Not all of our testing apps work flawlessly, either. PCMark—one of our benchmarking tools—refused to run as it wasn’t coded for Arm, and it declined to use Microsoft’s Prism to emulate its testing software. With the related 3DMark software, also designed by UL (Underwriter Labs), there were occasional graphics glitches in the user interface. A brief note for VPNs on Arm The problem that I have is this: apps like the best password managers tend to feature web interfaces, so any browser will generally work. Services like the best VPNs, however, require both an app and a subscription. Our VPN analyst, Sam Singleton, would need a Copilot+ PC to evaluate how well VPNs run. Right now, he doesn’t have one. My own personal VPN service worked absolutely perfectly, with just slight differences in latency and upload/download speeds that can be attributed to variance in the connection, not the app. As long as your VPN provider offers an Arm-specific app, I think the performance will be equivalent to x86 PCs. Apps run well on Copilot+ PCs When Qualcomm’s senior vice president Kedar Kondap told me that Windows on Arm apps would finally run like they should, I was skeptical. Will it survive connecting to an ancient HP printer? I’m not sure. But for right now, save for games, things look pretty good on the application compatibility front for Windows on Arm. CPUs and Processors, Laptops, Windows
Best laptops 2024: Premium, budget, gaming, 2-in-1s, and more
Thu, 20 Jun 2024 14:47:11 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Picking up a brand new laptop can be a stressful experience. How much storage will I need? Which hardware is the best for my budget? The sight of the alphabet soup model numbers are enough to set your heart racing. If you’re not sure where to begin, don’t worry, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re looking for a lightning fast gaming laptop, a Chromebook, or a lightweight 2-in-1 for office work, we’ve tested hundreds of laptops to identify the best option no matter what you need. Why you should trust us: It’s in our name. PCWorld prides itself on laptop experience and expertise. We’ve been covering PCs since 1983, and we now review more than 70 laptops every year. All of the picks below have been personally tested and vetted by our experts, who’ve applied not only performance benchmarks but rigorous usability standards. We’re also committed to reviewing PC laptops at every price point to help you find a machine that matches your budget. Looking for sweet discounts? Check out our regularly updated roundup of the best laptop deals available right now. Updated June 20, 2024: In addition to updating our list of recent laptop reviews, we also added the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 2-in-1 ($2,761) as an alternative option underneath our Best 2-in-1 pick. Not only is it a long-lasting machine (17 and a half hours!), but it also comes with a touchscreen and a pen. That said, the high price tag is a hard pill to swallow. The best laptops we’ve tested Dell Inspiron 14 Plus (2024) – Best overall Pros Strong performance Exceptional battery life Wonderful typing experience Cons CPU throttles under heavy loads No user upgrades Price When Reviewed: $999 Best Prices Today: $999.99 at Dell Why we like the Dell Inspiron 14 Plus The Dell Inspiron 14 Plus is one of the most well-rounded laptops money can buy. It offers strong performance, exceptional battery life, and a vibrant display. The best part is that it costs about $1,000, which is a reasonable price point considering the price to performance ratio. In fact, it performed exceptionally in PCMark 10’s benchmark, according to our review. With a PCMark 10 score of 7,061, it beat out the Acer Swift Go 14, which has similar specs to the Dell, and the more expensive Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon. The Inspiron 14 Plus also lasted an impressive 17 hours on a single charge, which is definitely more than a full workday or school day. You don’t have to worry about finding a wall outlet to charge up. Who should buy the Dell Inspiron 14 Plus Anyone looking for a really good, well-rounded laptop. In addition to the impressive performance and battery life, it also has a lovely 14-inch 1400p display. According to our review, “the display is exceedingly well suited to office work and static imagery.” It has a peak brightness level of a stunning 418 nits as well as an anti-glare coating, which means you can use this laptop in different lighting environments. It may not have the prettiest design we’ve ever seen, but its hardware capabilities and astoundingly long battery life make up for the blah aesthetics. Read our full Dell Inspiron 14 Plus review Asus Zenbook 14 OLED – Best overall runner-up Pros Robust build quality Attractive OLED touchscreen Good CPU and integrated GPU performance Outstanding battery life Cons Blah design Keyboard isn't memorable Mediocre connectivity options Price When Reviewed: $849.99 Best Prices Today: $849.99 at Walmart$999.99 at Asus$1199 at Amazon Why we like the Asus Zenbook 14 OLED The Asus Zenbook 14 OLED wowed us with its zippy CPU performance, phenomenal battery life, and attractive OLED touchscreen display. According to our review, “movies and games look realistic and vibrant” on the 1200p OLED touchscreen, although it can be difficult to use in bright environments due to the reflective surface. It also lasted 16 hours on a single charge, which is absolutely wild! That result really trumps otherwise excellent competitors like the Lenovo Slim 7 14 Gen 9 and the HP Pavilion Plus Laptop 14. As for performance, the Asus Zenbook 14 OLED absolutely crushed the PCMark 10 benchmark with an impressive score of 6,772. That means it’s very fast and responsive during real-world tasks like web browsing, video conferencing, and so on. Who should buy the Asus Zenbook 14 OLED Anyone looking for a powerful, affordable laptop with an OLED display! It’s so much more than its OLED screen, though. The build quality is quite good and day-to-day performance is zippy. Plus, you won’t have to go looking for an outlet often thanks to the long battery life. Connectivity options are a bit limited, but that’s not unusual for a laptop in this price range. Overall, it’s a great Windows machine that hits all the right marks. Read our full Asus Zenbook 14 OLED review Acer Aspire 3 – Best budget laptop Pros Reliable performance 1080p display HD webcam Solid build Cons Speakers sound tinny when playing music A little heavy Price When Reviewed: $329.99 Best Prices Today: $299.99 at Amazon$384.99 at Walmart Why we like the Acer Aspire 3 The Acer Aspire 3 laptop offers both reliable performance and a rugged build at an imminently affordable price. It’s fast enough for everyday tasks like checking e-mail, watching Netflix, and browsing the web. You’re also getting a full-sized keyboard as well as a 1080p screen. The Aspire 3 also blew the competition out of the water with a Cinebench R15 score of 1,925, beating out the Acer Aspire Vero 14, which has similar hardware. Cinebench is designed to run all of the cores of a laptop’s CPU and determine how well a laptop handles processor-intensive multi-threaded workloads. Who should buy the Acer Aspire 3 Anyone who’s on a restricted budget! To get more specific, we feel as though the Acer Aspire 3 is a good option for students and remote workers. It’s inexpensive and the HD webcam produces “clean, crisp video” according to our review, which means you’ll always look your best in videoconferencing calls. It also delivers strong performance for the price. Alternative option: If you absolutely cannot spend $330 for the Acer Aspire 3, then you should check out the Acer Aspire Go 15–it’s about $30 cheaper and has better battery life (12 hours!). Read our full Acer Aspire 3 review Dell Inspiron Plus 16 7630 – Best midrange laptop Pros All-day battery life Good graphics performance Reasonable price Cons Light on ports Gets warm under heavy workloads Price When Reviewed: $1,249.99 Best Prices Today: $1199.97 at Amazon$1249.99 at Dell Why we like this Dell Inspiron Plus 16 The Dell Inspiron 16 7630 packs a lot of power for the price thanks to the Intel Core i7-13700H CPU and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 GPU. This machine can handle both day-to-day activity as well as some gaming. The RTX 4060 GPU actually turned in a respectable 3DMark Time Spy result of 8,754. It’s not the most cutting-edge graphics performance we’ve ever seen, but you should be able to play most games on the Medium or High graphics setting. The 1600p display also has a taller 16:10 aspect ratio screen, which is ideal for office work, and the battery lasted over 11 hours on a single charge. Who should buy the Dell Inspiron Plus 16 The Dell Inspiron Plus 16 7630 is great for professionals, students, or anyone who’s looking for a powerful yet affordable machine. The battery will last you a full work day and then some, and it can pull double duty playing games. Dell laptops often go on sale, so you may be able to score this machine at a steep discount. Read our full Dell Inspiron Plus 16 7630 review MacBook Air (M3) – Best MacBook Pros Excellent battery life Great combination of price, features, and performance 256GB SSD is now two NAND chips, maintaining performance Cons Expensive memory upgrades Dual external display support requires closed lid Price When Reviewed: $1699 Best Prices Today: $1,499 at Amazon$1499 at B&H$1599 at Best Buy Why we like the MacBook Air (M3) The MacBook Air (M3) has a lot to offer for the $1,299 price. In fact, it received high marks across the board thanks to the 8-core CPU (M3) and the 10-core GPU. It’s capable of chewing through office work as well as casual use tasks. While performance is comparable to the MacBook Pro (M3), there is one difference: the fans or lack thereof. The MacBook Air doesn’t have any fans, which results in quieter operation before heavy-duty tasks will likely put more pressure on the chip. That said, battery life is the real star of the show here. The MacBook Air (M3) breathed its last breath at the 19 hour mark, which is perfect for those with busy schedules. Who should buy the MacBook Air (M3) Anyone who prefers MacOS over competing operating systems. Battery life is outstanding and the laptop itself is both slim and light, weighing in at just over three pounds. The 15-inch Liquid Retina (LED) screen might be considered a step-down from the MacBook Pro’s Liquid Retina XDR (mini-LED) display, but that doesn’t mean it’s a poor screen. It still looks fantastic for day-to-day use. The $1,299 price tag is also reasonable for the performance and features you’re getting. Read our full MacBook Air (M3) review Lenovo Flex 5i Chromebook Plus – Best Chromebook Pros Snappy day-to-day performance Versatile 2-in-1 design Good typing experience Cons Stylus not included Heavier than expected Price When Reviewed: $499 Best Prices Today: $329 at Best Buy Why we like the Lenovo Flex 5i Chromebook Plus From the convertible design to the beautiful touchscreen, the Lenovo Flex 5i Chromebook Plus has a lot to offer, especially for under $500. The 2-in-1 design allows you to swing the screen around and use the laptop like a tablet, upping the versatility factor. You can also expect snappy day-to-day performance as well as lightning fast boot-up times. Who should buy the Lenovo Flex 5i Chromebook Plus If you’re looking to pick up a premium Chromebook for work or personal use, then the Lenovo Flex 5i Chromebook Plus is a fine choice. While the $499 price tag is very much in the high end when it comes to Chromebooks, we feel the overall fit, finish, and firepower make it worth the extra cash. Alternative option: If you’re looking for a cheaper Chromebook with a bigger screen, the Acer Chromebook Plus 516 GE ($699.99) is a great option. The display measures 16 inches and it has a 2560×1600 resolution as well as a 120Hz refresh rate. According to our review, the “120Hz display is excellent and gives the laptop an edge if you’d plan to play games on a cloud gaming service that supports high refresh rates like Nvidia’s GeForce Now.” The only downside is that it’s a bit expensive for a Chromebook. Read our full Lenovo Flex 5i Chromebook Plus review Alienware m16 R2 – Best gaming laptop Pros Solid gaming performance Rugged build quality Good battery life Cons Display is dimmer than we like Price When Reviewed: $1,849.99 Best Prices Today: $1849.99 at Dell Why we like the Alienware m16 R2 The Alienware m16 R2 delivers strong graphics performance and good battery life. This specific model comes loaded with an Intel Core Ultra 7 155H CPU and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 GPU, which is nothing to sneeze at. It lasted a respectable 11 hours and fifteen minutes on a single charge and it averaged 144 frames-per-second when running the Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark. According to our review, it’s only “four frames-per-second slower than the Razer Blade 16,” which has an RTX 4090 GPU and a price tag of over $3,000. Who should buy the Alienware m16 R2 Anyone looking for a great gaming laptop. You’re getting strong graphics performance as well as long battery life, which is unusual for a gaming laptop, as most tend to die around the six hour mark. The 16-inch IPS display also has a resolution of 2560×1600 and a refresh rate of 240Hz, so gameplay should be nice and smooth. The picture quality is good, but it’s not an OLED panel. While it may not be the brightest or most color rich display we’ve ever seen, it’s perfectly fine for gaming. Besides, you can always plug into an external monitor if need be. Alternative option: If you’re looking for a more lightweight option, you should definitely check out the $1,599 Asus ROG Zephyrus G14. It weighs just 3.31 pounds, which means you can easily take it anywhere with you. That said, it didn’t make the cut because of ho-hum battery life. Plus, the Alienware m16 R2’s RTX 4070 GPU is more powerful than the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14’s RTX 4060 GPU. Alternatively, if you’re looking for even more firepower, the ROG Zephyrus G16 is a killer OLED-equipped laptop with RTX 4070, 4080, and 4090 options available. Read our full Alienware m16 R2 review Asus TUF Gaming A16 Advantage Edition – Best budget gaming laptop Pros Impressive all-day battery life Gorgeous 16:10 display Rugged chassis Cons Keys feel a bit soft 720p webcam leaves little to be desired Price When Reviewed: $1,099.99 Best Prices Today: $949.99 at Best Buy$955 at Amazon Why we like the Asus TUF Gaming A16 The Asus TUF Gaming A16 Advantage Edition is something of a unicorn and I mean that in the best way possible. This specific machine exhibits strong graphics performance as well as long battery life. Long battery life? A gaming laptop? How preposterous. Well, not anymore! The Asus TUF managed an incredible 11 and a half hours on a single charge. Also, thanks to the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 GPU, the laptop achieved 123 frames-per-second in the Rise of the Tomb Raider benchmark. That’s impressive, especially for a sub-$1,000 gaming machine. Who should buy the Asus TUF Gaming A16 The Asus TUF Gaming A16 Advantage Edition is a good option for those on a tight budget. For under a grand, you’re getting reliable graphics performance, a spacious keyboard, and long battery life. It also works as a good general purpose machine. With a Cinebench R20 score of 589, it should have “no trouble running lightweight apps and programs,” according to our review. Alternative option: The $1,000 Lenovo LOQ 15 stands as another solid budget option. It’s more than capable of 1080p gaming and the design is very sci-fi inspired. It didn’t nab the top pick because of the poor battery life (not unusual for a gaming laptop) and limited ports, but if you’re looking for more raw GPU horsepower, its RTX 4060 is a step above the RTX 4050 included in the Asus TUF. Read our full Asus TUF Gaming A16 Advantage Edition review Acer Chromebook 516 GE – Best gaming Chromebook Pros Rigid build Fantastic CPU performance Plenty of wired and wireless connectivity High resolution 1600p display Cons Disappointing speakers and microphone Display falls behind in contrast, color vibrancy Mediocre keyboard and touchpad Price When Reviewed: $649.99 Best Prices Today: $649 at Best Buy Why we like the Acer Chromebook 516 GE The Acer Chromebook 516 GE wins a lot of brownie points because it’s a reliable performer thanks to the Intel Core i5-1240P CPU and the 16-inch 1600p display’s fast 120Hz refresh rate. Compared to some Windows laptops, it’s reasonably priced as well. Not only does it fly through everyday tasks with ease, but it’s also a great machine for cloud gaming. As long as you’ve got a stable Internet connection and currently belong to a streaming service (Nvidia GeForce Now, Amazon Luna, etc), you’ll blitz right through most triple-A games. In fact, according to our review, “gameplay felt perfectly smooth” and “Nvidia’s GeForce Now diagnostics panel flagged no problems.” Who should buy the Acer Chromebook 516 GE Anyone that wants to give cloud gaming a whirl or just a dependable machine for day-to-day use–the Acer Chromebook 516 GE can pull double duty in that regard. In addition to the smooth cloud gaming performance, it also features a wide array of connectivity options: two USB-C 3.2 Gen 2, one HDMI, one Ethernet (wired connectivity is especially useful for cloud gaming), and one 3.5mm combo audio. Other goodies include a 1080p webcam, a 65 watt-hour battery, and a rugged design. Read our full Acer Chromebook 516 GE review Samsung Galaxy Book4 Ultra – Best content creation laptop Pros Phenomenal battery life Solid GPU performance Gorgeous OLED screen Good audio Cons Not a great keyboard Chargers keep getting bigger Price When Reviewed: $2999.99 Best Prices Today: $2399.99 at Samsung$2999.99 at Best Buy Why we like the Samsung Galaxy Book4 Ultra The Samsung Galaxy Book4 Ultra is the perfect laptop for content creation. The Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 GPU will give you the extra boost you’ll need for intensive video or photo editing tasks and the 16-inch 1800p OLED touch display is sharp enough to get those little details just right. Plus, it comes with 1TB of SSD storage (you’ll need a good amount of space for your images and videos) and a microSD for easy offloading of photos. Battery life is top-notch, too. It lasted a total of 18 hours on a single charge, which is downright impressive. That said, if you’re editing a lot of photos with the brightness turned all the way up, you may see a shorter result. Who should buy the Samsung Galaxy Book4 Ultra The Samsung Galaxy Book4 Ultra is a great laptop for content creators because of the powerful hardware (discrete graphics are a must!) and stunning OLED screen. It also has a diverse array of ports such as Thunderbolt 4, USB Type-A, HDMI 2.1, microSD, and headphone/mic. Although its OLED screen is high-resolution, it’s not 4K, so consider the similarly spec’d Dell XPS 17 below if editing 4K video is crucial to your workflow. Other cool features include a 1080p webcam, a fingerprint reader, and a lovely Moonstone Gray color scheme. Alternative option: The Dell XPS 17 9730, with its powerful internal components and massive 17-inch 4K display, is still a good option for content creators. While we like the thin chassis and long battery life, it doesn’t have an OLED screen, which offers better color accuracy. Read our full Samsung Galaxy Book4 Ultra review Acer TravelMate P6 – Best ultraportable Pros Long battery life Light and portable A good price for a business laptop Cons Keyboard is a tad mushy No NPU for future Windows AI features Consumer laptops deliver similar specs for a lower price Best Prices Today: $1158.99 at CDW$1168.63 at Amazon$1199.99 at Acer Why we like the Acer TravelMate P6 The Acer TravelMate P6 is featherlight at just 2.65 pounds. The chassis is made of magnesium-alloy, which is a very light yet durable material. According to our review, “the ports are reinforced with additional metal brackets to hold up wear and tear.” In other words, this machine is built to last. It also has fantastic battery life, which is what you want in an ultraportable laptop. The 65 watt-hour battery lasted nearly 13 hours on a single charge–more than a full workday! This laptop offers reliable performance, too. The Acer TravelMate P6 turned in a respectable Cinebench R20 score of 3,065, which isn’t far behind the more powerful HP Pavilion Plus. Who should buy the Acer TravelMate P6 Anyone looking for an affordable, lightweight ultraportable. In addition to the lightweight form factor, it also comes with a 1080p webcam with a physical privacy shutter and a 14-inch 1200p display with a 16:10 aspect ratio. The taller screen makes it easier to scroll through documents or webpages, and the 1080p webcam will make you look good on videoconferencing calls. The keyboard provides a nice typing experience, too. It even boasts white backlighting, which is perfect for typing in low light environments. Alternative option: If you’re interested in picking up a more high-end ultraportable, you should consider picking up the HP Dragonfly G4. It weighs same as the Acer TravelMate P6, but has much better battery life–it managed 17.5 hours on a single charge! The only downside is that it costs just over $3,000 thanks to its more potent components and support for mobile LTE connections. The Dell Latitude 7450 Ultralight is another great option, as it weighs 2.33 pounds, lighter than our top pick. But, similar to the HP Dragonfly G4, it’s just too expensive, costing north of $2,000. Read our full Acer TravelMate P6 review Asus Zenbook 14 Flip OLED – Best 2-in-1 Pros Long battery life Connectivity includes two Thunderbolt 4 ports Fast performance Cons Function keys are small The display is a little dim Price When Reviewed: 1199.99 Best Prices Today: $999.99 at Asus$1,199.99 at Amazon$1299 at Walmart Why we like the Asus Zenbook 14 Flip OLED When it comes to 2-in-1 laptops, the Asus Zenbook 14 Flip OLED just gets it right at the start. It has a gorgeous OLED display, a zippy Intel Core i7-1360P CPU, and a versatile convertible design. You can flip the screen around 360 degrees and use it like a tablet or prop the device up like a tent if you so wish. Colors on the 1800p OLED display are also “remarkably bright and saturated,” according to our review. The battery died at the 12 hour mark, dominating laptops with similar hardware like the Lenovo Yoga Book 9i and the Acer Aspire Vero 14. Who should buy the Asus Zenbook 14 Flip OLED The Asus Zenbook 14 Flip is a good option for business professionals because of its convertible, lightweight design and stunning OLED display. You can take this machine with you anywhere and you don’t have to worry about finding an outlet to charge up. How can you go wrong with that? Alternative option: If your budget knows no bounds, then you should consider picking up the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 2-in-1 ($2,761). It lasted a whopping 17 and a half hours on a single charge, which is absolutely bananas. Although it’s a long-lasting machine, our review unit lacked an OLED display and the high price tag may deter some folks. Read our full Asus Zenbook 14 Flip OLED review Recent laptop reviews Acer Aspire Vero 16: The Acer Aspire Vero 16 is pretty average in most areas, but at just about every turn it avoids being bad. This makes for a good all-around package that’s pleasant to use and rarely feels like a letdown. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 2-in-1: Lenovo delivered a 2-in-1 ThinkPad with great build quality, a nice pen, and serious battery life. But you may want to wait for a next-generation model powered by Intel’s Lunar Lake hardware. Acer Chromebook Plus 514: Acer’s Chromebook Plus 514 is a decent budget Chromebook that beats competitors on RAM and storage. Lenovo ThinkBook 13x: Lenovo’s ThinkBook is a better business laptop for most people than a top-of-the-line ThinkPad, but the lack of ports may be a problem. How we test laptops The PCWorld team puts each and every Windows laptop through a series of benchmarks that test GPU and CPU performance, battery life, and so on. The idea is to push the laptop to its limits and then compare it against others we’ve tested. Chromebooks, on the other hand, go through a series of web-based tests. It wouldn’t be fair or possible to run the same kinds of tests on a Chromebook, as they’re Chrome OS-based machines. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of each test and the reasons why we run them. For a much deeper look at our review methodology, check out how PCWorld tests laptops. Windows laptops PCMark 10: PCMark 10 is how we determine how well the laptop handles lighter tasks like web browsing, word processing, spreadsheets, and so on. HandBrake: HandBrake is more intensive than PCMark 10. It basically measures how long a laptop’s CPU takes to encode a beefy 30GB file. Cinebench: Cinebench is a brief stress test of the CPU cores. It does this by rendering a 2D scene over a short period of time. 3DMark: 3DMark checks if 3D performance remains consistent over time by running graphic-intensive clips. Video rundown test: To gauge battery life, we loop a 4K video using Windows 10’s Movies & TV app until the laptop dies. Chromebooks CrXPRT 2: The CrXPRT 2 benchmark tests a Chromebook’s battery life. Speedometer 2.0: This test determines a Chromebook’s web browser performance. It simulates this by adding, completing, and removing a to-do list. Basemark Web 3.0: This benchmark gauges how well a Chromebook can handle web-based applications. Kraken 1.1: Kraken 1.1 is a JavaScript performance benchmark. Jetstream 2: Jetstream 2 is a combination of WebAssembly and JavaScript benchmarks. This is a way to gauge how well a Chromebook runs advanced workloads. FAQ 1. What form factor is best for a laptop? The first question you should ask yourself is what kind of laptop you’re looking for. There’s traditional clamshells, 2-in-1’s, Chromebooks, and much more. The displays on convertible laptops (aka 2-in-1’s), for example, can swing around 360 degrees. This allows you to use the laptop like a tablet. They can also be propped up like a tent for viewing movies or participating in video calls. Chromebooks, on the other hand, exclusively run Google’s web-focused Chrome OS and are generally used for everyday tasks. All you need is a Gmail account and boom, you’re in. There are pros and cons to each of them. Chromebooks are affordable and generally have good battery life whereas convertibles are normally lightweight and portable. 2. How much processing power do I need in a laptop? If it’s CPU power you’re looking for, look for processors with higher numerical names. A Core i7 is more suited to gaming and more intense work than everyday tasks. Intel processors are available in Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, and Core i9. The higher the number, the more powerful the CPU. If you don’t need a ton of power, Intel Core i5 processors are your best bet, as they offer good performance at a decent price. Basic office and web work gets along just fine on a Core i3. As for AMD options, the Ryzen 3 is good for basic productivity and web browsing, while Ryzen 5 chips rival Intel’s Core i5 as solid all-arounders. If you need more power, the Ryzen 7 chip is well suited for content creation like video editing. Finally, if you’re dealing with 4K video, spring for a Ryzen 9. 3. Discrete graphics vs. integrated graphics? You’ll want a discrete graphics card for hardcore gaming or editing videos. It’s separate from the processor, so you can expect higher performance out of it. Integrated graphics, on the other hand, are attached to the CPU and uses less power as a result. This is perfectly fine for everyday tasks, especially if you’re not doing anything that’s graphics-intensive. 4. How much memory do I need in a laptop? 8GB of RAM is zippy enough for general use. If you’ve got a gaming laptop, 16GB of RAM is the way to go, with 32GB being a future-proof configuration. Content creators will want as much as possible. 5. Do I need a big display on a laptop? If you’re a video editor or someone who does a lot of multimedia work, you’ll want a display that’s anywhere from 15- to 17-inches. The sweet spot is really anywhere from 13- to 14-inches, though. The bigger the display, the heavier your laptop is going to be. A 13- or 14-inch display is the best in terms of portability and value. 6. How long should my laptop last on a single charge? If you plan on taking your laptop anywhere with you, aim for something that can last 10 to 12 hours on a single charge. That’s more than a full work day, so it should theoretically get you through long flights or a day of classes. Obviously, more is always better. Just know that the bigger the battery, the heavier the laptop. Read our round-up of the best laptop chargers. 7. How much does a good laptop cost? Many good laptops cost around $500 to $750, but the price really depends on your budget. If you’re strapped for cash (been there, trust me), go for a Chromebook or an entry-level business laptop. You can find solid options for under $500. Spending $750 to $1,000 can get you better displays, additional performance, more storage, and nicer designs. If you splurge for a laptop that costs over $1,000, you’re usually paying up for premium build quality, great extras, and top-shelf performance. Gaming laptops are different. You can sometimes find gaming laptops with entry-level discrete graphics on sale for around $850, but you’ll usually need to spend at least $1,000 for a system with decent 1080p gaming chops. You can pay more — often much more — for better graphics firepower and nicer displays, but the costs can rise rapidly depending on your hardware of choice. Some fully loaded gaming laptops can go for multiple thousands of dollars but you’re getting the equivalent of a desktop replacement in return. Spending $1,200 to $2,000 usually gets you a very good gaming laptop. 8. Are connectivity options important on a laptop? A wide array of ports is always a plus in my book, as it eliminates the need for an adapter. I’d recommend a laptop that has both USB-C and USB-A. An HDMI port is good, too. This is especially useful for when you want to hook up to an external monitor. Laptops
Framework adds a RISC-V motherboard to its laptops
Thu, 20 Jun 2024 14:34:27 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Framework has quickly become the darling of tech media and power users alike thanks to its completely modular and upgradeable laptop systems. And, with motherboard options from Intel and AMD, to say nothing of compatibility with Windows, Linux, and Chrome, it’s also multi-platform. Add one more to the list: the company is now offering a RISC-V motherboard for the Framework 13. If RISC-V isn’t ringing any bells, that’s probably because it’s not all that relevant to standard PCs. Reduced Instruction Set Computer Five is an open-source architecture for both basic hardware, including the CPU, and the software that runs on it. It’s a popular option for a lot of integrated electronics like the internals of your new washing machine or your car’s computer. But thanks to no licensing fees and extreme flexibility, it’s increasingly showing up in more conventional consumer electronics like smartwatches and fitness trackers. The RISC-V motherboard for the Framework 13 was developed in conjunction with DeepComputing, with a quad-core Starfive JH7110 processor. Unlike Framework’s consumer-focused motherboards, this one has memory soldered in place and thus is not upgradeable, though you can still use a MicroSD card for swappable storage. The initial, pre-production design will be shown off at the RISC-V summit in Munich starting on June 24th. Though the hardware is at the prototype stage, it should be available to “developers, tinkerers, and hobbyists” through Framework’s Marketplace store at some point, along with all the necessary components for Linux support. Laptops
Seagate Expansion Desktop HDD review: Vast and fast
Thu, 20 Jun 2024 14:30:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
At a glanceExpert's Rating ProsSuper-low price per terabyteUp to 24TB total capacityGood lookingTwice as fast as 2.5-inch external HDDsConsSlow compared to SSDsRequires AC adapterOur VerdictWhen you need more room for your digital stuff than an SSD can provide, the Seagate Expansion Desktop delivers up to 24TB of capacity at an affordable price point. It also delivers twice the sustained transfer rate of 2.5-inch external hard drives. Price When Reviewed4TB: $120 I 6TB: $110 I 8TB: $160 I 10TB: $270 I 12TB: $300 I 14TB: $430 I 16: $230 I 18TB: $250 I 24TB: $540 Best Prices Today: Seagate Expansion Desktop Retailer Price Seagate $119.99 View Deal Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide Product Price Price comparison from Backmarket Hard drives may not be sexy anymore (they actually were once!), but an external HDD like the Seagate Expansion Desktop reviewed here is the only way to get up to 24TB in a single unit, and for far less per terabyte than any SSD. The kicker? Performance isn’t nearly as slow as you might think — our 16TB test unit read and wrote at close to 280MBps. Further reading: See our roundup of the best external drives to learn about competing products. What are the Seagate Expansion Desktop’s features? The Seagate Expansion Desktop is an external, 3.5-inch USB 3.0 hard drive available with up to 24TB of space — three times the largest single SSD currently available. The rather handsome enclosure measures approximately 7-inches long, by 4.9-inches wide, by 1.65-inches thick and weighs around 2.5-pounds. It’s black with plenty of ventilation grating, and diagonal grooves spicing up significantly what would otherwise be a bland countenance. On the rear of the Expansion Desktop are the SuperSpeed Micro-B USB port and a power jack. The drive requires an AC adapter — 3.5-inch HDDs use a fair amount of juice. The SuperSpeed Micro-B and power ports on the back of the Seagate Expansion Desktop. The SuperSpeed Micro-B and power ports on the back of the Seagate Expansion Desktop. Jon L. Jacobi The SuperSpeed Micro-B and power ports on the back of the Seagate Expansion Desktop. Jon L. Jacobi Jon L. Jacobi One of the edges of the unit sports two anti-skid feet, so the drive can be stood up lengthwise. However, there’s no way I’m sitting a hard drive up in this orientation unless it’s sandwiched between two items that will prevent it from being knocked over. While not as sexy, it might have been better to put the feet on one of the broader “sides” to encourage users to lay the unit flat. I highly recommend you do this — hard drives do not like sudden g-forces and Murphy says it will eventually get knocked over if not otherwise fixed in place. How much does the Seagate Expansion Desktop cost? The Seagate Expansion Desktop is available in a variety of capacities, but pricing on both Seagate’s website and its Amazon store were rather inconsistent. Many capacities were seemingly unavailable with some very heavily discounted. The retail pricing is: 4TB for $120 ($30 per TB) 6TB for $160 ($26.67 per TB) 8TB for $160 (yes, the same as the 6TB, $20 per TB) 10TB for $270 ($27 per TB)12TB for $300 ($25 per TB) 16TB for $330 ($20.63 per TB) 18TB for $350 ($19.44 per TB) 20TB for $450 ($22.50 per TB) 24TB for $540 ($22.50 per TB) As to those heavy discounts on Seagate’s own site, they are: 6TB/$110 ($18.33 per TB) 8TB/$150 ($18.75 per TB) 12TB/$170 ($14.17 per TB) 16TB/$230 ($14.38 per TB) 20TB/$350 ($17.50 per TB) The 12TB and 16TB are currently the sweet spot in terms of price per terabyte, and overall, we’re talking one-third to one-quarter the price of an external SSD. Those currently cost around $70 per TB, with a maximum single-unit capacity of 8TB. SSDs are, of course, a lot faster, though some of the cheaper ones can drop to HDD-like speeds during super-long writes. For more on that, check out the 450GB write results below. The 12TB and 16TB are currently the sweet spot in terms of price per terabyte — we’re talking one-third to one-quarter the price of an external SSD. How fast is the Seagate Expansion Desktop? The short answer to this question is, way faster than you might think. Instead of the rather slothful 120- to 140MBps its smaller 2.5-inch cousins read and write at, the Expansion Desktop manages almost 280MBps. Some external SSDs using QLC will slow to that pace and even slower during long writes. Compared to a 2.5 inch external hard drive, the Expansion Desktop’s CrystalDiskMark 8 numbers look pretty darn good. Yowser! The Expansion Desktop was more than twice as fast as the 2.5-inch hard drives in sequential transfers. Note also the consistency between reads and writes. Longer bars are better. Yowser! The Expansion Desktop was more than twice as fast as the 2.5-inch hard drives in sequential transfers. Note also the consistency between reads and writes. Longer bars are better. Yowser! The Expansion Desktop was more than twice as fast as the 2.5-inch hard drives in sequential transfers. Note also the consistency between reads and writes. Longer bars are better. It’s almost not worth posting hard drive random write numbers as they are pathetically slow compared to SSDs. This is one test where you’ll get slightly better results from 2.5-inch hard drives. However, it’s not nearly enough to to offset their far weaker sequential transfer performance. At least the Expansion Desktop didn’t turn in any sub-one scores. But hard drives are lousy at random performance compared to SSDs. Longer bars are better. At least the Expansion Desktop didn’t turn in any sub-one scores. But hard drives are lousy at random performance compared to SSDs. Longer bars are better. At least the Expansion Desktop didn’t turn in any sub-one scores. But hard drives are lousy at random performance compared to SSDs. Longer bars are better. The Expansion Desktop’s 48GB transfer numbers are a vast improvement over those of 2.5-inch hard drives. They are, however, not even ballpark compared to SSDs. The Expansion Desktop put the 2.5-inch hard drives to shame in our 48GB transfers. Shorter bars are better. The Expansion Desktop put the 2.5-inch hard drives to shame in our 48GB transfers. Shorter bars are better. The Expansion Desktop put the 2.5-inch hard drives to shame in our 48GB transfers. Shorter bars are better. I included two of the slowest external SSDs in the 450GB write chart to show that there are worse options for long writes than an external 3.5-inch hard drive. Fast SSDs, on the other hand are around 10 times faster. This is actually a halfway decent time for the Expansion Desktop as you can see from the two slower SSDs. Shorter bars are better. This is actually a halfway decent time for the Expansion Desktop as you can see from the two slower SSDs. Shorter bars are better. This is actually a halfway decent time for the Expansion Desktop as you can see from the two slower SSDs. Shorter bars are better. While it’s not fast compared to an SSD, the Expansion Desktop is workable for streaming and background operations, is far faster than 2.5-inch external HDDs, and you sure as heck can’t beat the capacity. Note that the copious ventilation makes the Expansion Desktop rather noisy. Much noisier than the HDDs in my NAS boxes. On the other hand, heat buildup is minimal. Given the choice, I’ll opt for the noise. If you buy it, back it up! HDDs have become far more reliable in recent years, but they’re still mechanical entities with all the risks that entails. The reason for my small rant regarding drive orientation on your desktop is that any sudden shock may damage the drive. Another issue with large capacity hard drives is that they can lull users into putting all their data-eggs in one basket by being so capacious, and thus the only easy way to keep them backed up is to run the drive in a mirrored pair or other RAID configuration. And yes, as Seagate doesn’t make a consumer RAID box, we just basically told you to buy two of these drives, which comes close to ruining the HDD price advantage. Unless of course, you intend it as the local copy in a backup strategy, in which case, one drive is fine. Should you buy the Seagate Expansion Desktop? If you deal with large amounts of data, you can’t beat a high-capacity hard drive for gathering it into one place. The Expansion Desktop is an excellent performer for the breed, offers excellent value, particularly at the sale prices, and highly recommended. Just heed our backup advice. Note, that we can’t vouch that the Expansion Desktop’s performance will be consistent across all capacities (read the next section’s caveat). How we test Storage tests currently utilize Windows 11, 64-bit running on an X790 (PCIe 4.0/5.0) motherboard/i5-12400 CPU combo with two Kingston Fury 32GB DDR5 4800MHz modules (64GB of memory total). Both 20Gbps USB and Thunderbolt 4 are integrated to the back panel and Intel CPU/GPU graphics are used. The 48GB transfer tests utilize an ImDisk RAM disk taking up 58GB of the 64GB of total memory. The 450GB file is transferred from a 2TB Samsung 990 Pro which also runs the OS. Each test is performed on a newly NTFS-formatted and TRIM’d drive so the results are optimal. Note that in normal use, as a drive fills up, performance may decrease due to less NAND for secondary caching, as well as other factors. This is less of a factor with the current crop of SSDs with their far faster NAND. Caveat: The performance numbers shown apply only to the drive we were shipped and to the capacity tested. SSD performance can and will vary by capacity due to more or fewer chips to shotgun reads/writes across and the amount of NAND available for secondary caching. HDD performance may also vary may also vary according to capacity due to the number of platters used, or in the case of external types–the actual drive used for a particular capacity. Vendors also occasionally swap components. If you ever notice a large discrepancy between the performance you experience and that which we report, by all means, let us know. Computer Storage Devices, Storage
The Copilot key isn’t working on some Copilot+ PCs. Here’s how I fixed it
Thu, 20 Jun 2024 13:51:16 +0000
Source: PCWorld
You would think that an AI PC—sorry, a Copilot+ PC—would nail down its AI experience. But Microsoft’s Copilot key on its new Surface Pro and Surface Laptop might be a little confusing to make work. If yours isn’t working, here’s what I did to fix it. When I was testing the Surface Pro (2024) 11th Edition, the Copilot key just didn’t work. Period. After negotiating Microsoft’s unresponsive Flex Pro keyboard and its need for a firmware update, I was shaking my head. What now? As it turns out, I’m not sure if my unresponsive Copilot key was a quirk of the review process or a broader problem with Copilot+ PCs, but here’s what happened and how I solved it. (Note that a colleague of mine, freelancer Matthew Smith, and former Microsoft Most Valuable Partner Rafael Rivera also experienced similar issues.) Copilot is now an app—one that Microsoft may be classifying as another of those “apps” that are really shortcuts to the Microsoft Store, similar to the Instant Games feature that rolled out a short time ago. I’m not sure if Copilot comes “installed” on the PC, but if you ask for it via searching (like I did), it downloads in a flash. The problem is that even after I “downloaded” the Copilot app, the Copilot key didn’t work. On the Surface Pro, the Copilot key shares space with the Menu key. (Tapping the Menu key brings up a context menu that’s very much like right-clicking in an application.) To swap between the Menu and Copilot functions, you have to tap the Function Lock (Fn) key—but that didn’t seem to work either. The key just didn’t respond. Well, all three of us apparently “solved” the problem just by tapping the Fn key on and off a few times until the Copilot key decided to behave, all after updating the Flex Pro keyboard’s firmware, which took… a while? Suddenly, it just started working again. I have no idea if Microsoft will patch this out (hopefully) or whether the same bug will appear in other Copilot+ PCs. But if you’re going a little nuts over the initial Copilot experience, hopefully this helps. Laptops, Windows
Got a new Copilot+ PC? Don’t rush to install Chrome
Thu, 20 Jun 2024 13:26:45 +0000
Source: PCWorld
My tests of the Microsoft Surface Pro (2024) 11th Edition have uncovered what appears to be the fastest browser for Copilot+ PCs, and the competition really isn’t that close. One of the questions I’m interested in regarding Copilot+ PCs is simply how well they run conventional software: browsers, utility applications, you name it. It’s impossible to test every application, but a set of top web browsers is reasonable—after all, most of us spend a considerable chunk of time just simply browsing the web. Which browsers did I test? As part of my testing, I downloaded Google Chrome, Opera, Mozilla Firefox, Vivaldi, and Brave, in addition to Microsoft Edge. I spent a few minutes trying out a few multimedia-heavy sites, using extensions and passwords, and so on. These weren’t extensive tests, but they allowed me to see quickly what worked and what didn’t. All of these browsers now have dedicated Arm versions, including Brave, which added an Arm64 version in February. (The new Arc browser does not, and the default version refused to download on the Surface Pro.) Opera allows you to download a dedicated Arm browser, but all of them also auto-detect your PC and supposedly feed you the right one. (I’m doubtful about Vivaldi.) It’s important to note that I used the stable versions of these browsers delivered by the browsers’ websites, and I didn’t hunt down optimized beta software (if it even existed). Which benchmark tests did I use? I ran two benchmarks: Principled Technologies’ WebXPRT 4 (which uses a combination of HTML5, JavaScript, and WebAssembly to mimic common web tasks) and Speedometer 3 (which now tells you how fast your browser will respond while using it). Both of these benchmarks will give us an idea of what Windows on Arm browser should be both fastest and most responsive. All tests were run while the tablet was plugged in. I also couldn’t help but compare the new Surface Pro’s Edge performance with Edge’s performance on the Surface Pro 9 (5G), the Windows tablet that used the Microsoft SQ3 chip (based on the Qualcomm 8cx Gen 3). I expected the new Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite chip to be faster, but I wanted to see how much faster. The benchmark test results The winner? Unsurprisingly, it’s the browser from the company that’s been working most closely with the Arm development ecosystem: Microsoft Edge. But what is surprising is that it’s neck-and-neck with Mozilla Firefox! Here’s the evidence: In this WebXPRT test, Mozilla Firefox is neck-and-neck with Microsoft Edge. In this WebXPRT test, Mozilla Firefox is neck-and-neck with Microsoft Edge.Mark Hachman / IDG In this WebXPRT test, Mozilla Firefox is neck-and-neck with Microsoft Edge.Mark Hachman / IDG Mark Hachman / IDG In the Speedometer test, Edge’s lead was more pronounced—but it’s still fair to say that Firefox performed extremely well, enough that Firefox fans can rest assured that their preferred browser is close enough to the top. As for Vivaldi (and Arc)… well, we hope for better in the future. I didn’t notice any glitches while using these browsers, except for one: Brave crashed when initially trying to import favorites/bookmarks from another browser. Mark Hachman / IDG Mark Hachman / IDG Mark Hachman / IDG I could have used Basemark as a third test, but that pushes more heavily into WebGL and use of the tablet’s GPU. WebXPRT and Speedometer are probably good enough to evaluate the best Copilot+ PC browser, as far as everyday performance and responsiveness. I know, you already have your preferred browser. But in a world where Microsoft and many other Copilot+ PC vendors want you to transition to Arm, everything is changing! Edge and Firefox are the best browsers for Copilot+ PCs… at least for now. Laptops, Personal Software
Today’s best laptop deals: Save big on work, school, home use, and gaming
Thu, 20 Jun 2024 13:24:58 +0000
Source: PCWorld
If you’re looking to score a fast laptop at a killer price, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re on the hunt for a blazing fast gaming rig, an affordable laptop under $500, or an everyday Chromebook, we’ve assembled a list of the best laptop deals available right now, using our finely honed editorial judgement (and thousands of hours of testing experience) to only recommend truly compelling deals on worthwhile notebooks. We’ve separated the recommendations below by best laptop deals under $500, best home use laptop deals, best gaming laptop deals, and best premium laptop deals, to make it easier to find a notebook that fits your budget and needs. For more options, check out PCWorld’s roundup of the best laptops available right now. Best laptop deals (at a glance) Lenovo Flex 3, $349 ($130 off at Best Buy) Dell Inspiron 15, $399.99 ($150 off at Dell) HP Envy x360, $569.99 ($379.01 off at Adorama) HP Touch Screen Laptop, $599.99 ($200 off at Best Buy) XPG Xenia, $999 ($700.99 off at Walmart) Lenovo Flex 7, $1,039.99 ($220 off at Adorama) Lenovo Yoga 9i 2-in-1, $1,249.99 ($400 off at Best Buy) Asus TUF Gaming A16, $1,449.99 ($350 off at Amazon) Best laptop deals under $500 Lenovo Lenovo Lenovo Lenovo Flex 3: $349 ($130 off at Best Buy) Sometimes all you need is an affordable laptop for web browsing and composing e-mail exchanges. If you’re in the market for such a laptop, the Lenovo Flex 3 is definitely worth considering. It’s powered by a Pentium Silver N6000 processor, which is suitable for general browsing and streaming Netflix, but not much else. It’s not the fastest processor we’ve ever seen here at PCWorld, but you’ve also got to temper your expectations, as this laptop is specifically designed with basic tasks in mind. However, according to Best Buy reviews, the 1080p touchscreen display is pretty darn crisp, making this machine an excellent value. View Deal Dell Dell Dell Dell Inspiron 15: $399.99 ($150 off at Dell) The Dell Inspiron 15 is a nice day-to-day laptop with a good amount of memory (16GB) and storage space (512GB SSD) as well as a 1080p touch display. It has an Intel Core i5-1235U CPU, so everyday tasks like surfing the web and responding to e-mail should feel zippy. The 1080p display also measures a spacious 15.6-inches and has a fast refresh rate of 120Hz–that means visuals should appear smooth. Additional features include a 720p webcam, a 65 watt-hour battery, and an understated design. View Deal Best for home use HP HP HP HP Touch Screen Laptop: $599.99 ($200 off at Best Buy) The HP Touch Screen Laptop is a good laptop for productivity because of the fast Intel Core i7 processor. It’s a few generations behind (1255U) at this point, but it’s still a good processor, especially for office work and day-to-day activities. It also has a 15.6-inch 1080p touch display, which is a nice touch, especially if you’re the kind of person that likes taking notes. As for the port selection, you’re getting one HDMI 1.4, one USB-C 3.0, and two USB-A 3.0. The connectivity options are pretty good, so you probably won’t need an adapter. View Deal Best gaming laptop deals XPG XPG XPG XPS Xenia 15G: $999 ($700.99 off at Walmart) If you’re looking for a powerful gaming laptop, the XPG Xenia will certainly fit the bill. You don’t see many gaming laptops with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 GPU go on sale for under $1,000 often, so this is a true deal. Between the Intel Core i7-13700H CPU and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 GPU, you should be able to play triple-A titles on the High or Ultra graphics detail. This machine even comes with 1TB of SSD storage, which is good news if you’ve got a massive backlog of games. The 15.6-inch 1080p display should also provide fluid gameplay thanks to the 144Hz refresh rate. If you can afford it, this would be a better long-term gaming option than the $800 models listed above thanks to the RTX 4060’s much faster performance. View Deal Asus Asus Asus Asus TUF Gaming A16: $1,449.99 ($350 off at Amazon) The Asus TUF Gaming A16 is a good option for more serious gamers. It comes loaded with an AMD Ryzen 9 7940HX CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of SSD storage. That means it should have no problem blazing through most modern titles with the graphics cranked all the way up. The 1600p display is bigger than the XPS Xenia 15G’s (featured above), measuring a massive 16 inches, which is perfect if you’re the kind of person that likes to see every single detail. According to the Amazon reviews, the display is beautiful and the laptop runs very fast. What more can you ask of a proper gaming machine? View Deal Best premium laptop deals HP HP HP HP Envy x360: $569.99 ($379.01 off at Adorama) The HP Envy x360 is powerful, lightweight, and versatile. The 2-in-1 form factor means you can fold the screen back and use the laptop like a tablet, and it comes equipped with a good amount of RAM (16GB) and storage (512GB SSD). The 1080p display is quite large at 15.6-inches and it’s a touchscreen, which is perfect for habitual notetakers and doodlers. The keyboard is also full-sized and has backlighting. This is great for when you’re using the laptop in low light environments. View Deal Lenovo Lenovo Lenovo Lenovo Flex 7: $1,039.99 ($220 off at Adorama) The Lenovo Flex 7 is a great laptop for those who want an affordable 2-in-1. You’re getting a lightweight design as well as a decent amount of power for just over $1,000. It has an Intel Core i7-1355U CPU, Intel Iris Xe graphics, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of SSD storage. Zipping through spreadsheet work, everyday tasks, and so on should be no problem for this machine. In addition to the 2-in-1 form factor, in which the screen swings back 360 degrees, it also weighs just 3.53 pounds. That means you can easily slip it in a backpack or messenger back and take it with you anywhere. View Deal Lenovo Lenovo Lenovo Lenovo Yoga 9i 2-in-1: $1,199.99 ($450 off at Best Buy) The Lenovo Yoga 9i 2-in-1 is a powerful, versatile machine with a stunning 4K display. What more could you ask for? Underneath the hood, you’ll find an Intel Core i7-1360P CPU, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of SSD storage–so it should have no issues zipping through everyday tasks, spreadsheet work, and so on. The 14-inch touch display, which has a resolution of 3840×2400 (4K!), is a real stunner, too. This is the kind of display that’s meant for watching movies, graphically-intensive work, and so on. It also comes with a stylus, which is great because you don’t have to pay extra for a standalone accessory. View Deal FAQ 1. How much RAM will I need in my laptop? You’ll want at least 8GB, though 16GB is preferable, especially if you play games. Don’t buy laptops with under 4GB of RAM or 128GB of SSD storage—though on a Chromebook or a budget Windows machine, this configuration is acceptable. Check out our article on how much RAM does a laptop need for more in-depth info. 2. What’s the difference between a Chromebook and a Windows laptop? The one big difference between a Chromebook and a Windows laptop is the operating system. Chromebooks run ChromeOS and Windows run, well, Microsoft Windows. Chromebooks make good everyday machines because they’re designed for browsing the web, checking e-mail, and so on. They use less resources and are generally more affordable than the Windows variety. They also don’t need antivirus protection. A Windows laptop is a lot more versatile in what it can do, and not just in terms of running local programs. You can really pump a Windows laptop up with a ton of RAM, storage, and so on. 3. When should I look for a laptop deal? You’ll likely find the best laptop deals during Prime Day (mid-July), Black Friday (November 29th), and back-to-school season (June-August). Sure, you’ll find good laptop deals throughout the year, but if you really want to save big, we’d recommend scoping out your favorite online retailers during those times. 4. Which retailers offer the best deals? You can find all kinds of deals across a wide range of online retailers such as Newegg, Walmart, Best Buy, Amazon, and so on. However, we’d recommend checking out deals from laptop manufacturers like Lenovo, HP, and Dell. You’ll usually find many different configurations on sale and the discounts can be pretty darn steep. For more options, check out PCWorld’s roundup of the best laptops available right now. Laptops
Become a PowerPoint pro: 7 must-know tips and tricks
Thu, 20 Jun 2024 13:05:05 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Microsoft’s PowerPoint is extremely popular in schools, universities, and the corporate world, but it has never been as popular with home users. Not surprising since it’s all about creating presentations, something a private person doesn’t have to do very often. So, if you suddenly find yourself needing to make a PowerPoint presentation and have no idea how to make it good, rest assured that you aren’t alone and there’s hope for you. Microsoft Office 365 Home Read our review Price When Reviewed: $1.99 month (100GB) | $6.99 month (1TB) | $9.99 month (Family, 6x1TB) Best Prices Today: $1.99 at Microsoft | $69.99 at Amazon These days, PowerPoint is more than just a basic slideshow—it can be used to create video presentations with voice-over narration, and it even has an AI-based helper called Designer that gives suggestions on how to make your presentation better. Here are several smart tips and tricks you can use to improve your PowerPoint presentations and come off as a pro. 1. Customize Quick Access Have you noticed that PowerPoint—and the other apps in Microsoft 365 for that matter—have a small, narrow toolbar at the very top of the application window? By default, you’ll find shortcut buttons for toggling Auto Save and basic actions like Save, Undo, Repeat, etc. This nifty toolbar also comes with some app-specific actions that you may or may not use frequently. In PowerPoint, for example, there’s a shortcut to start slideshows from the beginning. This toolbar is called Quick Access and you can actually customize what actions show up here. You can add frequently used actions while removing the ones you never use. This can make it easier to find important functions that you would otherwise have to rummage around the ribbon to find. Foundry Foundry Foundry To customize Quick Ass, select File > Options and then Quick Access Toolbar. The box on the right shows the actions currently on it and their order. The box on the left has all the available actions you can add. Select an action you want in Quick Access and click on Add. To change the order, highlight the action you want to move and use the the arrow buttons on the right side of the window. 2. Use custom themes and templates PowerPoint comes with a bunch of ready-made templates for presentations, which have also been themed. A theme is a collection of settings for typography, colors, and effects that make it easy to maintain a consistent style across presentations. A template is a theme plus ready-made content that makes it easier to make a particular type of presentation again in the future. Foundry Foundry Foundry For example, a company may have a theme that defines the colors and fonts employees should use in presentations, plus a number of templates for product presentations and quarterly reports. A template may have a number of ready-made slides with images, charts, and everything else already laid out. When you create a new presentation from a template, you will find these individual page templates in New slide in either Start or Insert. Creating your own custom theme New themes can be added at any time as long as you have a presentation open—even if it’s a blank presentation. Select the Design tab and click on the small down arrow with a dash over it on the right side of the Variants section. This shows the four categories of settings you can designate for a theme. Foundry Foundry Foundry Select Colors > Customize Colors… and the Create new theme colors dialog box will open. A complete set of theme colors includes two pairs of text and background colors (dark/light, to be used either for dark text on a light background or vice versa), six spot colors used for graphic elements, and two colors for hyperlinks. Enter a name at the bottom and click Save when you are done. If you also want to change the font, select Fonts > Customize Fonts… and you’ll be able to designate a Heading font and a Body font. I recommend a neutral, easy-to-read font for both. Under Effects, you can choose the style of effects but there’s no way to customize or create a completely new effect. Under Background Styles, you can select Format Background… to tweak backgrounds. Foundry Foundry Foundry When you’re done, go to the Themes section of the Design tab and click the down arrow with a line above it, then select Save Current Theme… to save your new theme. Give it a name and save and your new theme will appear among the available themes in the Design tab of all presentations. Create your own custom templates To create a new PowerPoint template, you can start from either a blank presentation or an existing template. Don’t add any content of your own yet. Instead, go to the View tab and click on Slide Master. Start by changing the theme of your new template, under the Themes button. If you created your own theme as described above, it will normally be at the top of the list of available themes. Foundry Foundry Foundry PowerPoint uses the term layouts for slide templates. Click on the Insert Layout button to create a new slide template. New layouts are automatically given a header and a footer, but you can remove them if you wish (either by selecting and deleting the elements manually or via checkboxes in the Slide Background tab). To delete an existing layout, right-click on it in the list and select Delete Layout or select it in the list and press Backspace. Foundry Foundry Foundry To add new design elements to a layout, click the Insert Placeholder button in the ribbon and select the element type you want. You can then position and resize it, and change the placeholder text for it. If you want to make per-layout changes, make sure to select that layout in the list before tweaking. For example, you can change a layout’s color theme or switch between the four background formats. When you’re happy, save the template by selecting File > Save As and changing the format to Powerpoint Template (*.potx). Templates can be stored either locally on your computer or in OneDrive—and since the theme is included, you can freely share the template with others. Foundry Foundry Foundry 3. Link to Excel data If you’re making a presentation with figures in tables or charts, you can make your life easier by linking PowerPoint to Excel. To do this, start by copying a chart in Excel, then switching over to PowerPoint and navigating to the Home tab in the ribbon. Select Paste > Paste Special…, then choose the Paste Link option, select Microsoft Excel Chart Object and finish by clicking OK. Foundry Foundry Foundry A linked chart, table, or other Excel object can be instantly updated with up-to-date information as the data in the Excel document changes, all without having to copy and paste all over again. To update the Excel object, right-click on it in PowerPoint and select Update Link. PowerPoint will retrieve the latest data to be reflected in the Excel object. This makes it easy to build a data-heavy report in PowerPoint that can be kept up-to-date with zero hassle. 4. Edit and apply effects to images Basic slide editing in PowerPoint isn’t difficult, but there are a few tricks you can learn to make your slides both behave the way you want them to and do new things you may not have realized were possible. For example, did you know that PowerPoint has built-in editing features that can change brightness, contrast, and sharpness of images? Foundry Foundry Foundry Select an image in a slide and the Picture Format tab will open. Here you’ll find several adjustments you can make: Corrections alters brightness, contrast, and sharpness Color applies color filters Artistic Effects stylizes the image (but apart from the useful Blur effect, most of these feel pretty old-fashioned) Transparency makes the image more or less transparent Picture Styles can format the image in various ways (e.g., frame, shadow, rounded corners, perspective, etc.) One thing you’ll notice when you add an image is that PowerPoint automatically generates alternative text—that is, descriptive text that gets read aloud for users with visual impairments. You can set this text to whatever you want, and it’s nice that Microsoft has thought about accessibility in this way. 5. Fill a shape with an image PowerPoint makes it easy to fill a vector graphic shape with an image instead of just a solid color or gradient. Create the shape as you want it, then make sure it’s selected before navigating to either the Home or Figure Format tabs in the ribbon. Select Shape Fill > Picture…, then select From a File to pick an image that’s saved on your computer. Foundry Foundry Foundry If you aren’t satisfied with the positioning of the image in the shape, you can open the Picture Format tab and select Crop > Crop to resize and move the image in relation to the shape, allowing you to center it at a different point and even zoom in or out. 6. Incorporate audio and video These days, PowerPoint isn’t just for presentations on screen or with a projector—it’s increasingly common to export finished presentations as videos to be sent to recipients, uploaded to the web, embedded in mobile apps, and more. Foundry Foundry Foundry To make such presentations more vivid and interesting, you can record voice-over audio and/or video from a connected webcam to be placed on top of slides. You can find these features in the Record tab, where PowerPoint has also placed the Export to Video function. The export function allows you to set the video resolution as well as how long each slide will display in the video. More on this: How to turn a PowerPoint presentation into a video 7. Get AI help with Designer Designer is the new name for Design Ideas, a feature that has been around since PowerPoint 2016 and uses machine learning to analyze the content of presentations and suggest improvements. You can find it as a button in the Home and Design tabs, with Designer itself appearing in a column on the right. Foundry Foundry Foundry This feature continuously analyzes your presentation and displays a list of suggested changes for the current slide. If you don’t like any of the suggestions, you can click on See More Design Ideas at the bottom and it will generate additional suggestions. How attractive and useful are the suggestions? Well, it varies. When I tested it myself, they’ve rarely been results that I could use straight away—but the suggestions were helpful in that they gave me several great ideas that I hadn’t thought of myself. For example, in the image above, you can see a suggestion for a color filter on a photo that looks like it could work really well with bright text and maybe a little blur. Further reading: PowerPoint keyboard shortcuts worth knowing Personal Software
5 cheap laptops to play Roblox on
Thu, 20 Jun 2024 10:30:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Ah, Roblox. Described as a game creation platform, you can do everything from design an amusement park to chat with friends at a virtual diner. It’s also a great way for kids to flex their creative muscles. But what kind of laptop hardware does it take to run Roblox properly? Lucky for you, Roblox can practically run on a potato, so you don’t need an ultra-powerful laptop with the latest bling. An Intel Core i3 processor with a clock speed of 1.6GHz or higher will do you just fine! So, here are the best cheap laptops to play Roblox on. Not only are they affordable, but they’re also decent everyday machines. We’ve personally tested and reviewed every single one of these. Need even more options than this? Check out PCWorld’s roundup of the best laptops under $500. Acer Aspire 3 PCWorld / Robert Strohmeyer PCWorld / Robert Strohmeyer PCWorld / Robert Strohmeyer The Acer Aspire 3 is a real standout for performance and features. In addition to earning 4 out of 5 stars in our comprehensive review, it also nabbed the top spot in our best laptops under $500 roundup. Overall construction is quite sturdy for a $325 laptop, the full-sized keyboard is “a joy to type on,” and the AMD Ryzen 3 7320U CPU is powerful enough to handle Roblox. (The game’s minimum requirements call for an AMD Radeon R7 240 CPU or higher.) You’re also getting a solid array of connectivity options, including one HDMI port, two USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports, and one USB Type-C 3.2 Gen 2 port. Not bad for a budget laptop. The Acer Aspire 3 is only $325Buy it now at Walmart Acer Aspire Go 15 IDG / Mark Knapp IDG / Mark Knapp IDG / Mark Knapp If you’re working with a mega-strict budget, the Acer Aspire Go 15 is a great option—especially because you can pick it up for just $299 at Acer’s online store right now. In addition to its 1080p display and 53.9 watt-hour battery, it also has a wide port selection and a comfortable keyboard. Again, you don’t need a powerhouse to run Roblox, so its Intel Core i3-N305 CPU should be more than enough, especially if you enjoy classic user-created games like Work at a Pizza Place and Royale High. That said, according to our review, the Intel UHD graphics struggled “when running a YouTube video in one window and doing just about anything else in another.” As long as you temper your expectations and don’t have too many apps running at once, you can expect reliable performance out of this sub-$300 machine. The Acer Aspire Go 15 is only $300Buy it now at Acer HP Laptop 14 Mattias Inghe Mattias Inghe Mattias Inghe The HP Laptop 14 is a great choice for a long-lasting, sub-$500 laptop. In our review, it lasted a whopping 15 hours on a single charge with light use—a phenomenal result that means you don’t have to go looking around for an outlet so often. As for hardware, it’s pretty darn good, especially for such an inexpensive laptop. You’re getting an Intel Core i3-1315U, Intel UHD Graphics 64EU, 8GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. That’s more than enough power to play Roblox and plow through schoolwork on the side. The HP Laptop 14 also weighs just a little over three pounds, so it’s a travel-friendly machine. Great for playing Roblox on the go! The HP Laptop 14 is only $435Buy it now at Amazon Acer Chromebook Plus 516 GE IDG / Matthew Smith IDG / Matthew Smith IDG / Matthew Smith If you like big screens and you cannot lie, then the Acer Chromebook Plus 516 GE is the one for you. The display is a sizable 16 inches with a resolution of 2560×1600 and a refresh rate of 120Hz, which “gives the laptop an edge if you’d plan to play games on a cloud gaming service that supports high refresh rates like Nvidia’s GeForce Now,” according to our review. This laptop is also powered by an Intel Core 5 120U and it’s packing 256GB of SSD storage, which “feels roomy when the largest locally installed apps are just a few hundred megabytes.” And in case you’re wondering, yes, you can play Roblox on a Chromebook—in fact, you can find it in the Google Play Store. Just make sure ChromeOS is up to date! The Acer Chromebook Plus 516 GE is only $450Buy it now at Best Buy Acer Chromebook Plus 514 IDG / Matthew Smith IDG / Matthew Smith IDG / Matthew Smith If the Acer Chromebook Plus 516 GE has too big of a screen for you, check out its smaller-screened sibling! The Acer Chromebook Plus 514 is currently on sale for $350 at Amazon, so this is an economical option for tight budgets. It comes with 8GB of RAM, which is “more RAM than similarly priced competitors,” according to our review, which is important for handling many simultaneous tasks. (According to Roblox‘s minimum requirements, you only need 1GB of RAM. But more is preferred, obviously!) This laptop also comes with an Intel Core i3-N305 and 512GB of SSD storage—that’s enough power and storage for running Roblox. Roblox isn’t the most demanding game in the world, but it can sometimes bog down laptops. This laptop won’t feel a thing. Connectivity is also great with two USB-C 3.2 ports, two USB-A 3.2 ports, one 3.5mm combo audio port, and one microSD card reader. This diversity of inputs will allow you to plug into a different monitor or keyboard, if your heart desires. The Acer Chromebook Plus 514 is only $350Buy it now at Amazon Laptops
Make the Windows 11 Pro upgrade for just $25
Thu, 20 Jun 2024 10:00:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Keeping your operating system updated is an important measure against cybersecurity attacks, and ensures you’re using the best tools and tech available to you. If you’re running an old Windows system, now’s the time to upgrade to Microsoft Windows 11 Pro because it’s just $24.97 for a limited time. Windows 11 Pro is loaded with security and productivity features to help you work smarter and stay safer no matter where you work. With snap layouts, smart redocking, improved voice typing, and more productivity features, you can work seamlessly with a customized experience. Security features like Smart App Control and TPM 2.0 give you better protection, while Microsoft’s Copilot AI helps you streamline workflows, do research, and much more.  Make the upgrade to Windows 11 Pro for a great price. From 6/18 through 11:59 pm PT on 6/26, you can get Microsoft Windows 11 Pro for just $24.97 (reg. $199).   Microsoft Windows 11 Pro – $24.97 See Deal StackSocial prices subject to change. Windows
Get a year of Microsoft 365 for $25 off
Thu, 20 Jun 2024 08:00:00 +0000
Source: PCWorld
Get Microsoft 365 from an authorized Microsoft Partner on all your devices, and enjoy the productivity and work management suite that has earned 4.7/5-star ratings from GetApp and Capterra. Work more productively with access to Microsoft Office programs, including Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint. Organize your cloud data with 1TB of cloud storage in OneDrive. Enjoy enhanced security features like ransomware detection and recovery, Microsoft Defender, and more. Automatically stay updated and work with premium features like Microsoft Editor for writing assistance and Clipchamp video editor. Work smarter and enjoy a world of improved productivity with Microsoft 365. From 6/18 through 11:59 pm PT on 6/26, you can get a one-year subscription for just $44.97 (reg. $69).   Microsoft 365: 1-Year Subscription – $44.97 See Deal StackSocial prices subject to change. Accessories
Best PC computer deals: Top picks from desktops to all-in-ones
Wed, 19 Jun 2024 22:58:25 +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. The team 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 that 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 gaming desktop computer deals Alienware Aurora R16, Core i7/RTX 4070 Super/16GB RAM/1TB SSD, $1,499.99 (21% off on Dell) CLX SET Gaming Desktop, Ryzen 7/RTX 4080 Super/32GB RAM/2TB SSD/6TB HDD, $3,199.99 (18% off on BestBuy) PowerSpec G518, Ryzen 7/RTX 4060/32GB RAM/1TB SSD, $999.99 (20% off on MicroCenter) Legion Tower 5, Ryzen 7/RTX 4070 Super/16GB RAM/1TB SSD, $1,449.99 (30% off on Lenovo) Legion Tower 7i, Core i9/RTX 4080 Super/32GB RAM/1TB SSD, $2,267.99 (28% off on Lenovo) Acer Predator Orion, Core i7/RTX 4070/16GB RAM/1TB SSD, $1,299.99 (23% off on Newegg) ABS Cyclone Aqua, Core i5/RTX 4060 Ti/32GB RAM/1TB SSD, $929.99 (15% off on Newegg) My top picks: Dell is offering a super deal on its midrange Alienware Aurora R16 for $400 off on its website. The Core i7-14700F CPU and RTX 4070 Super GPU should help you conquer modern games at high settings with good frame rates. Plus the redesigned Alienware R16 chassis provides much better airflow than previous generations. If you’re in the market for a top-of-the-line gaming rig then the CLX SET Gaming Desktop on sale for $700 off on BestBuy is the deal to get. It comes loaded with a powerhouse Ryzen 7 7800X3D CPU, an RTX 4080 Super GPU, and a massive 8TB of onboard storage. With so much storage and firepower, it could easily double as a great content creation machine as well. Best mainstream desktop computer deals Lenovo IdeaCentre Mini, Core i5/16GB RAM/512GB SSD, $529.99 (23% off on Lenovo) HP Pavilion Desktop, Core i7/16GB RAM/512GB SSD/2TB HDD, $679.99 (32% off on HP) Inspiron Small Desktop, Core i5/16GB RAM/1TB SSD, $729.99 (14% off on Dell) Apple Mac Mini 2023, M2/16GB RAM/512GB SSD, $1,199.00 (8% off on Amazon) My top picks: Those looking for a mini-PC are in luck as the excellent IdeaCentre Mini is $160 off on Lenovo’s website. The IdeaCentre is one of the best small form-factor PCs on the market and this particular model impresses thanks to its Intel Core i5-13500H processor and 16GB of RAM at a price that is cheaper than a much larger mainstream desktop with the same specs. If you’re more of a Mac fan, then there is a rare deal on an M2 Mac Mini for $100 off on Amazon. The M2 is still a solid CPU and considering, if rumors are true, the M4 Mac Mini isn’t set to be released until later this year, it’s the perfect time to buy the older version at a discount — you’ll still get a great mini desktop without the exorbitant price of a new-gen Apple product. 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 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. Inspiron 24 AiO, Core i5, 8GB RAM/512GB SSD/24-inch 1080p display, $599.99 (25% off on Dell) Acer Aspire C24-1300, Ryzen 5/8GB RAM/512GB SSD/24-inch 1080p display, $499.00 (27% off on Amazon) HP Envy AiO 34, Core i5/RTX 3050/16GB RAM/512GB SSD/34-inch 5K display, $1,529.99 (26% off on HP) iMac M3 2023, M3/8GB RAM/256GB SSD/24-inch 5K display, $1,199.00 (8% off on Amazon) My top picks: Dell is offering its Inspiron 24 AiO for $200 off on its website. It features a solid Intel Core i5-1335U processor and decent amount of onboard storage—especially for an all-in-one at this price. Good performance features and a functional screen make this a great option for anyone looking for a budget AiO. Alternatively, you could go big with the HP Envy AiO 34 deal for $540 off on HP. The flagship all-in-one from HP is an absolute beauty with tons of screen real-estate thanks to its 34-inch 5K display. Plus, it even comes with an RTX 3050 discrete graphics card — a rarity in an all-in-one computer. Computer deals 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’s the best time to shop for a PC computer? Typically you’ll want to time your PC computer shopping around a prominent sales period. The biggest sales periods are Black Friday/Cyber Monday in late November and Amazon Prime Day in early-to-mid July. The best sales often occur leading up to and during these two events and they are great times to snag a new PC computer for cheap. Other holiday shopping periods such as the New Year sales in January, President’s Day sales in April, and the back-to-school sales event in August are also good times to find discounts on computers. 3. What type of desktop should I get? You’ll see a ton of options when searching for a desktop computer, but they all mainly fit into four main categories: productivity tower PCs, gaming PCs, mini PCS, and all-in-ones (AiO). Which you should end up buying is entirely dependent upon what your needs are and what you want to do with your computer. If you are looking for something that will work in a home office or family room, then a productivity PC or AiO with a solid CPU and lots of RAM and storage is probably the way to go. If gaming is your main concern, a gaming PC can offer a lot more bang for your buck than a laptop and you should focus on getting the best GPU possible. Or if you just want something that can fit anywhere and provide basic computing then a mini PC is a good bet. 4. What CPU and GPU should I get? When looking at your new computer’s CPU, get at least an Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5, both of which will provide plenty of processing power for everyday computing tasks. If you don’t intend to do any PC gaming, then feel free to save some money by going with integrated graphics. However, if you are looking to get your game on, we recommend at least an Nvidia GeForce 3060 or AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT, as these are the least expensive discrete graphics cards that can handle ray tracing well. If you aren’t interested in those cutting-edge lighting effects, however, the RTX 3050 and Radeon RX 6600 also provide good 1080p gaming performance at even lower prices. 5. How much memory and storage does my PC need? As for RAM, we think its best to shoot for 16GB at the minimum for productivity and gaming, but for family computers and internet browsing, 8GB should suffice. Storage size is dependent upon your personal needs, but it is generally a good idea to opt for an SSD over an standard HDD as they are much faster and don’t significantly affect the price of a desktop. Before deciding, it’s best to consider what your intended use of the computer will be. Are you just doing work or web browsing? Then something like 512GB will be plenty. If you want to load up a lot of large files such as games or content creation projects, then you’ll need at least 1 or 2TB or storage. However, just remember that even if your computer doesn’t have enough storage built-in you can always upgrade your SSD or go with an external drive to increase your available storage options. 6. Is it a good idea to buy a refurbished computer? Refurbished computers are used machines that have been repaired, upgraded, and cleaned for the purpose of reselling. They’re usually open-box returns, overstock, or models with minor cosmetic damage (scratches, scuffs, etc). Refurbished computers can be a bargain hunter’s dream as they’re likely still in good (or great) condition and you can save a lot of money. That being said, refurbished computers can have their downsides as well. In addition to cosmetic blemishes, some of the internal components might be a little older or outdated and they might not be in peak condition due to previous usage. If you do consider buying a refurbished computer I recommend looking at eBay as they offer a one-year warranty. You can also check out manufacturer’s retail storefronts like Dell’s Outlet Store and Apple’s Refurbished Store—just be sure to look at the terms of warranty offered before purchasing. Desktop PCs, Gaming Desktop PCs
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