|Prepare for four different Microsoft Azure certifications for just $49|
|Sun, 15 May 2022 08:00:00 +0000|
The job market is hot right now, especially in the IT and tech sectors. Want to take advantage of this opportunity and propel your career to new heights as quickly as possible? Then the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals, Administration, and Security Certification Bundle — discounted to $49 — could be a great way to go about it.
This web-based training package features four courses, each valued at $295, that prepare students to earn four coveted Microsoft Azure certifications. In addition, they’ll get acquainted with the fundamentals of Microsoft Azure, learn the ins and outs of Azure Administration, discover how to run apps in virtual environments, and, finally, how to implement security controls.
These courses are delivered by iCollege, a highly rated source for web-based training. And since there are no physical class sessions to attend, students are free to learn on their own schedules. As a result, you can finish the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals, Administration and Security Certification Bundle at your own pace and work towards your tech career before the job market cools.
The Microsoft Azure Fundamentals, Administration & Security Certification Bundle – $49
Prices subject to change.
|Get over 120 hours of Microsoft certification training for $59|
|Sat, 14 May 2022 08:00:00 +0000|
If you want to make the most of your career, you’ll need certifications that prove your expertise. That might mean putting your life on hold and going back to school. Or you could try something different and train from home with The Complete Microsoft Windows, 365, and Teams Certification Training Bundle, on sale this week for an affordable $59.
This Microsoft certification training package is a good option for students who thrive on self-directed learning. With it, you could prepare to earn your Windows 10 certification, several different Microsoft 365 designations, a Teams credential, and more. And since all of the training is delivered online, you can learn when it’s convenient, which is excellent if you have other commitments to work around.
The Complete Microsoft Windows, 365, and Teams Certification Training Bundle is provided by iCollege, a long-time supplier of web-based training. Their instructors are respected and have received high marks from students all over the globe. Most of these courses have scored ratings of at least 4.3 out of 5, so they’re a viable option for most other forms of training. And right now, the entire collection is just $59 or less than $20 per course.
The Complete Microsoft Windows, 365, & Teams Certification Training Bundle – $59
Prices subject to change.
|The best laptops: Premium laptops, budget laptops, 2-in-1s, and more|
|Fri, 13 May 2022 21:01:28 +0000|
Are you in the market for a brand spanking new laptop? If so, you’ve come to the right place. We curated a list of the best laptops available today. From traditional clamshells to swanky 2-in1’s, we’ve got something for everyone. If you’re working with an inflexible budget, don’t sweat it, we’ve included Chromebooks and a few other affordable options. Every single one of these laptops has been tested and personally vetted by the crew at PCWorld as well.
Read on for our picks for the best laptops around. Now that Intel’s new 12th-gen Core laptops are here and kicking butt, and AMD’s fresh Ryzen 6000 laptop CPUs are delivering game-changing performance for tiny notebooks, expect to see refreshes of the most popular models coming fast and furious over the next few months! If you’re looking to save some cash on your purchase, we’ve also got a roundup of the best laptop deals, updated every weekday. The top-tier stunners you’ll find below don’t grace it very often, but we relentlessly focus on good laptops that are actually good deals too.
Without further ado, these are the best laptops we’ve tested.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 – Best productivity laptop
Roomy 16:10 display
Thin and light yet rugged
Two Thunderbolt 4 ports
Webcam limited to 720p
Display color is a bit cool
Best Prices Today:
$1308 at Lenovo |
$2,143.00 at Amazon |
$2197.01 at B & H Photo
ThinkPads are generally hailed as being awesome business laptops because of their comfortable keyboards and silent operation. With its quiet keyboard, security features, and booming audio, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 is one such laptop. It’s packing a quad-core Core i7-1185G7, 16GB of RAM, and integrated Iris Xe graphics. That means it’s well-equipped to handle “Office and other productivity apps” and “a variety of multitasking scenarios.” The real star of the show is the 16:10 display, though, as it gives you plenty of room to work with. If you consider yourself a business professional, you’ll definitely want to pick this one up.
Read our full
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 review
Asus ROG Zephyrus S17 – Best gaming laptop
Excellent CPU and GPU performance
Robust and innovative design
Comfortable and customizable keyboard
Trackpad requires some pressure
Very high price
$2,200 (base unit) up to $3,700 (review unit)
Best Prices Today:
$3699.99 at Asus |
$3699.99 at Costco |
$5,199.00 at Amazon
The Asus ROG Zephyrus S17 is a gamer’s ultimate dream. This laptop features strong GPU and CPU performance plus a stunning 17.3-inch 4K display with a 120Hz refresh rate. The rugged all-metal chassis, the six speaker sound system, and the customizable keyboard really adds to the premium experience. That said, you’re going to pay out the nose for it. If you’ve got a flexible budget and you’re looking for the best of the best, the Zephyrus S17 is truly the bee’s knees.
Read our full
Asus ROG Zephyrus S17 review
ASUS VivoBook Pro 15 OLED Ultra Slim Laptop – Best budget gaming laptop
Good productivity performance
Great battery life
Unimpressive 720p webcam
Unreliable fingerprint scanner
Poor port selection
Best Prices Today:
$1099.99 at Best Buy |
$1,379.99 at Amazon |
Not Available at Adorama
Looking for a reliable budget gaming laptop? The ASUS VivoBook Pro 15 OLED is a fantastic option. According to our tester, this laptop is great for “gaming, streaming, and day-to-day productivity.” Thanks to the AMD Ryzen 7 5800H CPU and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 (4GB GDDR6) GPU, we were able to hit 60 frames-per-second at 1080p on high graphics during the Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark. Plus, the OLED display is absolutely beautiful and battery life is surprisingly good. There are a few minor shortcomings, however.
The overall design is a little plain and the port selection is limited, and you’ll need to drop down to Medium or High graphics in strenuous modern AAA games on the RTX 3050. Nitpicks aside, if you’re looking for reliable performance on a gorgeous OLED screen, the VivoBook Pro 15 is where the party’s at. If you don’t mind giving up those luscious OLED visuals for a bit more graphics firepower, you should take a look at the Acer Swift X, which is our next entry.
Read our full
ASUS VivoBook Pro 15 OLED Ultra Slim Laptop review
Swift X (SFX14-41G-R1S6) – Best affordable ultraportable
Stellar ultraportable performance.
Sneaky gaming laptop with RTX 3050 Ti graphics.
Impressive battery life considering high-end parts.
Display feels cramped for creative work.
Fan gets loud during heavy workloads.
Poorly placed Pg-Up and -Down buttons.
Best Prices Today:
$1,054.02 at Amazon
Don’t judge a laptop by its chassis. The Swift X may not look all that threatening at first glance, but under the hood you’ll find some seriously powerful components. This ultraportable is packing an AMD Ryzen 7 5800U processor, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU, and 512GB of PCIe NVMe SSD storage. In our review, the Swift managed “48 frames per second at the Highest preset” when running Shadow of the Tomb Raider at 1080p. There are a few downsides, though. The fans get loud under heavy loads and the keyboard runs a little warm. But if you can live with those shortcomings and you’re looking for strong CPU and GPU performance, the Swift X will definitely deliver.
Read our full
Swift X (SFX14-41G-R1S6) review
Acer Aspire 5 – Best budget laptop
Good selection of ports
Annoying bloatware comes pre-installed
Touchpad is a little hard to use
$369 (base model) $499 (as reviewed)
Best Prices Today:
$499 at Walmart |
$595.00 at Amazon |
$849.99 at B & H Photo
With its affordable price point, decent performance, and robust build, the Acer Aspire 5 is a good budget option for most people. While the color scheme is a little boring to look at, the build is surprisingly rugged. Our tester was surprised by its “solid, durable feel.” The keyboard is nice, too. It has a spacious layout, which is perfect for longer typing sessions. Performance is fast enough for general use tasks like writing emails and browsing the web, but that’s about it. If you’re shopping around for a solid everyday laptop that won’t break the bank, the Aspire 5 is definitely worth a look.
Read our full
Acer Aspire 5 review
Acer Chromebook Spin 713 – Best Chromebook
Good build quality
Nice selection of ports
Solid battery life
No privacy shutter on the webcam
Fan noise is a bit loud
Best Prices Today:
$629.99 at Acer |
$690.69 at Amazon
If you’re looking for a great convertible laptop, the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 will surely fit the bill. You can either prop it up like a tent or fold the screen all the way back and use it like a tablet. We were also impressed with its vibrant display, all-day battery life, and diverse selection of ports. The design is a little utilitarian, but this is the kind of machine that favors function over aesthetics. The build is robust and there was hardly any flex in the keyboard tray. There are a couple of downsides like the loud fan noise and the lack of a physical privacy shutter on the webcam, but these issues are relatively minor. Overall, the Spin 713 is a solid convertible laptop that performs well.
Dell XPS 17 9710 – Best content creation laptop
Huge 17-inch screen in a relatively compact laptop
Intel’s newest 11th gen CPU and Nvidia RTX graphics
No USB-A port and no Gigabit Ethernet
Hybrid charging likely sacrifices a little performance
Best Prices Today:
$2299.99 at Dell |
$2,425.99 at Amazon
Dell’s updated XPS 17 boasts a huge 17-inch screen, 11th-gen Intel CPU, and GeForce RTGX 3060 GPU. By packing as much screen real estate into such a compact laptop, the XPS 17 is the poster child for what a content creation workhorse laptop is.
Read our full
Dell XPS 17 9710 review
Asus VivoBook Pro 16X OLED – Best content creation laptop (runner up)
Beautiful 4K OLED display
Long battery life
Useful DialPad tool
Design lacks flair
Best Prices Today:
$1649.99 at B & H Photo |
Not Available at Amazon |
Not Available at Adorama
The Asus VivoBook Pro 16X OLED is another great option for content creators. It has a use DialPad feature, a 4K OLED display, and a micro SD card slot—all coveted specifications for image and video editing. Compared to the Dell XPS 17 9710 (our top pick for content creators), this laptop has a weaker 3050 Ti GPU. That said, the Ryzen 5900HX CPU has more cores. Therefore, the Asus may be a better option for those with CPU-intensive workloads. It’s also lightweight and compact, and it’s packing a whopping 1TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD. Overall, this is a great choice for creators.
Read our full
Asus VivoBook Pro 16X OLED review
Acer Swift 3 – Best for students
Solid chassis and build quality
Large, attractive 16-inch 1080p screen
Enjoyable keyboard and touchpad
USB-C with charging and DisplayPort
Webcam, microphone, and speakers don’t impress
Intel processor falls behind AMD alternatives
Disappointing battery life
Lots of bloatware
Best Prices Today:
$789.99 at Amazon
If you’re looking for a big screen on a modest budget, the Acer Swift 3 is a fantastic option. It features an attractive 16-inch 1080p display, a solid chassis, and an enjoyable keyboard and touchpad. However, battery life is subpar, so you’ll want to keep the charger on hand. This is unfortunate, as the Swift 3’s slim profile makes it a good laptop for travel. If you don’t mind the battery life, this is a great laptop for watching movies and streaming shows.
Read our full
Acer Swift 3 SF316-51 review
Microsoft Surface Pro 8 – Best tablet
Superior screen: larger, higher-res, higher refresh rate
Inking is a pleasure
Good audio, with louder speakers
New optional Type Cover integrates pen well
Webcam might need some tweaking
Pen and keyboard still cost extra
Best Prices Today:
$947.00 at Best Buy |
$959.99 at Amazon |
$1099.00 at B & H Photo
Microsoft’s Surface tablets were already atop our list of best 2-in-1 laptops, but Microsoft reworked the Surface Pro 8 in numerous ways by adding a larger, higher-resolution, faster screen, a pair of Thunderbolt ports that replace the legacy Surface Connector, and a new inking experience, among other features.
While this generation of the Surface Pro tablet forgoes an always-connected LTE option as well as the choice of a cheap Core i3, performance still soared to the top of the heap. Benefits like how the increased display refresh rate improves inking are subtle improvements that matter, too. It’s the most dramatic revamp of a Surface in years and it’s all for the better.
Read our full
Surface Pro 8 review
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022) – Best mid-range gaming laptop
Powerful CPU and GPU performance in a very compact design
AniMe Matrix screams unique
It has a webcam
Half permanent RAM
Keyboard backlighting is subpar
$1650 (base price) | $2500 (Radeon RX 6800S, 1TB SSD, 32GB RAM)
Best Prices Today:
$1649.99 at Best Buy |
$1,859.00 at Amazon
The ROG Zephyrus G14 is both lightweight and powerful—a very rare combination. It weighs just a little over three pounds, which makes it a capable traveling laptop. Between the AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS processor and AMD Radeon RX6800S GPU, you can expect strong performance as well. The only weakness is the keyboard. It feels a little mushy and the backlighting is rather unimpressive. That said, if you’re in the market for a portable laptop that delivers zippy performance, the Zephyrus G14 is a great pick.
Read our full
ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022) review
Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G – Best coffee shop laptop
Fantastic 16-hour battery life
Ultra thin, light and svelte
Excellent 1080p OLED display and Dolby audio
Solid value, though a premium price
A ton of preloaded apps, many from Samsung
No 4K display option
Best Prices Today:
$1249.99 at Samsung |
Not Available at Samsung
The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G offers a gorgeous OLED screen, superb battery life, and an excellent inking experience. It also has a 360-degree hinge, which means you can fold it up like a tent or swing the display around and use it like a tablet. It’s very versatile, which may appeal to students or business professionals. In our review, our tester described it as “an excellent coffee shop PC.” The only drawback is the slow SSD.
Read our full
Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G review
HP Chromebook x2 11 da0023dx – Best folio-style Chromebook
Gorgeous 2K touchscreen
Excellent battery life
Trackpad is too sensitive at times
Light on ports
Best Prices Today:
$379.00 at Best Buy
Ah, folio-style laptops. While some may find them cumbersome to deal with, our reviewer really liked this one. The HP Chromebook x2 11 is one of the best 2-in-1 laptops you can buy. The tablet’s aluminum chassis feels rugged and like it’ll last quite a while. The detachable keyboard took some getting used to, but ended up being fine for long typing sessions. The rear plate, which transforms into a kickstand that holds up the tablet, connects to the back of the tablet via magnets. The reviewer found the connection to be both clean and strong. As for the performance, it’s about what you’d expect out of a Chromebook. It’s zippy enough for everyday tasks like browsing the web and so on.
Read our full
HP Chromebook x2 11 da0023dx review
Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 (2022) – Best convertible
Sturdy and sleek all-metal chassis
Long battery life
Impressive audio output
16:9 screen feels cramped
Included stylus is too skinny
Limited ports all on left side
$1,230 (entry level) | $1,449 (as reviewed)
Best Prices Today:
$1230 at Lenovo |
$1249.99 at Best Buy
The Lenovo Yoga 9i is a fantastic convertible. It has an attractive design, a dazzling OLED display, and great sound quality. Plus, the 12th-gen Intel processor really boosts performance. According to our tester, the processor “packs four performance cores and eight efficiency cores.” That’s quite a bit of power. The 74 watt-hour battery is quite large for a compact 2-in-1 as well. When we put the laptop through our battery test, it died in about 12 hours. You can expect this laptop to last through the work day. There’s a couple of minor nitpicks to be aware of, though. The 19:9 aspect ratio makes the screen feel a bit squished and the touchpad is smaller than we like. If you can live with those small drawbacks, the Yoga 9i is well worth considering.
Read our full
Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 (2022) review
How we tested
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.
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
Ah, here we are at the billion dollar question. Do you spring for a basic Chromebook or go for a Windows laptop with more features? Well, it really depends on your personal lifestyle and what you plan on using your laptop for. For example, Chromebooks are a great low cost option for those who just want the basics. I use a Chromebook as my primary work laptop, as it has everything I need for both editing and writing. If you travel a bunch for work, it’s probably a good idea to invest in a laptop with solid battery life. If you’re still unsure, don’t sweat it. I’ve put together a list of quick tips below.
Laptop type: 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.CPU: 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. 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.RAM: 8GB of RAM is zippy enough for general use. If you’ve got a gaming laptop, 16GB of RAM is the way to go, and content creators will want even more.Display size: 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.Battery life: 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.Price: 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. These laptops are good choices for students or young professionals. If you can afford to spend more, the versatility of a 2-in-1 laptop is really worth it. Ports: 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.
|TeamViewer’s popular licenses – now up to 70% less|
|Fri, 13 May 2022 19:07:04 +0000|
TeamViewer provides a premium, secure remote connectivity support solution to help increase productivity across any device. Right now, you can get a TeamViewer Business license for $24.90, or roughly 50% lower than its previous price of $50.90. Plus, the TeamViewer Remote Access license has been reduced by a whopping 70%, putting it at just $6.95. Click here to review the products and their new pricing on TeamViewer’s site.
|What’s the point of AMD’s Radeon RX 6400?|
|Fri, 13 May 2022 16:00:00 +0000|
Who needs an entry-level graphics card? Not a lot of people these days. With some incredible advancements in both standard GPUs and integrated GPUs, there’s not much room in the market for inexpensive, entry-level discrete cards. Which begs the question, why did AMD make one, and at the worst possible time?
PCWorld contributor Keith May breaks down the market position, and reaction to, the AMD Radeon RX 6400 in our latest YouTube video. This low-profile, low-power, low-cost card doesn’t make a lot of sense for most gamers.
Unless you’re rocking a relatively ancient gaming desktop PC and you want a GPU upgrade, or you’re making a low-power build that demands the tiny dimensions of this card, you’ll be better served by something like the GTX 1650. And with prices for both cards hovering around the $150 to $160 range, the GTX 1650 is going to be the clear choice for most buyers.
If you want this kind of insight and analysis on a regular basis, don’t forget to subscribe to PCWorld’s YouTube channel.
|Best laptop deals: Top picks from budget to extreme|
|Fri, 13 May 2022 14:58:54 +0000|
Whether you’re buying a new laptop for school or trying to find a high-end gaming laptop, it’s possible to find good laptop deals no matter the season. We’re scouring the web daily to find the laptop deals you don’t want to miss.
Mind you, not all advertised laptop deals are actually deals, so we’ve only included the ones we consider actual bargains—and we’ve explained why. We’ll add new laptop deals as we see them daily and remove any expired sales. Right now, we’re seeing strong discounts on gaming laptops, Microsoft Surface devices, and more. If you’re looking for Chromebooks we’ve got those deals in here too!
We’ve provided a handy list of laptop-specific shopping tips at the end of this post, and immediately below are the deals themselves.
The best laptop deals in 2022
MSI Katana GF66
From: Microsoft (via eBay)
Now: $657.99 ($442 off)
This laptop is quite a bargain, but we’re not sure how long it’ll last. This version of the MSI Katana features a 15.6-inch 1080p display with a maximum refresh rate of 144Hz. It has a Core i5-11400H with six cores, twelve threads, and a boost to 4.5GHz. The GPU is the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050. That means you can play 1080p games at high and sometimes down to medium with the occasional game at ultra. For RAM, you have 8GB, which is the bare minimum you need for gaming. Onboard storage is a 512GB SSD. It’s running Windows 10, but it should be just fine for Windows 11 when the time comes.
See the MSI Katana GF66 at eBay
Asus VivoBook 17 X712
From: Best Buy
Now: $499.99 ($200 off)
If you’re in the market for a mid-range laptop, the Asus VivoBook 17 X712 offers a lot of value. First, this laptop has a 17.3-inch display with 1600-by-900 resolution, which is a lot of screen space. It’s packing 12GB of RAM to give the clamshell a good amount of pep and a 1TB hard drive for storing files. The processor is a Core i5-1035G1, which has four cores, eight threads, and a boost to 3.6GHz. This CPU is getting a little old, but it’ll do fine for Excel, Word, video streaming, web browsing, and so on. It’s not going to do much for you in terms of gaming, but as a solid everyday use laptop, it’s worth looking at.
See the Asus VivoBook 17 X712 at Best Buy
From: Best Buy
Now: $899.99 ($300 off)
Most of the other laptops with a 3050 Ti in this round-up are $750 to $800. However, the MSI Sword has the added advantage of a higher-end processor. Namely, the Intel Core i7-11800H, which has eight cores, sixteen threads, and a boost to 4.6GHz. The display is 15.6-inch at 1080p resolution with a maximum refresh rate of 144Hz. This allows for smoother visual experiences, which leads us to the GPU.
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti is good for 1080p gaming, but it’s not perfect. There will be times when you’ll need to bring the graphics down to high or medium to exceed 60 frames-per-second. However, it’ll be worth it for the added visuals.
For RAM, the MSI Sword is packing 8GB. That’s a little low, so you may want to check on whether the RAM is upgradeable. 8GB is just fine, but 16GB hits the sweet spot between usability and overkill. For storage, you get a 512GB NVMe SSD. That’s enough for a few games and you can always look into external storage if necessary. Last but not least, this PC is running Windows 10 but it’s Windows 11 ready.
See the MSI Sword at Best Buy
From: Best Buy
Now: $749.99 ($249.01 off)
Are you in the market for a budget gaming laptop? If so, the Asus TUF laptop is an awesome choice. The CPU is a Core i5-11400H, which has six cores, twelve threads, and a boost to 4.5GHz. The RAM is 8GB, which is a little low. However, you may be able to upgrade the RAM yourself if don’t mind a little DIY. For onboard storage, you get a 512GB NVMe SSD. This will help keep your laptop relatively zippy.
As for the GPU, the TUF is armed with a Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti. This is a good GPU for 1080p gaming, but you’ll have to dial down the graphics depending on the game. The good news is that it’ll be worth the sacrifice, as the GPU can push out more frames and the 17.3-inch display has a maximum refresh rate of 144Hz. This should result in a smoother visual experience.
See the Asus TUF gaming laptop at Best Buy
Lenovo Chromebook S330
Now: $180 ($20.41 off)
The Lenovo Chromebook S330 is nice sub-$200 deal. However, it might underperform compared to Intel-powered Chromebooks. This one is powered by a MediaTek MT8173C processor, a budget ARM-based quad-core SoC. These Chromebooks aren’t as snappy as their Intel-based counterparts, but they’re still very usable, especially if you stick to Chrome OS. This laptop will run the Android App Store and Linux desktop apps.
The S330 has a 14-inch display with 1080p resolution, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of onboard storage. It also has 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, and a 720p webcam. Security and feature support for this Chromebook runs out in June 2025.
See the Lenovo Chromebook S330 at Amazon
Now: $399 ($100 off)
The Gateway GWTN141 would make an excellent productivity machine. It’s a 14.1-inch laptop with 1080p resolution and the processor is the Intel “Tiger Lake” Core i5-1135G7 with four cores, eight threads, and a boost to 4.2Ghz. The CPU is also loaded with Iris Xe Graphics. The laptop has 16GB of RAM and 512GB of onboard storage. It also has a fingerprint scanner, and it’s running Windows 10 Home (it’s Windows 11-ready).
See the Gateway GWTN141 at Walmart
Acer Swift 3
Now: $499 ($300.99 off)
The Acer Swift 3 would be an excellent laptop for work or study. It’s part of the Evo platform, so it’s light enough for travel. The display’s resolution is 2256-by-1504 and the processor is an Intel “Tiger Lake” Core i5-1135G7, which has four cores, eight threads, and a boost to 4.2GHz. It also has 8GB of RAM and 512GB of NVMe onboard storage. There’s a fingerprint reader for biometric login, Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 access, and the keyboard has backlighting.
See the Acer Swift 3 at Walmart
HP Chromebook x2
From: Best Buy
Now: $249 ($350 off)
The HP Chromebook x2 11 features a lightweight form factor and all-day battery life. It also has a fingerprint reader, a detachable keyboard and kickstand, and a rechargeable pen. As for performance, this Chrome OS tablet is capable of handling general use tasks such as web surfing and writing papers. The 11-inch touch-enabled display has a resolution is 2160-by-1440. You can expect a rather vibrant picture.
This Chromebook uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c processor. It’s running ChromeOS, but you can still download apps from the Play Store. However, Linux is running the ARM version. This may restrict which apps you can use, but finding the major applications or a usable alternative shouldn’t be a problem. Last but not least, it’s packing 8GB of RAM and 64GB of onboard storage.
See the HP Chromebook x2 at Best Buy
Now: $799.99 ($484.99 off)
The gaming laptop deals just keep on rolling in.
The Dell G15 has a Ryzen 7 5800H and a Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU. The Zen 3 CPU has eight cores, sixteen threads, and a boost to 4.4GHz. The 3050 Ti, on the other hand, is a solid option for 1080p gaming. The display is 15.6 inches with a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz. To hit that height, however, you’ll likely need to tone down the graphics from ultra in some games. This laptop is also packing 8GB of RAM. To get the price quoted above, make sure you select the 512GB of storage option.
See the Dell G15 at Dell.com
Lenovo IdeaPad 3i
From: Office Depot
Now: $309.99 ($320 off)
If you’re in the market for an affordable Windows laptop, the Lenovo IdeaPad 3i is a good option. The CPU is a Core i3-1115G4, which has two cores, four threads and a boost to 4.1GHz. It’s packing 8GB and storage is a 1TB hard drive. Yes we said hard drive, not NVMe storage. That’s one of the trade-offs with this laptop. You get a lot of storage, sure, but it’s the old school kind.
This laptop is zippy enough for lighter tasks like web browsing and email, but it’s not a powerhouse. So, if you need a productivity machine, then this laptop is well worth considering.
See the Lenovo IdeaPad 3i at Office Depot
Acer Aspire 5
Now: $399 ($100.99 off)
If you’re looking for a solid travel laptop, the Acer Aspire 5 would be a good fit. It has a 14-inch 1080p display and the processor is an Intel “Tiger Lake” Core i5-1135G7 with four cores, eight threads, and a boost to 4.2GHz. This laptop is packing 8GB of RAM to keep things snappy and 256GB of NVMe storage. That’s not a ton, but for travel it’s fine. The CPU is very good for office applications or regular web browsing and video streaming. The laptop also has Wi-Fi 6 and Windows 11 Home. The deal only applies to the Safari Gold version.
See the Acer Aspire 5 at Walmart
Gateway Ultra Slim Notebook
Now: $399 ($100 off)
The Gateway Ultra Slim Notebook features a 15.6-inch 1080p display and an AMD Ryzen 7 3700U with four cores, eight threads, and a boost to 4GHz. It also has 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. This is a nice well-rounded laptop with a good amount of storage that’ll easily help you get some work down whether you need something for travel or school.
See the Gateway Ultra Slim Notebook at Walmart
Gateway Creator Notebook
Now: $699 ($470 off)
The Gateway Creator Notebook is a serviceable 15.6-inch 1080p gaming clamshell. It features an Intel “Tiger Lake” Core i5-11400H, which has six cores, twelve threads and a 4.5GHz boost clock. The GPU is the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050. It also has 16GB of onboard RAM and a 512GB SSD.
There’s a few extras you get with this rig like a Windows Hello-ready IR camera, THX Spatial Audio, and a free month of Xbox Game Pass for PC. It’s a pretty good deal all around, so don’t miss out.
See the Gateway Creator Notebook at Walmart
Asus Vivobook Pro 14 K3400
Now: $599 ($150 off)
If you’re into creative work, the Asus Vivobook Pro 14 is a fantastic option. This laptop has a 14-inch 2880-by-1800 OLED display with a 16:10 aspect ratio. OLED screens are great, so you can expect a sharper image. The Vivobook is also packing a Core i5-1330H, a Tiger Lake CPU with four cores, eight threads, and a boost to 4.4GHz. There’s even 8GB of RAM, which is a good amount for some video editing. Onboard storage is a 256GB NVMe SSD, and you’re getting Thunderbolt 4, Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5.0.
This is a nice laptop with a very good display, but for storage you’ll likely have to rely mostly on the cloud. Speaking of which, you also get a free, three month subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud as part of the package.
See the Asus Vivobook Pro 14 K3400 at Walmart
Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7
From: Micro Center
Now: $499.99 ($450 off)
The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 has a 14-inch 1080p IPS display with an Intel “Tiger Lake” Core i5-1135G7 driving it. The CPU has four cores, eight threads, and a boost to 4.2GHz. It also has 8GB of RAM and a 512GB hard drive.
This is a solid laptop for getting some work done. It doesn’t have a special GPU, but you might be able to get some casual gaming out of this with the onboard Iris Xe graphics. It’s a great laptop for general use and you can’t really beat the price, either.
See the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 at Micro Center
Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming
From: Micro Center
Now: $749.99 ($250 off)
Micro Center is famous for its awesome deals that are pick-up only, but this particular laptop is actually shipping. The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming laptop has a Ryzen 7 5800H CPU, which is a Zen 3 processor with eight cores, sixteen threads, and a maximum boost to 4.4GHz. It has 16GB of RAM and 512GB of onboard storage. The GPU is an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050, which is a dependable enough 1080p card. You should be able to play most games on high graphics, perhaps dipping down to medium on particularly demanding games. The display is 15.6 inches with 1080p resolution and a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz. It also has Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0.
See the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming at Micro Center
Now: $429.99 ($170 off)
Getting a solid workhorse computer with a good amount of storage for under $500 isn’t easy these days, but the HP 17 laptop is one of those rare finds. It includes a quad-core, eight-thread Intel “Tiger Lake” Core i3-1125G4 CPU with a maximum boost to 3.7GHz. It’s also packing 8GB of RAM, which is a good amount for productivity tasks.
As for storage, this HP has 512GB, which is rare for a sub-$500 computer. It’s also rocking a 17.3-inch display at 1080p. The laptop is running Windows 11 Home, so you don’t have to worry about upgrading this one.
See the HP 17-cn0273st at Staples
HP Victus 16
The HP Victus 16 is a nice little AMD-based 1080p gaming machine. The CPU is a Ryzen 5 5600H. That’s a Zen 3 processor with six cores, twelve threads, and a maximum boost clock of 4.2GHz. The processor will do nicely for gaming and productivity. The laptop is also packing 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD.
The 16.1-inch IPS display has a resolution of 1080p and a refresh rate of 60Hz. The graphics are handled by the AMD Radeon RX 5500M. It’s all about bringing AMD’s RDNA architecture to budget gaming in a capable package. You should expect good 1080p gaming, though you might not be able to run every game with the graphics maxed out. It’s not a high-end machine, but it’ll get the job done for under $700.
See the HP Victus 16 at Walmart
Gateway 15.6-inch Ultra Slim
Now: $249 ($200.99 off)
Bargain basement laptops are a beautiful thing, especially if you need a laptop that performs well while and can survive getting banged around a bit during your travels. This affordable Gateway at Walmart features a Ryzen 3 3250U processor, which has two cores, four threads and a max boost to 3.5GHz. It’s also rocking 128GB of onboard storage, 4GB of RAM, and a 15.6-inch 1080p display. This laptop ships with Windows 10 S, which can only run apps found in the digital Microsoft store, but you can go to full Windows 10 via a one-way free upgrade.
See the Gateway 15.6-inch Ultra Slim at Walmart
Lenovo IdeaPad 3i
Now: $419 ($280 off)
The Lenovo IdeaPad 3i is well priced. It features a 14-inch 1080p display and a quad-core, eight-thread Intel “Comet Lake” Core i5-10210U with a boost to 4.2GHz. It’s packing just 8GB of RAM and 512GB of NVMe SSD storage. This laptop is also running Windows 11 Home, so there’s no need to worry about upgrades.
If you want a larger screen, Walmart has an alternative version of this model with a 15.6-inch 1080p display for $433.89. That said, you get only 4GB of RAM and 256GB of onboard storage. The CPU is newer but has fewer cores with the dual-core, four-thread Intel “Tiger Lake” Core i3-1115G4 that boosts to 4.1Ghz.
See the Lenovo IdeaPad 3i at Walmart
Microsoft Surface Pro 7+
Now: $599 ($330.99 off)
If you’re looking for a well designed Windows tablet, there’s no beating Microsoft’s Surface line and this Walmart’s sale offers an excellent bargain. This version of the Surface Pro 7+ comes with a Core i3 processor, 128GB of onboard storage, 8GB of RAM, and a black Type Cover. We reviewed the Surface Pro 7+ nearly a year ago, giving it 4.5 out of 5 stars and an Editors’ Choice Award. We called it “the most potent upgrade Microsoft’s Surface Pro line has offered in years.”
See the Surface Pro 7+ at Walmart
Now: $499 ($180 off)
This HP laptop has a lot going for it. The CPU is an Intel “Tiger Lake” Core i5-1135G7 with four cores, eight threads and a boost to 4.2GHz. The processor is packing Iris Xe graphics, which will provide surprising performance for an integrated GPU. It also has 8GB of RAM, a 512GB NVMe SSD, and a 1080p display. If need a new laptop to kick off 2022, then this is a nice choice.
See the HP 17-by4061nr at Walmart
Now: $219 ($60 off)
This deal puts us in an odd position. We’re not huge fans of laptops with just 128GB of onboard storage (especially this one’s onboard eMMC storage) and generally don’t recommend Windows PCs running Celeron processors. For a price around $200, however, we’re willing to overlook these shortcomings but with some big caveats.
First, you’ll get exactly what you pay for with this clamshell, but that just might be a good thing given the price. It’s running Windows 10 Home in S Mode and we would not recommend upgrading this laptop to regular Windows 10. Instead, use this laptop like a Chromebook, so focus on using it for web apps like Google Docs or Office Online. Then, if you absolutely need a desktop program download, run whatever you need from the selection in the Windows Store. We wouldn’t try editing a photo on this since it has just 4GB of RAM and deathly slow flash storage. Still, the Intel Celeron N4020 will get the job done for basic uses and a 15.6-inch 1080p display offers a bigger display than what you’d get from a Chromebook around the same price.
See the Asus L510 at Walmart
Laptop deal buying tips
If you’ve shopped online before for laptop deals you’re probably aware that there’s a vast range of laptop configurations available.
A good place to start is with the processor. Buy laptops with Intel 10-series Core chips or higher, such as the Core i5-10510U, or the Core i7-11800H (for even more details see our Intel 10th-gen mobile CPU buying guide); or go with an AMD Ryzen processor (but not an AMD Athlon or A-series chip). Avoid laptops with Pentium or Celeron processors unless it’s a Chromebook (running Chrome OS). You’re going to need to pay attention with gaming laptops, too, as some GPUs, like the RTX 3050 Ti, don’t offer much boost over their RTX 2xxx-series cousins, and Nvidia has dropped the Max-Q designation on certain low-power options. Our laptop CPU and GPU cheat sheet can help you shop smart.
Display resolution is a gotcha. If you see a laptop labeled as “HD” resolution that means 1366-by-768 and often isn’t worth your time for a laptop under 13 inches unless the deal is absolutely standout. What you want is “Full HD” or “FHD,” which means 1080p.
Don’t buy laptops with under 4GB of RAM or 128GB of SSD storage—though on a Chromebook, this configuration is acceptable. We have more explanation in our laptops versus Chromebooks buying guide, as well as in our primer on how to buy a budget laptop without getting screwed. Also watch out for eMMC storage, which is something we don’t recommend for a Windows laptop but works fine for a Chromebook.
Reviews can be helpful. Even if you can’t find a review of a specific configuration, try related models. They’ll often give you a good idea of the build quality and performance. Also buy from brands you trust. Amazon’s daily laptop deals right now are full of brands we’ve never tested or talked to (Broage, Teclast, DaySky, Jumper) and it’s just a good idea to be wary.
Most older laptops will run Windows 10, and that’s fine—there’s no rush to upgrade. Windows 10 in S Mode, though annoying, can be switched out of easily if you find it on a budget laptop. If you want to buy a Windows 10 PC with the intent of upgrading it to Windows 11, we recommend you start here with a list of older laptops that are Windows 11-eligible.
Updated on May 13 with additional deals, and to remove expired deals.
|Upgrade to a screaming fast, pixel-packed 1440p monitor for just $230|
|Fri, 13 May 2022 14:40:21 +0000|
If you’re looking to upgrade your monitor, today is your lucky day. Newegg is selling a 27-inch Acer 1440p high refresh rate gaming monitor for $230. That’s $140 off the MSRP and a good sale price for this display.
The Acer XG270HU has a 144Hz refresh rate to blow past those 60 frames-per-second allowing for smoother visuals. It’s also rocking FreeSync to keep performance consistent between the graphics card and monitor. This means greatly reduced moments of screen tearing and stutter.
Acer’s designed this monitor with an “edge-to-edge frameless design,” making it a nice choice for a multi-monitor gaming set-up. It also has built-in speakers and, for connections, you have HDMI, DisplayPort, and DVI-D. To use FreeSync, you’ll have to choose between DisplayPort and HDMI–both support up to the maximum frame rate. If you have an Nvidia graphics card, this monitor is G-Sync compatible, so no one is left out of the variable refresh rate party.
Overall, this is a nice looking monitor at a good price. You’ve just really got to like red accents.
[Today’s deal: Acer 27-inch 1440p gaming monitor for $230 at Newegg.]
|Best wireless mice: Cut the cord with these top performers|
|Fri, 13 May 2022 14:30:00 +0000|
If you still think of wireless mice as laggy, battery-sucking substitutes for a real mouse, we’ve got good news for you. Mouse manufacturers have largely solved the latency, connectivity, and power-efficiency problems that once blighted these devices. The best of today’s wireless mice rival their wired counterparts in performance, battery life, features, and design.
There are two rather obvious benefits of a wireless mouse. It eliminates the tether to your computer, giving you greater range—essential if you are constrained by your work area or playing PC games on your TV—and removes a source of friction that often interferes with speed and accuracy. It also makes an essential device more travel friendly. No one objects to one less cord in their gear bag. You’ll probably pay a bit more for a wireless mouse than a wired one, but if you value this kind of convenience it’s worth it.
Want to pair your wireless mouse with a wireless keyboard? We’ve got you covered—see PCWorld’s roundup of the best wireless keyboards.
Our picks for best wireless mice include innovative designs, ergonomic features, and multiple connectivity options. They also cover both productivity and gaming uses, so you should be able to find at least one that suits your needs. You’ll find our tips on what to look for in a wireless mouse below our recommendations.
Microsoft Arc Mouse – Most portable wireless mouse
Good productivity performance
Limited customization options
Needs two AAA batteries
Might be small for bigger hands
Best Prices Today:
$52.99 at Amazon |
$56.99 at Microsoft |
79.99 at Microsoft
If we had a “most unusual mouse design” category, the Arc Mouse would win that as well. It lays flat until you bend it into an arc that conforms to the shape of your mouse-ing hand. It uses a single click pad for left and right buttons and scrolling, and the default settings can be changed in Windows device settings.
At just 5.17 x 2.17 x 0.56 inches, the Arc Mouse is easily the most portable mouse we tested. We also like that there is no USB receiver to worry about misplacing—the Arc Mouse connects via Bluetooth 4.0. Folks with extra-large hands might find it a little small, but for most people it will be a welcome addition to their gear bag.
Logitech MX Ergo – Best wireless mouse with a trackball
Comfortable ergonomic tilt
Best Prices Today:
$86.39 at Amazon |
99.99 at Logitech
Trackball mice are an acquired taste, but the MX Ergo’s innovative design may have wider appeal. Its width and shape can accommodate most hand sizes and its responsive thumb-side trackball is easy to use and control.
A removable metal plate on the bottom serves a dual purpose. Its weight keeps the mouse perfectly still on your desk as you rotate the scroll wheel. And it can also be adjusted to tilt the mouse 20 degrees, an angle that puts your arm in a more natural, rested position.
The mouse has eight buttons—including a dedicated precision button that slows the cursor speed so you can make more accurate movements with the trackball—all of which can be customized using Logitech Options software. The mouse connects via an accompanying USB dongle or Bluetooth, and Logitech claims its battery can go four months on a single full charge. The only downer is it’s not ambidextrous, so southpaws will have to look elsewhere.
Logitech MX Vertical – Most ergonomic wireless mouse
Comfortable ergonomic design
Can cross-control multiple devices
Customizable button mapping
Has a bit of a learning curve
Best Prices Today:
$97.98 at Amazon |
$99.99 at Logitech
If you have a history of mouse-related hand and arm discomfort, the MX vertical is a great option. Its upright position and contoured body puts your arm at about a 57-degree vertical angle, reducing the pressure on your wrist and creating a comfortable thumb rest. Despite the unconventional design, the mouse still offers familiar controls with split mouse buttons, a scroll wheel aligned to your first two fingers, and a pair of thumb buttons on the adjascent side.
The mouse supports Logitech’s Unified Receiver and Bluetooth connections. You can also wire it to your computer using the USB-C charging cable. You can use it with Logitech Options to customize button settings and with Logitech Flow to seamlessly control multiple computers with a single mouse.
The MX Veritcal is a high-performing productivity tool once you get acclimated to the vertical design, and one that may prevent pain and strain as well as ease them.
Microsoft Bluetooth Mouse – Best budget wireless mouse
Compact, ambidextrous design
Clickable scroll wheel
No programmable buttons
No ergonomic features
Best Prices Today:
$13.99 at Amazon |
$16.99 at Microsoft |
$19.99 at Microsoft
For a no-nonsense, go-anywhere mouse, the Microsoft Bluetooth Mouse is hard to beat. As its name makes clear, it connects over Bluetooth so there’s no USB dongle to keep track of. Split buttons and a clickable scroll wheel let you precisely navigate web pages and large documents, and it tracks easily over most surfaces.
The Microsoft Bluetooth Mouse runs on a single AA battery but since it uses Bluetooth Low Energy, you can expect up to 12 months of battery life. It’s available in five colors.
SteelSeries Rival 650 – Best wireless mouse for gaming
Comfortable and attractive design
Removable weight system provides plenty of options
Heavier than some might like
Third thumb button is small and awkwardly placed
Best Prices Today:
$71.99 at Amazon |
$79.99 at SteelSeries
Wireless gaming mice offer a critical advantage—no cord resistance to slow down your movements or mess with the precision of your aim. Our top pick is the the SteelSeries Rival 650. It features an eye-catching design, smart button placement, and a wealth of customization options. It also uses a unique dual-sensor system, pairing SteelSeries’ exclusive TrueMove3 with a dedicated depth sensor that keeps your aim steady when you lift up and adjust the mouse.
The SteelSeries Rival 650 uses quick-charging tech similar to what you find in phones, giving you about 10 hours of charge from a mere 15 minutes plugged in. Best of all, you get all this for about half the price of its competitors.
To learn more read our full review of the SteelSeries Rival 650.
Logitech G603 – Best budget wireless mouse for gaming
Adopts Logitech’s comfortable G703 scooped shape
500 hours of high-performance gaming off two AA batteries
Flashy one-piece battery cover and button design
Heavy, thanks to the dual batteries
Hard to say how durable the buttons will be over time
Best Prices Today:
$49.99 at Amazon |
$49.99 at B & H Photo |
$49.99 at Logitech G
You can use your main mouse for gaming on the road. But Logitech’s G603 is a better choice. This dedicated wireless gaming mouse features six programmable buttons, including the scroll wheel and a comfortable scoop shape that conforms to right-handers’ thumbs. Two AA batteries power up to 500 hours of gaming thanks to Logitech’s proprietary HERO sensor, which provides accurate performance with no smoothing, no acceleration, and no interference up to 12,000 DPI.
To learn more, read our full review of the Logitech G603.
What to look for in a wireless mouse
In lieu of a cord, wireless mice connect in one of two ways: via Bluetooth or radio frequencies. Most modern computers ship with Bluetooth support, so if you purchase a Bluetooth-compatible mouse, you’ll just need to pair the two devices to get up and running.
Wireless mice that connect using radio frequencies come with a USB-RF receiver that plugs into a USB port on your computer. This is a plug-and-play process and the mouse should talk to the receiver—often called a “dongle”—as soon as you plug it in. If you don’t or can’t keep the dongle plugged into your computer at all times—you only have so many USB ports, after all—you’ll have to vigilantly keep track of it. If you lose it, your mouse won’t be good for anything but a paper weight. For this reason, some mice come with a small compartment in which you can store the receiver when it’s not in use.
The main concern with wireless connectivity is latency. If your input doesn’t register onscreen nearly instantly, you productivity will quickly take a hit. A mouse’s responsiveness is even more critical when gaming, where quick reflexes can be the difference between virtual life and death.
Unfortunately, there’s little agreement around which connectivity method is faster. Gaming companies like Razer and SteelSeries claim RF connections have the advantage, and that is likely true for gaming. But the latency difference between Bluetooth and RF, which is measured in tenths of a millisecond, is probably negligible for productivity. In our tests, we saw little difference between the two types of connectivity during basic work tasks.
Mouse use has been implicated in repetitive stress injuries for years, and manufacturers have responded with all kinds of quirky designs they claim will prevent or relieve wrist and arm pain. They have tweaked the mouse’s sculpt, button position, and shape seemingly every which way to facilitate a more natural angle for your arm when it’s moving and at rest. But just because the box says a mouse is ergonomic doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to reduce your discomfort. The only way to tell for sure is to use it for a period of time, and unfortunately retailers don’t typically allow test drives.
Still, for designers, PC gamers, and others who who spend continuous hours using a mouse, prioritizing an ergonomic model is probably worth it. Just remember, the type of mouse you use is only one factor in minimizing RSIs, and your habits may be an even more important factor.
While the functions of left and right buttons and the scroll wheel are clear, many mice include additional buttons on the side and/or top of the mouse that you can configure for custom tasks. Mapping these buttons to things like the back button of your browser, “cut” and “paste” commands, or other repetitive tasks can save you a lot of time in the long run. Typically, if a mouse comes with a half-dozen buttons, it will also include the manufacturer’s software for programming them.
|Gamers unite! AMD’s Radeon RX 6600 XT has finally fallen below MSRP|
|Fri, 13 May 2022 14:05:42 +0000|
Hold up! Remember that graphics card from a few weeks ago that was “on sale” at the original MSRP? Well, today that same card is actually below the original MSRP. Amazon is selling an MSI Mech 2x Radeon RX 6600 XT for $355 . That’s $25 off of the MSRP. However, to get that price, you need to fill out a $20 mail-in rebate form. Sure, that’s a pain, but it’s worth it to get this deal.
You can expect a very good 1080p gaming experience out of this card. That means 60 frames-per-second or more on most games at ultra graphics settings. We reviewed this card last August and gave it three stars out of five. That’s an admittedly low rating, but the two major problems that held it back were the price and the 1440p performance.
If you’re looking for a 1440p card, this one is decent, but you may need to reduce the graphics settings in some particularly resource-intensive games. As for the pricing issue, well, we were still holding on the dream of a $250-ish 1080p graphics card at the time. Add another year onto this graphics card nightmare and an excellent 1080p card for $355 looks just fine, especially when you consider the price tag was over $500 just a few months ago.
[Today’s deal: MSI Mech 2x Radeon RX 6600 XT for $355 at Amazon.]
|Google’s new Pixel Watch is also your next Fitbit|
|Fri, 13 May 2022 13:33:47 +0000|
Android fans have been waiting an entire year to see more options for the new and improved Wear OS 3 watches, since the only one that came out last year was Samsung’s exclusive Galaxy Watch4. At Google I/O 2022, the company announced the much-anticipated (and much-leaked) Pixel Watch, technically Google’s first smartwatch developed entirely in-house. And thanks to the company’s acquisition of Fitbit last year, it’s also going to be the first major update of Fitbit hardware since the original Fitbit Versa.
Details on the Pixel Watch are still scarce, as it’s planned to launch in the fall next to a new generation of Pixel phones. But we know it uses a big, circular, all-glass face, proprietary wrist bands, and “deep integration” with Fitbit’s fitness tracking systems. That’s a huge draw for Fitbit users, many of whom have been tracking their workouts, sleep patterns, and other essential health info for years and years.
With the latest revisions of Fitbit hardware being iterative rather than transformative, the Pixel Watch will essentially become the new flagship Fitbit device. It also looks to be the most advanced (and almost certainly most expensive) way to access the Fitbit ecosystem.
Exactly how the Pixel Watch will improve on the current high-end Fitbit devices like the Versa 3 and Sense remains to be seen. Even as a Google subsidiary, Fitbit has been adding high-end tracking capability, like irregular heart rhythm notifications enabled just a few days ago.
Google has said that the Pixel Watch will use Fitbit’s industry-leading fitness info system, highlighting continuous heart rate and sleep tracking, Fitbit’s Active Zone minutes scheme, and data syncing to the existing Fitbit tracking system. Previous leaks indicate that the Pixel Watch has a sensor setup very similar to the most recent Fitbit devices like the Charge 5.
As it’s based on Wear OS instead of Fitbit’s home-built software, the Pixel Watch will lean on more Google services. It’ll replace Fitbit’s proprietary NFC payment system with Google Wallet, and the Google Assistant integration will also be able to directly tie into Google Home hardware. But notably, Google made no mention of the existing Google Fit app, its own home-developed fitness tracker that’s been an integral part of Wear OS for years.
It looks like Fitbit will essentially completely supplant Google Fit (at least by default) on the Pixel Watch. Whether that will extend to other watches that will finally get access to Wear OS 3 has yet to be seen.
We also don’t know how much the Pixel Watch will cost when it launches in the fall. As a direct competitor to the Apple Watch and Galaxy Watch—as opposed to more focused and limited fitness tracker-style devices Fitbit users are more familiar with—it might come with a high degree of sticker shock.
|Sony’s next-gen WH-1000XM5 headphones get a facelift and new drivers|
|Fri, 13 May 2022 13:16:31 +0000|
Sony has been at the top of the game for premium active noise cancellation headphones for a little less than four years, when the WH-1000XM3 blew the competition from Bose and Beats out of the water. The XM4 revision tightened things up without reinventing the wheel and now the XM5 gives the much-loved design a visual facelift. The highly anticipated revision is available for pre-order now for $400, a $50 retail price bump over its predecessors.
The XM5 design pairs slightly larger and more comfy ear cups with a skinnier, sleeker band. This creates a more simple visual profile that’s nonetheless distinct. Despite the larger size, in both its regular and folded-up modes, Sony’s replaced the 40mm driver in the previous two generations with a new 30mm design. It says that even with a smaller size, new features like a TPU edge and carbon fiber materials make the new driver design even better at noise cancellation and audio fidelity. The former is enabled by eight, count ’em, eight microphones (four for ANC, four for capturing your voice) and a new QN1 noise-canceling processor.
In terms of physical layout and controls, not too much has changed, so those who don’t like touch-sensitive taps and swipes for music controls will still be put off. The XM5 plays nice with both Google Assistant and Alexa on your phone or PC and it can connect to both thanks to multi-point Bluetooth. Playback time is unchanged at a reported 30 hours, and the included carrying case is thinner but more voluminous since it holds the headphones in an unfolded position.
As with previous generations, the WH-1000XM5 comes in black or “silver” (which looks more like an eggshell white to me). It’s up for pre-order now, releasing next Friday, May 20th. The XM3 and XM4 cans frequently saw deep discounts of $100 or more, so if you’re experiencing sticker shock at the $400 price tag, you might want to wait for a sale.
|If Microsoft is serious about accessibility, fix Windows 11|
|Fri, 13 May 2022 10:45:00 +0000|
Microsoft’s Ability Summit this week highlighted how the company is incorporating accessibility into the design of Windows 11, Microsoft Edge, and especially its incredible peripherals, but the question has to be asked, yet again: Could Microsoft do more to make Windows 11’s Start menu and taskbar more accessible to aging users?
I’m lucky enough to be perfectly mobile, with the ability to use a mouse, keyboard, and Xbox controller without any additional assistance. But I’m also one of probably millions of users whose vision is slowly getting worse over time. That, of course, is nothing new, and we have glasses and corrective lenses to compensate.
But my vision disintegrated during the pandemic, as I was cooped up indoors and didn’t have as many opportunities to drive, take trips, and otherwise engage my distance vision. My youngest son, who endured two years of remote learning, experienced the same thing. And however you view what happened over the past few years, it’s obvious that those users who began computing when Windows 1.0 released in 1985 are getting older.
This matters. The ability to use a computer is largely predicated upon the ability to see. Studies have linked poor visual function to depression and social isolation simply because of an inability to interact with the world around them. And while Windows provides assistive technologies for those who have severe vision impairment — Narrator, Windows’ built-in screen reader — there certainly is a middle ground for those who can see well enough to use a computer but have trouble navigating through various menus.
Could Windows 11 accommodate this, with larger icons and a resizable Start menu and taskbar? And could Microsoft do a better job with its upcoming Start folders in this regard? I think Microsoft could, and its reluctance to engage on the issue is a little puzzling.
In a moment, we’ll talk about what you can do to compensate for Microsoft’s decision, and help make these elements of Windows 11 more accessible. But I’m not sure if Microsoft simply intends for you to rely on these methods or if they plan further improvements for Windows 11. I’ve addressed questions to Jenny Lay-Flurrie, chief accessibility officer at Microsoft — once on social media, once at Microsoft’s accessibility press event — and received no response.
The Windows 11 Taskbar leaves a great deal of extra space unused, the icons aren’t resizable, and there’s no indication about which app is which unless you know how to hover your cursor over it.Mark Hachman / IDG
Windows 11’s Taskbar: Difficult to parse
Windows 11’s taskbar throws up three obstacles in the way of accessibility: The taskbar itself is not moveable or resizeable, the icons are not able to be independently enlarged, and taskbar buttons are always combined. Windows 10 allows you to adjust the first and third elements. Not combining taskbar buttons allows someone to create a large taskbar landing area whose function is clearly explained, as it is in Windows 10.
In Windows 10, those who need it can quickly determine how to navigate to a particular open application, and which one it is.Mark Hachman / IDG
Weirdly, Windows 10’s Settings menu (right-click the taskbar to access it) allows you to make the icons smaller, not larger, which would also seem to be an issue for older users. But Windows 11 simply doesn’t offer the flexibility of Windows 10 in terms of configuring the Start menu.
The Start menu: Windows 11 needs work
By now, you’re probably familiar with the limitations of Windows 11’s Start menu: the entire window can’t be resized, its icons size can’t be adjusted, and the lack of Live Tiles also restricts the size of the icons. In Windows 10, you can enlarge the Start menu icons to relatively enormous size, not only making them easy to read and navigate to, but also allowing you to visually remind yourself which applications are the most important, what they’re called, and where they live. (Though this might seem silly to you, think of the difficulties some older family members can have with navigating a computer.)
I’m simply not a fan of Windows 11’s proposed Start menu folders (seen here as part of a Windows Insider Build) as the icons within the folders can be too small to see unless clicked upon. Doing so pops out the contents of the folder in a larger view.Microsoft
One helpful organizational tool that Microsoft included in Windows 10 were Start folders, which grouped related applications together. Those were left out of Windows 11, but we’ve already been able to take a look at them and test them out as part of the Windows 11 Insider program.
In both Windows 10 and Windows 11, Start folders actually shrink the size of the icons they contain, making them less visible. I’ve never understood this decision. At least both operating systems create popout menus housing larger versions of the same icons when you click upon them.
When I click on the Windows 10 Start menu folder marked “Office stuff,” the contents pop out with larger, explanatory icons. But I also have the option of simply designating a “large” tile for an individual application, like I’ve done for the Office app to the right.Mark Hachman / IDG
If Microsoft isn’t going to return to Live Tiles, that’s fine. But why can’t Microsoft offer a resizeable Windows 11 Start menu that can be enlarged if needed? The option for larger, individually resizeable icons? Start menu folders that can also be resized and rearranged? A taskbar that can be adjusted to expand and fill the available space with tiled icons?
This shouldn’t be the domain of a third-party mod like Start11 or even Microsoft’s excellent PowerToys. I would argue that these are not aesthetic choices, but functional ones. Accessible ones. Limiting accessibility at the literal Start-ing point of the Windows 11 experience should be a little embarrassing for all concerned.
Workarounds: What you can do in the meantime
Whether Microsoft chooses to take action or not, you do have a few options for making Windows more visually accessible using its built-in tools.
Resize desktop icons
First, you can resize the icons floating on your desktop. (No, this does not affect the icons on your taskbar or the Start menu. Why not?)
Enlarging your desktop icons is one way of making them easier to see.Mark Hachman / IDG
Simply right-click your desktop and navigate to View on the drop-down menu. You’ll then have a choice to select between Large, Medium, and Small icons, and you can pick what works for you.
The next option is what’s known as DPI Scaling, or just Scale. The option can be found within the Windows 11 Settings menu. (System > Display > Scale) Here, you’ll find a drop-down menu with a variety of percentages to choose from, as well as a “recommended” setting.
You can increase the scale of your Windows environment, which will help make it easier to view and navigate. Note that you can increase the scale to up to 350% or so depending on the size and resolution of the display.Mark Hachman / IDG
Scale is a “universal” control that will resize everything: text, UI elements, browser windows, Start, the Taskbar — the works. It’s an easy way to enlarge all of the visual elements on your screen — and, to be fair, may represent what Microsoft thinks to be the most universally accessible way of increasing the visibility of the Windows UI. It still doesn’t address the ability to resize or adjust Start, but it will make those Windows elements more visible.
The only trick that Scale hides is that it’s controllable on a per-display basis. So if you type on a laptop screen but also use a secondary monitor as your primary display, make sure to adjust both the way you’d like them. It may very well be that you’ll have two independent settings for both displays.
The third option is Magnifier, which can be used as a literal electronic magnifying glass. Magnifier can be controlled via the Windows 11 Settings menu (Accessibility > Magnifier) and can be toggled on by typing WIN + + (aka tapping the “Windows” and the “plus” key simultaneously) and turned off by WIN + ESC. Note that the Settings menu controls how “strong” the Magnifier is, so you may want to “turn it up” by increasing the percentage. Magnifier can also be used in a full-screen mode or as a “lens,” which to me seemed rather useful.
When in Magnifier mode, your cursor interacts with the screen as usual, so you can left- and right-click on various visual elements.
You can use Magnifier to create a “panel” of magnification, similar to the page magnifiers you can buy on shopping sites.Mark Hachman / IDG
Of course, you can also use Windows’ own ability to read and navigate by voice, either within Word or via Windows Narrator. I wouldn’t recommend using Narrator if you can already visually navigate around Windows, as it tends to get in the way. If you have difficulty seeing, however, it can be invaluable.
Again, you may have no trouble reading your display, and navigating Windows. It’s fair to say, however, that a sizeable percentage of users who grew up on Windows may be having trouble with Windows 11. The built-in accessibility tools within Windows may be a good first step, but Microsoft’s Ability Summit should also be an occasion to re-examine what’s wrong with Windows 11.
|Gigabyte M27Q X review: Lush color in a 240Hz monitor|
|Fri, 13 May 2022 10:30:00 +0000|
At a glanceExpert’s Rating
ProsMassive color gamut and great color accuracy Excellent motion clarity at 240Hz Value pricing for a 1440p 240Hz monitor ConsUnimpressive build quality Stand only adjusts for height and tilt KVM feature is not impressive Our VerdictGigabyte’s M27Q X doesn’t look like much out of the box, but this 1440p/240Hz IPS panel delivers a superb gaming experience where it counts, with excellent motion clarity and stunning image quality.
Best Prices Today: Gigabyte M27Q X
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There’s plenty of 27-inch gaming monitors to choose from, but one category remains slim: 27-inch displays with 1440p resolution and a 240Hz refresh rate. While roughly a dozen are now available, most are costly. The Gigabyte M27Q X tries to bring 1440p and 240Hz to a more palatable price.
Gigabyte M27Q X: The specs
Resolution and refresh rate are the headline features here, but a few others stand out. The monitor uses AMD FreeSync Premium Pro for adaptive sync and is not officially G-Sync compatible (though it did work with G-Sync in my testing). The monitor also supports HDR and is VESA DisplayHDR 400 certified.
Display size: 27-inch Native resolution: 2560×1440 Panel type: IPS edge-lit LED backlight Refresh rate: 240Hz Adaptive sync: AMD FreeSync Premium Pro Ports: 2x HDMI 2.0, 1x DisplayPort 1.4, 1x USB-C with DisplayPort Alternate Mode and Power Delivery up to 18 watts, 2x USB-A, 1x headphone Stand adjustment: Height, tilt VESA mount: Yes Speakers: 2-watt stereo speakers HDR: VESA DisplayHDR 400 Price: $499.99 Carrying an MSRP of $499.99, and generally priced at or near its that price online, the Gigabyte M27Q X is not exactly affordable, but a good value for its feature set. Acer’s Nitro ED271U and Optix MAG274QRX are in the same price range, but premium alternatives like the Alienware AW2721D and Asus ROG Swift PG279QM are several hundred dollars more expensive.
Gigabyte M27Q X: Design
The M27Q X’s build quality falls firmly in budget territory. It has a simple, matte black plastic shell that seems thinner and more flexible than alternatives from Dell and BenQ, though it’s about on par with LG Ultragear monitors.
It’s not much to look at, either. The M27Q X doesn’t go for a bold gamer look, yet also doesn’t pass as a ho-hum home office monitor. Display bezels are of modest size on the top and sides, while the bottom has a small plastic chin. Around back the monitor is plain, with just a hint of plastic etching to set it apart.
The lack of swivel could more disappointing than the inability to rotate the screen 90 degrees, depending on your work habits.Matt Smith / Foundry
The stand adjusts for height and tilt but doesn’t swivel and can’t pivot 90 degrees for use in portrait orientation. This is unusual for a 27-inch monitor that retails around $500, as most in that price range (and even lower) offer these features. A 100x100mm VESA mount is available for attaching a third-party monitor arm or stand with greater flexibility.
Gigabyte M27Q X: Features and menu
A buffet of image-quality options are packed in the Gigabyte M27Q X’s menus. These include precise gamma presets, several color temperature modes, and a dedicated sRGB mode, plus multiple gaming-centric options such as a black equalizer. The monitor’s numerous image-quality options will be useful to content creators who want to calibrate the display.
Accessing the options is a chore because of Gigabyte’s deep and confusing menu structure. Options are often several layers deeper than they need to be and some features have names that aren’t obvious. For example, I know Smart OD means “Smart Overdrive” and references pixel response times, but I’m guessing most users will be puzzled as to what this setting does and why it’s on by default.
Gigabyte’s marketing for this monitor emphasizes its “KVM” button. It’s a button that flips between input over USB-C or an upstream USB 3.0 port. It’s handy, though held back by the USB-C port’s meager 18 watts of Power Delivery and the slim number of available USB ports overall. This is no substitute for a more feature-rich USB-C hub monitor.
A pair of 2-watt speakers are included in the Gigabyte M27Q X and provide acceptable sound quality. External speakers remain a big improvement, but you can rely on the built-in speakers in a pinch.
Navigating the M27Q X’s menus can be confusing.Matt Smith / Foundry
Gigabyte M27Q X: SDR performance
The Gigabyte M27Q X is not an attractive or feature-rich monitor for the price, but what it lacks in design it makes up for in image quality. This is a rich and vivid monitor.
SDR brightness comes in at 461 nits, which is certainly towards the high end of what can be expected from a monitor in SDR mode. The extremely high brightness, combined with the matte display coating, means you’ll have no trouble using the M27Q X even opposite a sunlit window. In most rooms you’ll need to turn down brightness significantly—unless you enjoy roasting your retinas.
Matt Smith / Foundry
The contrast ratio came in at 1140:1. This is not an ideal result when compared to an OLED or Mini-LED display but, as evident on the graph, it’s good compared to most IPS panel gaming monitors. However, the M27Q X leans heavily on brightness to hit this ratio, and does not achieve black levels notably deeper than other standard IPS monitors.
Matt Smith / Foundry
Color gamut is exceptional. There’s full sRGB coverage here, plus 96 percent of DCI-P3 and 98 percent of AdobeRGB. The Gigabyte M27Q X beats all 27-inch displays I’ve tested that are in the gaming monitor category, including the older Alienware AW2721D, which I already thought impressive. This is an area where the M27Q X punches way above its price.
Matt Smith / Foundry
There’s more good news with color accuracy, which is wonderfully strong straight out of the box. The Gigabyte M27Q X isn’t just superb for a gaming monitor, it’s great for any monitor in any category, period.
Great color accuracy, combined with the extremely broad color gamut, gives the M27Q X a vivid, lush, oversaturated vibe.
Matt Smith / Foundry
This is not applicable in most games, as most rely on the more limited sRGB color gamut, but players may prefer how the M27Q X looks. It’s an eye-catching display and especially stands out in colorful, punchy titles such as Valorant or Final Fantasy XIV.
This is also a good monitor for content creators. The Gigabyte M27Q X has a wider color gamut and better out-of-box color accuracy than Asus’ ProArt PA249CV, a comparable professional display.
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However, the Asus ProArt PA249CV is a 4K display, while the M27Q X is only a 1440p monitor. This is a problem for those working with 4K video or other high-resolution content. It lacks the resolution and sharpness some will desire. It’s less of a problem in games, where the monitor’s pixel density is high enough to make games with halfway decent anti-aliasing look sharp.
Gigabyte M27Q X: HDR performance
The Gigabyte M27Q X is already a bright display in SDR, but turning on HDR kicks up brightness to a brilliant 518 nits. This is an extremely high brightness for a gaming monitor and it does add some drama to HDR games.
That’s where the good news ends. The M27Q X lacks the contrast needed to make HDR games stand out and doesn’t have dynamic backlight. Dark scenes with bright objects can appear hazy because the monitor must ramp up the entire display’s brightness to illuminate even small objects.
Bottom line: Don’t buy the M27Q X for the HDR experience. It’s better than not having HDR at all—but only a bit.
Gigabyte M27Q X: Motion clarity
I thought my Gigabyte M27Q X sample might be defective when I fired up my first game. Quick camera movement caused obvious, bright halos around any high-contrast objects, and busy textures looked like they were passed through a sharpening filtering.
The problem? Gigabyte ships the M27Q X with the Smart OD (Overdrive) feature turned on. This amps up pixel response times, which can reduce blur, but causes a problem called overshoot. Overshoot happens when pixel response is too aggressive and flies past the intended color.
Luckily, the problem is easy to fix. Just turn off Smart OD. Once off, you can enjoy the full benefits of a fast IPS panel with a 240Hz refresh rate. Motion clarity is strong, with good detail in fast-moving objects, and the 240Hz refresh rate is butter-smooth if your video card is quick enough to handle games at 240 frames per second (or something close to it).
The Gigabyte M27Q X officially supports AMD FreeSync Premium Pro. It’s not G-Sync certified, but it did work with G-Sync via my Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti graphics card, with no noticeable issues.
Gigabyte M27Q X: Final thoughts
Gigabyte’s M27Q X is a great 1440p gaming monitor. Although expensive for a 27-inch monitor, it’s among the least expensive 1440p/240Hz options available right now. The fact that it delivers bright, vivid image quality only sweetens the deal.
The M27Q X is held back by an unimpressive design, a sub-par stand, and confusing menus. But most gamers buy gaming monitors to, well, game—and that’s where this monitor excels.
|Generate your own logos quickly with this 25% off this Complete Logo Kit|
|Fri, 13 May 2022 08:00:00 +0000|
A good logo makes all the difference. Not everyone, however, can afford a graphic designer. Luckily there are better options. The Complete Logo Kit, for instance, is a popular alternative — And it’s economical too since it’s on sale for just $29.99.
The Complete Logo Kit is a DIY logo design app compatible with all popular web browsers. Just enter your company name, an optional slogan, and indicate your industry. The kit renders several logo designs for you to choose from. And it even shows you how it’ll look on t-shirts, tote bags, and other swag, so you’ll know ahead of time if it’ll work for your needs.
Once selected, the kit provides your logo in vector files so you can use it across all your media. You’ll get it in a range of sizes and colors, and you’ll receive editable business card designs and a brand guide that makes it easy to stay consistent.
When you consider that a professionally designed logo can cost thousands of dollars, creating one yourself using an app like the Complete Logo Kit makes a lot of sense. It can give you the vital branding you need, and it’s on sale for just $29.99 or 25% off.
The Complete Logo Kit by BuildMyLogo – $29.99
Prices subject to change.
|These 8 core apps are changing in Windows 11|
|Thu, 12 May 2022 19:14:08 +0000|
Windows 11 won’t just change the Windows operating system, it will change the way some Windows apps look and feel, too. As Microsoft continues to update Windows 11, Microsoft has already been highlighting several Windows apps that are being updated for the look and feel of its modern operating system.
So far, Microsoft has shown off several Windows apps that it’s reworking for Windows 11, including some of the basics: Mail and Calendar, Paint, and even the lowly Clock app. Below, we’ll show you what to expect of these new apps within Windows 11 and how they’re evolving.
As of May 10, Microsoft began previewing the new Sound Recorder app within Windows 11. There’s a new visualization for audio within recording and playback, and new support for changing your recording device and file format from within the app, which Microsoft said was among the top requested features in Feedback Hub.
The update to the new Sound Recorder will replace the Voice Recorder app, Microsoft said.
Windows 11 Clock (Focus Sessions)
Perhaps the most unexpectedly interesting update to Windows 11’s suite of Windows apps is the lowly Clock app. Now, in addition to the usual suite of Timers, Alarms, a Stopwatch, and a World Clock, Microsoft has added Focus Sessions and Microsoft To-Do.
Microsoft has dramatically revamped its Windows 11 Clock app, adding Focus Sessions with Spotify integration.
Microsoft describes Focus Sessions as a major new feature, and it’s easy to see why. If you’re the type of person who concentrates best when music plays, you’ll love Focus Sessions and its integration with Spotify. Focus Sessions allows you to block out a period of time, with a literal stopwatch counting it down. During the Focus Session, you can connect your account to Spotify and ask it to play classical music, electronic, trance—whatever keeps you in the zone. (There’s a mute button, too, in case you receive a call.)
The Clock app also includes integration with To-Do, so you can accomplish tasks and check them off. Finally, you’ll even be able to configure “streaks”—a habit-building feature that’s part of Microsoft Rewards—to set a daily goal and then accomplish it, day after day.
Windows 11 Photos
Microsoft appears to be making some minor though interesting changes to the Photos app within Windows 11, which is currently in release to the Windows 11 Insider Dev Channel. (That’s possibly important, since the Dev Channel is the “future” branch of Microsoft’s beta program, and isn’t a commitment to releasing an updated app whe Windows 11 launches.)
Microsoft has made several changes to the app: an updated toolbar, the addition of thumbnail images at the bottom of the screen, and the ability to click one or more of those to compare two or more photos.
Microsoft is redesigning the Photos app within Windows 11 with a new toolbar and a row of thumbnails.
Within the Photos toolbar at the top of the screen, Microsoft is adding shortcuts to other visual apps that you may already have on your machine, too. (Photos also continues to include the automatic, algorithmic “Enhance your photo” option, too.) Otherwise, Photos has added the familiar rounded corners and other visual elements of Windows 11.
Windows 11 Photos will also allow you to compare photographs.
Windows 11 Paint
Microsoft Paint has rolled successful saves against death many times over, surviving decisions to deprecate the beloved utility in 2017 as well as relegate it to a downloadable app. In 2019, Microsoft said Paint would remain a part of Windows 10 for now.
The updated Windows 11 Paint app has a more intuitive interface.
The decision by Microsoft chief product officer Panos Panay to show off a new look for Paint in Windows 11 affirms that Paint has survived yet again. In a video, Panay revealed what looks more like a user-interface update than any major change in functionality. (One omission: The reference to Paint3D that currently exists with Windows 10’s Paint.) Still, updating the iconography as well as the drop-down functionality is a welcome step, and simply putting in the work shows that Microsoft remains committed to Paint as a whole.
Windows 11 Calculator
Calculator is a surprisingly powerful tool hidden within Windows 10, though most people probably use it merely for numerical calculations. Inside it is a graphing calculator (remember to expand the app’s window to use all of its functionality!), the ability to convert measurements and currencies, a scientific and programmer calculator, and more. None of that functionality appears to be changing for Windows 11, but the app will include a new theme setting. It’s also been rewritten in C#, which Microsoft did as a way to allow the public to contribute to the app on GitHub, code in new features, and update the app more frequently over time.
The Windows Calculator app (shown here within Windows 11) hides some powerful features like this graphing calculator.
Windows 11 Snipping Tool
Anyone who captures screenshots regularly should know that Microsoft has not one, but two tools for doing so: the legacy Snipping Tool, and the newer Snip & Sketch. For years, Microsoft has posted a notice in the former app that it would be replaced by Snip & Sketch…but now that doesn’t appear to be the case.
“Both the classic Snipping Tool and Snip & Sketch apps have been replaced by a new Snipping Tool app that represents the best experiences of both apps in the next evolution of screen capture for Windows,” Microsoft’s Dave Grochocki wrote in a blog post.
Panay showed off a revamped Snipping Tool that uses the Snip & Sketch shortcut (Win + Shift + S) but leaves the other snipping options unchanged. Aesthetically, the app now has the rounded corners and other visual cues of Windows 11—even dark mode. There will be some additional editing tools for annotations and improved cropping functionality, as well.
Windows 11 Mail and Calendar
Last but not least are Windows 11’s own Mail and Calendar apps, which eliminate a lot of the visual clutter within Outlook and provide a simplified, streamlined experience. Microsoft doesn’t seem like it will change anything here, simply giving the user interface the familiar rounded corners of Windows 11.
For now, Microsoft isn’t doing much with Mail and Calendar except for updating the UI.
For Windows 11 news, how-tos, guides, and more, check out PCWorld’s Windows 11 superguide.
This story was updated on May 12, 2022 with more detail on how Microsoft will update the Sound Recorder app and replace the Voice Recorder app.
|6 reasons to quit Chrome and switch to Vivaldi, the enthusiast’s browser|
|Thu, 12 May 2022 19:08:13 +0000|
Download the Vivaldi browser. Right now. And in the few, painless seconds that downloading and setting up Vivaldi entails, let us convince you why doing so will enhance your browsing experience.
Running a secondary browser is one of the easiest, most impactful decisions you can make on your computer. Why? Because you don’t actually have to switch browsers—downloading a second browser doesn’t alter your existing setup at all. Furthermore, virtually every browser is free, Vivaldi included. And importing your bookmarks occurs almost instantaneously, so test driving Vivaldi takes literally seconds out of your day—if you don’t like it, there’s no harm done. But you might just find that it adds a new dimension to your browsing that you didn’t even know you were missing. Heck, you might even find yourself ditching Chrome completely. So let’s try it!
At press time, Vivaldi had released Vivaldi 5.2. About the only “annoyance” is that Vivaldi, like many other browsers, encourages you to sign up and log in with a custom account to preserve your bookmarks, reading list, and more across multiple PCs. Vivaldi offers an Android version of its browser too, allowing you to share tabs across desktop and mobile browsing. (Note that you are absolutely not required to enter an account to use Vivaldi, at all.)
Privacy and ad blocking
Privacy isn’t what you probably think of when downloading Vivaldi, but you’ll probably be surprised how well it works straight away. You know that Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge view ads as a revenue source, because everything’s allowed by default without an ad blocker plugin. With Vivaldi, ads and inline video are blocked by default — no plugins or add-ons required. The result is a very slick, seamless experience that seems to intelligently block the ads you don’t want to see, while leaving other content intact. Vivaldi tamed the most cluttered, media-heavy sites I visit like ESPN.com or SFGate.com without fail or flaw.
Vivaldi is built upon the Chromium open-source rendering engine that Google Chrome builds upon, which means that you can use Google plugins from the Chrome Web Store. Vivaldi does not collect user data, however.
Normally, media-rich sites like SFGate.com are full of ads and floating windows. About the only “ads” that the browser seems to preserve are these shopping links. Everything else has been removed.Mark Hachman / IDG
Interestingly, Vivaldi also includes a “Reader View,” a legacy control that appears on other browsers — the little “text” icon that appears to the right of the URL bar. “Reader View” typically strips down an article on the Web to a plain background, minimal art and navigation elements, and absolutely no ads. With Vivaldi, there’s little reason to use Reader View, as the default view is simply more effective. In some cases, Reader View added visual cruft as it spelled out certain normally hidden elements within the page.
With Vivaldi, you’ll notice a difference in your browsing experience right out of the box.
Vivaldi’s selling point: The side panel
Vivaldi smartly realizes that most larger monitors incorporate a ton of additional white space that goes unused. Vivaldi cuts into this space to add a narrow column of icons that link to a number of utility functions, from RSS feeds to even mail and a nicely organized calendar function. A tiny toggle at the bottom right-hand-corner hides the panel entirely; otherwise you can click on one of the icons — bookmarks, for example — and the panel will slide out to reveal the full function. Figuring out what all the icons stand for and where they live is probably the most unfriendly part of Vivaldi, as it feels a bit like poking around the instrument panel on an unfamiliar car.
Not all of the panel options are particularly novel. There’s a “Reading List” for articles you want to save and dive into later, along with the standard Downloads and bookmarks, called Bookmarks. Unfortunately, I’ve exported my bookmarks enough times that they’re a bit of a mess, though dragging and dropping them into either the Vivaldi Bookmarks folder or to the Favorites bar along the top is pretty easy.
Vivaldi’s side panel pulls out in stages, revealing more functionality as it does so, Here, you see the built-in email reader as it processes various RSS feeds.Mark Hachman / IDG
Certain functions might not be that useful, either such as a built-in Google Translate widget. (Vivaldi, like most other browsers, will auto-translate a page in a foreign language.) A dedicated Wikipedia panel didn’t feel particularly useful to me, though you may feel differently.
Personally, my favorite of all of the options is the built-in Feeds panel, which allows you to import RSS feeds and quickly scan what various web sites have published. Sure, that’s a legacy function for reporters like me who need to keep, er, tabs on a variety of websites, but RSS typically requires a standalone service or app. About the only thing I don’t like about it is that while you can drag and drop Bookmarks any place you’d like, you can’t rearrange the RSS feeds for whatever reason.
If all of this sounds like too much hassle, you can turn it off. Part of the Vivaldi setup process is deciding “how much Vivaldi” you want to begin with.
Tabs, tabs, tabs
Speaking of tabs, tabs management is Vivaldi’s bread and butter. There are really almost too many options, even for power users! Not only does a Vivaldi user have the option of placing their tabs along the left or right side as well as the top and bottom, but there are different ways of organizing them, too: a traditional layout, but also in tab stacks, “accordion tabs” that sit atop one another and then side out, or just a double row with one on top of the other.
It’s not quite right to say that that Vivaldi organizes its tabs into two rows. But you can manually “stack” several tabs using the settings to set stacked tabs in the second row, then CTRL-click tabs to create that row. Is it better than just creating another window of tabs? Maybe, though you can choose from either approach.Mark Hachman / IDG
It’s almost ridiculous: you can use your thumbwheel to roll back and forth between tabs, even horizontally; stack the tabs by host, close all tabs to the right or left of the current tab, clone a tab, and so on. You can even Ctrl-click a few tabs, right-click them, and tell Vivaldi to open them in tiled format — that tab will then align the other tabs as tiles, but maintain the formatting of your other tabs. Like we said: ridiculous!
You can also stack tabs by tiling them, as we’ve done here. Narrow columns can sometimes be an effective use of space.Mark Hachman / IDG
Built-in mail and calendar
Another unique feature Vivaldi offers is an optional built-in mail reader and calendar, which are also built into the side panel. Vivaldi doesn’t allow you to log into Microsoft 365 or Exchange; it only supports POP3 and IMAP, meaning that it’s a better choice for personal email rather than business contacts. That’s fine by me. In any event, Vivaldi’s RSS feed reader filters through the mail client, so I’ve been just peachy keeping my “real” email on Windows 11’s Mail app and using the Vivaldi mail as a dedicated feed reader.
I feel a little guilty about that decision, though, since I like the Vivaldi calendar. Organizing a calendar in a vertical column, as the Vivaldi app does, really lends itself to a quick, scannable overview of your day — less so, though, when you you view a week or month. There, you can pop out your monthly calendar inside a dedicated tab.
I’m not sold on the Vivaldi calendar, but it’s there as an option.Mark Hachman / IDG
Unlike Google or Microsoft, Vivaldi doesn’t encourage you to look at its licensed content on its new-tab pages, as Chrome or Edge so. Instead, opening a new tab opens Speed Dial, a bunch of large icon shortcuts to popular sites. Naturally, you can add your own.
You might dismiss this as a bit simplistic, but fishing out a bookmark can take some time. Being able to configure a new tab page with convenient bookmarks is a handy feature, even if something like it can be found on other browsers.
Bottom nav bar controls
Vivaldi also includes a small set of shortcut icons at the bottom of the screen (if you’ve configured your tabs to appear at the top.) I find these extremely handy. Not only are they appropriately sized for my 4K monitor, they’re just plain useful. There’s a slider to zoom in and out, a quick button to take a snapshot of the page, and controls to turn the current page into a tile, too. I also like the small “trashcan” icon in the top right-hand corner, too: if you’ve accidentally closed a tab, you can click the trashcan to bring it back.
The little controls as the bottom of the Vivaldi browser window offer one-click functionality to tiling, taking a snapshot of the screen, and so on.Mark Hachman / IDG
Like virtually every other feature in this list, there’s no obligation to use these. And there are even more, hidden within the Settings menu, that I don’t use: mouse gestures, keyboard shortcuts, and more. There are even “command chains,” or in-browser macros that you can use to execute multiple tasks all in one fell swoop. Those are for the real power users.
If you’re dead set on customizing your browser experience, Vivaldi might be the browser for you. Take a few seconds and find out!
|Windows 11 gets smarter, tests AI-powered ‘suggested actions’|
|Thu, 12 May 2022 17:53:00 +0000|
Email apps in particular have become smarter, so that references to a web page or an embedded phone number can be transformed into links. Now Windows 11 is getting into the game, but as part of a new experimental feature called “Suggested Actions.”
Windows 11 Build 25115 for the Windows Insider Dev Channel, released this week, doesn’t offer much in the way of new features or fixes, although Windows’ speech platform has been tweaked to allow better voice activity detection and better guesses of where punctuation should be inserted during dictation. But Suggested Actions is something new.
Remember, since this is a Dev Channel release, there are no guarantees that this feature will be released to the Stable Channel of Windows 11. It only works for U.S. users at the moment, too.
Here’s how it works—though in just two scenarios at present.
When you’re copying a phone number, Windows will pop up an inline, light, dismissible UI that suggests ways to call the phone number using Teams or other installed apps that offer click-to-dial call functions, Microsoft said in a blog post. It will look like this:
Windows 11 will recognize a phone number and offer to call it…Microsoft
Secondly, Microsoft will use the same light, dismissible UI when you’re copying a date. Here, Windows will suggest creating a calendar event (in Outlook, Calendar, or another app, depending on your preference). Windows will then populate the calendar app with an appointment that autofills the date and/or time that you’ve selected.
…And do the same for dates, as well.Microsoft
At one time, you could imagine Windows Mobile for phones creating calendar entries from dates that were sent via text or messaging app. And we’ve seen Outlook, for example, allow you to highlight names and link to their profile pages. If this takes off, we’d imagine that you’ll see a “smarter” UI appear in many different Microsoft apps, so that highlighting a word does more than just search for it in Bing. The question, of course, is which actions Windows will take, and how well will they work under those scenarios.
|Microsoft Word PDF editor review: The popular word processor makes editing PDF text a breeze|
|Thu, 12 May 2022 16:00:00 +0000|
At a glanceExpert’s Rating
ProsFirst-class text editing capabilitiesEasy to add and edit imagesReadily available on most PCs and MacsConsMay have trouble correctly displaying documents with heavy formatting or lots of graphicsNo PDF annotation toolsNo easy way to reorganize document pagesOur VerdictMicrosoft Word can ably edit PDFs with lots of text, but it can’t replace a dedicated PDF editor for complex documents.
Price When ReviewedMicrosoft Word PDF editor: Free with Microsoft Word
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Microsoft doesn’t include a PDF editor in its Office suite, but it has made it easier to edit PDFs in Microsoft Word over the last several years. It still can’t compete with a dedicated PDF app like Adobe Acrobat Pro for complex documents, but it’s capable enough for content edits of simple PDFs.
This review is part of our best PDF editors roundup. Go there to learn about our testing and how all the competitors performed.
To import a PDF into Word, you open it just like any other document—select File > Open, then browse for your file, select it, and click the Open button. Word makes a copy of the PDF and converts its contents into a format that Word can display. However, Microsoft advises that Word works best with PDFs that are mostly text. Documents that contain formatting such as columns, tables, frames, endnotes, and font effects, as well as those with a lot of graphics, take longer to load and may display differently in Word than in the original document. This bore out in my tests. Text blocks and other formatting elements were often displayed out of place, and Word was unable to load a few graphics-heavy PDFs. Text-based documents, on the other hand, were consistently rendered faithfully.
You can easily add and edit images in PDFs with Word
Not surprisingly, Word makes it easy to modify PDF text. Adding and deleting text, adjusting margins, formatting paragraphs, and changing fonts and font sizes works just as if you were editing a Word document. Working with graphics in PDF is also similar to using them in Word docs. You can add images using the Pictures tool from the Insert menu and drag them to reposition them on the page. Text automatically re-wraps around the image. You can choose graphic editing options such as cropping, adding a border, and inserting captions from Word’s layout tab or by right-clicking on the image and choosing from the pop-up menu.
After you’re done editing your document, you can convert it to a PDF or Microsoft Word document by selecting the Save As function in the File menu and choosing the appropriate format.
Microsoft Word does not include PDF annotation tools per se, but you can get creative with its document editing capabilities. Shapes can be added to a PDF using the Design tab, for example, and you can highlight text and freehand draw in a PDF using tools in the Draw tab. Reordering pages is tougher because Word converts files to a single scrolling document. These are simply the limitations of working with PDFs in a word processor. For serious markup and annotating you’re going to need a program designed for PDF editing.
You can get creative with Word to markup PDFs, but it doesn’t include true PDF annoatation tools. Michael Ansaldo/IDG
The main advantage of using Microsoft Word to edit your PDFs is familiarity with the application. Most of us use Word every day of our working lives, which should make it a go-to option for editing the contents of text-based PDFs. If your needs extend beyond that, though, you’ll likely need a bona fide PDF editor. Check out our guide to the best free and paid PDF options.
|Nvidia releases its first open-source Linux drivers|
|Thu, 12 May 2022 14:42:38 +0000|
Linux users are a self-sufficient bunch, but when it comes to hardware, they’re often at the mercy of enormous manufacturers to get working drivers. While Nvidia has offered proprietary drivers similar to its Windows offerings for years, the company is changing tack and will now publish open-source GPU drivers. The initial offerings are now live on Github as well as Nvidia’s self-hosted download pages.
Nvidia is following in the footsteps of its rival AMD, which has offered open-source graphics card drivers since 2015. But Nvidia isn’t in any particular rush. Initially, only datacenter hardware is supported with beta drivers. Drivers for consumer and workstation-level GeForce cards are considered “alpha” quality at the moment, and closed-source drivers will continue to be available for those who need more reliability in the short term.
The new drivers are beginning with the R515 release for Ampere and Turing GPUs (GTX 1XXX, RTX 2XXX, and RTX 3XXX cards and similar workstation/server cards) published under dual GPL/MIT. That should cover all new Nvidia hardware purchased in the last six years. Nvidia is partnering with big names in the Linux world for the new push, including Ubuntu maker Canonical, SUSE, and Red Hat. Canonical stated that the new open source drivers will be included in Ubuntu releases “in the coming months.”
|Save $200 on this Asus laptop with a massive display|
|Thu, 12 May 2022 14:37:46 +0000|
If you’re looking for a laptop with a ton of storage, there’s a nice deal going on at Best Buy right now. The big box retailer is selling a 17.3-inch Asus VivoBook with a Core i5 for $500. That’s $200 off of the MSRP and a good price considering the specs.
This laptop would be a good choice for productivity applications as well as standard uses like email, web browsing, and video streaming. The main attraction, however, is the 17.3-inch display with 1600-by-900 resolution. The processor running the laptop is the Intel Core i5-1035G1. That’s an Ice Lake processor that rolled out in late 2019. A little on the old side, but still a good performer for a productivity laptop with four cores, eight threads, and a boost to 3.6GHz.
The RAM count is a little unusual at 12GB, but that’s a good amount. It also has 1TB of onboard storage. This is another oddity since the storage is a hard drive, not the more typical SSD you’d expect to see these days. Another strange choice is that it’s running in Windows 11 Home in S Mode. There’s no reason for a laptop with these specs to be running that, so we’d heartily recommending doing a one-way upgrade to full Windows 11.
[Today’s deal: Asus VivoBook 17 X712 for $500 at Best Buy.]