Amazon’s Kindle Oasis (2017 version) is the ultimate ereader. Two important features debut with this 2017 model: It's waterproof, and it supports audiobooks via Audible.
Make no mistake: Reading on this device is a luxurious pleasure. With a starting price of $270, however, the Oasis floats beyond many budgets. For everyone else, we suggest picking up a Kindle Paperwhite, which can be had for half the cost.
Forgive us if you've heard this one before but Dell's latest XPS 13 is truly the best one yet. Seriously.
Newly upgraded with Intel's 8th-generation CPUs, the XPS 13 offers unheard-of performance in an ultra-portable laptop. By "unheard-of," we mean the XPS 13 offers performance approaching and occasionally surpassing that of much larger and much heavier powerhouse laptops.
Granted, it hasn't changed much on the outside. As we go through the features and specs, though, you'll see the significant changes happening on the inside.
Black Friday is no longer just the day after Thanksgiving. Now deals spill out willy-nilly from retailers at almost any given time in November.
Just a year or two ago, most discounts weren’t any good. But that’s changed.
While the deals that command headlines (those so-called “doorbusters”) are typically still available on only Thanksgiving or Black Friday, some worthwhile sales are already trickling out now.
We’ve begun rounding those up here, so keep an eye peeled for further updates as the days tick by and we add new deals as we spot them. And don’t forget: Holiday return windows have just expanded (most will run into early January), so you can buy now and repent at leisure—assuming you can float the cash.
The one thing we like more than building our own PCs is doing so for very little cash. Now’s the best time for that: Black Friday deals often include amazingly low prices on components, fantastic combo and bundle deals, and extras like a copy of a video game.
Last year, I decided to see just how low you could go using Black Friday deals. I came up with three budget gaming builds, all based around a Micro Center combo deal on AMD’s FX-8350 and a compatible AM3+ motherboard. The cheapest of them was $350, inclusive of the Windows license.
Of all the companies making streaming TV devices today, Roku is the most prolific, having released more than two dozen streaming players and sticks over the last eight years.
With so many Roku players in the wild, the decision on when to upgrade can be daunting. I’m generally in favor of keeping what you have for as long as you can tolerate it; but if you’re curious what you’re missing by holding out on upgrading to a new Roku, here’s a rundown.
Do you want the latest apps?
All Roku players that launched in 2010 or earlier are no longer receiving firmware updates, app updates, or new app releases. By sticking with one of these “Classic” Roku models, you’re missing out on countless new apps, including some major streaming services such as PlayStation Vue, Starz, HBO Now, and CW. Consider upgrading if you’re not getting all the content you care about.
For the first time in a long time, AMD is battling Intel for high-end desktop supremacy with its Ryzen Threadripper processors. Its chosen weapon? Cores, cores, and more cores, culminating in the monstrous 16-core, 32-thread Threadripper 1950X ($999 on Amazon). But cramming that much hardware into a chip means bigger chips, and bigger chips need bigger sockets. Enter the new AMD X399 motherboards.
This Alexa-enabled smart speaker from Eufy is discounted 43% today on Amazon as part of their "Black Friday Week" event (see all of today's active deals here). Stream music from Spotify, Pandora, SiriusXM and others. Control smart home devices. Ask for weather, sports score, news and more. Eufy Genie currently averages 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon where Its typical list price has been reduced 43% to just $19.99. See it on Amazon here.
Reviewing Need for Speed: Payback earlier this month I said it was “the first game to be ruined by loot boxes,” calling it “a totally decent arcade racer undermined at every turn by rampant and predatory monetization.” And I evidently wasn’t alone in that, judging by the game’s OpenCritic page.
There was a time when Bluetooth speakers were like jelly beans: They were cheap, they all looked the same, and they were invariably of dubious quality. Times have changed. Every major audio manufacturer has at least one model on the market today, and most have several. If you haven’t listened to a Bluetooth speaker lately, you’re in for a very pleasant surprise.
The industry’s progress doesn’t mean that every Bluetooth speaker justifies its price tag, no matter how inexpensive it might be. There’s still plenty of dreck floating around. Don’t worry, we’re here to help you steer clear of the junk and point you to the best speakers at the price range that fits your budget. To that end, we’ve picked the best Bluetooth speakers in four broad price ranges: budget, mid-range, high-end, and—yes, there are ultra-high-end Bluetooth speakers—price is no object. We also added an outdoor category to our coverage, with Soundcast’s VG7 the first to win our praise, with the Bose Soundlink Revolve+ taking the runner-up spot.
Google is pushing Android 8.0 Oreo to Nexus and Pixel devices as device makers scramble to get their phones updated. Google's devices will be the only ones running the new software, at least for a while. What's this Oreo update all about, anyway? Everyone knows about the big stuff, like picture-in-picture and autofill apps, but a lot more is going on if you dig deeper. Here are six awesome hidden Oreo features to get you started.
Widgets via app shortcuts
Google has changed the location and appearance of the home screen widget picker several times, and Oreo brings yet another alteration. This one might make using widgets much easier, though. All of an app's widgets are accessible with a long-press on the app icon. This works in the app drawer as well as on the home screen.
Microsoft’s Surface Book 2 has a power problem. When operating at peak performance, it may draw more power than its stock charger or Surface Dock can handle. What we’ve discovered after talking to Microsoft is that it’s not a bug—it’s a feature.
You can understand our confusion, given how Microsoft initially positioned the Surface Book 2. “This is a desktop,” Microsoft’s corporate vice president of devices, Panos Panay, went so far as to call it. “For many, this is likely the most performant desktop they’ve ever seen.” Most models come with a discrete Nvidia GTX 1060 GPU (the lowest-end model has a GTX 1050). At the launch event, Microsoft showed off Cuphead and Gears of War 4 playing at high frame rates on the Surface Book 2, implying that it was capable of playing PC games.
Not everyone needs a beefy laptop, which usually comes with a beefy price. For many folks, a capable, portable, flexible device like the Asus ZenBook Flip is just the ticket. At just $749, the 2-in-1 Flip doesn’t try to be the most powerful or most advanced option. Instead, it offers a slim and portable design that’s affordable and easy to use.
Really, this laptop reminds us a little of the netbooks that existed about 10 years ago. However, unlike those painfully underpowered systems, the Flip’s Core m processor can actually get work done. Storage is plentiful, too: Asus offers two versions of this 2-in-1, and they’re essentially the same aside from the SSD. The base model comes with a 256GB SSD for $699, and the second model comes with a 512GB SSD for $50 more. Our review unit sported the 512GB drive, but our critique applies to both models.
Chromebooks can be a crap shoot. It’s easy to get sucked in by a low price, only to find yourself with a disappointingly low-quality device on your hands. But you don’t have to step up into the higher-priced territory of the Dell Chromebook 13 or HP Chromebook 13 to find satisfaction. For a midrange price ( $286 on Amazon), the Acer Chromebook 14 gives you an all-aluminum chassis and a very nice display, even if its performance and other attributes are less remarkable.
Don't settle for the built-in webcam on your PC. At best, it provides mediocre audio and video quality, which just won't do if you're trying to make a strong impression in a professional Skype call or as a serious online broadcaster. You'll get far more polish from Logitech’s HD Pro Webcam C920 provides, which offers 1080p resolution and stereo sound at a very affordable price (currently less than $50 on Amazon).
It’s been a few weeks since I’ve done a news wrap-up, thanks to a knee-deep pile of review games I’m still slowly churning through. But my Total War sensors went off this week, so it’s time to return.
That’s right, there’s news on an honest-to-goodness historical Total War—the first since Rome 2 spin-off Attila . Also up this week: Pillars of Eternity 2 hits beta, Thermaltake’s new gaming chair cools your butt off, the end of Marvel Heroes, the start for Verdun sequel Tannenberg, and of course all the internet (and real-world) drama surrounding loot boxes.
Switching to a solid-state drive is the best upgrade you can make for your PC. These wondrous devices obliterate long boot times, speed up how fast your programs and games load, and generally makes your computer feel fast. But not all solid-state drives are created equal. The best SSDs offer solid performance at affordable prices—or, if price is no object, face-meltingly fast read and write speeds.
This article was last updated on November 17, 2017 to include Intel’s Optane SSD 900P and the WD Blue 3D SATA NAND SSD.
SSD cheat sheet
Our quick-hit recommendations:To read this article in full, please click here
No review is ever truly conducted in a vacuum, but Star Wars: Battlefront II arrived in a storm. And rightfully so, I might add. Battlefront II is the perfect capper to a holiday game season plagued by predatory monetization schemes, a game so unabashedly toxic it finally became a scandal. You’ll find a rack of pitchforks in the corner, or for those who prefer to observe internet drama from a safe distance there’s a popcorn maker on level two.
Consider: Monday, EA received the most downvoted comment in Reddit history over Star Wars: Battlefront II's progression system. Tuesday, it cut all hero costs in the game by 75 percent in response. Wednesday, DICE employees hosted a disastrous Reddit Q&A session that only further fanned the flames. Thursday, the scandal grew so large it hit mainstream sites like CNN, prompting a phone call between EA CEO Andrew Wilson and Disney CEO Bob Iger, and then the temporary removal of Battlefront II’s real-world currency.
This speaker is attractive, rugged, easy to pack, and it delivers an authoritative thump, but it's missing a few key features, including speakerphone functionality and the ability to charge other USB devices.
Buffered VPN in brief:P2P allowed: YesBusiness location: Budapest, HungaryNumber of servers: 30+Number of country locations: 46Cost: $99 per yearBudapest-based Buffered VPN isn’t an exceptional product. It ‘s not particularly speedy, its Windows app is serviceable but nothing special, prices are a little high, and its server count and country locations aren’t that impressive. Still, in my time with it, I found the VPN to be pretty good. Ian Paul/IDG
Buffered VPN’s primary interface.To read this article in full, please click here
Apple’s iMovie has been around for a long time, and it has always focused on one philosophy: ease of use in a clean and elegant interface. After many years, this hasn’t changed. It’s still a delight to use, if a little bit obtuse at times in its pursuit of minimalism. It lacks some of the formats and features supported in other programs, but what’s there is implemented beautifully.
iMovie doesn’t offer the tutorials or wizards that some other programs for beginners do—though there is a neat movie trailer generation tool. Rather, it keeps the interface as basic as possible while guiding you with simple tooltips as you mouse over specific buttons and features. Total beginners might end up scratching their heads a little more than they would in apps with more explicit tutorials, though.
The WD Blue 3D SSD is a SATA SSD with a not-so-secret twin: Sandisk’s Ultra 3D SSD. They are in fact the same drive with different labels, WD owning Sandisk and all that. The ‘3D’ term means the drives use stacked (layered, vertical, etc.) NAND. Practically speaking, that means more storage in less horizontal space.
The only real differences between the drives are the outward appearance, the marketing, and the fact that the WD Blue 3D ships in the M.2 form factor, while the Ultra 3D does not. Beyond that, they’re peas in a pod. Given their superior performance compared to other TLC NAND drives—that’s a really good thing.
Design and capacity
Though available in the 2.5-inch form factor, WD sent us the M.2 2280 (22mm wide/80mm long) Blue 3D, which is handy for upgrading laptops or desktops that feature an M.2 slot. It’s SATA, not NVMe—just to be clear. Be sure to check which flavor your M.2 slot is before you buy. Just FYI, NVMe is a lot faster.
What would you pay for a phone with a 6-inch OLED screen, Snapdragon 835 processor, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a 3,300mAh battery? $850? $950?
Now consider this number: $390. That’s the difference in price between the 128GB OnePlus 5T and the Pixel 2 XL. For $559 (just $20 more than the OnePlus 5), you get a phone that looks an awful lot like a Pixel 2 XL, with slim bezels, a rear fingerprint sensor, and an OS that’s very faithful to stock Android. And the entry-level model costs less than $500.
One of PC gaming’s biggest strengths is its flexibility, and that advantage shines brightest when you mod your PC games. While console games remain restricted to the gameplay and features shipped by developers, many PC games can be modified by the community to tweak almost any aspect of the experience. Mods can offer enhanced graphics, bug fixes, fresh quests, you name it. The best PC mods can change games completely—and sometimes kickstart whole new genres of their own.
The Federal Communications Commission has approved plans for the launch of next-generation TV broadcasting that could include 4K programming, improved interactive services and greater targeted advertising.
Dash cams are already essential in many countries because of scam artists who try to create accidents so they can sue you. They’ve also proven useful for catching the occasional meteor, as happened in Thailand and in Russia a few years ago.
But while auto cons aren’t as common here, recording your excursions is a reasonable precaution to take—especially if you’re driving professionally.
November 16, 2017: Updated with our review of the Blackvue DR750S-2CH, which offers great day and night video, a convenient mounting system, and a handy phone app as well as browser access. But all these goodies will cost you. Read our full review.
The Blackvue DR750S-2CH dash cam impressed us right out of the box. With similarly-styled front and rear cameras, a clever mounting system, and tubular good looks, it just looks like it will do its job well. It can also be accessed from across the Internet and uses Wi-Fi to communicate with the company’s Android and iOS apps.
But you pay for all the goodies: At $399 ($283 without the rear camera), the DR750S-2CH plays in the same rarefied pricing sphere as Thinkware’s top-of-the-line cameras. If this lies beyond your budget, check out all of our dash cam reviews for a better match.