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Updated: 19 min 45 sec ago

Best power banks of 2018: The top USB portable chargers for your phone

Thu, 2018-06-14 18:45

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

As for the latter, be advised: Amazon has voluntarily recalled six different models of its AmazonBasics-branded external power banks after they were found to that they could potentially overheat.

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Outxe Savage 20,000mAh review: A battery pack that can deliver power anywhere

Thu, 2018-06-14 18:40

The Outxe Savage 20,000 mAh battery pack looks more like an Otterbox case in that it's designed to withstand a few floor drops—and maybe even a quick dip in a stream or pool thanks to its IP67 rating. The tough exterior is covered in plastic, with a bumper system protecting the corners and perimeter of the battery pack. 

On top, you'll find a power button and six indicator lights, each one representing different charge levels for the pack. To the left of the power button sit two input ports, one USB-C and one microUSB. Either port can be used on its own to charge the pack, or you can use the ports simultaneously to increase charging speed.

In our test, we charged the pack using only the USB-C port and it took 9 hours and 40 minutes to completely charge. However, when we used both ports, we were able to cut nearly three hours off that time, for a total of 6 hours and 50 minutes to fully recharge the pack.

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Eyes-on: Nvidia's RTX demo shows the eye-popping potential of real-time ray tracing

Thu, 2018-06-14 13:33

When it comes to gaming, real-time ray tracing has been the proverbial Holy Grail for decades. The technology mimics how lighting works in the real world. Objects are illuminated by 3D light sources, with rays bouncing around before reaching your eyes (read: the camera). Ray tracing is what makes CG movies look so lifelike, but the computing power required to generate ray tracing in real-time has largely prevented the technology from taking root in PC games.

No more.

Graphics cards and processors are staggeringly more powerful (and efficient) than yesteryear’s hardware, and close-to-the-metal APIs lets developers tap into them more directly. At GDC in March, Microsoft announced a “DirectX Raytracing” (DXR) feature for Windows 10’s DirectX 12 graphics API. At E3 2018, Nvidia showed off the power of the “RTX” technology coming in next-gen GeForce graphics cards to allow them to process real-time ray tracing much better than today’s GPUs do.

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Hands-on: How Microsoft's Xbox Adaptive Controller lets gamers with disabilities play

Thu, 2018-06-14 12:52

Ask me my favorite demo of E3 2018 and I've got a lot of answers, even after two days. Cyberpunk 2077 was incredible. Metro Exodus made me want to play for 30 more hours, at least. Assassin's Creed: Odyssey has a lot of potential. But I'd also be tempted to say the Xbox Adaptive Controller. Announced a few weeks back, it's Microsoft's attempt at a controller for people with disabilities—an official controller, one that works seamlessly with the existing Xbox One and Windows 10 environments.

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AMD: Next-gen Radeon 'Navi' GPUs won't have a multi-chip design like Ryzen

Thu, 2018-06-14 11:26

A lot of rumors have been flying around lately about AMD’s next-generation “Navi” graphics architecture. But one concrete bit of information places some long-standing speculation to rest: Navi for consumer graphics cards will be built using a traditional, singular GPU, rather than switching to an exotic multi-chip setup.

David Wang, Radeon’s new graphics chief, told PCGamesN, “We are looking at the [multi-chip module] type of approach, but we’ve yet to conclude that this is something that can be used for traditional gaming graphics type of application.” PCGamesN reports that an MCM design “definitely” won’t be included in Navi graphics cards.

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Anker's dirt-cheap Lightning and USB-C cable multipacks are the best Father's Day gift

Thu, 2018-06-14 10:39

Father's Day is just a few days away, but it's not too late to get dad something he'll love. Of course, the best gifts are both thoughtful and practical, and if your dad loses his charging cords as often as ours do, no gift will fit the bill better than some backup Lightning and USB-C cables. And right now, Amazon has a couple different options from Anker on sale to suit the smart phone-toting dad in your life.

First up, Anker's PowerLine+ three-foot Lightning cable two-pack is $16, down from an average of $21 and the lowest we've seen it. These cables are built to be durable, and their double-braided nylon exterior is resistant to wear and tear caused by twisting, pulling, and dropping and work with most iPhones and iPads. With a 4.5-star rating over more than 600 user reviews, that this cord pack means business.

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Hands-on: Hitman 2's murderous puzzle sandbox lets you wield fish as a weapon

Thu, 2018-06-14 10:04

I am a machine. I am efficient. I am a loaded gun, a live weapon. I use the tools I've been given, even if that means no tools at all. I am years and years of training, the perfect assassin, a shadow even in the light of the noonday sun. I am an agent of targeted destruction, a demon sent to punish those who've sinned.

The fish goes slap against the back of the bartender's head. I steal his uniform, leave him naked in a freezer, and spend the next two minutes cleaning counters.

I am a hitman. The greatest.

Catfished

It feels so good to play new Hitman. The last time IO Interactive trotted out the series, back in 2016, I was tentative. Episodic release schedule? And coming off the back of Hitman: Absolution? I didn't expect much, I'll be honest.

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What this puppy chatbot says about fintech and the future of your money

Thu, 2018-06-14 09:53

This puppy chatbot is the most adorable example yet of the promise of fintech.

Fintech is a blanket term for financial technologies ranging from the payment and banking apps many of us already use, to the AI and machine-learning applications that crunch transactional data for financial companies, to cryptocurrency, blockchain, and other complete re-imaginings of how money works. At Intuit’s Innovation Lab Wednesday night in San Francisco, the puppy was one of several experiments shown by the company’s developers that explore how consumers could experience fintech in their daily lives.  

A puppy (or kitten) that can talk about money Melissa Riofrio/IDG

Intuit’s experimental chatbot financial assistant could take on many personas, including this cute kitten.

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Avoid overheating with this six-fan adjustable laptop cooling pad for under $12

Thu, 2018-06-14 09:19

When you're crunching numbers or playing games on your laptop, you've got to keep that notebook cool. Right now, Amazon's got a great deal to keep your laptop from overheating. You can get a six-fan cooling pad for 15.6- and 17-inch gaming laptops for $11.70 with the checkout code ANPALG78.

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How AT&T's Time Warner acquisition will impact cord-cutters

Thu, 2018-06-14 06:00
By acquiring Time Warner, AT&T will create short-term perks and long-term peril for cord-cutters.

Intel Kaby Lake G Core i7-8705G Review: Why Nvidia should be scared

Thu, 2018-06-14 06:00

Kaby Lake G’s marriage of Intel CPU and AMD GPU is an unusual partnership in the spirit of peanut butter and chocolate, R2-D2 and C-3PO in Star Wars, and yes, even Tom Hanks and the dog in Turner and Hooch. People love the unexpected.

Built out of an Intel 8th-generation quad-core CPU and an AMD custom Radeon RX Vega M graphics chips, Kaby Lake G shook the PC industry when Intel announced the chip at CES. After putting Kaby Lake G through the wringer via HP’s Spectre x360 15, it’s now clear to us that this new CPU/GPU combination may very well represent the future of the PC and deserves the fear it’s generating among competitors.

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APC SurgeArrest Performance P12U2 review: Lots of outlets and great features, including USB charging ports

Thu, 2018-06-14 06:00
This model offers the best value for the most outlets, with USB charging as a bonus.

Best home security camera: Keep an eye on the home front

Wed, 2018-06-13 18:18
A boom in wireless security cameras is inspiring a movement in DIY home surveillance. Follow our buying guide and read our reviews to find the best option for you.

Best TV streaming service: YouTube TV vs. SlingTV vs. Hulu vs. PlayStation Vue, and all the rest

Wed, 2018-06-13 17:16
Is SlingTV better than Hulu, or should cord cutters subscribe to PlayStation Vue? Or YouTube TV? We compare all the TV streaming services, and one rises to the top.

Scuf Gaming's luxurious controllers draw inspiration from Forza and... astroturf?

Wed, 2018-06-13 17:04

Long before Microsoft decided to make the superb Xbox One Elite controller, there was Scuf—maker of custom high-end gamepads of all sorts. Actually, when Microsoft made the Xbox One Elite controller, it partnered up with Scuf for accessories and implemented many of the company’s iconic design elements.

Point being: Scuf makes great controllers.

Scuf also makes wild novelty controllers though, and at E3 2018 that was mostly what we were interested in. We chose the two most unique gamepads we could find: The Scuf Forza Elite ($370) and the Scuf Impact Turf ($220). Let’s put it this way: One, I would definitely own. The other...well, maybe not.

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How to read a PDF on your Kindle

Wed, 2018-06-13 16:15

If you rely on a Kindle (or Kindle app) for reading, you probably know that it supports not only ebooks, but also PDFs.

In fact, if you've done your homework, you also know that your Kindle (or Kindle app) has its own email address, meaning you can send any PDF straight to your device just by attaching it to an email. 

But reading PDFs on a Kindle requires a little help. Portable Document Files (PDFs) are static images, boasting exactly the same dimensions, typeface, illustrations and formatting, on any device capable of opening them. That’s great news for anyone with a display large enough to view a PDF at its full size, but lousy news for anyone using a little Kindle e-reader. The comparatively small size of the display forces you to zoom and scroll around to read the document. It’s a pretty miserable experience.

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PC gamers can get Quake Champions, For Honor, and Layers of Fear for free this week

Wed, 2018-06-13 15:29

The annual E3 gaming expo is in full swing this week, showing the world what we’ll all be playing in the months to come. But for PC gamers, E3 isn’t just a time to celebrate what’s new. It’s also a prime opportunity to bask in the glory of new-to-you older games, which are often given away for free to help promote fresh games and expansions.

E3 2018 is no different. Right now, there are three notable PC games you can snag for free, but only for a limited time. Claim them now and they’re yours forever.

For Honor Starter Edition: For Honor started out rough, but Ubisoft’s shored things up over the past year with update after update—and by finally switching to dedicated multiplayer servers, which should’ve been present for this historical melee brawler from day one.

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Ears-on: What does Logitech's new GX Blue keyboard switch sound like?

Wed, 2018-06-13 13:07

It took Logitech something like four years to move from a single Romer-G keyboard switch to two, adding the Romer-G Linear a few months ago. It took less than six months for them to add another.

This week Logitech debuted the GX Blue switch. Yes, GX Blue—no Romer-G designation, which is interesting. And as you’d expect, the GX Blue does indeed mimic the Cherry MX Blue switch. It’s a tactile switch, requiring 50g of force and with a prominent click at the actuation point (1.9 mm).

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Steam will stop working on Windows XP and Vista PCs next year

Wed, 2018-06-13 12:07

Bad news for owners of dedicated retro rigs: Steam is dropping support for Windows XP and Vista on January 1, 2019, Valve announced this week. And the deadline isn’t just for feature updates. If you’re still running one of those older operating system next year, Steam won’t work on your PC whatsoever.

Steam supported the legacy operating systems for far longer than most software, but Valve says the program’s underlying nature requires it to sunset Windows XP and Vista.

“The newest features in Steam rely on an embedded version of Google Chrome, which no longer functions on older versions of Windows,” the company wrote. “In addition, future versions of Steam will require Windows feature and security updates only present in Windows 7 and above.”

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Garmin's $300 Vivoactive 3 Music smartwatch shows why Wear OS desperately needs a leader

Wed, 2018-06-13 12:02

In the time between Google's unveiling of the last major update to Android Wear—sorry, Wear OS—Apple has released two new Apple Watch models, including one with LTE, and Fitbit has developed a full-fledged smartwatch platform. Tech companies have all but abandoned the platform, and only Fossil has embraced Google's OS, expanding its line of hybrids to include dozens of fashion-first models.

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