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This week in games: Lego Star Wars returns, Ubisoft gives away Assassin's Creed: Unity after Notre Dame fire

Fri, 2019-04-19 17:29

I’ve said for years that Assassin’s Creed is more impressive for its art nowadays than the games themselves, but still, who would’ve guessed that one day Assassin’s Creed would be used to restore a priceless piece of architectural history?

That news, plus a new Lego Star Wars, an Old Republic expansion and potential film adaptation, details for Netflix’s Witcher series, a remake of cult classic shooter XIII, and more.

This is gaming news for April 15 to 19.

Digital artifacts

This week’s first freebie is a big one, relatively speaking. You probably heard that Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris caught on fire this week. In the wake of that fire you maybe remembered that one Ubisoft designer spent two years of her life creating the Notre Dame model for Assassin’s Creed: Unity. Turns out that Notre Dame model might now be used in reverse, helping guide restoration efforts on the actual church. As some sort of weird (but nice) gesture, Ubisoft is now giving away copies of Unity through April 25.

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Best Buy is selling a 10TB WD external drive for an insane $160 today

Fri, 2019-04-19 15:10

External hard drives have been steadily dropping for months, but this deal is one of the best we've ever seen: Best Buy is selling a 10TB WD Easystore hard drive for just $160Remove non-product link, down from a list price of $300 and just $0.016 cents a gig.

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The latest Windows patch is breaking even more PCs with antivirus installed

Fri, 2019-04-19 14:34

The last major Windows update broke some systems with particular antivirus software installed, and it’s seemingly getting worse.

Earlier this week we reported that Microsoft halted updates to Windows PCs running Sophos and Avast’s security solutions, following user complaints that their machines were locking up or failing to boot. Since then, the list of known issues for the rogue update was itself updated to acknowledge compatibility issues with Avira and ArcaBit antivirus installed, with Microsoft temporarily blocking updates to those affected systems, too. Today, Ars Technica noticed that Microsoft is investigating compatibility issues for systems with McAfee antivirus installed, though it hasn’t started blocking the April 9 update from those PCs just yet.

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Acer CEO Jason Chen explains why his PCs are going niche

Fri, 2019-04-19 11:00

Acer CEO Jason Chen thinks his company can get bigger if it thinks small. As the fourth- or fifth-largest PC vendor worldwide by shipments (per IDC and Gartner numbers, respectively), Acer already sells plenty of what it calls “value” PCs—commodity systems that offer good specs for the price. It’s thriving in the gaming and education markets, too, where performance and sturdiness matter.

Compared to PC juggernauts Dell, HP, and Lenovo, however, Acer still has a long way to go. So the company’s next move is to pursue what Chen calls “microtrends,” courting users whose numbers might be too small—or their needs a little too niche—to draw much attention from bigger players. Acer sees an opportunity to shine by providing a more curated PC experience—a completely different strategy from its approach to mainstream PCs.

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Dude, this 24-inch Dell monitor is down to $110 today—and you get a $50 gift card with it

Fri, 2019-04-19 10:03

It would be great if we all could afford 4K G-Sync monitors, but sadly that's not the case. So if you're looking for a fantastic deal on a much more basic display, Dell is selling a 24-inch 1080p monitor for $110Remove non-product link, a near-50-percent savings from its $200 MSRP. And to sweeten the deal, Dell will throw in a $50 gift card, effectively bringing the price down to $60.

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How to transform your laptop into a gaming powerhouse with an external graphics card

Fri, 2019-04-19 08:54

My desire to power up a laptop with an external graphics card began in 2015, when I set out on a quest to get back into PC gaming—a beloved pastime I’d neglected since childhood.

But the only PC I had at the time was a 2011 Lenovo ThinkPad X220 laptop with Intel HD 3000 integrated graphics. That just wouldn’t cut it for proper PC gaming. Sure, the laptop on its own works well enough for older titles like Diablo III, especially on the laptop’s tiny 1366x728-resolution display, but forget about more graphics-intensive modern games on an external 1080p monitor. That’s why I decided to examine external graphics card (eGPU) setups.

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Cooler Master SK630 review: Low-profile gaming keyboards are officially a trend

Fri, 2019-04-19 06:30

Here’s the rule with peripherals: Once is a gimmick, twice is a trend, and thrice is a category. And our latest category? Low-profile mechanical keyboards, which bring elements of the laptop typing experience to desktops. These hybrid keyboards started to show up late last year, first with the Roccat Vulcan 120 Aimo, then with Corsair’s K70 RGB Mk.2 Low Profile.

Now we have a third contender, Cooler Master’s new SK630. With a tenkeyless design and detachable cable it’s certainly the most mobile of the bunch, though a few odd choices may prove polarizing.

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Primephonic app review: The unrivaled classical music streaming service comes to Android and iOS

Fri, 2019-04-19 06:00
Primephonic's mobile app for iOS and Android delivers the best parts of its classical music service to smart devices—with one glaring omission.

Mysa Smart Thermostat review: Rendering electric heat stylish and smart

Fri, 2019-04-19 06:00
A beautifull smart thermostat for baseboard, radiant, and fan-forced convector heaters.

Update: Facebook passwords for hundreds of millions of users were exposed to Facebook employees

Thu, 2019-04-18 15:30

Facebook confirmed Thursday that hundreds of millions of user passwords were being stored in a “readable format” within its servers, accessible to internal Facebook employees -- including millions more Instagram users than previously thought. Affected users will be notified, Facebook said, so they can change those passwords.

Interestingly, Facebook downplayed and confirmed the problem in the same post, filed in late March, after researcher Brian Krebs issued his own report.  Facebook’s Pedro Canahuati, vice president of engineering for security and privacy, initially referred to “some” user passwords that were accessible to Facebook employees. A paragraph later, he revealed that “hundreds of millions of Facebook Lite users, millions of Facebook users, and tens of thousands of Instagram users” would be notified.

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Add 200GB of space to your phone or Nintendo Switch for just $25 at Amazon today

Thu, 2019-04-18 10:54

No matter whether it’s on your phone, tablet, PC, or Nintendo Switch, running out of space always sucks, especially if it means deleting games and files. But today you can solve that problem once and for all. Amazon is selling a 200GB SanDisk Ultra microSDXC card for an all-time-low of just $25, a 34 percent savings on its $38 list price.
This card packs a lot of space in a small package. With read speeds up to 100MB/s and speed ratings of UHS Speed Class U1 and Speed Class 10, this card can handle full HD video, while an A1 rating provides faster app performance. And once the card contains all your important files, it will keep them safe, with shock-, temperature-, water-, and X-ray- proofing. It will work with any Android phone that has a microSD slot as well as the Nintendo Switch and other devices, including cameras and some PCs.
We haven't tried this microSDXC ourselves, but it's a big hit on Amazon, with 4.5 stars out of 5 across more than 15,000 user reviews.
[Today’s deal: 200GB SanDisk Ultra microSDXC card for $25 on AmazonRemove non-product link]

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The Full Nerd ep. 91: PlayStation 5 vs. gaming PCs, Acer's ConceptD desktops, case design thoughts

Thu, 2019-04-18 10:26

In this episode of The Full Nerd, Gordon Mah UngBrad ChacosAdam Patrick Murray and special guest Melissa Riofrio discuss some of the hottest computer news of the past week.

The gang breaks down how early PlayStation 5 specs compare against gaming PCs, dives deep into Acer’s big, beautiful, and creator-focused ConceptD desktops, and touches on general case design philosophies. And of course, we answer plenty of questions from live viewers and Full Nerd Discord chat members.

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Pay what you want for this Java course bundle

Thu, 2019-04-18 10:05

Java is among the easiest programming languages to learn, making it perfect for those just starting out. And, now virtually anyone can become an expert with The Java Master Class Bundle, offered for a fraction of its normal $960 value.

The Java Master Class Bundle includes ten courses that introduce students to the Java coding language. They’ll learn the syntax, discover how to program applications, and even earn valuable certificates for each course completed. And, since it’s a Pay What You Want offer, they could get it for an amazingly low price. But exactly how low is up to each individual to decide.

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The smarter, better Ring Video Doorbell Pro is $50 off and comes with a free Echo Dot

Thu, 2019-04-18 09:37

Amazon’s got an unstoppable deal right now for a smart doorbell: The Ring Video Doorbell Pro is on sale for $199. That’s the usual $50 discount we’ve seen before on this item, but on top of that, Amazon’s throwing in a free Echo Dot. The third-generation Echo Dot is usually $50 (albeit currently on sale for $40), but it’s not clear if you get the second or third generation mini speaker with this deal.

The Ring Video Doorbell Pro features 1080p video capture with infrared for nighttime vision. It connects to your Wi-Fi via 802.11b/g/n and you can check-in remotely to see who’s at your door. The Pro also works with Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant, which allows you to use the smart speaker for two-way talk with whoever’s at your door.

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Stream these 12 movies to celebrate Easter, Passover, and the rebirth of spring

Thu, 2019-04-18 07:00
Whether you're a cord-cutter, a cord-never, or you're sticking with cable, you'll want to check out these great entertainment suggestions from TechHive's resident film critic.

Here's how to fix Apple's Butterfly keyboard problem: Buy a PC

Thu, 2019-04-18 06:30

Dear MacBook user: If you just stomped out of the Apple store with another problem with your Butterfly keyboard we've got the ultimate fix: Buy a PC.

Sure, we could be mean and troll you by pretending to type headlines and sentences as though they were typed on a MacBook (Itt wouldlook like his becaus of th missing or stuck ky poblm) but we understand you're still shellshocked that three years after introducing the "worst product in Apple's history," Apple hasn't changed its ways.

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SecureDrive BT review: Unlock this secure portable SSD using your phone

Thu, 2019-04-18 06:00

If you're a phone-centric user looking for a secure drive that matches your lifestyle, then you definitely need to take a look at the SecureDrive BT SSD. Unlike other secure drives, which rely on a keypad or an client app on your PC to unlock them, the SecureDrive BT uses an app and Bluetooth, the wireless connectivity that's available on every modern phone and mobile device.

Even beyond lifestyle and convenience, managing the drive using your phone or mobile device may also be the most secure way to do it. And that's what corporate and government buyers, the real target audience, are more concerned with. 

Why the phone?

As I said, the SecureDrive BT uses Bluetooth and the Android/iOS app for unlocking the drive. But it doesn't transfer data via BT, so it's basically just a USB drive with a new approach to access. The drive, as all do, locks itself automatically when power is removed, so you don't even need the app for that. Is this approach handy? I'm not in any way shape or form phone-centric, yet I prefer using my phone for the task for several reasons.

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Best smart speakers: Which deliver the best combination of digital assistant and audio performance?

Wed, 2019-04-17 15:05
With models based on Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, Cortana, and others to come, we’ll help you find just the right model for you.

Microsoft launches its Surface Hub 2S collaborative PC for $9,000

Wed, 2019-04-17 13:39

Last year, Microsoft announced the successor to its Surface Hub—the Surface Hub 2S, a 50-inch whiteboarding PC that could be mounted on a wall or even rolled from room to room. On Wednesday, the company formally launched that product, and announced a larger, 85-inch model due later this year, as well as a separate Surface Hub 2 Display monitor.

Don’t expect the Surface Hub 2S to grace your living room or home office, however, as Microsoft has priced 50-inch 2S display at $9,000. Microsoft sees the 2S as a collaborative workspace, running Teams, Office 365, its Whiteboard app, and other Microsoft software. Microsoft launched the Surface Hub 2S on Wednesday in conjunction with Steelcase, which is manufacturing the rolling easel that makes the Surface Hub 2S semi-portable—there’s even an optional battery attachment. The easel (along with the 2S) will begin shipping in June.

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Nvidia's next Game Ready driver will add 7 new G-Sync Compatible displays

Wed, 2019-04-17 11:47

A few months after granting its GeForce graphics cards the ability to tap into the variable refresh rates of AMD FreeSync displays, Nvidia is expanding the list of G-Sync Compatible monitors by 41 percent. The new displays will start seamlessly using the adaptive sync capabilities when the Game Ready driver enables support next Tuesday.

The number of new monitors isn’t quite as impressive as that percentage sounds, as Nvidia’s new certification program is still in its early days—though any increase is appreciated. Nvidia launched the G-Sync Compatible certification with 12 monitors at CES in January before adding a few more models over the following months. Tuesday’s driver will unlock support for the following seven displays, bringing the total number of G-Sync Compatible monitors to 24:

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