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Updated: 18 min 34 sec ago

Mirage: Arcane Warfare is free for the next 24 hours, and you get to keep it

Wed, 2017-09-06 13:00

Poor Mirage: Arcane Warfare. Whether it was the title or the abundance of purple or the characters or the existence of Overwatch or one of a million other factors, it’s hard to deny Mirage was a flop. A big flop, and not just in relation to developer Torn Banner’s previous game Chivalrythe top Steam review was posted August 10 and says there was a total of “just 3 players online.” Ouch.

Torn Banner is trying to stab a big ol’ adrenaline needle into Mirage’s DOA body though. No, the game isn’t going free-to-play—not yet, anyway. It is however going to be free for the next 24 hours, and if you grab it through Steam you get to keep it forever. Via Torn Banner:

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Best wireless keyboards: Cut the cord with Bluetooth and USB models offering extras galore

Wed, 2017-09-06 11:21

A wireless keyboard frees you from more than a cable. It frees you from the crummy slab you got for free with your PC—does anyone like that one?—and it gives you options. The models we’ve reviewed vary in size, weight, key design, and compatibility with other operating systems and devices.

Keyboard have a long shelf life—most of the models we reviewed in 2016 remain on sale, including our top pick, the Iogear Quietus RF Desktop. Best of all, their prices tend to go down over time.

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52% off 299-Piece All-Purpose First Aid Kit - Deal Alert

Wed, 2017-09-06 10:13

This full-fledged, easy-to-tote first aid softpack is designed to save time and frustration in the midst of an emergency. It's compact and portable, but contains 299 physician-recommended supplies.  Among the items neatly organized inside the zippered kit is a first aid guide, vinyl gloves, bandages, cold compress, gauze pads, trauma pad, cotton-tipped applicators, first aid tape roll, antiseptics and all three common OTC pain medications. The kit is currently a #1 best seller on Amazon, averages 4.5 out of 5 stars from over 280 customers, and its typical list price of $26.74 has been reduced 52% to just $12.80. Click over to Amazon to see this deal.

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Save A Whopping $100 on Amazon Echo Right Now By Going Refurbished - Deal Alert

Wed, 2017-09-06 09:31

You can pick up Amazon Echo for VERY far below list price, if you're comfortable buying refurbished. Which you can be -- certified refurbished products are tested and certified to look and work like new, and come with warranties. Echo typically lists for $180, or $165 refurbished, but right now it looks like Amazon's letting them go for just $80. Amazon Echo is a hands-free speaker you control with your voice. Echo connects to the Alexa Voice Service to play music, provide information, news, sports scores, weather, and more—instantly. All you have to do is ask. Echo has seven microphones and beam forming technology so it can hear you from across the room—even while music is playing. Echo is also an expertly tuned speaker that can fill any room with 360° immersive sound. When you want to use Echo, just say the wake word “Alexa” and Echo responds instantly. If you have more than one Echo or Echo Dot, Alexa responds intelligently from the Echo you're closest to with ESP (Echo Spatial Perception). See the certified refurbished Amazon Echo on Amazon.

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Oomi Home review: Semi-smarten your home, at a steep price

Wed, 2017-09-06 06:00
This smart home kit doesn’t come cheap, and it doesn’t do much, either.

Michael Kors Access Sofie review: A polished piece of connected jewelry

Wed, 2017-09-06 03:00

Wearables aren’t quite the hot commodity they used to be—but at least the Michael Kors Sofie, an Android Wear 2.0 watch from the eponymous fashion house, brings some bling to a flagging tech trend.

A few years ago, Android-based smartwatches were storming the scene. Manufacturers sparred against one another to deliver the most compelling wearable, and the gear was exciting to cover. But these days, the competition has dwindled. Apple’s keeps its user base relatively satiated with the Apple Watch, while Google’s smartwatch platform is getting more love and attention from lifestyle brands than from tech brands like Samsung, LG and Motorola.

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Lenovo's Superfish bloatware scandal reveals a sneaky tactic we thought Microsoft had started

Tue, 2017-09-05 21:01

As Lenovo resolves the Superfish bloatware scandal from 2015, a surprising detail has emerged from the fine print of the settlement. Consumers who bought Lenovo laptops with “man-in-the-middle” Superfish adware (by a company called VisualDiscovery) likely fell for a trick later made infamous by Microsoft: clicking the “X” to dismiss the program actually opted them into it.

Lenovo settled with the Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday, paying a reported $3.5 million in fines and agreeing to other security concessions to prevent a repeat of the Superfish debacle. According to the FTC, the software allowed VisualDiscovery to see all of a consumer’s sensitive personal information transmitted over the Internet, including log-in information, Social Security numbers, and more. In 2015, Lenovo CTO Peter Hortensius called the decision to use Superfish a “significant mistake.”

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Microsoft Modern Keyboard review: The sleek design and fingerprint scanner will cost you

Tue, 2017-09-05 17:46

Microsoft’s sleek, elegant Modern Keyboard looks as good as its feels, with pleasingly clickable keys, a bevy of dedicated Windows keys and an ace up its sleeve: a built-in fingerprint reader. Our only gripes about this rechargeable, Bluetooth-enabled keypad are its lack of programmable keys and its lofty price tag.

Basic features

  • Windows 10 compatible
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Built-in fingerprint scanner
  • Rechargeable, with an advertised four months between charges

The Microsoft Modern Keyboard makes a striking first impression with its super-slim profile (just a shade over 19 millimeters) and its small footprint (about 16.6 x 4.4 inches). The steel-gray chassis represents quite a departure from those chunky black Microsoft keyboards of old, instead, bearing a striking resemblance to Apple’s Magic Keyboard, right down to its hefty $130 sticker price.

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Logitech MK850 Performance review: A quiet, comfy keyboard that needs more snap

Tue, 2017-09-05 17:45

The Logitech MK850 clearly aims to be your go-to keyboard and mouse for your desktop, phone, and tablet. With its roomy, ergonomically minded design, the keyboard is also a gift to aching wrists. But while the MK850's agility at juggling wireless connections is impressive, the keys themselves feel disappointingly mushy.

Basic features

  • Quickly switch among up to three Windows, MacOS, iOS or Android devices
  • Wireless connectivity via Bluetooth or USB dongle
  • Two AAA batteries
  • Advertised battery life of three years

The MK850 certainly feels comfy thanks to its cushioned palm rest and the slight ergonomic bulge in the middle of the main keypad. Two pairs of fold-out feet tilt the MK850 to either four or eight degrees; personally, I stuck with the eight-degree pair.

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Windows 10 S review: Microsoft's OS for students is hard to love

Tue, 2017-09-05 14:18

Microsoft’s Windows 10 S is what happens when a once-easygoing operating system has kids and turns into a helicopter parent. Windows 10 S, a locked-down version of Windows 10 found on the Surface Laptop and a small group of low-cost, third-party notebooks, keeps students safe and secure by restricting them to the Windows Store. But as our review shows, the lack of freedom chafes.

Locking your PC away from the big, bad, outside world makes sense when your children are going off to high school or college, Microsoft thinks. But even the most dutiful parent will wonder why their child can’t use Chrome to beam YouTube videos to a Chromecast, print on some local printers, or protect their PC with anything other than Windows Defender. There’s always an escape hatch: a simple upgrade to Windows 10 Pro. But otherwise, Windows 10 S can be an exercise in frustration.

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Amazon is selling a two-bay Netgear NAS box for less than $200 today

Tue, 2017-09-05 13:34

If you’re ready to beef up your home network, Amazon has a good deal on a two-bay network attached storage device. For $191.20, you can get Netgear’s ReadyNAS 212 2-Bay NAS. The sale lasts until just before midnight on Tuesday, Pacific time.

A NAS is basically really smart external storage that can be used to backup your family’s PCs, run a media server, or act as a regular file server. This particular device features a 1.4GHz quad-core Cortex A15 processor, 2GB of RAM, and supports up to 16TB of storage as 2.5- or 3.5-inch SATA drives. It also has dual gigabit ethernet and a ready-made user interface for accessing files, and it comes with a three-year warranty on the chassis.

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Gigabyte unleashes the smallest GTX 1080 ever to battle Radeon Vega Nano

Tue, 2017-09-05 11:09

Bigger is usually better in the world of graphics cards, but these days, plenty of people want plus-sized power in fun-sized packages. Enter Gigabyte’s GeForce GTX 1080 Mini ITX 8G, the smallest GTX 1080 yet—and an early strike against AMD’s incoming Radeon RX Vega Nano.

At 169mm in length, Gigabyte’s graphics card is the perfect fit for mini-ITX motherboards, which measure 170mm. The GeForce GTX 1080 Mini ITX 8G offers the same 1607MHz base clock and 1733MHz boost speeds as a GTX 1080 Founders Edition and manages to do so in a package that’s nearly 100mm shorter. That makes you wonder how hot and loud the card will run under load, but Gigabyte augmented the single semi-passive 90mm fan with a densely stacked heat sink and three copper heat pipes in direct contact with the GPU, as Tech Report first noted. The GTX 1080 Mini ITX 8G also packs a 5+2 power phase design, a step up over the 5+1 design in the Founders Edition.

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Gigabyte unleashes the smallest GTX 1080 ever to battle Radeon Vega Nano

Tue, 2017-09-05 11:09

Bigger is usually better in the world of graphics cards, but these days, plenty of people want plus-sized power in fun-sized packages. Enter Gigabyte’s GeForce GTX 1080 Mini ITX 8G, the smallest GTX 1080 yet—and an advanced strike against AMD’s incoming Radeon RX Vega Nano.

At 169mm in length, Gigabyte’s graphics card is the perfect fit for mini-ITX motherboards, which measure 170mm. The GeForce GTX 1080 Mini ITX 8G offers the same 1607MHz base clock and 1733MHz boost speeds as a GTX 1080 Founders Edition and manages to do so in a package that’s nearly 100mm shorter. That makes you wonder how hot and loud the card will run under load, but Gigabyte augmented the single semi-passive 90mm fan with a densely stacked heat sink and three copper heat pipes in direct contact with the GPU. The GTX 1080 Mini ITX 8G also packs a 5+2 power phase design, a step up over the 5+1 design in the Founders Edition.

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Galaxy Note 8 vs. LG G6: Can Samsung beat LG for the camera phone crown?

Tue, 2017-09-05 11:05

Hot off the presses is the Galaxy Note 8, Samsung’s latest flagship phone, and it sports a dual camera system—a first for Samsung. The Galaxy S8, released in May, wasn’t able to topple the LG G6, our current pick for smartphone camera dominance, and so we’re interested to see the changes Samsung has made to its camera tech in the past six months.

Can the new Note 8 beat the LG G6 where the S8 fell short? Keep reading to find out.

Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

LG's G6 versus Samsung's Galaxy Note 8. Camera fight!

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Tested: Galaxy Note 8 Live Focus vs iPhone 7 Plus Portrait Mode

Tue, 2017-09-05 11:05

The Galaxy Note 8 is the first Samsung phone to feature a dual lens camera system. Similar to Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus, it includes a telephoto lens paired with a standard lens. This allows both phones to deliver fun depth of field effects—but does one company do bokeh better? Let’s check out the differences between their approaches, and see if one phone can emerge victorious.

Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Apple's iPhone 7 Plus came out late last year while Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 launches in September.

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Galaxy Note 8 vs. LG G6: Can Samsung beat LG for the camera phone crown?

Tue, 2017-09-05 11:05

Hot off the presses is the Galaxy Note 8, Samsung’s latest flagship phone, and it sports a dual camera system—a first for Samsung. The Galaxy S8, released in May, wasn’t able to topple the LG G6, our current pick for smartphone camera dominance, and so we’re interested to see the changes Samsung has made to its camera tech in the past six months.

Can the new Note 8 beat the LG G6 where the S8 fell short? Keep reading to find out.

Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

LG's G6 versus Samsung's Galaxy Note 8. Camera fight!

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Tested: Galaxy Note 8 Live Focus vs iPhone 7 Plus Portrait Mode

Tue, 2017-09-05 11:05

The Galaxy Note 8 is the first Samsung phone to feature a dual lens camera system. Similar to Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus, it includes a telephoto lens paired with a standard lens. This allows both phones to deliver fun depth of field effects—but does one company do bokeh better? Let’s check out the differences between their approaches, and see if one phone can emerge victorious.

Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Apple's iPhone 7 Plus came out late last year while Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 launches in September.

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Galaxy Note 8 review: Don't call it a comeback, call it the phone of the year

Tue, 2017-09-05 11:00

No one would have blamed Samsung if the Note 8 were never released. After a global recall halted sales of the Note 7 in their tracks, some execs at Samsung probably floated the idea of retiring the Note brand altogether.

It’s good they didn’t. The Note 8 isn’t just a return to form, it’s the best phone Samsung has ever made, bar none. And until the iPhone 8 and Pixel 2 make their appearances—and maybe even after—it’s simply the best phone money can buy.

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Galaxy Note 8 review: Don't call it a comeback, call it the phone of the year

Tue, 2017-09-05 11:00

No one would have blamed Samsung if the Note 8 were never released. After a global recall halted sales of the Note 7 in their tracks, some execs at Samsung probably floated the idea of retiring the Note brand altogether.

It’s good they didn’t. The Note 8 isn’t just a return to form, it’s the best phone Samsung has ever made, bar none. And until the iPhone 8 and Pixel 2 make their appearances—and maybe even after—it’s simply the best phone money can buy.

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The powerful PC hardware of PAX West 2017

Tue, 2017-09-05 09:15
Everywhere you look, another PC

Image by IDG / Hayden Dingman

Like usual, I spent most of my time at PAX West 2017 admiring the PC’s presence. After the console focus of E3, PAX is always the perfect RGB-lit mouthwash to close out the year.

Unfortunately 2017 was a bit less spectacular than last year—a show that featured a PC that fired paper airplanes, another with its very own blood bag, and a wall made entirely from keyboards. PAX West 2017 couldn’t possibly live up, and indeed it was a bit slimmer on the custom case front.

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