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Updated: 39 min 7 sec ago

The Full Nerd ep. 89: The state of VR and geeking out about PCs with The Foo Show's Will Smith

Fri, 2019-04-05 14:25

In this episode of The Full Nerd, Gordon Mah Ung and Adam Patrick Murray host Foo VR CEO and Maximum PC/Tested alum Will Smith, who stops by to talk about his latest company, whether VR is dead, and the state of the PC.

Also: If you like Linux, you don’t want to hear what Will says about VR gaming on Linux. Cover your ears.

You can witness it all in the video embedded above. You can also watch The Full Nerd episode 89 on YouTube (subscribe to the channel while you’re there!) or listen to it on Soundcloud if you prefer the audio alone.

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Embrace the convenience of wireless charging with this killer deal on a Qi-certified Anker pad

Fri, 2019-04-05 11:13

Wireless charging lets you simply plop your phone on a mat and walk away, free from the need to fumble with frustrating cables. It makes charging easy! If you haven’t adopted your own wireless setup—or if you’d like to add another—today’s the day, with an Amazon sale on the Anker PowerWave charging pad bringing its price to $16.79, down from a list price of $26 and the lowest we’ve seen it.

This charging pad’s round, flat design comes with an anti-slip surface to grip your device while charging, keeping it firmly in place. Its high-speed charging abilities will power your phone up quickly even through a case, with charging power at 5W as a standard charge, 7.5W for iPhones, and 10W for Samsung, LG, and Sony phones.

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Blanket your home in Wi-Fi with these excellent Netgear Orbi mesh router deals

Fri, 2019-04-05 09:46

It’s a great day to get a brand new or almost brand new Netgear Orbi mesh Wi-Fi system, depending on how much you want to spend. Amazon is selling the Orbi RBK23 mesh system for $250 after applying a $40 coupon just below the price on the product page. That discount makes this the lowest price the system’s hit in 2019. 

The Orbi RBK23 features three mesh units, including a router and two satellite extenders covering up to 6,000 square feet. Each unit also has two ethernet ports if you need a wired connection for more than just a desktop PC. 

The second Orbi system on sale today is a refurbished version of the Netgear RBK50-100NAR Orbi mesh Wi-Fi system for $180. Sold as new, it typically sells for $300. This package only has two units–a router and satellite extender–that cover up to 5,000 square feet, but it offers faster throughput speeds than the three-unit version. We reviewed this version of the Orbi system back in January 2017 and really liked it at the time. It offers strong Wi-Fi performance and a dedicated 4x4 radio backhaul, but it does have a larger footprint than many other mesh systems due to the size of the hardware.

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The best graphics cards for PC gaming

Fri, 2019-04-05 09:03

“What graphics card within my budget gives me the best bang for my buck?”

That simple question cuts to the core of what people hunting for a new graphics card look for: the most oomph they can afford. Sure, the technological leaps behind each new GPU can be interesting on their own, but most everyone just wants to crank up the detail settings on Battlefield and get right to playing.

Gaming GPU cheat sheet

Our quick-hit recommendations:

  • Best budget GPU: Radeon RX 570 [amazon.com]
  • Best 1080p GPU: GeForce GTX 1660 [amazon.com]
  • Best 1440p GPU: GeForce RTX 2060 [amazon.com]
  • Best $500 GPU: GeForce RTX 2070 [newegg.com]
  • Best 4K/60Hz GPU: GeForce RTX 2080 [amazon.com]
  • Best 4K/144Hz GPU: GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Founders EditionRemove non-product link [BestBuy.com]

Updated 4/4/19 with extensive revisions throughout.

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HyperX Alloy FPS RGB review: Rainbow lights and silver switches at an affordable price

Fri, 2019-04-05 06:06

When HyperX first entered the keyboard market in 2016, it did so in the most unassuming fashion. There was a single model, the HyperX Alloy FPS, with an ultra-minimalist design, single-color backlighting (red), and Cherry MX Blue switches. That was it! MX Brown and MX Red models followed in the spring, but even so, it was clear HyperX was just testing the waters. 

HyperX seems much more comfortable with keyboards these days though, releasing the tricked-out Alloy Elite model last year. And now the unassuming Alloy FPS has received an upgrade, finally getting the full RGB-backlight treatment and new switches. Let’s dig in.

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TP-Link Smart Wi-Fi Light Switch, Dimmer HS220 review: A solid competitor in the in-wall dimmer space

Fri, 2019-04-05 06:00
This dimmer switch is a smooth operator, but it has a couple of notable drawbacks.

Array by Hampton smart deadbolt review: It solves the battery problem, but falls short on integration

Fri, 2019-04-05 06:00
An onboard solar panel keeps the battery topped off, but you can’t use this smart lock with any smart home hub.

iPad mini (2019) review: Petite, portable power

Fri, 2019-04-05 06:00
Apple’s smallest tablet is back! It doesn’t look much different than it did in 2015, but it’s packing far better hardware. That makes all the difference.

Microsoft powers up Windows 10's Game Bar with truly useful tools for PC enthusiasts

Thu, 2019-04-04 17:00

Aside from bringing its Xbox games over to the PC, the Game Bar is arguably the best gesture Microsoft’s made to Windows 10 gamers. It adds a tiny bit of console-esque simplicity to the PC, letting you take screenshots, record video, or stream games with simple system-level shortcuts. But...I never use it. It’s my third-tier preference for screenshots and video, after the tools built into Steam and Nvidia’s Shadowplay.

Microsoft’s looking to move up in the world though, and it’s doing so by adding a lot more functionality to Game Bar over the next few months—most of it unique to Game Bar, i.e. not duplicated by Steam or Shadowplay. In fact, Game Bar isn’t really a fitting name anymore. Game Overlay might be more appropriate, albeit less elegant.

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Microsoft will ship the Windows 10 May 2019 Update in late May, giving you power over updates

Thu, 2019-04-04 12:00

Remember the Windows 10 April 2019 Update? Microsoft has now officially dubbed it the Windows 10 May 2019 Update, and plans to roll it out to Insiders next week alongside more permissive user controls than ever before.

The Windows 10 May 2019 Update (also code-named “19H1,” or version 1903) will begin deploying to all PCs in late May, on a day that hasn’t yet been determined. But there’s something brand new: The update will specifically call out the feature release, and allow users to delay it—and any update, including security patches—for up to 35 days. Even better, Windows won’t decide when to install updates—you will, with an exception or two.

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This cheaper-than-ever Kindle for Kids bundle helps children learn to love reading

Thu, 2019-04-04 11:12

Kindles have long been a choice e-reader for anyone who likes to read, and the kids version brought all its finer features to a child-friendly package. And today, you can grab an 8th-generation Kindle for Kids bundle for $60 on Amazon, complete with a protective cover, down significantly from the $100 that it usually sells for and its all-time low.

The Kindle for Kids bundle helps children read without from other tablet distractions. It’s backlight-free, so kids won’t be able to use it past their bedtimes, and features several tools, like Word Wise and Vocabulary Builder, to help enhance reading skills. In addition, you’ll be able to use Amazon’s Kindle FreeTime service to set goals and track progress toward them, so your kids can keep improving. And if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you’ll also get included access to more than 1,000 titles. On top of all this, a two-year warranty means that even if it gets damaged in the rough and tumble of family life, you’ll be able to keep your kid reading.

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Apple cuts the price of HomePod by $50, but it’s still too expensive

Thu, 2019-04-04 09:53
Apple has lowered the price of its HomePod smart speaker to $299, which is better but still not great.

The zippy 1TB Crucial P1 SSD is on sale for just $95 today—under 10 cents per gig!

Thu, 2019-04-04 09:30

Today’s a good day to grab a whole lot of storage at a great price from Newegg, as long as you have a compatible motherboard. The online retailer is selling the Crucial P1 1TB NVMe M.2 SSD for $95Remove non-product link with the checkout code EMCTYTY22. The price on this NVMe SSD dropped to $105 a few days ago, but that checkout code gets you an extra $10 off. The 1TB Crucial P1 usually costs around $150.

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iPad Air (2019) review: Apple finds the sweet spot

Thu, 2019-04-04 06:30
The sweet spot for most users is here, sandwiched between the basic budget iPad and the pricey iPad Pro.

WD Blue SN500 NVMe SSD review: Great bang for the buck

Thu, 2019-04-04 06:26

It doesn’t seem that long ago that the scoop was, “NVMe is great, but it’s gonna cost you big time.” Now, thanks to drives like WD’s new Blue SN500 (available on Amazon), price simply isn’t that big of an issue. At least not when you consider the 4X boost in speed it delivers. For most users, not having to wait for their computer anymore is worth a little extra cash.

The Blue SN500 itself is a good performer that holds firm on long writes, unlike much of the similarly-priced competition. It’s certainly a kick in the pants compared to SATA.

Design and features

As with all NVMe drive for mainstream machines, the Blue SN500 uses the M.2 connector and is 22 millimeters wide. Also like the majority, it’s 80 millimeters long. You get the occasional shorty, such as Toshiba’s RC100, but 80mm is the norm. It’s PCIe 3.0 x2, which limits maximum throughput to 2GBps. We didn’t see quite that, but remembering that SATA is only about 550MBps, that’s still quite fast compared to what many are used to. 

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USB4: What this future standard means for USB chaos and Thunderbolt 3

Thu, 2019-04-04 06:09

Now that the upcoming USB4 spec promises to “adopt the Thunderbolt 3 protocol,” some hope it means an end to our international nightmare of USB confusion. You know, the one where there are:

  • Two different connectors: USB-A or USB-C
  • Four different active specs: USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and USB 3.1 Gen 1 and Gen 2
  • Scarce Thunderbolt 3 support, despite using the same form factor as USB-C
  • An upcoming USB 3.2 spec that precedes USB4 and introduces yet more confusion through clumsy rebranding

Yeah. That nightmare.

More likely, even when USB4 is fully implemented around 2021, confusion will linger.  You can't blame the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) and the USB Promoter Group (USB-PG) either, tempting though it is. THey are organizing groups that ratify standards and help certify hardware. With literally tens of thousands of vendors making USB devices, it’s akin to herding cats. And because USB goes into everything from five-cent USB keys to $50,000 servers, the group says it has to leave it up to vendors to choose what’s best for the product.

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Hulu is the cure for your Netflix nostalgia

Thu, 2019-04-04 06:00
Tired of Netflix losing your favorite shows? They probably wound up at Hulu.

The Powerbeats Pro 'totally wireless' earphones are the most Apple product Beats has ever made

Wed, 2019-04-03 14:52
Apple has unveiled a new true wireless version of its Beats Powerbeats earphones, and there’s a lot of AirPods tech inside.

Best Ultra HD Blu-ray players

Wed, 2019-04-03 11:47

So you plopped down a pile of cash to buy a 4K TV, maybe even one that delivers high dynamic range. Awesome. Once you’ve wowed your friends and family with those lush demo files the manufacturer provided, you’re going to want to splash some 4K movies across that screen. A 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player is just the ticket. 

Most players also stream 4K HDR video from a handful of video-streaming services—including Netflix, Amazon Video, and Vudu—if you have the bandwidth, that is. If your ISP can’t deliver super-fast download speeds, you won’t be able to stream 4K.

And then there’s the audio side of the equation. Nearly every Blu-ray disc contains a high-definition soundtrack encoded in Dolby TrueHD or DTS HD Master Audio. Some will also contain Dolby Atmos and DTS:X data that expand surround sound to include height information. (We have an in-depth story about Dolby Atmos and DTS:X here).

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Caavo's Control Center unifies your remotes and streaming services. Today it's cheaper than ever

Wed, 2019-04-03 11:08

Having a bunch of separate remotes for your entertainment system can get confusing and frustrating. Uniting them under one remote—and one entertainment hub—can make your whole setup run a little more smoothly. Today, you can get the Caavo Control Center universal remote and home theater hub on Amazon for $59.95, a big drop from a list price of $99.95 and equal to its lowest price ever.

The Caavo Control Center allows you to connect up to four HDMI devices, from streaming devices to Blu-Ray players, and control them all from one remote. You can also hook up an A/V receiver or soundbar. Once connected, you’ll be able to find what you want to watch using simple commands and let the control center find it among your devices, without having to navigate through it all manually.

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