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Asus ROG Strix RTX 2080 review: An ice-cold, whisper-silent beast of a graphics card

Tue, 2018-09-25 06:00

The hulking Asus ROG Strix GeForce RTX 2080 shows how Nvidia’s graphics card partners can still stand out from the crowd in an era when Nvidia’s making it harder than ever to shine.

Last generation, all customized GTX 1080 Ti graphics cards plateaued at virtually the same level of performance. Custom cards were notably better than Nvidia’s own GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition, though, because Founders Edition cards were restrained by reference clock speeds and a subpar single-fan, blower-style cooler.

This generation, it’s looking like power limits will impose a new ceiling on GeForce RTX 2080 performance—but now, Nvidia’s vastly improved RTX Founders Edition cards pack a dual-fan cooler, a gorgeous design, and an 80MHz out-of-the-box overclock. Nvidia’s competing against its own partners something fierce.

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IronWolf Pro 14TB Hard Drive review: Seagate's best gets more capacity and speed

Tue, 2018-09-25 06:00

14TB, the amount of data that can be held by Seagate’s latest flagship $600 IronWolf Pro, is a whole lot of digital stuff. Way more than most users need, unless of course, said user is capturing raw 4K or 8K video. In that case, the more the merrier.

Seagate’s BarraCuda Pro and non-pro IronWolf are the only other drives in the consumer space that can fit that much (WD has a 14TB enterprise drive), but guess what? The IronWolf Pro is a bit faster. A bit more expensive, of course, but top banana is top banana no matter how you slice it. 

Design and features

The IronWolf 14TB is a helium-filled (drag and vortex reduction) 3.5-inch hard drive rotating at 7,200rpm with 256MB of onboard cache. It runs off the SATA (6Gbps) interface, and employs PMR (Parallel Magnetic Recording) to create its superior areal density (more stuff in the same amount of space.)

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Fitbit’s biggest advantage over Apple Watch Series 4: Sleep tracking

Tue, 2018-09-25 06:00
Fitbit's multi-day battery life isn't just about lasting longer, it's about tracking valuable day while most Apple Watches are sitting on their chargers.

Google's new search features tap AI to make your Android phone and PC even smarter

Mon, 2018-09-24 16:46

Microsoft’s not the only company using AI to improve the quality of its services. Google, in marking the 20th anniversary of Google search, announced its own plans to tap artificial intelligence, including enticing you to interact more with its rebranded, deeper Discover activity feed and other services.

Ben Gomes, the vice president in charge of Search and the Google Assistant, outlined several changes the company is making to enhance Google’s search algorithm.  Interestingly, the majority of the changes seem slated to appear within Google’s mobile app. Most also seem to involve getting you to interact more with Google’s services, so the search algorithm can learn more about you—and make smarter guesses about what you’ll engage with more, for instance. Gomes wrote that a full 15 percent of everyday queries are completely unknown to the Google search algorithm.

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Get a Lifetime of Microsoft Excel Training For Just $19

Mon, 2018-09-24 16:15

When it comes to spreadsheet software, few programs match the functionality—and popularity—of Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets. On the surface, they’re simple spreadsheet programs, but they can be incredibly powerful tools when used correctly. Many professions require at least a rudimentary understanding of how Excel and Sheets work, so learning them can be advantageous during your job hunt.

If you want to learn the inner workings of these tools, you can refer to this $19 Excel & Google Sheets Mastery Bundle, which features tips and tricks spreadsheet practitioners should know how to use.

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The best free Microsoft Office alternatives

Mon, 2018-09-24 15:29

Microsoft Office is the king of office productivity suites, but it doesn’t inspire warm, fuzzy feelings in all users. Parsing the ever-expanding list of features—many of which you’ll never use—can feel like stepping into a cockpit without a pilot’s license. The ribbon interface, introduced a decade ago, has many fans, but others pine for the static menus of the early aughts. And then there’s Office’s hefty price tag.

Fortunately, alternatives abound, ranging from web apps to freemium and open source desktop installations, many of which are compatible with Microsoft Office docs. We compared six of the most popular free office suites to see how well they replicate the most commonly used features of Microsoft Office.

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Microsoft half-heartedly announces the availability of Office 2019

Mon, 2018-09-24 14:15

In years past, the release of a new Microsoft Office suite would be a momentous event. But with Microsoft shifting toward a subscription service model, even Microsoft seems lukewarm about Monday’s general release of Office 2019.

Right now, Office 2019 is being made available to commercial users, with consumer versions arriving in the “coming weeks,” Microsoft said Monday. Microsoft’s positioning is made clear in an accompanying FAQ: Office 2019 is described as a “one-time purchase,” versus the ongoing subscription model that is Office 365. There’s one big system requirement, though: Windows 10.

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Here's a way to help protect your browser from Google Chrome's latest privacy snafu

Mon, 2018-09-24 13:20

Google’s Chrome 69 hides a disturbing twist: if you log into Gmail or another Google service, Chrome seems to automatically log you into the browser as well. Theoretically, that means that you will automatically begin sharing data with Google, like it or not.

The confusion comes from a new way in which Google shows your “logged in” status. Previously, if you were signed in to Chrome, an icon would appear in the upper right-hand corner, indicating that you were signed in and sharing data. The same icon now appears if you’re logged into a Google service like or Gmail, but not necessarily to Chrome. 

What does all this mean? Most people associate signing in to your Google account with signing into the Chrome browser, but that’s not always the case. 

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The Arlo video baby monitor, the best way to monitor your little one, is $30 off today

Mon, 2018-09-24 11:37

Any new parent will tell you how important a video baby monitor is for keeping an eye on your child when you're in another room. The choices can be overwhelming, however, but we've already done all of the testing for you and our top pick, the Arlo Baby smart video monitor, is on sale today for $170Remove non-product link, $30 off and the lowest price we've seen.

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Upgrade to a luscious 1440p Dell HDR display for just $220 at Staples

Mon, 2018-09-24 09:31

It’s a great time to get a new graphics card with new options from Nvidia and AMD Radeon card prices dropping in response. But what about that ancient monitor on your desk? A new card deserves a display upgrade as well, and we’ve found a great deal. Staples is selling a Dell 27-inch 1440p monitor with HDR for $220Remove non-product link. The Dell S2718D launched at $700 last year, and costs $380 elsewhere.

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Roku adds low-cost Premiere 4K players to its line up

Mon, 2018-09-24 09:00
Roku is expanding its streaming video player lineup with a 4K player that is half the price of its current 4K offering. The Roku Premiere will launch ahead of the year-end shopping season when 4K TVs are likely to be big sellers.

New Microsoft Search, Ideas tap AI to add smart features to Microsoft's Office 365

Mon, 2018-09-24 09:00

Smarter searches don’t necessarily need to live in a search engine. This week, Microsoft will debut two tools that will live in Office: Microsoft Search and Ideas, designed to assist workers trying to dig out the document that they need, now.

Microsoft hosts its Microsoft Ignite conference this week, and the company promises literally dozens of announcements—most pertaining to its Azure cloud and related services. But Microsoft also plans a few key developments at the user level, including final rollouts of features the company has announced previously, such as the ability to blur backgrounds within Microsoft Teams video chats and transcribe meetings.

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Microsoft plans to make you pay more to rotate the Surface Hub 2, just to drive you crazy

Mon, 2018-09-24 09:00

Microsoft is refining its plans for its next-gen Surface Hub 2 collaborative display, separating the product into two distinct “experiences” that will require users to install an upgraded hardware module to enable. But here’s something that may rile some businesses: certain basic features like rotating the display will be reserved for the new, upgraded Surface Hub 2X model due in 2020.

The two new models—the basic Surface Hub 2S, and the upgraded Surface Hub 2X —  will share the same common hardware, according to Microsoft. To upgrade to the 2X experience, administrators won’t buy a separate device. Instead, they’ll be asked to buy a dedicated swappable “processor cartridge” that also contains the operating system for the second 2X experience. But there’s a catch: The 2X experience will support dynamic screen rotation, multi-user authentication, and other features that will not be permitted within the 2S.

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Ecovacs Deebot 901 review: an affordable floor-mapping robot vacuum

Mon, 2018-09-24 06:00
This competent cleaner boasts laser navigation and Google Home and Amazon Alexa integration at a fraction of premium-model prices.

FreeOffice 2018 review: Microsoft Office alternative gets some welcome upgrades

Mon, 2018-09-24 06:00

FreeOffice is the no-cost version of SoftMaker Office, a full-featured Office alternative to Microsoft Office. It included its own takes on Microsoft’s trio of productivity apps: TextMaker (Word), PlanMaker (Excel), and Presentations (PowerPoint). FreeOffice includes many of the features of the paid product, but omits some key ones you can only get by upgrading to SoftMaker’s Office program, which starts at $39.95 per year. It’s available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. An Android tablet version is available for $20.

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10 years ago we met the world's first Android phone, and it didn't have a headphone jack

Sun, 2018-09-23 06:00

It all started with a slide-out keyboard. Long before camera notches, wireless charging, and confectionery-themed code names, Android was a humble operating system that ran on a single phone: the Google-HTC T-Mobile G1, later known as the HTC Dream. And we got our first look at 10 years ago today.

Released on September 23, 2008, the world’s first Android phone had one mission: to challenge the iPhone. And in that goal, it succeeded. It was chunky (17mm), had a low-resolution display (320x480), and didn’t have a virtual keyboard, thus forcing users to bang away on the tiny pop-out keyboard. It also utilized a quirky trackball and physical buttons for navigation. Still, T-Mobile sold more than a million G1s in its first six months of availability.

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Destiny 2: Forsaken review: There's a reason to play Destiny every day again

Sat, 2018-09-22 11:53

There are numerous ways to judge a Destiny 2 expansion, but I’ve found it’s easiest to count the days I kept playing. After Curse of Osiris, I stuck around for about two weeks. After Warmind, it was about two days. But Forsaken? It’s been the better part of a month now, and I don’t see myself quitting anytime soon.

I doubted it was possible, but Bungie’s turned Destiny 2 into the hobbyist game people wanted. Does that mean you owe it another shot? Absolutely not. But if you’ve been looking for a reason to revisit the Tower, Forsaken’s a compelling one.

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Garmin Dash Cam 45 review: Compact, clever and Wi-Fi-enabled, but average video at best

Fri, 2018-09-21 22:35

Garmin’s Dash Cam 45 shares all the advanced features found in its Dash Cam 55 and Dash Cam 65W siblings, such as driver alerts, Wi-Fi offloading via an app, integrated GPS, and red light camera tracking. It also sports the same compact design and a clever magnetic mount. 

But its night captures aren’t as good as they are on the other two models, and in our tests, the video stabilization doesn’t deal well with large bumps or stiff suspensions. 

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This week in games: Telltale hit with major layoffs and THQ continues its buying spree

Fri, 2018-09-21 17:11

THQ Nordic bought up the rights to Alone in the Dark this week, so the betting's on. Which once-great-but-now-disgraced-or-discarded series will be next? Eternal Darkness? Fez? Alan Wake? Metal Gear Solid? Jade Empire? So many possibilities.

That news, plus Capcom's Tokyo Games Show presence, Return of the Obra Dinn gets a release date, Frostpunk's first expansion, Telltale closes and cancels Wolf Among Us 2, and LawBreakers goes to an early grave.

This is gaming news for September 17 to 21.

Weekend warrior

As per usual, kicking off the round-up with the games you could be playing this weekend—for free, of course. First up is Ghost Recon: Wildlands, which I wasn't too fond of last year but which is definitely big enough to keep you occupied for three days. Head here and log into your Uplay account to get temporary access.

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Intel's 905P Optane reaches a tempting 1.5TB, but drive prices remain high

Fri, 2018-09-21 13:53

Intel just introduced its largest Optane-based SSDs yet, but the shocker may be that one comes in the rarely seen U.2 interface.

Intel on Thursday announced its Optane 905P drives with three flavors:

  • A 905P in PCIe add-in card, or if you’re into the nomenclature thing: HHHL (half height, half length) trim. It’ll come in capacities of 960GB and 1.5TB.
  • A 905P M.2 “gumstick” drive in capacities of up to 380GB.
  • A 905P in U.2 in capacities of 1.5TB, 960GB, and 480GB. 

The last drive is probably a surprise to those who don’t read Obscure SSD Quarterly, (Editor's note: not a real media outlet) because it’s only the third U.2 drive to be introduced. Ever. The previous two—the 900P and the 750—were also made by Intel, so it’s a very rare form factor.

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