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Affordable and sweet: How to build a $300 gaming PC

PC World - Fri, 2020-05-08 06:30

We like cheap builds. We like parts that offer great value. So when AMD released its Athlon 3000G last November, we immediately wanted to get our hands on the $50 processor.

At launch, the 3000G undercut Intel’s cheapest Pentium by $15—a notable savings in this ultra-budget space. This 2-core, 4-thread part also comes unlocked, meaning you can overclock it for a little extra performance. And if that weren’t enough, you can play games with just this chip, thanks to its dedicated Vega 3 graphics cores.

Overall, you can put together a modest but reliable machine for just over $300, with no need to scour for used parts. We actually built this PC for our YouTube channel: You can watch the videos of our experience in the embeds below.

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Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro review: Finally, a good iPad keyboard

Mac World - Fri, 2020-05-08 06:15

Apple’s keyboard cases for the iPad tend to emphasize protection. The keyboard itself often feels like an afterthought. Even in the best cases, it comes off as a grudging concession to those of us who really don’t want to use the digital keyboard for long typing sessions.

But Apple’s new Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro is the first one that actually feels as though you were meant to work on it. The backlit keys have great key travel, and they’re wide enough to recall the ones you’ll find on a MacBook. These features would have been impressive on their own, but Apple went a step further and included a trackpad and a dedicated charging port that greatly enriches the experience.

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Enclave Audio CineHome Pro review: A great home theater audio system—for the right audience

Mac World - Fri, 2020-05-08 06:00
The Enclave Audio CineHome Pro is a true 5.1 surround-sound system that's also truly wireless, but it’s more suitable for streaming media than pairing with a Blu-ray player.

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 Bluetooth speaker review: A small, sturdy design can't offset poor sound quality

Mac World - Fri, 2020-05-08 06:00
It's nice that the Wonderboom 2 is hardened against water, dust, and drops, but that doesn't mean much when it produces thin sound and wimpy bass.

Enclave Audio CineHome Pro review: A great home theater audio system—for the right audience

PC World - Fri, 2020-05-08 06:00
The Enclave Audio CineHome Pro is a true 5.1 surround-sound system that's also truly wireless, but it’s more suitable for streaming media than pairing with a Blu-ray player.

The $1,799 MacBook Pro 13 vs. the $650 Acer Swift 3: Guess who wins?

PC World - Fri, 2020-05-08 06:00

Apple's MacBook Pro 13 just came out, and it already has a tough adversary. That foe is not the usual high-end, high-priced Windows workhorse like the Dell XPS 13 we just tested, as great as it is. No, the reason Apple should worry is because based on our sister site Macworld's preliminary performance tests, this $1,799 premium laptop could be lapped by the $650 Acer Swift 3.

That's not a typo. The Acer Swift 3 costs just six hundred fifty dollars. But this budget laptop has a secret weapon: AMD's Ryzen 7 4700U. When we reviewed the Acer Swift 3, it surpassed all expectations by keeping pace with laptops far bigger and more expensive. And sorry to say, the MacBook Pro 13 is in the same pickle as those other powerhouses. Keep reading and weep, Apple.

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Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 Bluetooth speaker review: A small, sturdy design can't offset poor sound quality

PC World - Fri, 2020-05-08 06:00
It's nice that the Wonderboom 2 is hardened against water, dust, and drops, but that doesn't mean much when it produces thin sound and wimpy bass.

AMD's B550 motherboards will bring PCIe 4.0 to the masses, but leave older Ryzen CPUs behind

PC World - Thu, 2020-05-07 16:05

When AMD’s excellent Ryzen 3000-series processors released last summer, snatching the desktop computing crown from Intel, one of their key features was support for the blazing-fast PCIe 4.0 interface—but only if you purchased a pricey X570 motherboard, too. No more. After months of constant leaks (and constant pining by enthusiasts) AMD confirmed Tuesday that it’s bringing PCIe 4.0 to the masses with the announcement of B550 motherboards, revealed alongside two extremely affordable new Ryzen 3-series processors.

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The best laptops: Premium laptops, budget laptops, 2-in-1s, and more

PC World - Thu, 2020-05-07 15:00

The best laptops of 2020 are experiencing a seismic shift. With the near-simultaneous launches of AMD's Ryzen 4000 and Intel's Comet Lake-H mobile CPUs, we have a real fight for the first time ever: Ryzen 4000's cores vs. Intel's clock speeds. At the same time, a lot of mainstream users stand to get good deals on laptops for home or work-from-home use, with existing processors that already have solid performance and great battery life.

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Brock’s Cuvée launches new online experience to celebrate the VQA wine industry

Brock News - Thu, 2020-05-07 14:07

MEDIA RELEASE: 7 May 2020 – R0081

Put on your party attire, fire up the laptop and get ready to celebrate the Ontario VQA wine industry as Brock University moves its annual Cuvée event online.

The Cuvée 2020 Online Experience launches on Friday, May 22 at cuvee.ca. The virtual experience will feature the 48 wineries, 12 restaurants and seven breweries/cideries that were originally slated to take part in the physical Grand Tasting experience last month. The free online experience does not require tickets and will be accessible until the next Cuvée in 2021.

In videos created exclusively for the experience, participating winemakers virtually pour and reveal what they chose as their favourite wines for Cuvée, give pairing tips and share unique product signature styles that make their choices truly special.

A link to each participating winery, brewery/cidery and culinary partners’ online store will also be featured, so guests can bring the complete Cuvée Grand Tasting experience into their living rooms by placing online orders at any time.

Niagara band Jonesy also contributed a special performance video for the online experience so guests can dance the night away in an at-home version of Après Cuvée.

Organized by Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), Cuvée was originally scheduled to take place on April 25 but was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Barb Tatarnic, Manager of Cuvée, says organizers worked hard to develop a fun, virtual experience so wine-lovers could still celebrate an experience they look forward to all year.

“What makes Cuvée special is its ability to bring the industry together in celebration of excellence in the Ontario VQA wine industry and, in 2020, our guests can still do that virtually, whenever they want,” she says. “Get dressed up in your best gala attire — or stay in your sweats, go to cuvee.ca, and get ready to meet our industry partners, listen to their stories, and learn more about the labour of love that drives their craft.”

Tatarnic also says the experience helps support the wineries, breweries and restaurants that are being directly impacted by the pandemic, financially and otherwise.

“Although no one could have imagined the challenges brought about by COVID-19, it is important to now stand together, while apart, and support local industry,” she says.

Thomas Bachelder, Winemaker and Co-owner at Bachelder Niagara and Winemaker, at Le Clos Jordanne, is thrilled the opportunity to gather virtually with colleagues and friends can still take place.

“Cuvée is a moment in time — a brief shining moment, once a year — where all come together as one collegial community,” he says. “We have learned how to reach out and hug our fellow human beings virtually, and to all of you who have dreamt your ‘Cuvées’ into being but are not able to physically be together to pour them, to all of us, we say ‘Santé.’”

Cuvée also serves to honour and acknowledge successes and breakthroughs in the industry and advance vital grape and wine research — something CCOVI Director Debbie Inglis says is important now more than ever.

“Bringing Cuvée online showcases Brock’s ability to still support and celebrate our VQA wine industry while it navigates unprecedented challenges,” she says. “Being able to raise a glass together, even if only virtually, will unite us and help us emerge stronger.”

The Cuvée Online Experience also coincides with the #30DaysofVQA, an initiative created by Wine Country Ontario to promote the province’s VQA wine industry.

Proceeds from Cuvée support the Cuvée Legacy Fund, established to fund industry-driven research initiatives and scholarships for students. This year’s Cuvée Hosting Award for Academic Excellence recipient is Brock Oenology and Viticulture student Jessica Oppenlaender. All of the 2020 industry-related Cuvée awards will be presented at Cuvée 2021.

Watch cuvee.ca and follow @cuveegrandtasting and @winecountryont on social media for further information on the Cuvée 2020 Online Experience.

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

* Sarah Ackles, Marketing and Communications Officer, Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute, Brock University sackles@brocku.ca, 647-746-4453

* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University ddakin@brocku.ca, 905-347-1970 

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CCOVI scientist helps region’s grape growers navigate uncertainty during COVID-19

Brock News - Thu, 2020-05-07 14:04

MEDIA RELEASE: 6 May 2020 – R0080

Although they are well-versed in overcoming fluctuations and uncertainty from one growing season to the next, Niagara’s grape growers are facing a unique set of challenges this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To address some of those challenges, Jim Willwerth, Senior Scientist at Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), recently partnered with the Grape Growers of Ontario (GGO) to host a webinar on the Economics of Crop Management During COVID-19.

“The entire world is dealing with the uncertainty of this global pandemic,” says Willwerth. “I am glad to be able to provide support to the grape growers by discussing crop management and ways to improve efficiency in the vineyard during this challenging time.”

Since grape harvest season is still a few months away, Ontario grape growers aren’t in the same situation as farmers who have to determine what to do with their early season crops due to lack of available workforce or changing demand.

The immediate challenge for grape growers lies in safely and cost-effectively completing critical spring vineyard work while also adapting to new physical distancing protocols. The mandatory 14-day isolation period in place for seasonal workers coming to Ontario farms from outside of Canada also creates challenges. That two-week delay, combined with having to logistically spread out workers to ensure a safe operation, means there may be less hands on-deck to get the work done.

With many operations already working on tight margins, growers have to determine what key vineyard practices need to be maintained — and which can be scaled back, delayed, or forgone altogether to cut costs. And, as grape vines are perennial plants, Willwerth says those decisions are crucial not only to this year’s harvest, but to future harvests, as well.

“There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, and it’s important to ask questions about your vineyard and the individual block within them,” he says.

Willwerth suggests that growers put the focus on their best vineyard blocks and aim to reduce labour-intensive activities (such as manual leaf removal) and use more mechanization where possible.

Integrated pest management is still critical, he stresses, as is completing major canopy and crop management tasks. Pruning, tying, trunk replacement and other winter injury mitigation is also important, as is training young vines to prepare for the growing seasons to come.

Growers are also worried about what it will mean for their operations if COVID-19 restrictions are still in place when harvest season rolls around this fall, he says.

“But as growers, you always deal with uncertainty and risk management, this is just another level,” Willwerth says. “So be positive and work together, and you can navigate this challenge, too.”

Providing timely research and support to the industry is a critical part of CCOVI’s mandate. In addition to this recent webinar, the institute also produced a viticulture webinar series with the GGO. The videos can be viewed on CCOVI’s website, with more videos planned for later this year.

“The Grape Growers of Ontario remain committed to keeping our members engaged and informed and we thank CCOVI and Dr. Jim Willwerth for helping us deliver an educational webinar and collaborative Q&A session on the economics of crop management during COVID-19,” says Matthias Oppenlaender, Chair of the GGO. “We look forward to bringing more engaging content to our members in the coming weeks and months.”

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

* Sarah Ackles, Marketing and Communications Officer, Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute, Brock University sackles@brocku.ca, 647-746-4453

* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University ddakin@brocku.ca, 905-347-1970

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Apple TV 4K and tvOS: Rumored A12X version with 64/128GB could be released at any time

Mac World - Thu, 2020-05-07 13:26

Apple TV has grown up a lot since its iTV days. It’s not just for video rentals and purchases anymore—Apple TV handles just about anything we watch, from House of Cards to Game of Thrones and Major League Baseball games, and now that also includes Apple TV+ content and Apple Arcade games.

With an extensive library of apps, Siri support, and a drop-dead simple interface, Apple TV is one of the underrated players in Apple’s lineup. Just like all those years ago, it’s still the device that “completes the story” of Apple’s entertainment ecosystem, and even without some of the bells and whistles of its competitors, Apple TV is still one of the best streaming boxes you can buy—from SD to HD to brilliant 4K.

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AMD will use the AM4 socket through its 'Zen 3' CPUs, but it will drop older chipset support

PC World - Thu, 2020-05-07 13:03

AMD said Thursday that it will continue to use its AM4 processor socket straight through its next generation of Zen 3 processors, fulfilling the pledge it made to continue the socket through 2020.

AMD did say, however, that any chipset before the “500-series” generation—basically, everything but the X570 and B550—will not be supported by AMD’s latest microprocessor architecture, due out before the end of the year. AMD’s still focused on its current Ryzen chips, but has begun to talk about the future in the Zen 3 and Zen 4 architecture.

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Why the new Microsoft Surface devices don't have a webcam shutter

PC World - Thu, 2020-05-07 12:36

Microsoft’s Surface cameras may now be among the best around, one of many premium touches in Microsoft’s new Surface lineup. So why don’t they have a physical privacy mechanism? Documented cases of hackers listening in on baby monitors has prompted some electronics manufacturers to build them in, from buttons that turned off the microphone in smart speakers, to shutters that slide over cameras. 

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Microsoft reveals the first Xbox Series X games: Watch every trailer

PC World - Thu, 2020-05-07 11:51

It’s beginning to feel a lot like E3—or at least, as much as it can this year. This morning Microsoft hosted the first of its Xbox 20/20 events, showing off the first ever footage of games running on the upcoming Xbox Series X. (And yes, most of these will make their way to the PC, too.) As a sign of the times, it was...quite an interesting event. No big stage, no crowds, just a bunch of Xbox executives chatting from the most aesthetically pleasing rooms in their house.

Or, if you’re Aaron Greenberg, your “kitchen,” complete with an Xbox Series X fridge.

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The Full Nerd ep. 138: Nvidia Ampere and AMD Zen 3 rumors, Radeon RX 5600 XT speeds

PC World - Thu, 2020-05-07 10:24

In this episode of The Full Nerd, Gordon Ung, Brad ChacosAlaina Yee, and Adam Patrick Murray go to work in the rumor mill, then re-sound a warning about the Radeon RX 5600 XT.

We kick things off by talking about what we expect from Nvidia’s next-generation “Ampere” graphics architecture, which is expected to be unveiled on May 14 in a virtual GTC 2020 keynote. Ray-tracing? Traditional rendering? When will we see Ampere-based GeForce GPUs? We discuss it all. Then, we wade into what to expect from AMD’s next-gen Zen 3 CPUs, anticipated to launch later this year—though a big chunk of the conversation winds up being about AM4 motherboard compatibility. Finally, with AMD advertising faster speeds, Brad once again warns that you’ll need to shop carefully, because some Radeon RX 5600 XT graphics cards are much faster than others. It’s still a mess.

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Microsoft Excel: Why your spreadsheet is so slow

PC World - Thu, 2020-05-07 10:00

When your Microsoft Excel spreadsheet slows to a crawl, you can’t help but notice. It may take longer to open and save your files, longer for Excel to calculate your formulas, and longer for the screen to refresh after entering data, or sorting and formatting the cells. System memory is the other issue that relates to Excel’s slowness. 

Slow spreadsheets take longer to manage and, as always, time is money. We’ll show you how to tackle this problem. 

When Excel spreadsheets get too big

Excel is capable of creating a very big spreadsheet, but the bigger it gets, the more memory is needed to keep it open on your PC.

In the current version of Excel, each spreadsheet has 1,048,576 rows and 16,384 columns (A1 through XFD1048576). Each cell can hold a maximum of 32,767 characters. I would not advise pushing these limits. 

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AMD Ryzen Pro 4000 chips take the fight to corporate laptops

PC World - Thu, 2020-05-07 09:00

AMD has hit two home runs with its mobile Ryzen 4000 line, and now it's hoping for a third by moving into corporate laptops.

On Thursday, AMD released three new Ryzen Pro 4000 mobile CPUs with corporate-leaning features such as full memory encryption, fleet manageability, and long shelf life. Release dates for the laptops that will ship with it aren't known, but the company did show off design wins from HP and Lenovo (see end of article). 

The new Ryzen Pro 4000 chips—the Ryzen 7 Pro 4750U, the Ryzen 5 Pro 4650U and the Ryzen 3 Pro 4450U—have slightly higher model numbers, but slightly lower specs than their consumer counterparts, such as the recently reviewed Ryzen 7 4700U. See more specs in the slide below:

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Tested: The new 13-inch MacBook Pro delivers a big graphics upgrade

Mac World - Thu, 2020-05-07 08:30

Earlier this week, Apple announced updates to the 13-inch MacBook Pro. All models now have the new Magic Keyboard and more starting storage, but the $1,799 and $1,999 standard configurations also get a bump up to 10th-generation Intel processors and 16GB of RAM.

Macworld has the $1,799 model and a full review is in the works, where we’ll look at the laptop’s new keyboard, 13.3-inch display, Touch Bar, and other features. But speed is an important factor of the review, and we’ve run some preliminary benchmarks for your perusal here. Keep an eye out for the full review in a few days.

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Switching from Android to iPhone made easy

Mac World - Thu, 2020-05-07 07:00

You’ve decided that it’s finally time to switch to an iPhone. Maybe it’s the value you get in the new $399 iPhone SE. Maybe you’re more concerned about privacy, or you’re tired of buying phones that only get operating system updates a year or two. Maybe you have a Mac, and want a phone that works more seamlessly with it.

Whatever the reason, we’re here to help make your transition from Android to iPhone as smooth as possible. Grab your old Android phone and your new iPhone and let’s make the switch.

Use the Move to iOS app

Apple’s got a fancy marketing page all about why you should switch from Android to iPhone. It’s more hype than advice, but the company does make another great resource for making the switch: an Android app!

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