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PCWorld's July Digital Magazine: The $1,001 Question

Mon, 2020-07-06 15:13

Stay on top of the latest tech with PCWorld’s Digital Magazine. Available as single copies or as a monthly subscription, it highlights the best content from PCWorld.com—the most important news, the key product reviews, and the most useful features and how-to stories—in a curated Digital Magazine for Android and iOS, as well for the desktop and other tablet readers.

In the July issue

In the July issue of PCWorld find out the 12 things we learned moving from the Galaxy S20 to the iPhone SE. We have details on the new Dell XPS lineup. Plus, 11 classic games that could use a Final Fantasy 7-style remake.

Other highlights include:

  • News: AMD vs. Intel: Should you buy an Intel laptop right now?
  • Google Pixel 4a preview: Single camera, fingerprint sensor, no 5G, and July launch
  • Intel 10th Gen review: The Core i9-10900K is indeed the world's fastest gaming CPU
  • Kingston KC2500 NVMe SSD review: Good performance at a nice price
  • Razer Kraken X review: A no-frills take on a headset that had few frills to begin with
  • Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath review: One of 2020's best action films (and a pretty good fighting game)
  • Here's How: 11 cheap or free ways to make your old PC run faster, how to turn on the Chrome ad bocker, and use a Nintendo Switch Pro controller with a PC
Video highlights

Watch: Apple's 13-inch MacBook Pro is out, and of course we want to know what it's like. Watch the video review from our sister site Macworld.

To read this article in full, please click here

How to fix audio problems on your Windows PC

Mon, 2020-07-06 06:30

For all its positives, Windows sometimes acts in unexpected ways—like a sudden lack of audio. If your computer abruptly stops playing sound, try these easy steps to fix the issue:

No sound in one app
  1. First, reboot your computer.
  2. Confirm the program’s volume isn’t turned down or muted. In browsers like Chrome and Firefox, each tab can be muted individually—right-click a tab to see its status. (The option will say “Unmute tab” if currently silenced.)
  3. If you still can’t hear anything in this program, try uninstalling and reinstalling it. Before doing so, first back up any data and/or write down how your settings are currently configured, as applicable. Note: For paid software, your license for the program may be tied to a specific version—if that’s the case, you may need to do a little hunting to find its installation program on the vendor’s website. This same advice applies if you just prefer your version of the app over the current one.
No sound at all
  1. PCWorld

    First thing to check: The audio output device. Windows 10 can sometimes change it to a different source unbeknownst to you.

    To read this article in full, please click here

How to fix audio problems on your Windows PC

Mon, 2020-07-06 06:30

For all its positives, Windows sometimes acts in unexpected ways—like a sudden lack of audio. If your computer abruptly stops playing sound, try these easy steps to fix the issue:

No sound in one app
  1. First, reboot your computer.
  2. Confirm the program’s volume isn’t turned down or muted. In browsers like Chrome and Firefox, each tab can be muted individually—right-click a tab to see its status. (The option will say “Unmute tab” if currently silenced.)
  3. If you still can’t hear anything in this program, try uninstalling and reinstalling it. Before doing so, first back up any data and/or write down how your settings are currently configured, as applicable. Note: For paid software, your license for the program may be tied to a specific version—if that’s the case, you may need to do a little hunting to find its installation program on the vendor’s website. This same advice applies if you just prefer your version of the app over the current one.
No sound at all
  1. PCWorld

    First thing to check: The audio output device. Windows 10 can sometimes change it to a different source unbeknownst to you.

    To read this article in full, please click here

Dell XPS 15 9500 Review: Buy this laptop instead of a MacBook Pro 16

Mon, 2020-07-06 06:00

Timing is everything in the PC business, and the Dell XPS 15 9500, an overdue refresh to the company’s high-end workhorse, arrives just in time for it to be truly considered the “MacBook Pro killer” it’s always aspired to be.

Yes, we know “MacBook Pro killer” is overused Internet clickbait. But with Apple’s decision to throw in the towel on x86-based laptops, anyone buying a Mac today is basically volunteering to stand on the deck of the Titanic and wave as the last lifeboats pull away.

To read this article in full, please click here

Townscaper impressions: Build picturesque fishing villages with no direction and no drama

Fri, 2020-07-03 12:00

In the beginning, there was an ocean. Vast and unbroken, it stretched from one end of the horizon to the other, the blue of the sky barely distinguished from the blue of the sea.

Then there was a pier, dredged up from the nothingness below the sea, a stone-and-sand bulwark battered by waves. The not-ocean grew, the pier becoming a harbor, then an island, and on that island grew houses—in white and red and purple and teal. Cottages and ranch homes, warehouses and monolithic apartment blocks, until ocean gave way to a town.

This is how the story goes in my head, at least. I’ve spent much of the last two days playing (or toying with) Townscaper, and so far I’ve learned I never needed the “Sim” part of SimCity after all.

To read this article in full, please click here

How to check your graphics card's GPU temperature

Fri, 2020-07-03 06:45

How hot is your PC’s graphics card temperature? During normal operations, your GPU temperature shouldn’t matter much—your graphics card should simply drive monitors and play games without overheating and shutting down. But if you have an older PC, or if you want to try your hand at graphics card overclocking, being able to monitor your GPU temperature is vital.

The good news? Checking your PC’s graphics card temperature is dead simple, especially now that Windows finally includes a native way to keep tabs on temps. All sorts of free GPU monitoring tools are also available, and many of them can help you check your PC’s CPU temperature, too.

To read this article in full, please click here

Cambridge Audio CXN (v2) network audio streamer review: This is a sweet-sounding, high-tech musical powerhouse

Fri, 2020-07-03 06:00
Support for every audio-streaming protocol and service you can think of, prodigious connectivity options, upgradeable firmware, and sweet sound make for a best-in-class audio component.

Xbox Game Pass for PC: 5 reasons it's the best deal in PC gaming

Fri, 2020-07-03 06:00

When I say an Xbox Game Pass for PC subscriptionRemove non-product link is the best deal in gaming today, that’s no idle recommendation. I have a deep-seated hatred of today’s subscription culture. Yes, many streaming and subscription services are worth every penny, but in general, I hate that everything from Microsoft Office to Adobe’s Creative Cloud to freaking underwear tries to tie you up with monthly payments. So when I say Game Pass is worth it, I really mean it. Step aside, Humble Bundles.

To read this article in full, please click here

Leviton puts Alexa in a dimmer switch

Thu, 2020-07-02 15:22
Leviton is expanding its range of smart home switches and outlets with the Decora Voice Dimmer, a new Wi-Fi dimmer switch with Amazon Alexa built in.

Google retires the affordable Pixel 3a as Pixel 4a rumors swirl

Thu, 2020-07-02 11:24

It’s the end of the line for our favorite bang-for-buck Android phone. Google’s superb Pixel 3A and 3A XL are now discontinued, as rumors of an imminent Pixel 4a launch swirl.

“Google Store has sold through its inventory and completed sales of Pixel 3a,” a Google spokesperson told Android Police, after the site noticed the phone switched to “Unavailable” status on Wednesday. “For people who are still interested in buying Pixel 3a, the product is available from some partners while supplies last.”

To read this article in full, please click here

Microsoft Word reads to you: How to use the Speak and Read Aloud commands

Thu, 2020-07-02 06:30

Can Microsoft Word read to me? Yes, it can. The Speak feature was incorporated into Microsoft Office (Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, etc.) back in version 2003. It was called Text to Speech (TTS) then, and it functioned much the same as it does now. Fortunately, it’s a very simple procedure to set up and use, so you can get started immediately.

Add the Speak button to the Quick Access Toolbar

1. Click the Customize arrow on the Quick Access Toolbar.

2. From the dropdown menu, select More Commands.

3. On the Word Options screen >Customize the Quick Access Toolbar, locate the Choose Commands From box and scroll down to the Speak command.

To read this article in full, please click here

Best Galaxy S20, S20+ and S20 Ultra cases: Top picks in every style

Thu, 2020-07-02 06:00

We're just gonna say it—you're crazy to take your Galaxy S20 out in public without something to protect it. With prices starting at $1,000 and going all the way up to $1,600, it's one of the most expensive phones ever made. It's also the biggest, with the S20 Ultra tipping the scales at a whopping (and eminently droppable) 6.9 inches. So check out these picks and stop playing chicken with your phone.

To read this article in full, please click here

Best antivirus: Keep your Windows PC safe from spyware, Trojans, malware, and more

Wed, 2020-07-01 20:30

Antivirus software is nearly as crucial as a PC’s operating system. Even if you’re well aware of potential threats and practice extreme caution, some threats just can’t be prevented without the extra help of an AV program—or a full antivirus suite. 

You could, for example, visit a website that unintentionally displays malicious ads. Or accidentally click on a phishing email (it happens!). Or get stung by a zero-day threat, where an undisclosed bug in Windows, your browser, or an installed program gives hackers entry to your system.

We’re not suggesting that PC security software is fool-proof. Antivirus software often can’t do much to stop zero-day exploits, for example. But it can detect when the undisclosed vulnerability is used to install other nasty bits, like ransomware, on your machine. Anyone who actively uses email, clicks on links, and downloads programs will benefit from an antivirus suite.

To read this article in full, please click here

New Windows test build makes major changes to Start, Taskbar, and Alt+Tab

Wed, 2020-07-01 19:23

Microsoft released a major new Windows 10 Insider test build on Wednesday afternoon, offering dramatically different versions of the Start Menu and Taskbar, and even a revamped Alt+Tab experience with Microsoft Edge.

Microsoft released the new updates as part of Windows 10 Insider Build 20161, part of the new Dev Channel. Essentially, the Dev Channel is the new Insider Fast Channel—code that Microsoft is not tying to any future Windows 10 feature release. These are experiments, and Microsoft is making these features available to just a subset of the Dev Channel, too.

The experimental UI changes are fairly profound. The Start menu now includes the Fluent Design icons that Microsoft began rolling out earlier, and does away with some of the colored backgrounds that have made up the traditional Start menu. The Taskbar, too, has been redesigned in a purpose-built manner, optimized more for an individual user’s needs. Finally, the Alt+Tab experience now includes individual Edge tabs, and not just the app as a whole.

To read this article in full, please click here

Data caps on Comcast, T-Mobile return on July 1

Wed, 2020-07-01 17:52

Major Internet service providers are scheduled to end their quarantine benefits soon, once again subjecting Americans to data caps and removing protections if they are unable to pay their bills. On July 1, data caps returned to some major ISPs.

The FCC’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge also expired on June 30. Companies initially agreed to the pledge and rushed to add benefits. ISPs like CenturyLink, T-Mobile, Verizon, and many others said they would not discontinue service or charge late fees for those unable to pay because of the coronavirus. They also agreed to open their Wi-Fi access points for free. So far, the FCC has not publicly said that it would extend the pledge.

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OneDrive simplifies document sharing by making it even more complex

Wed, 2020-07-01 15:38

Microsoft said Wednesday that it’s making OneDrive file sharing more manageable, adding a convenient way to share folders and files with friends, while giving business users more control over a file as it moves through an organization.

“Sharing” a file or folder seems simple, but it’s really not—not when you (or your company) needs to decide who has access, and what happens when things move locations. Negotiating all of those requirements is the foundation for the OneDrive changes Microsoft announced Wednesday.

New OneDrive consumer controls

Microsoft already allows you to right-click a file within OneDrive for the web and share it with specific contacts, with permissions that include edit controls, passwords, and the like. What Microsoft calls “family and group sharing” will arrive on OneDrive for the web later this month, with general availability coming in July. Essentially, Microsoft seems to think that configuring each folder or file is too time-consuming, so it’s allowing you to predefine a “family” group or circle of friends beforehand.

To read this article in full, please click here

Microsoft's Surface devices are now receiving the Windows 10 May 2020 Update

Wed, 2020-07-01 15:13

Microsoft says it has patched a bug that may have prevented some of its most recent Surface devices from receiving the Windows 10 May 2020 Update. And as of July 1, our Surface devices in our review stable are receiving the May 2020 Update as a result.

In its list of issues associated with the Windows 10 May 2020 Update, Microsoft notes that it recently deployed patch KB4557957, which addresses the “Errors or unexpected restarts for some devices using Always On, Always Connected.” 

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Windows 10's Xbox Game Bar adds a widget store and much-needed transparency controls

Wed, 2020-07-01 13:34

Microsoft began offering more customization for Windows 10's Xbox Game Bar on Wednesday, including a new “widget store” complete with a dedicated Destiny 2 widget that tracks your game progress. Microsoft also added some long-wanted transparency controls to help reduce the Game Bar screen clutter while you’re gaming.

When it was first added, Microsoft’s Game Bar (which can be triggered with Win + G, even when a game isn’t running) gave gamers on-screen shortcuts to take screenshots, record video, and the like. Over time, Microsoft has continued to add functionality, including performance monitors and specific widgets for streaming controls and other functions.

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'Significant and fundamental' Windows tweak sets the stage for GPU innovation

Wed, 2020-07-01 11:54

Over the past week, both Nvidia and AMD released fresh graphics cards drivers that unlocked “hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling,” a new feature introduced in the Windows 10 May 2020 Update. Now, Microsoft has revealed what that setting does, and it turns out that the innocuous-sounding, opt-in feature actually represents a fundamental redesign in how the Windows Display Driver Model works. You probably won’t see any significant performance changes from activating it now, however.

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Who needs Windows 10 Pro: 5 reasons to upgrade

Wed, 2020-07-01 11:00

Windows 10 Professional isn’t just for cubicle dwellers who have no choice in the matter. While users who own a “professional” PC like the Surface Book 2Remove non-product link will automatically be upgraded to this higher-end version of the OS, smaller businesses and PC enthusiasts may also weigh the benefits of the Pro version vs. Windows 10 Home. PCWorld also has a cheap update deal going on which eliminates many of the cost concerns.

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