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People and Python in AI

In yet another installment of “everyone is doing it, but no one knows how,” a recent NewVantage Partners survey found that while 93.9% of executives surveyed expect to increase their data investments in 2023, just 23.9% of organizations characterize themselves as data-driven. Where is all that investment going, if not to change the way their companies operate? What’s stopping these executives from imposing this vision of a glorious data future on their companies?

People. The problem is always people. Of these same executives, 79% cite cultural issues as the biggest impediment to embracing a data-driven future. It turns out to be easy to say “data-driven” but much harder to implement because people ultimately animate a business, not data. The key, then, is to ensure that data enables and augments people rather than replaces them.

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How generative AI changes cybersecurity

In the technology world, the latter half of the 2010s was mostly about slight tweaks, not sweeping changes: Smartphones got slightly better, and computer processing somewhat improved. Then OpenAI unveiled its ChatGPT in 2022 to the public, and—seemingly all at once—we were in a qualitatively new era. 

The predictions have been inescapable in recent months. Futurists warn us that AI will radically overhaul everything from medicine to entertainment to education and beyond. In this instance, the futurists might be closer to the truth. Play with ChatGPT for just a few minutes, and it is impossible not to feel that something massive is on the horizon. 

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Computer vision's next breakthrough

The first computer vision use cases in the 1950s analyzed typed versus handwritten text. Early commercial applications focused on single images, including optical character recognition, image segmentation, and object detection. Pioneering work on facial recognition began in the 1960s, and big tech companies began launching capabilities around 2010.

The computer vision market size was estimated at $14 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 19.6% from 2023 to 2030. While there are many new computer vision breakthroughs and startups, its market size is small compared to other AI technologies. Generative AI, for example, is estimated to become a $1.3 trillion market by 2032.

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Even with repatriation cost savings, the value of cloud computing is still strong

37Signals, led by CTO David Heinemeier Hansson, implemented a cloud repatriation plan that has already saved them $1 million. Previously, the company spent $3.2 million annually on cloud services. They viewed that as being too much. Their repatriation project invested $600,000 in eight servers hosted by Deft. Hansson now projects that the plan can save $10 million over five years. That’s money they can put back into the business directly, investing in innovations and digital transformation projects. 

As a result, their cloud spending has decreased by 60%, going from around $180,000 to less than $80,000 per month. Hansson expects another significant drop in expenditures. Despite managing their hardware, the ops team size has stayed the same.

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Oracle CloudWorld 2023: 6 key takeaways from the big annual event

In line with Oracle co-founder CTO Larry Ellison’s notion that generative AI is one of the most important technological innovations ever, the company at its annual CloudWorld conference released a range of products and updates centered around the next generation of artificial intelligence.

The last few months have witnessed rival technology vendors, such as AWS, Google, Microsoft, Salesforce and IBM, adopting a similar strategy, under which each of them integrated generative AI into their products.

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Oracle unveils GraalOS for serverless Java

Oracle has introduced GraalOS, a high-performance serverless Java-based application deployment technology that promises to help developers improve application responsiveness and cut costs.

GraalOS uses GraalVM Native Image technology to compile Java code to a standalone executable, leveraging x64 and AArch 64 processors on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI). Applications powered by GraalOS should require significantly less memory, thanks to Native Image ahead-of-time compilation, and be less expensive to operate, Oracle said.

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Creatio’s 8.1 Quantum low-code platform bolsters composable app development

Creatio has released a new version of its low-code development platform, Creatio 8.1 Quantum, based on five main components, including the new Quantum architecture, composable applications for CRM, ready-to-use components, integration with generative AI, and a no-code governance application.   

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Starburst Enterprise, Galaxy updated to support on-prem connectivity, storage

Data lake and analytics platform provider Starburst is adding new capabilities to its Enterprise and Galaxy offerings to support on-premises storage and connectivity for enterprises.

Starburst Galaxy — the company’s managed data lake analytics service that is available across AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud — has been updated to support on-premises connectivity.

The on-premises connectivity will allow an enterprise to analyze its local datasets along with data that is residing in the cloud, the company said.

Starburst has also partnered with Databricks to integrate the latter’s Unity Catalog data governance tool with its Galaxy offering.

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Nvidia H100 Tensor Core GPUs come to Oracle Cloud

In response to growing demand for generative AI applications and large language models (LLM), Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) has made Nvidia H100 Tensor Core GPUs available on the OCI Compute platform. Nvidia L40S GPUs also will be coming to the platform soon.

Oracle said OCI Compute now offers bare-metal instances with Nvidia H100 GPUs, powered by the Nvidia Hopper architecture for AI, thus enabling an “order-of-magnitude performance leap” for large-scale AI and high-performance computing applications. The Nvidia H100 GPU is designed for resource-intensive computing tasks, including training LLM models.

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Send a message with Azure Notification Hubs

Push notifications are an important part of modern applications, whether you’re targeting desktop or mobile, or even the web. But as your applications grow, you need a service that can scale with them, delivering messages with minimal latency no matter how many users you have and no matter where your services are hosted.

While it’s possible to construct your own notification service, routing messages to the appropriate targets and users, scaling remains a problem, as well as supporting users across the world. Notifications need to be delivered asynchronously, allowing you to treat them as a fire-and-forget option, triggering a notification when it occurs with the assumption that it will be delivered in a timely fashion.

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Make Java fast! Performance tuning  Java

JVM optimization enhances the performance and efficiency of Java applications that run on the Java virtual machine. It involves techniques and strategies aimed at improving execution speed, reducing memory usage, and optimizing resource utilization.

One aspect of JVM optimization involves memory management since it includes configuring the JVM's memory allocation settings, such as heap sizes and garbage collector parameters. The goal is to ensure efficient memory usage and minimize unnecessary object creation and memory leaks. Additionally, optimizing the JVM's Just-in-Time (JIT) compiler is crucial.

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Shiny R web framework arrives in Wasm

The Shiny web framework for R is now officially available in a WebAssembly (Wasm) version that runs in-browser and doesn’t require a back-end Shiny server, Posit CTO Joe Cheng announced at the Posit::conf(2023) user conference today.

There are currently three ways to use this new R version of Shinylive (a Python version of Shinylive was announced last year):

A new Shinylive R package has an export function that can convert a local Shiny app.R application to a Shinylive application with an index.html file and additional assets. That can then run as other conventional HTML files. The website now has an R version where users can write and share apps directly in browser, similar to a site like JSFiddle for JavaScript.  Shiny apps can now be included as {shinylive-r} code chunks within Quarto documents using the new Shinylive Quarto extension shiny live option3 IDG

Cheng cautioned that Shinylive for R is still new, and it can currently be slow to download all the necessary R code to a user’s browser. That should speed up in the coming weeks, he said. In addition, not all packages and functions are immediately available, apps can’t connect directly to databases (although API calls may work), and all code and data is fully accessible to end users, so there’s no way to hide things like API keys.

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Generative AI most important technology ever, Oracle’s Ellison says

New applications at Oracle will be generated by AI, Oracle Chief Technology Officer and co-founder Larry Ellison said at his company’s technology conference on Tuesday.

Speaking at Oracle CloudWorld in Las Vegas, Ellison expressed high hopes for generative AI — artificial intelligence capable of creating new content — calling it a revolution and a breakthrough. “Generative AI. Is it the most-important technology ever? Probably,” Ellison told the packed crowd attending his presentation.

For developers, generative AI fundamentally changes how apps will be built and run at Oracle. “For example, we’re not going to be writing new applications anymore in Java. Not new ones.” While Java development will continue to be used, it will not be used for building new apps—code generation will do that. “If we’re starting a brand new project, we’re generating that code.”

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Oracle’s MySQL HeatWave gets Vector Store, generative AI features

Oracle is adding a Vector Store and new generative AI features to its data analytics cloud service MySQL HeatWave, the company said at its annual CloudWorld conference.

MySQL HeatWave combines OLAP (online analytical processing), OLTP (online transaction processing), machine learning, and AI-driven automation in a single MySQL database.

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Intro to HTMX: Dynamic HTML without JavaScript

HTMX lets you use an extended HTML syntax instead of JavaScript to achieve interactivity. HTMX gives you HTTP interactions directly in the markup, and it supports many other interactive needs without resorting to JavaScript. It’s an interesting idea that could end up influencing the way web front-ends work. Let’s see how HTMX is used and what makes it so compelling.

What is HTMX?

HTMX has been around for some time, but it has been a bit of a sleeper project. Its recent acceptance into the GitHub Accelerator may change all that. The basic idea is to take common use cases that require boilerplate JavaScript-and-HTML interactions and just use an HTML syntax, without the JavaScript. Many interactions become declarative with HTMX.

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Intro to Winget: Microsoft's package manager for Windows

In the Linux world, package managers catalog and install the software available in a given Linux distribution. Until recently, Microsoft Windows software management wasn't that centralized. There was a system for adding or removing components for Windows itself, but not for third-party apps. And while we do have the Microsoft Store as an app-management solution, it's a proprietary system that's aimed mainly at consumers, not developers or admins.

Winget is a Microsoft-authored and -managed open source system for cataloging and managing software installations in Windows. It's meant to provide the closest thing we have to an official package management system for Windows that's not also a proprietary solution (like the Microsoft Store), focused on one aspect of the Microsoft ecosystem (like NuGet, which is chiefly for .NET components), or a third-party offering (like Chocolatey or Scoop).

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Oracle unveils its API-led generative AI service with Cohere’s LLMs

Just months after unveiling its three-tier generative AI strategy across multiple product offerings, Oracle has taken the covers off its new API-led generative AI service at its ongoing annual CloudWorld conference.

The new generative AI service, which is built and supported on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) in combination with large language models (LLMs) from Cohere, is a managed service that will allow enterprises to integrate LLM-based generative AI interfaces in their applications via an API, the company said.

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Oracle’s Database 23c gets vector search to underpin generative AI use cases

Oracle is planning to add vector search capabilities to its database offering, dubbed Database 23c, the company announced at its ongoing annual CloudWorld conference.

These capabilities, dubbed AI Vector Search, include a new vector data type, vector indexes, and vector search SQL operators that enable the Oracle Database to store the semantic content of documents, images, and other unstructured data as vectors, and use these to run fast similarity queries, the company said.

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GitHub woos Bitbucket and Bamboo refugees

GitHub is wooing customers of rival Atlassian who will lose technical support for their server-deployed products for code-hosting and CI/CD, including Bitbucket Server and Bamboo Server. Atlassian is ending support for its server products on February 15, 2024.

GitHub said on September 18 it has launched migration tools to move Atlassian users to GitHub Enterprise Cloud and GitHub Actions. The GitHub Enterprise Importer now supports migrations of code, pull requests, comments, and reviews from Bitbucket Server and Bitbucket Data Center. The GitHub Actions Importer now supports migrations from any Atlassian CI/CD product including Bitbucket, Bamboo Server, and Bamboo Data Center. To migrate a repository, developers can install GitHub’s extension for the GitHub CLI and then run the gh bbs2gh migrate-repo command.

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JDK 21: The new features in Java 21

Java Development Kit (JDK) 21, the newest long-term support (LTS) release of Oracle’s standard Java implementation, has arrived in a production release. Based on Java 21, the latest version of the Java SE (Standard Edition) platform, JDK 21 ushers in 15 features, including a key encapsulation mechanism API, virtual threads, and previews of string templates and structured concurrency. A proposed 16th feature, the experimental Shenandoah garbage collector, was dropped in June.

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Cisco significantly bolsters security portfolio with $28B Splunk buy

Looking to significantly reinforce its security software portfolio, Cisco has struck a $28 billion cash deal to acquire enterprise and cloud protection company Splunk.

Founded in 2003, Splunk’s software platform is known for its wide-reaching ability to search, monitor and analyze data from a variety of systems. Network security teams can use this information to gain better visibility into and gather insights about network traffic, firewalls, intrusion detection systems (IDSes), intrusion prevention systems (IPSes), and security information and event management (SIEM) systems, from on premise and or its cloud-based package, according to Splunk.

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EU Chips Act comes into force to ensure supply chain resilience
The EU is investing $3.6 billion with the aim of attracting $43.7 billion more in private investment and doubling its current global semiconductor market share.
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How network security can save security dollars

For the last twelve years, 100% of CIOs have said that they expect to spend more on IT security, making security the only category that just keeps on absorbing investment. Every year in the last three years, over 80% of enterprises have said that their IT security still needed improvement. So, like death and taxes, is security spending growth inevitable? If we keep on the way we have, it sure seems like it. But what might change?

Let’s start with what’s important to users. External threats, meaning hacking, are a problem for every CIO. Internal threats, from badly behaving employees, are a problem for three out of four. Data theft is a universal fear, and malware that interferes with applications and operations is an important problem for over 90% of CIOs. As far as approaches or targets are concerned, 100% say access security on applications and data is essential and so is regular malware scanning. If you ask CIOs to pick a single thing they think is essential for IT security, it’s access security.

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HPE Aruba intros Wi-Fi 6 access point, stackable switch for SMBs

HPE's Aruba networking division announced a new access point and switch that are designed to enable faster speeds, increased capacity, and strengthened security for small and medium businesses that are grappling with bandwidth-intensive cloud applications.

The Aruba Instant On AP22D is a Wi-Fi 6 access point, and the Aruba Instant On 1960 is a stackable switch with 2.5GB port capacity. Both are designed to optimize network performance for employees and customers.

The combination is ideal for SMBs with high data demands and growing traffic. The two new products work together to provide increased throughput and improved security with minimal effort, according to HPE Aruba Networking.

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Global internet health check and network outage report

The reliability of services delivered by ISPs, cloud providers and conferencing services (such as unified communications-as-a-service) is critical for enterprise organizations. ThousandEyes monitors how providers are handling any performance challenges and provides Network World with a weekly roundup of interesting events that impact service delivery. Read on to see the latest analysis, and stop back next week for another update. Additional details available here.

Internet report for September 11-17

ThousandEyes reported 229 global network outage events across ISPs, cloud service provider networks, collaboration app networks and edge networks (including DNS, content delivery networks, and security as a service) during the week of September 11-17. That’s up 24% from 184 outage events the week prior. Specific to the U.S., outages climbed from 91 to 107, an increase of 18%. Here’s a breakdown by category:

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New chip designs on display at Intel Innovation 2023

Intel took the wraps off a number of new chip designs during its Innovation 2023 event in San Jose, Calif. Among the highlights is a preview of fifth-generation Xeon processors, which gain performance improvements and faster memory while using the same amount of power as the current generation.

Scheduled to launch beginning December 14 and going into 2024, the fifth generation of Xeon processors splits the structure into two different core designs: the P (for performance) core, codenamed Granite Rapids, and the E (for efficient) core, codenamed Sierra Forest. P cores are high-performance cores for maximum computing power, while E cores are smaller, much less power-hungry, and designed for simpler tasks.

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Using curl and wget commands to download pages from web sites

One of the most versatile tools for collecting data from a server is curl. The “url” portion of the name properly suggests that the command is built to locate data through the URL (uniform resource locater) that you provide. And it doesn’t just communicate with web servers. It supports a wide variety of protocols. This includes HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, FTPS, SCP, SFTP and more. The wget command, though similar in some ways to curl, primarily supports HTTP and FTP protocols.

Using the curl command

You might use the curl command to:

Download files from the internet Run tests to ensure that the remote server is doing what is expected Do some debugging on various problems Log errors for later analysis Back up important files from the server

Probably the most obvious thing to do with the curl command is to download a page from a web site for review on the command line. To do this, just enter “curl” followed by the URL of the web site like this (the content below is truncated):

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AMD introduces Epyc server processors for the edge

AMD has formally launched its new Epyc 8004 Series processors, the fourth generation of server processors developed under the Siena codename. They're specifically built for energy-efficient and differentiated platforms such as the intelligent edge, as well as for data center, cloud services, storage and other applications.

The 8004 product family ranges from eight cores to 64 cores. The 8004 core design is known as Zen 4c, as in compact. It has fewer cores, fewer PCIe lanes and fewer memory channels, but the payoff is in much lower power requirements.

In an era of ever-increasing power consumption, the 8004 series is going in the opposite direction. The product family has thermal design power (TDP) measurements ranging from about 70 to 225 watts. That’s more along the lines of a desktop processor than a server processor, which can often be double that number.

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Juniper targets data-center management with Apstra upgrade

Juniper Networks is giving its Apstra software a boost with management features designed to make complicated data centers easier to operate. The vendor rolled out Apstra 4.2.0, which includes intent-based analytics probes for telemetry and network visibility as well as support for HashiCorp’s Terraform network provisioning tool.

Since it bought Apstra in 2021, Juniper has been bolstering the platform with features such as automation, intelligent configuration capabilities, multivendor hardware and software support, and improved environmental analytics, with the goal of making the system more attractive to a wider range of enterprise data-center organizations.

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Cisco-F5 partnership yields secure, multisite load balancing technology

Cisco and F5 have extended their partnership with new technology that lets enterprises balance large amounts of traffic between multiple sites to ensure availability and improve application performance.

Specifically, the companies are meshing Cisco’s ACI Multi-Site/Multi-Pod package with F5’s Big IP DNS software to help customers more effectively utilize resources distributed across multiple locations, according to Yousuf Khan, vice president of technical marketing with Cisco’s enterprise and datacenter networking group.

ACI is built on Cisco’s intent-based networking technology, which gives customers the ability to implement network and policy changes on the fly and ensure data delivery. ACI Multi-Site typically lets two geographically dispersed data centers link via L2/L3 networks and offers consistent policy enforcement across both sites. The Multi-Pod technology lets multiple groups of equipment within the individual data centers network with each other.

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BrandPost: How AI and ML Strengthen Networks

The explosion of interest in AI in 2023 has been primarily driven by the widespread availability of Generative AI, but Network Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) have been at work for far longer. In this article, we're highlighting three interesting use cases to build a clearer picture of what’s happening now and where we’re going.

1. AI Enhancing Network End-User Experience

AI is being utilized to help NetOps teams manage the network end-user experience. This involves using AI and ML for efficient data collection, processing, and selection to rapidly identify and expose the most relevant information. AIOps allows network operators to correlate events across the tool stack and other data sources within your network, identify root causes and recurring issues across different environments, and assign collaboration projects for the appropriate operators and teams.

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BrandPost: AI and the business of IT transformation

By: Trent Fierro, Blog Contributor.

While digital transformation is a heavily discussed topic, the idea that IT organizations must think differently and adapt to change is rarely mentioned. There’s an expectation that the person with 10 to 15 years of experience using CLI commands will embrace the cloud, templates, and AIOps (AI for IT operations) without hesitation. That they will jump at the chance of using something new and exciting. Wrong!

IT transformation involves technology advancements, people, and a new way of looking at processes and outcomes. What this means is that a network refresh usually turns into a discussion on how modern technology helps the team deliver a better user experience. Everyone from the CIO on down is looking for efficiency, and oddly, a way to preserve some form of normalcy.

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Network observability tools promise benefits, but obstacles hinder results

Many IT organizations see the value of using network observability tools to improve end-user experience, increase innovation, and speed problem resolution, but IT pros also believe obstacles could hamper a broader adoption of the technology. 

Complex networks represent a challenge when IT pros need to gain visibility into each component and stop along the path an application travels from user request to service delivery. With private and cloud networks intertwined with corporate networks and the Internet, there are often gaps in visibility, which makes it more difficult to prevent and spot problems, according to new research from SolarWinds.

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IoT startups fill security gaps

As the volume of IoT devices connecting to enterprise networks continues to climb, the number of security threats has been increasing in lockstep. Cybersecurity threats, alongside supply chain issues, chip shortages and geopolitical instability, are a major reason that IoT growth has been slower than many analysts had predicted.

Even so, the scale of the IoT security problem is great enough that 52 IoT startups raised a total of $840 million in the latest quarter, and even cautious analysts believe the IoT market will grow steadily in the coming years. In fact, research firm IDC predicts that the IoT market will expand to 55.7 billion connected IoT devices by 2025, with those devices generating 80B zettabytes (ZB) of data.

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Cisco snuffs HyperFlex development, hands HCI future to Nutanix

When Cisco and Nutanix partnered in August, it raised questions about the future development of Cisco’s HyperFlex platform. The other shoe dropped this week as Cisco said it would cease development of its hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) system.

Cisco announced the end-of-sale and end-of-life dates for its HyperFlex Data Platform (HXDP); the last day to order any products related to the system is September 11, 2024, and the last day to renew to an existing subscription is February 28, 2029. Active customers will be able to continue receiving Cisco support as necessary.

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IBM X-Force: Use of compromised credentials darkens cloud security picture

As connectivity to cloud-based resources grows, cybercriminals are using valid, compromised credentials to access enterprise resources at an alarming rate.

That's one of the chief findings of the IBM X-Force Cloud Threat Landscape Report, which also found a 200% increase (about 3,900 vulnerabilities) in cloud-oriented Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) in the last year.

“Over 35% of cloud security incidents occurred from attackers’ use of valid, compromised credentials,” wrote Chris Caridi, strategic cyber threat analyst with IBM X-Force, in a blog about the report. “Making up nearly 90% of assets for sale on dark web marketplaces, credentials’ popularity among cybercriminals is apparent, averaging $10 per listing – or the equivalent of a dozen doughnuts.”

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BrandPost: Unified Management Is the Key to Single-Vendor SASE

It’s no secret that SASE has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years due in large part to how the solution provides strong threat protection and secure access no matter where a user, device, or application is located. This is no small feat, especially in the work-from-anywhere (WFA) era, where employees are logging in from a coffee shop one day and the office the next.  

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Cisco shapes its strategy for Ethernet-based AI networks

Cisco is on a mission to make sure Ethernet is the chief underpinning for artificial intelligence networks now and in the future.

It has been a huge contributor to Ethernet development in the IEEE and other industry groups over the years, and now it’s one of the core vendors driving the Ultra Ethernet Consortium (UEC), a group that’s working to develop physical, link, transport and software layer advances for Ethernet to make it more capable of supporting AI infrastructures.

“Organizations are sitting on massive amounts of data that they are trying to make more accessible and gain value from faster, and they are looking at AI technology now,” said Thomas Scheibe, vice president of product management with Cisco’s cloud networking, Nexus & ACI product line.

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Sorting, joining, shuffling, skipping and numbering lines on Linux

Whenever you need to work with lists that are stored as text files on Linux – especially long ones – you can take advantage of some easy commands to make manipulating them a lot easier. Any text file can be easily sorted, but you can also randomly arrange the lines, number them or join files when two share an initial common field. In fact, if you only want to see every other line or every fifth line in a file, you can do that too. This post runs through the commands to do all of these things.

Sorting files

The sort command makes sorting text files very easy. To view the contents of a text file in sorted order, all you need to do is type a command like this:

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UK gov't announces new $1.1B supercomputer and AI research facility

The UK government has announced it will build a £900 million (US$1.1 billion) supercomputer, to drive the country’s AI research and innovation capabilities.

The supercomputer, dubbed Isambard-3 after the 19th century British civil and mechanical engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, is set to be installed at the National Composites Centre in Bristol later this year. The University of Bristol is home to the UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Interactive Artificial intelligence and is part of the GW4 group of universities — an alliance of research-intensive universities that also includes Bath, Cardiff and Exeter.

Bristol University will also host the new AI Research Resource (AIRR or Isambard-AI), a national facility to help support AI research and promote the safe use of the technology. Both the supercomputer and AIRR are financed by the by the AI investment announced the government announced in March.

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- Manish Singh
Amazon has agreed to invest up to $4 billion in the AI startup Anthropic, the two firms said, as the e-commerce group steps up its rivalry against Microsoft, Meta, Google and Nvidia in the fast-growing sector that many technologists believe could be the next great frontier. The e-commerce group said it will initially invest $1.25 […]
- Natasha Lomas
The generative AI boom has put a spring in the step of Correcto, a Madrid-based language writing tool startup focused on Spanish speakers that’s today announcing $7 million in seed funding. The round is led by London-based Octopus Ventures, with Carya Venture Partners and River Park Ventures also contributing. The founding team began work on […]
- Rebecca Bellan
California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill Friday that would have required a human safety operator to be present any time a self-driving truck operated on public roads in the state. The win for the autonomous trucking industry comes after the California Senate had passed the bill in mid-September. The bill would have effectively banned […]
- Kirsten Korosec
The Station is a weekly newsletter dedicated to all things transportation. Sign up here — just click The Station — to receive the newsletter every weekend in your inbox. Subscribe for free.  Welcome back to The Station, your central hub for all past, present and future means of moving people and packages from Point A to Point B. […]
- Rebecca Szkutak
Building an equitable cap table allows startups to bring on experts they wouldn't be able to hire while making VC more diverse.
- Christine Hall
Welcome back to The Interchange, where we take a look at the hottest fintech news of the previous week. If you want to receive The Interchange directly in your inbox every Sunday, head here to sign up! Disrupt! Last week, our team was at TechCrunch Disrupt 2023, which featured a dedicated fintech stage for the first time […]
- Kyle Wiggers
Welcome to Week in Review (WiR), TechCrunch’s regular newsletter covering the past few days in tech. The TC crew — including this reporter — is coming off the high of Disrupt, which hopefully some of you, dear readers, were able to attend in person. Fret not if you didn’t — there’s always next year, and […]
- Anna Heim
"Accessibility is a human right," reads a sticker from the Howe Innovation Center. And for sure, it is great to see startups help companies make this a reality.
- Manish Singh
PhonePe launched the Indus AppStore Developer Platform on Saturday, promising zero platform fee and no commission on in-app purchases as the Walmart-backed fintech races to win Android developers in Google’s largest market. The Bengaluru-headquartered startup, which has amassed over 450 million registered users on its eponymous payments app, said developers can start registering and uploading […]
- Carrie Andrews
Software spending is now the third-biggest expense for organizations, right after employee and office costs.
- Tim De Chant
The startup’s smart mailers are reusable dozens of times, reducing the carbon footprint by 90% compared with cardboard boxes.
- Rita Liao
AquaLith looks to make new types of battery cell components that don't rely on the scarce metals normally used in lithium-ion battery packs.
- Haje Jan Kamps
This week, the TechCrunch team descended on San Francisco’s Moscone Center to celebrate one of the biggest to-dos in the startup world: TechCrunch Disrupt.
- Devin Coldewey
Unity has done a 180 on a controversial new pricing scheme that users of its cross-platform game engine almost unanimously disparaged.
- Haje Jan Kamps
$20 million doesn't lie, so let's see where Transcend, er, transcends and where it remains painfully mortal.
- Walter Thompson
TechCrunch Disrupt 2023 ended yesterday, and out of all the events I've attended since working here, this one was my favorite.
- Sarah Perez
Social network Bluesky once again benefited from Elon Musk's missteps with X, the network formerly known as Twitter.
- Zack Whittaker
Apple has released urgent security updates for iPhones, iPads, Macs, Apple Watch, and Safari users to block two active spyware campaigns.
- Rita Liao
The crypto industry has long been criticized for its disconnection with the real world, but there are players who try to show that the underlying blockchain technology can solve some of our most pressing challenges in today’s society — especially in regions where basic infrastructure is lacking. Akowe, a Lagos-based startup that is part of […]
- Sarah Perez
An updated version Pixel Pals takes advantage of new iOS features like Live Activities, the Dynamic Island, and interactive widgets on iOS 17.
- Steve Dent
The Hollywood writers strike may soon end after tentative deal is struck

Following marathon negotiations over the last five days, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and major studios have reached a tentative deal to end a 146-day strike that has shut down much of the industry, Variety has reported. "We can say, with great pride, that this deal is exceptional – with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership," the WGA wrote in an email to members.

Picketing has been suspended as of Sunday night, but the strike is still in force until it's ratified and approved by members. "To be clear, no one is to return to work until specifically authorized to by the Guild. We are still on strike until then," the email stated.

One of the last sticking points was reportedly around the use of generative AI in content production. Other details of the contract have yet to be released, including around streaming residuals, staffing levels for shows and more. "Though we are eager to share the details of what has been achieved with you, we cannot do that until the last ‘i’ is dotted," wrote the WGA.

Things were looking bleak for the industry in mid-September, but some high-profile WGA members reportedly pressured leadership to restart negotiations. In addition, four key AMPTP executives (Bob Iger from Disney, NBCUniversal’s Donna Langley, Ted Sarandos and David Zaslav of Warner Bros. Discovery) participated in negotiations for three days. Bargaining resumed on September 20, and the deal was reached five days later.

Considering the strike length and WGA leadership's high level of praise for the deal, a positive vote from membership seems probable. The guild credited membership's solidarity and its willingness to "endure the pain and uncertainty of the past 146 days" as key to clinching the deal. "It is the leverage generated by your strike, in concert with the extraordinary support of our union siblings, that finally brought the companies back to the table to make a deal," it stated in the message.

The labor strife isn't finished yet, though. The SAG-AFTRA actors' guild is still on strike after hitting picket lines on July 14 over issues like likeness rights. "While we look forward to reviewing the WGA and AMPTP’s tentative agreement, we remain committed to achieving the necessary terms for our members," the union wrote in a statement.

Even after the actors reach their own deal, it will take time for TV series, films, talk shows and other productions to get back up to speed — so expect delays in your favorite shows coming back. The AMPTP has yet to comment on the WGA deal. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
- Andrew Tarantola
Hitting the Books: Beware the Tech Bro who comes bearing gifts

American entrepreneurs have long fixated on extracting the maximum economic value out of, well really, any resource they can get their hands on — from Henry Ford's assembly line to Tony Hsieh's Zappos Happiness Experience Form. The same is true in the public sector where some overambitious streamlining of Texas' power grid contributed to the state's massive 2021 winter power crisis that killed more than 700 people. In her new book, the riveting Optimal Illusions: The False Promise of Optimization, UC Berkeley applied mathematician and author, Coco Krumme, explores our historical fascination with optimization and how that pursuit has often led to unexpected and unwanted consequences in the systems we're streamlining. 

In the excerpt below, Krumme explores the recent resurgence of interest in Universal Basic (or Guaranteed) Income and the contrasting approaches to providing UBI between tech evangelists like Sam Altman and Andrew Yang, and social workers like Aisha Nyandoro, founder of the Magnolia Mother’s Trust, in how to address the difficult questions of deciding who should receive the financial support, and how much.

blue background stylized iceberg with white writingRiverhead Books

Excerpted from Optimal Illusions: The False Promise of Optimization by Coco Krumme. Published by Riverhead Books. Copyright © 2023 by Coco Krumme. All rights reserved.

False Gods

California, they say, is where the highway ends and dreams come home to roost. When they say these things, their eyes ignite: startup riches, infinity pools, the Hollywood hills. The last thing on their minds, of course, is the town of Stockton.

Drive east from San Francisco and, if traffic cooperates, you’ll be there in an hour and a half or two, over the long span of slate‑colored bay, past the hulking loaders at Oakland’s port, skirting rich suburbs and sweltering orchards and the government labs in Livermore, the military depot in Tracy, all the way to where brackish bay waters meet the San Joaquin River, where the east‑west highways connect with Interstate 5, in a tangled web of introductions that ultimately pitches you either north toward Seattle or south to LA.

Or you might decide to stay in Stockton, spend the night. There’s a slew of motels along the interstate: La Quinta, Days Inn, Motel 6. Breakfast at Denny’s or IHOP. Stockton once had its place in the limelight as a booming gold‑rush supply point. In 2012, the city filed for bankruptcy, the largest US city until then to do so (Detroit soon bested it in 2013). First light reveals a town that’s neither particularly rich nor desperately poor, hitched taut between cosmopolitan San Francisco on one side and the agricultural central valley on the other, in the middle, indistinct, suburban, and a little sad.

This isn’t how the story was supposed to go. Optimization was supposed to be the recipe for a more perfect society. When John Stuart Mill aimed for the greater good, when Allen Gilmer struck out to map new pockets of oil, when Stan Ulam harnessed a supercomputer to tally possibilities: it was in service of doing more, and better, with less. Greater efficiency was meant to be an equilibrating force. We weren’t supposed to have big winners and even bigger losers. We weren’t supposed to have a whole sprawl of suburbs stuck in the declining middle.

We saw how overwrought optimizations can suddenly fail, and the breakdown of optimization as the default way of seeing the world can come about equally fast. What we face now is a disconnect between the continued promises of efficiency, the idea that we can optimize into perpetuity, and the reality all around: the imperfect world, the overbooked schedules, the delayed flights, the institutions in decline. And we confront the question: How can we square what optimization promised with what it’s delivered?

Sam Altman has the answer. In his mid-thirties, with the wiry, frenetic look of a college student, he’s a young man with many answers. Sam’s biography reads like a leaderboard of Silicon Valley tropes and accolades: an entrepreneur, upper‑middle‑class upbringing, prep school, Stanford Computer Science student, Stanford Computer Science dropout, where dropping out is one of the Valley’s top status symbols. In 2015, Sam was named a Forbes magazine top investor under age thirty. (That anyone bothers to make a list of investors in their teens and twenties says as much about Silicon Valley as about the nominees. Tech thrives on stories of overnight riches and the mythos of the boy genius.)

Sam is the CEO and cofounder, along with electric‑car‑and‑rocket‑ship‑magnate Elon Musk, of OpenAI, a company whose mission is “to ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity.” He is the former president of the Valley’s top startup incubator, Y Combinator, was interim CEO of Reddit, and is currently chairman of the board of two nuclear‑energy companies, Helion and Okto. His latest venture, Worldcoin, aims to scan people’s eyeballs in exchange for cryptocurrency. As of 2022, the company had raised $125 million of funding from Silicon Valley investors.

But Sam doesn’t rest on, or even mention, his laurels. In conversation, he is smart, curious, and kind, and you can easily tell, through his veneer of demure agreeableness, that he’s driven as hell. By way of introduction to what he’s passionate about, Sam describes how he used a spreadsheet to determine the seven or so domains in which he could make the greatest impact, based on weighing factors such as his own skills and resources against the world’s needs. Sam readily admits he can’t read emotions well, treats most conversations as logic puzzles, and not only wants to save the world but believes the world’s salvation is well within reach.

A 2016 profile in The New Yorker sums up Sam like this: “His great weakness is his utter lack of interest in ineffective people.”

Sam has, however, taken an interest in Stockton, California.

Stockton is the site of one of the most publicized experiments in Universal Basic Income (UBI), a policy proposal that grants recipients a fixed stipend, with no qualifications and no strings attached. The promise of UBI is to give cash to those who need it most and to minimize the red tape and special interests that can muck up more complex redistribution schemes. On Sam’s spreadsheet of areas where he’d have impact, UBI made the cut, and he dedicated funding for a group of analysts to study its effects in six cities around the country. While he’s not directly involved in Stockton, he’s watching closely. The Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration was initially championed by another tech wunderkind, Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes. The project gave 125 families $500 per month for twenty‑four months. A slew of metrics was collected in order to establish a causal relationship between the money and better outcomes.

UBI is nothing new. The concept of a guaranteed stipend has been suggested by leaders from Napoleon to Martin Luther King Jr. The contemporary American conception of UBI, however, has been around just a handful of years, marrying a utilitarian notion of societal perfectibility with a modern‑day faith in technology and experimental economics.

Indeed, economists were among the first to suggest the idea of a fixed stipend, first in the context of the developing world and now in America. Esther Duflo, a creative star in the field and Nobel Prize winner, is known for her experiments with microloans in poorer nations. She’s also unromantic about her discipline, embracing the concept of “economist as plumber.” Duflo argues that the purpose of economics is not grand theories so much as on‑the‑ground empiricism. Following her lead, the contemporary argument for UBI owes less to a framework of virtue and charity and much more to the cold language of an econ textbook. Its benefits are described in terms of optimizing resources, reducing inequality, and thereby maximizing societal payoff.

The UBI experiments under way in several cities, a handful of them funded by Sam’s organization, have data‑collection methods primed for a top‑tier academic publication. Like any good empiricist, Sam spells out his own research questions to me, and the data he’s collecting to test and analyze those hypotheses.

Several thousand miles from Sam’s Bay Area office, a different kind of program is in the works. When we speak by phone, Aisha Nyandoro bucks a little at my naive characterization of her work as UBI. “We don’t call it universal basic income,” she says. “We call it guaranteed income. It’s targeted. Invested intentionally in those discriminated against.” Aisha is the powerhouse founder of the Magnolia Mother’s Trust, a program that gives a monthly stipend to single Black mothers in Jackson, Mississippi. The project grew out of her seeing the welfare system fail miserably for the very people it purported to help. “The social safety net is designed to keep families from rising up. Keep them teetering on edge. It’s punitive paternalism. The ‘safety net’ that strangles.”

Bureaucracy is dehumanizing, Aisha says, because it asks a person to “prove you’re enough” to receive even the most basic of assistance. Magnolia Mother’s Trust is unique in that it is targeted at a specific population. Aisha reels off facts. The majority of low‑income women in Jackson are also mothers. In the state of Mississippi, one in four children live in poverty, and women of color earn 61 percent of what white men make. Those inequalities affect the community as a whole. In 2021, the trust gave $1,000 per month to one hundred women. While she’s happy her program is gaining exposure as more people pay attention to UBI, Aisha doesn’t mince words. “I have to be very explicit in naming race as an issue,” she says.

Aisha’s goal is to grow the program and provide cash, without qualifications, to more mothers in Jackson. Magnolia Mother’s Trust was started around the same time as the Stockton project, and the nomenclature of guaranteed income has gained traction. One mother in the program writes in an article in Ms. magazine, “Now everyone is talking about guaranteed income, and it started here in Jackson.” Whether or not it all traces back to Jackson, whether the money is guaranteed and targeted or more broadly distributed, what’s undeniable is that everyone seems to be talking about UBI.

Influential figures, primarily in tech and politics, have piled on to the idea. Jack Dorsey, the billionaire founder of Twitter, with his droopy meditation eyes and guru beard, wants in. In 2020, he donated $15 million to experimental efforts in thirty US cities.

And perhaps the loudest bullhorn for the idea has been wielded by Andrew Yang, another product of Silicon Valley and a 2020 US presidential candidate. Yang is an earnest guy, unabashedly dorky. Numbers drive his straight‑talking policy. Blue baseball caps for his campaign are emblazoned with one short word: MATH.

UBI’s proponents see the potential to simplify the currently convoluted American welfare system, to equilibrate an uneven playing field. By decoupling basic income from employment, it could free some people up to pursue work that is meaningful.

And yet the concept, despite its many proponents, has managed to draw ire from both ends of the political spectrum. Critics on the right see UBI as an extension of the welfare state, as further interference into free markets. Left‑leaning critics bemoan its “inefficient” distribution of resources: Why should high earners get as much as those below the poverty line? Why should struggling individuals get only just enough to keep them, and the capitalist system, afloat?

Detractors on both left and right default to the same language in their critiques: that of efficiency and maximizing resources. Indeed, the language of UBI’s critics is all too similar to the language of its proponents, with its randomized control trials and its view of society as a closed economic system. In the face of a disconnect between what optimization promised and what it delivered, the proposed solution involves more optimizing.

Why is this? What if we were to evaluate something like UBI outside the language of efficiency? We might ask a few questions differently. What if we relaxed the suggestion that dollars can be transformed by some or another equation into individual or societal utility? What if we went further than that and relaxed the suggestion of measuring at all, as a means of determining the “best” policy? What if we put down our calculators for a moment and let go of the idea that politics is meant to engineer an optimal society in the first place? Would total anarchy ensue?

Such questions are difficult to ask because they don’t sound like they’re getting us anywhere. It’s much easier, and more common, to tackle the problem head‑on. Electric‑vehicle networks such as Tesla’s, billed as an alternative to the centralized oil economy, seek to optimize where charging stations are placed, how batteries are created, how software updates are sent out — and by extension, how environmental outcomes take shape. Vitamins fill the place of nutrients leached out of foods by agriculture’s maximization of yields; these vitamins promise to optimize health. Vertical urban farming also purports to solve the problems of industrial agriculture, by introducing new optimizations in how light and fertilizers are delivered to greenhouse plants, run on technology platforms developed by giants such as SAP. A breathless Forbes article explains that the result of hydroponics is that “more people can be fed, less precious natural resources are used, and the produce is healthier and more flavorful.” The article nods only briefly to downsides, such as high energy, labor, and transportation costs. It doesn’t mention that many grains don’t lend themselves easily to indoor farming, nor the limitations of synthetic fertilizers in place of natural regeneration of soil.

In working to counteract the shortcomings of optimization, have we only embedded ourselves deeper? For all the talk of decentralized digital currencies and local‑maker economies, are we in fact more connected and centralized than ever? And less free, insofar as we’re tied into platforms such as Amazon and Airbnb and Etsy? Does our lack of freedom run deeper still, by dint of the fact that fewer and fewer of us know exactly what the algorithms driving these technologies do, as more and more of us depend on them? Do these attempts to deoptimize in fact entrench the idea of optimization further?

A 1952 novel by Kurt Vonnegut highlights the temptation, and also the threat, of de-optimizing. Player Piano describes a mechanized society in which the need for human labor has mostly been eliminated. The remaining workers are those engineers and managers whose purpose is to keep the machines online. The core drama takes place at a factory hub called Ilium Works, where “Efficiency, Economy, and Quality” reign supreme. The book is prescient in anticipating some of our current angst — and powerlessness — about optimization’s reach.

Paul Proteus is the thirty‑five‑year‑old factory manager of the Ilium Works. His father served in the same capacity, and like him, Paul is one day expected to take over as leader of the National Manufacturing Council. Each role at Ilium is identified by a number, such as R‑127 or EC‑002. Paul’s job is to oversee the machines.

At the time of the book’s publication, Vonnegut was a young author disillusioned by his experiences in World War II and disheartened as an engineering manager at General Electric. Ilium Works is a not‑so‑thinly‑veiled version of GE. As the novel wears on, Paul tries to free himself, to protest that “the main business of humanity is to do a good job of being human beings . . . not to serve as appendages to machines, institutions, and systems.” He seeks out the elusive Ghost Shirt Society with its conspiracies to break automation, he attempts to restore an old homestead with his wife. He tries, in other words, to organize a way out of the mechanized world.

His attempts prove to be in vain. Paul fails and ends up mired in dissatisfaction. The machines take over, riots ensue, everything is destroyed. And yet, humans’ love of mechanization runs deep: once the machines are destroyed, the janitors and technicians — a class on the fringes of society — quickly scramble to build things up again. Player Piano depicts the outcome of optimization as societal collapse and the collapse of meaning, followed by the flimsy rebuilding of the automated world we know.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
- Lawrence Bonk
How to use StandBy mode on your lock screen in iOS 17

Now that iOS 17 is out in the wild, consumers are getting hands-on time with many just-released iPhone features. One of the neater inclusions is the brand-new StandBy mode. This toolset transforms your lock screen into a myriad of useful widgets, like alarm clocks, picture frames and more.

What is StandBy?

StandBy is a new feature that shipped with iOS 17. It lets you change up your lock screen to access a number of widgets. This can be highly useful when the phone’s tethered to a charging dock or when you just want to take a quick glance at something without having to unlock your sparkly iPhone. There are a number of available widgets for this mode, including alarm clocks, picture frames, Siri, windows for incoming calls and large notification boxes. Third-party apps have been quick to offer support for StandBy, so tomorrow likely brings a host of new options.

How to use StandBy

Getting started with StandBy is extremely simple. Connect your iPhone to a charger and set it down on its side, as the widgets are designed to take advantage of this orientation. Keep the phone stationary and press the side button to activate StandBy. Once activated, swipe left and right to switch between the various widgets, photos, clocks and other display options. Once you choose your favorite, scroll up or down to access adjustment options. For instance, swiping up when the alarm clock is on the screen will change the design.

A clock in Apple's StandBy mode.Apple

If your phone has an always-on display, your StandBy widgets will run without interruption. For older phones, you’ll have to tap the screen when you want to see what’s going on. The iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone 14 Pro Max, iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max all boast an always-on screen. If you’re worried about the bright screen interrupting your sleep, just turn on Night Mode and the display will automatically adjust to low ambient light, covering everything in a non-intrusive red tint.

How to turn off StandBy

Done staring lovingly at an alarm clock? Turn StandBy off by heading to settings and then look for StandBy as an option. Once you open that, just click it to the off position like you would Bluetooth or WiFi.

How to customize available widgets

The default widget when you first launch StandBy is the alarm clock, and there are several more first-party options available by swiping left and right. However, there’s a simple way to customize the available widgets, allowing you to delete some from the stack and add others.

An image showing how to delete and add widgets. Apple

To start this process, just long press on any widget while StandBy mode is activated. Once the phone unlocks via Face ID, you’ll see the entire stack of widgets in the center of the screen in a jiggle mode reminiscent of when you delete apps. Look for the “+” icon in the top left of the screen to add widgets. Each widget will have a “-” attached to the thumbnail icon. Click on that to delete the widget from your stack.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
- Mariella Moon
An NYPD security robot will be patrolling the Times Square subway station

The New York Police Department (NYPD) is implementing a new security measure at the Times Square subway station. It's deploying a security robot to patrol the premises, which authorities say is meant to "keep you safe." We're not talking about a RoboCop-like machine or any human-like biped robot — the K5, which was made by California-based company Knightscope, looks like a massive version of R2-D2. Albert Fox Cahn, the executive director of privacy rights group Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, has a less flattering description for it, though, and told The New York Times that it's like a "trash can on wheels."

K5 weighs 420 pounds and is equipped with four cameras that can record video but not audio. As you can guess from the image above, the machine also doesn't come with arms — it didn't quite ignore Mayor Eric Adams' attempt at making a heart. The robot will patrol the station from midnight until 6 AM throughout its trial run that's running over the next two months. But K5 won't be doing full patrols for a while, since it's spending its first two weeks mapping out the station and roaming only the main areas and not the platforms. 

It's not quite clear if NYPD's machine will be livestreaming its camera footage, and if law enforcement will be keeping an eye on what it captures. Adams said during the event introducing the robot that it will "record video that can be reviewed in case of an emergency or a crime." It apparently won't be using facial recognition, though Cahn is concerned that the technology could eventually be incorporated into the machine. Obviously, K5 doesn't have the capability to respond to actual emergencies in the station and can't physically or verbally apprehend suspects. The only real-time help it can provide people is to connect them to a live person to report an incident or to ask questions, provided they're able to press a button on the robot. 

NYC is leasing K5 for around $9 an hour for the next two months. The mayor sounds convinced that's worth what the robot can do even though, as The Times notes, he recently ordered several agencies to reduce spending by 15 percent. "This is below minimum wage," he said. "No bathroom breaks, no meal breaks." Adams has a history of supporting the use of machines as police tools. Earlier this year, the mayor also announced that the NYPD will acquire two Digidog robots for $750,000 each for use in hostage and other critical situations. That's quite a reversal from the NYPD's decision in 2021 to cancel its lease on what was then known as Boston Dynamics' Spot after facing backlash for its use.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
- Lawrence Bonk
How to use NameDrop in iOS 17

If you want to easily share contact information with someone, Apple’s NameDrop is an efficient tool. With the recent launch of iOS 17, however, some consumers worry that accessing the new tool boasts a steep learning curve. That’s not true at all, as it’s quite simple to get started with NameDrop. Here’s our guide on how to share contact information like a true boss.

What is NameDrop?

NameDrop is a feature that comes with iOS 17. It allows you to instantaneously send contact information to other people just by placing your iPhone near to their iPhone. This is similar to the pre-existing Tap to Share toolset, but with a specialized emphasis on contact information. There have been plenty of third-party apps that do this sort of thing, but this is Apple’s first-party solution.

How to use NameDrop to share contact information

NameDrop is extremely simple. Just hold your iPhone near the top of someone else’s iPhone. That’s it. You’ll see a faint glow emerge from the top of both devices to indicate a successful connection and NameDrop will appear on both screens. 

Apple's NameDrop in action.Apple

Once connected, you’ll be able to adjust exactly what contact information gets shared between the two devices. You can receive the other person’s information, send your information or do both at once. If you want to cancel, just move the phone away before the system finishes its dark magic.

This only works for new contacts, though, and cannot be used to update pre-existing contact information. You can get around this limitation by deleting the contact before going in for the NameDrop.

How to use contacts on iPhone to share information

NameDrop requires that both phones are updated to iOS 17, and that’s not always a realistic possibility. You have another choice for sending out contact information. Just head into the Contacts app and select Share Contact. Select the specific data you want to share and tap Done. Finally, select the delivery method. You can choose between Messages, Mail and several other options. This isn’t as easy as moving one phone close to another phone, but it should still take just a few seconds.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
- Malak Saleh
You can find love on Tinder for $500 a month, if you qualify for its elite tier

Tinder has officially rolled out its most exclusive subscription — “Tinder Select” — according to a report by Bloomberg. This elite pay-to-date tier will cost love seekers $500 per month (or $6,000 annually — apparently there are no bulk discounts to be found here) for access to unique features like exclusive search and matching.

This may sound ridiculous to the general public, and it may be why Tinder has decided to hold off on making the new tier available to everyone just yet. Tinder Select has only been offered to less than one percent of users the company considers “extremely active.” Tinder told Bloomberg that it will open up applications for Tinder Select on a rolling basis but it didn’t say exactly when. Tinder's exclusive membership was originally hinted at all the way back in 2019.

Tinder’s parent company, Match Group, reported that the app’s direct revenue raked in about $475 million in the second quarter of 2023, growing about six percent year over year. However, the number of people willing to pay for Tinder subscriptions declined four percent to 10.5 million. At a Citi conference in early September, Match Group President Gary Swidler said he thinks Tinder Select has the potential to have an impact on the company’s overall revenue.

Tinder SelectBloomberg/Match Group

Match Group has dabbled in exclusive dating apps like “The League,'' which it bought in 2022, so it's not too surprising that it's getting its flagship app into this space too. But if you're not up for that kind of commitment (if you even qualify) you can opt for other Tinder subscriptions — Plus, Gold, and Platinum, which have monthly memberships that start at $20, $30, and $40, respectively. Each tier provides different exclusive features (Platinum members, for instance, can message who they like before even matching.) 

Whether these paid versions will increase your personal odds of finding a partner is anyone's best guess. Thankfully, Tinder (and the majority of competitor dating apps) retain unpaid membership options, so those of us without $500 a month to burn can continue to get ghosted for free.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
- Will Shanklin
iPhone 15 stuck on the Apple logo during setup? Here’s how to fix it

If you’re setting up a new iPhone 15 today, you might run into some problems. As first reported by9to5Mac, the new models (including standard and pro variants) can get stuck in a boot loop where they may freeze on the Apple logo when transferring apps and data to the new model. Although Apple says the setup process should prompt you to install iOS 17.0.2, which fixes the problem, some users (including one Engadget staff member) have reported that it failed to do that. Here’s what to do.

First, if your iPhone 15 setup prompts you to install iOS 17.0.2 before reaching the data-transfer step, you’re good to go: That means Apple’s hotfix worked as planned, and you don’t need to worry about any special instructions. Accept the update, wait for it to install and complete the process. But you’ll need to hop on a computer if it doesn’t prompt you to update.

Computer workaround

Start by plugging your iPhone into a Mac or Windows PC using its supplied (or any compatible) USB-C cable. Then, put the phone in recovery mode using the following button combinations: While it’s still plugged in, quickly press the iPhone’s volume up button, then the volume down button. Immediately after, press and hold the phone’s side (power / sleep) button until your handset displays the image below of a computer and cable. (If you don’t see it, try the button combinations again without pausing.)

Image of an iPhone with a recovery mode graphic (cable pointing upward towards a laptop) on its screen. Gray background.Apple

Next, Mac users can open Finder and select their iPhone from the sidebar. Windows users will need to open iTunes. (If you don’t already have it, you can download it from here.)

After opening Finder (Mac) or iTunes (Windows), it will ask if you want to restore or update your phone. Choose “Restore,” and it will install the new software. (Apple notes that if your iPhone restarts while your Mac or PC downloads the update, you’ll need to wait for the update to complete before repeating the recovery mode button combination from paragraph three.)

After your Mac or PC completes the software restore, you should be able to unplug your iPhone and follow the prompts on its screen to set it up and transfer your data as usual.

Workaround without a computer

If you’re on the go or otherwise don’t have access to a computer, there’s an alternate method that may take a little longer. After powering up the phone, select the option to set it up as a new iPhone instead of transferring apps and data from your old model or iCloud. Then, after it takes you to a clean Home Screen for the first time, navigate to Settings > General > Software Update, and install the iOS 17.0.2 update.

After the update completes, head to Settings > General > Transfer or Reset iPhone, and choose “Erase All Content and Settings” at the bottom of the screen. After it completes the factory reset, the setup process should allow you to transfer your existing content from iCloud or your old handset.

Once you’ve set up your new phone, you can check out Engadget’s iPhone 15 Pro / Pro Max review and iOS 17 preview to brush up on all your new features.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
- Kris Holt
The FTC may file an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon as soon as next week

The Federal Trade Commission looks set to drag Amazon into another legal battle between the two sides. The agency is preparing to file an antitrust suit against Amazon as soon as next week, according to Bloomberg. Reuters reports that the FTC has sent a draft complaint to attorneys general in an attempt to get as many states as possible on board with its case.

The details of the long-awaited legal challenge are not known as yet. It's anticipated that the FTC will take aim at Amazon Prime, as well as claims that Amazon pushes third-party sellers to use its logistics and advertising services. The FTC is also said to believe that Amazon has rules to prevent products from being sold for less on rival platforms, which could be a factor in the suit (California has sued Amazon over that alleged practice).

The FTC has been scrutinizing Amazon for several years. If it files suit next week, that will mark the fourth action it has taken against the company this year. In May, the agency sued Amazon over children's privacy concerns related to Alexa and claims that it was snooping on Ring users. Amazon paid a totalof $30.8 million to quickly settle charges in both cases.

The following month, the FTC filed another complaint against Amazon, this time claiming that the company coerced people into signing up for a Prime subscription then making it difficult for them to cancel. That case is still ongoing. This week, the agency added three Amazon executives as defendants. It claims those individuals rebuffed pleas from Amazon employees to stop using deceptive tactics to trick people into signing up for a recurring payment through Prime.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
- Will Shanklin
Bowing to pressure, Unity announces the terms of its surrender

Unity announced significant concessions to its new game developer pricing on Friday. After rolling out the widely scorned changes 10 days ago, including a per-install fee many developers said could upend their entire businesses, the company rolled out a walkback today that softens some of the policy’s sharper edges.

Perhaps most notably, users on the Unity Personal plan will no longer be subject to the Unity Runtime Fee. This broadly disdained charge would have forced smaller developers to pay every time their game was installed (including reinstallations from the same user). Under the revised policy, Unity Personal users can earn up to $200,000 without changing plans — up from the previous $100,000. In addition, the company is waiving the requirement to include the “Made with Unity” splash screen.

Meanwhile, developers on Unity Pro and Enterprise plans won’t have to worry about the Unity Runtime Fee until they upgrade to the next LTS (long-term support) version of the engine shipping in 2024. Any current games or projects in development based on versions of Unity older than that won’t be charged the fee. It also only applies to those who switch to the upcoming version. “We will make sure that you can stay on the terms applicable for the version of Unity editor you are using — as long as you keep using that version,” Unity Create leader Marc Whitten wrote today.

You know what, on first glance, I think this works? It's effectively a 2.5% revenue share for $1M+p/y earners? No retroactivity left, LTS stability, no black-box data, yeah? I think that works for every use-case.

— Rami Ismail (رامي) (@tha_rami) September 22, 2023

Devs on Unity Pro or Enterprise plans who qualify for the Unity Runtime Fee will pay either a 2.5% cut of their revenue or a “calculated amount based on the number of new people engaging with your game each month.” A fee summary webpage clarifies those as “initial engagements,” which sounds like it voids the previous method that would have charged developers twice if the same person uninstalled and reinstalled their game (or downloaded it onto a new device). In addition, Unity clarified that developers will self-report the numbers determining the fee and will always pay the lesser amount of the two, quelling concerns about the potential for tracking and abuse.

Unity also said no game with less than $1 million in revenue for the preceding 12 months will pay the fee.

Whitten sounded a conciliatory tone as the company does damage control over its roundly condemned plans. “I want to start with simply this: I am sorry,” he wrote. “We should have spoken with more of you and we should have incorporated more of your feedback before announcing our new Runtime Fee policy. Our goal with this policy is to ensure we can continue to support you today and tomorrow, and keep deeply investing in our game engine. You are what makes Unity great, and we know we need to listen, and work hard to earn your trust. We have heard your concerns, and we are making changes in the policy we announced to address them.”

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
- Karissa Bell
What the Elon Musk biography revealed about his tumultuous Twitter takeover

From alarming questions about Elon Musk’s role in Ukraine’s war effort, to new details about his complicated personal life, there has been no shortage of bombshells from Walter Isaacson’s recently released biography of Elon Musk.

The book covers his childhood in South Africa, as well as his business dealings, from his first startup to Tesla, SpaceX and Neuralink. Perhaps unsurprisingly, more than a quarter of the book is devoted to Twitter.

Isaacson spent two years with Musk and thus had a front-row seat to his takeover of Twitter, beginning with his move to become a major stakeholder last spring. While much of the drama that unfolded at Twitter (now, X) over the last year and half has been well-documented, Isaacson’s account adds telling — and at times bizarre — new details about how it all went down.

Musk almost immediately regretted his decision to buy Twitter

Isaacson describes Musk’s initial bid to buy Twitter as impulsive — the result of one of his frequent “manic” moods. And he writes that Musk regretted the plan almost immediately after the deal was put in motion — both because he thought he was overpaying, and because he was so unimpressed with Twitter’s former leadership. Musk later admits, more than once, that he bought the company because he didn’t have a choice.

“I don’t know why I did it,” he says two weeks after the deal finally closed. “The judge basically said that I have to buy Twitter or else, and now I’m like, okay, shit.”

The main motivation for increasing Twitter Blue subscriptions

We already know that Musk wants to bring banking and payments features to X, but the book makes it clear that those ambitions are very much intertwined with his push for Twitter Blue (now called X Premium) subscriptions. Isaacson writes that Musk was so focused on Twitter Blue because he saw it as a way to “get a user’s credit card information into the system, enabling Twitter someday to become the broader financial-services and payments platform.”

However, the plan was somewhat derailed by Apple, as most of Twitter’s subscribers signed up via its iPhone app, and Apple doesn’t share user data, like credit card and other financial details, with app makers. Incredibly, upon learning of this, Musk instructed Yoel Roth, Twitter’s former head of trust and safety, to “just call Apple and tell them to give you the data you need.” Roth, realizing that such a request would not go over well with Apple, declined to make the call.

Musk would later meet with Tim Cook amid a separate dispute related to Twitter’s iOS app, but, according to Isaacson, Musk opted not to bring up the user data issue. But it underscores just how important financial data is to his vision to make X an “everything app.”

Musk tried to ban the ADL and other activists in 2022

Musk often portrays himself as a noble defender of free speech, but even a sympathetic biographer is quick to point out all the ways Musk put his interests ahead of free speech after acquiring Twitter.

Months before Musk would boost the #BanTheADL hashtag, he wanted to ban the group and other activists for urging advertisers to boycott the platform, Isaacson writes. Musk apparently went to Yoel Roth, twitter’s former head of trust and safety, and demanded he “stop users from urging advertisers to boycott Twitter.”

Musk then tried to ad lib a new policy to justify what would have been an unprecedented ban. “I’m changing Twitter policy right now … blackmail is prohibited as of right now. Ban it. Ban them,” Musk said. Roth deflected and Musk apparently dropped the issue.

Musk flip-flopped on whether to restore Donald Trump’s account

Despite joking to his sons that he was buying Twitter to help Trump get reelected, Musk is no fan of Trump, according to Isaacson.

“I want to avoid the bullshit disputes about Trump,” Musk had told me a few weeks earlier, emphasizing that his principle had always been to allow free speech only if it was within the bounds of the law. “If he’s engaged in criminal activity — and it seems increasingly that he has — that’s not okay,” Musk said. “It’s not free speech to subvert democracy.”

Musk, of course, would change his mind and decide that a Twitter poll was a better way to decide the issue. Isaacson doesn’t speculate on a reason for the reversal other than saying he was in a “feisty mood” that day.

How the “hardcore Twitter” pledge came about

In the several weeks following his chaotic takeover of Twitter, Musk laid off thousands of Twitter workers. Isaacson sheds new light on how these decisions were made, writing that Musk tapped his two first cousins and their close friend — all of whom worked at Musk’s other companies — to help him identify who should be cut.

Around this time, one of the more infamous stories to come out of Twitter was an online form sent to the remaining staffers, giving them two days to commit to the new “hardcore” version of the company. According to Isaacson, the form was inspired by one of Musk’s cousins, who after digging through Twitter employees’ public Slack messages, “suggested to Musk that he give employees the chance to opt out.” Musk later decided to make the form opt-in, rather than opt-out. “We want people who declare they are hardcore.”

What really happened to Twitter’s servers

Last December, Musk decided to move thousands of Twitter servers from a data center in Sacremento to a facility in Oregon in order to save money. But when Twitter engineers said the move would take at least six months, Musk grew angry, saying he felt like the “head-explosion emoji.”

Then, two days before Christmas, Musk made an impromptu visit to the Sacramento facility and declared moving the servers didn’t “seem super hard.” By the next day, Christmas Eve, Musk had tapped his cousins and others to start the move. The group began rolling the 2,500-pound server racks, which contained “totally critical data” onto a Oregon-bound moving truck. Twitter’s rules required servers with user data to be wiped before such a move, but Musk opted to use Apple AirTags and store-bought padlocks to secure them instead.

Ultimately, all of the servers were relocated within weeks, rather than the several months the company’s engineers originally estimated. But the move also caused months of instability within Twitter’s systems. This resulted in a number of issues, including a disastrous live stream with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who was almost unable to announce his presidential bid.

The hasty move has also attracted the scrutiny of the FTC, which is investigating X over a number of privacy and data related issues. Recently revealed court documents refer directly to the incident as an example of the company failing to follow its own security policies.

Musk’s obsession with a mobile strategy game called Polytopia

The book is filled with details about Musk’s personal relationships. But one of the more bizarre details is his long-running obsession with a mobile strategy game called The Battle of Polytopia that many of his confidantes say is key to understanding him. Musk is apparently so addicted to the game that at one point in the narrative he skips a meeting with Tesla managers so he can keep playing.

Musk is so obsessed that he’s roped much of his inner circle, including Grimes, his brother Kimbal and Shivon Zilis, the Neuralink executive with whom he has twins, into playing as well. All of them eventually deleted the game, with his brother Kimbal saying it was “destroying” his marriage. Musk, on the other hand, deleted the app from his phone but, a couple months later, opted to keep playing.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
- Malak Saleh
The NFL and Amazon are using AI to invent new football stats

The National Football League, like most professional sporting industries, is embracing artificial intelligence. Through a partnership with Amazon Web Services called Next Gen Stats, the NFL is hoping that intelligent algorithms, with the help of high-tech data collection tools, will be able to extract meaningful data from games and decipher patterns in player performances. AWS says it was inspired by submissions to the 2023 Big Data Bowl, an annual software competition organized by the NFL, when it set out to invent a new category of analytics that pertains to the analysis of “pressure” in the game of football.

AWS helped build out AI-powered algorithms that can analyze player behavior on the field and can pick up on how aggressive a defender played, how fast they were and even how quickly a quarterback responded. This granular data quantifies pressure and in doing so, allows game analysts to dissect the strategies that might influence plays. This innovative suite of analytics rises above traditional statistics that are limited in how much they can reveal. While traditional data can tell you if a rusher passes a quarterback, it may not be able to provide insights on how much of a fight was put up. This is where the pressure probability being tracked by “Next Gen Stats” delves into more detail.

The AWS and NFL partners have focused on developing machine-learning models that can provide data relating to three areas in game play, according to Amazon. The first application is giving the AI the ability to identify blockers and pass rushers in pass plays. Second, teaching the tool how to quantify “pressure” in a game. And lastly, the development of a process to detect individual blocker-rusher matchups. Ultimately, the development of this AI-tracking technology provides professionals in the football league with valuable information on player stats that can help scouts or coaches select new players. For example, knowing which player blocked or passed a rusher may help determine if they are a good fit for an offensive lineup.

In the game of football, quantifying the performance of offensive players and the rushers that tackle them can be a difficult feat, even for game experts who have the eye for these quick movements. Player reactions can happen in split moments and an individual’s performance in these high-speed exchanges can be hard to track and let alone quantify. Things like how close a defender got to the offensive lineup can help a coach understand the strength of their plays.

The NFL collects data for these AI-powered processing softwares using tools it installs in its own fields. In every participating NFL venue, there are at least 20-30 ultra-wide band receivers inside the field and there are 2-3 radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags inside each players’ shoulder pads and on other game gear, like balls and posts. These data transmitters collect information that is fed through a graphic neural network model (GNN), which allows the data to be relayed in real time. Using AI, the stats being extracted can be made into meaningful insights.

The Giants blitzed Brock Prudy on 33 of his 39 dropbacks (84.6%), the highest blitz rate in a game in the NGS era.

Likewise, Purdy averaged the fastest time to throw of his career (2.34 seconds).

💡 Purdy vs Blitz: 20/31, 247 yards, 2 TD

Powered by

— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) September 22, 2023

These insights can look like a number of interactive graphics found on the Next Gen Stat game landing page. You can get a breakdown of individual player movements in any given game in 2D models and graphs. For example, you can track the movement of both players and the ball during a 40-yard passing play in the San Francisco 49ers' game vs. the New York Giants on September 21.

While the AI tool is hosted on AWS infrastructure, the final product is a compilation of a multidisciplinary partnership between the NFL, Zebra Technologies, and Wilson Sporting Goods. The Next Gen Stats project, which began in 2017, now makes up a data pipeline that contains historical data available for every pass play since 2018.

Meanwhile, in a parallel project, AWS engineers shared that they are working on automating the identification of blockers and rushers so that eventually, the AI models could autonomously ID players’ roles on the field. Currently, this kind of information is gathered manually through charting is prone to label errors, and often takes hours to generate by humans.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
- Kris Holt
Samsung leaks its upcoming Fan Edition devices, including a phone, tablet and earbuds

Eagle-eyed visitors to Samsung's Argentinian website have spotted something a little unexpected — a product page for new Galaxy Buds FE earbuds, along with images of a Galaxy S23 FE smartphone and Galaxy Tab S9 FE tablet. That's because the company leaked its latest Fan Edition devices, as noted by SamMobile. One of the smartphone images includes the date October 4 on the device, which could be a nod toward the announcement or a release date.

The company hasn't let slip any specs for the phone and tablet as yet. However, the Galaxy S23 FE and Galaxy Tab S9 FE were reportedly mentioned by name on the page. This is about as close as Samsung can get to a formal announcement without a press release or an Unpacked.

The product page (which Samsung has taken down) did mention some details about the Galaxy Buds FE, Samsung's first Fan Edition earbuds. They're slated to have a single 12mm driver, three microphones in each earbud to bolster the active noise cancellation function and a three-way speaker.

Samsung's Fan Editiondevices have proven popular over the years. They tend to pack in solid features for a more reasonable price than the company's flagship models. It's safe to imagine that quite a few people will be looking forward to snapping up this year's FE devices.

While the leak appears to have been an error, we can't count out the possibility that Samsung deliberately showed off the latest FE devices before an official announcement. Major hardware companies are all jostling for your attention around this time of year. Just before Apple revealed the iPhone 15 lineup last week, Google dropped some teasers for its Pixel 8 and Pixel Watch 2 devices — Google's Pixel event isn't until October. So, Samsung may have been looking for headlines with a purposeful leak here (in which case, it evidently worked).

The more likely scenario is that it's another unintentional slip up for the company. It's probably not quite as bad or as damaging as this week's massive Xbox leak, but you'd think Samsung would know better by now in any case.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
- Valentina Palladino,Cherlynn Low
The best smartwatches for 2023

Just a few years ago, the case for buying a smartwatch was unclear. The market wasn't as saturated as it is today, and features were more limited. Today, the wearable world is filled with various high-quality options, and a few key players, like the Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy Watch and Fitbit Versa, have muscled their way to the front of the pack with their smart features. Chances are, if you’re reading this guide, you’ve probably already decided that it’s time to upgrade whatever gadget’s on your wrist - be it a standard timepiece or an aging smartwatch. Regardless of which category you fall into, the list of specs you’ll want to consider before deciding which is the best smartwatch for you to buy is a long one, and we'll help you make sense of it.

What to look for in a smartwatchGoogle WearOS interface on a smartwatch.Compatibility

Apple Watches only work with iPhones, while Wear OS devices play nice with both iOS and Android phones. Smartwatches made by Samsung, Garmin, Fitbit and others are also compatible with Android and iOS, but you’ll need to install a companion app on your smartphone.

The smartwatch OS will also dictate the type and number of third-party apps you’ll have access to. Many of these aren’t useful, though, making this factor a fairly minor one in the grand scheme of things.


The best smartwatches generally cost between $300 and $400. Compared to budget smartwatches, which cost between $100 and $250, these pricier devices have advanced operating systems, communications, music and fitness features. They also often include perks like onboard GPS tracking, music storage and NFC, which budget devices generally don’t.

Some companies make specialized fitness watches: Those can easily run north of $500, and we’d only recommend them to serious athletes. Luxury smartwatches from brands like TAG Heuer and Hublot can also reach sky-high prices, but we wouldn’t endorse any of them. These devices can cost more than $1,000, and you’re usually paying for little more than a brand name and some needlessly exotic selection of build materials.

Battery life

Battery life remains one of our biggest complaints about smartwatches, but there’s hope as of late. You can expect two full days from Apple Watches and most Wear OS devices. Watches using the Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor support extended battery modes that promise up to five days of battery life on a charge — if you’re willing to shut off most features aside from, you know, displaying the time. Snapdragon’s next-gen Wear 4100 and 4100+ processors were announced in 2020, but only a handful of devices – some of which aren’t even available yet – are using them so far. Other models can last five to seven days, but they usually have fewer features and lower-quality displays. Meanwhile, some fitness watches can last weeks on a single charge.


Any smartwatch worth considering delivers call, text and app notifications to your wrist. Call and text alerts are self explanatory, but if those mean a lot to you, consider a watch with LTE. They’re more expensive than their WiFi-only counterparts, but cellular connectivity allows the smartwatch to take and receive phone calls, and do the same with text messages, without your device nearby. As far as app alerts go, getting them delivered to your wrist will let you glance down to the watch face and see if you absolutely need to check your phone right now. 

Fitness tracking

Activity tracking is a big reason why people turn to smartwatches. An all-purpose timepiece should function as a fitness tracker, logging your steps, calories and workouts, and most of today’s wearables have a heart rate monitor as well.

Many smartwatches' fitness features include a built-in GPS, which is useful for tracking distance for runs and bike rides. Swimmers will want something water resistant, and thankfully most all-purpose devices now can withstand at least a dunk in the pool. Some smartwatches from companies like Garmin are more fitness focused than others and tend to offer more advanced features like heart-rate-variance tracking, recovery time estimation, onboard maps and more.

Health tracking on smartwatches has also seen advances over the years. Both Apple and Fitbit devices can estimate blood oxygen levels and measure ECGs. But the more affordable the smartwatch, the less likely it is that it has these kinds of advanced health tracking features; if collecting those kinds of wellness metrics is important to you, you’ll have to pay for the privilege.

Samsung Galaxy Watch ActiveEngadgetMusic

Your watch can not only track your morning runs but also play music while you’re exercising. Many smartwatches let you save your music locally, so you can connect wireless earbuds via Bluetooth and listen to tunes without bringing your phone. Those that don’t have onboard storage for music usually have on-watch music controls, so you can control playback without whipping out your phone. And if your watch has LTE, local saving isn’t required — you’ll be able to stream music directly from the watch to your paired earbuds.

Always-on displays

Most flagship smartwatches today have some an always-on display - some have it on by default while others let you enable it via tweaked settings. This smart feature allows you to glance down at your watch to check the time, health stats or any other information you’ve set it to show on its watchface without lifting your wrist. This will no doubt affect your device’s battery life, but thankfully most always-on modes dim the display’s brightness so it’s not running at its peak unnecessarily. Cheaper devices won’t have this feature; instead, their touchscreens will automatically turn off to conserve battery life and you’ll have to intentionally check your watch to turn on the display again.


Many smartwatches have NFC, letting you pay for things without your wallet using contactless payments. After saving your credit or debit card information, you can hold your smartwatch up to an NFC reader to pay for a cup of coffee on your way home from a run. Keep in mind that different watches use different payment systems: Apple Watches use Apple Pay, Wear OS devices use Google Pay, Samsung devices use Samsung Pay and so forth.

Apple Pay is one of the most popular NFC payment systems, with support for multiple banks and credit cards in 72 different countries, while Samsung and Google Pay work in fewer regions. It’s also important to note that both NFC payment support varies by device as well for both Samsung and Google’s systems.

Best overall: Apple Watch

With the Apple Watch Series 9, the company appears to be focusing on ways for you to interact with the device without having to touch the screen. It introduced a new Double Tap gesture that’s based on its Assistive Touch accessibility tool, allowing users to use a pinching action to navigate the system. If you’re unable to use your other hand to swipe, for example, you can Double Tap to bring up your Smart Stack or dismiss an alarm.

The feature won’t be available until later this year, and it’s not something you can do throughout the entire watchOS interface. But when it does work, it could make little tasks a lot easier. Dismissing timers while cooking or starting a workout tracker when you’re already in the middle of your run are just some ways Double Tap could be very helpful.

Apple also brought on-device Siri processing to the Series 9, thanks to its new S9 system-in-package (SiP) processor. This way, the assistant responds slightly more quickly, but, more importantly, it can answer you even when you’re offline. It might not be able to pull web results when you’re disconnected, but it can at least control your music and timers. Later this year, Siri Health Requests will arrive, allowing you to ask it for your sleep, move and workout data, too.

Throw in a new Find My iPhone interface thanks to a second-generation ultra wideband (UWB) chip, brighter screen (that also gets dimmer at night), as well as a refreshed interface via watchOS 10, and the Series 9 feels like a meaty upgrade from its predecessor. The increased focus on Siri and touch-free interaction methods is also another advantage that the Apple Watch has over its competitors, and the company remains the king of the smartwatch category. Though it still lags its rivals on sleep-tracking, the Series 9 is the best smartwatch out there, especially for iPhone users.

Read our full review of the Apple Watch Series 9

Best budget smartwatch: Fitbit Versa 2

Dropping $400 on a smartwatch isn’t feasible for everyone, which is why we recommend the Fitbit Versa 2 as the best sub-$200 option. Even though Fitbit has come out with the Versa 3 and 4, the Versa 2 remains our favorite budget watch because it offers a bunch of features at a great price. You get all of these essentials: Fitbit’s solid exercise-tracking abilities (including auto-workout detection), sleep tracking, water resistance, connected GPS, blood oxygen (SpO2) tracking and a six-day battery life. It also supports Fitbit Pay using NFC and it has built-in Amazon Alexa as a voice assistant.. While the Versa 2 typically costs $150, we’ve seen it for as low as $100.

Best Android smartwatch: Samsung Galaxy Watch 6

The best smartwatch for Android users has long been one of Samsung’s Galaxy watches. Though Google may have given the company some competition with the debut of the Pixel Watch last year, it still trails behind on battery life and built-in features. And with the Galaxy Watch 6 series this year, Samsung continues to reign as smartwatch king for non-Apple users.

One of the company’s biggest advantages is its hallmark spinning bezel, which went away last year, only to be brought back in 2023’s Galaxy Watch 6 Classic. This model not only resurrects the fidget-spinner-esque ring, but also manages to be smaller and lighter than before. The bezel is slightly thinner, while still offering a smooth, tactile way to navigate Wear OS 4 without tapping at the screen. It’s not a huge change from the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, so if you’re wondering about upgrading based on size alone, don’t expect much of a difference. You’ll appreciate that the displays are brighter, though, and therefore easier to read in direct sunlight.

What makes the Galaxy Watch 6 more compelling than previous models are its updated health and fitness tracking tools. The onboard skin temperature sensor now works overnight to help keep track of ovulation and menstrual cycles, while new sleep-coaching tools offer greater insight on how to get better rest. The company also added an irregular heart rhythm monitoring feature and will alert you if it detects anomalies in your cardio patterns. Runners will also appreciate the new personalized heart rate zones, which will help keep you precisely in the cardio ranges that are right for you, rather than those generated based on population data.

As usual, the Galaxy Watch 6 series also brings processor upgrades and some battery life improvements, alongside more apps optimized for your wrist. All told, the set of software updates coming to this year’s model, including support for Samsung Wallet (instead of just Pay), make the Galaxy Watch 6 more useful than before. Just know that if you have a slightly older model, most of these will likely trickle down to your device soon. If you’re considering trading in for a newer model, it’s worth paying attention to the actual hardware differences. For Android users thinking of getting their first smartwatch, though, the Galaxy Watch 6 or Watch 6 Classic are the best all-rounded option available.

Read our full review of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6

Stylish smartwatches: Fossil and moreMichael Kors Access Gen 5e MKGO at CES 2021Fossil

Yes, there are still companies out there trying to make “fashionable” smartwatches. Back when wearables were novel and generally ugly, brands like Fossil, Michael Kors and Skagen found their niche in stylish smartwatches that took cues from analog timepieces. You also have the option to pick up a “hybrid” smartwatch from companies like Withings and Garmin – these devices look like classic wrist watches but incorporate some limited functionality like activity tracking and heart rate monitoring. They remain good options if you prefer that look, but thankfully, wearables made by Apple, Samsung, Fitbit and others have gotten much more attractive over the past few years.

Ultimately, the only thing you can’t change after you buy a smartwatch is its case design. If you’re not into the Apple Watch’s squared-off corners, all of Samsung’s smartwatches have round cases that look a little more like a traditional watch. Most wearables are offered in a choice of colors and you can pay extra for premium materials like stainless steel. Once you decide on a case, your band options are endless – there are dozens of first- and third-party watch straps available for most major smartwatches, and for both larger and smaller wrists, allowing you to change up your look whenever you please.

Other smartwatches we've testedApple Watch Ultra 2

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 is probably overkill for most people, but it has a ton of extra features like extra waterproofing to track diving, an even more accurate GPS and the biggest battery of any Apple Watch to date. Apple designed it for the most rugged among us, but for your average person, it likely has more features than they'd ever need.

Apple Watch SE

The Apple Watch SE is less feature-rich than the flagship model, but it will probably suffice for most people. We actually regard the Watch SE as the best smartwatch option for first-time buyers, or people on stricter budgets. You’ll get all the core Apple Watch features as well as things like fall and crash detection, noise monitoring and Emergency SOS, but you’ll have to do without more advanced hardware perks like an always-on display, a blood oxygen sensor, an ECG monitor and a skin temperature sensor.

Google Pixel Watch

The Google Pixel Watch debuted in 2022 after many years of rumors, and it served as the first marriage of Google’s WearOS and Fitbit’s expertise in the health-monitoring space (Google purchased Fitbit back in 2021). While it’s a capable smartwatch, its short battery life and strange Fitbit inclusions hold it back from being a true competitor for the Apple Watch and Samsung’s Galaxy Watches.

Garmin Forerunner 745

The Garmin Forerunner 745 is an excellent GPS running watch for serious athletes or those who prize battery life above all else. When we tested it, we found it to provide accurate distance tracking, a killer 16-hour battery life with GPS turned on (up to seven days without it) and support for onboard music storage and Garmin Pay.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
- Will Shanklin
Amazon Prime members can get a Blink camera bundle for half off

Amazon has a half-off deal for Prime members on a Blink outdoor / indoor security camera bundle. The sale gives you a pair of Blink Outdoor 4 cameras, which launched last month, and a Blink Mini for only $117.49. Whether these are your first security cameras or you’re adding to an existing setup, this is a chance to save 50 percent off their usual cost.

The Blink Outdoor 4 is a wireless device that, despite its name, can work as an inside or outside camera. It supports person detection, which uses computer vision to alert you when it spots a human in its field of view (if you also subscribe to an optional Blink subscription). The camera offers 1080p HD video, infrared night vision, two-way audio and enhanced dual-zone motion detection. Its bundled AA batteries can last up to an estimated two years. Also included is the Blink Sync Module 2, required for offline storage (if you bring your own USB drive).

Meanwhile, the Blink Mini is the company’s classic entry-level indoor camera. The wired device also records and streams in 1080p. It includes motion detection, two-way audio and night vision. It also requires a Blink subscription to save clips in the cloud, but, like the Outdoor 4, the Blink Mini also supports offline storage if you connect a USB drive to the Sync Module 2.

Remember that the deal is only available for Amazon Prime members. And it only lasts until midnight Pacific time.

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter and subscribe to the Engadget Deals newsletter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
- Amy Skorheim
The best October Amazon Prime Day early access deals for 2023

No, the sale hasn't started yet. Amazon's second Prime-related event for 2023 is officially called Prime Big Deal Days and will happen October 10 and 11. This is the second year for a fall-based, site-wide Amazon sale and we're already seeing discounts pop up. You'll need a Prime membership to access many of the deals, though a few are available to everyone. This week, notable sales include first-ever discounts on the second-gen AirPods Pro with USB-C charging and iPhone 15 cases with Apple's leather-replacing FineWoven material. Amazon's own Kindle Scribe writable ereader is seeing discounts of up to $90, and a bundle of Blink's new outdoor cameras are half price. We also included a Solo Stove deal from elsewhere on the web that's worth considering. Here are the best early access October Prime Day deals you can get right now. 

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd gen, USB-C)

Last Tuesday, Apple revealed new iPhone 15 models, and one of the most notable changes was the switch to a USB-C port. The company also announced the latest (second generation) AirPods Pro would now come with the same connectivity. Just a week later, you can get those buds on Amazon for $200, which is $49 below list price and the same sale price we've been seeing for the AirPods Pro with Lightning. The earbuds themselves haven't changed much, save for a little more waterproofing. They should offer the same excellent transparancy mode and substantially improved audio quality over the first-gen Pros. 

Blink Outdoor 4 security camera bundle

Amazon just announced the latest generation of its wireless outdoor security camera, the Blink Outdoor 4. If you're a Prime member, you can get a two-pack of the new cameras, plus an indoor Blink mini camera and a Sync Module 2 for 50 percent off. Bought separately, the set would run you $235 at full price, but the early Prime deal brings it down to $117.50. The latest-gen cameras have better image quality and low-light sensitivity and the field of view has increased to 143 degrees. A new custom processor on board helps boost the image quality and can differentiate people from other moving things (though enabling that feature requires a subscription). Along with the two cameras and mounting kits, you also get one indoor Mini camera and a Sync Module 2, which acts as a hub that enables app control and local storage of video clips. The AA batteries required for outdoor cams are also included, which should last for two years before you need to replace them. 

Kasa Smart Bulbs

Smart lightbulbs like these not only adjust to whatever color you want, you can also control them with the app or just your voice (and a compatible smart speaker). Kasa's KL125 bulbs made the cut as the budget pick in our guide to smart bulbs because they are easy to install, easy to use and pack a ton of features. Right now they're down to $28, which is a 30 percent discount and close to the lowest price we've tracked. 

Apple iPhone 15 Fine Woven cases

In addition to announcing the iPhone 15 at last week's event, the folks at Apple also spent a lot of time talking up the company's environmental initiatives. One change eliminates all leather from the products Apple sells and a new material, called FineWoven, will take its place on accessories like iPhone cases. Right now, Amazon is discounting the new iPhone 15 FineWoven cases by five percent. It's not a huge discount, but if you've just dropped a grand on the new iPhone 15 Pro, even little savings might help. 

Amazon Kindle Scribe

Prime members can save between $75 and $90 on a Kindle Scribe at Amazon right now. The configuration with 64GB of storage and the Premium Pen is $330 or $90 off, while the 16GB base model with the Basic Pen is $265 or $75 off. The deals are pretty close to the ones we saw during Prime Day this July, coming in about $10 more. The Kindle Scribe earned an 85 in our review and is our current pick for the best ereader E Ink tablet. We appreciate the low-latency writing, large and roomy screen, and the integration with Amazon's Kindle services. You can also click the button to get Kindle Unlimited with your Scribe for free for three months, just remember that the subscription will auto-renew at the end of the trial. 

Apple Watch Ultra

The second generation of the Apple Watch Ultra is available to buy as of today — but the new version isn't on sale. First generation Apple Watch Ultras, however, has been discounted by $100 on Amazon bringing them to $699 instead of $799. The discount only applies to the watch with the orange Alpine Loop in small. The medium and large bands are about a dollar more, and watches with different colored bands aren't discounted. We gave the first AW Ultra an 85 in our review, praising its long battery life, bright display and useful fitness and health features. Of course it doesn't have the new features of the new Apple Watches, including the tap navigation and the S9 SiP (system-in-package) processor for on-board Siri requests. But if all you need is a rugged watch with lots of hiking, running and other activity features, now's your chance to save. 

OnePlus 11 5G

The OnePlus 11 5G Android smartphone is currently $100 off at Amazon. It's dropped to this price a few times before, and matches its all-time low. This is the latest flagship phone from OnePlus, which earned an 83 in our review. It packs a powerful processor, a vivid screen and has a long-lasting battery that also happens to charge blazingly fast. 

Amazon Fire Omni QLED TVs

All sizes of Amazon’s Fire TV Omni QLED Series are on sale ahead of October's sale. The 43-, 50-, 55- and 65-inch models are down to $380, $400, $440 and $600, respectively. Those match or beat the prices we saw for July's Prime Day. The Fire TV Omni QLED sets are best for people who like Amazon’s Fire interface, which we found easy enough to figure out, though the OS does tend to push you towards Amazon's own content. Beyond that Fire TVs do a good job of integrating Alexa's helpfulness with a useful voice remote, and hands-free smart home support. And if you don't feel like having Alexa listening in, you can turn off the mics with a built-in switch.

Samsung Galaxy S23 phones

All models of Samsung's flagship S23 smartphones are on sale right now, including our pick for the best Android smartphone you can buy, the Galaxy S23 Ultra. The 256GB base model is down to $999 after a 17 percent, or $200, discount. The phone has been hitting that low regularly over the past few months, so if you've been thinking about getting one, it's probably best to make your move when its at this price. The other two phones in the S23 lineup are also on sale, with the base model of the standard Galaxy S23 going for $700 and the S23+ going for $800, both of which are $100 discounts. 

Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Pro tablet

Updated versions of Amazon's kids-focused tablets are on their way, though they won't arrive until after October's Prime sale. The new versions will have 25 percent faster processors, but if you don't think your kid will care about having the latest model, you can save $60 on the current gen Fire HD 10 Kids Pro tablets. This is our current pick for the best tablet for kids as it comes with a "kid-proof" case and a two-year warranty — just in case your kid proves exactly how optimistic that terminology is.  

It also comes with a free year of Amazon Kids+, which will incorporate a new "Explore with Alexa" feature that takes advantage of the upcoming improvements to Alexa's conversational abilities, with a kid-friendly bent. 

Solo Stove sitewide coupon

Solo Stove is offering sitewide coupons for up to $100 off its popular outdoor pizza ovens and fire pits. Enter SAVE20 at checkout to get $20 off purchases over $125, SAVE40 to get $40 off anything over $350 and SAVE100 to lower the price by $100 if your purchase is over $550. The codes should work with all fire pits bundles, pizza ovens or other products, and they even stack atop other discounts. The deal applies to the Pi Pizza oven, which we recommend in our guide, as well as the Bonfire 2.0 fire pit, which is one of our favorite bits of outdoor gear for fall. 

Motorola razr+

Motorola just released its new razr+ foldable flip phone a few months ago, but it's already seeing a $100 discount at Amazon. We gave it an 85 in our Engadget review noting that it was giving Samsung a little competition in the flip foldable category. It's also the runner up flip option in our guide to foldable smartphones in part because its exterior display is actually a little easier to use than Samsung's version. Just keep in mind that the water resistance isn't as substantial. 

Your Fall Prime Day Shopping Guide: See all of our Prime Day coverage. Shop the best Prime Day deals on Yahoo Life. Follow Engadget for Prime Day tech deals. Learn about Prime Day trends on In The Know. Hear from Autoblog’s car experts on must-shop auto-related Prime Day deals and find Prime Day sales to shop on AOL, handpicked just for you.

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- Devindra Hardawar
The best budget gaming laptops for 2023

Not everyone needs an NVIDIA RTX 4080, or a blazing fast 500Hz screen. These days, you can find plenty of affordable gaming notebooks that can easily hit decent frame rates in modern games. Cheaper machines are ideal for high school or college students who don't need the absolute best performance, but still want a solid gaming experience. And they're also great options for younger gamers, who, in our view, may not be ready for the responsibility of a premium, $2,000 notebook.

What is a budget gaming laptop?

To get a high-end gaming experience, you can easily spend $5,000 on a fully tricked-out notebook like the Razer Blade 18. But when it comes to the best budget gaming laptops, we're focusing on the other end of the pricing spectrum: laptops under $1,000. It used to be tough to find a decent gaming option at that price point but, as PC prices have fallen, they no longer seem like unicorns.

Stepping up a bit to systems between $1,000 and $2,000 puts you firmly in mid-range territory, which is beyond the scope of this guide. Still, it's worth keeping an eye out for sales that can push those PCs below $1,000. Be sure to check out our guide to the best gaming laptops for a general overview of what to look out for in these more expensive systems.

Are budget gaming laptops worth it?

Cheap gaming laptops are definitely worth it if you’re trying to save money and are being realistic about what you can get at this price range. You can expect to find Intel and AMD's latest (but not greatest) CPUs, as well as entry-level GPUs like NVIDIA's RTX 3050. Budget models are also typically paired with 1080p screens running at 120Hz or beyond. There are some exceptions though: Dell's G16 (currently discounted to $900) is notable for its 16-inch quad HD+ screen.

Many cheap gaming laptops also skimp on specs like RAM and storage. We'd recommend getting at least 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. Modern games need a decent chunk of memory to run, and they also tend to be large, so you wouldn't be able to fit much alongside Windows 11 on a 256B SSD. You might be tempted to jump on one of those dirt-cheap gaming laptop deals from Walmart or Best Buy, but it's just not worth it if you're stuck with 8GB of RAM or a tiny SSD.

As for build quality, expect to find more plastic than metal on budget systems. Still, the best cheap gaming laptops we're recommending should be sturdy enough to last a few years. Affordable systems will also be heavier and thicker than mid-range and premium models, and they typically don't have great battery life. These are worthwhile trade offs if you're looking to save money, though, and even the priciest gaming laptops struggle with battery life.

Best overall: Dell G15

Dell was one of the first PC makers to combine a decent amount of gaming power in a sub-$1,000 system. The latest G15 builds on that experience. It starts at $800 with Intel's 13th-gen i5-13450HX, an RTX 3050 GPU and 8GB of RAM. We'd recommend bumping up to the $1,000 model with 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and a 165Hz 1080p screen with NVIDIA's G-SYNC technology.

While it's no Alienware, the G15 carries over some of that premium brand's design cues with a sharp, angular case and LED-backlit keys. There's a distinct lack of gamer bling, which for some may also be a plus. If you're looking for something larger, consider the 16-inch screen version mentioned above (which, funny enough, is also slightly lighter than the G15).

Runner-up: Acer Nitro 5

The Acer Nitro 5 is another great option, though we've yet to see it get Intel's 13th-gen chips. Still, the 12th-gen model is no slouch: It's equipped with 16GB of RAM, NVIDIA's RTX 3050 and 512GB of storage. (At the time of writing, it's also on sale for $800 at Best Buy, though it typically sells for $1,000.)

Just like Dell, Acer has plenty of experience building gaming laptops, so this will likely survive years of extreme play. The Nitro 5's multi-colored backlit keyboard and rear red accents also give off a stronger gamer vibe than the G15. Side note: Acer's Nitro 16 may also be worth considering if it dips below $1,000, since it features newer CPUs and GPUs.

A more understated option: HP Victus 15

The HP Victus 15 is the ideal gaming laptop for someone who doesn't want to be seen with a gaming laptop. Its all-black design is wonderfully understated, and its edge-to-edge screen is impressive for such an affordable system. It also has enough power to handle today's games, including an AMD Ryzen 7 CPU, NVIDIA's RTX 3050 Ti graphics, 16GB of RAM and a 144Hz 1080p display. And best of all, it's almost always on sale somewhere. In fact, at the time of writing, it's $828 on Amazon.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
- Kris Holt
Tales of the Shire is a cozy Lord of the Rings game from Weta Workshop

Samwise Gamgee may be pleased to learn that we're going back to the Shire. Another Lord of the Rings game has been announced, but it's one that should be vastly different from the likes of Lord of the Rings: Gollum. Tales of the Shire is described as a "cozy" game that's coming to PC and consoles in 2024.

Details about the upcoming title are thin on the ground, but a lovely little live-action trailer hints at the tone. It shows an illustrator drawing images of a hobbit and a Hobbit-hole (the semi-underground domicile of such a being). The artist moves away and the pages of the sketchbook blow over to show other hobbit residences and signs for various locations around the Shire.

Here's hoping it's a chill Lord of the Rings-style farming sim in the vein of Stardew Valley. I have my fingers crossed that there will be multiple options for cooking potatoes. Namely boiling, mashing and sticking 'em in a stew. Maybe even turning them into big golden fries with a nice piece of fried fish.

There are some notable names involved in the project: Private Division and Weta Workshop. It was revealed last year that the two sides were working on an LOTR game.

Private Division is one of Take-Two Interactive's publishing arms. In recent years, it has released games such as The Outer Worlds,OlliOlli World and the fantastic Rollerdrome. As for Weta Workshop, that's the company that handled special effects for all six of Peter Jackson's Middle-earth films, as well as movies such as Avatar: The Way of Water. (Weta FX, a separate company, worked on the digital effects for those projects.)

This is far from the only Lord of the Rings game in the pipeline. For one thing, Amazon is making a Lord of the Rings MMO with the team behind New World. Meanwhile, survival crafting title The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria is slated to arrive on October 24.

Last year, Embracer Group secured the rights to make games and other projects based on The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit. Fast forward a year, and the company is in a difficult financial position, leading it to carry out layoffs and close studios. So it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that Embracer believes it needs to be "exploiting Lord of the Rings in a very significant fashion and turning that into one of the biggest gaming franchises in the world."

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
- Sarah Fielding
Ayaneo Slide, the Sidekick of gaming handhelds, is coming soon

The Ayaneo Slide is one step closer to becoming a real, in-your-hands device, with the launch of its Indiegogo holding page. The company first announced the Ayaneo Slide back in January and initially set a release date for the second quarter of 2023.

The Slide's shape is reminiscent of an early 2000s favorite, the Sidekick, giving it a real boost for nostalgia seekers. It has a six-inch 1080p floating screen with an adjustable angle for viewing preference. Ayaneo claims the keyboard has an ergonomic design and can display a range of light effects.

Its system is based on the Ryzen 7000 mobile APUs, utilizes a 46.2Wh battery and has a Hall sensing joystick and trigger — plus a master controller. The Slide also has the company's updated frontend, AyaSpace 2, which upgraded the interface, quick settings window and gameplay customization. Hyper Sound stereo dual speakers and a customized heat dissipation system round out its primary features, but a promotional video details the Slide's many functions.

An actual release date and cost for the Ayaneo Slide are still up in the air, with a call out on Indiegogo stating, "Sign up to get early-bird price on launch day!" Of course, a disclaimer adds that you'll also get updates and news from Ayaneo in the meantime. Once out in the world, the Ayaneo Slide will face some serious competition between rivals like the GPD Win 4 and Valve's ever-popular Steam Deck

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
- Katie Malone
The best password managers for 2023

You might’ve seen password managers in the news recently because of the breach affecting LastPass customers. We need to trust that all of our logins, banking credentials and other sensitive information has been neatly locked away, only accessible by us when we need it. Yes, most tech is fallible, but the benefits of unique, strong passwords across your online presence outweigh the risks. Password managers remain an excellent way to securely store all of the credentials you need on a regular basis. We tested out nine of the best password managers available now to help you choose the right one for your needs.

How do password managers work?

Think of password managers like virtual safe deposit boxes. They hold your valuables, in this case usually online credentials, in a section of the vault only accessible to you by security key or a master password. Most of these services have autofill features that make it convenient to log in to any site without needing to remember every password you have, and they keep your credit card information close for impulse purchases.

But given that passwords are one of the top ways to keep your online identity secure, the real value of password managers is staying safe online. “It's just not possible without a password manager to have unique, long and hard-to-guess passwords,” Florian Schaub, an associate professor of information and of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Michigan, said.

Common guidance states that secure passwords should be unique, with the longest number of characters allowed and uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. This is the exact opposite of using one password everywhere, with minor variations depending on a site’s requirements. Think of how many online accounts and sites you have credentials for — it’s an impossible task to remember it all without somewhere to store passwords safely (no, a sticky note on your desk won’t cut it). Password managers are more readily accessible and offer the benefit of filling in those long passwords for you.

Are password managers safe?

It seems counterintuitive to store all your sensitive information in one place. One hack could mean you lose it all to an attacker and struggle for months or even years to rebuild your online presence, not to mention you may have to cancel credit cards and other accounts. But most experts in the field agree that password managers are a generally secure and safe way to keep track of your personal data, and the benefits of strong, complex passwords outweigh the possible risks.

The mechanics of keeping those passwords safe differs slightly from provider to provider. Generally, you have a lengthy, complex “master password” that safeguards the rest of your information. In some cases, you might also get a “security key” to enter when you log in to new devices. This is a random string of letters, numbers and symbols that the company will send you at sign up. Only you know this key, and because it’s stored locally on your device or printed out on paper, it’s harder for hackers to find.

These multiple layers of security make it difficult for an attacker to get into your vault even if your password manager provider experiences a breach. But the company should also follow a few security basics. A “zero-knowledge” policy means that the company keeps none of your data on file, so in the event of an attack, there’s nothing for hackers to find. Regular health reports like pentests and security audits are essential for keeping companies up to par on best practices, and other efforts like bug bounty programs or hosting on an open source website encourage constant vigilance for security flaws. Most password managers now also offer some level of encryption falling under the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). AES 256-bit is the strongest, because there are the most number of possible combinations, but AES 128-bit or 192-bit are still good.

Who are password managers for?

Given their universal benefit, pretty much everyone could use a password manager. They’re not just for the tech-savvy people or businesses anymore because so much sensitive information ends up online behind passwords, from our bank accounts to our Netflix watch history.

That’s the other perk of password managers: safe password sharing. Families, friends or roommates can use them to safely access joint accounts. Texting a password to someone isn’t secure, and you can help your family break the habit by starting to use one yourself, Lisa Plaggemier, executive director at National Cyber Security Alliance, said. Streaming is the obvious use case, but consider the shared bills, file storage and other sites you share access with the people around you as well.

Are password managers worth it?

You likely already use a password manager, even if you wouldn’t think to call it that. Most phones and web browsers include a log of saved credentials on the device, like the “passwords” keychain in the settings of an iPhone. That means you’ve probably seen the benefits of not having to memorize a large number of passwords or even type them out already.

While that’s a great way in, the downfall of these built-in options are that they tend to be device specific. If you rely on an Apple password manager, for example, that works if you’re totally in the Apple ecosystem — but you become limited once you get an Android tablet, Lujo Bauer, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and of computer science, at Carnegie Mellon University, said. If you use different devices for work and personal use and want a secure option for sharing passwords with others, or just don’t want to be tied to one brand forever, a third-party password manager is usually worth it.

How we tested

We tested password managers by downloading the apps for each of the nine contenders on iPhone, Android, Safari, Chrome and Firefox. That helped us better understand what platforms each manager was available on, and see how support differs across operating systems and browsers.

As we got set up with each, we took note of ease of use and how they iterated on the basic features of autofill and password generators. Nearly all password managers have these features, but some place limits on how much you can store while others give more control over creating easy-to-type yet complex passwords. From there, we looked at extra features like data-breach monitoring to understand which managers offered the most for your money.

Finally, we reviewed publicly available information about security specs for each. This includes LastPass, which more experts are shying away from recommending after the recent breach. For the sake of this review, we’ve decided not to recommend LastPass at this time as fallout from the breach still comes to light (The company disclosed a second incident earlier this year where an unauthorized attack accessed the company’s cloud storage, including sensitive data).

Password managers we tested








Norton password manager


Best password manager: 1Password

Many security experts trust 1Password with their private information and, after testing it out, it’s clear why. The service includes industry standard encryption, a “secret key” that only you know on top of your master password, a zero-knowledge policy that means it keeps no data, and other security features like frequent audits and a bug bounty program.

Plus, 1Password has a pretty intuitive user interface across its apps. A tutorial at download helps you import passwords from other managers onto 1Password so that you don’t feel like you’re starting over from scratch. It also clearly rates the strength of each password and has an “open and fill” option in the vault so that you can get into your desired site even more quickly. We also liked the user-friendly option to scan a set up code to easily connect your account to your mobile devices without too much tedious typing.

At $3 per month, the individual subscription comes with unlimited passwords, items and one gigabyte of document storage for your vault. It also lets you share passwords, credit card information and other saved credentials. If you upgrade to the family plan for $5 each month, you’ll get to invite up to five people (plus more for $1 each per month) to be a part of the vault.

Number of tiers: 4

Pricing: $3/month for Individual, $5/month for Families, $20/month for Teams Starter Pack, $8/month per user for Business

Compatibility: macOS, iOS, Windows, Android, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Brave, Edge, Command Line

Best free password manager: Bitwarden

Bitwarden’s free plan includes unlimited passwords on an unlimited number of devices, which is more than we’ve seen from some of its competitors. There are drawbacks like you can only share vault items with one other user, but we think that’s a fair tradeoff.

Bitwarden is based on open-source code, meaning anyone on GitHub can audit it, which is a good measure of security. On a personal level, it includes security audits of your information, like a data breach report, that can keep you in the know about when your passwords have been leaked and when it's time to change them. Plus, it’s widely available across the platforms we tested, including Windows and iOS, with a level of customization, options to access your password vault and more.

Bitwarden may be the best free password manager, but it does have a paid version and we do think it’s worth it. At $10 annually for individuals or $40 for families, you unlock encrypted file storage, emergency access, unlimited sharing and more additional features. But the free version comes with the basics that can get anyone set up on password management easily.

Number of tiers: 3

Pricing: Free, $3/month per user for Teams Organization, $5/month per user for Enterprise Organization

Compatibility: macOS, iOS, Windows, Android, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Brave, Edge, Vivaldi, Opera, Tor, DuckDuckGo for Mac, Command Line

Best password manager for cross-platform availability: NordPass

Across password managers we tested, cross-platform availability was relatively similar. Most are widely available across web browsers and different operating systems, including our other top picks on this list. But we wanted to give a nod to NordPass here because of how easy the service makes it to access your vault from any platform while keeping your data safe.

NordPass has a free option with unlimited passwords and syncs across devices. A $2-per-month premium plan keeps you logged in when switching devices, comes with security notifications and allows for item sharing. A family subscription comes with six premium accounts and only costs $4 per month. This makes it a pretty good budget option as well. Besides the pairing code to connect accounts, NordPass is a pretty standard password manager. Scanning a code gets me from my laptop to mobile device to work computer super easily. If you’re constantly switching devices and those extra few seconds save your sanity, it’s worth considering.

Number of tiers: 3

Pricing: Free, $2/per month for Premium, $4/month for Family

Compatibility: macOS, iOS, Windows, Android, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Edge

Best password manager for shared access: Dashlane

Dashlane has four subscription options: A free user gets access to a single device with unlimited passwords; an advanced user pays $3 per month to get upgraded to unlimited devices and dark web monitoring; for $5 per month, a premium user also gets VPN access and an $7.49-per-month family plan includes access for up to 10 subscribers.

It met all the criteria we looked for, but with a clear emphasis on sharing credentials. Dashlane highlights “secure sharing” starting at its free level, which is a functionality that some competitors keep behind a paywall. Access for up to 10 members in a family plan is one of the bigger plans we’ve seen as well. While we were testing it, password sharing seemed front of mind with a tab dedicated to it in Dashlane’s browser extension. Arguably the biggest caveat here, though, is lack of Linux support.

Number of tiers: 4

Pricing: Free, $3/month for Advanced, $5/month for Premium, $7/month for Friends and Family

Compatibility: macOS, iOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Brave, Edge, Opera

FAQsWhy use a password manager?

Using a password manager can enhance your online security. They store all of your complex passwords and autofill them as needed, so that you can have unique, strong passwords across the web without remembering each of them yourself. In many cases, unique passwords are your first defense against attack, and a reliable manager makes it easier to keep track of them all.

How secure are password managers?

Password managers are a secure way to store your credentials. Experts in the field generally agree that the benefits of accessibility when storing complex passwords outweigh the possibility of attack, like what happened with LastPass. But with any service, it can vary from provider to provider. You should look out for zero-knowledge policies, regular security audits, pentests, bug bounty programs and encryption when choosing the right secure password manager for you.

What if I forget my master password?

Forgetting a master password won’t necessarily lock you out for good, but the recovery process varies from provider to provider. Some services give you a “security key” at sign up to enter when you log into new devices. It can also be used to securely recover your account because it’s a random string of keys stored locally that only you have access to. Other services, however, have no way to recover your vault. So creating a master password that you won’t forget is important.

How can I make a good master password?

A good master password should be unique, with the longest number of characters allowed and uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. Experts often recommended thinking of it like a “passphrase” instead of a “password” to make it easier to remember. For example, you can take a sentence like “My name is Bob Smith” and change it to “Myn@m3isB0b5m!th” to turn it into a secure master password that you won’t forget.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
- Kris Holt
Solo Stove's sitewide coupons give you up to an extra $100 off

Solo Stove makes some of the best pizza ovens and other outdoor gear around, and thanks to some sitewide coupons, you can pick up the company's products for less than usual. Use SAVE20 to get $20 off purchases over $125, SAVE40 to get $40 off anything over $350 and SAVE100 to lower the price by $100 if you're buying something over $550. The codes should work with any fit pits, bundles, pizza ovens or other products on the Solo Stove storefront.

Best of all, the coupons stack on top of other discounts. Case in point: the Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 has dropped by $150 down to $250, and you can save an extra $20 by using the SAVE20 discount code.

The Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 is a smokeless fire pit you can use to help you stay warm, toast marshmallows and enjoy the outdoors more. Now that we're officially into fall, it's the kind of product that could help you make the most of the cooler evenings. In fact, the Bonfire 2.0 is among our favorite outdoor tech items for the fall. It's Solo Stove's medium-sized fire pit and the removable base plate and ash pan make it much easier to clean than the previous model.

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter and subscribe to the Engadget Deals newsletter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
- Stephen Clark
NASA spacecraft returns to Earth with pieces of an asteroid
Dante Lauretta (right), OSIRIS-REx principal investigator, approaches the sample return capsule Sunday at the Utah Test and Training Range.

Enlarge / Dante Lauretta (right), OSIRIS-REx principal investigator, approaches the sample return capsule Sunday at the Utah Test and Training Range. (credit: NASA/Keegan Barber)

A small capsule carrying pristine specimens from an asteroid parachuted to landing in the Utah desert Sunday, capping a seven-year voyage through the Solar System to bring home samples for eager scientists seeking clues about the origins of life.

NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission brought back the largest unspoiled sample of material ever returned to Earth from beyond the Moon, probably on the order of about 250 grams, or roughly 8 ounces, according to estimates. The spacecraft collected the samples from asteroid Bennu, a loosely-bound rocky world about the size of a small mountain, during a touch-and-go landing in October 2020.

It's the third asteroid sampling mission in history, and the first for the United States, following two Japanese spacecraft that returned a smaller quantity of asteroid specimens to Earth in 2010 and 2020.

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Inside the race to stop a deadly viral outbreak in India
Road blockade due to Nipah affected areas at Chathamangalam panjayat on September 8, 2021, in Kozhikode, India.

Enlarge / Road blockade due to Nipah affected areas at Chathamangalam panjayat on September 8, 2021, in Kozhikode, India. (credit: DeFodi Images News / Getty)

On the morning of September 11, critical care specialist Anoop Kumar was presented with an unusual situation. Four members of the same family had been admitted to his hospital—Aster MIMS in Kozhikode, Kerala—the previous day, all similarly sick. Would he take a look?

He gathered his team of doctors to investigate. Soon they were at the bedsides of a 9-year-old boy, his 4-year-old sister, their 24-year-old uncle, and a 10-month-old cousin. All had arrived at the hospital with fever, cough, and flu-like symptoms. The 9-year-old was in respiratory distress, struggling to breathe properly, and had needed to be put on a noninvasive ventilator, with air pumped through a mask to keep his lungs expanded.

Their symptoms were concerning and mysterious—none of the team could pinpoint what was wrong. But delving into their family history, Anoop and his colleagues soon uncovered a clue. The father of the two young siblings, 49-year-old Mohammed Ali, an agriculturalist, had died less than two weeks previously. And when the team at Aster MIMS got in touch with the hospital that had treated Ali, they found that he had been admitted with similar symptoms, pneumonia and fever.

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The history of syphilis is being rewritten by a medieval skeleton
Illustration of bone


In the last days of the 1400s, a terrible epidemic swept through Europe. Men and women spiked sudden fevers. Their joints ached, and they broke out in rashes that ripened into bursting boils. Ulcers ate away at their faces, collapsing their noses and jaws, working down their throats and airways, making it impossible to eat or drink. Survivors were grossly disfigured. Unluckier victims died.

The infection sped across the borders of a politically fractured landscape, from France into Italy, on to Switzerland and Germany, and north to the British Isles, Scandinavia, and Russia. The Holy Roman Emperor declared it a punishment from God. “Nothing could be more serious than this curse, this barbarian poison,” an Italian historian wrote in 1495.

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- Stephen Clark
NASA’s asteroid sampling mission is on course for landing this weekend
Scientists created this mosaic of asteroid Bennu using imagery collected by NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. The asteroid spans about 1,600 feet (500 meters) across.

Enlarge / Scientists created this mosaic of asteroid Bennu using imagery collected by NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. The asteroid spans about 1,600 feet (500 meters) across.

A NASA spacecraft will complete a round-trip journey to an asteroid this weekend, returning to Earth after a seven-year voyage to bring back unspoiled rock specimens from an alien world that could yield insights into the formation of life.

The landing Sunday at 8:55 am local time in Utah (10:55 am EDT or 14:55 UTC) will wrap up a round-trip journey of 4.4 billion miles (7.1 billion kilometers) for NASA's robotic OSIRIS-REx mission. The return will set into motion another sequence of tightly choreographed events to secure the asteroid sample capsule, fly it halfway across the country to a NASA facility at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, then open it up to reveal the bounty inside.

"The spacecraft trajectory and performance have just been spot on," said Sandra Freund, OSIRIS-REx's program manager at Lockheed Martin, the company that built and operates the spacecraft on behalf of NASA. "We have just a few remaining steps before we have Bennu samples on the ground."

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- Dan Goodin
3 iOS 0-days, a cellular network compromise, and HTTP used to infect an iPhone
3 iOS 0-days, a cellular network compromise, and HTTP used to infect an iPhone

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

Apple has patched a potent chain of iOS zero-days that were used to infect the iPhone of an Egyptian presidential candidate with sophisticated spyware developed by a commercial exploit seller, Google and researchers from Citizen Lab said Friday.

The previously unknown vulnerabilities, which Apple patched on Thursday, were exploited in clickless attacks, meaning they didn’t require a target to take any steps other than to visit a website that used the HTTP protocol rather than the safer HTTPS alternative. A packet inspection device sitting on a cellular network in Egypt kept an eye out for connections from the phone of the targeted candidate and, when spotted, redirected it to a site that delivered the exploit chain, according to Citizen Lab, a research group at the University of Toronto’s Munk School.

A cast of villains, 3 0-days, and a compromised cell network

Citizen Lab said the attack was made possible by participation from the Egyptian government, spyware known as Predator sold by a company known as Cytrox, and hardware sold by Egypt-based Sandvine. The campaign targeted Ahmed Eltantawy, a former member of the Egyptian Parliament who announced he was running for president in March. Citizen Lab said the recent attacks were at least the third time Eltantawy’s iPhone has been attacked. One of them, in 2021, was successful and also installed Predator.

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- Beth Mole
RSV vaccine during pregnancy gets seasonal sign-off from CDC
An intensive care nurse cares for a patient suffering from respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), who is being ventilated in the children's intensive care unit of the Olga Hospital of the Stuttgart Clinic in Germany.

Enlarge / An intensive care nurse cares for a patient suffering from respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), who is being ventilated in the children's intensive care unit of the Olga Hospital of the Stuttgart Clinic in Germany. (credit: Getty | picture alliance)

A Pfizer vaccine designed to protect newborns and infants from severe RSV illness won a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Friday—but only for seasonal use.

The vaccine is Pfizer’s bivalent RSVpreF vaccine, called Abrysvo, and is administered to pregnant people late in gestation, between 32 and 36 weeks.

RSV, or respiratory syncytial (sin-SISH-uhl) virus, is the leading cause of hospitalization for infants in the US. Each year, 1.5 million children seek out-patient care for RSV, with 58,000 to 80,000 ending up in the hospital and 100 to 300 tragically dying from the infection.

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- Kyle Orland
Unity exec tells Ars he’s on a mission to earn back developer trust
Unity exec tells Ars he’s on a mission to earn back developer trust

Enlarge (credit: Unity)

Unity executive Marc Whitten tells Ars the company has learned a lot over the last week.

Unity executive Marc Whitten tells Ars the company has learned a lot over the last week. (credit: LinkedIn)

If there's one thing Unity Create President and General Manager Marc Whitten wants to make clear, it's that he appreciates your feedback.

"It's been a very feedback-giving week for Unity," Whitten told Ars, possibly the biggest understatement he made during an interview accompanying the new, scaled-back fee structure plans the company announced today. "There was a lot more [feedback than we expected] for sure... I think that feedback has made us better, even though it has sometimes been difficult."

But Whitten was also quick to find the bright side of the tsunami of backlash that came Unity's way in the week since the company announced its (now outdated) plans for per-install fees of up to $0.20 on all Unity games starting in 2024. That's because that anger reflected "the extraordinary passion that our community has for their craft, their livelihoods, and their tools, including Unity," Whitten said. "When Unity disappoints them, in a way where they're overly surprised or whatever, they give very, very critical feedback. I don't love hearing every single one of those pieces of feedback—sometimes they can be pretty pointed—but I love that that passion exists."

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- Ron Amadeo
Android phones get PC webcam capabilities in the latest beta
The Pixel 7 Pro camera layout. Between the first two lenses, you can make out sensors for laser autofocus and a color sensor.

Enlarge / The Pixel 7 Pro camera layout. Between the first two lenses, you can make out sensors for laser autofocus and a color sensor.

Here's a fun new use for your Android phone: A PC webcam! In the latest Android beta, plugging a phone into a PC will reveal a new option in the USB Preferences menu for webcam functionality. Just pick that option instead of the default "file transfer," and the phone camera will register itself as a webcam. Then you can fire up Zoom and start video calling.

The Android build with this feature is "Android 14 QPR1 Beta 1." Android's getting confusing with all these overlapping betas, but the current stable version is still Android 13. Android 14, currently on its 10th beta/developer preview, will most likely be out alongside the Pixel 8 in October. Android 14 QPR1 is the quarterly release after the first stable build of Android 14, and it should be out around December. (QPR stands for quarterly platform release.) These happen between major releases, often marketed as "feature drops." Right now, Android 13 is technically "Android 13 QPR3."

Android's 14 QPR1's webcam settings.

Android's 14 QPR1's webcam settings. (credit: Ron Amadeo)

Android is technically copying this feature from iOS. In Apple land, this is called the "Continuity Camera," and will work wirelessly between an iPhone and a Mac, which is pretty cool. As usual, the Android version is much more flexible since the feature presents as a generic USB webcam. It should work on almost everything, like Windows, Mac, Chrome OS, and probably Linux. You can even plug an Android phone into another Android phone and use the first phone's camera as the webcam for the second phone.

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- Beth Mole
Worm that jumps from rats to slugs to human brains has invaded Southeast US
Adult female worm of <em>Angiostrongylus cantonensis</em> recovered from rat lungs with characteristic barber-pole appearance (anterior end of worm is to the top). Scale bar = 1 mm.

Adult female worm of Angiostrongylus cantonensis recovered from rat lungs with characteristic barber-pole appearance (anterior end of worm is to the top). Scale bar = 1 mm. (credit: Lindo et al.)

The dreaded rat lungworm—a parasite with a penchant for rats and slugs that occasionally finds itself rambling and writhing in human brains—has firmly established itself in the Southeast US and will likely continue its rapid invasion, a study published this week suggests.

The study involved small-scale surveillance of dead rats in the Atlanta zoo. Between 2019 and 2022, researchers continually turned up evidence of the worm. In all, the study identified seven out of 33 collected rats (21 percent) with evidence of a rat lungworm infection. The infected animals were spread throughout the study's time frame, all in different months, with one in 2019, three in 2021, and three in 2022, indicating sustained transmission.

Although small, the study "suggests that the zoonotic parasite was introduced to and has become established in a new area of the southeastern United States," the study's authors, led by researchers at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, concluded. The study was published Wednesday in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

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- Samuel Axon
Apple’s new iPhone 15 and 15 Pro reach doorsteps and store shelves
iPhone 15 in all of its colors

Enlarge / All the colors of the new iPhone 15. (credit: Apple)

Today marks the in-store launch of the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro, plus the likely delivery date for at least the earliest preorders. Preorders went live a week ago, on September 15.

You'll be waiting for a while if you want the Pro model and didn't preorder, though.

In Chicago, delivery dates for new orders of the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max from the online Apple store are currently estimated to be between October 23 and 30—more than a month from now. Next-day in-store pickup is still a possibility for most configurations, except for the 1TB iPhone 15 Pro Max.

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- Kyle Orland
Unity makes major changes to controversial install-fee program
Unity is hoping you will see this logo in a better light after today.

Enlarge / Unity is hoping you will see this logo in a better light after today.

Unity has made major changes to the per-install Runtime Fee program it announced last week and made apologies for a policy that united large swathes of the game development community in anger.

In a new blog post, Unity now says that projects made on current and earlier versions of Unity will not be subject to the new runtime fee structure. Only projects that upgrade to a new "Long Term Support" (LTS) version of Unity starting in 2024 and beyond will have to pay the charges, the company says.

This change should eliminate at least some of the legal confusion over projects started under one set of terms being moved to a new set unilaterally. Unity has also restored a GitHub page that was set up in 2019 to help developers track Terms of Service changes and reinstated its commitment that "you can stay on the terms applicable for the version of Unity editor you are using – as long as you keep using that version."

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- Andrew Cunningham
Depredations and depravities reign in this week’s Wheel of Time
Still no safeword in Tel'aran'rhiod, Rand.

Enlarge / Still no safeword in Tel'aran'rhiod, Rand. (credit: Amazon Studios)

Andrew Cunningham and Lee Hutchinson have spent decades of their lives with Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson's Wheel of Time books, and they previously brought that knowledge to bear as they recapped each first season episode of Amazon's new WoT TV series. Now they're doing it again for season two—along with insights, jokes, and the occasional wild theory. These recaps won't cover every element of every episode, but they will contain major spoilers for the show and the book series. We're going to do our best to not spoil major future events from the books, but there's always the danger that something might slip out. If you want to stay completely unspoiled and haven't read the books, these recaps aren't for you.

New episodes of The Wheel of Time season two will be posted for Amazon Prime subscribers every Friday. This write-up covers episode six, which was released on September 22.

Andrew: As usual for an episode of Wheel of Time, this one does a bunch of things and goes a bunch of places, but the episode's centerpiece will be very familiar to book readers: Egwene's capture by the Seanchan.

The Seanchan believe that channelers are too dangerous to be left to their own devices. They're captured and leashed and generally treated as beloved pets at best or monsters at worst. Egwene's capture and torment in the books is a cornerstone of her character, and this episode is tough to watch in places. It’s also one of the first times that the show's version of events is clearly more effective and impactful for me than the version in the books—the benefit of doing things in a visual medium.

High Lord Turak and the Seanchan, opening for GWAR this weekend at The Gasworks!

High Lord Turak and the Seanchan, opening for GWAR this weekend at The Gasworks!

Lee: Oh yeah, absolutely—this episode definitely ratchets things up a notch or five. No more Bel Tine presents for Egwene or dancing with Aram—it's straight-up torture time, courtesy of our friends from beyond the western sea. We will likely (eventually) learn at least the broad outlines of Seanchan culture, but the important bit is the one we're being shown right off the bat: to the Seanchan, channelers are sub-human. "You are not a woman," Egwene is told. "You are a damane."

Egwene spends the episode trapped in a cell—in "the kennels," as they're called—learning about all the quirks and features of the Seanchan a'dam. It would be fascinating if it weren't so gruesome and awful. The a'dam's creator (an Aes Sedai, though we hear much more about her in the books) seems to have put considerable effort into thinking of all the potential ways a damane might fight back and then programmed around them. The a'dam can't be removed by the damane. The damane cannot touch the wristband control leash, even if it's not being held by anyone. The device even prevents the damane from touching other objects that the damane perceives to be weapons—which is just downright insidious, because it turns new damane into active participants in their own breaking. Egwene cannot even pick up a water pitcher to drink, because she can't stop thinking about smashing the sul'dam's head with it. She only gets to drink water after she has convinced herself that she won't attack the Seanchan.

It's rough. It's really rough. In between the put on the glasses pour the water scenes, we get to see Egwene convulsing repeatedly as she fights with the a’dam—so much so that she ruptures blood vessels in both eyes. And this takes up about half the episode.

As you point out, though, this is an absolute cornerstone of Egwene's character. It's the honing that will shape her into—well, into what she eventually becomes. (It's not a spoiler, I don't think, to say that the POV characters of an epic fantasy series all have Important Destinies™ laid on them, and Egwene wouldn't be able to inhabit the role—roles, even—she ends up having to inhabit without this shaping.)

Things are not going great for Egwene.

Things are not going great for Egwene. (credit: Amazon Studios)

Andrew: My "this is true to the books" brain appreciates these scenes a lot but there is a fine line to walk; Game of Thrones became infamous for how frequently it brutalized its female characters. This almost always took the form of sexual assault, perpetrated by men in positions of power against women who lacked it. Wheel of Time hasn't gone to that well, and if it stays in any way true to the events and themes of the books, it won't. But it's something I hope the show is conscious of.

Moving on to other characters, we get a good bit of Mat and Min for the first time in a couple of episodes. Show-Min has made a deal with the devil (one of them, anyway) to bring Mat back into Rand's orbit, because Min has had a vision that Mat will kill Rand, and Ishamael has a vested interest in Rand being dead. Mat and Rand meet and have a genuinely touching reunion here, and I'll say I also think the show is handling their relationship a bit better than the books here. Book-Mat, especially at this stage in the story before we had ever entered his perspective, is honestly just kind of a dick?

Maybe it's because he picked up a dagger that makes him permanently suspicious of everyone around him, but his response to finding out what is going on with Rand is not to help him but to be a distant jerk. Of all the things not to like about the books, you almost never get a good sense of Rand and Mat and Perrin as actual friends rather than People Whose Fates Are Intertwined By Destiny. We're told that they're friends. Their actions usually imply some degree of loyalty to one another. But very rarely do you just get to see two dudes have a hug and a beer because they're genuinely happy to see one another.

Lee: We do indeed have yet to hear any one of the Two Rivers Bros lament that the other Two Rivers Bros are so much better with the ladies, if nothing else. I do wish that the show had time to let that friendship breathe a little more, but alas. And where is that dagger, anyway? I know where it's supposed to be in the books at this point—I don't want to say, in case it spoils something for someone, but it's addressed early on in The Great Hunt and in fact is one of the things that is being hunted for by our main characters—but I can't recall if we've seen where it currently is in the show.

I want to spend a moment on Rand and Logain, too—if for nothing else than to call out the first on-screen image of someone playing "stones," the in-universe name for what we'd recognize as Go. Stones is a game played in Randland by intellectuals and generals, and it's a given that if you see a character playing stones, that character is supposed to be super smart and brilliant and possibly an authorial self-insert. ("Take a shot every time someone is playing stones" is almost as popular a casual WoT drinking game as "Take a shot every time Nynaeve tugs her braid" or—my personal favorite—"Take a shot every time someone says something about the Dark One's taint.")

Logain is once again brought in to teach Rand—but really, to teach us—how channeling works for men. (I hope we still get you-know-who teaching Rand later, but Logain is definitely stepping into that other fellow's shoes here.) In a nice little compact scene, the false Dragon manages to teach the true Dragon three important science facts about the One Power: women "surrender" to saidar, but men "seize" saidin; if you take too much in, you'll burn yourself out; and that Rand is incredibly powerful, capable of doing "anything" and fighting "anyone."

Upon releasing the source, Rand then learns a bonus #4 fact: the Dark One's corruption suffuses saidin. The book makes it sound like channeling the corrupted male half of the power is sort of like railing ultra-heroin while simultaneously chugging down raw sewage, and when Rand releases the source, he also releases his lunch. Ew.


"UNLIMITED POWER!!!!" (credit: Amazon Studios)

Andrew: Yeah, the show has visually referenced the Dark One's taint (on saidin! His taint on saidin!) before, back when Logain could still channel. Women get to weave sparkly strands of light and men have to channel this inky black stuff. But now Rand is getting a big dose of it for the first time and it doesn't go great for him. Rand's sanity and the degree to which he is still "himself" will become major concerns.

The show's treatment of what happens to channelers after they can no longer channel is still pretty inconsistent with the books; former channelers in the books are no more capable of seeing weaves or teaching a channeler than a non-channeler would be, but Logain is still fully aware of what Rand is doing and what he can do.

On that topic, let's talk about something I am less enthusiastic about: we're at episode six, and I'm still not really sure where Moiraine or Lan's plotlines are going, and the decision to take Moiraine's channeling ability away and have her spend half the season sniping with her sister in their big stuffy house just feels like it was done so both Moiraine and Lan could mark time while things happened to the other characters. Maybe something stunningly explosive will come from it, and I am glad to see that Siuan Sanche is back in the action, but give me "scenes of Rand bargaining with Lanfear in the dream world" or "scenes of Nynaeve and Elayne trying to save their friend while doing some true-to-the-book bickering" over "scenes of a woman trying to write a letter while her nephew gives her a sandwich."

Lee: But Barthanes Damodred makes the best sandwiches. Moiraine said so and Aes Sedai cannot lie.

Yeah, I agree that parts of the season feel kind of interminable, in spite of how bloody short it is. I too could have done with maybe a bit less Moiraine-arguing-with-her-sister and also a bit less of whatever the hell it is Lan has been doing with Alanna and the Funky Bunch, but I've been pretty happy with the World of Dreams bits.

Speaking of, I want to ask a question that my wife and I both feel pretty unified on: when Lanfear banished Ishamael from Rand's dreams, was she really banishing him? Because it seems much more Lanfear-like for that entire bit to have simply been Lanfear conjuring and then de-conjuring an imaginary Dream Ishy. It seems like the kind of thing she'd do.


Perfection. (credit: Amazon Studios)

Andrew: OK, so, hear me out—I think it's really Ishamael, and it's because of a super subtle but-obviously-meant-to-be-noticed thing about how he appears in the World of Dreams.

Look at scenes early in the episode where Ishamael is communicating with Min in her dreams. Occasionally he "freezes," like you would on a Zoom call where Your Internet Connection Is Unstable. In the scene where he's tormenting Rand before Lanfear sends him away, he's doing the same thing. The visions Rand is getting from Ishamael occasionally freeze-and-jump in the same kind of way, something I thought was just a way to creep out the viewer until you made me start thinking about it.

But Lanfear, someone known for her mastery of the World of Dreams, doesn't move like this. I think the show is trying to use this to communicate that Ishamael can operate in the world of dreams, but he's not particularly adept at controlling it, and he can easily be booted by someone more talented than he is.

It does seem Lanfear-ish to try to earn Rand's trust this way, by constructing a scenario that makes her seem more trustworthy. But remember, book-Lanfear is the one who hooked Rand up with his book-channeling teacher. She's got her own motivations and delusions of grandeur, and the Forsaken often work at cross-purposes.

Lee: Ahhh, that is an excellent catch—I'd noticed Ishy's freezing but hadn't made the link to it maybe being tied to his World of Dreams mastery level. And Ishamael & Lanfear are already colluding, as we saw last episode, so it's not like Lanfear having Ishamael stop by Rand's dream for a minute so she can "vanquish" him would be a difficult ask. Hell, having Ishamael in on the deal would fit pretty well with both his and Lanfear’s plans—at least for now. Good call.

One way or another, though, Rand just can't catch a break. He finds Mat again, but rather than leaving town with Rand to escape, he chooses to heed Min's warning and stay away. Rand then decides to depart Cairhien on his own but gets stopped by Lan and Alanna. What are they going to do with him?

Our answer lies in the arrival of the Amyrlin Seat and fourteen other Aes Sedai (including several familiar faces, like Liandrin and Verin). A similar situation plays out in the novel—Rand delays leaving Shienar for too long and gets stuck having to talk to the Amyrlin, recently arrived in the Borderlands with her retinue. Here, it looks like Rand delayed leaving Cairhien for too long and is stuck having to do the exact same thing. The Amyrlin and Moraine are old schemers when it comes to the subject of the Dragon Reborn, so the plots are all twisting back together. (As they should, since next week is the season's penultimate episode.)

Andrew: I'd talk to someone for a long time about the process of adapting this season. Season one was, for all its departures, more or less a heavily compressed version of The Eye of the World with a bunch of stuff cut for time. For season two, it's like they wrote every single plot from book two (and parts of three) on a big whiteboard and then Tetris'd the story blocks around over and over again, shaving them down until they would fit in the amount of space that the show had to give. As different as the show seems to be, you're always running into recognizable bits, just moved around and recontextualized.

It certainly seems like most of our heroes are converging on Cairhien, before what I'm assuming will be a cataclysmic season-ending confrontation in Falme.

That's where Nynaeve and Elayne are still camped out, trying to figure out how to free Egwene and any of the other Aes Sedai-affiliated channelers who have been captured by the Seanchan. Nynaeve and Elayne are very true to their book-selves here as "powerful women who respect each other but would basically never hang out if they weren't both friends with the same person." Right now, it's on them to free Egwene and expose Liandrin, who just happens to be part of the Amyrlin's posse in Cairhien.

It does seem like the show is going to be less patient than the books about resolving Nynaeve's "block," where she can only channel under specific emotionally heightened circumstances. Leave it to Ryma (Nyokabi Gethaiga), a member of the healing-focused Yellow Ajah, to break it down in terms Nynaeve can understand: when someone is hurt, you don't decide to help them, you just help them.

Ryma and Elayne try to probe the a'dam while Nynaeve prepares to screw everything up.

Ryma and Elayne try to probe the a'dam while Nynaeve prepares to screw everything up. (credit: Amazon Studios)

Lee: That's a solid characterization of Nynaeve and Elayne's relationship. My wife said that Nynaeve calls Elayne "princess" with about the same level of contempt that Han uses with Leia in Empire Strikes Back. And poor Ryma—she'll now be joining Egwene and Maigan (the former Blue sitter, played by Sandy McDade) in the kennels.

Your description of playing Tetris with the plots is also spot on—that feels exactly like what's happening. I like some of it, and I don't like some of it, but I don't think I'd be able to do any better as a writer if faced with the same length and episode count constraints as the show is having to operate under. If there is a villain here, it's not really the Seanchan, or the Forsaken, or even the Dark One himself—it's whatever bean counters in the programming department decided on those constraints. (There is an obvious "a'dam around the neck of the show" metaphor that I could draw here, but I won't. Though I guess I just did.) Regardless, we're reviewing the show we've been given to work with, rather than the longer show we perhaps wish we had.

I have one additional note from my wife that I need to read into the record: "Ingtar has better smoky eye than Lanfear and Egwene's sul'dam put together." No argument from me there.

Anything else from your notebook, Andrew, or have we reached the end for this week?

Andrew: "Wheel of Time? More like Wheel of Prime!" Lee: Hah, yes, I suppose that does mean we are indeed done for this week. With only two episodes left, I'm expecting a lot of big things very soon. Big important things. Big important giant flaming things, in the sky. Because it would be silly to show us a horn in act one and not have someone blow it by act three, right?

We'll see you back here next Friday. Until then, may you all find water and shade.

(credit: WoT Wiki)

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- Jon Brodkin
FCC closing loophole that gave robocallers easy access to US phone numbers
Illustration of robots wearing phone headsets and sitting in front of laptop computers.


In one of its many attempts to curb robocalls, the Federal Communications Commission said it is making it harder for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers to obtain direct access to US telephone numbers.

Robocallers make heavy use of VoIP providers to bombard US residents with junk calls, often from spoofed phone numbers. Under the rules in place for most of the past decade, VoIP providers could easily gain access to US phone numbers.

"This VoIP technology can allow bad actors to make spoofed robocalls with minimal technical experience and cost," the FCC said.

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- Scharon Harding
Amazon adding ads to Prime Video in 2024 unless you pay $2.99 extra
Screenshot from The Boys S2 teaser

Enlarge (credit: YouTube/Amazon Prime)

Next year, watching TV shows and movies on Amazon Prime Video without ads will cost more than it does now. In early 2024, Amazon will show ads with Prime Video content unless you pay $2.99 extra.

Amazon announced today that Prime Video users in the US, Canada, Germany, and the UK will automatically start seeing advertisements "in early 2024." Subscribers will receive a notification email "several weeks" in advance, at which point they can opt to pay $2.99 extra for ad-free Prime Video, Amazon said.

That takes the price of ad-free Prime Video from $8.99/month alone to $11.98/month and from $14.99/month with Prime to $17.98/month.

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- Kyle Orland
Microsoft is finally on the verge of closing its Activision deal
A magnifying glass inspects a surface covered in various corporate logos.

Enlarge / Taking a close look... (credit: Aurich Lawson / Ars Technica)

The UK's Competition and Markets Authority has given its provisional approval to recently proposed modifications to Microsoft's proposed Activision purchase. While the approval is not final, the announcement suggests that Microsoft will soon clear the final regulatory hurdle in its proposed $68.7 billion acquisition, which was first announced over 20 months ago.

The CMA initially blocked the Activision acquisition back in April, saying that the purchase would "substantially lessen competition" in the nascent cloud gaming market. But after the US Federal Trade Commission's attempt at a merger-blocking injunction lost in court in April, Microsoft and the CMA went back to the drawing board to negotiate a settlement.

That led to Microsoft's August announcement that it would sell those Activision streaming rights to Ubisoft. The CMA now says it "has provisionally concluded" that this sale "should address these [previously identified] issues."

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- Andrew Cunningham
iOS 16.7 arrives for older iPhones and people who don’t want to upgrade
iPhones running iOS 16.

Enlarge / iPhones running iOS 16. (credit: Apple)

Apple has released iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 (and their first minor patch, version 17.0.1) to the public this week, and by most accounts, it's a fairly mild and stable update that doesn't seem to be breaking much. But a few years ago, as you might recall, Apple made a change to how it handles operating system transitions—iOS 16 will keep getting updates for a short stretch so that people who want to wait a bit before they upgrade can do so without missing important security updates.

The iOS and iPadOS 16.7 update covers all devices that could run version 16, including older stuff like the iPhone 8, iPhone X, and first-gen iPad Pro that can't be upgraded to version 17. In a couple of months, if precedent holds, newer devices will have to upgrade to keep getting security fixes, while iOS 16 updates will continue to support older devices for at least another year.

On the Mac side, Apple continues releasing security updates for operating systems for two years after they're replaced by a new version. For the last year, that has meant that versions 11, 12, and 13 (Big Sur, Monterey, Ventura) have all been getting patches. Now that version 14 (Sonoma) is around the corner, version 11 will stop being updated.

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Law geeks shine a light on secretive Google antitrust trial
Law geeks shine a light on secretive Google antitrust trial

(credit: Shutterstock)

Months out of law school, Yosef Weitzman already has a huge courtroom role in the biggest antitrust trial of the century. In a US federal trial that started last week, Google is accused of unlawfully monopolizing online search and search ads. The company’s self-defined mission is to make the world's information universally accessible, yet Google successfully opposed livestreaming the trial and keeping the proceedings wholly open to the public. Enter Weitzman.

The fresh law graduate is among a handful of legal or antitrust geeks trying to attend most, if not all, of the public portions of the trial, fearing a historic moment of tech giant accountability will escape public notice. Some have pushed off day jobs or moved near to the Washington, DC, courthouse. All are obsessively documenting their observations through social media and daily email newsletters.

The trial is scheduled to run near-daily through November, and few news outlets can dedicate a reporter to a courtroom seat for eight hours a day for the duration. Most reporters focused on Google are based in San Francisco. Legal and regulatory publications that can commit charge hundreds of dollars for content subscriptions. Any antitrust junkie—or frustrated Google Search user—wanting an affordable readout from the sparsely attended, era-defining trial, must rely on Weitzman, or a handful of others firing off tweets, skeets, and Substacks. “Regardless of your view on this trial and Big Tech, it will affect everyone, so it’s important that the public is aware of what’s going on as the trial unfolds and to record what happens,” Weitzman says.

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- Eric Bangeman
Rolling in style: The Priority E-Coast beach cruiser
Side profile of bike

Enlarge / The E-Coast is a beautiful bike. (credit: Eric Bangeman)

Think long and hard about your next steps when you come across something like this.

Think long and hard about your next steps when you come across something like this. (credit: Eric Bangeman)

Sometimes, no matter what you think your level of expertise is, you need to follow the advice of others. I learned this lesson again while assembling the Priority E-Coast, a $1,999 electric beach cruiser from Priority Bicycles. Priority told me right there on the box. "Warning: Bicycle assembly should be performed or verified by a professional bicycle mechanic."

Once I finished putting the E-Coast together, I was left with a gorgeous e-bike that was enjoyable to ride. But getting there involved more time and swearing than I'm used to. The good news is that Priority apparently heard the curses of its customers, as the part that made assembly miserable has been removed. So you might not need a pro bike tech after all.

Unlike some e-bike manufacturers, which seem to have popped up out of nowhere in the last couple of years, Priority has been around since 2014, when it launched via Kickstarter. Nine years and two Kickstarters later, it has a robust lineup of motorized and human-powered bicycles.

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- Timothy B. Lee
Opinion: The Copyright Office is making a mistake on AI-generated art
An AI-generated image that won a prize at the Colorado State Fair


Two weeks ago, the US Copyright Office refused to register a copyright for Théâtre D'opéra Spatial, an AI-generated image that got widespread media attention last year after it won an art competition. It’s at least the third time the Copyright Office has ruled that AI-generated art cannot be copyrighted.

The Copyright Office first ruled on this issue in 2019. Artist Stephen Thaler tried to register an image that he said had been created entirely by a computer program. The Copyright Office rejected the application because copyright protection is only available for works created by human beings—not supernatural beings (like the Holy Spirit), not animals (like this now-famous monkey), and not computer programs.

The ruling raised an important question: Was the issue just that Thaler should have listed himself, rather than his AI system, as the image's creator? Or is AI-generated art categorically excluded from copyright protection?

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- Stephen Clark
Rocket Report: Two small launchers fail in flight; Soyuz crew flies to ISS
NASA Astronaut Loral O'Hara, Russian commander Oleg Kononenko, and cosmonaut Nikolai Chub prepare for launch September 15 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Enlarge / NASA Astronaut Loral O'Hara, Russian commander Oleg Kononenko, and cosmonaut Nikolai Chub prepare for launch September 15 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. (credit: NASA/Victor Zelentsov)

Welcome to Edition 6.12 of the Rocket Report! Two of the world's most successful small satellite launchers suffered failures this week. We've seen many small launch companies experience failures on early test flights, but US-based Rocket Lab and China's Galactic Energy have accumulated more flight heritage than most of their competitors. Some might see these failures and use the "space is hard" cliché, but I'll just point to this week as a reminder that rocket launches still aren't routine.

As always, we welcome reader submissions, and if you don't want to miss an issue, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small-, medium-, and heavy-lift rockets, as well as a quick look ahead at the next three launches on the calendar.

Rocket Lab suffers launch failure. Rocket Lab's string of 20 consecutive successful launches ended Tuesday when the company's Electron rocket failed to deliver a small commercial radar imaging satellite into orbit, Ars reports. The problem occurred on the upper stage of the Electron rocket about two and a half minutes after liftoff from the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand. This was the fourth time a Rocket Lab mission has failed in 41 flights. A small commercial radar surveillance satellite from Capella Space was destroyed when the rocket crashed.

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Los Angeles Times:
The WGA and AMPTP reach a tentative deal to end the strike; sources: the proposed three-year contract adds new AI rules, increases streaming residuals, and more  —  The Writers Guild of America and the major Hollywood studios have reached a tentative deal that would end a strike that has lasted …

Jody Serrano / The Messenger:
Q&A with Kevin Systrom about Artifact's Links discovery feature, moderation, the bear case and bull case for Threads, the current state of Instagram, and more  —  Kevin Systrom hopes a fresh jolt of growth to his Artifact app allows it to compete better with the industry's bigger relics

McKenzie Funk / New York Times:
A profile of Hank Asher, the “father of data fusion” who died in 2013 after initiating a vast shift in privacy norms through his data mining software companies  —  Hank Asher was a drug smuggler with a head for numbers — until he figured out how to turn Americans' private information into a big business.

Sources: Apple plans to increase its production in India over 5x to ~$40B in the next four to five years, and start making AirPods, on top of iPhones, in 2024  —  iPhone maker Apple has plans to scale up production in India by over five-fold to around $40 billion, or about Rs 3.32 lakh crore …

Chethan Rao / Android Police:
EV maker Nio launches the Nio Phone in China with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset and 30+ car-specific features, including automatic parking, starting at ~$890  —  - Nio, an electric car manufacturer, has entered the Chinese smartphone market with the Nio Phone, targeting owners of its EVs …

Wall Street Journal:
Sources: Meta plans to release AI chatbots with personalities, internally called Gen AI Personas, across its apps at this week's Connect, to attract young users  —  Facebook parent is developing bots with personalities, including a ‘sassmaster general’ robot that answers questions

Zheping Huang / Bloomberg:
A look at the role of pro gaming in Tencent's long-term strategy as China hosts the Hangzhou Asian Games, the first event where esports are eligible for medals  —  - Hundreds of pro players will compete at Hangzhou Asian Games  — Tencent places esports at the heart of its online media empire

New York Times:
Some employees reminisce about Netflix's DVD subscription service, which upended the entertainment industry and is shutting down on September 29 after 25 years  —  The company's DVD subscription service is ending this month, bringing to a close an origin story that ultimately upended the entertainment industry.

Dave Lee / Bloomberg:
Q&A with outgoing Amazon SVP of Devices and Services Dave Limp on using generative AI for Alexa, a possible Alexa subscription, advice for Panos Panay, and more  —  The departing executive in charge of Amazon's voice assistant has a conversation about its future in the age of AI.

Malathi Nayak / Bloomberg:
In a countersuit, chip startup Rivos and six ex-Apple staff claim Apple intimidates those who “dare to leave”; Apple sued Rivos over trade secrets theft in 2022  —  - Rivos contests Apple's tech theft claims with countersuit  — Apple accuses the startup of stealing proprietary information

Sean Lyngaas / CNN:
Three major US voting equipment makers let some researchers stress-test their software and hardware, to take on conspiracy theories with greater transparency  —  Major US voting equipment manufacturers are enlisting cybersecurity experts to provide additional stress-tests of their systems …

Kate Knibbs / Wired:
A look at the flood of near-identical YouTube obituary videos, in which men read obituaries scraped from authorized publishers like funeral homes and newspapers  —  If you Google someone who recently died, you might see a flood of near-identical videos of men reading obits.  Here's why.

Sanket Vijayasarathy / 91mobiles:
A leaked Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro promo video reveals new camera features: an Audio Eraser, the ability to swap faces, full manual controls like ISO, and more  —  - A new promo video focuses on the many camera features of the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro.  — Both the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro will get a 50MP primary camera.

Manish Singh / TechCrunch:
Walmart-backed PhonePe, which leads India's UPI-based payments market, launches the Indus AppStore on Android and promises no platform fees or IAP commission  —  PhonePe launched the Indus AppStore Developer Platform on Saturday, promising zero platform fee and no commission on in-app purchases …

- Jon Porter
Pixel 8 series rumored to include seven years of software support
Pixel 8 Pro and Pixel 8 image. A teaser image of the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro released by Google. | Image: Google

Google’s upcoming Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro could come with seven years of software support, according to a leaked list of specs published by 91Mobiles. Kamila Wojciechowska, the original source of the leak, has also published US pricing for the two unannounced phones ahead of their October 4th launch. The Pixel 8 Pro is reportedly due to start at $899, the same as the 7 Pro, while the Pixel 8 could start at $699, a $100 increase over the $599 starting price for the Pixel 7.

Wojciechowska notes that it’s unclear whether Google will offer seven years of major Android OS updates for the phones, or whether the figure just refers to seven years of security patches (my money’s on the latter, for what it’s worth). But either way it’s a decent...

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- Emma Roth
Hollywood writers reach tentative deal to end the strike
Writers hold signs on the picket line on the fourth day of the strike by the Writers Guild of America as they march past Netflix in Hollywood, California, on May 5, 2023. The Writers Guild of America has been on strike since May 2nd. | Photo by Frederic J. Brown / AFP via Getty Images

The Hollywood writers strike may be close to an end. After a more than 140-day work stoppage, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) announced on Sunday night that it reached a “tentative agreement” with major Hollywood studios on pay, working conditions, and more.

“We can say, with great pride, that this is an exceptional deal — with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership,” the WGA negotiating committee wrote in an email to members.

WGA leadership said details of the agreement couldn’t be shared until its language is finalized; after that, writers will have to vote to approve the deal. The guild said its leaders may end the strike as soon as Tuesday, once the contract is finalized and sent to members...

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- Wes Davis
Resident Evil Village’s iPhone port might launch a day before Halloween
A screenshot of the tall vampire lady from Resident Evil Village. The tall lady from Resident Evil Village comes to iPhones soon. | Image: Capcom

Capcom quietly revealed an October 30th release date for Resident Evil Village on a page for the iOS and iPadOS versions of Village and the Resident Evil 4 remake. Resident Evil 4 remains listed as “available 2023.” Capcom doesn’t list any prices, but for reference, the macOS version of the game is $29.99 on the Apple App Store. Yesterday, Gematsu reported that Capcom had announced the same release date for the port in Japan.

Capcom hasn’t formally announced the release date for the US version of Village outside of the page linked above. We’ve reached out to the company to confirm the release date is as listed on its site.

Screenshot: Wes Davis / The Verge Resident Evil Village for iOS and iPadOS appears to have a...

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- Wes Davis
Meta’s AI chatbot plan includes a ‘sassy robot’ for younger users
Image of Meta’s logo with a red and blue background. Illustration by Nick Barclay / The Verge

Meta is preparing to announce a generative AI chatbot, called “Gen AI Personas” internally, aimed at younger users, according to The Wall Street Journal. Reportedly set to launch during the company’s Meta Connect event that starts Wednesday, they would come in multiple “personas” geared towards engaging young users with more colorful behavior, following ChatGPT’s rise over the last year as one of the fastest-growing apps ever. Similar, but more generally targeted, Meta chatbot personas have already been reportedly tested on Instagram.

According to internal chats the Journal viewed, the company has tested a “sassy robot” persona inspired by Bender from Futurama and an overly curious “Alvin the Alien” that one employee worried could imply...

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- Georgina Torbet
NASA collected a sample from an asteroid for the first time — here’s why it matters
OSIRIS-REx sample retrieval by NASA Victoria Thiem, system safety engineer from Lockheed Martin, checks the temperature of the actual size OSIRIS-REx’s return capsule sample during the recovery rehearsal at Lockheed Martin, Waterton Canyon campus in Littleton, Colorado on Tuesday, June 27, 2023.  | Photo by Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post

The OSIRIS-REx mission, launched in 2016, has collected as much as several hundred grams of asteroid material, which could help scientists understand the earliest stages of the solar system.

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- Georgina Torbet
Watch as NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission brings asteroid samples back to Earth

Seven years after the OSIRIS-REx mission launched, a capsule containing rocks captured from the asteroid Bennu in 2020 will land in Utah on Sunday morning.

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- David Pierce
Apple’s new software is widgets all the way down
An all-black version of the Installer logo.

Hi, friends! Welcome to Installer No. 7, your guide to the best and Verge-iest stuff in the world. (If you’re new here, first of all, hi, hello, welcome, and second of all, you can read all the old editions at the Installer homepage.)

This week, I’ve been reading about the AI writing lives of real writers, rewatching the John Wick movies to prepare for The Continental, shopping for StandBy-capable iPhone docks, getting back into VR exercise with Supernatural boxing, and really, really, really hoping Microsoft’s controller-first vision for the future of gaming comes true soon.

I also have for you a new super-slick Windows laptop, two crypto-related podcasts you should hear, a reason to try Bard again, OpenAI’s new image-making tool, a...

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- Wes Davis
California governor vetoes a bill requiring humans in autonomous big rigs
Two blue Waymo autonomous trucks next to one another on a cloudy, rainy day. Driverless trucks from Waymo. | Credit: Waymo

Governor Gavin Newsom has vetoed Assembly Bill 316, which would have required human attendants in driverless vehicles over 10,000 pounds, reports Reuters. The bill saw broad support among state legislators and was backed by the Teamsters and other labor organizations. At the moment,

The governor wrote in his veto message that the bill “is unnecessary for the regulation and oversight of heavy-duty autonomous vehicle technology,” adding that the existing regulatory framework is “sufficient.”

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) was given regulatory authority over autonomous vehicles in the state. Newsom writes that the DMV consults the state highway patrol, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “and others with...

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- Brandon Widder
The last-gen Apple Watch Series 8 is on sale for as low as $279 today
Heart rate zone screen in the Series 8’s Workout App The Apple Watch Series 8 bears more than a striking resemblance to this year’s model (surprise, surprise). | Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

The Apple Watch Series 9 has officially landed, bringing with it a few minor improvements under the hood, watchOS 10, and a new Millennial pink(!) color. The new smartwatch is technically the best Apple has ever made, though the updates are all pretty iterative. Thankfully, if you’re looking to pick up an Apple Watch for the first time or make the jump from an earlier model, the last-gen Series 8 is on sale at Best Buy in select styles starting at $279 ($120) or at Amazon for $20 more.

So, what exactly do you lose out on opting for the Series 8 over the Series 9? Well, for starters, the Series 9 packs a new S9 SiP chip, which allows for quicker performance, onboard Siri processing, and Apple’s handy double-tap feature. It also features...

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- Wes Davis
The Google Pixel 8’s latest leak shows off big AI camera updates
Pixel 7 and 7 Pro from the back The Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. | Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Pixel 8 camera specs and a new AI promo video for the phone were posted by 91Mobiles, courtesy of leaker Kamila Wojciechowska, giving us our first real look at how Google will integrate more AI into its flagship smartphones (via 9to5Google).

Magic Editor, which the company said earlier this year would come to “select” Pixel phones, is like a supercharged version of Magic Eraser. It enables you to remake any picture you take so it looks like you want it to. That’s shown in a demonstration where a person takes three pictures of a family on a carousel and combines them into one shot so that everyone is smiling and looking at the camera at the same time.

Screenshot: Wes Davis / The Verge This will be a nice family...

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- Hadlee Simons
Google Pixel 8: Release date, price, specs, and rumors

Update: September 25, 2023 (4:40 AM ET): We’ve updated our Pixel 8 series rumor hub with new leaks related to pricing, durability, camera features, and software updates.

Original: The Pixel 7 is a great phone, but it won’t be the newest mainline Pixel for much longer. The Pixel 8 series will arrive in October. While there was a lot to like about the Pixel 7, it wasn’t perfect. Overheating issues, weaker battery life, and slow charging speeds were some of its most prominent pitfalls. Will the Pixel 8 series finally address these issues? We hope so!

- Aamir Siddiqui
iPhone 15 Pro durability tests are here: Is Titanium really stronger?
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max Durability test (2) Credit: JerryRigEverything on YouTube The new iPhone 15 Pro series uses Titanium for the side frame and an aluminum mid-frame, while the older iPhone 14 Pro series uses Stainless Steel. In extreme drop tests, the iPhone 15 Pro performed worse than the 14 Pro. The iPhone 15 Pro Max failed the bend test, shattering its back with a moderate-intensity bend.

The iPhone 15 series went on open sale at the end of last week, and people are finally getting their hands on them. This year, the top two talking points are the shift to USB-C and the switchover to Titanium instead of Stainless Steel as the build material on the Pro phones. Titanium is comparable in strength to Stainless Steel, but it is significantly lighter, which makes a difference in the handling and ergonomics of phones. The first set of durability tests on the Titanium iPhone 15 Pro series have now rolled in, bringing in some surprising results.

One of the first durability tests was performed by AppleTrack on the iPhone 15 Pro, comparing it against the iPhone 14 Pro.

- Adamya Sharma
Pixel Watch 2 appears in black, UK price leaked

Pixel Watch 2 Black

Credit: Roland Quandt/X The UK price of the Pixel Watch 2 has leaked, suggesting a slight bump compared to the first Pixel Watch. The smartwatch can also be seen in all-black in a newly leaked image.

It’s raining Google leaks today, and we’re wondering just what the company will announce on October 4 that we already don’t know. Anyhow, this latest Pixel Watch 2 price leak comes from WinFuture journalist Roland Quandt, who has revealed not only how much the smartwatch will cost in the UK but also an image of how it’ll look in all black.

- Hadlee Simons
Full Pixel 8 specs leak, suggests a whopping 7 years of updates
Google Pixel 8 Credit: Google A reliable leaker has dished out a Pixel 8 series spec sheet. The sheet lists seven years of software updates for the new phones. It looks like the Pixel 8 Pro will have superior durability too.

We already have a ton of Pixel 8 series details thanks to leaks, rumors, and even Google’s own promotional materials. Now, a frequent leaker has dished out full spec sheets for Google’s upcoming flagship phones.

Kamila Wojciechowska shared the Pixel 8 series spec sheets on X and 91mobiles, seemingly derived from Google’s own materials. These specs generally line up with the tipster’s previous leaks shared with Android Authority. Check out the table below.

- Adamya Sharma
Google is finally bringing a highly-requested camera mode to the Pixel 8 series

Google Pixel 8 Pro Official Teaser

Credit: Google / YouTube Camera features of the Pixel 8 series have leaked through a seemingly official Google video. The Pixel 8 Pro is getting a new Pro camera mode with manual adjustment options for shutter speed, ISO, and more. Google is also adding a new AI face-swapping feature to fix bad facial expressions.

The floodgates have opened for Google Pixel 8 series leaks. There is little that we don’t know about the upcoming phones ahead of their official announcement on October 4. The latest leak accompanies a price and camera specs reveal that happened over the weekend and gives us a seemingly official Google video detailing the camera features of the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro.

- Adamya Sharma
Here’s how much the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro could cost

Pixel 8 vs Pixel 8 Pro Official Imagery

Credit: Google / YouTube Prices of the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro have leaked. The standard model will likely be $100 more expensive than its predecessor. Tipsters are divided over the price of the Pixel 8 Pro.

Google has apparently slipped up and let out information about the Pixel 8 series prices. Over the weekend, frequent Android Authority contributor and tipster Kamila Wojciechowska posted a comparison table between the Pixel 7 series and Pixel 8 series on X, formerly Twitter. The image looks like it was lifted from Google’s promotional material for the upcoming Pixel 8 series. It even bears the Google logo and “Pixel for Business” branding, making it seem pretty official. The best part is the image reveals the price of the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro.

- Robert Triggs
Here’s what you miss out on by not buying the iPhone 15 Pro
Apple iPhone 14 vs iPhone 14 Pro Max Credit: Robert Triggs / Android Authority

There’s a $200 price jump between the entry-level iPhone 15 and Apple’s Pro model, which makes picking between the two a tough choice. However, with Apple’s latest and greatest technology increasingly reserved for its Pro and Pro Max models, the chasm between the basic and elite iPhone experience is growing ever wider.

So, is it worth jumping up to the more expensive iPhone bracket? Well, here are the key features you miss out on by not buying the iPhone 15 Pro.

- Rita El Khoury
The Pixel Watch 2 should have on-device Assistant, like Apple’s Watch Series 9
pixel watch not connected Credit: Rita El Khoury / Android Authority Opinion post byRita El Khoury

For years now, Google has touted its on-device processing for all kinds of Assistant-capable devices: smart speakers, Pixel phones, Android Auto, and yes, Wear OS watches too. All of these claims make very little difference from a user perspective, though, because Google Assistant just zones out whenever it has no internet access.

When you're offline, Assistant grinds to a halt on any phone, speaker, or smartwatch.

If your Nest Audio is offline, it can’t answer a simple question like “What time is it?”. If your Google Pixel is offline, Assistant can’t turn on the flashlight. If your Pixel Watch is not connected, Assistant can’t set a 10-minute timer. Even if Google can process your voice locally and understand what you’re saying, it needs to send that request to a server — either directly via Wi-Fi or indirectly through Bluetooth to an online phone — to fetch the appropriate answer or action. So when you’re offline, everything grinds to a halt. Summoning Google’s voice assistant results in an error and you can’t even begin to say your request.

- Joe Hindy
This article was updated and checked for accuracy in September 2023. It was originally published in 2016.

In the era of digital storytelling, the demand for versatile and user-friendly video editing apps on Android has surged. From casual vloggers to aspiring filmmakers, these apps have become essential tools for unleashing creativity on the go. In this article, we’ll explore a curated selection of Android video editing apps that empower users with intuitive interfaces, powerful features, and the flexibility to transform ordinary footage into captivating visual narratives. Whether you’re a novice or a pro, there’s an app waiting to elevate your video editing game.

The best video editor apps on Android ActionDirector Adobe Premiere Rush CapCut FilmoraGo Funimate GoPro Quik InShot KineMaster PowerDirector VivaVideo ActionDirector Video Editor

Price: Free /Subscription ($3.99/month or $14.99/year)

- Joe Hindy
This article was updated and checked for accuracy in September 2023. It was originally published in 2014.

The internet has revolutionized the way we consume news, liberating us from the editorial influence of TV producers or newspaper editors. Today, we have the freedom to navigate the vast web in search of news that aligns with our interests. In this multitude of news websites available, keeping track of them all can be challenging. In this list, we will explore the top news apps for Android, offering organization, staying informed, and finding news tailored to your preferences. Notably, we prioritize unbiased and crowd-sourced news sources over politically inclined networks like CNN or Fox News, ensuring factually accurate information. Here are the finest news apps for Android.

We’d also like to give an honorable mention to Google’s official app. The discover feed keeps track of stuff you like and slowly caters itself to your sensibilities over time. It’s quick, easy, and free. You can also get a similar feed in Google Chrome’s mobile app.

- Joe Hindy
This article was updated and checked for accuracy in September 2023. It was originally published in 2016.

While RSS may not enjoy the same popularity as in the past, it remains a valuable tool for aggregating news from diverse sources. It continues to serve many users, particularly power users seeking current information. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that not all websites maintain updated RSS feeds. Although not as vibrant as before, RSS technology still has its merits. Here, we present the finest RSS reader apps for Android, catering to those who appreciate this reliable news-gathering method.

We’d like to give an honorable mention to Newsreels (Google Play) and Plenary (Google Play). They are two up-and-coming RSS-style newsreaders that are getting better with each update.

- Joe Hindy
This article was updated and checked for accuracy in September 2023. It was originally published in 2015.

You should always back up your files. It’s one of the most important things people need to do with their electronic devices. You never know when things will go wrong, and you don’t want to lose any of your stuff when such events occur. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to back up your files and apps on Android. For this list, we’ll take a look at the best Android backup apps. Unfortunately, with native tools becoming more popular, the app scene for this is getting a little weaker. Generally speaking, unless you’re a root user, your best options are usually cloud storage and Google’s native backup, but we talk about that more in depth below.

Also, don’t forget that Google plans on backing up your phone for free anyway, so make sure to take that into consideration.

- Hadlee Simons
Poll: What’s the most iconic Android phone in the last 15 years
samsung galaxy s3 in hand with the screen on

September 23 marks the 15th anniversary of Android 1.0 launching, and the Android ecosystem has grown to become a juggernaut since then.

Everyone from Google and Samsung to Xiaomi and Sony have churned out fantastic phones over the years. But what’s the most iconic Android phone in the last 15 years? That’s what we want to find out in our poll today. Give us your answer below.

- Calvin Wankhede
Thunderbolt 5: Release date, bandwidth, display support and more
Thunderbolt USB C dongle Credit: Robert Triggs / Android Authority

With modern laptops having fewer and fewer ports each passing generation, you may have considered various adapters to connect displays, external storage, and other peripherals. But most run-of-the-mill USB-C dongles and adapters don’t have enough bandwidth to support multiple connected devices simultaneously. That’s where the Thunderbolt interface comes in with its ability to handle multiple high-resolution displays and SSDs simultaneously. The latest Thunderbolt 5 takes things even further, allowing you to connect even more devices with just a single cable.

So in this article, let’s take a closer look at what’s new with Thunderbolt 5, what it can do, and when you can expect laptop makers to adopt it.

- Joe Hindy
This article was updated and checked for accuracy in September 2023. It was originally published in 2017.

Transport is an important necessity nowadays. People who own vehicles—drivers, mechanics, and motorists—always have to be aware of their car’s condition, ensure the fuel tank is full, and learn a bunch of other maintenance stuff. However, with a busy life and a tough schedule, sometimes these details are overlooked, and people often find themselves in difficult situations. But don’t worry; we’ve got you. Let’s take a look at some of the best car apps for drivers and owners.

The best car apps for Android Android Auto Car Maintenace by myCARFAX Drivvo or Fuelio GasBuddy SpotAngels Torque Pro YouTube Gas station reward apps Car part store apps Car manufacturer mobile apps Android Auto

Price: Free

- Andrew Grush
I pay $250 a month for internet access, and I’m not even mad about it
starlink dish Credit: Andrew Grush / Android Authority Opinion post byAndrew Grush

The United States is known for its high utility costs, especially for services like cable, mobile access, and internet. The average median price for internet service in the US in 2023 is $75 per month. Think that’s a lot? I currently pay $250 a month after switching to Starlink Business (also known as Priority access). And I’m not even mad about it. Sure it’s a lot, but as a tech nerd, my lifestyle has improved because of it. Why do I pay such a price, and what kind of experience does this provide? Good question.

Living in Rural America means making digital sacrifices

I’ve written about this topic before, but Rural America is falling further behind the rest of the country. While many rural towns are laying down fiber and cable lines, it’s much more challenging for those on farms, acreages, or in very small rural communities. According to a 2021 report, only 70% of the 287 most rural counties in the nation have access to high-speed internet. Many of these people live outside of towns, like myself.

- Andrew Grush

Welcome to the 501st edition of Android Apps Weekly. After a brief one-week recess we’re back and ready to bring you the latest news and apps from the week. Let’s start with some of the biggest headlines from last week:

Google Maps is a great GPS app that many of us trust to get safely where need to go. Unfortunately, it’s not always perfect and Google can take a long time to respond to user requests around new roads or other issues. Now a new lawsuit claims Google was responsible for the death of man who was driving home late at night and came across an unbarricaded bridge that had collapsed back in 2013. The suit claims many users warned Google about the issue and yet it was never fixed. The lawsuit is also holding those accountable who were supposed to be responsible for the bridge and for putting up proper barricades. Facebook is finally rolling out a feature that lets you add up to four additional profiles from the app. This is perfect for those who maintain multiple accounts for work and business, as well as families that share a single tablet. That said, certain features won’t be available for additional profiles like Dating, Marketplace, Professional mode, and payments. After delaying its Android 14 stable release, Google is rolling out a new Android 14 QPR1 beta update for Pixel phones. This new update actually brings a few new changes including a new screen search gesture inspired by Google Now on Tap, and the ability to keep apps open even when you close the Pixel FoldFind my Phone may soon be able to find a Pixel phone even when it’s off. The new feature is apparently found within the code of Android 14. How is this possible? Basically the Bluetooth chips would function even if there’s not enough power to boot the whole OS, similar to a feature that already exists for Apple’s iPhone. The One UI 6 Beta is slowly rolling out to new devices and it seems the Galaxy S22 is next in line. For now, the update is only available in South Korea, though it might not be too much longer before international models of the S22 family also get the beta. Google is rolling out a new Fitbit app design. This new app is easier to use with just three tabs: today, couch, and you. There are also plenty of sub-sections under each of these. This is the first major change to Facebook’s look in years and we really like what we see so far. Google Bard now works with your Google account and many Google apps. You’ll now be able to use Bard to dig through Gmail, Drive, Maps, and more. This will make it easy for you to ask Bard questions related to your own agenda and documents.   Android Apps Weekly: The best new apps and games of the week

Looking for some new Android apps and Android games to keep you occupied? Below we take a look at some of our favorite suggestions for the week:

- Rita El Khoury
Android 1.0 didn’t impress me 15 years ago, but look at us now
android 15 year birthday 3 Credit: Rita El Khoury / Android Authority Opinion post byRita El Khoury

Happy 15-year anniversary, Android! It hasn’t been an easy start to the journey, but you have evolved so much over the years and look at you now! More than 2 billion people use you every day and rely on you to communicate with loved ones, search for answers, read the web, pay for goods, take photos and videos, and more.

Sadly, though, if I take a trip down memory lane and look back at that fateful September 2008 launch, I’m not sure I was optimistic about Google’s endeavor. Android 1.0 and the T-Mobile G1 (also known as T-Mobile Dream) were nothing more than a blip on my personal radar, not because I wasn’t interested in mobile tech. Quite the contrary. I was already writing about mobile phones and tech back then, but my drug of choice was Nokia and its Symbian operating system.

- Joe Hindy
This article was updated and checked for accuracy in September 2023. It was originally published in 2013.

Battery saver apps have emerged as tools for smartphone users, promising to extend the longevity of our devices between charges. But it truly is difficult to find an application that actually saves you battery since most battery saver measures are manual, including turning the brightness on your screen down, turning down the frequency that apps sync data, and other similar methods. In most cases, you see a bigger improvement when you understand what causes battery drain and how to identify and mitigate your biggest causes. Still, if you want to try out some apps that might help, here are the best battery saver apps for Android.

The best battery saver apps for Android Battery Guru Greenify GSam Battery Monitor AccuBattery Doze Mode and App Standby Battery Guru (root and non-root)

Price: Free

- Hadlee Simons
Poll: In 15 years of Android, what’s the best Android version?
android 15 year birthday 4 Credit: Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

Today marks the 15th anniversary of Android 1.0, as it was announced back on September 23, 2008. We didn’t even have features like multi-touch or widgets back then, let alone anything like the amount of features we’ve got in Android 14.

What’s the best version of Android, though? That’s what we’re asking you, so give us your answer in the poll below.

Become a cybersecurity expert for an extra $30 off

With cybercrime running rampant these days, having a cybersecurity education is a major bonus. Not just for your security, but for your earning potential, too! And between 9/23 and 9/30, you can lock in a lifetime’s worth of cybersecurity education for a specially reduced price. During that time, The Complete 2023 Cybersecurity Developer & IT Skills Bundle will be reduced to just $39.97.

This bundle contains 26 courses covering some of the leading certification exams from Cisco, CompTIA, Microsoft, and more of the world’s top certifying bodies. You’ll dive into courses with iCollege, one of the most trusted online learning organizations, employed by Silicon Valley startups and Fortune 500 companies alike.

From ethical hacking to firewall protection and much more, you’ll get the education you need to thrive in cybersecurity. Just make sure to buy between 9/23 and 9/30 when The Complete 2023 Cybersecurity Developer & IT Skills Bundle is reduced from $69.99 to just $39.97.


The Complete 2023 Cybersecurity Developer & IT Skills Bundle – $39.97

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Prices subject to change. 

Computer Accessories
Best Windows backup software 2023: Protect your data!

Our PC storage drives won’t last forever and that’s why it’s always a good idea to use backup software to keep your data safe. The best Windows backup software can cover our butts when our primary drive finally up and dies.

While Apple’s Time Machine provides users with an effective, set-it-and-forget-it recovery system, Microsoft users aren’t so lucky. Instead, users are stuck deciding the best way to keep their data safe with a patchwork system of restore points, recovery discs, and file backups. Thankfully, a number of excellent third-party backup options have cropped up in recent years to help solve the woes of Windows users.

Below you’ll find a list of our favorites, which come with easy-to-use and attractive designs as well as a full range of file and image backup capabilities. We’ve even included a couple free options that are more than worthwhile. Scroll to the bottom of this article for more info about what to look for in a Windows backup program.

Also, check out PCWorld’s roundup of best external drives for recommendations on reliable storage options—an important component in a comprehensive backup strategy. Alternatively, if you’d prefer to keep your data on the cloud or need the flexibility of data storage for different operating systems, then check out our list of best online backup services.

Updated 09/24/2023: Check out our latest review of Microsoft OneDrive. It’s not only the most affordable cloud storage service on the market, but it also allows you to pair it with other third-party backup applications for even more versatility.


Backup software powered by AI – EaseUS Todo Backup

EaseUS Todo Backup covers everything you need for backups. With AI smart backup, automate your backup tasks on schedule, run to make copies, do realtime protections, and restore everything instantly. No extra effort is required. Also, get 250GB cloud storage for free.

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Get It Now | 25% off R-Drive Image 7 – Best Windows backup overall R-Drive Image 7 - Best Windows backup overall


Super-reliable, fast disk and partition imaging File and folder backup Partition manager Lean-and-mean Linux and WinPE boot media Supports Microsoft’s nearly ubiquitous VHD format


Would like to see multiple destinations per job Price When Reviewed: $44.95 Best Prices Today: $44.95 at R-tools Technology

R-Drive Image has always been a favorite of ours—a low-resource-consuming product that was ultra-reliable in creating backup images of partitions and disks. But it didn’t have as much polish as Acronis’s backup program (below) and wasn’t as feature-rich. That has changed with this latest version, which now has a more modern, user-friendly interface and more versatility in the types of backups you can perform.

The latest 7.1 version adds WinPE boot-disc support and VHD compatibility to an already impressive arsenal of features. VHD compatibility, in particular, is a great new feature as R-Drive no longer entirely relies on its own proprietary images, but now allows users the option to keep backups in VHD (Virtual Hard Disk) format—which addresses one of the only previous complaints we had about the service.

Read our full R-Drive Image 7 review Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office – Best Windows backup runner-up Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office - Best Windows backup runner-up


Excellent imaging and file backup capabilities Actively protects against ransomware Cloud storage included


Heavy installation footprint All-or-nothing install doesn’t let you choose modules Price When Reviewed: $49.99 Best Prices Today: $29.99 at PCWorld Software Store$49.99 at Acronis

There’s a reason Acronis is renowned in the world of backup software. Cyber Protect Home Office (previously named Acronis True Image) is capable, flexible, and rock-solid reliable. Indeed, it’s easily the most comprehensive data safety package on the planet.

Besides offering unparalleled backup functionality that’s both robust and easy to navigate, it integrates security apps as well, which protect against malware, malicious websites, and other threats using real-time monitoring. 

Read our full Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office review Retrospect Solo – Best for added ransomware protection Retrospect Solo - Best for added ransomware protection


Easy to use (once learned) Copious feature set Good performance New anti-ransomware backup protection


Somewhat steep learning curve Price When Reviewed: $49 Best Prices Today: 49 at Retrospect

The latest version (18.5) of this stalwart Windows backup program is every bit as feature-packed as we’d expect. It even adds an interesting pre-backup file scanning to root out anomalies before overwriting your previous backup—a nod to the emergence of ransomware as a concern. It’s got a bit of a learning curve, but once familiar, Retrospect Solo delivers the goods.

Read our full Retrospect Solo review Perfect Backup – Best free Windows backup Perfect Backup - Best free Windows backup


Familiar and easy interface Friendlier data selection than Windows File History Backs up to local media, network locations, and online services Logging, notifications, FTP support, and lots of other options


No image backups Must be loaded for scheduled backups Price When Reviewed: Free Best Prices Today: $0 at Perfect Backup

Perfect Backup provides you with excellent backup options at no cost, and there’s no better price than free. Perfect Backup is both more stable and easier to use than many of the premium options for Window’s backup software. It lacks image backups for disaster recovery, which is admittedly disappointing, but also to be expected in a free service. Fortunately, it allows just about every other type of backup you’d need, such as backing up to local media, the company’s online service, and other network locations. Most users looking for an easy and free way to securely store their important data need look no further.

Read our full Perfect Backup review Windows File History backup – Best free Windows backup runner-up Windows File History backup - Best free Windows backup runner-up


Excellent continuous data protection with versioning Easy, timeline browsing of backed-up files Integrated into Windows Backs up user-created libraries


Easy “Add folder” function removed from Windows 11 Price When Reviewed: Free with Windows

Among the free programs we tested, Windows File History backup is one of the easiest continuous data protection software for Windows. It’s unfortunate that the latest version removed the “add folder” function from File History, but otherwise it continues to improve upon an already solid backup program. Also, it provides many of the features and functions of other third-party paid backup programs, all for free. And you can’t argue with free. It would’ve taken the top spot for free options if not for the fact that Perfect Backup has easier-to-use data selection tools.

Read our full Windows File History backup review Arcserve ShadowProtect SPX – Best Windows backup for SMBs Arcserve ShadowProtect SPX - Best Windows backup for SMBs


Fast and reliable continuous data protection Super easy restores to real or virtual hard drives Handy timeline overview Excellent disaster recovery


Slightly daunting login dialog Image-based backup only Pricey for end users Price When Reviewed: $99.95 Best Prices Today: $99.95 at StorageCraft

If you are looking for something more robust than just file and folder backup for your business, then Arcserve ShadowProtect SPX has you covered. It comes loaded with a full feature-set that allows you to quickly and easily restore your data and it has support for third-party virtual hard drives. It is also an excellent choice not just for Windows users, but also Linux users or those in mixed Windows/Linux environments. ShadowProtect is a bit pricey, but it is an extremely reliable backup software with foolproof continuous data protection.

Read our full Arcserve ShadowProtect SPX Desktop review How we test

We run each program through the various types of backups it’s capable of. This is largely to test reliability and hardware compatibility, but we time two: an approximately 115GB system image (two partitions), and a roughly 50GB image created from a set of smaller files and folders. We then mount the images and test their integrity via the program’s restore functions. We also test the USB boot drives created by the programs.

How to pick a backup software

As with most things—don’t over-buy. Features you don’t need add complexity and may slow down your system. Additionally, if you intend to back up to a newly purchased external hard drive, check out the software that ships with it. Seagate, WD, and others provide backup utilities that are adequate for the average user.

File backup: If you want to back up only your data (operating systems and programs can be reinstalled, though it’s mildly time- and effort-consuming), a program that backs up just the files you select is a major time-saver. Some programs automatically select the appropriate files if you use the Windows library folders (Documents, Photos, Videos, etc.).

Image backup/imaging: Images are byte-for-byte snapshots of your entire hard drive (normally without the empty sectors) or partition, and can be used to restore both the operating system and data. Imaging is the most convenient to restore in case of a system crash, and also ensures you don’t miss anything important.

Boot media:  Should your system crash completely, you need an alternate way to boot and run the recovery software. Any backup program should be able to create a bootable optical disc or USB thumb drive. Some will also create a restore partition on your hard drive, which can be used instead if the hard drive is still operational.

Scheduling: If you’re going to back up effectively, you need to do it on a regular basis. Any backup program worth its salt allows you to schedule backups.

Versioning: If you’re overwriting previous files, that’s not backup, it’s one-way syncing or mirroring. Any backup program you use should allow you to retain several previous backups, or with file backup, previous versions of the file. The better software will retain and cull older backups according to criteria you establish.

Optical support: Every backup program supports hard drives, but as obsolete as they may seem, DVDs and Blu-Ray discs are great archive media. If you’re worried about optical media’s reliability, M-Disc claims its discs are reliable for a thousand years, claims that are backed up by Department of Defense testing.

Online support: An offsite copy of your data is a hedge against physical disasters such as flood, fire, and power surges. Online storage services are a great way to maintain an offsite copy of your data. Backup to Dropbox and the like is a nice feature to have.

FTP and SMB/AFP: Backing up to other computers or NAS boxes on your network or in remote locations (say, your parent’s house) is another way of physically safeguarding your data with an offsite, or at least physically discrete copy. FTP can be used for offsite, while SMB (Windows and most OS’s) and AFP (Apple) are good for other PCs or NAS on your local network.

Real time: Real-time backup means that files are backed up whenever they change, usually upon creation or save. It’s also called mirroring and is handy for keeping an immediately available copy of rapidly changing data sets. For less volatile data sets, the payoff doesn’t compensate for the drain on system resources. Instead, scheduling should be used.

Continuous backup: In this case, ‘continuous’ simply means backing up on a tight schedule, generally every 5 to 15 minutes, instead of every day or weekly. Use continuous backup for rapidly changing data sets where transfer rates are too slow, or computing power is too precious for real-time backup.

Performance: Most backups proceed in the background or during dead time, so performance isn’t a huge issue in the consumer space. However, if you’re backing up multiple machines or to multiple destinations, or dealing with very large data sets, speed is a consideration.

FAQ 1. How often should backups be scheduled?

Ideally, you should schedule backups of your data as often as possible. This is especially true if you are working on an important project or have data that you absolutely cannot afford to lose. It is a good idea to automate the backup process and have the Windows software back up your data every hour or so.

2. What is the difference between Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, and Windows backup services?

Services such as Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive are considered to be cloud storage services. This means that a user must place their files or data onto the service’s cloud manually. It’s almost like having a physical storage drive in the internet’s virtual cloud.

Windows backup software, meanwhile, provides continuous versioning and backup of all the file history on your device. It will continuously and automatically backup every specified file on a device. Windows backup software also offers additional data security measures such as file encryption. Furthermore, these backup services allow you to create a bootable optical disc or USB thumb drive for recovery after a system crash.

There are cloud backup services (distinct from those mentioned above) that offer much, though not all, of the benefits of a Windows backup program, such as continuous backups and versioning for multiple devices. You can learn more about them in our roundup of best cloud backup services.

3. Will Windows backup software slow down my computer?

In most situations Windows backup software won’t noticeably slow down your computer. If you are backing up to more than one device or multiple different destinations, or if you are backing up very large data sets, then you may notice your system slow down as it performs the backup. Otherwise, Windows backup software typically runs in the background or during dead time so you shouldn’t notice a decrease in performance.

Also, it’s a good idea, if the option is available with your software, to run a continuous backup. This will cause the software to perform backups of only the files you change in real time and it requires less bandwidth and processor resources to maintain.

4. Does Windows Backup save everything?

Yes, by default Windows Backup and Restore saves all data files including those in your library, on your desktop, and in Windows’ default folders. It will also create a system image if you need to restore Windows in the case of an emergency or system failure.

A system image is a great way to save all the data on your system including installed applications. But be careful as this system image can potentially take up hundreds of gigabytes of storage on your computer’s hard drive.

Business, Personal Software, Professional Software, Security Software and Services
Get two 4K camera drones on sale for $110 for a limited time

Drones are an exciting way to experience the world around you with a new perspective. But they’re an expensive hobby, right? Not so much if you take advantage of this limited-time deal between 9/23 and 9/30. During that time, you can get the Alpha Z PRO 4K + Flying Fox 4K Wide-Angle Dual-Camera Drone Bundle for just $109.97.

Both of these drones have a 4K wide-angel front camera with 90º adjustment and a 720p bottom camera to capture a broad scope of the landscape below. Flying each is easy even for novices thanks to a host of coordination and control features from altitude hold to headless mode. And with a six-axis gyroscope and four-channel movement, piloting is as intuitive as it can be.

You can get a first-person view of the flight via the companion app and the Flying Fox even allows you to take pictures and video by simply making gestures. Enjoy 7 to 9 minutes of flight with the Alpha Z or 9 to 12 minutes with the Flying Fox.

Pick up a drone hobby today! Between 9/23 and 9/30 you can get the Alpha Z PRO 4K + Flying Fox 4K Wide-Angle Dual-Camera Drone Bundle for more than 70% off $398 at just $109.97.


Alpha Z PRO 4K + Flying Fox 4K Wide-Angle Dual-Camera Drone Bundle – $109.97

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Prices are subject to change.

Best laptops for college students 2023: Top picks and expert advice

Gone are the days of overloaded backpacks full of notebooks and hand-cramps from trying to write as fast as possible. Nowadays, a good laptop elevates your productivity and allows you to keep all your important lesson materials in one place. Whether you’re a freshman or heading into your final year, having a laptop that’s capable, sturdy, and portable, with good battery life will help keep you on top of your studies—or gaming (no judgement).

Why you should trust us: It’s in our name, PCWorld. We’ve been reviewing laptops for decades, with exacting standards applied to all facets of the user experience, from performance benchmarks to features to the rigors of daily use. Our experts know their stuff and have curated a comprehensive list of the best laptops for college students, with their particular needs in mind.

After you finish looking over our recommendations, be sure to hit our roundup of best back to school deals and our daily updated roundup of the best laptop deals to try and score your favorite laptops on sale. Or check out our roundup of the best laptops for even more recommendations

Updated 9/23/2023: To include the Acer Aspire Vero as our new choice for best eco-friendly option. Read our summary below to learn more about this environmentally friendly laptop made from recycled materials.

Samsung Galaxy Book3 Pro 360 – Best overall Samsung Galaxy Book3 Pro 360 - Best overall


Stunning OLED upgrade in resolution, performance, more One of the first 13th-gen Core laptops Top-notch battery life Solid inking 1080p webcam and very good audio


Good, not great, performance Webcam effects are iffy Price When Reviewed: From $1,699.99 Best Prices Today: $1,249.99 at Amazon$1420.25 at Walmart$1449.99 at Best Buy

From the convertible form factor and 1080p webcam to the spectacular battery life and lovely OLED display, the Samsung Galaxy Book3 Pro 360 really has it all. The laptop itself weighs 3.66 pounds, which is light enough to take with you from class to class. The display swings back 360 degrees, which is really nice, especially when you want to share notes with a fellow classmate. The 1080p webcam will make you look good during remote sessions and the 13.5 hours of battery life means you’ll be able to keep working well into the evening hours. Let’s take a quick peek at the hardware inside.

The Galaxy Book3 Pro 360 comes equipped with an Intel Core i7-1360P CPU, Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. That’s more than enough power for writing papers, watching YouTube, working on collaborative class projects, and much more. The 16-inch AMOLED touch display features a resolution of 2880×1800 and a refresh rate of 120Hz. That means visuals should be both smooth and vibrant. Overall, this is one killer laptop. If you’re looking for a laptop with powerful hardware and plentiful features, then the Galaxy Book3 Pro 360 is one to consider.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Book3 Pro 360 review Acer Chromebook Spin 514 – Best Chromebook Acer Chromebook Spin 514 - Best Chromebook


Great processor performance Sturdy, premium design Top-notch keyboard and touchpad Two USB-C ports with Power Delivery Long battery life


A bit heavy for a 2-in-1 device Display could be brighter Android game performance is unreliable Expensive compared to Windows alternatives Price When Reviewed: $699.99 Best Prices Today: $699.99 at Acer

If you regularly use Google apps, you should consider picking up the Acer Chromebook Spin 514, as it’s a phenomenal productivity machine based on ChromeOS. The design is chic and durable, and processor performance is quite zippy. It’s designed to handle most day-to-day tasks like checking email, working on documents, or using web-based apps. The keyboard and touchpad are a joy to use as well. According to our reviewer, the Spin 514 has a “wide keyboard layout with large, easily located keys.” As for the hardware, it’s got a decent amount of power for a Chromebook.

The Spin 514 is packing an AMD Ryzen 5 5625C CPU, AMD Radeon graphics, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of SSD storage. The display, which folds back 360 degrees, has a resolution of 1920×1080 and is touch-enabled. It’s plenty sharp for general use. Contrast and color performance are adequate, too. The $699.99 price tag is a little steep for a Chromebook, but if you’ve got the money to spend, then you won’t be disappointed.

Read our full Acer Chromebook Spin 514 review Acer Aspire 3 – Best budget laptop Acer Aspire 3 - Best budget laptop


Spacious keyboard with number pad HD webcam Solid video playback performance Decent business app performance Workday-long battery life


Poor gaming graphics performance Basic 1080p display Small 128GB storage drive Price When Reviewed: $329.99 Best Prices Today: $293.75 at Amazon$349.99 at Walmart

With its affordable price point, solid build, decent performance, and excellent battery life, the Acer Aspire 3 is a good budget option for students. While the aesthetics are a bit bland, the build is surprisingly rugged. During our testing we were surprised by its solid and durable feel—this is not some cheap plastic kids toy, but rather a rugged machine built for work. The full-size keyboard is nice, too. It has a spacious layout, which is perfect for longer typing sessions. Performance is fast enough for general-use tasks like writing emails and browsing the web, but that’s about it. If you’re shopping around for a solid everyday laptop that won’t break the bank, the Aspire 3 is definitely worth a look.

Read our full Acer Aspire 3 (2022) review Acer Swift X 14 – Best compact design Acer Swift X 14 - Best compact design


Excellent CPU performance Pleasant keyboard and touchpad Beautiful OLED display Good range USB-C and USB-A connectivity


Generic design Extremely disappointing battery life RTX 4050 held back by 50-watt TGP Price When Reviewed: $1,499.99 Best Prices Today: $1,349.99 at Amazon$1499.99 at Acer

Calling all coffee shop goers and laptop notetakers. The Acer Swift X 14 is the perfect laptop to take to class or to your local café. It provides strong CPU and GPU performance with a 13th-gen Core i7-13700H processor and an Nvidia RTX 4050 graphics card. And at just 12.9-inches wide and 0.7-inches thick, it packs all of that performance into a very small package. Plus, it weighs a mere 3.31 pounds, which means it’s about the same size as a MacBook Pro 14 but weighs even less.

The Acer Swift X 14 also comes with a superb 14.5-inch OLED display, which is a big upgrade over similarly priced models with LCD displays from competitors. It’s only real downside is its less-than-ideal battery life, which is seemingly a direct result of the energy-hungry performance components. Still, while the Swift X 14 might not be the best for long-haul flights, it’s more than worthy of being your main around-town portable laptop.

Read our full Acer Swift X 14 review Asus Chromebook CM34 Flip – Best battery life Asus Chromebook CM34 Flip - Best battery life


Spectacular battery life Spacious touchpad 1080p webcam Lovely display


Heavier than expected Display is too reflective in outside environments Middling performance Price When Reviewed: $499 Best Prices Today: $279.00 at Best Buy

The Asus Chromebook CM34 Flip has a fantastic battery that just doesn’t seem stop. In our testing it lasted a jaw-dropping 19 hours on a single charge—we even ran the benchmark twice just to double check. That’s positively wild. For most laptops if you can eek out 10 hours on a single charge that’s considered a great battery life. But the CM34 Flip almost doubles that number.

In addition to a marathon battery life, this 2-in-1 Chromebook also comes with a vibrant touchscreen display, spacious touchpad, and surprisingly high-quality 1080p webcam. It does run heavier than the average convertible at just over 4 pounds. But if you’re on the hunt for a long-lasting everyday machine that won’t break the bank, you can’t get much better than the CM34 Flip.

Read our full Asus Chromebook CM34 Flip review HP Dragonfly Pro – Best MacBook alternative HP Dragonfly Pro - Best MacBook alternative


Premium materials Powerful AMD Ryzen chip Surprising four speaker setup Good battery life High degree of value for the dollar


All myHP keyboard keys should be remappable No user upgradeable components No headphone jack Only 2 high-speed USB-C ports Price When Reviewed: $1,399 Best Prices Today: $1549.99 at HP

Want the attractive design, incredible efficiency, and great performance of a MacBook Pro but in a Windows device? Well, the HP Dragonfly Pro comes about as close as you can get to Apple’s line of premium laptops. HP partnered with AMD to create this slim laptop that packs the latest generation Ryzen 7 processor with 8 high-performance cores and a surprisingly powerful Radeon 680M graphic card. The laptop’s design is thin and attractive with a high quality feel made from aluminum and polycarbonate. However, just like the MacBook Pro models, this laptop takes a minimalist approach to ports, making those who rely on a bunch of plug-in accessories to feel a little hard done by. The display is nice enough, but it does have some catching up to do if it hopes to rival Apple’s best. Still, for a laptop that is significantly cheaper than the current line of MacBook Pro models, this Dragonfly Pro laptop from HP is a more than worthy competitor.

Read our full HP Dragonfly Pro review XPG Xenia 15 KC – Most portable gaming laptop XPG Xenia 15 KC - Most portable gaming laptop


Very light Very quiet (relatively) very fast


Subpar RGB Just barely adequate audio SD card reader barely adequate Price When Reviewed: 1999 Best Prices Today: $1,349.00 at Amazon

When it comes to gaming laptops, many, if not most, of them are pretty bulky and heavy, often tipping the scales at five or six pounds. Well, that’s not the case with the XPG Xenia 15 KC. It weighs a little over four pounds, which is fairly lightweight for a gaming laptop. Plus, it runs very quiet. According to our review, it “rarely makes noise under normal use.” That’s impressive, as most gaming laptops tend to sound like a rocket blasting off. If you’re looking for something that’s both quiet and portable, the Xenia 15 KC is an excellent choice.

Suffice to say, it’s up to task of all your productivity tasks as well. With the XPG Xenia 15 you can follow up a hard day’s work with a fun and rewarding gaming session.

Read our full XPG Xenia 15 KC review Acer Swift 3 SF316-51 – Best big screen laptop Acer Swift 3 SF316-51 - Best big screen laptop


Solid chassis and build quality Large, attractive 16-inch 1080p screen Enjoyable keyboard and touchpad USB-C with charging and DisplayPort


Webcam, microphone, and speakers don’t impress Intel processor falls behind AMD alternatives  Disappointing battery life Lots of bloatware Price When Reviewed: $999 Best Prices Today: $907.23 at Amazon$907.23 at Walmart

If you’re a college student working with a modest budget, and you like the idea of a big screen to spread out on, the Acer Swift 3 is a fantastic option. It features an attractive 16-inch 1080p display, a solid chassis, and an satisfying keyboard and touchpad. However, battery life isn’t great, so you’ll want to keep the charger on hand. This is rather unfortunate, as the Swift 3’s slim profile makes it an agreeable laptop for travel. If you don’t mind the lackluster battery life, this is a great laptop for watching movies and streaming video on, in addition to its more academic-oriented functions.

Read our full Acer Swift 3 SF316-51 review Acer Aspire Vero – Best eco-friendly option Acer Aspire Vero - Best eco-friendly option


Peppy performance Good 1080P display Eco-friendly, quality materials Excellent battery life Convenient, fast fingerprint reader


Still some bloatware Flex in the laptop is more noticeable Price When Reviewed: $899.99 Best Prices Today: $849.99 at Acer

The Aspire Vero is Acer’s latest from their eco-friendly line of notebooks. The eco-conscious buyer can rest easier knowing this laptop is built from recycled materials, meaning you’re reducing your carbon footprint. It also sports some pretty good hardware for the price too. From strong Core i7 CPU performance to a surprisingly good 1080p display, this laptop has more to offer than just being environmentally friendly.

All of these things and more make the Aspire Vero a great everyday laptop. Its only real downside is that some components such as the soldered-on RAM are not replaceable, meaning you won’t have the option to upgrade in the future. This is a minor nitpick however and doesn’t take away from a well-performing laptop that’s both affordable and sustainable.

Read our full Acer Aspire Vero review Lenovo IdeaPad 5 Gaming Chromebook – Best Chromebook for gaming Lenovo IdeaPad 5 Gaming Chromebook - Best Chromebook for gaming


Large, bright 2560×1600 display Ideal wireless and wired connectivity Good display, strong speakers


Unimpressive design Mediocre keyboard and touchpad Lackluster webcam and microphone Price When Reviewed: $569.99 Best Prices Today: $459.99 at Walmart$569.99 at Amazon$569.99 at eBay

Chromebooks are a college student’s best friend—reliable, lightweight, and affordable. But they might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you want a gaming computer. Thankfully, Lenovo has made gaming more accessible to Chromebook users with its IdeaPad 5 Gaming. It comes with a Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a bright 16-inch 2560×1600 display. Plus, in a rarity for any type of laptop, the speakers are surprisingly good.

If those specs seem good, but not enough to game with, don’t worry. Gaming on a Chromebook is done mostly, if not entirely, through a cloud gaming service anyways. For only the monthly fee of one of these services, you’re able to stream the very best modern games straight from the cloud to your Chromebook. When testing this Chromebook we even found that we could stream AAA games at good resolutions and up to 120Hz. That’s pretty impressive for a laptop that costs less then a third of what you’d pay for a more powerful Windows gaming rig. For more on which cloud gaming services are our favorites, check out our roundup of the best cloud gaming services.

Read our full Lenovo IdeaPad 5 Gaming Chromebook review How we tested

The PCWorld team puts each and every Windows laptop through a series of benchmarks that test GPU and CPU performance, battery life, and so on. The idea is to push the laptop to its limits and then compare it against others we’ve tested. Chromebooks, on the other hand, go through a series of web-based tests. It wouldn’t be fair or possible to run the same kinds of tests on a Chromebook, as they’re Chrome OS-based machines. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of each test and the reasons why we run them.

Windows laptops PCMark 10: PCMark 10 is how we determine how well the laptop handles lighter tasks like web browsing, word processing, spreadsheets, and so on. HandBrake: HandBrake is more intensive than PCMark 10. It basically measures how long a laptop’s CPU takes to encode a beefy 30GB file. Cinebench: Cinebench is a brief stress test of the CPU cores. It does this by rendering a 2D scene over a short period of time. 3DMark: 3DMark checks if 3D performance remains consistent over time by running graphic-intensive clips. Video rundown test: To gauge battery life, we loop a 4K video using Windows 10’s Movies & TV app until the laptop dies. Chromebooks CrXPRT 2: The CrXPRT 2 benchmark tests a Chromebook’s battery life. Speedometer 2.0: This test determines a Chromebook’s web browser performance. It simulates this by adding, completing, and removing a to-do list. Basemark Web 3.0: This benchmark gauges how well a Chromebook can handle web-based applications. Kraken 1.1: Kraken 1.1 is a JavaScript performance benchmark. Jetstream 2: Jetstream 2 is a combination of WebAssembly and JavaScript benchmarks. This is a way to gauge how well a Chromebook runs advanced workloads. What to look for in a laptop for college

The first thing to consider is budget. How much are you willing to spend on a laptop? If you’re working with an inflexible budget, Chromebooks are a good option. They’re affordable and designed to handle everyday tasks like writing papers, working on spreadsheets, and so on. Chromebook prices can range anywhere from $200 up to $1,000. If you want to spend a bit more, laptops with convertible touchscreens (otherwise known as 2-in-1s) offer a great deal of functionality. You can flip the screen around and use it like a tablet or prop it up like an easel for watching movies.

If you’ve got a jam-packed schedule, you’ll probably be running from class to class with very little downtime in between. That’s why we recommend a laptop with a long-lasting battery. We recommend something that’ll last 7 to 10-plus hours on a single charge, unless you want a notebook that can play games on the side—gaming laptops are notorious for their shorter endurance, even during everyday tasks. That 7 to 10 hours is a good figure if you plan on taking your laptop with you everywhere.

Things like navigating your e-mail or watching Netflix will require more RAM. We recommend springing for 8GB of RAM or more. 4GB of RAM is fine and good for web browsing and basic office work, but 8GB is better for having more tabs open and whatnot. Plus, applications like Google Chrome and Spotify tend to eat up a lot of RAM. Most people can get by with 4GB in a pinch if you’re on a tight budget, but you won’t be able to multitask as much.

The final thing is a decent keyboard. In college, you’re going to be spending a lot of time typing. Depending on your personal preference, you may want either a full or short travel keyboard. Mechanical keyboards, for example, normally have longer travel. This helps prevent accidental keystrokes. The keys also give a lot of tactile feedback, as they bounce back after they’re pressed down.

For more specifics regarding the hardware you want inside your laptop, be sure to check out our comprehensive guide on how to buy a budget laptop without getting screwed, as well as our broader cheatsheet on what to look for in a laptop CPU and GPU.

FAQ 1. Can you use your Chromebook for gaming?

Simply put, no—at least, not well. It comes down to what type of gaming you intend to do. Chromebooks can run web games and Android games perfectly well. But if you’re looking to play the latest high-powered titles such as Elden Ring, a Chromebook just won’t cut it. This is mainly due to the fact that most titles only run on Windows and Chromebooks typically don’t come with sufficient graphics power.

All that said, Google is trying to bring cloud gaming to its Chromebooks. Cloud gaming services work by using a remote PC or console to play games streamed through the cloud down onto the Chromebook. However, until this service becomes more common, Chromebooks are not good options for gaming.

2. Can you game with integrated graphics?

Yes, recently the the latest integrated graphics processors from the likes of Intel and AMD can handle modern PC games at reasonable settings. For example, Intel’s latest Iris Xe line of processors with integrated graphics have been shown to run some of the latest releases at 1080p and 30fps. Be careful, however, as not all integrated graphics are created equal.

Regarding gaming performance, Intel and AMD’s integrated graphics have made huge leaps in recent years. So if you’re on a budget or looking for an ultra-thin laptop and the only options include integrated graphics, fear not, you can still game on. For more information check out Intel’s Core 12th-gen Iris Xe versus AMD’s brand new Ryzen 6000 RDNA 2.

3. What laptop size is best?

This is mostly personal preference. Students who bring their laptops to class or intend to travel a lot should consider a smaller, more portable size. Anything in the neighborhood of 13 to 14 inches is recommended. However, if you want to use your laptop for gaming, then you should consider something in the 15- to 17-inch range. It’s also important to keep in mind the weight of the laptop before buying it. Ultra thin laptops can weigh a featherlight 2 pounds while hefty gaming rigs top the scales at three or four times that—not exactly something you want to carry in a backpack everyday.

Best Chromebooks 2023: Best overall, best battery life, and more

Chromebooks have come a long way in recent years. They are no longer used to just run Google apps or access the internet. Chromebooks can do just about every productivity task a Windows or MacOS laptop can do, and they often come at a more affordable price. They are also renowned for having long battery life and solid designs. Google has developed Chrome OS to be perfect for everyday tasks such as working on documents and spreadsheets, browsing the web, and checking email. So if affordability and ease of use are what you’re after, a Chromebook is likely to be the answer.

Chromebooks come in all sorts of varieties, so the PCWorld team has put together a list of the best Chromebook options on the market today, whatever your needs may be. Below our picks you can find helpful buying advice as well.

If you’re still not sure whether a Chromebook is the right choice for you, take a look at our in-depth comparison of Chromebooks vs. Windows laptops to help you decide. And before you pull the trigger on a new computer, be sure to double-check our best laptop deals and our latest back to school deals while they last—both are updated daily. Finally, check out our complete guide to the best laptops to see our top picks across all operating systems.

Updated 09/23/2023: To include the Acer Chromebook Spin 514 as our pick for the best Chromebook overall. Read our summary below to find out why. Also, be sure to check out our recent review of the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3 Chromebook. It’s a solid, low-cost option for young professionals or college students but lacks overall performance for more demanding tasks.

Acer Chromebook Spin 514 – Best Chromebook overall Acer Chromebook Spin 514 - Best Chromebook overall


Great processor performance Sturdy, premium design Top-notch keyboard and touchpad Two USB-C ports with Power Delivery Long battery life


A bit heavy for a 2-in-1 device Display could be brighter Android game performance is unreliable Expensive compared to Windows alternatives Price When Reviewed: $699.99 Best Prices Today: $699.99 at Acer

If you’re looking for a great convertible laptop, the Acer Chromebook Spin 514 assuredly fits the bill. You can either prop it up like a tent or fold the screen all the way back and use it like a tablet. We were also impressed with its vibrant display, all-day battery life, and connectivity options. It’s a bit heavy for a convertible and the price tag is high, but this is one of the fastest and most powerful Chromebooks currently available.

Plus, the Spin 514 has a fantastic keyboard that is a joy to type on and a battery life that will last upwards of 13 hours without a charge. Add to this the addition of two USB-C ports that should future-proof connectivity and you’re getting an excellent all-around Chromebook.

Read our full Acer Chromebook Spin 514 review Lenovo IdeaPad 5 Gaming – Best Chromebook for gaming Lenovo IdeaPad 5 Gaming - Best Chromebook for gaming


Large, bright 2560×1600 display Ideal wireless and wired connectivity Good display, strong speakers


Unimpressive design Mediocre keyboard and touchpad Lackluster webcam and microphone Price When Reviewed: $569.99 Best Prices Today: $459.99 at Walmart$569.99 at Amazon$569.99 at eBay

After Google decided to shut down its Stadia cloud gaming service, most people wrote off Chromebooks as viable options for gaming. But Lenovo is keeping the hope alive for gaming Chromebooks with its IdeaPad 5 Gaming. It comes with a Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. Lenovo also gave the IdeaPad 5 Gaming a bright 16-inch 2560×1600 display and surprisingly good speakers.

Sure, it might not be able to handle the most graphically demanding games. You’ll also need to do most, if not all, of your gaming through a cloud gaming service, as ChromeOS doesn’t support most modern games. But the IdeaPad 5 Gaming Chromebook is more than capable of streaming games from the cloud at good resolutions and up to 120Hz. If you don’t mind paying the monthly fee for a cloud gaming service, this Lenovo Chromebook will having you gaming with the best of them.

Read our full Lenovo IdeaPad 5 Gaming Chromebook review HP Chromebook x2 11 – Best folio-style Chromebook HP Chromebook x2 11 - Best folio-style Chromebook


Gorgeous 2K touchscreen Solid performance Excellent battery life Robust design


Trackpad is too sensitive at times Light on ports Price When Reviewed: $599 Best Prices Today: $229.95 at Amazon

The HP Chromebook x2 11 is a solid folio-style laptop, meaning the keyboard and kickstand detach, leaving you with a sub 1-pound tablet. Besides being lightweight, the battery life is impressive. The keyboard is suitable for long typing sessions and the kickstand keeps the tablet nice and stable. The 1440p touchscreen display is beautiful, too. Colors looked vibrant and smaller details were sharp and easy to see. The Snapdragon 7c processor is fast enough for general use as well. The only real drawback is the over-sized touchpad, which tends to fire off a few false clicks here and there. If you can live with an occasionally temperamental touchpad, then the x2 11 is a fantastic option, especially if you travel a lot for work.

Read our full HP Chromebook x2 11 review Acer Chromebook CM34 Flip – Best battery life Acer Chromebook CM34 Flip - Best battery life


Spectacular battery life Spacious touchpad 1080p webcam Lovely display


Heavier than expected Display is too reflective in outside environments Middling performance Price When Reviewed: $499 Best Prices Today: $279.00 at Best Buy

The Asus Chromebook CM34 Flip could give the Energizer Bunny a run for its money. In our testing the battery on this Chromebook lasted an unbelievable 19 hours on a single charge—we even had to run the benchmark twice just to make sure. That’s positively wild. If a laptop battery can eek out 10 hours on a single charge it’s considered long-lasting but the CM34 Flip almost doubles that number.

This affordable 2-in-1 Chromebook is no slouch when it comes to performance either, featuring an AMD Ryzen 3 7320C CPU and 16GB of RAM. It also comes with a colorful touchscreen display, comfortable touchpad, and high-quality 1080p webcam. Weighing in at just over 4 pounds, it’s not the most portable though. But if you’re on the hunt for a long-lasting everyday machine that won’t break the bank, you can’t get much better than the CM34 Flip.

Read our full Asus Chromebook CM34 Flip review Framework Laptop Chromebook – Best Chromebook for tinkerers Framework Laptop Chromebook - Best Chromebook for tinkerers


Strong performance Upgradeable Hot-swappable ports 1080p webcam


Expensive No touchscreen display Price When Reviewed: $999 Best Prices Today: $999 at Framework

For those who like to tinker with their laptops, the Framework Laptop Chromebook is an excellent choice. As is, this Chromebook sports solid performance thanks to its Intel Core i5 processor, Intel Xe integrated graphics, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of SSD storage. But what truly makes it shine is the fact that Framework has built this computer to allow for ultimate customization and upgradability—you can replace or repair almost every part of the hardware. The 1080p display is also a draw and it comes with hot-swappable ports allowing for even more versatility. Due to this convenience, the price tag is on the higher side for a Chromebook, but it’s really targeted for a specific niche of people anyways: those who find enjoyment in tinkering with their gadgets

Read our full Framework Laptop Chromebook review How we tested

The PCWorld team puts each and every laptop through a series of benchmarks that test GPU and CPU performance, battery life, and so on. The idea is to push the laptop to its limits and then compare it against others we’ve tested. Due to the cloud-based nature of Chromebooks, they go through a series of web-based tests. It wouldn’t be fair or possible to run the same kinds of tests on a Chromebook as we use on laptops because they exclusively run a completely different operating system. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of each test and the reasons why we run them.

Chromebooks CrXPRT 2: The CrXPRT 2 benchmark tests a Chromebook’s battery life. Speedometer 2.0: This test determines a Chromebook’s web browser performance. It simulates this by adding, completing, and removing a to-do list. Basemark Web 3.0: This benchmark gauges how well a Chromebook can handle web-based applications. Kraken 1.1: Kraken 1.1 is a JavaScript performance benchmark that measures browser speed. Jetstream 2: Jetstream 2 is a combination of WebAssembly and JavaScript benchmarks. This is a way to gauge how well a Chromebook runs advanced workloads. What should I look for in a Chromebook?

If you’re looking for a Windows or MacBook alternative, you may want to consider a Chromebook. Equipped with low-power processors, they typically have good battery life and are usually silent in operation. They make great productivity machines, as they’re specifically designed for lightweight tasks like browsing the web, watching Netflix, and so on. Plus, they’re largely virus free. That said, most Chromebooks have minimal RAM and storage. If you’re a hardcore gamer or a video editor, you’re going to want something with a lot more power than a Chromebook is capable of providing.

Our guide to Chromebooks vs. Windows laptops can help you determine which operating system is best for your needs. For more options, you’ll want to check out our best laptops roundup.

Operating system: Although every operating system has its pros and cons, I’d argue that Chrome OS is one of the most user-friendly ones out there. That said, with Chromebooks, you don’t have the option of picking another operating system, as they exclusively run Chrome OS. You’re stuck with it, bud. Processor: Shoot for a mid-range Chromebook if you can. They cost anywhere in the $400 to $600 range and many of them come equipped with Intel Pentium processors. These Chromebooks have better browser performance and are capable of running more intense gaming apps. It’s the best bang for your buck. RAM: Many Chromebooks have 4GB of RAM, which isn’t a lot. Chromebooks are web-based machines, so you need a fair amount of RAM to keep those tabs open and running smoothly. If you can spend a couple of hundred extra, you’ll be able to find a mid-range Chromebook with 8GB of RAM. Storage: I recommend at least 64GB of storage. Since you’ll mostly be storing things in the cloud, you don’t a ton of local storage. Durability: Chromebooks are popular in the education market because they’re pretty darn robust. I’m not saying you should smack one around with a baseball bat or anything, but they’re durable enough to handle the daily abuses of life. FAQ 1. What is the difference between a regular laptop and a Chromebook?

When people talk about regular laptops they usually mean a PC or Mac. A Chromebook is still a laptop, but it differentiates itself from either of those two by using a unique operating system called Chrome OS, which was created by Google. Think of it like this: All Chromebooks are laptops, but not all laptops are Chromebooks.

Unlike other operating systems such as Windows or macOS, Chrome OS is optimized to run Google apps such as Google Drive, Google Docs, YouTube, and other Google services. Because most Google apps are online, Chromebooks generally require an internet connection to use most of their important features.

Finally, Chromebooks have historically been designed with portability, ease of use, and affordability in mind rather than top performance. They typically forego the faster, high-end hardware that PCs or Macs can use for a more minimalist, lightweight approach to computing.

2. Can I use integrated graphics for gaming?

Yes, some of the latest processors with integrated graphics can run modern PC games at decent enough settings. For example, we found that in our tests, Intel’s latest Iris Xe line of processors with integrated graphics can run some of the latest games at 1080p and 30 frames per second. Unfortunately, this is not the case for all integrated graphics and your mileage may vary drastically with older tech.

Intel and AMD’s integrated graphics have made huge leaps in recent years with regard to gaming performance. If you’re on a budget or looking for an ultra-thin laptop with integrated graphics you need not worry, you can still game on. We recommend checking out Intel’s Core 12th-gen Iris Xe or AMD’s brand new Ryzen 6000 RDNA 2.

3. What is the difference between a budget laptop and a tablet?

More and more, the line between what is a laptop and what is a tablet blurs as companies integrate the features of both into their latest devices. But there are still a few key distinctions between the two. Laptops generally are larger, come with more storage, and have better performance and productivity features. Tablets on the other hand are smaller and more portable, have longer battery life, and are usually a bit more affordable.

When choosing between a budget laptop and a tablet you should first ask yourself what the primary use of the device will be. Do you need something for productivity with lots of storage? Then a laptop—even a budget model—will probably be the way to go. Or do you need something that is small, travels well, and has a long battery life? Then you might consider a tablet.

4. Do Chromebooks make good gaming laptops?

As of right now, not really. But it depends on the type of gaming you intend to do. Chromebooks can handle web games and Android games just fine. However, if you’re looking to play the latest high-powered 3D games, a Chromebook won’t cut it. This is due to the fact that Chromebooks don’t run Windows and they probably have insufficient GPU power.

Recently though, Google has been working hard to bring cloud gaming to Chromebooks. This service uses a remote PC or console to play games streamed through the cloud onto the Chromebook. But until this service becomes more widespread, Chromebooks will not be able to handle the best AAA titles.

Stay powered up while you travel with $30 off this foldable charger

When you’re traveling, you need to be able to rely on your devices to navigate and communicate responsibly. So what happens when you run out of battery in a new country? A whole lot of inconvenience.

Don’t let that happen to you. With the Adam Elements Mag 3 Magnetic 3-in-1 Foldable Travel Charging Station, you’ll always be able to get powered up, and it’s on sale for our Travel Campaign, running through 9/24.

This folding station works for iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods all at once and packs up neatly into your bag. It even has a USB-C charging cable that supports up to 15W of power output to give your MacBook a little boost too, if needed. It supports both vertical and horizontal charging to work how you need it while you’re traveling and is made with a solid metal construction that’s sure to stand the test of time.

Gear up for your next adventure! Now through 11:59 pm on 9/24, you can get the Adam Elements Mag 3 Magnetic 3-in-1 Foldable Travel Charging Station for just $75.97 (reg. $109), no coupon needed.


Adam Elements Mag 3 Magnetic 3-in-1 Foldable Travel Charging Station – $75.97

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Connect to data networks all over the world with $28 off this digital eSIM

When you’re traveling abroad and enjoying your day, you don’t want to have to stop into a cafe or hotel to check your email. Stop dealing with roaming charges and annoying interruptions while you’re traveling! With an aloSIM Mobile Data Traveler Lifetime eSim Plan, you can get online without Wi-Fi or roaming charges in more than 170 countries and regions around the world.

With an aloSIM plan, all you have to do is add data to the app, and you’ll be able to get on data networks. With this introductory offer, you’ll get $50 worth of data for just $21.97 from now through 9/24. It’s important to note that while the eSim never expires, the data plan does expire at the end of the length stated at purchase — i.e. a seven-day package expires after seven days. 

Don’t travel without access to the local network. Now through 9/24, you can get an aloSIM Mobile Data Traveler Lifetime eSim Plan for $21.97, no coupon needed.


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Best ultrawide monitors 2023: Let’s get large

Do you want a huge amount of usable display space, but also want to stick with a single monitor? If so, an ultrawide monitor is the ticket. These monitors have a wider display panel that’s far more impressive, and immersive, than your average widescreen. I’ve tested a bunch of ultrawide monitors in order to name the best picks in various categories. You can learn more about our evaluation process and what to look for in an ultrawide monitor below our recommendations.  

You can find even more monitor recommendations in our roundup of the best monitors.

Updated 09/14/2023: We’ve added the Monoprice 35-inch Zero-G Ultrawide as our choice for best budget ultrawide monitor. Read our summary below for more info on this affordable new pick.

Alienware AW3423DWF – Best ultrawide monitor Alienware AW3423DWF - Best ultrawide monitor


Excellent contrast ratio  Top-notch color gamut and accuracy Great motion clarity  Respectable HDR performance Extremely competitive price


Stand is a bit too large No USB-C Maximum HDR brightness is lackluster Price When Reviewed: $1,099.99 Best Prices Today: $999.99 at Dell

The Alienware AW3423DWF is a legendary monitor. It packs the incredible contrast and realism of OLED in a 34-inch widescreen panel, yet it’s priced at just $1,099. That’s not inexpensive, but it’s better value than other OLED monitors available right now.

Image quality is where it stands out. It delivers a vivid, immersive, rich experience with deep black levels and bright highlights, which are enhanced by the display’s glossy finish. Movies and games seem nearly three-dimensional—as if you’re looking through a window, not staring at a monitor.

What’s the catch? The monitor is not bright, especially in SDR, so it’s a bad choice for a brightly lit room. We also noticed the OLED panel has trouble rendering small fonts smoothly. These are minor issues, though, and shouldn’t trouble most owners.

This monitor targets gamers, so it offers an enhanced refresh rate of up to 165Hz and supports AMD FreeSync Premium Pro for smooth frame pacing in games. However, its excellent image quality will be impressive in everyday use, as well.

It has good connectivity, with two DisplayPort inputs and one HDMI, as well as a USB-A hub with four ports. There’s even a healthy range of calibration options that help demanding owners dial in the image to their personal specifications.

Read our full Alienware AW3423DWF review Monoprice 35-inch Zero-G Ultrawide – Best budget ultrawide Monoprice 35-inch Zero-G Ultrawide - Best budget ultrawide


Strong contrast ratio Excellent color performance Sturdy design and stand Plenty of video input


Setup requires a screwdriver Stand lacks ergonomic adjustment Motion clarity could be better Best Prices Today: $399.99 at Monoprice

The Monoprice 35-inch Zero-G curved ultrawide monitor (model #38035) is a versatile monitor well-suited to a huge range of tasks. Though marketed for gaming, it’s also a great display for beginning content creators and home office warriors who want more display real estate.

This monitor has a VA panel with an excellent contrast ratio of 3650:1. The strong contrast ratio helps the monitor achieve a rich, immersive image. It’s helped by a color gamut that spans 93 percent of DCI-P3, good color accuracy, and impressive sharpness. These traits are key to the monitor’s versatility. It’s great for games, office productivity, amateur photography, and entry-level video editing.

Gamers will enjoy the monitor’s 120Hz refresh rate and support for AMD FreeSync. The monitor provides a responsive, smooth image with decent detail in most titles. It can suffer meager response times in some situations, which leads to blur in darker games, but remains an upgrade over a typical 60Hz monitor.

The monitor’s build quality and design are solid for the price, with one notable exception: the stand. It looks and feels nice but only adjusts for tilt, which is a problem if your stand is too low or high on your desk. Third-party monitor arms are an option, but that cuts against the monitor’s budget price.

And it’s a budget price. The monitor retails at an MSRP of $399.99 but can go on sale for as list as $269.99. It’s great value at MSRP, and an absolute steal when it’s on sale.

Read our full Monoprice 35in Zero-G Curved Ultrawide Gaming Monitor V2 review LG Ultragear 34GN850 – Best midrange ultrawide for gamers LG Ultragear 34GN850 - Best midrange ultrawide for gamers


21:9 panel with a 34-inch screen Curved monitor Impressive gaming performance Ergonomic adjustment options


Only average power consumption Expensive Price When Reviewed: 999.99 Best Prices Today: $750.00 at LG$941.04 at Amazon

The LG Ultragear 34GN850-B, released in 2020, was once the king of ultrawide gaming. It was dethroned by Alienware’s AW3423DWF—and as a result LG has slashed the price. Originally $999.99, this monitor is now available for $699.99 (and sometimes less).

That’s great news. Although surpassed by the Alienware, LG’s Ultragear 34GN850-B is an attractive monitor with excellent color performance, good image clarity, and a bright, vivid picture. It has an enhanced refresh rate of up to 144Hz (with a 160Hz overclocked mode) and supports both AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync for smooth gameplay.

Its weakness? Contrast. The IPS panel scores lower in contrast than other monitors on this list, including the Asus ProArt PA348CV, which also has an IPS panel. The image can look hazy in darker scenes.

Connectivity is respectable with two HDMI ports, one DisplayPort, and two-port USB-A hub for connecting wired peripherals. The monitor also retains many of the features that would be expected of a high-end monitor including a sturdy ergonomic stand and attractive design. 

Read our full LG Ultragear 34GN850 review Asus ProArt PA348CGV – Best ultrawide monitor for professionals Asus ProArt PA348CGV - Best ultrawide monitor for professionals


Excellent SDR image quality  Sturdy, hefty design  Wide range of customization 120Hz refresh rate


USB-C hub lacks video-out or ethernet HDR is merely passable Price When Reviewed: 729.99 Best Prices Today: $699.00 at B&H Photo$729 at Adorama$729.00 at Amazon

The Asus ProArt PA348CV surpassed our expectations. Priced at just $729.99, it’s towards the low end of pricing for a professional ultrawide display—yet its performance is near the top of the pack.

This monitor has a wide color gamut, excellent color accuracy, and a virtual buffet of image-quality calibration features that let users precisely tune the image. It’s also a bright and vivid monitor, making it easy to use in nearly any office. Admittedly, it doesn’t set any records in image quality tests—but it ties or comes close to alternatives that are hundreds of dollars more expensive.

Asus throws in a useful USB-C port that supports DisplayPort Alternate Mode and delivers 90 watts of USB Power Delivery. It also drives a USB-A hub with four downstream ports. Additional video connectivity includes two HDMI and one DisplayPort for a total of four input options.

Surprisingly, Asus throws in an enhanced refresh rate up to 120Hz. It’s not sold as a gaming monitor, but it can handle gaming well enough. That’s good news if you need one home office monitor for both work and play.

Read our full Asus ProArt PA348CGV review What to look for in an ultrawide monitor

Ultrawide monitors are a favorite of PC enthusiasts, but remain a niche within the larger monitor market. This leaves shoppers with fewer options. Most ultrawide monitors have a 34-inch panel with a resolution of 3440×1440, and similar connectivity.

Still, these monitors can differ in several key areas. Here’s what to look for.

Panel type is a big deal

Ultrawide monitors offer less choice in some regards but that script is flipped when it comes to panel type. Ultrawide monitors come in a variety of panel types: IPS, VA, and OLED.

IPS panels are common in mid-range and premium ultrawide monitors. This panel type delivers great color performance, high maximum brightness, superb sharpness, and good motion performance. It’s weak in contrast, however, which can disappoint when viewing TV shows or movies.

VA panels are typically a budget option, though some are found in premium ultrawide monitors. They have better contrast than IPS panels and deliver similar color performance and brightness—however, budget VA panels tend to be merely okay in these areas. Most VA panels fall short in motion performance and may look blurry when playing fast-paced games.

OLED is king of the hill. It leads in color, contrast, and motion performance. Sharpness is often slightly reduced compared to IPS and VA, but most people will find it a minor downgrade. OLED also is the best choice for HDR.

In general, OLED is better than IPS, and IPS is better than VA. However, some people might prefer VA over IPS because it has a better contrast ratio and looks darker in dark content.

A height-adjustable stand is a must-have

All the monitors on this list provide an ergonomic stand that adjusts for height, tilt, and swivel. This is a must-have feature, but one that isn’t found on the least expensive ultrawide monitors.

As tempting as it may be to save money on a budget model without a height-adjustable stand, you would regret it.

Ultrawide monitors are bulky and tend to require a larger, heavier stand, which in turn makes them more difficult to place on an elevated platform. The old college trick of sticking a monitor on a shoe box won’t work.

Look for USB-C, but don’t expect it

USB-C compatibility is an excellent feature, and USB-C hub monitors can clear away tons of clutter on your desk. Unfortunately, many ultrawide monitors don’t support USB-C yet, or have limitations that detract from the USB-C port’s usefulness.

Asus’s ProArt PA348CV, our favorite ultrawide for professionals, is one exception. It has a USB-C port with up to 90 watts of Power Delivery, and the port drives a USB-A hub with four downstream ports.

Dell, HP, and BenQ also offer ultrawide monitors with USB-C. Most of these lack an enhanced refresh rate, however, and they’re typically more expensive than the Asus.

Pricing is important—and can swing wildly

Monitor pricing is always important, but it’s key for ultrawide monitors. Although very expensive at MSRP, ultrawide monitors routinely see huge price cuts during seasonal sales. They also receive major semi-permanent price cuts later in their life.

The LG Ultragear 34GN850-B is an example of this. Originally sold for $999.99, it’s now routinely available for $699.99, and went as low as $599.99 during Amazon’s Black Friday sale. That’s a 40 percent reduction in price! Waiting for a deal can save you hundreds.

Don’t buy an ultrawide for console gaming

A quick word of warning: You should not buy an ultrawide monitor if you plan to connect a game console frequently.  

Game consoles don’t support ultrawide aspect ratios, so you’ll see black bars on either side of the image. That’s unattractive and wastes the monitor’s potential. It’s best to stick with a widescreen monitor if console gaming is a priority.

How we test monitors

PC World’s team of staff and freelance reviewers conduct in-depth testing to compare monitors across a wide range of categories and price points. We test dozens of monitors each year to find the best pick for every category and price point.

Our testing uses a SpyderXElite color calibration tool. It delivers objective, unbiased measurements for a wide range of metrics including brightness, contrast, color gamut, color accuracy, color temperature, and gamma. Results are recorded and logged for future comparison. This allows our experts to easily compare many monitors at once and eliminates subjective bias from the results.

FAQ 1. What size of ultrawide gaming monitor is best?

Most ultrawide monitors have a 34-inch panel with a 21:9 aspect ratio, which is the best option for most gamers. 

Some ultrawide monitors are available in larger sizes, but these typically aren’t the best choice for gamers. Many do not support high refresh rates. Those that do are expensive and often use the same 3440×1440 resolution found on smaller ultrawide monitors, which means they appear less sharp than a 34-inch display.

2. What is the best resolution for an ultrawide monitor?

Nearly all 34-inch ultrawide monitors have a display resolution of 3440×1440. This is an excellent choice for gamers. 

It’s sharp enough to look impressive in modern games. However, this resolution remains significantly lower in total pixel count than 4K, which makes it less demanding on graphics hardware. That’s good news if you have a mid-range graphics card like an Nvidia RTX 3060 or AMD Radeon RX 6650XT

Larger 38-inch models have a higher resolution of 3840×1660—however, nearly all these monitors lack support for high refresh rates, making them a bad choice for gamers. LG offers a line of 34-inch 5K2K ultrawide monitors with 5120×2160 resolution, but this line also lacks support for enhanced refresh rates.

A few new 45-inch ultrawide monitors are available with 3440×1440 resolution. This can be a problem, because stretching the same resolution across a much larger display reduces sharpness. We recommend 3440×1440 only for 34-inch ultrawide monitors.

3. What’s the best refresh rate for an ultrawide gaming monitor?

A refresh rate of 144Hz to 165Hz is ideal for most ultrawide gaming monitors. 

Very few ultrawide monitors exceed this refresh rate, and those that do are too expensive to make it a good value. 

Also, gamers shopping for an ultrawide gaming monitor are likely to prefer immersive and graphically demanding games that make it difficult to see the full benefit of a refresh rate above 144Hz. You’ll need a high-end video card, like an RTX 3080 or AMD Radeon 6800, to drive most ultrawide gaming monitors at frame rates above 144 frames per second.

4. Does an ultrawide gaming monitor need HDR?

HDR isn’t a must-have for an ultrawide gaming monitor, but it’s a nice addition. 

Gaming is a great use case for HDR—arguably the best, in fact—and it can deliver improved image quality. We recommend buying an ultrawide gaming monitor with HDR support if your budget is $500 or more. 

Intel’s Core Ultra CPUs kickstart the AI PC era. Software will determine its future

The AI PC, propelled by Intel’s Meteor Lake, is almost here. So why should you care?

It’s the billion-dollar question. Intel is building NPU AI inferencing engines into its processors beginning with its 14th-gen Core chip, Meteor Lake, also known as the Core Ultra. Robert Hallock, an AMD veteran now overseeing technical CPU marketing for Intel’s microprocessors, said Tuesday that Intel’s goal by 2025 is to ship 100 million “AI PCs,” a term Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger began using in July.

Intel announced the architecture behind the 14th-gen Core Ultra chip on Tuesday, the same day as Intel’s Innovation conference began in San Jose. Intel used the conference to pitch developers both on what an AI-powered future will look like, especially one powered by Intel.

Intel’s Core Ultra is notable for several things, including its move to the Intel 4 process technology and the disaggregation of the traditional two-die design for four separate “tiles” all mounted on an interposer. Moving to Intel 4 helped cut power by half over the 13th-gen Raptor Lake, assisted by new low-power E-cores. But the key addition is the NPU, the AI inferencing engine that will help bring AI to the masses.

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger holds up 18A waferIntel chief executive Pat Gelsinger holds up a wafer fabricated on the 18A process node.


“We see the AI PC as a sea change in tech innovation,” Gelsinger said during his opening keynote.

That’s the hope, anyway.

A fourfold strategy to win over consumers

The implicit theme of Intel’s Innovation conference was AI, AI, AI — from Gelsinger’s opening keynote to late afternoon panel discussions. Intel is trying to literally carve out a new market for AI on the PC where none has existed: “This is category creation, at its finest,” Gelsinger said in response to a PCWorld question on how it would do just that.

But AI has primarily existed in the cloud, led by ChatGPT, and on smartphones, with portrait mode and various filters. On PCs, it’s confined to a few Windows Studio Effects technologies. Intel is trying to establish local AI on the PC as something that eliminates the round trip to and from the cloud while being private enough to talk to only you. But what, exactly? Well, something.

The strategy appears to be fourfold. First, design the hardware. Intel unveiled the design of the NPU to press and analysts at an event in Malaysia, promising that the NPU would offer a more energy-efficient approach for processing AI tasks than a standalone CPU or a GPU. Done. Intel’s Gelsinger also showed off 2024’s Meteor Lake successor, Lunar Lake; Arrow Lake, a chip on the 20A process node, and 2025’s Panther Lake, heading to the fab in 2024 for later production. The CEO also demoed an AI task running on Lunar Lake’s AI engine.

(There’s a slight twist. While Intel talks about the NPU as an “AI engine,” it’s really only one part of it; a video codec, for example, performs decoding and encoding functions. There are two parts to “AI;” the training, and inferencing (predictions) based upon the trained models. For now, the AI engines in PC processors can only perform inferencing.)

Second, show off the AI apps that exist today and tomorrow. Gelsinger’s keynote showcased several applications that could use AI in various capacities: Deep Render, which uses AI to compress files by 5X;, a hearing aid that also transcribes what it hears for future reference, including ChatGPT-like queries; and Fabletics, which together with partner Fit:match AI creates a virtual avatar of you to try on clothes.

Intel Fabletics AIIn this demo, Fabletics created a virtual avatar of Gelsinger and suggested some new clothes.

YouTube / Intel

Notably, most of the applications avoided the “traditional” uses of AI: generative AI art and ChatGPT. Instead, they showed off how AI could be used to enable revolutionary new applications. (Check out these 12 AI services that can improve your life right now.)

That’s where the rubber will meet the road. At some point in time, consumers are going to ask what they can actually do with AI. To some extent, that question has been answered with ChatGPT and related apps. But the next question is why a consumer would need AI on their PC, and not just via a connection to the cloud. It’s that question that Gelsinger’s demos attempted to answer, to middling success.

The third part of Intel’s AI strategy appears to try to elevate the APIs which enable AI. Executives talked about how the Core Ultra’s NPU would accelerate various APIs, including OpenVINO, which Intel has helped develop as an AI-centric API. (If a developer supports it, it could potentially give Intel an advantage, analysts at Innovation said.)

Intel AI roadmap Meteor Lake Arrow Lake Lunar LakeA glimpse at Intel’s AI roadmap.

Mark Hachman / IDG

Finally, deliver at scale — if you build it, they will come.

“I’m going to deliver a cadence of products yearly, I’m going to deliver millions of units next year, and I’m going to deliver billions of TOPS (tera operations per second, a measure of computing speed) that developers can design to, and that really opens the ecosystem up,” said Michelle Johnston Holthaus, an Intel executive vice president and general manager of Intel’s Client Computing Group.

Early days for AI

Will it all work? Intel executives are also realistic. Gelsinger referred to being in the “first inning” of AI. Hallock said that Intel would release its first AI/NPU benchmarks in October — without saying how Intel was expected to fare, or even what benchmarks would be used.

The message is that Intel provides open AI, trustworthy AI, and competitive AI — but there’s still quite a lot that Intel appears to be leaving to faith. The question of what “good AI” is, or how consumers are expected to compare it to AMD and Qualcomm, is one Intel hasn’t really answered yet.

“I mean, these are substantive gains that we’re seeing for the platform, where we’re quite excited about it, and our products are comfortably ahead of the competition for it,” Gelsinger said in response to PCWorld’s question on how it would sell AI to consumers. “So we’re going to differentiate on the merits of the products and on the market integration and the work that we do.”

Is that the answer you want? Probably not. But consumers probably won’t run out to buy a Core Ultra laptop just because it has AI, either.

What AI’s rapid adoption has taught us, however, is that once a viral app like ChatGPT takes hold, everyone rushes to try it out. Intel (and its rivals) are building out AI’s foundation, hoping that next viral app is waiting in the wings.

Disclosure: Details of the Meteor Lake architecture were unveiled at an Intel event in Penang, Malaysia. Intel paid for PCWorld to fly there, plus meals and airfare. PCWorld retained editorial independence throughout the process. This story was updated on Sept. 22 with additional details and to embed our hands-on video with Core Ultra Laptops.

CPUs and Processors
Best wireless keyboards 2023: Top Bluetooth and USB models

Wireless keyboards are now the standard, and that means it’s finally time to cut the cord. Thanks to hyper-fast connections and long-lasting batteries, you no longer have to sacrifice some more practical functions to enjoy the freedom of using a wireless keyboard. In fact, they’re so fast and reliable nowadays that even the hard-to-please PC gamer crowd is beginning to embrace them. Whether you want a sleek low-profile board, a big clicky mechanical design with tons of customization options, or just something that fits both your use case and your budget, there’s something out there for every user.

We’ve spent hours and hours using each model, banging away on our reviews, surfing the web, and keeping up on social media to bring you a list of the very best wireless keyboards around. While there’s no one-size-fits-all keyboard, our recommendations aim to help you make an informed decision based on your own personal needs. After you’ve perused our best picks, be sure to check out our buying advice at the end to help you learn what to look for when shopping for a wireless keyboard.

For more tetherless convenience, see our roundup of the best wireless mice.

Logitech MX Keys S Wireless Keyboard – Best overall wireless desktop keyboard  Logitech MX Keys S Wireless Keyboard - Best overall wireless desktop keyboard 


Great typing experience Customizable keys Long battery life Auto-dimming backlight


No height adjustment Wireless can get choppy in crowded environments Price When Reviewed: $109.99 Best Prices Today: $107.74 at Amazon$109.99 at Logitech$119.99 at Adorama

Logitech’s top-of-the-line keyboard design returns in an S variant, this time with an updated Bolt multi-device receiver and new a new auto-adjusting backlight feature. The typing experience is as good as it was in the original model, and it’s even a tiny bit cheaper, so this upgrade is a win-win if you like your keyboards thin and stylish. Just be aware that dozens of Bluetooth devices in the vicinity might bog it down. If you prefer your Logitech boards a little more clicky-clacky, check out the MX Mechanical variant.

Read our full MX Keys S Keyboard review Logitech MK540 Advanced Wireless Keyboard and Mouse Combo – Best value proposition Logitech MK540 Advanced Wireless Keyboard and Mouse Combo - Best value proposition


Quiet yet tactile keys Programmable function keys and mouse gestures Roomy, comfy design


Too bulky for mobile use Limited MacOS support Price When Reviewed: $59.99 Best Prices Today: $44.99 at Lenovo$49.99 at Adorama$49.99 at Best Buy

Logitech does it again with the MK540 Advanced combo. It might not have the convenience of backlighting that the K800 offers, but it hits all the other important features for productivity: a roomy layout, dedicated media buttons, a numpad, programmable keys, and tactile typing. In addition to all that, the keyboard comes with a decent wireless mouse, that is itself programmable, so you’re good to go.

Read our full Logitech MK540 Advanced Wireless Keyboard and Mouse Combo review Razer BlackWidow V3 Pro – Best wireless gaming keyboard Razer BlackWidow V3 Pro - Best wireless gaming keyboard


Super-smooth switches  Great media controls  Comfy wrist rest 


Expensive  Keycaps are a little cheap Price When Reviewed: $229.99 Best Prices Today: $179.99 at Razer$224.99 at Amazon$229.99 at Best Buy

For a long time, Corsair’s K63 has been our pick for best wireless gaming keyboard. We still like that keyboard a lot, but after recently reviewing the Razer BlackWidow V3 Pro, we’ve found a new favorite. It’s got everything you’d want from a gaming keyboard: full-size layout, mechanical switches, RGB, a wrist rest, a volume wheel—and the convenience of a wireless connection. Yes, it’s also pretty pricey, as premium products often are. That leaves the K63 as a still-very-respectable lower-priced alternative.

Read our full Razer BlackWidow V3 Pro review Redragon K596 – Best ultra-budget wireless gaming keyboard Redragon K596 - Best ultra-budget wireless gaming keyboard


Low price Included wrist rest Long battery life Volume wheel


Ugly keycaps Can only program G keys No Bluetooth Price When Reviewed: $74.99 Best Prices Today: $74.99 at Amazon$79.99 at Gamestop

The Redragon K596 is a fully wireless mechanical gaming keyboard packing many of the features you’d expect from a premium model. While the K596 isn’t amazing in any one particular area, at this price it doesn’t have to be. It covers all of the basics you would want from a wireless keyboard such as programmability, per-key RGB, volume wheel, macro keys, and a magnetic wrist rest. In contrast to the ballooning prices of modern gaming keyboards, the Redragon K596 represents a fantastic value.

Read our full Redragon K596 Wireless Keyboard review Logitech MX Keys Mini – Best wireless keyboard for travel Logitech MX Keys Mini - Best wireless keyboard for travel


Tiny size Great typing experience Customizable controls Multi-device pairing


High price No riser feet Price When Reviewed: $99.99 Best Prices Today: $93.99 at Best Buy$99.99 at Adorama$99.99 at Amazon

Don’t let the relatively high price scare you off. The MX Keys Mini is probably the best compact wireless keyboard around. It’s small but mighty—super comfortable to type on, offers a semi-customizable layout, supports multi-device switching, and more. If you want to work on the go, this board is not only an easy pack, it easily earns its keep by deftly standing out from others in its class.

Read our full Logitech MX Keys Mini review Logitech Casa – Best all-in-one travel option Logitech Casa  - Best all-in-one travel option


Clever, aesthetically pleasing design Excellent battery life Range of remappable keys Makes working-from-home more ergonomic


Not travel friendly Expensive Price When Reviewed: Not available in the US

If you need something a little more comprehensive for your travel needs, Logitech’s Casa might just hit the spot. It’s a keyboard and touchpad set that also come in a swanky bento-style case, which doubles as a stand that significantly elevates your laptop. As an all-in-one solution for those who want to set up an office-style workstation on the go, it’s a pretty neat little package. It is on the pricey side, though — for the same price you could get a laptop stand, keyboard, and touchpad and save a bit of dough, albeit without the neat travel-friendly design.

Read our full Logitech Casa Pop-Up Desk review Keychron Q1 Pro – Best high-end mechanical keyboard Keychron Q1 Pro - Best high-end mechanical keyboard


Great hardware Excellent wireless performance Unbeatable value


Bluetooth only wireless Price When Reviewed: $199 Best Prices Today: $199 at Keychron

This wireless update to Keychron’s best-in-class Q series has everything: a full aluminum case, hot-swap sockets and VIA programming for customization, PBT keycaps, and multi-device Bluetooth pairing. It’s equally at home with Mac or Windows users, and shockingly, it’s less expensive that a lot of of the boutique mechanical designs it’s aping. Not that it’s cheap, mind you, but if you want a wireless mech with every possible bell and whistle (except 2.4GHz wireless), this is it.

Read our full Keychron Q1 Pro Keyboard review Keydous NJ80-AP – Best typing experience Keydous NJ80-AP - Best typing experience


Amazing typing experience High-quality parts Bluetooth and 2.4GHz wireless Long battery life


Clunky software Plastic case A bit heavy Price When Reviewed: $150 Best Prices Today: $115 at$130 at AliExpress$135 at Amazon

We’ve reviewed a lot of keyboards at PCWorld, and this one has the best “feel” of any of them. If you spend hours a day typing, then the high-quality keycaps, exotics switches, and classy components like a brass deck plate and interior foam will make your fingers feel like they’re at a day spa. The plastic case is a bit of a let-down and the customization software is clunky, but there’s no better mech on the market for pure typing performance. And a nice bonus: Wireless comes in both Bluetooth and 2.4GHz flavors.

Read our full Keydous NJ80-AP wireless mechanical keyboard review K780 Multi-Device Wireless Keyboard – Best full-size multi-device option K780 Multi-Device Wireless Keyboard - Best full-size multi-device option


Works with all major platforms Can toggle between three paired devices Quiet keys with great travel


Not built for portability Price When Reviewed: $79.99 Best Prices Today: $59.99 at Dell Small Business$64.97 at Amazon$64.99 at Adorama

If you like the convenience of a Bluetooth keyboard that can switch among different devices, but don’t require the compact layout of the MX Keys Mini, Logitech’s K780 Multi-Device Wireless Keyboard promises to be the one keyboard to rule all your computing gizmos. Indeed, it’s fully compatible with Windows, Mac OS, Chrome OS, Android, and iOS for fast and effortless switching between your computer, smartphone, and tablet. It also costs a good deal less than the MX Keys Mini, and offers a roomy layout with a numpad.

Read our full Logitech K780 Multi-Device Wireless Keyboard review Logitech Ergo K860 – Best ergonomic wireless keyboard Logitech Ergo K860 - Best ergonomic wireless keyboard


Curved and split ergonomic design Comfortable wrist support Palm raise feature lets you adjust height for sitting or standing


Requires some time to get used to split design Expensive Price When Reviewed: $129.99 Best Prices Today: $122.99 at Best BuyNot Available at AdoramaNot Available at Lenovo

Logitech’s Ergo K860 has finally conquered our skepticism about awkward ergonomic keyboards. In the course of our review, there was a marked improvement in typing comfort and reduced muscle tension, all without sacrificing productivity to a steep learning curve. It’s a little expensive compared to a conventional wireless keyboard, but if you’re struggling with comfort, the K860 is the only ergonomic keyboard we’d heartily recommend. 

Read our full Logitech Ergo K860 review How we test wireless keyboards

It was hands-on all the way with our keyboard testing. We spent at least one full workday typing exclusively on each model we tested, with follow-up time to allow for a learning curve. We assessed the primary typing experience: key design, typing feel, and even noisiness. We also tried the secondary features: hotkeys, switches and dials on multi-platform models, and even the ability to adjust the angle or other comfort characteristics.

We considered the size, weight, and durability of each model against its purpose—whether it was designed to be portable or desk-bound, and compact or fully featured. For instance, we balance the versatility of multi-platform models like Logitech’s K780 against its performance as an actual keyboard you need to use everyday (and in this case, it wins on all counts). 

How to shop for a wireless keyboard

You’re going to use this keyboard every day, so make sure it fits your typing habits and your needs. Here’s what to keep in mind as you shop. 

Size: A model that will always sit on your desktop can be bigger and heavier, and usually some other advantages some with that. As more of us carry laptops or tablets, however, we’ll look for models that are compact or portable. These will sacrifice some features but be easier to take with you. 

Keys: Look for keys that are sculpted and spaced for typing comfort. This is why we encourage trying before buying: We’ve had very different experiences with traditional keys vs. chiclet-style vs. flatter key designs, and it’s surprising how little things like the texture or the amount of dimple will make or break a choice. Most mainstream keyboards use membrane technology, which is adequate for most users, but heavy-duty users and gamers will likely prefer keyboards with mechanical switches (which are not reviewed here). Windows hotkeys, or even programmable keys, are great bonuses, especially for power users.

Adjustability: Some keyboards offer no adjustment for angle or height. Look for models with adjustable legs or feet. We haven’t included ergonomic models in this round of reviews.

Battery needs: All wireless keyboards use batteries. Check closely for the type and number of batteries you need, and whether a starter set is included. We note the vendors’ specified battery life in each review.

FAQ 1. What’s the difference between a Bluetooth keyboard and a wireless keyboard?

Wireless keyboards connect to a PC in one of two ways: via Bluetooth or a USB receiver. Wireless keyboards that connect via a USB receiver or dongle can only connect to a computer or device if it has a USB port. Bluetooth connectivity on the other hand does not require any dongle or extra receiver and can therefore easily connect to other Bluetooth-enabled devices without the need for any ports. Additionally, Bluetooth keyboards tend to cost a little more but also offer longer battery life.

While shopping, you may find that older devices do not support Bluetooth. However, if you need a keyboard to work across different platforms on newer devices, a Bluetooth-enabled model is the way to go.

2. Can a laptop be used with a wireless keyboard?

Yes, you can use a wireless keyboard with a laptop without issue. Depending on whether you are using a wireless USB dongle keyboard or a Bluetooth keyboard, you just need to connect to the laptop and then you are good to go. This is true if you wish to connect a wireless keyboard to your tablet or 2-in-1, as well.

3. Do wireless keyboards need special batteries?

Usually wireless keyboards are powered using either rechargeable or disposable batteries. Wireless keyboards with rechargeable batteries will just need to be plugged into an external power source such as a computer or wall outlet when the battery is low. Otherwise, wireless keyboards with disposable batteries will need those batteries to be replaced when they die. The most common types of batteries these keyboards use will be either AA or AAA alkaline batteries.

4. Are wireless keyboards good for gaming?

Wireless keyboards are a fantastic option for most people, but they have a few limitations when it comes to gaming. Wireless keyboards can produce some slight latency issues between the keystroke being made and it being registered by your computer. This lag can be especially frustrating when playing games that require fast reaction times or in competitive environments — the latency may in some instances lead to a competitive disadvantage.

That being said, wireless technologies have improved immensely in recent years and any lag or interference issues are becoming extremely rare with the latest technology. Most casual gamers will be just fine with a wireless keyboard — opt for 2.4GHz wireless over Bluetooth for the most reliable results. You can minimize interference issues by keeping other wireless devices away from your wireless keyboard, as well.

Business, Keyboards
Hands-on: Intel’s radical new Core Ultra laptops running practical AI tasks

After this week, there’s no question about it: AI will definitely be a big part of the future of PCs.

That was shouted loud and clear during Microsoft’s Surface event on Thursday, where the company spent the entire keynote talking about how AI will make Windows 11 smarter, make Office smarter, and make the Surface Laptop Studio 2 better.

But while software will determine the AI PC’s future, it’s just part of the equation. This week, Intel formally unveiled its radically reconstructed, AI-infused Core Ultra processors, built using the Meteor Lake architecture. These mix-and-match chips were built from the ground up with AI in mind, and Intel is also providing plenty of API and framework support for developers to create applications that leverage Core Ultra’s hardware to unlock new AI possibilities right on your PC, not in the cloud.

PCWorld’s Adam Patrick Murray attended Intel Innovation this week and got to go hands-on with several Core Ultra laptops running a variety of AI tasks with surprisingly practical results. Check it out in the video below.

There are already a bunch of free AI tools than run locally on your PC, but with Intel and Microsoft seemingly joining forces in a concerted push this week – and AMD already weaving an AI engine into its Ryzen 7040U laptop chips – it’s clear that the PC’s AI era is only getting started.

Want to see all the latest, greatest hardware in action as soon as possible? Be sure to subscribe to PCWorld’s YouTube channel!

How MSI graphics cards have evolved over the years

The “gamer aesthetic” is a shifting, nebulous thing. From the transparent plastics of the ’90s to today’s seas of rainbow LEDs and brushed metal, we’ve seen a lot of trends come and go. And so has MSI, specifically when it comes to the designs of their customized graphics cards. On his way to Computex back in June, Gordon swung by MSI’s Taipei offices to check out a huge and fascinating collection of the company’s custom-made coolers, fans, and shrouds.

MSI has a distinctive look to its shroud designs, placing the fans front and center on double- and triple-fan cooler designs. Lately they’ve gone for a distinct octagonal look, but if you go all the way back to the original GTX 260 design from 2008, you can see things were a lot simpler and more straightforward, with an elevated cooler, much smaller fans, and an all-aluminum shroud.

Moving through MSI’s cooler and shroud designs, you can see it progress to larger fans, larger heatsinks, and just generally more robust designs all around. Eventually MSI moved away from the aluminum covers to the more ubiquitous plastics and red-and-black coloring into the 600 and 700 series cards. Moving into the 900 series you can see a lot of the elements that will be familiar if you’ve bought one within the last few years, particularly the “dragon” branding. The Ventus and Evoke lines are far simpler, offering up a nice contrast.

This was a really cool dive into an area of GPU design that doesn’t always get a lot of attention. For more looks at the past and present of computer hardware, be sure to subscribe to PCWorld on YouTube.

Graphics Cards
What games can I play with budget graphics cards?

If you want to play current games on your PC, you don’t necessarily have to reach for a graphics card that costs $1,000 or more. You can also play current titles with entry-level GPUs. We explain what you should pay attention to when it comes to “low-budget gaming” and what you can actually expect in this price range.

Graphics cards for less than $200

The following graphics cards are currently in the price range of $120 to $170:

AMD Radeon RX 6400 AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650

Here, the choice should tend towards a Radeon RX 6000-series graphics card from AMD, as these are already a good deal better performing than Nvidia’s Turing generation.

Gamers who want to invest within this price range must be aware that they can play esports titles such as Fortnite, CS:GO, and PUBG here in particular. Above all, you cannot play AAA games either at all or only on low resolutions, for example in 720p.

If you have any of these graphics cards, you’ll have the most success sticking to the following settings in modern AAA games:

low resolution with 1280×720 pixels (“720p”) low to very low graphics settings no ray tracing or path tracing

However, such a graphics card can always be a good choice if you are either only a casual gamer, an esports gamer, or mainly want to play older games from 2018 to 2021. For the latest AAA games, buying such a graphics card makes comparatively little sense and only ends in frustration.

Graphics cards for $200 to $300

In this price range, gamers can expect a lot more from the following graphics cards:

Intel Arc A750 AMD Radeon RX 6600 AMD Radeon RX 6650 XT AMD Radeon RX 7600 Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 AMD Radeon RX 7600 AMD Radeon RX 7600 Price When Reviewed: $269 Best Prices Today: $269 at AMD | $269.99 at B&H Photo | $269.99 at Newegg

Should you wish to purchase a graphics card of this caliber, you can venture into current gamers, but still have to live with certain limitations.

Nevertheless, you can already play even current AAA games relatively well with an acceptable resolution of 1920×1080 pixels (“1080p”) in FullHD without having to minimize the details completely.

If you buy an Intel Arc A750, AMD Radeon RX 6600, Radeon RX 6650 XT, Radeon RX 7600, or Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 or 4060, you should mostly stick to to the following settings, depending on the game:

medium resolution with 1920×1080 pixels (“1080p”) medium to high graphic details light ray tracing, if any

Especially with the Radeon RX 7600 and the GeForce RTX 4060, you can raise the graphics details and also add slight ray tracing, though they’re on the upper end of this price range.

Gamers who want to enjoy their AAA games in 1440p/4K and with massive ray tracing or even path tracing still can’t get around a high-end graphics card. This is where PCWorld’s roundup of the best graphics cards for PC gaming can help.

Games for low-priced graphics cards

If, on the other hand, you have decided on a graphics card that is as affordable as possible, you should take a closer look at the following games.

Fortnite StarCraft II Overwatch 2 League Of Legends Counter-Strike: Global Offensive PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds EA Sports FC 2024 (“FIFA”) eFootball 2024 Rocket League Valorant DOTA 2

In addition, all point-and-click adventures, jump’n’runs, and platformers can be played very well on an inexpensive graphics card. Successful classics like Diablo 3 and older first-person shooters also lend themselves well.

Indie games as a fall back

Indie games from smaller developer studios have also turned out to be a particularly safe bet for low-cost graphics cards. Time and again, you can find real gems on the well-known game distribution platforms such as Steam or GOG, which deliver excellent performance even on the cheapest GPUs.


Are you looking for a particularly inexpensive graphics card that is to be used especially for older games and low resolutions? Then you won’t go far wrong with an AMD Radeon RX 6400, 6500 XT, or 6650 XT. If you want a well-performing 1080p graphics card cable of running most modern games at decent settings without ray tracing, give the Radeon RX 7600 a long, hard look. If you also want to take a look at ray tracing, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 or 4060 are also worth a look, though the Radeon RX 7600 gives you higher overall framerates. Intel’s Arc A750 splits the gap, offering solid 1080p framerates and better ray tracing than AMD’s 6000-series GPUs, but worse ray tracing than Nvidia’s offerings.

If you have higher demands from a graphics card, you should have at least $400 to $600 dollars in your GPU budget and reach for a current midrange graphics card from the Radeon RX 7000 or GeForce RTX 4000 series.

This article was translated from German to English and originally appeared on

Computer Components, Gaming, Gaming PCs, Graphics Cards
What Microsoft and Intel’s huge AI push means for the future of PCs

If the era of the AI PC is here, Microsoft and Windows 11 are leading the charge. But to where? It’s worth stepping back and figuring out where everyone is headed.

Just two days after Intel’s Pat Gelsinger helped make the case for integrated AI on PCs with new AI-infused Core Ultra “Meteor Lake” processors, Microsoft unveiled new Surface hardware and its upcoming Windows 11 feature update at an event in New York. Windows 11’s big fall 2023 update (which still doesn’t have a formal name, yet), will be led by Copilot, formerly known as Windows Copilot. Now, everywhere that Microsoft has sprinkled AI inside Windows (from Windows to Edge and other places) will be known just as Copilot.

And AI is everywhere within Windows 11 and its apps now. Copilot. File Explorer intelligently recommends files. Paint now has background removal and layers, and soon a “Cocreator” image generation tool, too. Windows’ Photos app is back with background blurring features. Snipping Tool will be able to extract text from your snips via OCR. Outlook will help you write emails. Image generation is coming to Word. Heck, we’re even calling out AI chips now: the Surface Laptop Studio 2 contains the Intel Gen3 Movidius 3700VC VPU AI Accelerator.

It’s here! The future is here! Or is it? Let’s take a deep breath and start taking a look at this new era of AI promises.

The dawn of the Windows PC’s AI era Microsoft Paint CocreatorEven the humblest of Windows apps (like Paint) are getting an AI infusion.


Since last year, AI has been used for image generation, such as Stable Diffusion. That’s here, now with DALL-E powered Microsoft Image Creator. (It now uses DALL-E 3, a more powerful upgrade that eliminates the option to generate public figures like Donald Trump.) That means if you want to generate some AI art, you can do that quickly and easily, and you can do it in more places across Windows 11 and Office.

AI has also been used for text generation and summarizing large documents and pages. That’s here as well. Microsoft has offered this capability previously within Microsoft Edge Copilot (again, now just Copilot) and now has migrated to Microsoft 365 Copilot. Here, Microsoft wants to call this out, because it also wants to charge you or your company $20 per user per month to use it.

Today, Microsoft began promoting what it calls Microsoft 365 Chat, which is a new way of “querying” a document to learn more about it. That’s database jargon carried over to the business world — basically, there’s a need for businesses and users alike to extract information from a collection of data points. In reality, what that means is you’ll be able to “chat” with Microsoft 365 to learn what a document or spreadsheet doesn’t explicitly tell you: what sales region underperformed the others? Why? What can be done about it?

Microsoft 365 ChatMicrosoft 365 Chat will be one way you can keep on top of your workday, Micrsoft hopes.


But we still are in the very early stages of it all. For one thing, Microsoft’s Copilot doesn’t look all that impressive right now, sizzle reel (embedded below) aside. Remember, Copilot wants to be two things: a front door to Bing Chat’s cloud-based AI engine, and a butler for performing tasks on your PC. If you want to Windows to write a poem about tacos, Copilot’s your tool. If you have no idea how to change your PC to dark mode and want Windows to do it for you, Copilot is there for you, too.

Well, theoretically. For one thing, Microsoft Copilot requires a cloud connection to work, at least as a replacement for Bing Chat. This is exactly the problem that Intel wants to solve: put local AI on your PC with its new Core Ultra (Meteor Lake) chips to eliminate the need for a persistent connection. (Poor AMD risks being overshadowed, but they have AI too with their Ryzen 7040 chip.)

But Microsoft’s latest Surface devices don’t use the Core Ultra; they use an older Intel chip instead. With Asus appearing at Intel’s Innovation to show off image generation that takes on the PC, it looks like Microsoft’s hardware rivals are, ironically, better positioned than Microsoft itself is.

The other problem? Copilot is very limited on what it can do on your PC. It appears (and we don’t know this for sure) that Microsoft will have to hard-code what Copilot can or can’t do on your PC, so you don’t have someone accidentally erasing their hard drive or replacing their system fonts with Sanskrit. It can also hook into apps and services, which can give Copilot a bit more punch. All this is going to mean that Copilot risks becoming the new Cortana: cool, fun to play with, but then overlooked.

These are the early days of AI. The hype is immense. But being able to clearly understand what the PC industry wants to do, and what it can do, will benefit you in the long run.

Get windows 11 pro cheap in pcworld's software store Windows 11 Pro Windows 11 Pro Price When Reviewed: 199.99 Best Prices Today: $79.99 at PCWorld Software Store Windows
Asustor Nimbustor 2 Gen2 AS5402T review: The ultimate small NAS
At a glanceExpert's Rating Pros4 NVMe drive slotsDual 2.5GbE LAN portExpandable RAMSMB MultichannelConsNeeds two M.2 drives for read/write cachingNo M.2 2230 supportOur Verdict

Powerful and fully featured, the only true limitation of this hardware is the two 3.5-inch bays. Adding of NVMe drives and USB 3.2 Gen 2 USB ports turns the AS5402T from a useful option into a highly desirable one.

Price When Reviewed


Best Prices Today: Asustor Nimbustor 2 Gen2 (AS5402T) Retailer Price Newegg $360.99 View Deal Amazon $369.00 View Deal Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide Price comparison from Backmarket

The Asustor Nimbustor 2 AS5202T first appeared in 2019, when it was considered one of the better-specified dual-bay NAS of that era.

Whereas Synology appeared to be keeping Celeron processors and faster-than-gigabit networking away from its home products, Asustor delivered those things in a compact form factor and at an approachable price.

The original Asustor Nimbustor 2 AS5202T is still available today from some retailers, although these might be the last of that stock since Asustor has now delivered a replacement.

Initially, the new hardware was still called the Asustor Nimbustor 2 AS5202T, but ‘Gen2’ is now inserted into what was already an excessively long name. They have since decided to change that to Asustor Nimbustor 2 Gen2 AS5402T, which makes more sense if still a little long-winded.

Whatever it is called, this is an entirely new internal design that shares almost nothing with the original. Costing roughly $70/£70 more than its predecessor, is the AS5402T worth the additional investment?

Design & Build Dissasemble to add NVMe drives Unused memory slot Plastic and metal construction

Given a casual glance, the original AS5202T and the AS5402T model look similar, as they both support two conventional SATA drive bays, are mostly made from glossy black plastic and have a line of LEDs on the front and network connections on the rear.

The angular-shaped rectangular cover on the front is held in place by magnets to cover the two drive trays, and two buttons provide the power toggle and a means to automate the dumping of a storage device placed in the front USB port.

Once two screws at the rear are removed, one side of the NAS can slide back to access the internal hardware, just like on the original.

One important note about doing that is that you must remove any drives and trays before doing that, as the removable section won’t slide with those in place. And, obviously, the power should be off and disconnected.

Asustor Nimbustor 2 Gen2 AS5202T dismantled for upgradeMark Pickavance

Special to the Gen2, the top of the box has some stylish vent slots that weren’t present before, and the reason for this becomes apparent when you get inside. Below these vents are four M.2 NVMe slots, allowing for a further four drives to be added to the two HDD or SSD that use the SATA interfaces. Ventilation for all drives is via a temperature-controlled 80mm fan on the rear.

With the machine opened, access is also possible to the dual DDR4 memory slots, with only one of these being occupied at the factory. The original AS5202T came with 2GB that could be upgraded to 8GB, but the Gen2 comes with 4GB. If the slots are populated with 8GB modules, the system can have 16GB in total memory.

It would be nice to be able to get access to the memory and M.2 slots without disassembling the machine, but it probably isn’t something that most owners will be doing regularly.

The only slightly off-putting thing about the AS5402T is the amount of plastic that Asustor used in its construction. While it does have an aluminium internal frame, the outside is completely plastic, as are the drive trays. Those trays don’t feel substantial, and regular removal of the drives might ultimately end in them breaking.

That point aside, and how dusty shiny black objects that generate static electricity can become, there is relatively little wrong with the design of the AS5402T.

Specs & Features Better Intel Processor USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports Bandwidth equals flexibility

Some NAS makers, one in particular, are very astute at rationing improvements between product generations.

However, with the AS5402T, Asustor changed and upgraded every aspect of this machine, justifying its new moniker.

the new N5105 model in this NAS is superior in every conceivable way

While the original design did use an Intel Celeron, the new N5105 model in this NAS is superior in every conceivable way to the Gemini Lake Celeron J4005.

It has double the cores, double the threads, a higher turbo frequency, better GPU, can address 16GB, not 8GB of RAM, and supports PCIe 3.0, not 2.0.

The switch to this newer Jasper Lake technology provides significantly more bandwidth, going from six PCIe 2.0 lanes to eight PCIe 3.0 spec, more than doubling the processor pathways. With those extra lanes available, Asustor engineers were able to make some wholesale changes to the rest of the design.

Asustor Nimbustor 2 Gen2 AS5202T M.2 BaysMark Pickavance

What remains unchanged are the dual 2.5GbE LAN ports and the HDMI 2.0b output. But critically, all three USB ports have gone from USB 3.2 Gen 1 to Gen2. And there was sufficient bandwidth left to include four M.2 NVMe slots.

Just to be clear, these slots probably only get a single PCIe 3.0 lane each, but that’s more than enough to make them useful. But, the designers made the same error that was seen on the two M.2 exclusive NAS Asustor created, in that these slots only accept 2280-sized NVMe drives and not the increasingly popular 2230-sized modules. This can be fudged with a plastic extension, but I would like to see this fixed.

If this specification seems familiar, it’s a very similar platform to the Asustor Flashtor FS6706T, a design that offers more NVME drive bays but zero SATA ones.

For those that want more SATA drives on the AS5402T, Asustor has the AS6004U NAS Storage Capacity Expander. The total drive capacity can be expanded to fourteen by using these attached to the USB ports. What’s mildly disappointing is that the AS6004U only supports USB 3.2 Gen 1 operation, but now Asustor has released the Xpanstor4 AS5004U that offers four drive bays and USB 3.2 Gen 2 connection.

Whereas some NAS makers include HDMI and then do nothing with it, Asustor does have an interface for its video-out capability, and the NAS does have an infrared sensor for remote control to access apps and services through this.

it’s more than sufficient to play 4K video back smoothly, making the AS5402T a good choice for multimedia applications and is nearly perfect for Plex users.

Asustor Nimbustor 2 Gen2 AS5202T  rear viewMark Pickavance

While the GPU on the Celeron isn’t something I’d choose to game with, it’s more than sufficient to play 4K video back smoothly, making the AS5402T a good choice for multimedia applications and is nearly perfect for Plex users.

Overall, the AS5402T specification is excellent and opens up plenty of possibilities. The USB ports, for example, now have enough bandwidth to support USB 5GbE adapters if the operating system recognizes them. Using adapters, the potential performance of the M.2 slots using NVMe in RAID could be better exploited, as the network bandwidth would be closer to the drive performance.

In comparison, Synology has the slightly cheaper DiskStation DS224+ that uses the older Celeron J4125 processor, comes with only 2GB of RAM expandable to just 6GB, and has no M.2 Slot, only USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports and a single 1GbE LAN port.

Performance Channel bonded 2.5GbE LAN 295MB/s reads over a single LAN port NVMe and HDD for maximum performance

Forget the NVMe drives and how fast they can be in a desktop system. The limiting factor in the speed of the AS5402T is the dual 2.5 GbE LAN ports unless you are using the NAS as a computer for local processing.

Two LAN ports can be channel bonded together with a suitable 2.5GbE switch that allows two client systems to each have around 290MB/s of transfer bandwidth simultaneously.

the hardware that Asustor delivered with the Asustor Nimbustor 2 AS5402T is game-changing

However, those using two HDDs will limited to the maximum performance of those drives since most physical drives can only achieve around 150MB/s each. The ways this can be mitigated in this NAS are to use SATA SSDs, use M.2 NVMe drives or cache the HDD with the M.2 drives.

SATA SSD in the 2.5in form factor will work in this drive, and with a performance of around 500MB/s, it is sufficient to support both 2.5GbE LAN ports at full speed. Any single NVMe drive has more than that bandwidth. And, you can use them to cache conventional HDD on the system.

However, if you have a single NVMe drive, the system only allows Read caching, and you need a second if you want to enable a write cache. Another limitation is that the drives in the bays only offer RAID 0 (striped), RAID 1 (mirror) or individual drives (JBOD), as they can’t be mixed with the NVMe storage for RAID purposes.

Asustor Nimbustor 2 Gen2 AS5202T front LEDsMark Pickavance

That’s mildly annoying, but it’s understandable, considering the performance gap between these two devices.

As there are four M.2 slots, these drives can be used in RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID and RAID 6 along with singularly. Little would be achieved using RAID 0 or 6 to gain performance, but using RAID 5 to make four drives into three with resilience would be worthwhile.

If you use SATA SSDs or the M.2 slots, the drive performance should be enough to saturate the two 2.5GbE ports thoroughly, and Asustor kindly offers SMB multichannel mode as an experimental option, where one client with a 5GbE or 10GbE link to the switch could get the combined bandwidth of both ports and close to 500MB/s.

How well this works will depend on the switch and having dual 2.5GbE LAN at the client end of the equation, but that Asustor is now adding this as an option shows that it is not far from being a standard feature of SAMBA and not just an experimental one.

Asustor Nimbustor 2 Gen2 AS5202T InterfaceMark Pickavance

In my testing, I used a single 1.5TB WD Green and two Crucial P3 M.2 NVMe drives for caching, connecting via an Asustor ASW205T switch. The caching enabled the very average single HDD to read and write at 118/113MB/s over gigabit Ethernet and 227/160MB/s over 2.5GbE.

Switching over to using a SATA SSD as the source over 2.5GbE achieved 295MB/s read and 165MB/s writes. Reorganising these drives to only use the NVMe drives, read speeds of 295MB/s and write of 280MB/s on a single LAN connection was possible.

Unfortunately, our test environment isn’t configured for SMB multichannel yet, but it would be reasonable to assume that with conventional drives cached or directly accessing NVMe drives, speeds above 500MB/s could be achieved with both LAN ports active.

Price & Availability

The Asustor Nimbustor 2 AS5402T is $369 on Amazon and through most online retailers. That’s for a unit with 4GB of RAM pre-installed but no NVMe modules or hard drives.

UK purchasers will pay £369, or around £70 more than the first-generation model can still be bought.

Those prices are without any storage, though some resellers are offering deals with two HDDs pre-installed for a bundle price.

For those that want more drive capacity, Asustor also makes the AS5404T, increasing the drive bays to four but with the exact technical specification in all other respects. That option costs $590.21/£529, making those two bays an additional $170/£160, approximately.

Compared with competitor devices, the Synology DS224+ is a cheaper option, but not remotely close to this specification.

Similarly, the TerraMaster F2-423 has a slightly lower price but a reduced specification that only includes two M.2 slots.

With an almost identical specification to the F2-423, QNAP has the TS-264-8G. The limitations of that design are the two M.2 slots, a maximum of 8GB of RAM and only two USB 3.2 Gen2 ports.

It’s also more expensive than the AS5402T Gen2, but it does have a PCIe Gen 3 x2 card slot that allows it to use a PCIe card to add a 5GbE or 10GbE adapter.

Looking at what else is available, the AS5402T is priced at a tier higher than the cheapest brands but offers more technology for the extra cost.

If the price differential between this and its four-bay brother were less, we’d suggest buying the AS5404T, but the two-bay model represents better value.

Asustor Nimbustor 2 Gen2 AS5202T with bay cover removedMark Pickavance Should you buy the Asustor Nimbustor 2 Gen2 AS5402T?

The Asustor Nimbustor 2 Gen2 AS5402T doesn’t slightly beat the Synology DiskStation DS224+. It utterly obliterates that hardware and makes the specification of that device look wildly out of date.

For home or small business users, this isn’t a cheap device, but the technology onboard makes it a highly adaptable solution that could easily be repurposed down the line.

Making an investment at this level is easier if you can see how the system might evolve or expand, and Asustor has baked flexibility into this design from the outset.

I wish they’d not reused the AS5402T model number since this is a completely new system, but that’s a marketing decision Asustor made.

The only reason that a customer might choose Synology or another brand over this option might come down to the quality of the interface and the app selection that Asustor provides.

The ADM 4.2 operating system icons look tired and could do with a revamp in places, as could some of the Asustor apps.

But the place that undoubtedly needs a little work is the PC apps that Asustor offer to Windows users. Why they need to put the functionality for Backup Plan, EZ Connect and EZ Sync into three separate tools is a mystery.

These tools must be combined into a simple application that should also be made available for the Apple Mac. Currently, the only software tool support Apple users get is the ASUSTOR Control Center, which is needed to identify the NAS on a network and initiate installation.

The success that Synology has had is largely down to the effort the company put into both the DSM OS and the branded app selection, and this is still something that Asustor, QNAP and TerraMaster are struggling with.

But for those who can work with the Asustor software, the hardware that Asustor delivered with the Asustor Nimbustor 2 Gen2 AS5402T is game-changing.

Specs CPU: Intel Celeron N5105 GPU: Intel UHD Graphics RAM: 4GB DDR4 (upgradable to 16GB) Drive Bays: 2x 3.5/2.5 SATA M.2 Drive Slots: 4 x M.2 2280 NVMe PCIe 3.0 Maximum Drives with Expansion: 14 USB: 3x USB 3.2 Gen2 Video Outputs: 1x HDMI 2.0b port Raid Types: RAID 0/1/5 (RAID 5 on NVMe drives only), Single, JBOD Weight: 1.71 kg / 3.77 lb Dimensions: 170 (H) x 114 (W) x 230 (D) mm Networking: 2x 2.5-GbE Ethernet (100/1000/2500) OS: ADM 4.2 Internal File Systems: Btrfs, EXT4 External File Systems: EXT4, NTFS, FAT32, HFS+, exFAT OS Languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Magyar, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Turkish, Portuguese and Russian

This review originally appeared on

Desktop NAS, Networking, Storage
Corsair Virtuoso Pro review: Fantastic headset for gamers and streamers
At a glanceExpert's Rating ProsHigh-quality workmanship and elegant designHigh sound qualityTwo connection cables for flexibilityRobust hardcase transport bagMulti-platform compatibility thanks to jack connectionMany interchangeable partsConsHigh priceOpen design not ideal for noisy environmentsHardly any sound shielding to the outsideOur Verdict

The Corsair Virtuoso Pro has an elegant design, high-quality materials, and high-quality sound. The option to choose between two cable variants, depending on whether you need a microphone or not, shows that Corsair understands and responds to the needs of its users. For those who are willing to invest in their gaming and streaming equipment, the Corsair Virtuoso Pro could be a worthwhile purchase.

Price When Reviewed


Best Prices Today: Corsair Virtuoso Pro Retailer Price Amazon $199.99 View Deal Corsair $199.99 View Deal Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide Price comparison from Backmarket

In a world where gaming and streaming are increasingly merging, equipment that does justice to both is in demand. The new Corsair Virtuoso Pro presents itself as such a candidate: an analogue gaming headset that not only wants to shine with technical sophistication, but also with performance that’s convincing both in heated battles and in live streams. But can it really meet the high expectations that its name and price of just under 200 dollars arouse? We put the Virtuoso Pro to the test in intensive gaming sessions and streaming.

Further reading: See our roundup of the best gaming headsets to learn about competing products.

Design and comfort

The Corsair Virtuoso Pro presents itself in an elegant yet functional design. The choice of materials, which includes a combination of robust plastic and metal elements, promises durability and at the same time a pleasant wearing experience with a high-quality look and feel. The ear pads, filled with memory foam, adapt optimally to the shape of the head and, in combination with the fabric cover, ensure a high level of comfort even during hours of gaming sessions.

Wertiges DesignThe Corsair Virtuoso is equipped with high-quality materials and thus offers a valuable feel.

Friedrich Stiemer

Corsair has opted for an open headphone design for the Virtuoso Pro. We also rate the better heat dissipation as an additional plus. But the open design can have its pitfalls: In noisy environments, there is hardly any shielding. This could be particularly problematic in multiplayer games, where detailed communication is crucial.

On the other hand, the sounds reproduced in the headset itself are only moderately shielded from the outside. Anyone in the same room can usually hear quite clearly what the gamer or streamer is hearing at the moment. This can also be transmitted to sensitive microphones, which of course nobody wants. So fine-tuning in the equalizer is necessary if this “problem” occurs.

Flexible OhrmuschelnThe Corsair Virtuoso Pro is very comfortable to wear.

Friedrich Stiemer

Real-time monitoring thanks to open design

Nevertheless, the open design offers the advantage of monitoring one’s own voice in real time, which is particularly useful for streamers who rely on clear communication. The adjustable headband and the moderate headset weight of around 338 grams round off the ergonomic design and make the Corsair Virtuoso Pro a very comfortable gaming headset.

Wechselbare AbdeckungenVery nice: The ear cup covers can be replaced without tools.

Friedrich Stiemer

Particularly praiseworthy: with the Corsair Virtuoso Pro, the ear cushions, the ear cup cover, the emblem with the Corsair lettering in the headband, and the headband padding itself can be changed without tools.

The adjustable headband and the moderate headset weight round off the ergonomic design and make the Corsair Virtuoso Pro a very comfortable gaming headset.

Technical specifications

The Corsair Virtuoso Pro uses high-quality 50mm graphene drivers, which are supposed to provide precise sound reproduction. These drivers are known for their ability to reproduce both deep bass and clear treble with great detail. They are also much more robust than conventional diaphragms. The transmission is analogue via TRRS plugs (3.5mm jack).

Hoher TragekomfortBoth ear cups must be connected for operation.

Friedrich Stiemer

In terms of technical data, the Virtuoso Pro offers an impedance of 32 ohms, which means it also works without problems on mobile devices. The microphone is unidirectional, which means that it primarily picks up sound in a certain direction — ideal for minimizing background noise. In addition, the frequency range of 100 hertz to 10 kilohertz promises a broad recording spectrum that does not undercut fine details.

Flexible setup

Unsurprisingly, Corsair recommends that buyers use its own Elgato Wave Link software, ideally in conjunction with the company’s own Elgato Wave XLR DAC. With this combination, in-depth personalization of the sound profile is possible: Users can adjust EQ settings to tailor the audio experience exactly to their preferences and the game or application in question.

Additionally, VST plugins can also be integrated to tune the voice and playback even more flexibly. All of this adds an extra layer of customizability that is especially useful for those who want to further optimize their audio experience.

Wechselbare OhrpolsterThe ear pads can also be swapped — very good!

Friedrich Stiemer

Alternatively, the Corsair Virtuoso Pro can be connected to a PC or other devices — or indeed to other DACs — without any fancy software fuss, thanks to the common jack plug.

Complete package and versatility

The Corsair Virtuoso Pro comes with two cables: one with a boom arm microphone and one without. Corsair is aware that many content creators usually use an external microphone. Therefore, the manufacturer has decided to include both cable variants in order to offer users the greatest possible flexibility. The included cable without a microphone is particularly convenient if you just want to use the headset to listen to music or watch movies without having a microphone in the way.

Abnehmbares MikrofonThe boom-arm microphone sits on the cable and also comes with a mute button.

Friedrich Stiemer

The cable with the microphone arm, on the other hand, is ideal for gaming sessions or voice chats where two-way communication is the main focus. Thanks to the 3.5mm plug, the headset can also be easily connected to game consoles and the mobile devices already mentioned. In addition, the package includes a robust hardcase transport bag, which not only protects the headset, but also ensures easy and safe transport — ideal for gamers and streamers who are frequently on the move.

LieferumfangThe headset also includes a hard case to protect the Virtuoso Pro when on the move.

Friedrich Stiemer

Gaming and streaming performance

When immersed in the virtual worlds of games like Cyberpunk 2077 or Battlefield 2042, the Corsair Virtuoso Pro shows its true strengths. The 50mm Graphene drivers deliver a rich and clear sound that brings out almost every detail, from the quiet footsteps of an approaching enemy to the thunderous sound of an explosion.

The wide frequency response of 20Hz to 40kHz ensures that both deep bass and high frequencies are reproduced clearly and without distortion. This allows gamers to be fully immersed in the action and gives them a tactical advantage, as they can use acoustic cues to locate their opponents or spot impending danger. Sometimes, however, S or distortion sounds can seem a little too sharp — so you would have to readjust the equalizer here if this bothers you.

OhrpolsterThanks to the fabric cover and the open design, good heat dissipation is guaranteed.

Friedrich Stiemer

For streamers who both play games and interact with their community, the clarity of the microphone is crucial. In a test stream on platforms like Twitch or YouTube, the voice could be transmitted clearly and distinctly. Although it doesn’t come close to the quality of a condenser microphone because the voice sounds somewhat artificial and cool, but still!

This article was translated from German to English and originally appeared on

Computer Accessories, Gaming, Headphones
Transit time is learning time with Headway, now an extra $10 off

Travel is all about broadening your horizons. But when you’re at the airport, stuck in a cab, or on a train, it can feel pretty restricting. Transit time is a great time to catch up on your reading, though, and when you have Headway, you can access a world of learning right from your home.

Headway puts the world’s best ideas right at your fingertips, with nonfiction bestsellers summarized into 15-minute reads, allowing you to soar through a reading list in a fraction of the time. There are more than 1,500 summaries, with 30-50 new ones added every month, and thousands of actionable insights and tips to help you better understand the world, learn new skills, and much more.

12 million users have helped propel Headway to being an App of the Day in the US App Store four times in a row and a 4.4/5-star rating on the Google Play Store. Find out why when you get a lifetime subscription to Headway Premium as part of our Travel Campaign. Now through 11:59 pm on 10/2, it’s an extra $10 off our normally discounted price at just $59.97 (reg. $299), no coupon needed.


Headway Premium: Lifetime Subscription – $59.97

See Deal

Prices are subject to change.

Hands-on with Surface Laptop Go 3 and Surface Laptop Studio 2

At Microsoft’s fall event today, the company’s signature tablets appear to be a no-show. But that doesn’t mean there’s no new hardware to show off. Both the low-price Surface Laptop Go and the high-end Surface Laptop Studio are getting refreshed with new chips, the latest Windows 11 AI-focused features, and a few exterior touches that might be hard to spot at first. Both the Surface Laptop Go 3 and the Surface Laptop Studio 2 will be availble on October 3.

Surface Laptop Go 3

The Surface Laptop Go 3 gets an extremely gentle update — in fact, it would be hard to tell at a glance that this is a new product at all, aside from some of the color choices. Underneath, the laptop is running a 12th-gen Intel Core processor, with the i5-1235U being the sole choice at launch. The base model will use 8GB of DDR5 RAM, more capacious and speedier than the 4GB DDR4 offering on the last generation, with a choice of 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB of SSD storage.

Surface Laptop Go 3 hero

Michael Crider/Foundry

In the hand, the Laptop Go 3 feels much as it ever has, extremely light and well-finished with its aluminum body and soft-touch plastic base. The 12.4-inch touchscreen appears unchanged, complete with its somewhat disappointing 1536×1024 resolution and signature 3:2 aspect ratio. Microsoft says that this version of the laptop can last up to 15 hours on a charge, which seems to be in line with similar laptops in this class. The I/O options remain the same: the Surface charging port on the right with a USB-C, USB-A, and headphone jack on the left. The fingerprint reader on the power button is still in place.

Surface Laptop Go 3 side

Michael Crider/Foundry

The biggest change might have nothing at all to do with the hardware. The base price for the Laptop Go 3 is now $799, a significant jump over the $600 base for last year’s model. That pushes the “budget” option for the Surface laptop line into what many consumers would consider the midrange (for example, you can often find a base model XPS 13 for this price with a lot more power). Frankly it’s a lot to ask for what appears to be a new processor (and not the latest one at that) and some faster memory. The $1,000 upgrade, which is the cheapest model with a much-needed 16GB RAM, isn’t much better in terms of value.

Surface Laptop Go 3 clamshell

Michael Crider/Foundry

Surface Laptop Studio 2

The Surface Laptop Studio 2 gets a much more substantial update. Microsoft listened to media creators who wanted this large-and-in-charge design to be more flexible, adding a USB-A port on the left side for older hardware interfaces and a MicroSD card slot on the left for easy photo and video transfers.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2 ports left

Michael Crider/IDG

The touchpad is also completely new, in both hardware and software, with reactive haptics powering a much more accessible interface for users who have trouble using conventional designs. (Last year’s model had some reliability issues, it should be noted.) The exact “special sauce” wasn’t something anyone on hand could tell me about, but a dramatic demonstration with a Microsoft employee who lacks fingers on one hand showed why such evolving changes are important. Microsoft’s commitment to accessibility, as seen in so many of its new peripheral designs, is fully on display here.

Surface Studio 2 touchpad

Michael Crider/Foundry

The Studio design is otherwise still in place, with that fold-down hinged screen that can cover the keyboard and stay in place magnetically remaining the showstopper. The new Surface Slim Pen 2 hangs out just under touchpad, where it also charges wirelessly in easy reach. The screen’s 14.4-inch, 2400×1600 panel is impressive, even if it foregoes newer OLED tech, showing excellent color depth and contrast in a demo game of Cyberpunk. The 650-nit peak brightness will be particularly useful for working on the go.

Speaking of which, there’s new silicon under the hood. The Studio 2 gets access to the latest in both Intel CPUs (maximum Core i7-3700U) and Nvidia GPUs (RTX 4050 or 4060). There’s also an option for a more industrial-friendly RTX 2000 chip, plus an i7-3800U option for enterprise customers, or models without discrete graphics at all if you don’t need it. The new design includes a dedicated chip to handle all of Windows 11’s incoming AI features, which Intel calls the “Movidius 3700VC VPU AI Accelerator.”

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2 ports right

Michael Crider/IDG

The Surface Studio 2 is an imposing laptop, hefty at nearly four and a half pounds and brimming with sharp edges, even as it becomes more accessible in both ports and interface. You’ll want to really know you can take advantage of its power if you are going to spend that kind of dough — notably Microsoft wasn’t keen to talk about the battery life during its initial presentation. (The spec sheet says “up to 18 hours,” but who knows how long it’ll last if you’re really putting that power to use.)

Storage comes from a single PCIe 4.0 SSD, which is user-accessible. You’ll have a choice of 512GB to 2TB out of the box. RAM is just as flexible, with DDR5 coming in at up to 64GB (sadly, no mention of whether you can remove it or not). Other hardware goodies include a full HD camera with Windows Hello, double USB-C/Thunderbolt ports, and a much more comfortable keyboard than some laptops in this size category.

surface studio 2 and surface laptop go 3

Michael Crider/Foundry

I get the impression that while the new more powerful CPU and GPU will be appreciated, the extra ports will help sell the Studio 2 as a real creator machine. Someone carrying around the ultimate in creator-focused hardware probably doesn’t want to carry a dongle or USB-C hub as if it was a teeny-tiny ultraportable (or indeed, a Surface Laptop Go). The Studio Laptop 2 will start at $2,000 for the base model, packing 16GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, and integrated Intel Xe graphics. The most fully loaded model will hit your wallet hard at $3,700.

Microsoft makes its Surface Go 4 tablet a tool for professionals

Microsoft has apparently decided to make the Surface Go line of tiny tablets a purely business device, announcing the Surface Go 4 for Business but without a consumer option. What’s new? The lack of Arm options and a new Intel processor.

Intel Microsoft didn’t reveal a starting price for the Surface Go 4 for Business, which it will sell via corporate channels. Businesses will also have the option of adding a massive Surface instead, as Microsoft announced the Surface Hub 3 as well, for conferences rooms. Again, no price was disclosed.

Microsoft updated three of its Surface laptops with new components at its fall event on Thursday, adding the Surface Laptop Studio 2, the Surface Laptop Go 3, and the Surface Go 4 for Business to fill various niches in its lineup.

The biggest change to the Surface Go 4 is the new Intel N200 processor. Because of its relatively low price, we assume that the Surface Go sells rather well. The problem is that the Surface Go 3, which our Surface Go 3 review felt was adequate, began with a $399 price tag for a model with 4GB of RAM. That eliminated it from our recommendations, and pushed the price up to the $629 tier with 8GB of RAM.

Now, Microsoft has at least done away with the 4GB option, still leaving the 10.5-inch tablet (1920×1280) virtually unchanged from the earlier Surface Go 3. The dimensions (9.65 x 6.9 x 0.33 inches and 1.2 pounds) remain the same, with the same USB-C, microSD, and ports complementing the Surface Connect port and 3.5mm jack.

The Go 4 was rumored to continue the trend of repairable Surfaces, with a replaceable battery, display, kickstand, and motherboard. We’re happy to see that’s true. But the fudamental problem remains: This is a basic Windows tablet that requires the purchase of an additional keyboard and possibly a pen to make it truly useful.

You can preorder the Surface Go 4 for Business using Microsoft’s referral page.

Surface Go 4 for Business specs: Processor: Intel N200 Display: 10.5-inch PixelSense (1920×1280, 220 PPI) Memory: 8GB LPDDR3 Storage: UFS 64/128/256GB Graphics: UHD Graphics 615 Ports: USB-C (5Gbps), Surface Connect, microSDXC, Surface Connect, Surface Type Cover Security: Windows Hello depth camera Camera: User-facing: 5.0MPixel (1080p video); rear-facing: 8.0MP (1080p video) Battery:  26.8Wh (design), 26.0Wh (full) Wireless: Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.0 Operating system: Windows 11 Home in S Mode Dimensions: 9.65 x 6.9 x 0.33in. (8.3mm) Weight: 1.2 pounds (without keyboard) Color: Platinum Prices: Undisclosed Optional accessories: Surface Go Type Cover ($84.99-$129.99 MSRP), Surface Pen ($99.99), Microsoft Classroom Pen, Microsoft Business Pen Laptops, Tablets
Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Go 3 takes another try at a budget laptop

Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Go 2 allows Microsoft to take a another crack at the budget laptop market. It remains virtually unchanged from its earlier offering, simply providing an updated 12th-gen Core chip inside of it.

The Surface Laptop Go 2 always struck us as a struggle for Microsoft to establish a budget laptop in a competitive market, but with the premium Surface name attached. The Surface Laptop Go 3 tries again, this time moving from a Core i5-1135G7 to a Core i5-1235U.

The trouble is that Microsoft is again trying to convince you that a sub-1080p screen (12.45-inch, 1536×1024 touchscreen) is satisfactory. And to be fair, it kind of is, at least in our earlier reviews. The trouble is that back-to-school laptop deals and just general laptop deals routinely offer discounts on laptops that are comparable, if not better. That’s going to be a challenge for the Surface Laptop Go 3 on paper, right off the bat.

Essentially, the Surface Laptop Go 3 is the same as the Laptop Go 2 in all respects, except for 8GB or 16GB RAM options and 256GB of SSD storage for consumers. There is a 512GB option for business users, which a consumer could presumably buy as well. That option, with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, is reportedly priced at $1,199. We haven’t been able to confirm that on Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Go 3 for Business page, but it sounds a little ridiculous if true.

Otherwise, you can preorder Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Go 3 on Microsoft’s site for between $799 and $999. They’ll ship October 3. And if you don’t want a Surface Laptop Go 2, you could always opt for a Surface Laptop Studio 2 or a Surface Go 4 for Business, both of which Microsoft announced today.

Surface Laptop Go 3 specs Display: 12.4-inch (1536×1024, 148 PPI) 10-point multitouch PixelSense display Processor: Core i5-1235U Graphics: Xe Graphics Memory:  8GB-16GB LPDDR4x (8GB as tested) Storage: 128GB (removable UFS), 256/512GB (removeable SSD) Ports: 1 USB-C, 1 USB-A, Surface Connect, 3.5mm audio jack Camera: 720p f2.0 (user-facing) Battery: 39.7Wh (design capacity), 40.7Wh (measured full charge capacity) Wireless: Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.1 Operating system: Windows 11 Home (consumer); Windows 11 Pro/Windows 10 Pro (business) Dimensions (inches): 10.95 x 8.12 x 0.62 inches Weight: 2.49 pounds Chassis: Aluminum, with polycarbonate resin (30 percent post-consumer recycled content) Colors: Ice Blue, Sandstone, Platinum, Sage Price: Beginning at $799 Laptops

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Devil May Cry and Bayonetta creator Hideki Kamiya is leaving PlatinumGames

Renowned action game developer PlatinumGames has just announced that its co-founder, Hideki Kamiya, will leave the company on October 12.

Kamiya historically has created and directed what many would consider some of the best single-player games of all time, including the Devil May Cry and Bayonetta series, as well as the original Resident Evil 2 on PS1 and, more recently, innovative games like The Wonderful 101.

PlatinumGames confirmed the news via a statement on Twitter, expressing its thanks to Kamiya and wishing him well in his future endeavors. Kamiya co-founded the company back in 2007 with several other notable creators, including Shinji Mikami, the father of Resident Evil. 25, 2023

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Kamiya has always been a mildly controversial and somewhat divisive figure in the industry. While he helped spearhead the character action subgenre that gave rise to incredible games like Astral Chain, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Vanquish, and Nier Automata, a lot of folks may only know Kamiya for his tendency to block swathes of people on Twitter, and being very open about it.

And while the exact reason for Kamiya's departure hasn't been confirmed, he himself took to Twitter after the announcement to state: "This came after a lot of consideration based on my own beliefs. and was by no means an easy decision to make."

Platinum's recent output hasn't exactly held up to its lofty legacy. Fans largely regarded Bayonetta 3 to be a step down from prior entries, while the ill-fated live service title Babylon's Fall failed to find an audience right out of the gate.

That isn't to say the company is on its last legs, though. Bayonetta Origins, a puzzle-platformer prequel, was well-received by fans. It also provided support for Final Fantasy 16, notably helping to develop the Titan Lost boss fight, which is easily among the best in the game.

All that is to say that PlatinumGames is likely to be fine without Kamiya leading the charge, but his departure is nonetheless bittersweet for longtime fans of both him and PlatinumGames as a whole.

For more excellent action-heavy titles, be sure to have a browse of our best PS5 games and best Nintendo Switch games list for top recommendations released this year and beyond.

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American Road truckers show 'skill above their experience level' says real-life truck company

American Truck Simulator is so realistic that an actual truck company has begun to hire players, attributing their skills to the realistic sim game. 

American Truck Simulator is one of our favorite Simulation games thanks to its dedication to detail. Players can deliver various cargoes across Nevada, California, and the Grand Canyon State of Arizona. You can take in stunning views as you master the craft of a truck driver. 

Developers SCS Software has begun to advertise this unique selling point with billboards popping up around the simulator announcing how American Truck Simulator players can finally turn their "dreams into a reality". The billboards point to a vast logistics company: Swift Transportation. This company started back in 1966 and has since gathered a fleet of tricks with a dedicated workforce, and a solid commitment to safety, efficiency, and customer satisfaction. 

in-game billboard

(Image credit: SCS Software)

Swift Transportation isn't the only company that has decided to contact American Truck Simulator. Earlier this month, trucking company Schneider National began cooperating with the simulation game after it found that players showed "skill above their experience level", according to media relations manager Kara Leiterman (via Axos).

"With this new cooperation, we hope to continue inspiring our ATS players who share a deep interest in real-life trucks. For those who have always been intrigued by the idea of a career as a truck driver, this could be the spark that ignites a lifelong journey", SCS Software said in a blog post

While many players may choose to keep their passion for truck driving digital, SCS says that the billboards are up just in case even one player decides to check out the real-world possibilities for themselves. "We hope and believe that together, we have a chance to light the path to new careers and aspirations for our ATS players, who are not only virtual truckers but also real-life trucking fans", SCS said. 

For more games to enjoy outside the simulation genre, check out these top PC games and single-player games that you can play right now. 

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Today's Wordle hints - answer, clues and tips for game #828, Monday, September 25

It's time for your daily round of Wordle hints, expertly crafted to help you keep your streak going even on the toughest of days. 

You might think that you don't need any clues for Wordle today, but remember: failure in this game is only ever six guesses away.   

Below, you'll find a selection of Wordle hints to guide you in the right direction. You don't have to use them all, but there are five in total should you need them, covering vowels, starting letter, ending letter and more. And if you don't have time to play at all, you can see the answer, too. 

Want more word-based fun? My Quordle today page contains hints and answers for that game, which remains the best of all the main Wordle alternatives.

SPOILER WARNING: Wordle hints and today's answer are below, so don't read on if you don't want to see them.

Wordle hints (game #828) - clue #1 - Vowels How many vowels does today's Wordle have?

Wordle today has a vowel in one place*.

* Note that by vowel we mean the five standard vowels (A, E, I, O, U), not Y (which is sometimes counted as a vowel too). 

Wordle hints (game #828) - clue #2 - first letter What letter does today's Wordle begin with?

The first letter in today's Wordle answer is R.

R is a surprisingly uncommon starting letter. Despite ranking third overall in Wordle, it's merely the 11th most likely to begin an answer.

Wordle hints (game #828) - clue #3 - repeated letters Does today's Wordle have any repeated letters?

There are no repeated letters in today's Wordle.

Repeated letters are quite common in the game, with 748 of the 2,309 Wordle answers containing one. However, it's still more likely that a Wordle doesn't have one.

Wordle hints (game #828) - clue #4 - ending letter What letter does today's Wordle end with?

The last letter in today's Wordle is Y.

Y is the second most common ending letter in the game, behind only E. In total, 364 Wordle answers end with a Y.

Wordle hints (game #828) - clue #5 - last chance

Still looking for more Wordle hints today? Here's an extra one for game #828.

Today's Wordle answer is a pugilist Oscar winner.

If you just want to know today's Wordle answer now, simply scroll down - but I'd always recommend trying to solve it on your own first. We've got lots of Wordle tips and tricks to help you, including a guide to the best Wordle start words.

If you don't want to know today's answer then DO NOT SCROLL ANY FURTHER BECAUSE IT IS PRINTED BELOW. So don't say you weren't warned!

Today's Wordle answer (game #828)

Wordle answer 828 on a yellow background

(Image credit: New York Times)

Today's Wordle answer (game #828) is… ROCKY.

Has there been another Wordle which has so readily suggested a film rather than a word? There have been plenty that would have been a title if they had a 'THE' before it (think JOKER, game #675, MUMMY, game #491, or STING, #471), but single-word movies, less so. I'm sure there are some, but they don't spring readily to mind in the way that ROCKY does. 

Anyway, today's game is another rather easy opponent for players to send crashing to the canvas: WordleBot says it has an average score of 3.7, making it the fifth game in a row to have been well below the 4.0 mark. 

As always, though, a lot will have depended on your opening guess. Some of the best Wordle starting words - if you started with CRANE you had only 13 remaining possible answers, while TRACE (25), CRATE (15), CARTE (12), CARET (12) and CRONE (9) were all excellent too. REACT left just a couple of answers! 

However, if you began with SLATE (309), SLANT (531), LEAST (309) or a bunch of other words, you'll have been in a potentially tough fight. My pick, STARE, left 128 possibles, for instance.

Fortunately, I got in a lucky punch with my second guess, CRONY. That gave me a yellow C, yellow O and green Y to add to the still-yellow R and cut those possibles down from 128 to 1 immediately. It didn't take me long to spot ROCKY and score my knockout 3/6.

How did you do today? Send me an email and let me know. 

Yesterday's Wordle hints (game #827)

In a different time zone where it's still Sunday? Don't worry - I can give you some clues for Wordle #827, too.

Wordle yesterday had a vowel in one place. The first letter in yesterday's Wordle answer was R. There were no repeated letters in yesterday's Wordle. The last letter in yesterday's Wordle was T. Yesterday's Wordle answer is not wrong. Yesterday's Wordle answer (game #826)

Wordle answer 827 on a yellow background

(Image credit: New York Times)

Yesterday's Wordle answer (game #827) was… RIGHT.

It's now a full week since we had a remotely difficult Wordle, with today's game earning an average score of 3.6, according to WordleBot. You'd have to go back to FRANK last Monday for anything above 4.0 (that was 4.3), although Wednesday's SNARE did just reach the 4.0 mark itself.

RIGHT is one of those words that looks like it should be trickier; neither H or G are particularly common (they're the 14th and 17th most common letters in the game) and even the vowel is the fourth least likely to appear. Oh, and R is only the 11th most common starting letter; at least T is a regular visitor to the final spot (third behind E and Y).

What's more, very few of the best Wordle starting words made much headway in narrowing down the options. SLATE (102) and CRANE (103) were particularly unlucky, and the likes of TRACE (38), CRATE (39) and my pick, STARE (48) were not that much better. REACT - which left just three options - was the only one of the top 20 to be really successful.

As far as my game went, I had a yellow R and yellow T after my first guess, so my first instinct was to play the T at the end of my second guess; it's by far the most likely place for it to appear. However, of the words I'd written down - of which there were about 30 - it appeared at the start more often. For instance, I had TORCH, TRUTH, TRUCK, TRICK, THROW, THROB, TRUMP, TRUNK, TROUT, TUTOR and TROLL. I had a fair few that ended in T, too - PRINT, DRIFT, GRIFT, FRONT, FRUIT and BURNT - but ultimately decided to go with the start option.

There were also a bunch of words that ended TH, such as FROTH, BROTH, MIRTH, GIRTH, FORTH and NORTH, so I decided to also include an H. I needed a vowel, so put in O and U. The addition of the generally common C gave me TOUCH as my second guess. It couldn't have been correct, but I was happy that it covered a lot of ground.

And indeed it did. Though it only added an H into the mix, and didn't change the color of the T, it left just one more answer. It took me a little while to find it - somehow, RIGHT hadn't been among the answer list I'd initially drawn up - but when I spotted it I was fairly certain it would be the answer. That proved to be the case and I scored a satisfactory 3/6.

Wordle answers: The past 50

I've been playing Wordle every day for more than a year now and have tracked all of the previous answers so I can help you improve your game. Here are the last 50 solutions starting with yesterday's answer, or check out my past Wordle answers page for the full list.

Wordle #827, Sunday 24 September: RIGHTWordle #826, Saturday 23 September: CAROLWordle #825, Friday 22 September: BRUSHWordle #824, Thursday 21 September: STONEWordle #823, Wednesday 20 September: SNAREWordle #822, Tuesday 19 September: CLOSEWordle #821, Monday 18 September: FRANKWordle #820, Sunday 17 September: MUSICWordle #819, Saturday 16 September: ANGELWordle #818, Friday 15 September: EXERTWordle #817, Thursday 14 September: RAYONWordle #816, Wednesday 13 September: CLEARWordle #815, Tuesday 12 September: WHISKWordle #814, Monday 11 September: OLDERWordle #813, Sunday 10 September: QUOTEWordle #812, Saturday 9 September: LUCKYWordle #811, Friday 8 September: ROUSEWordle #810, Thursday 7 September: DWELLWordle #809, Wednesday 6 September: GNASHWordle #808, Tuesday 5 September: BIRCHWordle #807, Monday 4 September: GIDDYWordle #806, Sunday 3 September: AWAITWordle #805, Saturday 2 September: ONIONWordle #804, Friday 1 September: SPACEWordle #803, Thursday 31 August: BRIDEWordle #802, Wednesday 30 August: AUDIOWordle #801, Tuesday 29 August: CAPERWordle #800, Monday 28 August: WRITEWordle #799, Sunday 27 August: PEACEWordle #798, Saturday 26 August: CHOIRWordle #797, Friday 25 August: OCEANWordle #796, Thursday 24 August: WORDYWordle #795, Wednesday 23 August: VERVEWordle #794, Tuesday 22 August: SPICEWordle #793, Monday 21 August: BEACHWordle #792, Sunday 20 August: QUESTWordle #791, Saturday 19 August: MAGMAWordle #790, Friday 18 August: EXACTWordle #789, Thursday 17 August: AMISSWordle #788, Wednesday 16 August: SCRUBWordle #787, Tuesday 15 August: INDEXWordle #786, Monday 14 August: SNAKYWordle #785, Sunday 13 August: WRATHWordle #784, Saturday 12 August: QUICKWordle #783, Friday 11 August: HELLOWordle #782, Thursday 10 August: EMPTYWordle #781, Wednesday 9 August: LOVERWordle #780, Tuesday 8 August: BULLYWordle #779, Monday 7 August: BROOKWordle #778, Sunday 6 August: POLYPWordle #777, Saturday 5 August: ANODE What is Wordle?

If you're on this page then you almost certainly know what Wordle is already, and indeed have probably been playing it for a while. And even if you've not been playing it, you must surely have heard of it by now, because it's the viral word game phenomenon that took the world by storm last year and is still going strong in 2023.

We've got a full guide to the game in our What is Wordle page, but if you just want a refresher then here are the basics.

What is Wordle?

Wordle challenges you to guess a new five-letter word each day. You get six guesses, with each one revealing a little more information. If one of the letters in your guess is in the answer and in the right place, it turns green. If it's in the answer but in the wrong place, it turns yellow. And if it's not in the answer at all it turns gray. Simple, eh? 

It's played online via the Wordle website or the New York Times' Crossword app (iOS / Android), and is entirely free. 

Crucially, the answer is the same for everyone each day, meaning that you're competing against the rest of the world, rather than just against yourself or the game. The puzzle then resets each day at midnight in your local time, giving you a new challenge, and the chance to extend your streak.

What are the Wordle rules?

The rules of Wordle are pretty straightforward, but with a couple of curveballs thrown in for good measure.

1. Letters that are in the answer and in the right place turn green.

2. Letters that are in the answer but in the wrong place turn yellow. 

3. Letters that are not in the answer turn gray.

4. Answers are never plural.

5. Letters can appear more than once. So if your guess includes two of one letter, they may both turn yellow, both turn green, or one could be yellow and the other green.

6. Each guess must be a valid word in Wordle's dictionary. You can't guess ABCDE, for instance.

7. You do not have to include correct letters in subsequent guesses unless you play on Hard mode.

8. You have six guesses to solve the Wordle.

9. You must complete the daily Wordle before midnight in your timezone.

10. All answers are drawn from Wordle's list of 2,309 solutions. However…

11. Wordle will accept a wider pool of words as guesses – some 10,000 of them. For instance, you can guess a plural such as WORDS. It definitely won't be right (see point 4 above), but Wordle will accept it as a guess.

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Quordle today - hints and answers for Monday, September 25 (game #609)

It's time for your daily dose of Quordle hints, plus the answers for both the main game and the Daily Sequence spin off. 

Quordle is the only one of the many Wordle clones that I'm still playing now, around 18 months after the daily-word-game craze hit the internet, and with good reason: it's fun, but also difficult.

What's more, its makers (now the online dictionary Merriam-Webster) are also keeping it fresh in the form of a variant called the Daily Sequence, which sees you complete four puzzles consecutively, rather than concurrently. 

But Quordle is tough, so if you already find yourself searching for Wordle hints, you'll probably need some for this game too. 

I'm a Quordle and Wordle fanatic who's been playing since December 2021, so I can definitely help you solve Quordle today and improve your game for tomorrow. Read on for my Quordle hints to game #609 and the answers to the main game and Daily Sequence. 

SPOILER WARNING: Information about Quordle today is below, so don't read on if you don't want to know the answers.

Quordle today (game #609) - hint #1 - Vowels How many different vowels are in Quordle today?

The number of different vowels in Quordle today is 4*.

* Note that by vowel we mean the five standard vowels (A, E, I, O, U), not Y (which is sometimes counted as a vowel too). 

Quordle today (game #609) - hint #2 - total vowels What is the total number of vowels in Quordle today?

The total number of vowels across today's Quordle answers is 9.

Quordle today (game #609) - hint #3 - repeated letters Do any of today's Quordle answers contain repeated letters?

The number of Quordle answers containing a repeated letter today is 1.

Quordle today (game #609) - hint #4 - total letters How many different letters are used in Quordle today?

The total number of different letters used in Quordle today is 13.

Quordle today (game #609) - hint #5 - uncommon letters Do the letters Q, Z, X or J appear in Quordle today?

• Yes. One of Q, Z, X or J appears among today's Quordle answers.

Quordle today (game #609) - hint #6 - starting letters (1) Do any of today's Quordle puzzles start with the same letter?

The number of today's Quordle answers starting with the same letter is 2.

If you just want to know the answers at this stage, simply scroll down. If you're not ready yet then here's one more clue to make things a lot easier:

Quordle today (game #609) - hint #7 - starting letters (2) What letters do today's Quordle answers start with?

• L

• G

• G

• K

Right, the answers are below, so DO NOT SCROLL ANY FURTHER IF YOU DON'T WANT TO SEE THEM.

Quordle today (game #609) - the answers

Quordle answers for game 609 on a yellow background

(Image credit: Merriam-Webster)

The answers to today's Quordle, game #609, are…


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Daily Sequence today (game #609) - the answers

Quordle daily sequence answers for game 609 on a yellow background

(Image credit: Merriam-Webster)

The answers to today's Quordle Daily Sequence, game #609, are…

MARCHPRIMEPASTYMINER Quordle answers: The past 20 Quordle #608, Sunday 24 September: LUCKY, ANGRY, QUIET, LUCIDQuordle #607, Saturday 23 September: HEARD, LOATH, GUEST, SIGMAQuordle #606, Friday 22 September: CHILI, METRO, PUREE, KIOSKQuordle #605, Thursday 21 September: AWARE, SHONE, SHADE, SHELFQuordle #604, Wednesday 20 September: TAMER, SNOUT, BLAND, SLEEPQuordle #603, Tuesday 19 September: WACKY, LAYER, FRUIT, MINERQuordle #602, Monday 18 September: SWEAR, LOWLY, STAND, UPSETQuordle #601, Sunday 17 September: SCRUB, DUSTY, QUOTH, UNCLEQuordle #600, Saturday 16 September: FLAIL, ALTAR, YACHT, HAUNTQuordle #599, Friday 15 September: FISHY, DRAKE, TORUS, SMOTEQuordle #598, Thursday 14 September: CHEST, RIVER, THERE, EMCEEQuordle #597, Wednesday 13 September: GUESS, MICRO, DROOP, ELATEQuordle #596, Tuesday 12 September: CYNIC, GRUEL, CACTI, TOWERQuordle #595, Monday 11 September: RECUT, GREED, COVER, METERQuordle #594, Sunday 10 September: TRAIN, RIPER, BLACK, SCRAMQuordle #593, Saturday 9 September: MARRY, INFER, STALE, SUITEQuordle #592, Friday 8 September: SAPPY, STALL, RAYON, CIVICQuordle #591, Thursday 7 September: JOUST, RIVER, PENNY, CHALKQuordle #590, Wednesday 6 September: POLKA, THREW, MAGIC, SPURTQuordle #589, Tuesday 5 September: DRYLY, CURVY, MOSSY, TORUS Quordle FAQs: Everything you need to know What is Quordle?

Where Wordle challenges you to guess a new five-letter word each day, Quordle presents you with four puzzles to solve. And rather than complete them in turn, you do so simultaneously. You get nine guesses, rather than the six for Wordle, but the rules are otherwise very similar. 

It's played online via the Quordle website and you can also get to it via the Merriam-Webster site, after the dictionary purchased Quordle last year

As with Wordle, the answers are the same for every player each day, meaning that you're competing against the rest of the world. And also as with Wordle, the puzzle resets at midnight so you have a fresh challenge each day.

The website also includes a practice mode - which I definitely recommend using before attempting the game proper! - and there are daily stats including a streak count. You also get Quordle Achievements - specific badges for winning a game in a certain number of turns, playing lots of times, or guessing particularly hard words.

Oh, and it's difficult. Really difficult.

What are the Quordle rules?

The rules of Quordle are almost identical to those of Wordle.

1. Letters that are in the answer and in the right place turn green.

2. Letters that are in the answer but in the wrong place turn yellow. 

3. Letters that are not in the answer turn gray…

4. …BUT the word you guess appears in all quadrants of the puzzle at the same time, so an A could turn green in one square, yellow in another and gray in the final two. 

5. Answers are never plural.

6. Letters can appear more than once. So if your guess includes two of one letter, they may both turn yellow, both turn green, or one could be yellow and the other green.

7. Each guess must be a valid word in Quordle's dictionary. You can't guess ABCDE, for instance.

8. You do not have to include correct letters in subsequent guesses and there is no equivalent of Wordle's Hard mode.

9. You have nine guesses to find the Quordle answers.

10. You must complete the daily Quordle before midnight in your timezone.

What is a good Quordle strategy?

Quordle needs to be approached in a different way to Wordle. With four puzzles to solve in nine guesses, you can't blindly throw letters at it and expect to win - you'll stand a far better chance if you think strategically.

That's the case in Wordle too, of course, but it's even more important in Quordle.

There are two key things to remember. 

1. Use several starting words

Firstly, you won't want just a single starting word, but almost certainly two or three starting words. 

The first of these should probably be one of the best Wordle starting words, because the same things that make them work well will apply here too. But after that, you should select another word or possibly two that use up lots more of the most common consonants and that include any remaining vowels.

For instance, I currently use STARE > DOILY > PUNCH. Between them, these three words use 15 of the 26 letters in the alphabet including all five vowels, Y, and nine of the most common consonants (S, T, R, D, L, P, N, C and H). There are plenty of other options - you might want to get an M, B, F or G in there instead of the H, maybe - but something like that should do the trick.

If all goes well, that will give you a good lead on what one or sometimes two of the answers might be. If not, well good luck!

2. Narrow things down

Secondly, if you're faced with a word where the answer might easily be one of several options - for instance -ATCH, where it could be MATCH, BATCH, LATCH, CATCH, WATCH, HATCH or PATCH - you'll definitely want to guess a word that would narrow down those options. 

In Wordle, you can instead try several of those in succession and hope one is right, assuming you have enough guesses left. It's risky, but will sometimes work. Plus, it's the only option in Hard mode. But in Quordle, this will almost certainly result in a failure - you simply don't have enough guesses.

In the scenario above, CLAMP would be a great guess, as it could point the way to four of the seven words in one go.

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy is out in January, and it lets you act out "situations unthinkable in the main game"

Capcom had already confirmed that Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy is set to arrive on PC and Game Pass on September 26, but now we also have a firm release date for Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy – January 25, 2024 – and confirmation that a physical release is on the way, too.

At Tokyo Game Show this weekend, Capcom confirmed the trilogy – which bundles Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies, and Phoenix Wright: Spirit Of Justice – will boast "beautiful HD graphics and special bonuses galore" and be coming to PS4/5, PC, Switch, and Xbox One and Series X/S, with physical editions available for Switch and PlayStation players. 

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy is releasing physically for the PS4 and Switch on the 25th of January!Physical release coming to Japan & Asia regions includes English, Japanese, French, German, Korean, + Traditional & Simplified Chinese!Pre-order with worldwide shipping:… 23, 2023

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The trilogy bundle includes a raft of special content, including the soundtracks for all three games plus 14 bonus tracks from Ace Attorney 15th Anniversary Orchestra Concert and the Ace Attorney 2019 Orchestra Concert, special episodes and costumes, an art library "chock full of character designs, background art, and even the special prologue anime for Spirit of Justice".

But perhaps most exciting of all is the animation studio, wherein players can "freely create the scene of your dreams with character models and animations, background music, and voiced lines from the games - all at your fingertips".

"Place characters in situations unthinkable in the main games!" Capcom teases.

There's also a raft of quality-of-life improvements, too, including a game menu that lets you pick the "the game, episode, and even chapter you'd like to start from the first time you play", plus a Story Mode in which the game will make selections and solve puzzles automatically to allow players to "simply sit back and watch a good mystery unfold".

Finally, the "backlog system" from Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice that allowed you to review text you've already read has been added to Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy, allowing you to re-access lines you may have accidentally skipped.

"First released in 2001, the Ace Attorney series gave birth to the Courtroom Battle genre of text adventure games," Capcom explains on the official website.

"Phoenix Wright passes the torch on to Apollo Justice in this collection of 3 games, which traces Apollo's growth as a lawyer as he navigates the Dark Age of the Law."

For more games to get lost in, check out our picks of the best RPGs, alongside our list of the best single-player games

Destiny 2 enemies become pacifists as suspected server issues throw up strange bugs and glitches

Destiny 2 players – and its development team – have had it tough this week. Not only has the sci-fi shooter endured DDoS attacks that have taken the game down for hours at a time, but players have continued to experience connection errors and strange bugs and glitches over the weekend, too.

Beyond confirmation of maintenance over the weekend, developer Bungie has yet to formally comment on the issues plaguing players, but some have taken to Reddit and Destiny's social media channels to report a range of strange happenings, including doors that don't open, PvP scores that don't update, and even pacifist enemies that refuse to engage.

As u/Indecisive_um said on the Destiny subreddit earlier today, "the game is currently broken, it's not just you".

The game is currently broken, it's not just you. from r/DestinyTheGame

"If you're trying to use interactions but can't or doors aren't opening, don't worry, it's not you, it's everyone," Indecisive_um – just one of dozens of thread starters bringing attention to the current issues – wrote.

"It seems [...] something has broken big time with the game, and some of the following issues have popped up."

The thread then lists a handful of issues that players have reported today, including:

Doors are not opening for any activity including Savathun's Spire, Dungeons like Prophecy or Shattered Throne, and even the Helm.Most, if not all, interactions are not working like the Chalice of Light in Crotas End, or the rally flag for public events.Enemies are bugged out to the point that it seems they can't die, nor can they notice the player in any way.

"I'm sure there's more things going on that I haven't listed, but just wanted to put this out for anyone who may be wondering what's going on," the OP said. "In the meantime, it might be a good idea to play another game while Bungie tries to address the issue, or do what I'm doing and get a chance to look up close to some of these enemies in their natural habitat."

Whilst it seems that most issues have since been resolved – many suggest rebooting your system, particularly if you're in the midst of a heavy session – some players report issues still persisted after Bungie's background maintenance earlier today (thanks, PCGN).

Earlier today, both PvP and PvE were broken for a brief period in #Destiny2, with enemies in PvE completely unresponsive, doors in activities not opening, and rounds in Trials of Osiris always resulting in a tie. 24, 2023

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Last week, Bungie announced plans to temporarily disable players from using crafted weapons in a bid to get on top of another in-game glitch.

After acknowledging that players could give Legendary guns Exotic traits – essentially circumventing the game's usual balance systems and allowing players to equip what is, in essence, three exotic weapons at once – Bungie confirmed that it's "working on two fixes" that it hopes will address the issue. 

The first was a server-side update that will disable all crafted weapons from being equipped, after which the team will address "illegal" weapons by resetting them "to a default state".

Earlier this week, Bungie said this issue was "now resolved". 

"Illegitimate frames and perks on crafted weapons have been replaced by legitimate ones. Please be advised that any players attempting to utilize the previous crafting exploit will receive a WEASEL error code and be kicked to the login screen."

Even the most committed Destiny 2 player should check out our guide for the best Destiny 2 PvE weapons. We've also got a guide to the best FPS games if you're looking for an experience further afield, too. 

Star Wars Jedi actor confirms a "third" Jedi game is on the way

It's happening, Star Wars fans – a third Star Wars Jedi game is in development.

Confirmation came not from development studio Respawn or publisher EA but Cal Kestis himself – or, more accurately, the man who gives Cal his face and voice.

Cameron Monaghan was talking at a recent panel at Ocala Comic Con and admitted during the interview that the team was "in the process" of making a "third" game (albeit acknowledging that much of this work seems to have chiefly been "conversations" for now rather than anything more concrete).

"We’re working on a third [game], and we’re in the process of doing that right now," Monaghan said during his panel (thanks, VGC).

"That's a big undertaking, and there have been some conversations so far, but hopefully, when all things are said and done, we’ll be able to go in and make something really cool."

Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson recently hinted at new secret projects in development at Jedi Survivor developer, Respawn Entertainment. 

During the recent Goldman Sachs Communacopia & Technology Conference, Wilson spoke about EA's success with acquiring Respawn and celebrated the studio's recent work on the Star Wars Jedi series and Apex Legends. 

"We haven’t done that many acquisitions, we’ve done a few," Wilson said. "Respawn, of course, was maybe one of the most incredible acquisitions ever done in the industry". 

"They’re an incredible team, and they’ve created incredible value for us, for our shareholders, and certainly for these global communities of players across Apex and the Jedi series. And you should imagine that there’s some other things going on at Respawn that we’re very excited about, that we’re not going to talk about but that we’re very excited about just given the quality of that group."

Could a third instalment of the Star Wars Jedi series be one of those "things going on" at Respawn? Watch this space… literally, in this case.

For more, check out our guide to everything you need to know about Star Wars Outlaws, as well as our picks for the best RPGs you can play right now. 

AMD has just released a chip for robots –yes, you can buy it to try building your life-size Mech

AMD has bolstered its Kria portfolio of adaptive system-on-module (SOM) boards with the K24 and KD240 Drives Starter Kit, which are designed to control electric motors in robotics systems.

With this new platform, Kria is aiming to lower the barrier to entry for using chips designed for robotics, according to Serve the Home

Starting from $250, the K24 SOM and its corresponding starter kit target cost-sensitive industries and commercial edge use cases. It could be used in electric motor systems, robotics for factory automation, power generation as well as public transportation, including elevators and trains. It may also be fitted into medical systems, including in surgical robotics devices, and MRI beds.

Robotics made simple

Armed with a quad-core Arm Cortex-A53 processor as well as a dual-core Arm Cortex-R5F real-time processor, and running Ubuntu, the K24 is something of an entry-level module. It also features a Mali-400 MP2 GPU, and an AMD Deep Learning Processor, alongside 2GB LPDDR4 RAM.

It’s far more accessible than the souped-up K26, and it’s specifically tailored for computing and input/output (I/O) for motor control. What makes it especially useful for motor control is the lower latency than comparable units, with the K24 expressing 120ns, which AMD claims is up to half the 276ns of the Texas Instruments’ AM64XX.

The K24 can, however, be used in conjunction with the K26 in the same robotics systems thanks to a compatible connector.

The integrated fan-out packaging means it’s also roughly half the size of a credit card. As a result, it consumes much less power than other options on the market; it guzzles as half as power as the aforementioned K26.

Kria’s starter kit, meanwhile, includes an array of additional components that make getting started much quicker and easier to build robotics systems, even at home. This will come in addition to a second starter kit, the REB Robotics 2-in-1 Motor Kit Accessory, which is coming out in the near future.

More from TechRadar Pro These are the best AMD CPUs that you can buy todayWe've rounded up the fastest CPUs from Intel, AMD and othersAMD EPYC processors are set for a major speed boost
Google Pixel 8 Pro – everything we know so far

The Google Pixel 8 Pro is set to be the search giant’s big flagship phone for 2023, and the larger sibling to the Google Pixel 8

Likely launching early October, the Pixel 8 Pro looks set to be an evolution of the 7 Pro and 6 Pro; read our Pixel 7 Pro review and Pixel 6 Pro review for our verdict on those phones. It will see Google continue to lean into the somewhat blocky shape of the recent Pixel phones, with their distinctive rear camera bar - not a bad thing, as it helps the devices stand out from the crowd among the best Android phones

So, what else do we know about it, and what knowledge gaps remain to be filled in? Read on for everything we know about the Google Pixel 8 Pro so far.

Google Pixel 8 Pro: rumored release date and price

Given Google has already teased the Pixel 8 Pro on YouTube, we know the phone is coming. What's more, the search giant is holding a Made By Google event on October 4, so we’d place a significant bet that we will see the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro get revealed in full then. 

Preorders for the phones are likely to follow, potentially on the day. And we’d expect the phones to be released a week after the reveal – that’s following the example set by the Pixel 7 Pro – which would mean the Pro could get a release date of October 11. 

As for price… well, the rumors haven't been hugely forthcoming here. However, the ones we have seen tip the Pixel 8 Pro to start at €1,235.72 for the 128GB model in Europe; Euro prices don't translate that well into US or UK prices due to taxation. But the Pixel 7 Pro started at $899 / £849 / AU$1,299 when it launched, and we’d expect the Pixel 8 to stick with that pricing. 

Google Pixel 8 Pro: design and display

Google Pixel 8 Pro and Pixel 8 and Pixel Watch 2 from back in porcelain and rose

(Image credit: Google)

Going by Google’s teaser video, the Pixel 8 Pro will look a lot like the Pixel 7 Pro. It appears to have the same overall dimensions, and to use the same rear camera bar in a shiny metal finish that stands out from the glass back of the phone. 

But rather than using a pill and cut-out design for the cameras, the Pixel 8 Pro looks like it’ll have its trio of cameras in a single pill-shaped cutout. To the right of the cameras are what appears to be a flash and some other form of sensor; we don’t know what that sensor will do. 

We can speculate, though, so we will. It could be used for some form of LiDAR or extra depth sensing to power augmented reality features and deliver better depth of field when shooting portrait photos. Or perhaps it could better sense ambient light to help with low-light and night photography modes. Or it could be a temperature sensor to be used in combination with health-related apps. The jury is out on this one.

Google Pixel 8 Pro and Pixel 8 and Pixel Watch 2 from back in porcelain and rose

(Image credit: Google)

The display looks like it’ll come in at 6.7 inches and will use an LTPO OLED panel so that the refresh rate can hit 120Hz, but can also be dialed back to the single digits when the phone isn't displaying fast-moving content – say, when the always-on display mode is showing basic static information.

While the Pixel 7 Pro has a great display, we’d not be against Google adjusting the contrast and colors, and taking the brightness about 1,600 nits to make for an even more punchy display that you’d not mind watching shows and movies on when commuting.

Meanwhile, another Google leak revealed several more details about the Pixel 8 Pro, including that it could come in Sky (blue), Porcelain (white), and Licorice (black) color options. Those colors have also since appeared in a subsequent leak.

Google Pixel 8 Pro cameras

Google Pixel 8 Pro and Pixel 8 and Pixel Watch 2 from back in porcelain and rose

(Image credit: Google)

Excellent cameras are are one of the key selling points for Pixel phones, and the rumors so far are pointing at some big changes on the Pixel 8 Pro. 

While it will likely retain the 50MP main camera specs of its predecessor, the Pixel 8 Pro could use a new sensor that will let in more light than ever before. That should make for better overall photos, ideally with crisper details, and improved low-light shots. The main camera is also tipped to be able to capture 8K video thanks to the Pixel 8 Pro’s Tensor 3 chip (more on that later), which would be a first for the Pixel phones and which would put it on a par with the mighty Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

The ultrawide camera is tipped to take the Pixel 7a’s 64MP sensor, replacing the 12MP camera of its predecessor. We expect this to lead to more detailed wide-angle shots and pristine macro photography. On the telephoto side, the 48MP camera looks set to remain. But we’d not be surprised if it gained some software tweaks to deliver improved detail and colors, while also boosting zoomed-in stabilization. 

There’s no word on a boosted selfie camera. So expect the front-facing snapper to stick at 10.8 megapixels; improvements to image quality are likely to be made on the software side. 

Joining the Photo Unblur mode seen in the last two generations of Pixel phones, should be a new Video Unblur feature. As the name would suggest this could help clean up blurred footage in fast moving videos, using the power of AI-centric smart image processing.

More camera features and, potentially, the specs for the phone cameras have since been revealed in another leak.

Google Pixel 8 Pro rumored specs

An image of the Google Tensor chipset

(Image credit: Google)

Expect to see the Tensor 3 chip in the Google Pixel 8 Pro. Though not officially announced, everything points to this slice of silicon following on from the Tensor 2 chip, which brought in a decent performance boost over its predecessor. 

But the Tensor chips aren’t about clock speeds and cores. Rather, they have AI-based processing pipelines at their heart to enable fast machine-learning actions to be carried out. That means a more responsive Google Assistant and snappier processing of various things, from unblurring images to translating text and speech. 

There’s been no word on RAM, but we suspect it’ll stick to the Pixel 7 Pro’s 12GB, which is plenty for smartphones right now. Same story for storage, which we predict will start at 128GB. Some may see that as a tad ungenerous by Google, given the iPhone 15 Pro Max and Galaxy flagships now start at 256GB. But Google has robust cloud storage, so one could argue that a lot of onboard storage isn’t vital on Pixel phones. 

Expect a similar-sized battery, too, likely sitting at 5,000mAh. Charging will probably stick with 30W when wired and will use Qi-certified wireless charging. But we’d expect some battery life gains to come from improved processor efficiency and smarter machine learning-power battery optimization. 

Google Pixel 8 Pro outlook

Going by what we’ve heard and seen so far, the Google Pixel 8 Pro looks set to be a small-ish upgrade on the Pixel 7 Pro. 

While its rumored hardware specs may not blow us away, we’d be reasonably confident in Google bringing new AI capabilities to the Pixel phones, powered by the Tensor 3 chip. 

Whether this will be enough to place the Pixel 8 Pro in contention for a high spot on our best phones list remains to be seen. But with October 4 not far away, we’d hope to find out how the Pixel 8 Pro shapes up rather soon. 

You might also like Google Pixel 8: latest news, rumors and everything we know so farBest Pixel phones: we've ranked all the Google Pixel handsets worth buyingHands-on iPhone 15 Pro Max review
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Google Pixel 8: latest news, rumors and everything we know so far

The Google Pixel 8 is almost here, as Google has announced that it's holding a launch event on October 4, where we're also expecting to see the Pixel 8 Pro and probably the Pixel Watch 2.

Ahead of that, teasers, rumors, and leaks continue to flow concerning both upcoming devices and below we've detailed all the latest rumblings, alongside our expert predictions as to their respective specs and prices.

Further down, you'll also find a list of features we want to see from the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, because while the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro are the two of the best phones Google has ever made, there's definite room for improvement.

Cut to the chase What is it? The next flagship phone from GoogleWhen is it out? October 4How much will it cost? Likely from $599 / £599 / AU$999 Google Pixel 8: release date and price

The Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro are set to land on October 4, as Google is holding an event then where it's said we'll see new Pixel devices. The Pixel 8 isn't mentioned by name, but a number eight is used in a post the company made about the event, so there's no real doubt that this is what we'll see.

It makes sense too, as Google's main numbered phones almost always land in October of their release year.

In fact, every Pixel model outside of the A-line has been announced in October, except the Pixel 5, which was unveiled on September 30, 2020 (so, almost October) and didn’t ship until October.

Big fall launches are stressful, but Pixel helps its friend stay cool as a cucumber. #BestPhonesForeverThe w8 is almost over. Rest up for #MadeByGoogle on October 4th and sign up for updates: 30, 2023

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We’re not sure what the Pixel 8 will cost, but the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro both had exactly the same prices as their predecessors, so it’s possible Google will stick with that pricing structure for another year.

In this case, the Pixel 8 will start at $599 / £599 / AU$999, while the Pixel 8 Pro will start at $899 / £849 / AU$1,299. That said, we wouldn’t be surprised if Google pushes the phones' respective prices up a bit, especially as the current models undercut key competition like the iPhone 14 line.

On the other hand, reports have claimed that the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro could be a little more expensive than the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. They could start at a $50 to $100 higher, according to tipster Yogesh Brar. Some have claimed it would be a lot more expensive in Europe, with prices going up to €874.25 ($943/£757/AU$1,461) for the base Pixel 8 and €949.30 ($1042/£812)/AU$1587) for the base Pixel 8 Pro. Though these include tax, which American rates do not, it's quite likely we could see price increases of $100, at a bare minimum following general trends. With a £50 or AU$100 increase not being out of the question.

Google Pixel 8: design and display

Before we get to the leaks, there's some official news on the design of these phones, as Google has now posted a video teaser on Instagram, showing off the back of both the Pixel 8 and the Pixel 8 Pro.

Some images from this video can be seen below, but basically these phones look very similar to the current models, just with a new sensor (reportedly for measuring temperatures) on the Pixel 8 Pro's camera bar, a slightly different look to the camera bar on the Pro model (with all three lenses housed in a black section), and slightly more rounded corners.

We can also see some of the color options here, with the Pixel 8 Pro shown in a porcelain white and the Pixel 8 in a pinkish rose color. Further information on colors was revealed in a subsequent leak.

Image 1 of 4

Google Pixel 8 Pro and Pixel 8 and Pixel Watch 2 from back in porcelain and rose

(Image credit: Google)Image 2 of 4

Google Pixel 8 Pro and Pixel 8 and Pixel Watch 2 from back in porcelain and rose

(Image credit: Google)Image 3 of 4

Google Pixel 8 Pro and Pixel 8 and Pixel Watch 2 from back in porcelain and rose

(Image credit: Google)Image 4 of 4

Google Pixel 8 Pro and Pixel 8 and Pixel Watch 2 from back in porcelain and rose

(Image credit: Google)

The biggest Pixel 8 Pro leaks so far also come from Google itself, which accidentally posted an image of the Pixel 8 Pro on its website. You can see the image in the post below.

The color shown is an off-white, which the image alt text reveals is called Porcelain. Based on other leaks, the standard Pixel 8 colors might include Haze, Jade, Licorice, and Peony.

Here's a look at the Google Pixel 8 Pro in Porcelain.This image is from the Google Store website, which inadvertently published this image early in the promo page for "Google Subscriptions & Services".Thanks to @android_setting for the tip! 30, 2023

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Since then, Google has leaked the Pixel 8 Pro once again, and this time in even more detail.

In a seemingly accidental update to its website, users were briefly able to examine the phone from all angles, revealing that it has a SIM card slot (so isn't eSIM only had been rumored), and has a temperature sensor.

The colors were also revealed, and largely match up with leaks. The listed shades are Sky (blue), Porcelain (white), and Licorice (black).

No way. It happened AGAIN. Google themselves leaked the Pixel 8 Pro.You can see a full 360 degree view of the phone here, confirming the colors (Licorice, Porcelain, and Sky) as well as the components (like the temperature sensor). 6, 2023

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Beyond that, we've also seen high-quality unofficial renders showing off both the Pixel 8 itself and the Pixel 8 Pro.

These show largely familiar designs, but with more rounded corners, leading apparently to smaller sizes. In the case of the Pixel 8 that's said to mean a 6.2-inch display (down from 6.3 inches on the Pixel 7). The Pixel 8 Pro is expected to keep the same 6.7 inches as the 7 Pro, though.

A report from display analyst Ross Young corroborates these sizes, albeit giving the Pixel 8's screen size as a more petite 6.16 inches. It's all swings and roundabouts anyway, as 6.16 rounds up to 6.2 inches in any case.

Image 1 of 4

An unofficial render of the Google Pixel 8

An unofficial render of the Pixel 8 (Image credit: @OnLeaks / MySmartPrice)Image 2 of 4

An unofficial render of the Google Pixel 8

An unofficial render of the Pixel 8 (Image credit: @OnLeaks / MySmartPrice)Image 3 of 4

The Google Pixel 8 Pro leaks in Black.

An unofficial render of the Pixel 8 Pro (Image credit: OnLeaks / Smartprix)Image 4 of 4

A render showing the upcoming Google Pixel 8 Pro in black.

An unofficial render of the Pixel 8 Pro (Image credit: OnLeaks / SmartPrix)

More recent leaks put the screen sizes at 6.17 inches and 6.70 inches respectively, though both phones are said to have a 120Hz refresh rate (which would be an upgrade for the standard model), and to have higher maximum HDR brightness levels than their predecessors (at 1,400 and 1,600 nits for the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro respectively).

As for the resolution, the same source says the Pixel 8 is 1,800 x 2,400, while the Pixel 8 Pro is 1,344 x 2,992. But according to another source, the Pixel 8 has a 1080 x 2268 screen, while the Pixel 8 Pro has a 1344 x 2822 one.

Given that the Pixel 8 might have a smaller screen than the Pixel 7, its rumored dimensions are also smaller as a result, at 150.5 x 70.8 x 8.9mm, while the Pixel 8 Pro is said to be 162.6 x 76.5 x 8.7mm, in both cases rising to around 12mm at the camera visor.

The Pixel 8 is shown with rear two camera lenses like the current model – those presumably being wide and ultrawide ones again, while the Pixel 8 Pro is shown with three and a temperature sensor.

What seems to be a promotional video showing off the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro has also leaked out online, and we get a good look at the rear of the Pixel 8 Pro.

Seems like the new Pixel 8 series will introduce Audio Magic Eraser feature to reduce video background noise.#Pixel8 #Pixel8Pro #GooglePixel 11, 2023

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We've also now seen leaked hands-on photos of the Pixel 8 Pro, which you can see below. It appears to be in a case, but you can see that the screen is less curved than the Pixel 7 Pro's, that the corners are more curved, and that the camera has a slightly different design, matching the renders above.

Leaked photos of the Pixel 8 Pro

(Image credit: Reddit)

Finally, there’s evidence of a mystery Pixel phone in the works, which based on leaked specs might be the Pixel 8 or Pixel 8 Pro. 9to5Google has found this evidence in publicly available code from the Android Open Source Project, and it points to a phone with a 1440 x 3120 120Hz screen, a Tensor chipset, and dimensions of 155 x 71mm.

Those screen specs are in line with the current Pro models, but the dimensions are more what we’d expect from the standard Pixel 8, so that might mean a resolution and refresh rate upgrade is planned for the standard model.

However, that screen resolution is also different to the leaked resolutions above, so we'd take all of these leaks with a pinch of salt for now.

Google Pixel 8: camera and battery

When it comes to cameras, the main camera sensor is expected to stick at 50MP, but with an upgraded sensor that lets in more light. The ultrawide camera will be upgraded on both phones too, we're hearing, but more so on the Pro model – while the Pro telephoto zoom is predicted to stick at 5x.

Indeed, Google itself has now leaked the Pixel 8 Pro, revealing a 5x telephoto alongside a main camera and an ultra-wide, but with no megapixel numbers listed. Those numbers were filled in, potentially, by a leak that came later.

While we still don't know battery specs, we have at least seen the Pixel 8 pop-up on the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC)'s certification website, with the listing revealing wireless charging details that suggest the Pixel 8 will retain the same wireless charging speeds as its predecessor (12W unless placed on the official Google Pixel Stand which then delivers 20W of power, wirelessly).

However, wired charging speeds are rumored to be rising: 24W for the Pixel 8 (up from 20W) and 27W for the Pixel 8 Pro (up from 24W). The same leak has also predicted slightly larger battery capacities for both phones. 

Google Pixel 8: specs and features

Leaked hands of photos of the Pixel 8 Pro that you can see further up show a partial specs list, including 12GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and mentions of 'zuma', which is believed to be the codename for the Tensor G3 chipset.

Beyond that, a handful of other leaks have emerged regarding both phones. For one thing, there are reports that the Tensor G3 chipset we’re expecting to power the phone is in the works, and that this will once again be made by Samsung.

This could be significantly more powerful than the Tensor G2 in the Pixel 7 series, as it's rumored to be built on a new 3nm process, down from 5nm for the current one. That change is likely to mean a big boost in power and efficiency.

A more detailed Tensor G3 leak has revealed all sorts of things about it, but the gist is that it should be a lot more powerful, enable ray tracing, offer improved photo processing and AI skills, and more.

Speaking of which in an aforementioned leaked video, it appears the Pixel 8 will get a new feature in the form of Audio Magic Eraser, which seems to use AI to separate music, vocals, and background noise on video clips. This was given more weight by a Google Pixel Superfans survey which mentions the tool in the context of being able to remove unwanted noise at sports games while also enhancing the audio you want to hear. 

Another leak, meanwhile, suggests the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro might be codenamed Shiba and Husky respectively, and that they both might have 12GB of RAM and run Android 14.

We also know that satellite communication capabilities are likely to be offered by the Pixel 8, much like the iPhone 14. Hiroshi Lockheimer (the senior vice president of Android) has said that support for the feature will be coming with Android 14; so it’s likely the Pixel 8 will be the first Google phone to offer it.

Plus, one source predicts the arrival of Wi-Fi 7 for the Pixel series. Another leak from Brar appeared to corroborate everything we'd already heard about the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro, tipping it to be a mild, refining update. 

There have been predictions that the Pixel 8 and the Pixel 8 Pro are going to come with upgrades to the integrated Camera app, with some shuffling of the various modes and a better distinction between photo and video modes.

Finally, some say that the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro could have an extended support life cycle with up to 5 years of software updates compared to 3 with the Pixel 6 and Pixel 7. 

Google Pixel 8: what we want to see

Below we’ve listed the five things that we most want the Pixel 8 line to offer.

1. A 120Hz screen for both models

Google Pixel 7 review OS

The Pixel 7 only has a 90Hz refresh rate. (Image credit: Future / Alex Walker-Todd)

The Pixel 7 Pro has a 120Hz screen, just as you’d expect from a flagship phone, but the standard Pixel 7 doesn’t – it’s stuck at 90Hz.

Given that even some of the best cheap phones now have 120Hz screens, that seems somewhat unacceptable, so we really hope Google offers a 120Hz screen on both the Pixel 8 and the Pixel 8 Pro.

2. More power

The Pixel 7 line uses the Google Tensor G2 chipset, and it’s a chipset that has a lot going for it.

Designed specifically for these phones, it excels in areas like machine learning and AI, but when it comes to raw power, the Tensor G2 is a little lacking, as it performs worse in most benchmarks than key rivals like the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 and the Apple A16 Bionic. In fact it performs significantly worse.

So, we’d like to see a focus on power from the Tensor G3 (or whatever the next model ends up being called), so that the Pixel 8 line is more competitive on that front. However, we don’t want that to come at the expense of the things Tensor chipsets are currently good at.

3. Better battery life and faster charging

Google Pixel 7 Pro phone

The Google Pixel 7 Pro has middling battery life. (Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)

Both the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro should comfortably get you through a day of fairly heavy use, based on our tests, but they aren’t going to get you through a second day, or even halfway through a second day in most cases.

So, their longevity is respectable but far from exceptional, and they also both charge quite slowly, so we’d like to see improvements to both the battery life and the charging speed for the Pixel 8 line.

4. Longer-term support

Google has promised three years of Android version updates and five years of security patches for the Pixel 7 line, which has some Android phones beat but doesn’t come close to the number of years of support Apple typically offers with its iPhones.

Since Google makes Android and is using a bespoke chipset designed specifically for the phones here, there really shouldn’t be any reason it can’t support its phones for longer, so we’d like to see extended support offered with the Pixel 8.

5. 10x optical zoom on the Pro

The Google Pixel 7 Pro offers 5x optical zoom, up from 4x on the Pixel 6 Pro, but we’d like to see a bigger jump for the next model, bringing it up to 10x in line with the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.

That said, we still want a shorter distance zoom – of ideally 2x or 3x – to be offered as well, so there are two distinctly different zoom distances available. The Google Pixel 7 Pro is already one of the best camera phones, but with this upgrade the Pixel 8 Pro could be even better.

New Pixel 8 leaks suggest the colors and camera features to expect

Now that we're almost over the excitement of the iPhone 15 launch, we can turn our attention to the Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro – and a couple of new leaks reveal more about what we can expect when these flagship phones make an appearance.

First up are some official-looking renders obtained by MySmartPrice (via Android Authority). Google has published its own shots of the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, but these leaked images show off more angles and more colors.

The colors to expect are, according to this source, Peony Rose, Grey, and Obsidian Black for the Pixel 8, and Sky Blue, Porcelain, and Black Obsidian for the Pixel 8 Pro. It seems like only the black shade will be carried over from the Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro.

You can also see the camera bumps, and just how much they stick out from the main chassis, in the renders supplied by MySmartPrice. They match up with the images published by Google so there's a good chance that they're accurate.

Camera features

Our second Pixel 8 leak concerns some of the camera features coming to the Pixel 8 and the Pixel 8 Pro. We already know that photo and video capture will be a crucial part of what these phones offer, and now more details have emerged.

As per a video sourced by 91mobiles (via Android Police), the features heading our way with these phones include Video Boost, Night Sight for video, Audio Eraser for reducing background noise, and Magic Editor – including being able to create composite images where everyone in the family is smiling at the same time.

We'd heard about some of these features before, but this newly leaked video looks like it was produced by Google to accompany the launch of the Pixel 8 and the Pixel 8 Pro, and it shows all of these tools in action. What remains to be seen is which features, if any, will be Pro exclusives – that phone will have a more advanced camera setup.

There's also a breakdown of the camera specs here: a dual-lens 50MP+12MP ultrawide camera on the back of the Pixel 8, and a triple lens 50MP+48MP ultrawide+48MP telephoto on the Pixel 8 Pro. Both handsets are due to appear on Wednesday, October 4.

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The iPhone 15 Pro can temporarily change color without a case, Apple admits

The iPhone 15 Pro and the iPhone 15 Pro Max are now out in the wild, and there have been reports of some discoloration appearing on the new titanium frames on these handsets – an issue Apple has now officially acknowledged.

In an updated support document (via MacRumors), Apple goes on the record to say that "for iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, the oil from your skin might temporarily alter the color of the outside band".

No need to panic though – because wiping the frame of the handset with a "soft, slightly damp, lint-free cloth" will "restore the original look" and your phone will look as good as new. That said, you might want to invest in a case.

The Pro and Pro Max phones are using titanium with a brushed effect instead of stainless steel this year, which seems to be why fingerprints show up so much. Of course, these signs of gradual wear and tear may not bother you at all.

Built to last

In our iPhone 15 Pro Max review, we praised the "exquisite" build quality of the most expensive iPhone 15 model, as well as describing it as a "pleasure to hold" – and problems with fingerprints weren't something we particularly noticed.

The switch to titanium means the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max are lighter than their immediate predecessors, and should be more resistant to corrosion, though they're also slightly thicker as well.

As we've explained in our iPhone 15 review, the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus stick with the usual aluminum frame, so you shouldn't be noticing any kind of discoloration there. There's glass front and back on all four of the new iPhone 15 handsets.

The cleaning process for your iPhone remains the same: use a soft, slightly damp, lint-free cloth for the job, avoid cleaning products, and don't use compressed air. You should also avoid getting moisture in any of the phone's openings.

You might also like Do this first if you're switching from an older iPhone to the iPhone 15iPhone 15 Pro drop test suggests it's not as durable as iPhone 14 ProApple's iOS 17 could be more exciting than the iPhone 15 handsets
Microsoft really wants your next work laptop to be a Surface

Microsoft has unveiled the latest versions of its leading laptops which it hopes will appeal to business customers using its software, including the latest AI tech it has to offer.

The company said its three new business laptops have been designed with productivity, creativity, and collaboration in mind, but beyond that, they aim to appease IT professionals and other decision-makers in their control and longevity.

At the same time, the company announced its latest whiteboarding and video conferencing screen for the meeting room, the Surface Hub 3, which we’ve covered separately.

Trio of new Surface laptops for business

The first device to get the latest treatment is the brand-new Surface Laptop Studio 2, which blends the functionality and practicality of a laptop with the versatility of a tablet: the touchscreen is compatible with Surface Slim Pen 2 for on-the-go note-taking and design work.

Microsoft says that the latest 13th Gen Intel Core processors deliver more than twice the performance of its predecessor. These and the Nvidia RTX 2000 Ada Generation or Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 and 4060 GPUs make it ideal for media-intensive workloads.

The upgraded Surface Laptop Go 3 is most befitting to a typical office worker, though it can handle some pretty intensive workloads with up to 16GB of RAM. It promises 15 hours of battery life, and fast charging to replenish that fairly quickly.

Finally, the Surface Go 4 has been upgraded with an improved battery and now delivers up to 4.5x more performance than the original Surface Go. Redmond sees this tablet-laptop-hybrid suiting best to healthcare and retail workers thanks to its compact size.

The new laptops are available to buy from the Microsoft store, costing companies $3,669 for the Surface Laptop Studio 2, $1,279 for the Surface Laptop Go 3, and $959 for the Surface Go 4.

"Our new Surface devices have been built for the needs and wants of end-users to be more productive, creative and collaborative while supporting the needs of IT professionals to deploy, manage and support these devices at scale through the lifecycle," noted Nancie Gaskill, General Manager, Surface.

"With these new products, we not only bring new innovation and technology but are delivering on some of the most requested commercial features with more performance, improved security, manageability and repairability."

More from TechRadar Pro Microsoft Surface Event 2023 as it happened: Surface Laptop Go 3, Laptop Studio 2 and Windows 11 Copilot announcedWant to tap into your company’s IT budget? Here are the best hybrid working tools you need in the modern workplaceWe’ve rounded up the best productivity tools
Some of the world’s biggest tech firms have built rival for Bluetooth AND Wi-Fi – here’s why you should be worried

The first products using Nearlink – a revolutionary next-generation wireless protocol – are hitting the market, with Huawei leading the charge.

The company's Huawei Mate 60, MatePad Pro 13.2, and Freebuds Pro are among the first devices shipping with the Nearlink standard, which Huawei is championing as a much faster and more effective rival to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

Announced at its HDC 2023 event in August, Nearlink works by making the most of existing wireless technologies, including Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, according to Huawei Central.

What Nearlink means for the future of mobile networks

The benefits include 60% less power consumption, six times the data transmission speeds, and they support roughly ten times the device connections. 

The standard is designed to strip away latency (offering latency of 1/30th of a millisecond) while offering high bandwidth to boot.

Not only is Huawei loading its latest devices with Nearlink, but it’s also leading a consortium of 300 tech companies to build the standard – all Chinese apart from Mediatek and St Gobain – to integrate the standard into their products. 

This group includes a broad range of companies from sectors such as automotive, AV, home appliances, as well as electronics, and they specifically include Lenovo, Hisense, Honor, among others.

No major US names including the likes of Intel, Qualcomm, AMD, or Nvidia, are included, leading to a very real possibility the technology could take off in China and leave the rest of the world behind. 

There are, however, alternatives, including the ultra-wideband (UWB) technology Apple is developing for its devices, including the new iPhone 15 series.

Although the US has blacklisted Huawei, it remains a significant player in the global technology market. 

A China-only wireless protocol built and developed only by Chinese companies – led by Huawei – may result in a parallel form of networking that’s impossible to peer into – especially when it comes to shaping how the standard improves over time, and what that means for users and businesses.

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Quordle today - hints and answers for Sunday, September 24 (game #608)

It's time for your daily dose of Quordle hints, plus the answers for both the main game and the Daily Sequence spin off. 

Quordle is the only one of the many Wordle clones that I'm still playing now, around 18 months after the daily-word-game craze hit the internet, and with good reason: it's fun, but also difficult.

What's more, its makers (now the online dictionary Merriam-Webster) are also keeping it fresh in the form of a variant called the Daily Sequence, which sees you complete four puzzles consecutively, rather than concurrently. 

But Quordle is tough, so if you already find yourself searching for Wordle hints, you'll probably need some for this game too. 

I'm a Quordle and Wordle fanatic who's been playing since December 2021, so I can definitely help you solve Quordle today and improve your game for tomorrow. Read on for my Quordle hints to game #608 and the answers to the main game and Daily Sequence. 

SPOILER WARNING: Information about Quordle today is below, so don't read on if you don't want to know the answers.

Quordle today (game #608) - hint #1 - Vowels How many different vowels are in Quordle today?

The number of different vowels in Quordle today is 4*.

* Note that by vowel we mean the five standard vowels (A, E, I, O, U), not Y (which is sometimes counted as a vowel too). 

Quordle today (game #608) - hint #2 - total vowels What is the total number of vowels in Quordle today?

The total number of vowels across today's Quordle answers is 7.

Quordle today (game #608) - hint #3 - repeated letters Do any of today's Quordle answers contain repeated letters?

The number of Quordle answers containing a repeated letter today is 0.

Quordle today (game #608) - hint #4 - total letters How many different letters are used in Quordle today?

The total number of different letters used in Quordle today is 14.

Quordle today (game #608) - hint #5 - uncommon letters Do the letters Q, Z, X or J appear in Quordle today?

• Yes. One of Q, Z, X or J appears among today's Quordle answers.

Quordle today (game #608) - hint #6 - starting letters (1) Do any of today's Quordle puzzles start with the same letter?

The number of today's Quordle answers starting with the same letter is 2.

If you just want to know the answers at this stage, simply scroll down. If you're not ready yet then here's one more clue to make things a lot easier:

Quordle today (game #608) - hint #7 - starting letters (2) What letters do today's Quordle answers start with?

• L

• A

• Q

• L

Right, the answers are below, so DO NOT SCROLL ANY FURTHER IF YOU DON'T WANT TO SEE THEM.

Quordle today (game #608) - the answers

Quordle answers for game 608 on a yellow background

(Image credit: Merriam-Webster)

The answers to today's Quordle, game #608, are…


How did you do today? Send me an email and let me know.

Daily Sequence today (game #608) - the answers

Quordle daily sequence answers for game 608 on a yellow background

(Image credit: Merriam-Webster)

The answers to today's Quordle Daily Sequence, game #608, are…

LOGINWATCHFORTHLOOPY Quordle answers: The past 20 Quordle #607, Saturday 23 September: HEARD, LOATH, GUEST, SIGMAQuordle #606, Friday 22 September: CHILI, METRO, PUREE, KIOSKQuordle #605, Thursday 21 September: AWARE, SHONE, SHADE, SHELFQuordle #604, Wednesday 20 September: TAMER, SNOUT, BLAND, SLEEPQuordle #603, Tuesday 19 September: WACKY, LAYER, FRUIT, MINERQuordle #602, Monday 18 September: SWEAR, LOWLY, STAND, UPSETQuordle #601, Sunday 17 September: SCRUB, DUSTY, QUOTH, UNCLEQuordle #600, Saturday 16 September: FLAIL, ALTAR, YACHT, HAUNTQuordle #599, Friday 15 September: FISHY, DRAKE, TORUS, SMOTEQuordle #598, Thursday 14 September: CHEST, RIVER, THERE, EMCEEQuordle #597, Wednesday 13 September: GUESS, MICRO, DROOP, ELATEQuordle #596, Tuesday 12 September: CYNIC, GRUEL, CACTI, TOWERQuordle #595, Monday 11 September: RECUT, GREED, COVER, METERQuordle #594, Sunday 10 September: TRAIN, RIPER, BLACK, SCRAMQuordle #593, Saturday 9 September: MARRY, INFER, STALE, SUITEQuordle #592, Friday 8 September: SAPPY, STALL, RAYON, CIVICQuordle #591, Thursday 7 September: JOUST, RIVER, PENNY, CHALKQuordle #590, Wednesday 6 September: POLKA, THREW, MAGIC, SPURTQuordle #589, Tuesday 5 September: DRYLY, CURVY, MOSSY, TORUSQuordle #588, Monday 4 September: RIPER, ROWER, RUMBA, FJORD Quordle FAQs: Everything you need to know What is Quordle?

Where Wordle challenges you to guess a new five-letter word each day, Quordle presents you with four puzzles to solve. And rather than complete them in turn, you do so simultaneously. You get nine guesses, rather than the six for Wordle, but the rules are otherwise very similar. 

It's played online via the Quordle website and you can also get to it via the Merriam-Webster site, after the dictionary purchased Quordle last year

As with Wordle, the answers are the same for every player each day, meaning that you're competing against the rest of the world. And also as with Wordle, the puzzle resets at midnight so you have a fresh challenge each day.

The website also includes a practice mode - which I definitely recommend using before attempting the game proper! - and there are daily stats including a streak count. You also get Quordle Achievements - specific badges for winning a game in a certain number of turns, playing lots of times, or guessing particularly hard words.

Oh, and it's difficult. Really difficult.

What are the Quordle rules?

The rules of Quordle are almost identical to those of Wordle.

1. Letters that are in the answer and in the right place turn green.

2. Letters that are in the answer but in the wrong place turn yellow. 

3. Letters that are not in the answer turn gray…

4. …BUT the word you guess appears in all quadrants of the puzzle at the same time, so an A could turn green in one square, yellow in another and gray in the final two. 

5. Answers are never plural.

6. Letters can appear more than once. So if your guess includes two of one letter, they may both turn yellow, both turn green, or one could be yellow and the other green.

7. Each guess must be a valid word in Quordle's dictionary. You can't guess ABCDE, for instance.

8. You do not have to include correct letters in subsequent guesses and there is no equivalent of Wordle's Hard mode.

9. You have nine guesses to find the Quordle answers.

10. You must complete the daily Quordle before midnight in your timezone.

What is a good Quordle strategy?

Quordle needs to be approached in a different way to Wordle. With four puzzles to solve in nine guesses, you can't blindly throw letters at it and expect to win - you'll stand a far better chance if you think strategically.

That's the case in Wordle too, of course, but it's even more important in Quordle.

There are two key things to remember. 

1. Use several starting words

Firstly, you won't want just a single starting word, but almost certainly two or three starting words. 

The first of these should probably be one of the best Wordle starting words, because the same things that make them work well will apply here too. But after that, you should select another word or possibly two that use up lots more of the most common consonants and that include any remaining vowels.

For instance, I currently use STARE > DOILY > PUNCH. Between them, these three words use 15 of the 26 letters in the alphabet including all five vowels, Y, and nine of the most common consonants (S, T, R, D, L, P, N, C and H). There are plenty of other options - you might want to get an M, B, F or G in there instead of the H, maybe - but something like that should do the trick.

If all goes well, that will give you a good lead on what one or sometimes two of the answers might be. If not, well good luck!

2. Narrow things down

Secondly, if you're faced with a word where the answer might easily be one of several options - for instance -ATCH, where it could be MATCH, BATCH, LATCH, CATCH, WATCH, HATCH or PATCH - you'll definitely want to guess a word that would narrow down those options. 

In Wordle, you can instead try several of those in succession and hope one is right, assuming you have enough guesses left. It's risky, but will sometimes work. Plus, it's the only option in Hard mode. But in Quordle, this will almost certainly result in a failure - you simply don't have enough guesses.

In the scenario above, CLAMP would be a great guess, as it could point the way to four of the seven words in one go.

Payday 3 players still can't get online at peak times three days after launch

For the third day in a row, Payday 3 players are continuing to struggle to get online to play.

Earlier today, developer Starbreeze said that despite recent turbulence, "things are starting to look better", but players have reported throughout the day that matchmaking issues still persist, essentially preventing anyone from playing, even if they want to play alone.

It all started on September 21, when Payday 3 launched across PC and consoles. Although the first day of the early access period had a bit of a wobble, servers had mostly been okay, but the moment the game became available for all players – including those playing via Xbox Game Pass – matchmaking ceased, especially at peak times in Europe and the US.

"We're sorry to report that matchmaking is still unavailable, our team is working overtime to get this resolved," the team announced on social media on launch day. 

"We realise that the matchmaking issues are frustrating, they are for us as well," Starbreeze later added. "We're still here and still working on getting you all back into the game, stay tuned."


Since then, however, servers only seem to stabilize when demand eases and most of the game's European and American player base give up and go to sleep. 

However, the game's social channel and subreddit have been full of comments from unhappy gamers that they still can't connect via matchmaking – and the lucky few that do are getting kicked, too.

"I had to f*cking work like an adult the only time it was working, and now it's not working again. I've never seen such a piece of shit this is literally the new ET of gaming. Throw this shit in the landfill where it belongs," seethed one particularly unhappy player.

"You're right to complain about the server issues, it's unacceptable to still be having these issues so long after launch. You're also right that it should have had offline capabilities," agreed one conciliatory responder.

"But we all know the servers are going to be fixed, likely quite soon. So while the frustration is absolutely warranted, especially to those that cleared their schedules, were super hyped, etc. don't be an idiot and trash the entire game. We'll all be having proper heists soon."

At the time of writing, Starbreeze has not responded to reports of further server disruption. 

STOP DEFENDING THESE SCHMUCKS its been 72 hours since launch. from r/paydaytheheist

Developer Starbreeze recently confirmed a jam-packed calendar of seasonal DLC content, outlining its plans for the next 12 months to keep players of the co-op action game well-fed for much of 2024. 

Payday 3 is out now on PC (Steam/EGS), PS5, and Xbox Series X/S. Xbox Game Pass subscribers can also play for no additional cost, too.

"Payday 3 is a competently made and fairly polished heist-’em-up but while stealth gets an upgrade, the shooting is the same as its decade-old predecessor," we wrote in our 3/5 star Payday 3 review.

"Hitman-esque levels provide a nice distraction, but this feels like a foundation for Payday 3 as a live service game rather than a total product."

If you're also struggling to play Payday 3, then be sure to check out all of these fantastic co-op games, as well as the best shooters on PC  available to play with friends right now. 

Marvel's Spider-Man 2 actor says Peter Parker could "look like a goblin" as long as his performance is better

Marvel's Spider-Man 2 actor and voice artist Yuri Lowenthal has suggested that it's time for fans unhappy with Peter Parker's controversial face switch to "get over it".

Lowenthal's comment comes in an interview with ComicBook in which he discussed how he felt when a subset of fans revolted over Insomniac's decision to update the facial features of Marvel's Spider-Man's unmasked hero, Peter Parker, when the fan-favorite game was remastered in 2020.

The change – made to ensure the facial animations better matched Lowenthal's performance – caused quite the kerfuffle, revealing to Lowenthal how "connected emotionally" people can be to their favorite games and characters.

"The performance was the same for me," Lowenthal said. "I got over it as soon as they said, 'Hey, we wanna make this change so that the facial animation is better.' I said, 'I'm all in!' I don't care if he looks like a goblin – if my performance is better, then I'm in."

After admitting that he was "kind of tired of talking about", Lowenthal acknowledged that "some people will never get over it", but added that there had been some good to have come out of the situation, too. 

"The one positive thing I take away from this experience is that people connected emotionally so hard and so deeply in the first game that they're mad when they feel that person changes," Lowenthal concluded. "I can only be so mad about that because it worked, not the change thing, but you connected with the character, which is great. Now, get over it!"

Developer Insomniac Games recently announced that Marvel's Spider-Man 2 has gone gold, reaching a launch-ready state ahead of its release on October 20 PS5 release. 

At Cat helpfully summarized for us at the time, for those not in the know, "going gold" is a game industry term, meaning that the game is "finished" as far as the development cycle is concerned. This doesn't mean that Insomniac might not tweak and polish the game in the meantime, but it does mean that, if the game were released tomorrow, it would be in a launch-friendly state.  

One of this year's most anticipated upcoming games, Marvel's Spider-Man 2 is set to follow on from the original Marvel's Spider-Man and its sequel Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Both offered thrilling, well-paced action-adventure romps full of the great set-piece battles and gripping interpersonal drama for which great Spider-Man stories are known. 

Want something to play while you wait for Marvel's Spider-Man 2? Check out our lists of the best story games and the best single-player games.

Samsung accidentally leaks its own Galaxy S23 FE, Galaxy Buds FE and Tab S9 FE

You'd think that tech firms would manage not to leak their own products by now, but apparently not: Samsung seemingly just leaked its more affordable Fan Edition (FE) Galaxy phone, earbuds and tablet on its own website. 

Whether down to an employee mistake or as part of a deliberate marketing strategy, we now have lots of details about the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE as well as photos of the Galaxy Tab S9 FE and Galaxy S23 FE.

Here's what just leaked [via SamMobile].

Samsung Galaxy Buds FE: key features

Assuming the information displayed was genuine, the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE have a single driver and three mics in each earbud, active noise cancellation and up to 30 hours of play time with ANC turned off; that drops to a still-decent 21 hours with ANC enabled. They have Bluetooth 5.2 and a larger, tipped design, and as before there's the familiar compact charging case with USB-C on the back. They're SmartThings Find-compatible and feature an ambient mode, auto device switching and Samsung's Bixby digital assistant. 

The price of the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE hasn't been announced - or accidentally published - yet, but previous rumors suggested $99 in the US, which is likely to be £99 in the UK.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE and Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE: what do we know so far?

In addition to the leaked photos, Samsung has also been publishing teaser images of the forthcoming Samsung Galaxy S23 FE – the first FE phone since the Galaxy S21 FE. They show the rear camera assembly with three lenses arranged vertically and the headline, "The New Epic". That would appear to corroborate previous rumors that the S23 FE would be getting a camera upgrade this year.

According to the rumor mill, the SE will have a 6.4-inch Dynamic AMOLED with full HD+, 120Hz refresh rate and HDR10+. The selfie shooter is reportedly 10MP, and the main camera is 50MP alongside a 12MP ultrawide and an 8MP telephoto with 3x optical zoom. 

The Samsung Galaxy S23 FE is believed to have the Exynos 2200 and Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chips from last year's Galaxy S22 series, although leaked benchmarks indicate that Samsung has optimized it to deliver better performance than before. 

The Galaxy Tab S9 FE has leaked elsewhere too: it's appeared on the Google Play Console database alongside its budget sibling, the Galaxy Tab A9. Alongside renders of the new tablet there are some specifications: it appears to have a 1440 x 2304px display, an Exynos 1380 chip and 6GB of RAM. As expected, it's running Android 13.

We don't know when these devices will actually launch, but one of the leaked images of the Galaxy S23 FE shows a date of 4 October, which seems like a likely date for a Fall product launch: much later and you're leaving it dangerously late for the holiday season. And given the fact that Samsung is teasing while also deliberately or accidentally leaking complete product pages, it's clear that the Fan Edition devices are ready to roll.

You might also like The Google Graveyard revisited: 9 scrapped Google ideas we still missThe first Android is 15 years old, and it is the opposite of everything we want in a smartphone todayThe Samsung Galaxy S24 could be even more powerful than the iPhone 15 Pro Max
Microsoft clarifies Windows 11 23H2 update isn’t arriving next week

Earlier this week, Microsoft made a big announcement about the launch of its Copilot AI in Windows 11 which is happening with an update next week – but in case you were wondering, this isn’t the 23H2 update.

It is a big update to Windows 11, for sure, just not the annual update for 2023, which will arrive for the OS later, in fact.

As Neowin spotted, Microsoft made the clarification in a blog post following the announcement of the launch of Copilot.

The Copilot update will arrive as part of a rollout kicking off on September 26, and Microsoft said it will “later be included in Windows 11, version 23H2, the annual feature update for Windows 11.”

The 23H2 update won’t be released until Q4 of 2023, though, we’re told, which means it won’t begin to filter out until October at the earliest, and possibly not until later than that.

Analysis: A useful clarification

It’s a useful clarification from Microsoft, and we have to admit, we figured when the software giant talked about a big update coming next week, we assumed this would be the 23H2 update. That’s not the case, after all, but Copilot will be the biggest change to Windows 11 this year, so it’s easy enough to see how the confusion arose.

Still, we know where we stand now, and this won’t affect who gets Copilot next week – presumably those who have ticked the box to get the latest updates for Windows 11 as soon as they’re available.

As to how Copilot will turn out in its initial incarnation, well, we’re still a little dubious about that – though some first impressions we were treated to were positive, no doubt.

You might also like

5 annoying Windows 11 problems and how to fix them Windows 11's latest big error has been fixed Don’t make these 5 big mistakes when using Windows 11

iPhone 15 Pro drop test suggests it's not as durable as iPhone 14 Pro

A new video suggests that the iPhone 15 Pro may be more prone to accidental-drop damage than the outgoing iPhone 14 Pro

The video, by Sam Kohl of AppleTrack (via 9to5Mac, compares the two iPhone Pro models during a series of drops. The iPhone 14 remains in apparently as-new condition even after the drops reach double figures, but by that point the iPhone 15 Pro is completely trashed.

It's important to keep perspective here: when you accidentally drop your iPhone, you don't then pick it up and drop it again several times; it took multiple drops to do any damage to the iPhone 15 Pro in the video. But there does appear to be a structural difference between the outgoing iPhone and the new one, and that difference could seemingly make the Pro more prone to spiderweb cracks when dropped onto a hard surface. 

Why is the iPhone 15 Pro getting damaged differently?

The new iPhone 15 Pro makes extensive use of titanium alloy, which is strong and light, and has a titanium alloy frame rather than a stainless steel one. However, while titanium is stronger it's also a little more flexible, and that along with the move from a vertical to a curved edge appears to have removed some of the shock-absorbing properties of the iPhone 14 Pro's stainless steel band. 

What that means in practice is that while the titanium itself is very tough, it may transmit more vibration to other parts of the phone – such as the glass back, which is what you can see cracking in the video. So while the structural integrity of the iPhone remains undamaged, the shock can be transmitted through the glass, causing that to crack.

It's unlikely to be a significant issue for most users, especially those of us who put their phones in a case (partly for protection and partly to protect the resale value). But it's perhaps fortunate timing that Apple has made it cheaper to repair the glass back of the iPhone 15 Pro: according to Apple's latest repair price estimates, the cost of replacing the back glass on the iPhone 15 Pro is $169 / £169 / AU$275, rising to $199 / £199 / AU$319 for the iPhone 15 Pro Max. That's significantly less than the previous models, which were $499 / £519 / AU$879 and $549 / £559 / AU$899 respectively. 

Still, if you're clumsy you might want to consider AppleCare on your new iPhone: that gives you unlimited repairs for accidental damage and cuts the cost to $29 in the US, £25 in the UK and AU$45 in Australia. 

More iPhone stories iPhone 15 review: new to the islandiPhone 15 Pro Max review: the best just got betteriPhone 15 deals: the best offers to look out forThe new iOS 17 alarm tones are so good, you’ll look forward to waking upThis new iPhone feature will make your battery last longer - here's how to use it

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This cybersecurity bootcamp bundle is an extra $30 off for a limited time


Given the digital nature of most of our lives, it’s no surprise that individuals and corporations alike are concerned about cybersecurity. It’s top of mind for everyone, as evidenced by the over 1.2 billion views on cybersecurity on TikTok.

If you want to do your due diligence and protect yourself or are considering a career change, jumping into a cybersecurity boot camp can be helpful. Fortunately, this bundle consisting of cybersecurity and IT courses is on sale for only $39.97 (reg. $69.99) from September 23 through September 30.

This massive bundle includes 26 certification courses and 408 hours of content from iCollege, an organization trusted by Silicon Valley startups and Fortune 500 companies. You can gain knowledge and hands-on experience to pass certification exams from Cisco, CompTIA, Microsoft, Palo Alto, and other leading organizations. This can boost your resume if you’re looking to apply to cybersecurity or IT roles or simply better help you protect yourself online. 

Here are just a few things you’ll learn from this bundle’s comprehensive courses:

With CompTIA Security+, you can learn how to analyze digital environments to make recommendations for security solutions, including cloud, mobile, and IoT. The Hands-on Hacking course can teach you several leading practices for hacking through purposely vulnerable machines (VM) and give you the tools needed to succeed in vulnerability testing. Microsoft Security Administration can help you implement authentication methods, gain knowledge on how to secure Microsoft 365 and Azure services and pass the MS-500 exam with relevant hands-on lab activities.

And those are just a handful of topics this cybersecurity and IT bundle will cover. It’s no wonder why this bundle has a 4.9-star rating, with one verified buyer writing, “It has the most complete cybersecurity training that I have seen. Thanks for the material and helping entry-level gurus like myself.”

Bring your skills into the digital age and gain the knowledge needed to make a career jump or secure your online protection.

From September 23 through September 30 at 11:59 pm Pacific, get The Complete 2023 Cybersecurity Developer and IT Skills Bundle for just $39.97.


The Complete 2023 Cybersecurity Developer & IT Skills Bundle – $39.97

See Deal

Prices subject to change.

Computer Accessories


Now that the iPhone 15 has USB-C, you can finally dump your Lightning cables and charge everything with the same cord. But you still need a great power adapter and Apple’s newest dual-port charger is one of our favorites, especially at this price: Amazon is selling Apple’s 35W Dual USB-C Port Compact Power Adapter for $45, a savings of $14 and matching the lowest price we’ve ever seen.

This power adapter has a pair of down-facing USB-C ports and a compact design with folding prongs. Either port can deliver 35 watts of juice to your device, and it has enough power to fast charge an iPhone and Apple Watch. Apple recommends this charger for use with the MacBook Air, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and AirPods.

So whether you need a new power adapter or have an old one lying around, this charger will quickly become your favorite. So go grab one before the price shoots back up.

Get a lifetime subscription to this reading summary app for $59.97 (reg. $299)


Keeping up with your personal education can get tougher the older you get. For many people, despite feeling FOMO about missing out on interesting reads, keeping away from social media can be tough. Replace doom scrolling with micro-learning with a lifetime subscription to Headway Premium, which is on sale for just $59.97 (reg. $299) now through October 2nd. 

This mobile app provides digestible summaries that let users glean key insights and ideas from bestselling works of nonfiction. To make things easier and more fun, you can choose to consume these summaries via watching, listening, or reading on one of your mobile devices of choice. 

Headway Premium has attracted over 15 million users with its 15-minute summaries and the critics seem to love it as well. Headway Premium is rated an average of 4.5/5 stars on the App Store and 4.4/5 stars on the Google Play Store. 

Now through October 2nd, you can get this lifetime subscription to Headway Premium for just $59.97 (reg. $299). 


Headway Premium: Lifetime Subscription – $59.97

See Deal

Prices subject to change.

Best Apple Watch chargers, stands, power banks & docks


Apple ships a simple but effective charging cable with the Apple Watch that will fast-charge an Apple Watch Series 7 or later (Watch 8, Watch Ultra). You won’t find a faster charging accessory but you can also choose from a wide range of stylish and practical charging stands, docks and power banks for your Apple Watch—including some that can also charge other Apple devices such as your iPhone and AirPods.

Here, we round up some of the best Apple Watch chargers, docks and charging stands—some of which can charge your other Apple devices at the same time. Most should be compatible with all generations of the Watch, but be sure to check compatibility before buying.

Apple Watch Magnetic Fast Charger to USB-C Cable – Best Apple Watch charging cable Apple Watch Magnetic Fast Charger to USB-C Cable – Best Apple Watch charging cable


Fast charge Watch Simple


One use only Price When Reviewed: $29 Best Prices Today: $25.49 at Target