Brian Fagioli

ZOTAC announces Intel Broadwell-powered ZBOX M-series mini-PCs


Mini computers are wonderful for many reasons, but one of the most notable is a small footprint. While some people have large homes and rooms, others are very limited in space. If you live in a small apartment, for example, you may only have room for a small desk; a mini-PC will save space and may even be VESA mountable to your monitor. The small size also makes them ideal in a living room -- both large and small -- as they can easily be hidden away.

Today, ZOTAC announces upgrades to its ZBOX M-series line of mini-PCs. Featuring new Broadwell Core i3 and i5 processors, they will make awesome workstations or HTPCs.

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HDMI Forum releases finalized 2.0a specification


Video connections are constantly changing, which can be frustrating for consumers. While some will interpret it as a money grab, the evolution is necessary to push boundaries. One of the most significant changes was the move to digital, with HDMI ultimately becoming a huge success.

With DisplayPort starting to grow in popularity, the HDMI Forum is still looking forward and constantly improving the standard. Today, the HDMI Forum releases the finalized 2.0a specification.

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Logitech brings Keys-To-Go Ultra-Portable Keyboard to Android and Windows


Typing on a glass screen is OK for Twitter and short text messages, but if you want to write longer pieces, a physical keyboard is ideal. Not only does it offer a more comfortable experience, but potentially more accurate too.

Unfortunately, many keyboards for tablets and phones are clunky affairs, leading to a poor overall experience. Logitech is known for its great mobile keyboards, so when its svelte Keys-To-Go was released, I was excited, but also dismayed as it was an iOS focused product. While I do use an iPad, I use Android and Windows far more often. Today, the company brings the awesome typing solution to Android and Windows too.

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Google makes Santa Tracker open source on GitHub -- will you fork Santa Claus?


April Fool's Day is well behind us, so all the pranks should be over, right? I ask because today, Google announces that it is making its Santa Tracker project open source on GitHub. The fact that it is open source is great, but the timing is odd. The last thing I expected to read about in April is friggin' Santa Claus, but here we are.

While many will be quick to dismiss the Santa Tracker as a novelty, developers may actually find value in the code. Not only is the web version hitting GitHub, but the Android version too. There is no reason why the code can't be used in non-Christmas related projects.

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Star Wars Digital Movie Collection coming to Microsoft's Xbox Video with exclusive offers


When the first Star Wars film was released to theaters, I was not yet even born -- my birth was still a few years off. Still, the film franchise greatly impacted my life. How? I saw the films on VHS later on, but more importantly, I had the action figures and other collectibles. My mom even bought me an R2-D2 garbage can for my bedroom that brought me great joy. My story is not unique; people of all ages have been impacted by the films.

Sadly, the six-film movie collection has never been available for digital download -- well... legally at least. Many fans turned to the dark side and downloaded the movies using torrents and other methods. Today, Disney announces that the films will be coming to digital download services, such as iTunes, Google Play and Xbox Video. If you choose to buy it through Xbox Video, you will even get some cool exclusives.

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ZTE Blade S6 Plus now available on eBay -- premium Android on the cheap


Low cost Android handsets are both a blessing and a curse. While it allows the operating system to infiltrate low-income markets, it also creates a low-quality perception to some. For example, anyone who buys an iPhone gets a quality device with a good experience; there is no low-quality version. Conversely, an Android buyer can buy a low-spec dud that can sour the experience.

Not all low-cost Android smartphones are duds, however; quite the contrary. Google's previous generation Nexus 5 was an incredible value, as is the OnePlus One. Today, a new low-cost phone enters the market by way of eBay -- the ZTE Blade S6 Plus. The value is quite remarkable, as not only is the price low, but the specs are very impressive.

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Windows 'could' go open-source, but is that a good idea? [Update]

open windows field

Today, a Wired article proposes that Microsoft could open-source Windows, quoting Azure chief technology officer Mark Russinovich who says "it's definitely possible". Well sure, anything is possible, I suppose. But it's certainly not probable.

A Microsoft spokesperson tells me the company has "not made any open-source policy or business model changes for Windows". Still, if nothing else, it does provoke thought. The ultimate question, for me, and hopefully you, is does it make sense? Is an open-source Windows a good idea?

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System76 unveils all-new Broadwell-powered Lemur -- an affordable Ubuntu Linux laptop


While many computer manufacturers are in a race to the bottom -- both in price and quality -- some makers continue to produce reliable high-quality machines. One of these manufacturers is System76. If you aren't familiar, it manufactures and sells desktops and laptops running the Ubuntu operating system. In other words, Linux fans can buy one of these machines and have it running the Linux distro out of the box -- no need to format the drive to remove Windows.

Today, the company announces the all-new Lemur -- a laptop with a Broadwell processor. The 14.1 inch laptop not only has solid specs, but an affordable price tag too. If you are a Linux fan in the market for a new laptop, you need to take a look.

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Microsoft brings Office Lens to Android and iPhone -- no longer Windows Phone exclusive


Windows Phone is Microsoft's mobile offering to the world, and some people love it. Unfortunately, the operating system's market share is extremely low, meaning many of the cool features and exclusives do not receive wide exposure. Slowly but surely, benefits that Windows Phone users pointed to as exclusives to the OS are being brought to competing platforms.

Today, Microsoft brings another Windows Phone exclusive to Android and iPhone -- Office Lens. Yes, the super-cool scanning feature is finally available to the large majority of mobile devices. Will you try it?

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Buy Skype Credit at Western Union -- Microsoft offers limited-time bonus


Skype is a fantastic communication service. What makes Skype so much better than its competitors, is the cross-platform availability. Microsoft supports pretty much all major platforms with this service. Whether you are on Windows, OS X, Android, Ubuntu, iOS or Windows Phone, you can utilize Skype.

Today, Microsoft announces a partnership with Western Union, giving Skype users a new way to buy Skype Credit. Plus, if a user buys Credit from the money-transfer company, they will receive bonus Credit too -- very cool!

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Acer announces the world's first Chromebase All-in-One Desktop with a touchscreen

Acer Chromebase DC221HQ

Chrome OS is a wonderful operating system for some users. If you live in the web browser, Google's Linux-based OS can be a brilliant way to  both work and play. Some people may have trepidation in investing in such a limited ecosystem, where only one web browser is permitted, and that does make sense. However, others are comfortable with one company controlling their window to the web, and that is OK too. In other words, people have different needs and ideology, and that is a beautiful thing.

While many associate Chrome OS with Chromebooks, there are many other form factors too, such as Chromebox, Chromebase and the recently announced Chromebit. Today, Acer announces the world's first Chromebase with a touchscreen. Yes, you can finally have a Chrome OS All-In-One with touch-friendly design.

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It's April Fool's Day 2015! Here are hilarious fake products from Google, Motorola and more


It's April Fool's Day! This is a day where people play jokes on each other. Practical jokes can be funny if they aren't happening to you, but quite the opposite when you are the target. Oh, you put a whoopee cushion on my chair and everyone thinks I passed gas? Thanks for that. You replaced the grape jelly on my PBJ with petroleum jelly? Hilarious. I think that is poison actually, and probably a crime, but you have fun. Enjoy your wacky day.

I'm a bit of a scrooge on April Fool's Day, because I am usually the target of such jokes. I'm a busy guy, and I forget the date constantly, so all day today I will forget it is April Fool's Day. While in-person pranks with friends and family are annoying, online pranks from companies can be fun (sometimes). They have become a tradition and are admittedly hilarious. Google often leads this, and 2015 is no different. Here are some of the fake products that companies are pranking us with in 2015.

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Microsoft releases Music and Video Preview apps for Windows 10 -- drops Xbox branding


While I love Spotify, I recently invested in an Xbox Music Pass subscription. The reason why is quite simple -- cost. On March 14, which is Pi Day, Microsoft offered a steep discount on a year of the service. While the experience is sub-par on Android, it works brilliantly on Windows.

Today, Microsoft releases previews of both the Music and Videos apps for the Windows 10 Technical Preview. While there are many changes -- both visually and under the hood -- the most surprising is the apparent dropping of the Xbox branding. Is this the sign of a bigger change?

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Cyntur JumperPack mini -- give both your car and phone battery a jump


Here in New York, we just encountered a very brutal winter. While shoveling is an inconvenience, it is dangerous too. Having a heart attack from the strain is not uncommon. Plus, slippery roads and walkways make both driving and walking potentially risky activities.

Injuries aside, the last thing you want to experience in a snowstorm, however, is being stranded. If your car battery dies, a pair of jumper cables can save the day, but only if another motorist drives by and is willing to help. Today, Cyntur announces the JumperPack mini. Not only can you use it to jump-start your car without another vehicle, but it can charge your phone too.

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Microsoft releases Windows 10 Technical Preview 10049 with Project Spartan


Microsoft has promised a summer release for the RTM build of Windows 10. For fans of the operating system, this is great news. Unfortunately, this means the company has its work cut out for it. Don't get me wrong, version 10 is shaping up nicely, but it is far from perfect in its current state. In order to make the summer deadline, much more testing will be needed; both internally and with the Windows Insider program.

Today, Microsoft releases a new build of Windows 10 Technical Preview, with the number designation of 10049. The highlight, however, is the inclusion of Project Spartan. Yes, the web browser of the future is included in a public build for the first time. This folks, is what we have been waiting for.

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