Brian Fagioli

Satechi unveils elegant Smart Charging Stand for smartphones and wearables

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Wearables are all the rage nowadays, and I expect them to be very popular holiday gifts this year. While Microsoft has killed its Band, there are still many other great options such as Apple Watch, Fitbit, and more.

Unfortunately, a smartwatch or other wearable is yet another thing to charge. As a result, many people have wires all over the place, leading to messy nightstands and kitchen counters. Luckily, a good charging station can make things much more tidy. Today, Satechi unveils its Smart Charging Stand for smartphones and wearables. This elegant product will not only reduce clutter, but offer much convenience too.

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Fedora 25 now available -- makes it easier to switch from Windows 10 or macOS to Linux

LinuxPenguinBlueFedora

After the release of both alpha and beta versions, Fedora 25 is officially here and ready for production machines. If you aren't familiar with the popular Linux-based operating system, please know that it is the distribution of choice for the founder of the Linux kernel, Linus Torvalds.

One of the most endearing qualities of Fedora is its focus on only offering truly free open source software. Also, you can always count on a very modern version of the Linux kernel being available. Despite having very up-to-date packages, it is always very stable too. My favorite aspect, however, is the commitment to the GNOME desktop environment; other DEs are available, though.

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Apple reportedly kills its Linux-unfriendly AirPort line of wireless routers

AirPortExtreme2

Apple's AirPort wireless routers are iconic -- well designed aesthetically, while being rock solid from a performance standpoint. The company even took an odd approach to management -- an app that was only available for macOS, iOS, and Windows. In other words, it did not use a browser-based web interface like routers from other companies.

The routers' lack of a web UI meant that it could not be managed from Linux-based operating systems. If you owned an Android device, Chromebook, or PC running Ubuntu, you could not change the AirPort settings. Some would argue that a lack of web interface made it more secure, but ultimately, it was a bit of an inconvenience. Linux users no longer have to worry about this snag, however, as -- according to Bloomberg -- Apple is reportedly stopping development of new AirPort routers.

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Zorin OS 12 Ubuntu-based Linux distribution now available -- a Windows 10 alternative

Zorin12

Windows 10 is a really great desktop operating system, but it is not for everyone. For those that care deeply about security and privacy, an open source Linux-based operating system is a wise alternative. The problem? Learning a new user interface can be hard for some. If you have always used a Windows OS in the past, moving to a desktop environment like GNOME or Unity can be confusing and scary.

Luckily, for those that have difficulty with change, there are some Linux-based operating systems that are designed for Windows-switchers. One fairly popular such offering, Zorin OS, has now reached version 12. It is designed to be familiar to former users of Microsoft's OS. While the company does charge for an "Ultimate" version, the "Core" edition of Zorin OS 12 is entirely free.

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Plextor EX1 SSD targets Apple MacBook Pro (2016) with USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C interface

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Apple's all-new MacBook Pro looks to be a very well-designed machine. It features Thunderbolt 3/USB Type-C ports only -- something I think is a wise choice. True, those that want to leverage USB Type-A and other ports will need to use dongles, but in a couple years, consumers will be glad to have nothing but the latest-and-greatest connector on their machine. For comparison, look at FireWire, floppy disk, and optical drives -- Apple was panned for their removal too.

If you need to expand storage on your new Touch Bar MacBook Pro, you unfortunately cannot upgrade the internal SSD. Instead, you will need to leverage an external drive using the aforementioned Type-C ports. Plextor has an elegant new product that should meet those external storage needs. Called simply "EX1", it is a USB 3.1 Gen 2 SSD with Type-C connector.

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Huawei MediaPad M3 Android tablet comes to the USA -- just in time for the holidays

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Holiday shopping is upon us, and some people in my life have started asking me about technology to give as gifts. Tablets are sure to be popular again this year, although probably not as much as years past. Apple's iPad is always a smart choice, but it is becoming harder to recommend an Android tablet.

Unfortunately, quality tablets running Google's mobile operating system are becoming increasingly rare. Many Android variants are simply low-quality. Thankfully, a high-quality tablet from Huawei should excite shoppers. Previously available in Europe only, the Huawei MediaPad M3 is available in the USA starting today. Best of all? It is very affordable too.

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System76 adds 4K display to Ubuntu Linux-powered MacBook Pro competitor Oryx Pro

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Apple makes a damn good laptop, and its new MacBook Pro computers are no exception. Unfortunately for some, Apple's latest offerings are too expensive and fall short -- most models lack the ability to upgrade the SSD, and the RAM maxes out at 16GB. Interestingly, many upset Apple fans even turned to System76 and its Ubuntu-powered machines following the big MacBook Pro unveil.

At the time, I compared the MacBook Pro to the Oryx Pro to highlight that you could get more performance from System76 for less money. Obviously, it was not an entirely fair comparison, as they are different in many ways. For example, the Oryx Pro only featured a 1080p screen. Today, this changes, however, as System76 adds a 4K display option to its MacBook Pro competitor. Will this make macOS users more likely to switch to Linux?

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Microsoft releases SQL Server Preview for Ubuntu and Red Hat Enterprise Linux

Happy Man Excited Laptop

Microsoft is a big proponent of open source, something highlighted by its becoming a Linux Foundation Platinum Member earlier today. The company has been contributing to multiple projects, and back in March, it even announced it was bringing SQL Server to Linux-based operating systems.

Today, the Windows-maker follows through on its promise and delivers SQL Server Preview packaged for two of the most popular business-used Linux-based operating systems -- Ubuntu and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). While it is not ready for prime-time, both administrators and developers that prefer those aforementioned operating systems can start testing now.

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Microsoft is now a Linux Foundation Platinum Member

SatyaWindowsMicrosoftLinuxLoveTop

The year 2016 has been very weird. I mean, hell, a reality TV star is the president-elect of the USA -- it doesn't get more odd than that.

Well, maybe it does, actually. Today, Microsoft becomes a Linux Foundation Platinum Member. But wait, isn't the Windows-maker an enemy of open source? Not anymore, folks. Actually, the company is a major contributor to the Linux kernel, and it has been embracing other open source projects too. Satya Nadella's Microsoft is a very different beast compared to the company under prior leadership.

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Google Translate gets better thanks to Neural Machine Translation technology

Languages

The internet has made the world feel smaller, connecting people all over Earth. The problem? Many of us speak different laguages! Sure, some of you speak multiple languages, but for many of us -- including yours truly -- one is all we know.

Thankfully, translation services -- such as Google Translate -- removes barriers, allowing people to more easily communicate despite language differences. Today, the search giant announces that it has massively improved its service thanks to Neural Machine Translation technology.

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Is Apple crazy to sell a $300 hardcover photo book? Not at all

Designed_by_Apple_in_California

Last month, Apple unveiled new MacBook Pro laptops. While the machines were undoubtedly great, their prices were very high -- even for Apple. Despite the cost, they are apparently flying off virtual shelves, as shipping dates are now in late December. In other words, price be damned, people will buy what they want, and they are willing to splurge on quality. The old adage of "you get what you pay for" is sometimes quite true.

Today, Apple announces a hardcover book called "Designed by Apple in California". It is a paper book comprised of high-quality photographs of the company's products. There are two sizes being offered, with the smaller (10.20" x 12.75") costing $200 and the larger (13" x 16.25") costing $300. Are those prices high? Yes. Is Apple crazy to ask that much? Nope. In fact, the company is wise to set a high price, as it sets the value and desirability at a high level.

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SCOSCHE unveils floating BoomBUOY waterproof Bluetooth speaker

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Yesterday, I reviewed the LG V20 -- one of the more recent Android flagship smartphones. While I really like that device, it suffers from a disappointing integrated speaker -- a problem on many phones. Luckily, a Bluetooth speaker can always be paired to improve sound quality and offer louder volume.

The problem, however, is there are too many similar Bluetooth speakers nowadays; so much choice can confuse consumers. Today, SCOSCHE unveils a new wireless speaker, called BoomBUOY, that stands out from many others. What makes it so unique? It floats! While there have been floating speakers released before, this one is rugged and affordably priced too.

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LG V20 Android 7.0 Nougat smartphone [Review]

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Android is in a weird place. The latest version, 7.0 Nougat, is on very few devices, which highlights the operating system's biggest issue -- fragmentation. True, most apps will work fine on slightly older versions of the OS, but the true problem is security -- not compatibility. Once a manufacturer stops supporting a smartphone or tablet, the user is at risk of future vulnerabilities.

With OS upgrade concerns in mind, I decided to test Android Nougat on a new Verizon smartphone -- the highly anticipated LG V20. This is the followup to the sleeper-hit V10. The new device retains the famed "second screen", but improves upon its predecessor in every way. Is it worth your money, however?

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Microsoft goes greener by purchasing massive amounts of wind energy

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The folks over at Microsoft seem to be very committed to doing "good". Not only does the company produce products that make the world better (Windows, Skype, and Office to name a few), but through its noble Winsiders4Good initiative, Dona Sarkar and other Microsoft employees are aiming to improve people's lives using technology.

Today, Microsoft announces yet another way that it is helping humanity. The Windows-maker makes its "largest ever" purchase of wind energy -- 237 megawatts. In other words, the company will be using less fossil fuels, and reducing its overall carbon footprint.

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How to buy the Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic today

NESClassic

While many people covet powerful current-generation consoles like Xbox One and PlayStation 4, others are more excited for something far less modern. Tomorrow, nostalgia takes front stage as Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic will hit store shelves.

Planning to buy one? Ha! Good luck. This refreshed 1980's console is expected to be both extremely popular and limited. Quite frankly, it will be virtually impossible to get. After all, it comes pre-loaded with 30 classic games. There will be many sad nerds this year when they find out there is no NES Classic under the Christmas Tree. Don't panic, however, as BetaNews has some tips for you.

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