If you need to store a lot of... legally obtained media files... such as films and TV shows (piracy is bad, mmkay?), a network attached storage device, or "NAS," is a great way to do so -- especially if it has a built-in Plex server. This is what I use in my home -- some hard drives set up in RAID filled with media that my family enjoys streaming through Plex on Apple TV. For the most part, this works well. There are only two problems -- the hard drives are rather slow and loud. The latter is a major issue, as the NAS is stored in my living room and hearing the drives spin up can be annoying.
I can obviously replace the hard disk drives with solid state drives, although it would mean a decrease in overall capacity. Still, it would be nice to have faster transfer speeds and less noise -- the cooling fan would still whir a bit though. SSDs are not typically ideal for constant reading and writing, however, but a new such drive from Transcend apparently is. Called "SSD250N," it is a 2.5-inch SSD designed specifically for NAS usage. The focus of this drive is reliability and longevity.
A lot of people hate Windows 10, but I think it is actually quite good. With that said, I'd much rather use a Linux distribution such as Ubuntu or Fedora. With Linux, I feel more safe and secure. No operating system in infallible, but bad guys are more likely to write malware for Windows. Not to mention, Microsoft does "spy" on its users with extreme telemetry. Ultimately, with Linux, I feel like I own my computer. Conversely, with Windows, it can feel like Microsoft owns my PC.
Understandably, switching from Windows to Linux can be a scary affair, but it doesn't have to be. Some Linux distributions look a bit like Windows, so there is a degree of familiarity. Not to mention, with so much being done in the web browser nowadays, the underlying operating system becomes less important. In other words, just having Google Chrome available makes Linux a viable option for most home users these days.
The transition to PCIe 4.0 is in full effect, with more and more computers and motherboards having the new standard. Whether or not the user truly needs the benefits of PCIe 4.0 is debatable, but it is still cool regardless. After all, it is important to continually push boundaries. "To Infinity and Beyond!" as the great Buzz Lightyear says.
One of the best aspects of PCIe 4.0 is faster solid state drives. For instance, today, Patriot launches a new such SSD under its VIPER gaming brand. Called "VP4300," this speedy M.2 2280 PCIE Gen4x4 SSD comes with interchangeable heatsinks -- a very neat cooling option. Essentially, you can opt for the thicker aluminum heatsink if it fits in your computer, or the thinner graphene heatsink if space is tight -- both come included in the box.
Nowadays, 8GB of RAM is pretty much the bare minimum that should come with any decent computer. Sure, maybe some users can get by OK with 4GB, but with memory prices being so low, there is really no excuse for anything less than 8GB. Hell, I would recommend all consumers opt for 16GB -- if their budget allows it, of course.
With all of that said, there are some hardcore computer users -- primarily designers and creators -- that can benefit from much more than 8GB or 16GB. Just how much? It isn't crazy for some folks to install 32GB, 64GB, or even more. Today, Silicon Power launches some all new RAM. Called "XPOWER Zenith," it is offered in kits with up to 64GB capacity. This DDR4 gaming memory features up to 4133MHz frequency and can be had with optional RGB lighting.
When Apple switched from Intel to its own ARM-based processors for new Mac computers, some people were dubious that the transition would go smoothly. Well, guess what? Apple did it, folks. The company moved to a new chip type without any major negative issues. In fact, Apple's M1 chip has been universally praised as being both fast and energy efficient.
Earlier this year, some people got Linux-based Ubuntu running on the M1 hardware, and that process is getting better all the time. Sadly, owners of M1 Mac computers have been unable to run Windows 10 like they could on older Intel-based Mac machines. Until now, that is. Yes, you can finally run Windows 10 on Apple M1 Mac computers -- sort of.
I'm a big believer in paying for quality, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate value. When I can save a buck, I try to do so. Do I regret buying pricey Apple TV devices for my home? No, not really; they work well and I have been satisfied overall. If I had to do it over again, however, I'd probably go with Roku devices. That company's streaming media boxes are much more affordable and largely just as capable as Apple's offerings.
And today, Roku takes its value game up a notch. You see, the Roku Express 4K+ is insanely inexpensive given its features. For a mere $39.99 you get a media box with 4K, HDR, and a rechargeable voice remote control. Yes, folks, this new Roku remote does not require changing batteries. Hell, you even get an HDMI cable in the box.
In the good ol' days of video games, we didn't really care what the console or the controllers looked like -- it was just about playing the games. Nowadays, however, the kiddies seem to love having unique colors and designs for hardware -- a way to stand out from their friends, maybe. Microsoft, for instance, absolutely litters the market with differently styled Xbox controllers.
Nintendo is not immune to this trend, and the company has long released different colors and variants of its hardware. The Nintendo Switch Lite, for instance, can be had in several colors, but later in the year, yet another color will become available -- blue. While I am usually a fan of that color, I must say Nintendo has chosen one of the ugliest shades possible. Yuck!
Microsoft makes great software -- Windows 10 and Office 365 are both exceptional. The company's hardware, however, is more of a mixed bag. Microsoft's keyboards, mice, and webcams are often quite good, but its buggy Surface line really doesn't need to exist anymore.
For instance, the Surface Pro is unusable on a lap, while the Surface Duo has been universally panned by critics and rejected by consumers. Seriously, Microsoft, you don't need to compete against your own hardware partners. Dell, HP, Lenovo, and others are more than capable.
Do people call you a nerd? If they do, are they correct to call you that? Hey, look, there is nothing wrong with being nerdy. Hell, here at BetaNews, we are happy to be a judgement-free zone when it comes to nerdiness. If you are a weird nerd that like to tinker with computers and electronics, we fully embrace you. You are home here.
And that's why I bet you are the type of person to appreciate the second generation of a product from Plugable. Called "USBC-VAMETER," this little dongle serves one purpose -- to feed you information about the power being passed through a USB-C cable. You can use this for troubleshooting or just because it's super cool to know this info. The device can detect currents in both directions, and the second-gen model also has a rotatable screen orientation -- a huge improvement over its predecessor.
When is a mouse not just a mouse? When it has a dedicated voice button, apparently. In collaboration with Baidu, Logitech is launching an all-new mouse which features such a button. Called "Voice M380 Wireless Mouse with Speech Input," Logitech's newest product is exclusive to China and is priced at 199 RMB -- that's equivalent to about $30 here in the USA.
It appears to have no thumb buttons, but it does have both vertical and horizontal scrolling -- a feature I adore for working with large (particularly wide) spreadsheets. Besides the off-white color seen above, it will also be available in graphite and rose.
If you want to be a world famous video game streamer on Twitch or YouTube, nothing is more important than having an interesting personality or gimmick. It doesn't matter how good you actually are at playing video games; if you are a boring person, no one will tune in. As more and more people stream themselves nowadays, it is important to have quality hardware too. Viewers want good audio and video quality.
Creative has long been the king of computer audio, and its newest product should be very interesting to both gamers and game streamers. Called "Sound Blaster GC7," it serves as both a USB DAC and amplifier, and it has intuitive controls with big knobs and buttons. It even features Creative's legendary "Super X-Fi" technology. And yes, as a gaming product, it of course has RGB lighting too.
There are so many docks and docking stations nowadays, that it can be hard to get excited about them. Look, I get it, they all pretty much do the same thing -- turn your laptop into a desktop while also charging it. The thing is, not all of them are created equally. In fact, some are much better than others.
With all of that said, today, trusted manufacturer Silicon Power launches an all-new USB-C multiport dock. Called "Boost SU20," it includes card readers, video output, and USB-A ports. The aluminum-bodied dock even features USB-C passthrough charging.
The transition to PCIe 4.0 is in full effect, with more and more computers and motherboards having the new standard. Whether or not the user truly needs the benefits of PCIe 4.0 is debatable, but it is still cool regardless. After all, it is important to continually push boundaries.
One of the best aspects of PCIe 4.0 is faster solid state drives. For instance, today, TEAMGROUP unveils a new M.2 2280 NVMe PCIe 4.0 SSD. Called "T-FORCE CARDEA A440," this speedy gaming-focused SSD comes with interchangeable heatsinks -- a very unique cooling option. Essentially, you can opt for the giant aluminum heatsink if it fits in your computer, or the graphene heatsink if space is tight.
For the most part, Android smartphones are pretty boring nowadays. LG has often been a risk-taker in the Android market, taking chances with unique phones that have funky designs and cool features. Sadly, LG has decided to leave the mobile market. Thankfully, Lenovo seems ready to take the reins with its brave new Legion Phone Duel 2 -- a drool-worthy gaming-focused 5G smartphone that is a successor to last year's model.
What makes the Lenovo Legion Phone Duel 2 so special? Well, it builds upon its predecessor with better specifications and a nicer overall design. It has a huge (6.92-inch) high-resolution (2460 x 1080) AMOLED HDR display, 44MP front camera, and 64MP rear shooter. The front camera pops out from the side of the phone, meaning there is no notch to interfere with the screen.
Many homes and businesses rely on wireless networking almost exclusively, and that's not really a bad thing. This is especially true if you are only connecting to the internet and not transferring files between machines on your network. Look, Wi-Fi has gotten much better over the years, becoming both faster and more stable. Not to mention, wireless connectivity is more convenient and less messy -- you don't need to run cables through walls.
If you do leverage wired networking and transfer files between computers on your local network, Zyxel has a new multi-gigabit switch that you should definitely check out. Called "XGS1250-12," this 12-Port web-managed switch features eight gigabit ports, one 10G fiber port, plus a trio of multi-gig ports with a maximum of 10G each. Best of all, the switch is surprisingly affordable.