One of the best things about modern smartphones, is that they pretty much all have excellent cameras. This means you can take a high-quality photograph at any time by merely pulling the phone out of your pocket. Thanks to cloud storage, your photos can be safely backed up without effort too, so you never have to worry about losing them.
As someone who lost their home in a fire once, I prefer everything to be digital and in the cloud. Things I owned like like music CDs, books, and photographs were lost forever. Nowadays, all of that media is safe and secure online. I would never bother putting photographs in a photo album either -- I'd rather view them on my iPad or Android tablet.
System76 began its life as a Linux computer seller only. Essentially, the company would sell re-branded laptops with Ubuntu pre-installed. To provide a class-leading experience, however, System76 also provided top-notch customer service, helping Linux beginners get started with a little hand-holding when needed. This focus on service continues today, and it is largely responsible for the company's success and longevity.
Seeking to better control its own destiny, the company branched out from only being a computer-seller and transformed into a maker too. It's handcrafted Thelio desktops are powerful works of art, comprised of wood, metal, and good ol' fashioned American elbow grease. Yes, these Thelio machines are made in the USA -- Colorado, specifically.
For whatever reason, I absolutely adore diminutive desktop computers. From the Apple Mac mini to the Intel NUC series, I am always fascinated by how much power can be crammed into a small form factor. Quite frankly, it is fun to have a tiny PC next to a big monitor and have friends and family marvel at the cuteness.
So when a new mini computer from Minisforum caught my eye, I knew I had to give it a go. Called "EliteMini H31G," it is a bit bigger than a traditional Intel NUC, but that is OK, as it is packing something special -- discreet NVIDIA graphics partnered with a 9th generation Intel Core processor. In other words, this little beast can handle gaming and video editing.
When you buy an NVMe PCIe SSD these days, it is probably going to be the 2280 form factor. That seems to be the most popular length, and for the most part, it can fit into most computers with M.2 slots. With that said, there are devices that require a smaller M.2 drive due to limitations.
The shorter 2242 form factor is rather rare, though not unheard of, and ADATA has a new ultra-compact solid state drive at that length. Called "IM2P3014," the stubby M.2 2242 NVMe PCIe Gen3x2 SSD is intended for industrial applications, but it can, of course, be used in pretty much any computer with an M.2 slot and a mounting hole for 2242 SSDs. In fact, this drive could be an absolute godsend for those that need that form factor.
Microsoft is no longer an enemy of the Linux or Open Source communities. Believe it or not, the Windows-maker is an ally these days. Shocking, I know, but totally true. Linux is now built into Windows thanks to WSL, and Microsoft has several apps available for Linux.
The company has even made some of its apps open source as well. For instance, back in 2019, Microsoft released the source for Windows Calculator on GitHub. And now, that calculator app has been ported to Linux by Uno Platform. Best of all, its insanely easy to install as it is packaged in Snap format.
The speakers that are built into laptops or integrated into computer monitors have gotten much better over the years, but make no mistake, they still don't provide an optimal audio experience. Whether you are watching movies or listening to music, investing in superior speakers will certainly make your life much more enjoyable.
The great thing is, solid computer speakers don't have to break the bank either. Today, Logitech launches the Z407 Bluetooth 2.1 computer speaker system, and it is priced well under $100. What makes these particularly cool is that the two satellite speakers can be positioned horizontally or vertically, making them fit well on almost any desk.
A digital camera without a storage card is like a car without gas -- pretty much useless. You need a memory card to store the photos and videos you take, and most cameras don't come with any onboard storage these days.
There are no shortage of SD cards (Amazon is littered with them), but you should always make sure you are purchasing one made by a reputable company. Don't recognize the brand? Don't buy it. You don't want to lose your valuable data when that cheap card dies prematurely.
Another Apple Event has come and gone, and this time, the iPhone 12 lineup was the star of the show. Those smartphones look great, and are even semi-affordable, starting at just $699. While I would like to see Apple start the pricing about $100 less, who can blame the company for charging what it does -- people will undoubtedly buy them like mad regardless.
The new iPhone 12 devices were not the only new products announced, however. Apple also showed off a new smart speaker called HomePod mini. As the name implies, it is a smaller (3.3 inches tall, 3.9 inches wide) version of the existing HomePod, and it is more affordable too. Sadly, Siri is still rather dumb, and the spherical design is quite ugly. The device looks like a cheap candle or something. Meh, Apple could have done much better -- the still-breathing Jony Ive must be rolling in his figurative grave.
Amazon Prime Day is a bit of a misnomer, as it is two days long (October 13 and 14). But hey, who can argue with that? Having 48 hours of great deals is like celebrating Christmas in October! Hell, some people are predicting these Prime Day deals could be even better than Black Friday.
We here at BetaNews have been sharing top technology news with you for over 20 years, so obviously, we know good tech deals when we see them. So to help you navigate Amazon Prime Day 2020, we have compiled some of the best deals.
Of all the smart home devices I have connected to my network, the Nest Thermostat is probably my favorite. I can easily adjust my central air conditioning without leaving my couch or bed. While I can control the unit directly, or with the smartphone app, I prefer using my voice. I can ask my Google Home "What is the inside temperature?" and then command it to raise or lower it by voice too. It feels like magic -- I will never return to a "dumb" thermostat again.
Of course, many people are still clinging to their old outdated thermostats because of two things -- fear of installation and cost. I am happy to say, installing a smart thermostat is very easy -- if you follow the instructions and go slowly. Even better? Google has a new such product that is incredibly affordable. The unimaginatively named "Nest Thermostat" is designed to replace the "Nest Thermostat E." This new model should fit into the budgets of many homeowners.
Should you sign up for a paid VPN service? Only you can make that decision, but I do recommend them highly. Not only can they hide your activity from your ISP, but they can make you safer when using non-secure public Wi-Fi. Of course, you should avoid such public Wi-Fi networks when you can, but if you need to utilize them, a VPN is a must.
With all of that said, all VPN providers are not created equally. Free ones should be avoided at all costs, as their business models cannot be trusted. In other words, privacy and free services generally don't mix. Sadly, picking a good VPN provider can be hard, as there are so many from which to choose these days. Thankfully, VPNRatings.com has done some research on the subject, and it has shared its list of the Top 20 VPNs. And yes, privacy and security were huge factors.
Google's Nexus 7 was undoubtedly the greatest Android tablet of all time. Its small size (7-inch screen) and lightweight body made it perfect to hold in the hand, making it ideal for consuming media and surfing the web. Not to mention it was very affordable. Sadly, the search-giant stopped selling the Nexus 7, and then ultimately left the Android tablet market altogether.
While no company can ever fill the hole in our hearts left by the Nexus 7, the TCL TAB Android tablet might actually come quite close. This no-nonsense device from TCL is exclusive to Verizon, meaning it does have 4G LTE connectivity -- very nice. It does not have 5G, however. It does have modern niceties such as USB-C charging, reverse charging, and a fingerprint reader. Its overall look is very reminiscent of the Nexus 7, and despite it having an 8-inch display, its dimensions are very similar too.
Western Digital makes damn good storage products, and its WD_BLACK line is probably its most intriguing. While primarily designed for gamers, WD_BLACK is also a great choice for enthusiasts that crave high performance and elegant designs.
Today, Western Digital unveils a trio of new WD_BLACK gaming NVMe SSD products, and all three look incredible. There is the SN850 which is a PCIe Gen 4 NVMe SSD, the AN1500 PCIe Gen 3 NVMe SSD Add-in card, and the drop-dead gorgeous D50 Game Dock NVMe SSD -- a Thunderbolt 3 docking station with integrated NVMe SSD.
The year 2020 has been pretty much bad across the board -- unless you are AMD, that is. That company has been wildly successfully this year, pretty much besting Intel in all ways. Not only are AMD Ryzen processors being embraced by enthusiasts on the desktop, but on mobile too. Intel simply can't compete.
While I am sure Intel's latest 11th gen Core processors will be fine, they are already old hat. Why? Because today, AMD officially unveils its latest "ZEN 3" Ryzen 5000 processors. Not only are these 7nm multi-core chips extremely powerful, but they are quite aggressively priced too. You can expect to see many new PC builds using these processors from both gamers and enthusiasts.
Back in the day, getting a laptop with Linux pre-installed was almost unheard of. For the most part, you had to buy a computer with Windows and then install Linux yourself. This wasn't bad, necessarily, but it did mean that the price of the computer included a Windows license you maybe didn't want. In other words, Microsoft was profiting off of Linux users -- just because they bought a Windows PC.
In 2020, however, there are many computers to be had with Linux pre-installed, thanks to pioneers like System76. Of course, nowadays, big companies like Dell and Lenovo are selling Linux machines too. Today, yet another such laptop hits the market -- the second generation Kubuntu Focus M2. Yes, this is the second officially sanctioned notebook from the developers of the KDE variant of Ubuntu.