If you have a lot of disposable income, and you are a technology enthusiast, then buying a $600 router, such as the upcoming drool-worthy NETGEAR Nighthawk RAX200 isn't so crazy. Look, there's nothing wrong with being an early adopter -- spend your money as you want! Many consumers, however, simply can't afford such high-end networking gear -- even if they want the latest and greatest.
Thankfully, a quality wireless router doesn't have to cost more than $500. Hell, you can get a very nice router for less than $100! One company in particular that focuses on the common consumer -- the "every man," if you will -- is TP-Link. Its routers are very well regarded by both professional reviewers and shoppers alike. It's not hard to see why that is either -- not only are its products affordable, but high-quality too. I often recommend TP-Link products to friends and family.
I crave juice. No, not apple, orange, or any other fruit drink -- I am addicted to electricity. Look, we are all hopelessly dependent on our mobile devices these days. Between laptops, smartphones, and tablets, there is hardly a moment in the day when I'm not staring at a screen. Even when I am watching TV (yet another display), I have my iPad in hand for a second screen experience -- I play a lot of Words With Friends while watching The Big Bang Theory reruns.
All of this heavy device usage at home is fine, because there are many power outlets available when batteries get low. When I am on the go, however, it is a very different story. All joking aside, I get anxiety if I'm out of the house and my iPhone battery dies. What if I get lost? What if I need to call 911? What if I need to snap a quick photograph? A nightmare! Thankfully, USB power packs/banks can solve this dilemma. If you aren't familiar, it is simply a battery with a USB port (or ports) that can charge your devices.
Does size matter? Well, that depends on what we are talking about. Regarding computers, gaming variants used to be massive towers loaded up with several fans and a full-sized ATX motherboard. Nowadays, small is in fashion -- many system builders opt for Micro ATX or Mini-ITX boards. It can be fun to see how much performance can be crammed into a tiny system.
ZOTAC is a company that likes to focus on the diminutive, and today, it launches an all-new such gaming PC. Called "MEK MINI," it's not as small as some of its other computers, but this one is designed for playing games, so it needs to be larger to accommodate the higher-end components. The beautiful chassis features an easy-open side panel, allowing you to more easily access the internals. Despite the small size, the specs are actually quite impressive -- it has a six-core Intel i7-8700 and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 8GB GDDR6 GPU. Windows 10 Home comes pre-installed -- not Pro, sadly. And yes, since this is a gaming product, it has RGB lighting.
Satechi is a very popular accessory maker. While the company's offerings often focus on complementing Apple devices (such iPhone, iMac, iPad, and MacBook), they usually work fine with other devices too, such as ones that run Android or Windows, for example.
Today, the company releases two new USB-C accessories, both of which focus on power delivery. The more interesting of the pair is the Type-C Headphone Jack Adapter. As the name suggests, it converts USB-C to a 3.5mm headphone jack, but in addition, it allows pass-thru charging. In other words, if you only have one USB-C port, you can still charge your device despite listening to music with wired headphones. The other product, called "USB-C 100W Charging Cable," is (you guessed it) a cable. That charges. Yeah... Not super exciting, but the build quality looks exceptional, and the 2 meter wire can transfer data too.
Well, folks, it's happening -- Windows 7 will soon be unsupported. Yes, the last Microsoft operating system to truly be loved by users will soon be dead. Microsoft would love for these users to switch to Windows 10, but understandably, not everyone wants to. After all, the user interface is a mess, and there are spying concerns with overly aggressive telemetry.
If you are still on Windows 7, Microsoft will soon begin warning you that support is ending. I actually don't hate Microsoft for nagging these users -- quite the opposite. The company informing users that the Windows 7 operating system will soon be dangerous to use should be celebrated. Thankfully, Windows 10 is not the only path -- Linux is a great option these days. In fact, one of my favorite distributions for Windows switchers, Zorin OS, has a new Beta out today. You should definitely give it a go.
Back in November 2018, we shared with you that NETGEAR was planning to sell some premium Wi-Fi 6 routers. This was very exciting, as the addition of this bleeding-edge technology signaled that 802.11ax had truly arrived. Many die-hard NETGEAR fans were waiting for the Nighthawk line in particular to become equipped with this new standard.
Now, NETGEAR announces yet another Wi-Fi 6 router, and this one looks incredible too. Called "Nighthawk RAX200," it retains the same stingray design of the previously announced RAX120, which I find to be quite attractive. It even has one of my favorite security features for a router -- automatic firmware updates. In other words, NETGEAR will keep the RAX200 router up to date without any effort from the owner.
Philips monitors often provide an excellent value -- great "bang for your buck," as they say. The company's displays typically provide superb visual quality, while also offering good features, and attractive designs.
Today, the company launches a trio new monitors as part of its "E9 series." All three displays are curved with slim bezels, which is great, but two of them (the 27-inch 278E9QJAB and the 32-inch 328E9QJAB) are only 1080p. That resolution is passable for a 22-inch or 24-inch monitor, for example, but 27-inch and higher? Not ideal. Look, for gaming or watching movies, 1080p might be OK with those screen sizes, but text may be too blurry for general computer use. Thankfully, the 32-inch 328E9FJAB offers a much better 2560 x 1440 resolution -- that is the model you want to focus on, y'all.
Last month, Micron released a solid state drive designed for consumers. Called "1300," it used the SATA interface, meaning it was slower than the much faster NVMe drives many enthusiasts crave these days. Offered in both 2.5 inch and M.2 form factors, it would make a good drop-in for consumers looking to upgrade.
Today, Micron unveils yet another SSD, but this time, it uses the speedy NVMe interface. The "2200," as it is called, will mostly be sold to computer manufacturers, but it could show up for direct retail for end-users too. It can be had in your choice of three capacities -- 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB. You can also opt for self-encrypting variants if that is important to you. And yes, it will work in NVMe enclosures, such as this excellent one from Plugable.
Plugable is a company that I respect very much. I have been buying its products for many years from Amazon. Historically, its offerings have been reliable, affordable, and extremely useful. Whether it be USB hubs, dongles, adapters, or docking stations, you can typically rely on receiving a quality product. I'm sure many computer nerds like myself have purchased a Plugable product at some point in their lifetime.
Today, Plugable announces a new product that falls outside its usual focus -- a gaming headset. Called "HS53 Performance Onyx Gaming Headset," the over-ear headset has a brushed aluminum frame and features a beautiful textured black design. Despite the use of memory foam for both the headband and sealed earcups, the company claims your ears and head should both remain cool -- not hot and sweaty.
Solus 4 'Fortitude' Linux distro available with choice of Budgie, GNOME, MATE, or KDE Plasma desktop environments
GNOME is the best overall desktop environment, and deepin is the most beautiful Linux distribution, but there are many other options out there. That's one of the things that makes Linux distributions so much better than Windows 10 -- you can choose from various user interfaces to find one that is best for you. Microsoft and Apple force you to use the environment of their choosing, limiting the overall customization options.
Today, yet another Linux-based operating system gets a major version update. Solus 4 "Fortitude" can be downloaded immediately, and it is chock full of improvements. While this distro largely focuses on the Budgie desktop environment, you can also opt for GNOME, Mate, or KDE Plasma (in testing).
There are many Linux distributions in the wild nowadays, but none are more beautiful than deepin. Even though I don't use the operating system regularly (I prefer Fedora and GNOME), I recognize deepin's beauty as second to none. Some people refuse to use the distro because its developers are in China, but in reality, it should be fine to use. Just like concerns about Huawei hardware, it is largely due to xenophobia.
While deepin has always seemed rock solid to me, its base of Debian unstable apparently made it less reliable than the developers liked. As a result, beginning with the new 15.9.2 beta, deepin is switching to Debian stable. In other words, the developers are not only focused on the superficial.
Poor Microsoft. The company tries hard with Xbox One, but Sony's PlayStation 4 consistently outsells it in both USA and Japan. Why is this? Probably because PS4 mostly focuses on gaming, while Microsoft tries to push Xbox One as an entertainment device. Yeah, PS4 is a media device too, but that is secondary. Not to mention, Xbox One runs a version of the much-maligned Windows 10. Ultimately, hardcore gamers just seem to prefer PlayStation.
One definite way that PS4 is better than Xbox One is the controller. Sony's DualShock 4 is comfortable, sleek, and familiar. Hell, it even has a revolutionary touch pad. Microsoft's Xbox controller is good too, but it pales in comparison to the PlayStation 4's offering. Today, Sony unveils a new Alpine Green color for its iconic DualShock 4, and it looks damn good.
Gaming products are everywhere these days. Even if you aren't a gamer, these offerings are usually quite premium, making them a solid choice for anyone. For instance, a mechanical gaming keyboard can be excellent for typists, while a gaming mouse might provides accuracy, comfort, and durability. The problem? Many gaming products can be considered ugly, looking like alien spaceships or mutant spiders.
Today, NETGEAR launches its newest gaming router, and its appearance is surprisingly conservative. Called "Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR300," its design is wonderfully boring -- in a good way. In other words, it doesn't outwardly appear to be a gaming router, but make no mistake, the underlying DumaOS operating system (which is based on OpenWRT) is tuned for gamers and has useful features like QoS and geo-filtering. The dual-band 802.11ac router has a 1GHz dual-core processor, three antennas, and beamforming. Strangely, its USB 3.1 gen 1 Type-A port is on the front -- an odd placement for those that prefer to leave something connected to it.
The cloud storage market is very crowded. With behemoths such as Google, Microsoft, and Apple all offering competitively priced offerings (not to mention free options), how can any other company compete? Dropbox, for instance, is a great service, but the writing is on the wall -- pundits and analysts have been predicting its acquisition by one of the aforementioned three companies for years now. True, Dropbox is still successful now, but it can't afford to offer cloud storage at a loss, while the big guys can if they choose. Capitalism!
With all of that said, Dropbox would be foolish to make any wrong moves that could drive users away. And yet, the company has quietly done just that. You see, as of this month (March 2019) Dropbox is now limiting its free users to a mere three devices. While that may be enough for some, it can add up very quickly. Want to use the free Dropbox with your phone, tablet, and laptop? Well, you are now at your limit. Got another computer in the household? Maybe a Linux box? Sucks for you, bro.
Last month, I reviewed the HUAWEI MateBook 13 -- an excellent Windows 10 laptop. I was impressed with many aspects of that computer, including the very speedy Western Digital NVMe solid state drive. I’m usually a Samsung man when it comes to SSDs -- after all, its drives are always superb. But thanks to the respectable performance of the drive found in the aforementioned laptop, I am now intrigued by Western Digital SSDs too.
Back in January, Western Digital announced the WD Black SN750 -- an NVMe SSD for enthusiasts. Today, the company releases a budget-focused NVMe SSD aimed at upgraders that don’t necessarily need the absolute fastest storage drive. Called "WD Blue SN500", the 2-lane drive is significantly faster than an SATA SSD, but slower than performance-focused NVMe drives. Most importantly, the M.2 2280 PCIe Gen3 x2 drive is very affordable, regardless of which capacity you choose.