While I am not a "Mac guy," I recently bought a 2020 Mac mini. Why? Well, I was quite intrigued by Apple's new M1 processor, and the $699 starting price was actually reasonably affordable. And so, I went with the base model (8GB RAM, 256GB SSD), as Apple's prices for more memory and storage are a total rip-off. For instance, to go from 8GB to 16GB RAM costs $200. Sorry, but I can't drop two bills on 8GB. Not happening, Apple.
Unfortunately, you cannot upgrade the RAM, so the 8GB decision might bite me in the ass one day, but I'll cross that bridge later. However, since the little computer has two Thunderbolt and two USB ports, I knew I could always add fast storage later on. And now, Other World Computing (aka OWC) has a new rugged drive (for macOS and Windows 10) that is perfect for this.
It used to be, people would scoff at the idea of switching to a Linux-based operating system due to a lack of software. While that is still true for some folks -- especially business users -- it is less of a concern these days. Why? Well, so many things are done through the web browser nowadays, lessening dependence on Windows software. For many consumers, just having the Google Chrome browser on, say, Ubuntu, is more than enough to accomplish their wants and needs. Not to mention, there are many quality Linux apps like GIMP and DaVinci Resolve.
But OK, lets say you really want to use a Linux-based operating system, but there's some Windows-only software that you absolutely cannot live without. Thankfully, you may still be able to ditch Windows and upgrade to something like Fedora or Linux Mint. How? Thanks to the excellent Wine. This compatibility layer (don't you dare call it an emulator), can sometimes enable you to run Windows software on Linux. Today, version 6.0 is released.
The Wi-Fi 6E revolution is upon us, and very soon, the market will be flooded with routers that utilize the new standard. If you aren't familiar, Wi-Fi 6E is notable for utilizing a 6GHz band. Of course, only Wi-Fi 6E devices can take advantage of this new technology, so not only will you need a router, but in the case of laptop and desktop computers, new Wi-Fi cards too.
While Wi-Fi 6E USB dongles are sure to hit the market eventually, desktop owners would be wise to instead opt for a PCIe card for maximum performance. Thankfully, at CES 2021, ASUS announced such a card and it looks incredible. Called "PCE-AXE58BT," it plugs into a PCIe 1x (or larger) slot and utilizes an external antenna base which, thanks to its cable, can be moved around for optimal placement. This is superior to cards that come with antennas that connect directly to the card.
Dynabook laptops are great computers, but they don't get the attention they deserve. In-the-know consumers are aware that Dynabook (formerly Toshiba) computers are consistently excellent, but the brand isn't really a household name in the USA -- yet. This should change eventually, as Dynabook continues to put out impressive laptops.
In fact, at CES 2021, Dynabook made quite the big announcement regarding some of its laptops. You see, several of them are getting updated with brand new 11th gen (Tiger Lake) Intel Core processor options. This includes the Portégé X30W-J, Portégé X30L-J, Portégé X40-J, and the Tecra A30-J. These are all premium business-class laptops, but they can, of course, be used by anyone.
There was this big hope that 2021 would be wonderful after 2020 was so terrible. Well, folks, so far that's certainly not the case. People are dying of COVID-19 at record numbers, while vaccinations for the virus remain woefully low. Oh, and here in the USA, we had a friggin' coup attempt. Sigh. 2021 is already garbage.
Thankfully, we have distractions from the bad news with things like sports and technology. Speaking of the latter, this week is CES 2021 and we are already seeing some cool new products. For instance, today, PNY announces the XLR8 CS3140 M.2 NVMe Gen4 x4 SSD. It offers insanely fast speeds -- up to 7,500MB/s read and up to 6,850MB/s write. This NVMe Gen 4.0 SSD can even be had with a monstrous heatsink to assist in cooling.
USB-C is amazing. The reversible connector is so much more convenient than the older rectangular USB-A plug. Not to mention, since USB-C is smaller, computer manufacturers can rely on it exclusively for connectivity, allowing thinner laptops than ever before. Need USB-A, Ethernet, or a card reader? There is a USB-C dongle or adapter for that!
Rather than buy an individual dongle, it is much more cost-effective to simply buy a dock or hub. Today, Plugable launches its latest such product. Called "USBC-7IN1E," it is a beautiful 7-in-1 USB-C hub that offers two USB-A, gigabit Ethernet, micro SD, SD, and HDMI. It also has a USB-C PD (Power Delivery) port. It is compatible with Windows 10, macOS, desktop Linux, Chrome OS, Android, and iPadOS
2020 was a bad year for humanity overall, but it had some good moments -- especially for AMD. In the PC market, that company embarrassed Intel by delivering more powerful processors at very affordable prices. On the mobile front, AMD's Ryzen 4000 mobile processors were very well received by professional reviewers and consumers alike. To make matters worse for Intel, even Apple ditched the company's processors for Mac, instead opting for its own ARM-based chips.
So, yeah, 2020 belonged to AMD. But the company seems disinterested in merely resting on its laurels. You see, today at CES 2021, AMD unveils its Ryzen 5000 mobile processors -- most of which are based on the Zen 3 architecture. Intel is likely very worried about these new chips, fearing a repeat of 2020 in the PC market.
Regular Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) is great, but Wi-Fi 6E will be even better -- that's why many consumers skipped Wi-Fi 6 and stuck with Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac). But wait, what exactly is the difference? Does that letter "E" really matter? Actually, yes, because it indicates the use of a 6GHz band -- a much less crowded frequency compared to 2.4GHz or 5GHz. This extra bandwidth, lower latency, and reduced congestion is why Wi-Fi 6E is so exciting.
Of course, to truly take advantage of this new standard, you will need both a router and clients with the capability. Thankfully, popular networking hardware-maker, TP-Link, is rolling out an all-new lineup of Wi-Fi 6E routers. This company has quickly become one of my favorite router manufacturers thanks to reliability and affordable prices -- I recommend this sub-$80 router all the time.
Ahh, ThinkPad. There is probably no line of Windows laptops that's more respected or celebrated. And look, it isn't hard to see why. The notebook computer series started by IBM, and ultimately taken over by Lenovo, has proven to be one of the most reliable in the industry. You really can never go wrong with a ThinkPad. Pricey? Sometimes. But often worth the cost.
Today, Lenovo unveils a new laptop that it claims to be "the thinnest ThinkPad ever." Called "ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga," this convertible notebook has a thickness of just 11.5 mm. Despite its thin body, it can be configured with impressive specifications, such as an 11th gen Intel Core i7, up to 16GB of RAM and up to a 1TB SSD. It even offers 5G connectivity. And of course, it has the traditional ThinkPad pointing nub.
When you live in a home with multiple people, keeping devices charged can be quite the headache. You have family members fighting over chargers and outlets, and this is only made worse when everyone has multiple devices like smartphones, tablets, wireless earbuds, and more. Even people that live alone might experience woes when all of their chargers become a spaghetti-like mess.
Well, folks, Satechi has a new product that should be a godsend for families that often fight over chargers. Called "Dock5," this multi-device charging station can top off five devices at once. It features two USB-A ports, two USB-C ports, and a Qi wireless charging pad. It also utilizes handy dividers to prop up the devices and keep them nicely organized. This should save space on a table or counter.
Donald Trump is literal trash. A traitor to our country. For years, we Americans have endured having a maniac as the president. It is a blemish on the USA, and we will be forced to deal with the consequences of his presidency for a long time. There is light at the end of the tunnel, however, as he will soon be replaced by the great Joe Biden -- Wednesday, January 20, 2021 can't come soon enough!
Following the coup attempt incited by Donald Trump, many are calling for him to resign, while others are threatening to impeach him. I am doubtful that either of those things will happen, sadly. Thankfully, Twitter has decided to end the madness on its platform, at least. You see, Donald Trump -- traitor to our democracy -- has been banned from Twitter for life!
It's a new year (thank goodness), and for 2021, I am happy to say we already have a new version of Linux Mint. Yes, folks, you can now download Linux Mint 20.1. Called "Ulyssa," it is available with your choice of three desktop environments -- Cinnamon, MATE, and Xfce.
Linux Mint 20.1 is based on the rock-solid Ubuntu 20.04 LTS and Linux kernel 5.4. It will be supported until 2025 and comes with an all-new unified filesystem layout. For the desktop environments, Xfce is at version 4.14, MATE is at 1.24, and Cinnamon is 4.6.
Earlier today, we told you about the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2. This laptop is notable for being much more affordable than its predecessor while retaining its elegance. With that said, Samsung is not the only company making premium Chromebooks. In fact, as the Chromebook market matures, more and more manufactures are putting increased focus on their designs.
Acer is a company that has long supported the Chromebook community, offering many great machines over the years. Today, the company unveils the Chromebook Spin 514 and it is very intriguing. While the laptop appears to be nothing special on the outside, it is the internals that are exciting. You see, the Spin 514 is powered by AMD Ryzen APUs which feature Radeon graphics
Chromebooks are great laptops, and I recommend them all the time. Long gone are the days where a Windows computer was necessary. Quite frankly, most homes would be better served by a computer running the Linux-based Chrome OS than any Microsoft operating system. While power users and gamers may want to stick with Windows (for now), the average user should without question buy a Chromebook instead.
Best of all, Chromebooks are no longer just underpowered laptops -- many have great specifications and elegant designs. For instance, last year, Samsung launched the beautiful Galaxy Chromebook. Today, the company unveils the sequel, and it is quite impressive. Called "Galaxy Chromebook 2," the convertible laptop has a QLED touch display with FHD resolution. Samsung promises an enhanced audio experience too.
Last year, Apple released new Mac computers powered by the company's own M1 processors. Not only are there new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops, but a new Mac mini desktop too. I am fascinated by the new Apple Silicon processors, so last week, I bought my very own Mac mini. Guess what? It is a phenomenal computer that I love very much so far.
The problem with the Mac mini, however, is it doesn't come with a keyboard or mouse. This is by design, as Apple hopes Windows users will replace their current desktops with the little Mac -- simply reusing existing keyboards, mice, and monitors. Unfortunately, a Windows keyboard is not ideal for a Mac. Will it work? Yes, but it doesn't have the exact same keys, such as "COMMAND." And so, Mac mini buyers would be wise to buy a Mac keyboard.