Brian Fagioli

StarTech launches a trio of USB-C hubs -- Surface Laptop 2 owners need not bother

I am old enough to remember the days before USB, and let me tell you -- when it came out, everything changed. It became so much easier to add hardware to a PC -- no need to open the case. USB largely made the term "plug and play" a reality. The problem? The damn thing wasn't reversible! As we all know, you had a 50/50 shot of plugging the Type-A connector in correctly, yet for some reason, it felt like you were almost always wrong the first time. Maddening!

USB-C solved that dilemma, as the connector is reversible. Long gone is the frustration of having to turn the connector around. Adoption of USB-C has been frustratingly slow, with companies like Microsoft still refusing to add it to the Surface Laptop 2. Sigh. With that said, there are many nice USB-C products on the market, and today, StarTech launches a trio. All three products are USB-C hubs, but they are quite different from each other.

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Ubuntu Linux 18.10 Cosmic Cuttlefish is finally available for download!

There has never been a better time to be a Linux enthusiast. There are so many great distributions from which to choose, including elementary OS 5 Juno, Linux Mint 19, and Bodhi 5.0.0. What do those aforementioned operating systems have in common? They are based on Ubuntu. To take things a step further, Canonical's operating system is based on Debian, but I digress.

But yeah, Ubuntu is wildly popular -- with both end users and other Linux distro maintainers. When a new version of the operating system is released, the world goes wild. Well, it's time to get excited, yall! Today -- after a short Beta period -- Ubuntu Linux 18.10 Cosmic Cuttlefish is finally available for download!

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Lexar unveils JumpDrive Fingerprint F35 for Windows, macOS, and Linux

Recently, we reported the Sentry K300 keypad flash drive from DataLocker Inc. What made that flash drive newsworthy? Well, besides its 256-bit AES hardware encryption, it has an industry first -- an OLED screen.

While entering a passcode into keypad on a flash drive is cool, Lexar has a new drive that makes it look like old hat. The JumpDrive Fingerprint F35, as it is called, uses biometrics for decryption. Much like the fingerprint reader found on a smartphone, you can use your finger to unlock the flash drive. How cool is that?

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AOC launches affordable V2 Series 1080p monitors with AMD FreeSync and 75Hz refresh

If you can afford it, 4K monitors are great. If you are on a budget, however, 1080p is still totally passable. They work perfectly with all operating sytems -- Windows, macOS, and Linux-based -- without any scaling issues. In other words, it is generally a headache-free experience.

Today, AOC launches a new affordable "V2 Series" line of 1080p monitors, and they look incredible. How affordable are they? Pricing starts at a mere $99.99! There are three sizes from which to choose -- 22-inch, 24-inch, and 27-inch. The bezels are insanely slim -- great for those that want to use two side-by-side. Despite being inexpensive, these monitors are not no-frills. Believe it or not, they have AMD FreeSync technology and a respectable 75Hz refresh.

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elementary OS 5 'Juno' Linux distribution is ready to replace Windows 10

Using a computer should be fun and inspiring. Windows used to be enjoyable for many consumers, but Microsoft's latest operating system just isn't. Not only is Windows 10 very buggy -- deleting user files is as bad as it gets, folks -- but the spyware nature with the excessive telemetry can make the user feel like a visitor on their own computer. Hey, you spent good money on your PC -- you should feel at home on it, right?

Enter Linux. God bless the open source kernel. Thanks to Linux-based operating systems and excellent free open source software, it is possible to return to the better days of computing. One operating system in particular has put a ton of focus on the user experience -- elementary OS. This is an oversimplification, but the interface feels like a blend between GNOME and macOS. It looks good, is intuitive, and is an absolute pleasure to use. October may be the month of Halloween, but it feels more like Christmas, because the latest version of the operating system -- Juno -- is ready to be unwrapped like a gift.

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CORSAIR launches blazing fast Force Series MP510 M.2 PCIe NMVe SSD

We are currently in the golden age of storage -- NVMe solid state drives are insanely fast and getting increasingly more affordable. Whether you are a gamer or performance enthusiast, you are probably in tech heaven.

Today, Corsair launches its latest storage drive, and yes, it is an NVMe PCIe SSD. The "Force Series MP510," as it is called, offers blazing fast performance -- 3,480MB/sec read and 3,000MB/sec write.

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DataLocker Inc Sentry K300 keypad flash drive has an OLED screen and 256-bit AES hardware encryption

These days, it can be quite scary storing important data in the cloud. We were sold a bill of goods that the cloud was safe and secure, but with so many data breaches, it’s only a matter of time before your data is exposed. Sad but true.

If you want to store important files locally, a drive with hardware encryption is ideal. Keypad variants are quite convenient, as they can easily work on all operating systems, such as macOS, Windows, and Linux distros. Today, DataLocker Inc. announces a beautiful such drive with a unique feature -- an OLED screen.

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Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen dead at 65

Paul Allen is dead. Sadly, the Microsoft co-founder succumbed to cancer today -- non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, to be exact. His death is a bit of a surprise, as earlier in the month, he shared on Twitter that his prognosis was good. Unfortunately, as we learned from the death of Steve Jobs, money can't guarantee life -- an important thing to reflect on when feeling down about being broke. Good health is priceless.

While less famous than Bill Gates, Allen (the bearded one above) was still a tremendous force in the world of technology. The icon earned billions of dollars thanks to his time at Microsoft, something he used to become a big name in the world of sports -- surprising for a tech guy. He purchased both an NBA team (Portland Trail Blazers) and an NFL franchise (Seattle Seahawks). While I am sure he loved both teams, the latter was probably closer to his heart. You see, Allen was a significant presence in Seattle, WA -- the place he was born and died. He was probably beyond proud when he brought a Super Bowl championship to the city he loved so much.

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HyperX ships more than 60 million RAM sticks

HyperX -- Kingston's gaming brand -- is most well known for high quality RAM. With that said, it has expanded over the years to include gaming peripherals, such as mice, keyboards, headsets, and more. Still, despite a more diverse product offering, memory remains the crown jewel of its business.

To highlight just how important RAM is to HyperX, today, the company makes a shocking announcement. You see, the company has achieved an impressive milestone -- more than 60 million memory modules shipped since 2002!

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UBports Foundation releases Linux-based Ubuntu Touch OTA-5

Ubuntu Touch never lit the world on fire as many Linux fans had hoped, but to be honest, most mainstream consumers didn’t even know it existed. So when Canonical canceled it, not many people cared. Luckily, since the project was open source, it was easy for another organization — in this case, UBports — to grab the torch and run with it.

Back in August, UBports surprised many with the Ubuntu Touch OTA-4 release, which breathed new life into tablets and smartphones that ran the Linux distro. Now, OTA-5 is here to take it up yet another notch. The new version gets a new web browser called Morph which is based on QtWebEngine. Best of all, OTA-5 gets improved adaptive scaling for a better experience regardless of screen size. From a superficial standpoint, there are new wallpapers based on community submitted artwork.

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Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 (LTE) coming soon -- a great Microsoft Surface alternative

Windows 10 has been a dumpster fire lately, but thankfully, Microsoft's OS stranglehold on the consumer PC business is dramatically diminishing. These days, many consumers would be better served by purchasing a MacBook or Chromebook rather than a laptop running the less-secure Windows. True, Apple's computers are expensive, but luckily, laptops running Chrome OS can be quite affordable. Chromebooks are shockingly capable too -- especially since Android app support was added.

Just as Samsung manufactures excellent smartphones running Google's Android operating system, it also makes quality laptops running the search giant's Linux-based Chrome OS. The Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 is one of the nicer Chromebooks, and today, the company unveils a new variant. The hardware stays the same, except for one addition -- LTE compatibility. In other words, the Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 (LTE), as it is called, is fully functional without Wi-Fi -- just add a mobile data plan!

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Razer Phone 2 Android 8.1 gaming smartphone puts Google Pixel 3 to shame

A couple of days ago, Google unveiled its 3rd generation of Pixel phones. And you know what? Many consumers don't really seem to care. Let's be honest, the search giant's flagship devices are usually reserved for only the most hardcore Android lovers -- most consumers prefer Samsung. Sadly, even the Google faithful seem unimpressed by the terribly ugly Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. These devices are beyond uninspired, and the notch on the XL variant is shockingly large.

Thankfully, there is another phone that should wash the filthy Pixel 3 taste out of your mouth -- the Razer Phone 2. Yes, the popular gaming company is back with a second generation phone. The device is still focused on gaming, and this time it has a faster processor which delivers an impressive performance boost. It also gets a glass back which helps enable Qi wireless charging -- a must in 2018. And since this is a gaming device, it now has customizable RGB lighting -- for the rear Razer logo.

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Plex for Linux now available as a Snap

Microsoft is having a terrible time lately. Sometimes it feels like the company wants to sabotage itself. The most recent debacle is its flagship product -- Windows 10 -- deleting user files. Even worse, the company ignored user feedback that it was happening! Quite frankly, after such a scary thing, I am not sure how people can trust Microsoft's operating system with important data.

Thankfully, you do not have to use Windows. These days, it is easier than ever to use Linux instead. There are plenty of great apps available for operating systems like Ubuntu, Fedora, and more. Canonical's containerized Snap packaging makes it even simpler to both install Linux apps and keep them updated. Today, a very popular app, Plex Media Server, gets the Snap treatment. In other words, you can install the media server program without any headaches -- right from the Snap store!

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Google Chromecast gets better, but it cannot compete with Roku and Amazon 4K devices

Google's Chromecast is a curious product. It solves a major consumer need -- getting media content from a smartphone's small screen to a larger television screen. And it accomplishes that goal fairly well. When it was first released in 2013, its biggest selling point was its low price. These days, the $35 asking price is far less impressive. For instance, for just $5 more, you can get a 4K Roku box with a remote.

Realizing that the Chromecast was in desperate need of an upgrade, Google today launches a new model. The $35 price remains, but the hardware gets a significant refresh. The processor is apparently 15 percent faster, enabling 1080p at 60fps -- a big upgrade from the 720p found on the prior generation. Sadly, it is apparently not capable of doing 4K. Also of significance, it now supports 5GHz 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

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Ubiquiti Networks launches 'AmpliFi Instant' mesh Wi-Fi system with '2-Minute Setup'

If you are knowledgeable about home networking, and you have experience with wireless routers, I am sure you are not scared by setting one up. If you have never done it before, or aren't tech savvy, configuring a Wi-Fi router can be quite the daunting task. Sure, they are easier these days than they were years ago, but still, they can be rather overwhelming to the average consumer -- especially mesh.

Famed company Ubiquiti Networks has been trying to make setting up a home wireless network a simpler task, and it has largely succeeded with its excellent AmpliFi mesh router system. The company is not ready to rest on its laurels, however, as today, it launches a new affordable mesh router that makes configuration even easier. In fact, according to Ubiquiti Networks, the "AmpliFi Instant," as the new product is called, can be configured in less than two minutes. Seriously, folks, that is not a typo -- the average consumer can set up quality 802.11ac (aka Wi-Fi 5) mesh wireless in under 120 seconds using an Android or iOS device!

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