As more and more computer users sour on Windows 10, they are increasingly turning to Linux as an alternative. They aren't just choosing traditional desktop Linux distributions like Ubuntu and Manjaro, but Chrome OS too. Yes, folks, Chromebooks run a Linux-based operating system. Make no mistake, Linux is a threat to Microsoft's desktop stranglehold.
Unfortunately, there are way too many Linux distributions nowadays, making it hard for curious Windows users to pick one. My advice to Linux newbies is to start with Ubuntu -- or a variant of it -- such as Mint or Pop!_OS. As you get more comfortable, you can then begin distro-hopping, starting a quest to find the best Linux-based operating system to meet your needs.
Back in the day, computer builders would often buy sound cards for their rigs. This was because on-board audio used to be terrible. Going even further back, some motherboards did not even offer integrated sound, making a sound card a must.
Nowadays, however, most computers have on-board audio that isn't just passable, but quite good. Sure, there are still dedicated sound cards on the market, but they are usually reserved for audiophiles and/or gamers. These days, most computer users would be better served by a USB DAC -- a digital to analog converter. These offer superior audio for both laptops and desktops, and can reduce electrical interference and noise too.
Windows 10 is actually a really great operating system. The problem? It is actually quite expensive at its normal retail price. Amazon sells Windows 10 Home for a whopping $130! Not to mention, Microsoft's desktop OS is quite resource intensive, making it a bad choice for those with aging hardware. For those with older computers, Linux-based operating systems are often a better option.
While many people associate Linux distributions with "free," the truth is, some can actually cost money. There is nothing wrong with paying for a Linux distro either -- it is a fine way to support the development. One such operating system, Linspire (formerly known as "Lindows") recently hit a major milestone -- version 10. Starting at just $29.99, the Ubuntu-based operating system is far cheaper than the expensive Windows 10.
Living in Apple's ecosystem is a very rewarding experience. I know it is a cliché, but "it just works" is the truth. Are Apple products perfect and without issues? No. But when all of your gear is from Apple, it often works together brilliantly. An iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods together, for instance, is a trio that creates beautiful synergy -- especially when away from home.
If you are a road-warrior with both an Apple Watch and AirPods, Satechi has a new charger that you must check out. The elegant 2-in-1 USB-C charger connects to either a MacBook or iPad with USB Type-C ports and provides a mini charging pad that accommodates both AirPods or Apple Watch. Its small size makes it perfect to just toss in a bag. Best of all, since it charges both devices, you can potentially carry fewer chargers and ultimately reduce clutter.
Nowadays, professional photographers with high-end camera equipment are embracing CFexpress storage cards more and more. The problem? Those cards are quite expensive. Not to mention, many photographers can get by without top of the line. And so, for many photographers -- amateur and professional alike -- good ol' SD cards are still more than fine.
Thankfully, companies are still putting out new SD cards, and today, Lexar launches its latest. The SILVER Series Professional 1066x SDXC UHS-I card is both fast and durable. Best of all, pricing starts at just $17.99, making it affordable for all consumers.
Here on the East Coast of the USA, we have been getting hit with some pretty nasty snow lately. Is it pretty? Sure, but I still hate it. You see, as a homeowner, I am responsible for cleaning it off my property. Yours truly has to go out in the frigid weather with a shovel and a snow blower to make sure my stoop, walkway, and driveway are all accessible.
As a result of the cold weather, my hands are rather chapped and dry lately -- I could probably benefit from some better gloves. As a "tech guy" gloves are a rather boring topic, but today, a new such product caught my eye. Called "ColdWork M-Pact," these hardcore gloves are from popular company Mechanix Wear. Believe it or not, in addition to the expected protections, they have some cool technology too.
Mageia 8 has been in development for a while now, and fans of that Linux-based operating system are likely chomping at the bit for a stable release. Back in August, we shared that the first Beta of the distribution was available for testing, and then, the second Beta came out in December.
And now, finally, the first release candidate arrives. As with the Beta releases, RC1 is available with your choice of three desktop environments -- KDE Plasma, GNOME, and Xfce. It seems Mate is a post-install option, but there is no dedicated ISO for it like the aforementioned trio of DEs.
Thunderbolt docks are useful devices that make it easy to transform a laptop computer into a desktop while also charging the battery. For years now, manufacturers have been releasing these docks, and while there have been many good ones, none are perfect. And yes, perfection is possible.
Gaming company Razer has announced its all-new "Thunderbolt 4 Dock Chroma," and it probably comes closer to perfection than any other dock I have seen. Unfortunately, it falls short due to a design flaw.
Large desktop computers are so unsightly. Nowadays, consumers seem happier to purchase a laptop or diminutive desktop. I recently bought a M1 Mac mini, and it is amazing to see how much power is packed into such a small body. It's a computer I recommend to anyone that likes macOS.
Unfortunately, the new M1 Mac mini cannot run Windows, but if you prefer Microsoft's operating system, there is no shortage of tiny desktops that run the OS. For instance, Intel's diminutive NUC machines are quite nice. Of course, Intel is not the only company focusing on small PCs. Another manufacturer, Minisforum, has been delighting customers with its little machines too. Today, that company launches two new models -- the Deskmini U850 and U820.
This upcoming Sunday is Super Bowl LV, and it is looking to be one of the greatest matchups in championship history. Legendary quarterback Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will take on QB Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. The game is notable because of Brady's advanced age (43) and the fact that the Buccaneers are the first team in NFL history to play "at home" in the Super Bowl. Yes, the big game is in Tampa Bay this year.
Who will win? That's anybody's guess, but I'd put my money on the Buccaneers despite the Chiefs being the apparent favorites. If you aren't familiar enough with NFL football to predict a winner, don't worry; you don't have to be an expert to enjoy the game. With that said, if you do want to learn more about the sport in anticipation, I have some great news -- there are some secret "Hey, Google" commands that can help you out.
So far, 2021 is a definite improvement over 2020, but it's not all great. Due to the ever-mutating COVID-19 virus, many of us remain isolated in our homes. Thankfully, we computer nerds have been training most of our lives for this -- we have experienced plenty of extended time away from other humans, instead tinkering with our computers.
One thing I have enjoyed doing to pass the time during the pandemic is installing Linux distributions. Distro-hopping isn't just fun, but educational too. Today, Solus 4.2 becomes available for download, and it is an operating system you should check out. It is offered with your choice of four great desktop environments -- Budgie, GNOME, KDE Plasma, and MATE.
I am old enough to remember just how greedy the music industry was when the compact disc reigned supreme. People complain about spending $10 per month for a streaming service nowadays, but how about paying even more than that for a single album. Yeah, kids, that's really what we paid. Forget playing any song you want at any time. The average person could afford maybe one album a week, and if you ended up not liking it, you were out of luck.
So, yeah, the current streaming revolution from services like Apple Music and Spotify are far superior for consumers. Speaking of the latter, believe it or not, that service has not been available in South Korea. Well, folks, today this changes. Yes, Spotify has finally landed in South Korea. 신난다!
There are two curved displays in my home --a television in my living room and a computer monitor in my office. Both look cool, but to be honest, the curve doesn't really make a difference in my living room. Since I sit far back from the TV, the curve doesn't add any benefit. On the computer monitor where I sit much closer, however, the curvature adds to the overall immersion -- it is quite remarkable. I can't recommend curved computer monitors enough.
Today, MSI officially launches its newest curved display, and it is heavily focused on gaming. Called "MPG Artymis 343CQR," the 34-inch UWQHD display has a dramatic 1000R curve and a drop-dead gorgeous design that would make it look at home on any gamer's desk. And yes, it is compatible with AMD FreeSync.
If your camera only uses SD cards, you are basic AF. Look, there is nothing wrong with being basic -- I am definitely in that group. However, if you are a hardcore photographer with high-end equipment, your storage should be CFexpress (Type B, particularly) if your camera supports it. Why? It is insanely fast, as it uses the PCIe interface. And yes, speed matters when you need to transfer a lot of photos or videos.
Of course, the downside of these new faster cards is they are more expensive. Thankfully, value-focused company Transcend has launched a new CFexpress 820 Type B Memory Card that is available now. In addition, the manufacturer has released the new RDE2 USB CFexpress card reader.
Solid state drives are one of the best computing innovations in years, as they provide a huge performance boost without breaking the bank. By simply upgrading from a mechanical hard drive to an SSD, your computer will feel brand new. Best of all, SSD manufacturers are not resting on their laurels, but instead, continually pushing performance boundaries.
Currently, PCIe Gen 4 NVMe SSDs are all the rage with enthusiasts, and today, CORSAIR launches two new models -- the MP600 CORE and MP600 PRO. There is even a "Hydro X Edition" variant of the latter, which utilizes water-cooling to reduce temperatures.