While I am a big fan of watching films, I absolutely detest doing so at the cinema these days. Look, if I decide to dedicate my valuable time to watching a movie, I demand absolute silence and no distractions so I can experience proper immersion. Nowadays, people don't respect the movie-going experience -- they are on their smartphones, talking, and eating smelly food. Humans are disgusting and it can be an absolute nightmare. Worst of all, it is a very expensive affair -- I feel like a sucker spending a fortune only to be miserable in the theater.
But OK, some folks still love going to the the movie theater. If that's you, I have some pretty cool news. Starting today, you can now purchase movie tickets with Google Assistant on Chrome. That is an undeniably cool thing, but sadly, it is Android-only for now. Apple iPhone users cannot join this party.
A common complaint I hear from friends and family is their Windows PC is slow and barely usable. They explain that the computer is old and they think they may need a new one. I immediately ask them what they use the PC for, and almost always, they spend most of the time in a web browser. To save them money, I often suggest installing a lightweight Linux-based operating system. Why buy new hardware if you don't need it? A better operating system can often make the computer run fast again.
Today, you can download an excellent such Linux-based operating system. Called "Zorin OS 15 Lite," it is not only lightweight, but thanks to the Xfce desktop environment and integrated Flatpak support, it should be quite familiar to those switching from Windows. In fact, the developers are intentionally targeting existing Windows 7 users, as Microsoft's operating system will be unsupported beginning January 2020. Zorin OS 15 Lite, in comparison, is based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and supported until 2023! It even comes with the very modern Linux kernel 5.0.
Ubiquiti AmpliFi routers and mesh network systems are some of the best wireless gear home consumers can buy. Not only are these products very well designed, but they have unique features and get regular firmware updates too. I always recommend them without hesitation.
Today, Ubiquiti has managed to impress me once again with one of the most beautiful routers I have ever seen -- it looks a bit like an Amazon Echo. Called "AmpliFi Alien," this Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) router features a huge color touchscreen that not only looks cool, but provides an easy way to interact with the device. There is one hidden WAN port on the bottom, and four LAN ports on the back. And yes, if you want to set up a mesh network, you can purchase more than one and link them together.
If you have a technology fan in your life, buying them a Christmas gift can be a bit hard. After all, they probably already have all of the devices they want -- including smart home products. With that said, there is a good chance they don't yet have a smart air quality monitor. Let's be honest, being alerted to air quality issues in your home is hardly sexy, but it is surprisingly rewarding and useful.
I use a 2nd gen Awair in my home, and it works very well. Just today, my phone told me chemicals in the air were high, and I later found out a family member sprayed some Febreze. When cooking, it will alert me that CO2 levels are rising. All the while, it gives me an easy to understand score so I know the overall quality of my home's air. There are apps for both Android and iPhone too.
AMD has been lighting the world on fire lately with its super powerful Ryzen processors, including the newest 3rd generation Threadripper. While enthusiasts will certainly be buying up those expensive chips, not everyone needs the latest and greatest multi-core processors. Some people have more meager needs, with budgets to match.
Historically, AMD has been great for consumers seeking value, and thankfully, the company is keeping that tradition alive. You see, today, the company announces the Athlon 3000G -- a processor designed for what AMD calls "mainstream desktop users." That's just another way to say "regular folks." Make no mistake, however, even though it extremely affordable at under $50, it is more than capable for general computer use -- and beyond. AMD promises support for Windows 10, Ubuntu, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
When it first came out in 2005, the diminutive Mac mini was a game-changing computer. Sure, it was woefully under-powered, but never before could you buy a Mac for $499. It truly allowed any consumer to jump into the Apple desktop world -- something previously reserved for those with large bank accounts.
While the newest Mac mini (introduced in 2018) is still small and fairly affordable, the $499 starting price is long gone. Instead, it now costs a minimum of $799 to get a Mac. Sigh. Sadly, even with a higher price, one of the most glaring issues to plague the Mac mini in 2005 is still an issue 14 years later -- there are no front ports! Apple chose to hide all the connectors on the rear -- the company often chooses form over function. Thankfully, the new 2-in-1 Mac mini stand and hub from Satechi solves this problem while retaining the elegant design.
The smart home concept is one of the best uses of modern technology. Not only do these home devices make your life easier, but they can make you and your family safer too. For instance, thanks to Wi-Fi cameras, smart smoke detectors, and internet-connected alarm systems, you can be alerted to danger.
Video doorbells are all the rage these days, and owning one is an essential part of any smart home strategy. Unfortunately, the most popular model -- Ring by Amazon -- has close ties with law enforcement, making it hard to trust from a privacy perspective. Luckily, today, we are getting yet another option -- The Arlo Video Doorbell. Arlo home cameras are quite popular, and it is good to see a doorbell being added to its product lineup.
Logitech G Adaptive Gaming Kit makes Microsoft Xbox Adaptive Controller even better for disabled gamers
For most people, playing a video game is as easy as picking up a controller. Unfortunately, there are some folks out there that cannot hold a typical gamepad due to disability. For a long time, people with disabilities were forced to either not play video games or struggle with what was available.
These days, however, the gaming market is more thoughtful regarding the less-able. A great example of this is Microsoft's Xbox Adaptive Controller -- a special device designed to make gaming a reality for disabled people. Today, Logitech G is taking things further with its Adaptive Gaming Kit -- a brilliant add-on to Microsoft's offering. For this new product, Logitech even consulted with AbleGamers -- a charity focused on inclusion in gaming.
Debian is a great Linux distribution in its own right, but also, it serves as a solid base for many other distros. That's why when a new version of Debian is released, it has a huge impact across the Linux community.
Today, you can download the newest version of Debian 10 "Buster." Debian 10.2 is the latest and greatest, but it is hardly exciting. To be fair though, Debian point releases shouldn't really be seen as a source for new features. Instead, you should expect security updates and bugfixes. And this time, with version 10.2, we get many of them. In addition, Firefox ESR (Extended Support Release) is being dropped from the ARMEL variant of Debian, but that really shouldn't have any impact on desktop users.
If you want a basic Linux desktop, you can never go wrong with an all Intel-based mini computer -- such as that company's own NUC line. Things typically work without issue -- an Intel Wi-Fi card, for instance, shouldn't give you any headaches on Linux.
Intel is not the only game in town, however. Other companies manufacture and sell mini desktop computers too. Today, MSI unveils its latest, and it looks like a real winner. Called "Cubi 5," it comes with 10th gen Intel Comet Lake processors, USB-C, and supports Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax).
Earlier today, we shared that the all-new Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition desktop would be equipped with HyperX Fury memory. But wait -- what exactly is this new computer? It is actually quite monumental. You see, after a long hiatus, Dell's gaming brand, Alienware, is once again using AMD processors! AMD is definitely making big moves these days, as it is finally being used by Microsoft with Surface Laptop too. Intel must be worried, but I digress.
The Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition desktop can be configured with a new 3rd generation AMD Ryzen processor, starting at the AMD Ryzen 5 3500 and going all the way up to the monster Ryzen 9 3950X. The HyperX memory starts at just 8GB running at 2666MHz, but you can bump that up to a max of 64GB at 3200MHz. Both AMD and NVIDIA graphics cards are available too, with the top model being the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti with 11GB of GDDR6. Storage ranges from 512GB to 2TB.
There are two types of PC gamers -- those that build their own computers and those that buy them pre-built. Neither approach is "better," but still, I typically build my own. Why? Well, I like to make sure that I am getting quality components. For instance, I don't want to get stuck with low quality RAM, storage, or a power supply.
Dell's Alienware line of computers are usually comprised of quality components, and today, we learn that its new Aurora Ryzen Edition gaming desktops will have superior memory. You see, these new computers will use high-end HyperX FURY DDR4 RAM. These are memory modules that in-the-know system builders would choose.
Traveling internationally can be a very fun experience, but also, it can be quite scary. When you don't speak the local language, you can have anxiety regarding communicating with people when you need help -- such as getting directions. Thankfully, smartphones have made foreign travel much easier thanks to both translation and navigation apps.
Google makes two of the best such solutions -- Google Maps and Google Translate. Today, the search giant is increasing their interoperability. Now, when you tap on a location in Google Maps, the translation software can audibly say what that location is -- in the local language. As an example, you can hop into a taxi and tap on where you want to go (a restaurant, hotel, etc.) and your smartphone will say it audibly in the driver's language so he/she knows where to go. Very cool.
Walmart stores are fairly ubiquitous in the USA. The retailer sells pretty much everything too. For instance, in one outing, you can buy tires, a gallon of milk, and a pair of shoes. Are the stores the most clean or well organized? No, not at all. In fact, a trip to Walmart can feel like a journey to hell, but overall, they provide a passable shopping experience.
Believe it or not, some people do their food shopping at Walmart too, as many of the stores have full grocery sections, including fresh produce. While in Florida on vacation earlier this year, I even encountered a dedicated Walmart grocery store --- it only sold food. Walmart even lets you do your grocery shopping online (pickup or delivery), including by voice, thanks to its Voice Order feature. To make this feature better, Walmart has now added Siri support. Yes, you can use the voice assistant on your Apple device to add items to your online Walmart grocery cart.
PC gamers used to turn their noses up at laptops, as they weren't capable of playing top-tier games. While most gamers still prefer desktops -- which are more powerful -- there are notebooks that are capable of running modern PC games. Thanks to Thunderbolt 3, laptop owners can even expand their machines with high-end devices, such as PCIe-based storage and even graphics cards.
Today, Seagate unveils two new products that laptop gamers will want to keep an eye on -- the FireCuda Thunderbolt 3 Gaming Dock and FireCuda 520 PCIe 4.0 SSD. What is a gaming dock? Well, it is your typical TB3 docking station, but also, it houses a 4TB HDD for storing your games. It even features adjustable RGB lighting -- something many gamers love. As an added bonus, it also has a PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD expansion slot, but it is only Gen3.