More and more laptops are being manufactured without SD card slots. For many consumers, this isn't a problem. For others, such as photographers, it is a huge pain point. Thankfully, adding a card reader to a notebook or desktop is as easy as plugging in a USB adapter.
Of course, these days, laptop manufacturers are also forgoing USB Type-A ports, making existing adapters incompatible without a USB-A to USB-C dongle. Alternatively, you can simply buy a USB-C card reader, and today, Satechi launches an absolutely gorgeous such product. Its new reader, which is made with aluminum, supports both SD and micro SD cards with up to UHS-II speeds. It doesn't just work with laptops, but tablets and smartphones too.
There is no shortage of web browsers for Linux. Two of the most popular browsers -- Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox -- are easy to install and work quite brilliantly. Another fairly popular option is available too -- Opera. All three aforementioned browsers are cross-platform, making them great options not only for Linux, but Mac and Windows too.
Today, the Opera web browser for Linux becomes available as a Snap. If you aren't familiar, this means it is packaged for installation on any Linux distribution that supports Canonical's Snap format. This has the benefit of helping the developer, as they don't have to waste resources with multiple packaging options.
For whatever reason, Android tablets have largely fallen out of favor with consumers. Some people will blame cannibalization by large-screen smartphones, while others will point to low-quality offerings from no-name manufacturers. I would say both are contributors. Sadly, quality Android tablets are few and far between because the market is littered with low-cost models that are poor quality -- it makes it difficult for the top-tier makers to compete.
Thankfully, Samsung has not yet given up on the Android tablet market. Today, it unveils an absolutely beautiful -- albeit pricey -- 10.5 inch tablet. Called "Galaxy Tab S4," it ships with Android 8.1 and comes with an S Pen at no extra charge. It is powered by an impressive Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Octa Core processor and 4GB of RAM. While the base model is Wi-Fi only, an LTE model is available too.
When one company acquires another, the deal it is often judged by how much financial sense it makes. For instance, when Microsoft bought LinkedIn for $26 billion, many pundits thought it was a colossal waste of money. I suppose time will tell if the Windows-maker made a mistake or not. On the flip side, Amazon's acquisition of Twitch for nearly $1 billion is now looking quite brilliant -- the video platform is getting more popular every day.
Today, Logitech announces it is acquiring Blue Microphones for $117 million. While obviously not as big as the two aforementioned acquisitions, it is still very intriguing. Actually, Logitech's purchase of Blue makes a ton of sense, as the microphone-maker's portfolio fits in perfectly with its new owner's products. Logitech is known for producing high-quality accessories, and while it does make headsets, it doesn't really produce high-end microphones -- the acquisition fills a void. And so, the deal seems like it could be a match made in heaven.
Back in June, we reported that Linux Mint Debian Edition 3 BETA would be released in July. Well, LMDE 3 did make the deadline, albeit barely. Yes, today, on the final day of the month, the BETA version of the rolling release operating system becomes available.
Unlike the traditional Linux Mint operating system which is based on Ubuntu, LMDE is based on Debian. To be more precise, LMDE 3 BETA is based on Debian Stretch. While this Debian version of Mint is perfectly usable as a daily driver, its real focus is as a contingency plan in case development of Ubuntu ever ceases in the future.
Ubuntu is a great Linux distribution, but understandably, the GNOME desktop environment isn't for everyone. Thankfully, there are many flavors of the operating system with alternative DEs, such as Xubuntu with XFCe and Kubuntu with KDE. Ultimately, with so much choice, you should have no problem finding a version of Ubuntu that best meets your needs and wants.
One popular Ubuntu flavor is Lubuntu. If you aren't familiar, it uses the lightweight LXDE desktop environment which makes it a good choice for older hardware. In fact, one of the focuses of the Lubuntu developers is to support aging computers. When Lubunu 18.10 is released in October 2018, it will ditch LXDE for the newer LXQt. Despite it also being a desktop environment that is easy on resources, the Lubuntu developers are planning to drop their focus on old hardware after the transition.
Kingston's "HyperX" gaming brand is very well respected by both professional and amateur gamers alike. The company manufacturers top quality RAM, keyboards, mice, headsets, and more. Not only does this hardware function brilliantly, but they feature hip and cool designs too. And yes, looks matter.
Today, HyperX launches the previously announced Pulsefire FPS Pro RGB gaming mouse, and it is surprising affordable. If you aren't familiar, this "Pro" variant features an improved Pixart PMW3389 sensor compared to the Pixart 3310 found in the standard model. Plus, it has customizable RGB lighting -- a must for a gaming product these days!
Owning a home is not in a walk in the park. Actually, being a homeowner can be downright daunting. Why? Well, things constantly break and need either fixing or replacing. Not to mention, there is normal upkeep, such as mowing the lawn, gardening, and for some folks, shoveling snow too.
This is why I am such a fan of the smart home. Anything I can do to get a little help is appreciated. Things like smart lights and thermostats not only make my life easier, but they can save me money too. Recently, I have been testing the 3rd generation smart sprinkler controller from Rachio and I came away with a very definitive opinion of it.
The Dell XPS 13 is wonderful laptop regardless of which operating system you choose for it. While it comes with Windows 10 by default, you can also opt for the "Developer Edition" which instead comes with Ubuntu Linux.
Unfortunately for some, Dell has been shipping the Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition with Ubuntu 16.04 despite the newer 18.04 being available. This really isn't such a bad thing, as like 18.04, 16.04 is LTS (long term support) and still supported by Canonical. Some consumers probably appreciated this, as 16.04 was more proven. With yesterday's release of Ubuntu 18.04.1 and its included bug fixes, however, Dell is now ready to ship the newer operating system. Starting today, the XPS 13 Developer Edition comes with Ubuntu 18.04 pre-installed.
Ubuntu is one of the most popular desktop Linux-based operating systems in the world, and rightfully so. It's stable, fast, and offers a very polished user experience. Ubuntu has gotten even better recently too, since Canonical -- the company that develops the distribution -- switched to GNOME from the much-maligned Unity. Quite frankly, GNOME is the best overall desktop environment, but I digress.
Today, Ubuntu 18.04.1 becomes available. This is the first "point" release of 18.04 LTS Bionic Beaver. It is chock full of fixes and optimizations, which some individuals and organizations have been waiting for before upgrading. You see, while some enthusiasts will install the latest and greatest immediately, others value stability -- especially for business -- and opt to hold off until many of the bugs are worked out. If you are a longtime Windows user, think of it like waiting for Microsoft to release a service pack before upgrading -- sort of.
Hardware voice assistants are all the rage these days, but let's be honest -- humans are very visual creatures by nature. It's great to interact with our voices and ears, but it can be limiting too. For instance, if you want to ask a voice assistant, such as Alexa, what a dog is, she can tell you. But isn't it better to be shown as well? In other words, in certain situations audio-only is fine, but in others, visualization can be a plus. It is good to have choice.
Amazon saw the light and introduced Echo devices with screens, such as the Echo Show and Echo Spot. Now it's Google's turn. Today, the search giant announces the first-ever devices using its Smart Display platform are available for purchase. If you aren't familiar, it is essentially a tablet that is intended to primarily be stationary -- so you always know where it is. It is a Google Home on steroids, if you will. There are just two models to be had today, both from Lenovo.
Apple knows how to make great products -- just look at the iPhone, iPod, and iPad. Unfortunately, the company has produced several duds recently too, such as Apple Watch, HomePod, and AirPods. While Apple's wireless earbuds are popular and function decently, they can be very uncomfortable. People have different sized ear canals, so it is foolish to adopt a one-size-fits-all design using hard plastic. Sadly, Apple chose minimalism and convenience over comfort.
Thankfully, there are plenty of Bluetooth earbuds on the market that use replaceable silicone tips. The various sizes allow the user to find the best fit, which in theory, should reduce pain. Today, a company called YEVO Labs launches an intriguing alternative to Apple's uncomfortable AirPods. Called "YEVO Air," they are small and leverage a charging case like AirPods. Thankfully, however, they use the superior silicone tips. YEVO Air earbuds are more attractive than AirPods too.
Amazon Echo devices are very convenient for listening to music. Not only can you use your voice to play, say, Spotify or Pandora, but SiriusXM too. Unfortunately, the Echo devices aren't exactly audiophile products. While the normal Echo is passable, the Dot is downright terrible for audio quality -- this is probably why Amazon suggests connecting it to an external speaker.
But what if convenience isn't enough? What if you want to use Alexa and also have superior audio quality? Today, a company named Cavalier Audio launches a premium portable Bluetooth/Wi-Fi speaker with Amazon Alexa support that aims to solve that dilemma. The "Maverick," as it is called, promises better audio quality compared to Echo, but also, it is comprised of premium build materials, such as leather.
Apple knows how to make products consumers love (for the most part), but that is only part of the equation. When you charge such a high premium for your products, you have to offer a superior shopping experience too. For software, its App Store -- which just celebrated a 10th birthday -- revolutionized how consumers buy and install software. It inspired many copycats too, such as the Google Play Store and the Microsoft Store.
For buying hardware, the Apple Store also offers a unique and elegant retail experience. Not only can you walk in and try the products before you buy them, but if you have a problem later on, you have a physical location that you can go to for help. Not to mention, the Apple Store offers classes to help consumers learn how to use the new device that they purchased. Today, the iPhone maker announces that its newest such store -- called Apple Piazza Liberty -- will be opening in Milan.
TP-Link is well known for making quality products at affordable prices. I don't hesitate to recommend the company's wireless routers, for instance -- they are a great value. TP-Link shows that you don't have to break the bank to get great gear.
The company doesn't just make routers, however. TP-Link produces other types of networking gear, such as smart light bulbs, cameras, and more. Today, it launches two new smart home products -- the Kasa Cam Outdoor Security Camera and Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug (2-Outlets). The former is a Wi-Fi security camera designed to be installed outside, while the latter is a really cool smart outlet adapter that controls two electrical devices, such as a lamp, coffee maker, and more. Wow, dual outlets in one device? How very cool!