There have been many great Linux distro updates lately, such as Ubuntu and Fedora. Today, yet another great operating system gets updated to a new version, this time it is MX Linux 19.3. The Debian-based distribution offers a choice between Xfce 4.14 and KDE Plasma 5.15 for the desktop environment and comes with MESA 18.3.6.
MX Linux 19.3 comes loaded with some great software, such as GIMP 2.10.12, Firefox 82, VLC 3.0.11, Clementine 1.3.1, and Thunderbird 68.12.0. The reliable LibreOffice 6.1.5 is installed by default, but you can easily update to version 7.x from a repository.
ARM is the future of computing -- there's a reason Microsoft keeps trying to switch Windows to the new architecture. Unfortunately, Windows on ARM has not been a success, as consumers have largely rejected Microsoft's attempts. I have a Surface RT tablet that I keep in a drawer which serves as a constant reminder of what could have been.
Apple is in the midst of this switch with Mac, but it looks to have a huge success on its hands. Why? Because the iPhone-maker developed its own chips rather than just work with partners. More importantly, Apple has a very precise plan on transitioning, and consumers seem to be on board.
There are so many docks and docking stations nowadays, that it can be hard to get excited about them. Look, I get it, they all pretty much do the same thing -- turn your laptop into a desktop while also charging it. The thing is, not all of them are created equally. In fact, some are much better than others.
With all of that said, Plugable has a new vertical docking station that is absolutely worth your attention. Called "TBT3-UDZ," it is compatible with both Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C computers thanks to its use of Intel's Titan Ridge chipset. I am happy to say it has both an SD card reader and microSD card reader on the front -- something often omitted from docks nowadays. Thankfully, the host port is on the rear, so there is no ugly wire hanging off the front. And yes, it offers 100W power delivery.
The current trend for laptops is to have them be as thin as possible. I suppose we have Apple to thank for that -- its designers often focus on form over function. As a result, many computers are missing useful ports, such as Ethernet, HDMI, and USB-A. This causes consumers to spend extra money on USB-C docks, adapters, and dongles. Thin machines often have deficient cooling too, which can lead to throttling and an overall negative impact to performance.
And that's why I love the design of System76's newly refreshed Galago Pro -- one of the company's most popular Linux laptops. The affordable Galago Pro isn't thick by any means, but it's really no thicker than it needs to be. You see, the chassis can accommodate the ports that many depend on, such as the aforementioned Ethernet, HDMI, and USB-A.
Solid state drives continue to get faster, with PCIe 4.0 variants leading the pack nowadays. Of course, most PCs don't have PCIe 4.0 support, so these ultra-fast drives are reserved for enthusiasts and those with brand new computers.
If you have such a cutting-edge PC, you will probably want to get a PCIe 4.0 SSD to maximize your performance. True, it is largely for bragging rights and benchmarks -- you probably won't notice a difference in actual use -- but still, you might as well go for the best if the difference in price isn't totally obscene.
It was damn near a year ago when we told you about the Western Digital WD Blue SN550 NVMe SSD. This drive was very fast thanks to its PCIe 3.0 interface. In fact, the drive could achieve an impressive 2,400 MB/s read. It was a no-nonsense SSD that provided excellent performance at a competitive price. For instance, the 1TB model can be had here for under $100.
Unfortunately, that 1TB variant was the top capacity, with the other two being 250GB and 500GB. What if you needed more than a terabyte of storage? Thankfully, starting today, the WD Blue SN550 NVMe SSD now comes in 2TB -- double the previous top capacity.
Literally nothing in life is worse than when your device runs out of juice and you are nowhere near an outlet. OK, maybe I am exaggerating -- there definitely are worse things. With that said, it does stink when it happens. It can feel like you are without oxygen when you are disconnected from the internet, for instance. Not to mention, when it comes to smartphones, a dead battery can prevent you from calling 911 in an emergency.
That's why I always travel with a USB power bank when possible. These devices can keep your phone, tablet, or other devices topped off when you are not near an outlet. A power bank is also essential during a power outage. People that live in hurricane zones, for instance, should definitely own one.
Nowadays, many laptops utilize solid state drives, with capacities often ranging from 250GB to 1TB. For many consumers, that is more than enough for all of their files, and if it isn't, they can always purchase an external drive to easily expand it. USB SSDs in particular are very popular, as they are small and have no moving parts.
Today, ADATA launches an all-new external solid state drive, and it is quite special. Called "SE770G," the USB-C SSD stands out from the crowd with RGB lighting. The drive functions as any other USB-C SSD does, but it also has customizable lighting. Is that feature necessary or important? No, not at all. However, it is certainly fun, and it makes the SE770G very pretty. In fact, it might just be the most attractive USB SSD I have ever seen.
Linux Mint is a great Ubuntu-based operating system, although there have been concerns about the project's financing and the morale of the developers. Over time, the small development team made some wise decisions, such as killing the KDE variant of the operating system. I think they should kill the Mate and Xfce versions and focus strictly on Cinnamon, but I digress.
Sadly, the team seems ready to make another poor decision, foolishly wasting its limited resources on an IPTV player for some reason. Called "Hypnotix," no one was asking for such a thing from the Mint Team, and it isn't clear why they are bothering. While only a "prototype" (aka Alpha) application for now, the developers are considering making it a part of Linux Mint. But why?
If you want to be a famous YouTube creator or Twitch streamer, you have to have a good personality and a way to stand out from the crowd. For most people, it will never become more than a hobby -- getting rich from these platforms is rarified air.
With all of that said, and with personality and gimmick aside, you really need good hardware too. For instance, if I discover an interesting streamer on Twitch, I won't bother subscribing if it's difficult to hear them talking -- a good microphone is essential. And no, quality gear doesn't have to break the bank. Today, HyperX launches a no-nonsense USB microphone called "SoloCast" that is quite affordable.
Many technology pundits have been theorizing and discussing the possibility of Windows eventually becoming a Linux-based operating system. They cite the fact that Microsoft has become less dependent on Windows for revenue, making it silly to dedicate so many resources to it. Not to mention, Microsoft has certainly cozied up to both the Linux and open source communities nowadays.
Do I think Microsoft will make this move one day? Who knows. Years ago I'd say it was crazy, but in 2020, the company's flagship mobile device -- the Surface Duo -- runs the Linux-based Android. For now, Linux-based Windows remains pure conjecture. With that said, I think we can all agree on one thing -- Linux is the future of desktop computing, with Chrome OS leading the sea change.
If you love mini desktop computers like I do, you absolutely must check out MINISFORUM. This company produces unique NUC-like computers with beautiful designs and respectable performance. They can run both Windows 10 and Linux wonderfully. We recently tested out the Intel-powered Minisforum EliteMini H31G and came away very impressed.
As an AMD fan, however, I am extremely excited about what MINISFORUM has planned next. Called "EliteMini BOX X400," the 1.35 liter PC can accommodate 2000, 3000, and 4000 series AMD Ryzen APUs, with the top option being the Ryzen 5 PRO 4650G processor. If you aren't familiar, an APU is a CPU and GPU on a single chip, so you can expect respectable graphics performance too.
OWC launches fast, durable, and affordable Envoy Pro Elektron USB-C SSD for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iPad, and Chromebooks
When shopping for a bus-powered external storage device, speed is definitely important, but it is certainly not the only thing to look for. My advice would be to first focus on durability of the enclosure and reliability of the internal drive by sticking with a reputable brand. With SSD prices so low nowadays, a mechanical hard drive really shouldn't be considered anymore.
If you take my advice and focus on durability and speed from a reputable company, then the all new Envoy Pro Elektron from Other World Computing, Inc. should absolutely be considered. Not only is the aluminum body dust-, water-, and crush-proof, but OWC is a name you can trust.
Having the ability to expand or add storage to a device is quite amazing, so it is sad that many phone manufacturers are removing that option. Sure, some Android smartphones still have microSD slots, but many do not -- including Google's own Pixel phones. Of course, Apple has never offered this option with its iconic iPhone.
If you do have a smartphone, tablet, camera, drone, or other device that utilizes microSD, I have some really exciting news. Today, Lexar launches some blazing fast new cards that won't break the bank. Called "SILVER Series," this line of 1066x microSD cards comes in capacities ranging from 32GB to 512GB.
When it comes to pointing devices, most people use trackpads or mice. And for the most part, consumers are happy with those two options. With that said, there is a small number of computer users that prefer a different device -- a trackball. These things look like mice, but rather than navigate by moving it around a surface, you manipulate the mouse pointer by moving a ball.
Unfortunately, there aren't as many trackball options compared to mice, so for those that prefer the former, it can be hard to find a product that meets their needs. So whenever a new trackball is released, it is pretty big news. Today, Logitech launches a new such product, and it is very affordable. Called "ERGO M575 Wireless Trackball," it is designed to be ergonomic and accommodate various hand sizes.