Brian Fagioli

Belkin unveils the small and powerful Thunderbolt 3 Dock Core

If your laptop has Thunderbolt 3, a compatible dock can transform it into a desktop. With only one cable connecting the notebook to the dock, you can then connect multiple peripherals, displays, and storage solutions, such as USB mice, keyboards, and external hard drives -- all while charging. While they tend to be pricier than normal USB docks, they are totally worth it.

Today, Belkin unveils a new such product called "Dock Core" that it claims is "the world's first Thunderbolt-certified, dual-powered dock." What does that mean, exactly? This Thunderbolt 3 Dock Core is bus-powered, meaning that it can be powered by your laptop -- no additional power source needed. But also, the dock itself has a USB-C port for power delivery, meaning you can charge your computer through the dock while only taking up one TB3 port on the notebook. Very cool.

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The New York Times ditches Apple News

Apple News is an interesting concept -- a news aggregation service that supplies a selection of human-curated articles to owners of Apple devices (such as iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Pro), for free. For a monthly fee, those same users can opt into Apple News+, which provides unlimited access to hundreds of publications, including newspapers and magazines.

While Apple News is obviously great for, well... Apple, it is also a big win for news readers, as they can discover interesting articles through the beautifully designed app. Unfortunately, Apple News isn't necessarily good for news publishers, as they lose the direct connection with readers. Nowadays, traditional newsrooms are struggling to compete with the internet, so providing their content to Apple for an online app doesn't really make sense.

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Ubuntu-based Linux Mint 20 'Ulyana' is here

Earlier this month, we told you about Linux Mint 20 BETA . Code-named "Ulyana," it was a very controversial release, as the developers decided to cancel the 32-bit version. Unfortunately, the devs also shocked the world by revealing their intention to remove Snapd starting with version 20 of the operating system. Don't forget, all of this follows the unpopular decision by the developers to pull both GIMP and VLC from Mint too.

And now, Linux Mint 20 sheds its pre-release tag and becomes available for download. The newest version of the operating system comes with Linux kernel 5.4 and is based on Ubuntu 20.04. Linux Mint 20 is officially supported until the year 2025! Best of all, you can choose among three desktop environments -- Cinnamon (4.6), MATE (1.24), and Xfce (4.14). It even comes with a new program called "Warpinator."

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System76 Oryx Pro Linux laptop gets Intel Core i7-10875H CPU and Open Firmware

We recently told you that the thin and light Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition has finally started shipping with Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. While that is certainly cool, the reality is, Linux-focused companies like System76 were shipping out computers with the newest Ubuntu LTS  pre-installed way before that. In fact, System76 even offers the option of its own operating system that is based on Ubuntu 20.04. Called "Pop!_OS," the Linux distribution adds many beneficial tweaks and enhancements to improve the overall user experience.

Today, System76 refreshes its popular Oryx Pro laptop, and you can choose between Ubuntu 20.04 and Pop!_OS 20.04 (I would recommend the latter). The powerful notebook (with 15.6-inch or 17.3-inch display options) now comes with a cutting-edge 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10875H CPU which offers an impressive 8 cores and 16 threads. You also get an NVIDIA RTX 20-series GPU which can work in conjunction with the Intel graphics thanks to the smart graphic-switching capabilities baked into Pop!_OS.

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MSI launches Optix MAG273R 27-inch gaming monitor with 144Hz refresh

Not everyone can afford the latest and greatest components for their gaming PC, and depending on the titles the gamer plays, they may not even need hardcore specs. For those that prefer high frame rate to gigantic resolution, you can get by very comfortably without breaking the bank. Look, a 1080p screen is far more affordable than a 4K monitor.

Today, MSI launches a beautiful 1080p display that focuses on eSports titles and other games you might play in FHD. Called "Optix MAG273R," this 27-inch IPS gaming monitor isn't top-of-the-line, but does have has an impressive 144Hz refresh and 1ms response. It is even compatible with AMD's FreeSync. The monitor also features thin bezels and a fun design with colorful lighting on the rear -- something PC gamers should appreciate. Best of all, it is rather affordable.

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Dell is finally shipping the XPS 13 Developer Edition with Ubuntu Linux 20.04 LTS

If you want a laptop that comes with Linux pre-installed nowadays, there are actually a lot of options. While it used to be hard to get a computer without Windows on it, it is now a pretty easy task. You can choose from popular Linux-friendly computer sellers like System76 or Tuxedo Computers, but there is another company that sometimes gets overlooked -- Dell. Yes, one of the biggest manufacturers of Windows computers also sells "Developer Editions" of its computers that come with Ubuntu Linux pre-installed. The company has sold these Linux computers for several years.

One of the most celebrated laptops in recent years is Dell's wildly popular XPS 13. This is a thin and light notebook that offers both elegance and impressive performance. Newer models are famous for their super-thin bezels. And yes, Dell does offer a Developer Edition of the XPS 13. Believe it or not, even though Ubuntu 20.04 LTS came out in April, Dell has been shipping the laptop with the older (yet still supported) 18.04 LTS. Well, folks, as of today this changes. Dell is finally shipping the XPS 13 Developer Edition with Ubuntu Linux 20.04!

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TEAMGROUP and ASUS unveil TUF Gaming Alliance T-FORCE CARDEA II PCIe M.2 SSD and DELTA 2.5-inch RGB SATA SSD

When a product is marketed to gamers, sometimes it means that it can help to improve the game experience. For instance, a gaming mouse or keyboard may provide more accurate controls. Other times, a "gaming" product is more about style -- having fancy RGB lighting or other cool "gaming" designs. Today, TEAMGROUP announces two new solid state drives that fall into the latter category. In a partnership with ASUS through the "TUF Gaming Alliance" program, T-FORCE shares the all-new TUF Gaming Alliance T-FORCE CARDEA II PCIe M.2 SSD and the TUF Gaming Alliance T-FORCE DELTA 2.5-inch RGB SATA SSD.

The T-FORCE CARDEA II uses PCIe 3.0 rather than the newer and faster PCIe 4.0, but in reality, that doesn't make any difference for gaming. Both the read and write speeds found on this drive are still quite impressive. It features an absolutely massive heatsink, making it imossible to fit inside a laptop. Hell, some desktops may have trouble accommodating it! The other drive -- the T-FORCE DELTA -- is a 2.5-inch SATA variant that has neat RGB lighting. If you have a window in your PC case, it will certainly look quite beautiful. If you don't have a case window, there is really no point in choosing it over any other SATA SSD.

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Microsoft flushes more money down the toilet by killing Mixer

Microsoft has a lot of successes, but also, the company has countless failures. With that said, failing in a business venture isn't entirely a bad thing -- it means you at least tried something. A company like Microsoft needs to take risks, but damn, sometimes it just feels like the company flushes cash down the toilet.

Case in point, back in 2016, Microsoft bought a game-streaming service (a Twitch clone) called "Beam." In 2017, the Windows-maker renamed that service to what it is known as today -- "Mixer." The company even paid millions of dollars to popular video game players to get them to stream elusively on the service. Hell, it was less than a year ago that Microsoft signed popular player  "Ninja" for more than $20 million! And now, in 2020, Microsoft has killed Mixer, essentially burning many millions of dollars. Yup, the company announces that it will shutter Mixer on July 22 and then move all of its users to the Facebook Gaming platform.

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Win a TCL 10 Pro Android smartphone in the BetaNews 'Welcome To Summer' giveaway!

Summer is here, but sadly, so too is COVID-19. True, much of the country is starting to "open up," but still, it is probably a good idea to limit your exposure to the public. Don't let that get you down, however, as there is plenty of summer fun to be had at home. If you have a yard, for instance, you can sunbathe and read books while laying on the grass. If you are lucky enough to own a pool, you can swim from the safety of your own property. Apartment dwellers can get in on the action too -- if you have a bathtub, you can sit in it and use your imagination to be transported to a tropical island (in your mind, at least).

Of course, just because it is the summer season, you don't have to do summery things. In fact, if you just want to sit on the couch with your smartphone and play games, watch movies, or listen to music, that is cool too. But what if your current smartphone stinks? Maybe it is slow, has bad battery life, or a cracked screen. If that is you, but you can't afford a new phone, don't worry -- we at BetaNews have five smartphones to give away! Best of all, it is a great smartphone -- the TCL 10 Pro. It has a beautiful screen with HDR support that is just perfect for watching Netflix!

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Macs will use ARM-based Apple processors instead of Intel -- is Hackintosh dead?

Today at WWDC 2020, Apple confirmed the rumors -- the company is ditching Intel processors for future Mac computers. While there are technically still some future Intel-powered Macs in the pipeline, Apple intends to eventually switch to its own in-house chips exclusively. The company expects it will take two years for the transition to complete. The last time Mac made such a switch, it was PowerPC to Intel.

Obviously, these ARM-based chips will not be able to run current versions of macOS, so Apple has also announced the next version of the OS that will be compatible. Called "Big Sur," this upcoming version of macOS will also be able to run legacy third-party x86_64 programs through its Rosetta compatibility layer. All Apple programs will be designed for the ARM chips directly.

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HUAWEI launches AMD variant of the MateBook 13, but there’s a huge catch

I’m a huge fan of AMD desktop processors and GPUs, but the company’s mobile chips? Not so much. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some decent AMD-powered laptops over the years, but historically, Intel processors have been the best for notebooks.

Until recently, that is. AMD’s new mobile Ryzen 4000 processors have received universal acclaim thanks to impressive performance and long battery life. The new Ryzen mobile chips are a legit alternative to Intel.

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Firefox Private Network VPN renamed to Mozilla VPN and priced at $5 per month

VPNs can be wonderful for protecting a user's privacy, but they are not infallible. For instance, while they can hide your activity from your ISP or an unsecured Wi-Fi network, the VPN company can potentially see everything you do. With that said, you'd better be very smart about selecting a VPN provider. Rule number one: Never trust a "free" VPN or one that offers a pay-once "lifetime" subscription, as you simply can't trust their business models to protect your privacy. Instead, splurge a bit and go with a reputable company that requires periodic payments and promises not to keep any logs. Do your homework, folks.

Mozilla is a company that I trust more than some others (I trust no person or company 100 percent, however!) thanks to its respectable data privacy principles. That is why I surf the web with Firefox whenever I can. That company has been beta-testing a VPN service of its own called "Firefox Private Network VPN". Yeah, that name stinks as it is too wordy. Thankfully, the company has wisely decided to rename it to the much cleaner "Mozilla VPN." In addition, we learn how much the VPN service will eventually cost -- $4.99 a month.

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Lexar is making its own DDR4 RAM

We recently told you that Synology is selling its own solid state drives -- a surprising move. Today, another company is getting into a new market, and it is also quite unexpected. You see, Lexar is now manufacturing its own-branded DRAM (computer RAM). Seriously? Yup!

The company is offering both laptop and desktop memory, but none of it seems very impressive. Don't get me wrong, I am sure the RAM is fine, but it is nothing an enthusiast would get excited about. All of the memory is DDR4 2666 with a CAS latency of 19, which is passable, but nowhere near the fastest. There are no fancy heat-spreaders or RGB lighting either. With all of that said, pricing starts below $20. Ultimately, Lexar seems to be making basic memory that is affordable. And yes, there is absolutely a place for that.

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AMD slam dunks on Intel with new Ryzen 3000XT processors and B550 chipset

Both Intel and AMD make great processors, but for the most part, Intel has long been the market leader for enthusiasts. When building a gaming PC, consumers have historically chosen Intel for its superior performance in games -- particularly when multi-core doesn't matter. In 2020, however, things have changed. Many enthusiasts and gamers are turning to AMD for its excellent Ryzen and Ryzen Threadripper chips. Not only does AMD rule multi-core computing, but in many gaming benchmarks, it is on par with Intel nowadays. And so, now is the time for AMD to shine and for Intel to take a step back.

AMD seems unwilling to rest on its laurels, however, as today it launches a trio of new Ryzen 3000XT processors which have higher boost frequencies. These Zen 2-based 7nm processors are AMD's first desktop CPUs to to carry the "XT" branding. This is significant, as "XT" is typically reserved for AMD's Radeon graphics cards. It seems like AMD really wants PC gamers to consider these processors for their next build. Ultimately, it looks like Ryzen 3000XT is AMD's way of slam dunking on the competition. In other words, AMD is giving Intel the Frédéric Weis treatment...

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Silicon Power unveils extremely fast US70 M.2 2280 NVMe PCIe 4.0 SSD

The solid state drive market is evolving very fast lately. Not only do we now have an M.2 drive with a huge 8TB storage capacity, but PCIe 4.0-capable motherboards are becoming more prevalent. Why is PCIe 4.0 so important? Bandwidth, baby. Compared to PCIe 3.0, the new 4.0 has double the bandwidth. From a storage perspective, this means PCIe 4.0 solid state drives will provide insanely fast speeds.

Today, Silicon Power unveils an all-new SSD that uses PCIe 4.0. Called "US70," the company promises some impressive performance. For instance, read speeds can reach 5,000 MB/s, while write can go up to 4,400 MB/s.

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