Android tablets have fallen out of favor with consumers, and that's sad. Things have gotten so bad for this device type that Google -- the maker of Android -- has even pulled the plug on making them. Yikes! That is as ominous as it gets, folks. Why did this happen? Well, I blame the influx of cheap no-name tablets from China that crowded the market. Not to mention, smartphones started getting ridiculously large, making tablets a bit redundant. Ultimately, Android tablets became synonymous with crap. With the exception of Samsung and Huawei, quality tablets running Google's mobile OS have been few and far between.
Today, Samsung announces its latest Android tablet, and you know what? It is actually very exciting. Called "Galaxy Tab S6," it is just 5.7mm thin and has a 10.5-inch Super AMOLED screen. The device is outfitted with some really cool technology too. For instance, it has an in-display fingerprint reader and a dual-camera setup on the rear -- one of the lenses is "ultra wide." It features an octa-core processor with either 6GB or 8GB of RAM -- depending on configuration. Storage is either 128GB or 256GB, and yes, you can increase that using micro SD. The super-cool DeX feature, which can essentially transform the tablet into a desktop/laptop experience, is also included.
AirPods are trash. Yeah, I know, they are very popular and Apple sells a ton of them, but that doesn't mean they are good. Look, the iPhone-maker could do much better than a set of rigid hard plastic things that you shove in your ear. They cause me, and others, severe ear canal pain. It doesn't have to be that way either -- Apple could very easily design them with replaceable tips to provide a customized experience. But no, Tim Cook and company would rather not. Oh well.
Thankfully, there are other companies willing to acknowledge that not everyone has the same size ear holes. Jaybird, for instance, makes many comfortable wireless headphones with replaceable tips. Their focus is on both performance and comfort -- what a concept! Today, the company launches its latest product, and it is clearly an AirPods-killer. Yeah, calling a product that competes with Apple a "killer" is a bit of a cliché, but hey, facts are facts.
If you are a PC gamer, you should really check out this new monitor from Acer. Called "Predator XN253Q X," this 24.5-inch display features some impressive specifications, such as NVIDIA G-SYNC, 400 nit brightness, 1ms response rate (0.4ms in "overdrive mode"), and an impressive 240Hz refresh.
While Predator XN253Q X has both HDMI and DisplayPort, you will need to use the latter to achieve 240Hz. The former maxes out at 60Hz. The monitor is a bit thick for my tastes, and that might be because of the integrated 4-port USB hub and stereo speakers. Thickness aside, it is a very attractive screen -- its design looks aggressive and futuristic.
Just when we all get used to blazing fast PCIe 3.0 NVMe solid state drives, PCIe 4.0 comes along to ruin the fun. True, current such SSDs are still more than fast enough for most, but now they are not the fastest. If you are an enthusiast or gamer that demands the very best, your PCIe 3.0 based drive is now old hat.
For instance, today, ADATA unveils an insanely fast new SSD based on PCie 4.0. Called "XPG GAMMIX S50," it is designed for gamers, but really, anybody that wants speed can take advantage. Not only are the specifications incredible, but the drive's heatsink is strikingly beautiful too. If you are someone that takes pride in aesthetics, this drive should make you happy. Keep in mind, however, you will need a new motherboard with PCIe 4.0 to take full advantage of this incredible speed.
Is PBS a TV channel for nerds? Well, yeah, but that's OK. Please know, I don't mean that as a negative. Look, "nerdy" is considered by many to be a synonym for "intellectual." Hey, not everyone is into sports and mindless television. If you like Public Broadcasting Service, be proud! You are probably a very cultured person. Hell, I rather like PBS, and I am not at all embarrassed of that.
Believe it or not, even though YouTube TV has tons of excellent channels, it doesn't have PBS. Weird, right? I mean, many people consider PBS to be "free" TV, as it can be pulled in over the air with an antenna. While that is true, in some areas, OTA TV is damn near impossible to get. Not to mention, it is often included in even the most basic cable TV packages.
Summertime is great, isn't it? I mean, who doesn't like fun in the sun? Many, actually. While I do enjoy the outdoors and the beach, I am certainly more comfortable in front of a computer. And I am definitely not alone. If you are the same way, don't apologize for it -- embrace it! There's nothing wrong with being a homebody.
For instance, today, rather than go outdoors and risk being injured by the sun, why not install a Linux-based operating system instead? Hell, get even nerdier and geekier and install a pre-release Linux distro! There's a new such OS available for testing that you should try -- the Ubuntu-based Linux Lite 4.6 RC1.
If you are someone that uses LibreELEC to consume media, I have some really good news -- 9.2 ALPHA is here! Yes, the Kodi-focused Linux distribution has a new pre-release version for PC (x86_x64) and ARM-based systems such as the all-new Raspberry Pi 4.
Unfortunately, the Raspberry Pi 4 experience is still deficient, lagging behind other platforms. This is to be expected, as the hardware is so new -- it should be perfected for the final release. With that said, it is usable on Pi 4 with some caveats.
When you are a supplier for Apple, the iPhone-maker’s moves can have a huge impact on your business. If Apple makes a change to one of its design and no longer needs a supplier, it can pretty much ruin that supplier overnight. For example, when Apple stop doing business with a sapphire glass supplier, that company literally went bankrupt.
And so, with all of that said, the folks over at Qualcomm must be chugging Pepto-Bismol tonight. Why? Because it makes modems for Apple’s iPhone, and Apple is buying a smartphone modem business from Intel for a billion dollars. In other words, if this acquisition works out, Apple may soon no longer need Qualcomm for modems.
Folding smartphones are probably still the future, despite Samsung's epic fail with the Galaxy Fold. It's hard to fault the company for being overly ambitious -- we need the envelope to be pushed for true innovation to come to market -- but clearly, it was not ready for prime time. As reviewers who got an early look quickly found out, Galaxy Fold was ridiculously fragile, and what looked like a screen protector actually wasn't -- peeling it off destroyed the damn thing.
After all the bad press, I actually assumed the Galaxy Fold would be canceled entirely. It would make sense to simply try a folding phone again in the future with a new name. Well, surprisingly, Samsung has decided to stay the course and release the Galaxy Fold this September -- after some revisions, of course.
Many smart home products just make your life easier -- they don't really add anything new. For instance, in my house, I have a smart thermostat and smart lamps. Using my phone or voice, I can adjust the temperature in my home or turn the lights on. Cool? Yes, but I could always do that -- I just walked to the lamp or thermostat and did it by hand.
With that said, there is a smart home product I began testing lately that actually adds to my life. Called Awair, it is a little wooden box that monitors air quality in my house. If things like humidity, dust or chemicals become too high, Awair lets me know. It even gives me a score to show how healthy my air is overall. I can then make changes, such as opening a window, to improve the air. It is truly a product I love, and I can't recommend it enough.
X-Doria is most well known for its excellent phone cases, but in recent years, it has also been cranking out some premium mobile accessories too. For instance, late last year, the company released a really cool Qi phone charging mount for the car.
Today, the company launches two new mobile accessories -- the Defense Vertical Charger and the Defense Trek. The former is a premium USB-C Qi fast charger for iPhone and Android that props up your phone, while the latter is a durable case for your AirPods that comes with a handy carabiner (clip).
You know what perplexes me? That in 2019, laptop-makers are still putting low-quality webcams in their computers. Sure, even a poor webcam is passable for a quick chat, but consumers should demand more. For business professionals and content creators, a high-quality cam is a must. Thankfully, a USB webcam can be had for a superior experience.
Today, AVerMedia launches a new webcam for laptops and desktops. The "Live Streamer CAM 313," as it is called, features a beautiful cylindrical design, 1080p video, dual microphones, and my favorite feature -- a physical privacy cover. Yes, if you want to make sure you aren't being spied on via the camera lens, and you don't want to continually unplug the camera from your computer, you can simply slide the cover over -- how cool is that? The base also has tripod threading, so it can be mounted on that rather than on top of a display.
Slack may be ubiquitous, but it is hardly exceptional. Look, the chat program is certainly functional, but let's be honest -- it isn't much more than a glorified clone of IRC. Don't get me wrong, I rather like Slack -- we here at BetaNews use it daily to communicate with each other -- but its runaway success is arguably undeserved. And maybe the luster is starting to dull -- Microsoft's Teams has apparently surpassed Slack in popularity.
Over the years, Slack has become a bit slow and bloated -- something very apparent on meager desktop computers with little RAM. Well, hot on the heels of a data breach, Slack apparently wants to make some positive news. You see, Slack announces its desktop app should now be much faster and far less of a resource hog. Rejoice!
I recently watched the Freddie Mercury (R.I.P.) and Queen biopic "Bohemian Rhapsody" on HBO. The film was enjoyable, but not particularly good. It lacked depth and emotion, feeling more like a caricature of the band. Ultimately, it did a pretty good job of educating younger folks about the group, and highlighting their many great songs, so I suppose that is a good thing. While Mercury is a fascinating man, it would have been nice to have the other members of the band get more attention.
Queen's most popular song (and their best) is the film's namesake -- "Bohemian Rhapsody." The song and the band were before my time, so I first encountered the song when watching the movie "Wayne's World" as a child. I immediately recognized the brilliance of the music despite it being used as a prop in an iconic movie scene -- it also saw a resurgence on the radio at the time because of the Mike Myers movie. And now, the song "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen has achieved 1 billion views on YouTube. To mark the milestone, there is a new remastered version of the video (embedded below).
deepin is the most beautiful desktop operating system on the planet, besting both macOS, and Windows. Hell, it is even prettier than all other Linux distributions too. And yes, that matters. While an operating system shouldn't impede productivity or behave obnoxiously, it should inspire the user. deepin does this.
Today, the Debian-based deepin 15.11 becomes available, and it looks like another winner. While not radically different from deepin 15.10, it has enough bug fixes and additions to make it worthwhile. For instance, even though optical discs (CD, DVD, Blu-ray, etc.) are dramatically declining in popularity (near obsolete), the deepin devs have intergrated disc-burning into the distro's file manager. More exciting, however, is cloud sync for Control Center, which will make it easier to restore settings on a fresh installation or when logging into a shared machine.