Brian Fagioli

LG V40 ThinQ Android smartphone is quite delightful [Review]

In the world of Android, LG doesn't get the attention it deserves. The company's smartphones are usually exceptional -- well made, with excellent displays, and quite often, above average audio quality too. Yet for whatever reason, many consumers flock to Samsung instead. Look, there is nothing wrong with Galaxy devices -- they are usually wonderful too -- but one of the best things about Android is there are so many companies embracing different designs and hardware. If you are a user of Google's mobile operating system, why not broaden your horizons a bit?

With the exception of the unfortunate G5, I have been impressed by every LG smartphone I have tried. Historically, yours truly has been particularly smitten with its "V Series" of devices. These are smartphones where LG has taken more risks, such as utilizing a "second screen" that sits atop the primary display -- a feature that is now gone. Was it gimmicky? Yes, a bit, but it was actually useful. Through age and refinement, however, the V Series has evolved into the true flagship device from LG, with the latest being the V40 ThinQ. I have been testing the device (unlocked variant) lately to see if LG is still delivering the quality smartphone experience I expect.

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Sony PS4 Pro Kingdom Hearts III Limited Edition Bundle is a Gamestop exclusive

Sony is no stranger to limited edition consoles. The company has released countless versions of its PlayStation devices over the years with special colors and designs. For instance, earlier this year, the company released a really cool Spider-Man PS4 Pro.

Today, Sony announces yet another limited edition PlayStation bundle, this time a PS4 Pro featuring artwork inspired by the upcoming Square Enix game Kingdom Hearts III. Even if you aren't a fan of the Kingdom Hearts franchise, it must be admitted that the designs of both the console and included controller are quite beautiful.

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Roku makes all home screen themes free

If you need a streaming media box, you really can't go wrong with Roku. The devices are inexpensive, chock full of features, and most importantly, have access to most of the popular media services, such as Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, and more.

If you weren't aware, the Roku interface can even be customized with special themes -- some free, some paid. To be honest, it seemed sort of greedy to charge customers for themes, but OK, at least they are optional. Well, that gripe is no longer, as starting today, Roku is making all of its themes gratis.

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Phiaton launches CURVE BT 120 NC active noise-canceling Bluetooth earphones

Bluetooth earphones and headphones may not always sound as good as wired variants, but for many consumers, they are good enough. The convenience of not having to have your head tethered to your smartphone or tablet more than makes up for any audio deficiencies. Of course, there are audiophiles out there that will never embrace wireless for music -- that's their prerogative.

There are many such Bluetooth earphones on the market today, including the wildly popular AirPods. Personally, I find the hard plastic design of Apple's offering to be uncomfortable and painful -- I actually bought and returned them. Instead, I opt for earphones that come with multiple sizes of replaceable silicone tips -- this allows you to achieve a more comfortable fit. Today, Phiaton lunches new wireless earphones that come with small, medium, and large tips. Called "CURVE BT 120 NC," they offer active noise canceling. Also cool? You can set them to vibrate for incoming calls and notifications.

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Google Maps for Android and iPhone gets Lime integration

The days of simply walking, taking the bus, or hailing a taxi to get around a city is quickly becoming unfashionable. Instead, small electric vehicles -- such as scooters and bicycles -- are being used to go from place to place. While some people own their own e-bikes or e-scooters, many just rent them instead. Yes, rent. If you aren't familiar, there is a huge trend right now where popular cities are littered with e-scooters, pedal bicycles, and e-bikes from companies like Bird, Citi Bike, and Lime. When you tire of walking, you just hop on the vehicle and use it as needed-- for an affordable price.

Google Maps is a great service for getting directions for traditional means of transportation. Not only does it help with navigating by car, walking, or biking, but it can offer mass-transit assistance too. Today, however, Google Maps gains yet another new feature that will surely delight millennials -- integration with Lime on both Android and iOS.

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Google Assistant in the USA gets Australian and British accent options

The United States, United Kingdom, and Australia are all very different counties. Amongst those three nations, there are countless differences in culture, food, and more.

One thing the trio of nations share, however, is the English language. True, there are differences in things like the spellings of words and slang, but for the most part, communication is totally possible. For Americans, one of the most intriguing aspects of Australia and Britain is the inhabitants' accents. The folks from these counties may sound a bit weird to you and me, but I am sure to them, American accents sound a bit odd too. Starting today, English speakers in the USA can enable either British or Australian accents for Google Assistant. How bloody brilliant!

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Samsung Notebook 9 Pen (2019) -- bigger, faster, and better battery life

Samsung is mostly known for its wildly popular Galaxy smartphones, but the massive company produces countless other products too, such as televisions, washing machines, and refrigerators to name a few. And yes, the company makes some rather nice laptops too.

Today, Samsung announces an upcoming refresh of its Notebook 9 Pen convertible notebook. The Windows 10 laptop will still come with a 13-inch screen, but now, it also gets a 15-inch option. If you opt for 15-inch variant, you will be treated to the fairly decent (better than nothing) NVIDIA GeForce MX150 GPU for faster graphics performance. As the product name implies, a pen is included like before, making these laptops good choices for artists and other creators. Road warriors will be delighted to know the Samsung Notebook 9 Pen (2019) battery life is much better at up-to 15 hours! Heck, that battery even gets fast-charging too.

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ADATA announces svelte and speedy UE700 Pro USB 3.1 flash drive

Even though cloud storage is ubiquitous these days, I still love a good ol' USB flash drive. They are great for installing various Linux distributions -- it is handy to have, say, Fedora and Ubuntu install media ready to go. But also, sometimes -- for various reasons -- you may just need to share files offline.

Today, ADATA launches a beautiful new USB Type-A flash drive. Called "UE700 Pro," it is very fast and slim. It features a retractable design, which I prefer -- there is no cap to lose. Best of all, it is offered in capacities up to 256GB.

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Google unveils 2018 top global search trends

2018 has been quite the wild ride, and it isn't even over yet! Sure, there has been a lot of negativity in the news, but let us not forget -- there are many positive things happening too that simply don't get reported. The world isn't all bad.

With Google being the most popular search engine on Earth, it has the ability to offer great insight into the interests of people all over the world. Today, the search giant reveals its 2018 top global search trends.

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Thermaltake launches Pacific R1 Plus DDR4 Memory RGB Lighting Kit

RGB lighting makes everything better. Yeah, there are some "haters" out there that decry these lights being added to so many products, but you know what? Those folks are just devoid of joy. As far as I'm concerned, every PC component and accessory should contain them! I mean, look, you can always just turn them off.

Nowadays, even sticks of RAM have RGB lighting. If your existing memory doesn’t have this lighting, it would be foolish to replace them to get it -- that just wouldn’t make financial sense. Thanks to a new product from Thermaltake, however, you can add RGB to your existing sticks of RAM. Called "Pacific R1 Plus," it fits over your existing RAM. How cool is that?

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MSI announces Oculux NXG251R 24.5-inch FHD gaming monitor with NVIDIA G-Sync

When shopping for a gaming monitor, it is easy to get attracted to high-resolution models, such as 2K or 4K. And yeah, the higher the resolution the better is true for normal computing use, but for gaming, that means you need a more powerful gaming card to push that resolution. If you are on a budget and your video card isn’t top of the line, a 1080p model is still a great choice.

Today, MSI unveils a new model that is beautiful in design. The Oculux NXG251R, as it is called, is a FHD display that supports NVIDIA G-Sync technology. It is 24.5-inches, which is what I consider the "sweet spot" for 1080p. Best of all, it offers an insane 240Hz refresh rate!

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Google Maps 'For You' tab comes to iPhone

Google Maps is probably the best navigation and maps application available today -- it is chock full of useful features. While Apple Maps is actually pretty great these days, the search giant's offering still reigns supreme. It isn't hard to see why Google's app is so good -- the company collects data on its users to create a more focused experience. In other words, if you are willing to trade privacy for convenience, Google Maps is sure to delight you.

As a way to leverage some of the information it collects, Google Maps introduced a new "For You" tab for Android users earlier this year. It is essentially a personalized section based on the data Google has collected on the user. Today, iPhone and iPad users in more than 40 countries get to take advantage of this feature too. In addition, the search giant announces it has expanded "For You" Android availability to users in more countries too.

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Mageia 7 Beta 1 Linux distribution now available for download

It's been damn-near a year and a half since the last major release of Mageia -- version 6. With that said, Mageia 6.1 was released in October of this year, however. This can feel like an eternity for Linux users, when some distributions see major updates once or twice a year. Of course, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, dear Mageia users. After all, as the saying goes, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Mageia 6.1 is great.

If you are chomping at the bit for a new major Mageia release, I have good news for you -- the first beta of Mageia 7 is finally here.

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Google Translate aims to reduce gender bias

Gender and sex are two different things -- the latter is biological, while the former is a social construction. For much of humanity, the two have been linked, but in recent years, some of our minds have evolved to think outside this box. Sure, there are still ignorant people that feel gender and their stereotypical roles should be cemented into society, but the truth is, women are doing jobs that men have historically done, and vice versa. And doing them well, I must add. For instance, a woman can be a soldier, while a man can be a nurse -- it is wonderful.

Unfortunately, major languages were formed during the ages of gender ignorance, causing some words to unnecessarily have masculine and feminine versions. For instance, in English, a man is a hero while a woman is a heroine. This is problematic with translation services, as gender bias in machine learning can influence the end results. Google is not satisfied with that, so today, it announces its Translate service will be offering multiple translation results when they can vary by gender. The user can then select the appropriate one.

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Ubuntu-based Linux Mint 19.1 'Tessa' Beta now available with Cinnamon, MATE, or Xfce

Windows 10 is getting worse every day. I used to call it a dumpster fire, but now I think it has devolved into an overturned "Porta-Potty" following all-day tailgating at an NFL stadium. Just recently, we learned that Microsoft is causing blue screens of death on its own Surface Book 2 hardware due to a bad update. Problematic updates are just par for the course for Windows 10 these days -- a crap (pun intended) shoot.

If you are tired of living in constant fear that your computer will break due to a faulty Windows update, it is time to finally evolve and switch to a Linux-based operating system. There are countless great choices from which to choose, but for many, Linux Mint is computing nirvana. It is stable, fast, and looks great. Regardless of which desktop environment you choose -- Cinnamon, MATE, or Xfce -- you will be treated to a great user experience. Today, the upcoming Linux Mint 19.1 (named "Tessa") achieves Beta status.

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