Playing games online with other people is all the rage these days, and with that comes voice-based trash-talking. Insults over voice chat has become a huge part of the online gaming experience. The best way to participate in such behavior is with a gaming headset. Negativity aside, a headset can also help you to communicate with teammates to plan offenses.
Today, Logitech unveils its latest such product -- the G PRO Gaming Headset. This headset is designed for both professional eSports players and amateur gamers alike. Despite its professional branding, it is surprisingly affordable. The microphone is removable, which is great for privacy, but also lets the headset be used just as headphones so you won't look dorky wearing them out of the house. Logitech is even including replaceable faux suede leather earpads in case you don't like the more traditional "leatherette" pads.
Google is a rather innovative company. Sometimes it creates excellent products and services in-house, and other times, it uses its billions of dollars to buy other companies. In other words, it isn't a stranger to bolstering its portfolio through acquisition. For instance, the search giant bought Nest, giving it a jump-start in the smart home market.
Today, Google announces its latest acquisition -- Tenor. Wait, did Google buy the deceased Luciano Pavarotti? No, it didn't buy a tenor, it bought the Tenor -- the animated GIF hosting service. If you are not familiar, Tenor is a service that allows users to search for and insert GIFs. It is a great way to enhance text-based communications -- arguably superior to emoji.
Today is a huge day for Apple fans — a new iPad! The company's latest tablet is extremely affordable at $329, and schools can get a $30 discount, bringing the price to just $299.
What makes this low-cost education-focused iPad so special is its Apple Pencil support -- something that was previously limited to "Pro" iPad devices. The problem? The Apple Pencil can be a bit too difficult for small hands to manage. To solve for this, Logitech has created the "Crayon" -- a writing device that is compatible with the new iPad. Best of all, it is more affordable than Apple’s offering at just $49.99!
Is it cool that there are Linux distributions in the Microsoft Store? Eh, I suppose. While I don't fully trust Microsoft's commitment to both Linux and open source, understandably, some Linux users and administrators have the need to also run Windows 10. And so, from a convenience standpoint, the whole Windows Subsystem for Linux thing is appreciated (we are watching you though, Microsoft!).
Unfortunately, not all Linux distributions are available in the Microsoft Store. This is a problem, as Linux users are very tribal -- a Fedora user, for instance, might be unhappy using Debian. Microsoft hopes to solve this dilemma by making it even easier for distribution maintainers to get their distros into the store. How does the Windows-maker plan to do this? With an all-new GitHub-hosted open source tool called "WSL-DistroLauncher."
There has been much in the news lately about Facebook letting its users down. The most egregious abuse is the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where the social network allowed that third party company to collect private user data. It has led many to join the #DeleteFacebook movement, where angry users have terminated their accounts. Facebook has since apologized using full-page newspaper advertisements.
Unfortunately, there is yet another Facebook outrage happening at the same time -- it has been discovered that the company has been logging phone call and SMS information from Android users. Today, Facebook admits to the behavior, but it claims the blame is with users. In other words, Facebook is taking no responsibility.
While replacing Windows 10 with a Linux-based operating system is a fairly easy exercise, it shouldn’t be necessary. Look, if you want a computer running Linux, you should be able to buy that. Thankfully you can, as companies like System76 and Dell sell laptops and desktops with Ubuntu or Ubuntu-based operating systems.
Another option? Buy a Mintbox! This is a diminutive desktop running Linux Mint — an Ubuntu-based OS. Today, the newest such variant — The Mintbox Mini 2 — makes an appearance. While the new model has several new aspects, the most significant is that the Linux Mint Team has switched from AMD to Intel (the original Mini used an A4-Micro 6400T).
If you own a laptop with USB-C ports, and you like to sometimes connect to a monitor when working, I highly recommend investing in a home docking station. This will allow you to easily connect multiple accessories to your computer with a single cable. This is especially beneficial if your laptop supports charging over USB-C.
If you don’t do a lot of work with a monitor, keyboard, and mouse, a pricey home dock might be overkill. Instead, an affordable portable multi-port adapter/dongle could be a better option. This can be an essential purchase if your laptop only has USB-C ports. Today, Satechi unveils its latest such adapter, and it looks incredible.
Facebook is a pretty terrible experience. Yeah, as a social network, I guess it does its job of connecting friends, family, and colleagues, but its non-chronological interface makes it damn-near impossible to make sense of things. Not to mention, it is a privacy nightmare, expecting users to opt-out of data-slurping features using confusing settings. Don't even get me started on its spread of fake news. Ultimately, it is not user-friendly, and the company seems content with letting it remain that way.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal merely highlights things "conspiracy theorists" have long screamed about -- with Facebook, you are the product. While people were fairly accepting of trading their details for advertising, nobody expected that their Facebook use could impact the outcome of a presidential election! Hell, Donald Trump was arguably handed the election by a combination of Russian meddling and this Cambridge Analytica data misuse. After days of deafening silence, today, billionaire Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg finally admits his company's failures. Taking it a step further, he will face a public shaming tonight on CNN.
Quality Android tablets are becoming increasingly rare on the consumer market. Why? There are many reasons, such as the adoption of large-screen smartphones. When your phone has a 6-inch screen, a 7- or 8-inch tablet can feel redundant. Not to mention, despite an arguably stronger economy, there are still many consumers that don’t have much disposable income.
Where Android tablets still have a fairly bright future is in the enterprise. For many jobs, sitting down with a laptop is not possible. Instead, being active with a tablet can be preferable. Today, Samsung unveils the Galaxy Tab Active2 -- a rugged Android 7.1 business tablet with integrated LTE (carrier unlocked). It is very rugged (MIL-STD 810G certified) making it great for dirty jobs -- even the S-Pen is rugged. And yes, it has USB-C.
When buying RAM, I cannot stress enough just how important it is to buy a quality brand. Performance aside, troubleshooting bad memory sticks can be an exercise in frustration. When you do discover a defective stick (or sticks) of RAM, the RMA process can leave you without a working computer -- unacceptable. True, defective RAM can come from any company, but they are more likely from budget brands. That is why I urge you to please stick with quality companies, such as G.SKILL and HyperX (the gaming/enthusiast brand of Kingston).
Speaking of HyperX, today, the company announces that its popular FURY and Impact DDR4 memory kits are getting even faster. The former, which is for desktops, will now feature frequencies up to 3,466 MHz. The latter, which is designed for laptops and all-in-one systems, will now be available in speeds up to 3,200MHz.
If you use Linux on the desktop, there is no shortage of great web browsers from which to choose. For instance, popular options like Firefox, Chrome, and Opera are all available. Thankfully, Microsoft Edge is nowhere to be found!
Firefox is probably the most appropriate web browser to use on Linux. Why? Well, Mozilla’s open source focus is largely aligned with the Linux community. Today, Firefox Quantum becomes even more attractive to Linux users as it is now available as a Snap.
Is Linux Mint slow? Hell, no! The operating system is plenty fast. Speed is in the eye of the beholder, however, and the Mint developers apparently thought app-launching seemed slow when using the Cinnamon desktop environment. They didn't have any proof, but they felt that both Mate and Xfce were faster in this regard.
Well, rather than allow their feelings to remain unproven, the Mint devs decided to come up with a speed test to see if they were correct. Guess what? They were! Windows build time was four times slower with Cinnamon compared to Metacity, while recovery time was nearly four times slower too. So yes, app-launching on Cinnamon -- as of today -- is slow comparatively. The big benefit to pinpointing a problem, however, is that it is the first step in solving it. And so, Linux Mint 19 Cinnamon will be faster as a result.
I am sick and tired of technology companies like Microsoft thinking they can impose their will on consumers. Just today, the company made a startling announcement -- it will now force links from the Windows Mail app to open in its own Edge web browser. In other words, whether you like it or not, even if Edge isn't your default browser, it will still be used for opening links from emails. This is unacceptable, and when combined with all of the other Windows 10 calamities, users should consider switching operating systems immediately.
Since macOS requires you to buy an entirely new computer from Apple, a Linux-based operating system is probably your best bet. By using Linux, you can finally reclaim your computer as your own -- not Microsoft's. Today, version 12.3 of Zorin OS is released, and it is the perfect OS to replace Windows 10. Hell, it can even run Windows programs (including Microsoft Office) with the help of the pre-installed and pre-configured Wine 3.
Smartwatches are largely garbage. Whether Apple Watch or Android Wear, these wrist-worn nuisances don't do much beyond inducing anxiety by bombarding the wearer with notifications. If you are big into fitness, you might find some value, but for the most part, these devices are nothing more than a way for companies to grab cash from consumers as the smartphone market slows.
Apple Watch has seen significant success, although I suspect many buyers are simply getting them as status symbols -- not for an actual need. Android Wear, however, is a major disappointment -- both from a sales and satisfaction perspective. Just like Android smartphones, these watches face fragmentation and a lack of updates. Today, Google announces that it will try to polish the turd that is Android Wear by giving it a new name -- Wear OS.
When you hear the name "ViewSonic," your mind probably thinks of monitors, and rightfully so. After all, that company has been making quality displays for many years.
But what if I told you ViewSonic is announcing an all-new Chromebox? It's true! The unimaginatively named "NMP660," as it is called, is a mini-desktop computer from the company that runs Google's Linux-based Chrome OS. You know what? It looks quite nice and is priced rather competitively. And yes, it has Google Play support for Android apps!