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Roundup: The best Windows 10 tweaking and customization tools

Windows 10 box and spanner

Unless you're a fan of using a computer that looks and feels the same as everyone else, you probably want to spend some time tweaking Windows so it works the way you want it to. Broadly speaking, tweaks fall into three categories -- those that change appearance, those that boost performance, and those that change the way things work.

Windows 10 does -- through Settings and the Control Panel -- afford you a decent degree of control over how the operating system looks and works, but if you want to get serious about things you have two options: head into the registry, or turn to a dedicated tweaking and customization tool. Now there are endless apps to help make life easier, so here's a roundup of the best Windows 10 tweaking and customization tools.

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AZIO Retro Classic: an incredible steampunk-inspired mechanical keyboard [Review]

AZIO Retro Classic

If it's not immediately obvious from a quick glance, AZIO explains that its striking Retro Classic keyboard is inspired by the look of a vintage typewriter. It's not just the look that's inspired in this way -- as it's a mechanical keyboard, there's a distinct typewriter sound to things.

There is just so much to like about this keyboard. Regardless of whether you are a fan of steampunk, the look is undeniably eye-catching. The build quality is quite phenomenal -- well... you'd hope so at these prices. The key action is gorgeous, and the clickity-clack perfectly suits the typewriter-style keys. So... let's take a closer look.

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Top 5 free data recovery tools for Windows

Miniature man on hard drive

We all back up our data, right? That's what everyone does! But of course, that's far from true. Most people don't get much further than thinking about putting a backup plan in place, promising themselves it's something they'll sort out one day -- and, all of a sudden, it's too late.

Deleting files by accident is easily done. If you're tinkering with partitions, it's also scarily easy to wipe out the wrong one! These are just two of the ways in which you can lose files, and if you don’t have a backup to hand, you're going to need help from a data recovery tool. Here we look at five of the best free options to help bring your files back from the dead.

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Woojer Strap: Adds a whole new dimension to sound [Review]

I first reviewed Woojer three years ago when it was a matchbox-sized subwoofer that could be worn in a choice of ways -- in the center of your chest, the base of your spine, or against your hipbone or collarbone. Since then, the product has undergone a massive change, and is now a large, adjustable strap which you wear across your body (there’s also a vest version).

Despite having changed form significantly, the idea behind Woojer remains the same -- which is to help you feel sound, not just hear it.

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D-Link DIR-882 EXO AC-2600 MU-MIMO router [Review]

D-Link AC-2600 router

For many people a router is something that's supplied free by their internet service provider. Consequently they don't give much thought to it unless they encounter problems.

Yet, as we attach more and more devices to our home networks we put more demand on our routers and performance can start to suffer. The good news is that there's a whole world of routers out there that offer performance and connectivity features way beyond those of the basic units usually sent out by ISPs.

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Creative Sound BlasterX Katana gaming soundbar [Review]

As a younger man, I was obsessed with audio equipment. I invested in expensive stereo receivers, multiple large speakers, and countless components -- turntable, cassette, CD, mini-disc, and more. Of course, I also connected my television and computer. Over time, however, with the explosion of downloadable and streamable media, all of that went away. Now, my living room just has a soundbar and subwoofer hooked to my TV -- Apple TV handles video and music. It is simple, and I like that.

So yeah, soundbars are great for living rooms, but what if there was one that was designed for computer desks? Weird concept, right? Yes, but as I have learned from the Sound BlasterX Katana, it totally makes sense. This speaker system from Creative is designed to sit under a computer monitor and provide exceptional sound quality. It is not just a soundbar, though -- it comes with a subwoofer, remote control, and has an integrated USB DAC.

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Apricorn Aegis Bio 3.0: A simple, but super-secure biometric drive [Review]

If you want to keep your personal data safe and secure, then a hardware encrypted drive is your best bet. Secure drives, like the Apricorn Aegis Secure Key 3z, require you to enter a PIN into the integrated keypad to unlock the drive. These also come with a variety of security measures to make sure they can’t be brute forced.

If you prefer a different way of securing your data -- one that doesn’t require remembering a long PIN -- then you might prefer a biometric solution like the Aegis Bio 3.0. This a USB drive with a built-in finger reader. Unlocking the drive, and therefore your data, just involves swiping your finger down the AuthenTec TouchStrip sensor.

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VAVA Dash Cam offers great video quality in an usual-looking package [Review]

vava dash cam car mounted

When designing a dash cam it's easy for manufacturers to focus more on features rather than benefits. That's why we end up with so many devices that look bland, have pretty much the same features, but lack that special touch to set them apart from the crowd. With its new dash cam, VAVA decided to do things differently.

The VAVA Dash Cam is an intriguing proposition, featuring a cylindrical design and a magnetic mount connection, but no display or physical buttons. However, it's not lacking in features, as it packs lots of useful functionality. But how well does it work? I've tested it to find out.

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Apricorn Aegis Secure Key 3z: A super-secure USB flash drive [Review]

If you have important data that you need to have easy access to at all times, carrying it around on a USB flash drive makes sense. Unfortunately, these tiny storage devices are easily lost, and software encryption methods may not be 100 percent reliable.

If you want to guarantee that your personal data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands in the event of the loss -- or theft -- of your drive, the best solution is a hardware encrypted memory stick like the new USB 3.1 Aegis Secure Key 3z from Apricorn.

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Azdome DAB211 dash cam: Solid 1440p video at an affordable price [Review]

Azdome DAB211 dash cam display

While other markets have long moved beyond 1080p, the dash cam space continues to churn out devices that top out at this resolution. So, drivers looking to try 1440p or 4K do not have a whole lot of options to choose from.

The Azdome DAB211 is among the more interesting exceptions, as it comes with 1440p video recording and a solid design at a very affordable price. But just how well does it perform? I've tested it to find out.

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Western Digital My Book Duo 20TB USB-C external RAID hard disk drive [Review]

Nowadays, more and more consumers are embracing the cloud for data storage and backup. This is not a mistake -- it is smart to store your files off premises. With that said, it is even smarter to also store the data locally for redundancy purposes. For instance, with local storage, if your internet connection is down, you can still access your files. With the cloud, if there is a disaster -- such as a house fire -- your data can be retrieved even if your local storage drives are destroyed. In other words, using the cloud and local storage together gives you the best of both worlds.

Picking local storage can be tricky, however. For cost purposes, a mechanical hard disk drive is still your best bet for backup. If you have a desktop, you can probably buy an internal drive, but laptop users aren't often as lucky. If you own a notebook, you most likely need to opt for an external USB drive. With USB 3.0 being fast enough for connecting a mechanical hard drive, even desktop users should probably consider it for convenience. I have been testing a very intriguing new external USB-C HDD with my MacBook Pro (running High Sierra). What makes the drive so special? It features 20TB of storage!

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Sphero BB-8: The app-enabled Star Wars droid you're looking for [Review]

Star Wars fever is once again high as The Last Jedi arrives in cinemas around the world. Sphero offers a range of Star Wars droids -- R2-D2, R2-Q5, BB-8 and BB-9E -- which you can control via an app, and which also interact with one another.

The BB-8 model I’ve been testing for a few weeks now is a perfect scaled down version of the orange and white droid first introduced in The Force Awakens. Like most of Sphero’s robots, it’s a gyroscopic ball that rolls around, but with a dome on top that moves independently.

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Synology DiskStation DS218+ review

Synology DiskStation DS218+

The new DS218+ is the most impressive NAS in Synology's two-bay range for home users. It's got powerful hardware and lots of features that you expect in the high-end segment, like a versatile operating system, a solid selection of ports, and support for 4K video streaming.

Those specs make it a very attractive option for power users and consumers who want a future-proofed NAS. Question is, does it have what it takes to also impress in real-life? I've tested the DS218+ to find out.

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SJCAM SJDASH dash cam review

SJCAM SJDASH

SJCAM has become one of the biggest players in the action camera market thanks to devices like the SJ5000X Elite and SJ6 Legend. And now it's come up with a product targeting a different audience.

The SJDASH is SJCAM's first dash cam and, just like the other devices in the company's range, it is designed to appeal to consumers looking for a good balance between quality and price. Question is, how does it perform? I've tested it to find out.

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diskAshur DT2: A super-secure PIN-protected desktop drive [Review]

There are many ways to secure your personal data, but if you have a lot of files and folders you want to keep completely private, then you really need to be looking at a hardware solution.

iStorage sells a range of external OS and platform independent USB drives that use hardware-level, real-time military grade AES-XTS 256-bit encryption to secure your content, with access via a built-in PIN pad.

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