Kids are often interested in the newest and most exciting things, and these days that is advanced electronics. In past years, electronic learning kits were available from places like RadioShack, and they offered all of the parts, pieces, and instructions to build something, such as a radio. These days, those kits are old news, with more advanced and more universal kits being available. One upcoming kit that is truly unique is the CrowPi2, a Raspberry Pi-based laptop.
This computer is different from standard kids' laptops for a couple of reasons. First, it runs on a Raspberry Pi, meaning it is designed for building things. That is emphasized by the laptop's design. The keyboard is easily removable, revealing a whole host of integrated sensors and displays. These are all obviously Raspberry Pi components, which range from an ultrasonic range finder and RFID reader to a 7 segment display and RGB LED screen. All of these are physically integrated together, allowing for projects that use one or more of these components.
Because it is an integrated system, it means that the laptop has its own software which allows for courses and projects in one place. These projects are presented in both Scratch and Python, meaning that the system teaches real-world skills. Other kits use their own languages and proprietary systems, but with the CrowPi2, kids can learn both concepts and transferrable language skills. This means that once they outgrow the integrated system and want to build custom electronics, they have enough experience to get started on their own.
There are several configurations that will be available when the product launches soon. Tom's Hardware reviewed the top model and gave it an Editor's Choice rating. You can pre-order the device now on the company's website with delivery scheduled as soon as this month (October 2020).
Earlier in the year, NVIDIA released the NVIDIA Jetson Xavier NX Developer Kit, a $399 developer board aimed at artificial intelligence development. While the device offered 8GB of RAM, it does run nearly $400. The recently announced Jetson Nano 2GB Developer Kit is here to try to fill a middle ground in both price and specs. The new nano computer, which is also intended for artificial intelligence development, has scaled down specs, including only 2 GB of RAM. It falls below the standard NVIDIA Jetson Nano which comes with 4GB of RAM but is obviously more powerful and more focused than a Raspberry Pi.
Now, what is this device for? It is entirely designed for hands-on, real-world learning, experimenting, and developing in the artificial intelligence world. Like its two bigger siblings, the Jetson Nano 2GB is designed to accommodate a number of NVIDIA's in-house AI code, such as pre-trained AI models from NVIDIA NGC. It also works along with the NVIDIA JetBot AI robot platform. This makes the developer board incredibly attractive for small artificial intelligence projects.
One of the best enhancements that this new board has over its siblings is a USB-C power port. Previous models, including the larger Nano and the Xavier NX, use a proprietary plug, meaning that it is harder to power in a mobile scenario. With USB-C power, you can use it on a mobile robot, or in a portable environment with just a standard battery pack.
The NVIDIA Jetson Nano 2GB Developer Kit is not available yet, but is listed on Amazon with the ability to be notified when it is available.
While many of us have been staying home, technology vendors have still been hard at work bringing new products to market. While the most noteworthy have been Microsoft and Sony with their next-generation consoles, we have also seen a ton of new high profile PC components, with more to come.
The NVIDIA GTX 3900 and GTX 3800 videocards have already cemented themselves as the new must-have components for gamers, despite the challenge of getting one. The pre-orders were plagued with bots, and we have seen the product selling on sites like eBay for far above their market value. NVIDIA says that the problem isn't in supply, but in demand. But, as we have noted before, some of that demand has been inflated because of scalpers, creating a three point scenario.
NVIDIA might want to focus on the issue, because AMD is rumored to be on the verge of announcing their next generation of videocards, believed to be called the Radeon RX 6900, RX 6800, and RX 6700. While we have no official information yet, these new cards will need to at least try to compete with the current GTX cards, or they will have little chance of success. But, if they can compete with NVIDIA, and the company has enough stock, they could do some damage to NVIDIA's bottom line - and possibly image.
Videocards aren't all that AMD has up its sleeves, with new desktop processors in the Zen 3 family on the horizon. An event is expected where the company will show off its 5000 series processors, looking to continue the brand's massive growth. Intel is also expected to announce plans for the 12th Generation Rocket Lake processors in the near future.
The big takeaway here is that, if you are looking for bleeding edge technology, right now is a wait and see timespan, as everything is in flux. We will see over the next few weeks if inventory opens up from NVIDIA, and new hardware is announced from AMD and Intel.
Prime Day, which is Amazon's annual celebration of itself, is a great opportunity to find some big deals at retailers across the internet. While the event itself is Amazon-branded and only applies to Prime subscribers, other retailers take advantage of the attention to sales and run their own promotions. While the event usually takes place in the Summer, Amazon delayed it this year because of the increase in demand for its service due to the lockdown.
Now we have the date, October 13-14, 2020, and we can begin to prepare for the sales. The most important part of Prime Day is not getting tricked by the false urgency. Just because something is on sale does not mean it is a good deal. For Amazon, using The Camelizer is the best way to compare the current price against the last few months. This will prevent you from spending more than you should just because it's a special couple of days. You also want to go in knowing what you want and not panic buy things because of the price.
Some of the best deals will be on Amazon's in-house brands. You'll see big price decreases on Amazon Basics, Amazon Fire, Ring, Echo, and more. If you're in the market for one of these product categories, waiting for 2 weeks will be your best bet. In fact, that will be the case for most tech products.
In addition to Amazon products, we will see sales on TVs, monitors, SD cards, SSDs, and more. Often times, Amazon is flooded with lower quality, no-name brands, and many of those will all be on sale during the event. But, when purchasing electronics, especially important parts like storage and screens, it's best to stick to known brands. You can use Tom's Hardware to check out reviews on products you find, and even use their product guides to see the best sales during the event.
It's no secret that we are becoming a society of content creators. From services like Twitch and Facebook Gaming to YouTube and Facebook, there are a ton of ways that people can create content that others can enjoy. And, in the last few years, live video has become the creation method of choice. But, when doing live video, there are a lot of challenges that can occur. Add to that our current environment of constant video meetings, you've got a lot of people looking for some help, and NVIDIA has it with NVIDIA Broadcast.
We've all seen videos of people walking in on meetings or heard children shouting in the background. But there's also the smaller things, like the sound of water running in a turtle tank or simply the sound of someone typing on a loud keyboard while they should be muted. These are exactly the problems that the NVIDIA Broadcast software is designed to tackle.
With this software on a computer equipped with an RTX video card, users can fix issues with their own audio to prevent the outside world from having to deal with their scenarios. But, even better, these same users can filter audio coming in, so when that person is eating soup on a video call, with no care in the world, you aren't forced to endure the slurping sound on your end. You may not be able to fix it for everyone, but at least you're protected.
The real magic, however, is in the video capabilities. NVIDIA Broadcast is able to take your video feed, make adjustments, and then feed it back as a new video source on your computer. So, in the case of a meeting, it shows up as another webcam after you blur your background, replace it with an image, or mute it out entirely. This is also useful for Twitch streamers, as you can import this removed background feed into Livestream Studio, Tricaster, OBS, and more, and overlay your camera feed over gameplay.
NVIDIA Broadcast is available now for free to RTX owners.
One of the side effects of the pandemic and more than one shutdown in China has been an increase in prices for PC components. Some have gone through the roof (like power supplies), while others are nearly impossible to acquire (such as webcams). But, pricing and availability issues do not make it so that people don't need to upgrade an existing PC or build a new one. Because of that, Avram built the best $800 PC for Tom's Hardware.
This PC has some surprising power, with a 6 core, 12 thread processor in the AMD Ryzen 5 3600, which cost $185 at the time of build. It has a Gigabyte GTX 1660 Super Gaming OC, which ran $239 at the time. And, it has 16GB of Patriot Viper Steel DDR4 3200, coming in at $58. These components are what made it possible for games to run at a decent framerate (averaging 56 FPS) and even allowed for Twitch streaming from the PC of a game on the PC, with only about a 10% reduction in framerate.
However, some corners were required to be cut in order to make this happen. For example, the Thermaltake TR2 600 is not the best power supply on the market, but it is reliable with a low cost at $54. Also, the Antec Dapper Dark Phantom DP310 is not a terribly exciting case, though it does come equipped with a small amount of RGB LED capability across the top, and only runs $59. The build also does not include a Windows license, as most builders will reuse the license from the PC they are replacing.
The price of components is always changing, especially right now. However, using a service like PC Part Picker will help to ensure you get the best available price on the components in your list in the moment - hopefully keeping it to the same $794 range.
If you spend any time on streaming sites like Twitch or YouTube, or on game chats on PlayStation or Xbox Live, you know that the communities can be incredibly toxic. Between children screaming racial slurs and adults making sexist remarks, it can be dangerous to the mental health of content creators and gamers. This week, in an op-ed written by Natasha "Zombaekillz" Zinda, she discussed the problems that she faces as a black woman in the gaming community.
Even if everything were happy and cheery, being a streamer is a taxing experience. Not only do you have to be in show mode for the camera, working hard to make the stream entertaining for your viewers, but you also have to play a game. For most streamers, being at least decent at playing the game is a must for the success of the channel. Combining that with the entertainment aspect of the stream makes it a challenge. Then, most great streamers interact directly with their audience, adding another layer of complexity.
But, for many streamers, there is an added and highly unwanted aspect: abuse. This can come in many forms, but the most common are negative comments about race and gender. For Zombaekillz, she can come under fire from both. And the stress of dealing with that can be too much.
The problem is that the streaming services and gaming platforms continue to promise to clean up the problem. Yet, there appears to be little to no action to do so. While Microsoft and Sony have done some work in responding to the issue, going so far as to permanently ban gaming hardware, Twitch and YouTube have a different experience. Twitch promises to protect its content creators, yet complaints to the service have yielded no results for most streamers. But, together, there are ways we can fight this issue.
It's long been accepted that Intel integrated graphics were the worst possible situation when buying a laptop. In some cases, it seemed like it could barely keep up with the tasks of Windows, let alone any programs on top of it. For sure, no one has ever associated Intel graphics with gaming, but that might be changing with Intel's new family of video cards called Intel Xe.
The family has a number of models, but when it comes to consumers there are two you will likely encounter. The first is the replacement for the older integrated graphics, which is dubbed Intel Xe LP. This low-powered graphics system will be part of the Gen12 architecture, also known as Tiger Lake. The new system will have up to twice the performance of the previous hardware, meaning that it might actually be able to keep up with higher demand.
On the desktop side of things is the Intel Xe HPG, a graphics card designed for all users - even gamers. Though it might take some work to convince gamers to give Intel a try, the company is confident in its abilities to break into this lucrative and growing market. Gamers will have to wait until 2021 to get their hands on these new products, however.
Not to be outdone, however, details about Nvidia's next generation of hardware leaked this week. Care of Micron, which makes some of the memory for the company, posted about its work on the upcoming RTX 3090. The memory that was leaked to be included could offer up to 21 Gbps, which is incredible speed. With the other improvements to the architecture, we could see a card up to twice the speed of the current RTX 2080ti. This would be a massive card, but could run as high as $2000. That would be quite an investment.
Ever since the beginning of the international lockdown, several products have become difficult or impossible to find. One of the most high-profile products that are in short supply is webcams. The most sought after webcams are the Logitech c920 and the Razer Kiyo. Because they are the top-rated webcams, they were the first to disappear. Other manufacturers have made webcams in the past, but a whole new crop of companies have entered the fray in this hour of need.
Some of the companies make a high-quality product. Among these rising-star manufacturers is Ausdom. Better known for low-cost headphones, the company's webcams are quickly making their way onto best webcam lists. The top model is the Ausdom AF640, with the Ausdom AW615 right behind. But Ausdom is not the only company to creep onto the list, there is also the strangely named Papalook. While the Papalook PA452 may look sci-fi, it still does a great job for streams and conference calls.
Papalook is far from the strangest named webcam available, however. Amazon is filled with small brands with some bizarre names, and that tradition has carried over to the webcam industry. Sometimes the letters themselves look funny, while others are pronounced oddly. For example, Aoozi sounds more like a weapon than a webcam. However, its price could make it attractive at only $40, plus a 5% coupon. User reviews also look good on the platform, but we have no official knowledge. There's also DEPSTECH, which seems to have been created with a random letter generator. With a sale price of $30 and great user reviews, it might also be an option.
Your best bets will always be the top-rated products if you can get them, but at least we have a wide array of options in the current webcam drought.
Right now, a lot of tech-based industries are seeing massive shake-ups, but none are quite as prominent as what is happening within the processor and circuitry industry. The most visible has been the rise of AMD. While some of this market share increase has been because of quality design from AMD itself, another cause has been the slip of Intel in its competition. The two companies have spent decades on par with one another, but lately, Intel has been falling behind.
Last week, the company announced major delays to its 7nm chip timeline. As a result, they will continue to fall behind AMD, which is working on its timeline to swap to 5nm from the current 7nm architecture, which is already aging. In response, Intel saw a leadership change, likely in an attempt to gain back some traction on Wall Street, which is no longer looking at Intel favorably.
On the other hand, is Nvidia - a company known for its videocards, but has been branching out in recent years. As video processors tend to be excellent for AI processing, Nvidia has gone heavy into AI-based hardware. In May, Avram showed off the Jetson Xavier NX hardware, which provides a lot of interesting possibilities. Now, Nvidia is looking at another market: system processors. While they have long made the Tegra processors, based on ARM, now they are looking to be in charge.
This will come care of a purchase of the ARM-managing corporation. This would be a big shift for the industry, as everyone from Qualcomm to Apple would be licensing the ARM processor design from Nvidia. This purchase, which is likely the only way forward for ARM, is going to face fierce opposition by regulators, especially in the EU. The deal wouldn't be as far along as it is without having considered this, but it could still be a problem in the process.
The world may have some new rules this year, but it doesn't change the fact that school is going to be starting soon. This might involve being in person or, more likely, distance learning, especially in the first few weeks or months. That means that your needs may be different for the 2020 school year from years past. So, what are the best options to improve learning in 2020?
As always, anything that improves the speed of your computer is going to be a benefit. Taking the opportunity to add extra RAM to your system will allow for better group videos (like Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, or Zoom). You'll likely see fewer freezes and hiccups, though it won't eliminate network issues. Also, adding an SSD as your system drive will make starting up your computer and launching applications quicker.
Another way to enhance your experience is through peripherals. The most direct upgrade is with your monitor. An extra screen will allow you to do more. With a single screen, you're limited to the group chat or your productivity software. With two screens, you can have your teacher on one and Word or PowerPoint on another. It also makes displaying your screen during a presentation easier, as you're not switching between apps while sharing your screen.
Enhancing the group chat experience can also be accomplished through peripherals. An upgraded webcam will make you look more together. The webcam built into most laptops is poor, and an external webcam is easy to add. While many webcams are unavailable, Tom's Hardware currently recommends the AUSDOM AF640, which can be found for around $90. Another great place to upgrade is your headset - something that will make your experience and your class's experience better.
Of course, a full system might also be an important upgrade. There are a lot of factors to consider when purchasing a new system, including what you'll use it for outside of class. Check out Tom's Hardware's recommendations depending on your needs.
For years, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon has been one of the best-rated laptops by Tom's Hardware and Laptop Magazine. This is because of the first-class keyboard, high-quality screen, and a price that makes it all worth considering. The newest version of the laptop, the 8th Generation, is out and it maintains the best parts of its predecessors.
While this is the 8th generation of the laptop, it doesn't use an 8th generation processor. Instead, it uses an Intel 10th Gen Comet Lake processor. The laptop has also upgraded its Wi-Fi to Wi-Fi 6, allowing for super-fast wireless connectivity when paired with a Wi-Fi 6 router or access point. The keyboard has also added a pair of VoIP function keys. Otherwise, the laptop is essentially identical to the previous 7th Generation model.
While the changes are small in quantity, they are large in importance, especially for a productivity laptop in our work at home environment. Faster connectivity and VoIP keys make our nearly daily Microsoft Teams calls clearer and easier to manage, while a newer and faster processor means that multitasking (likely on multiple screens) won't bog down the system. Plus, the newer processor makes for better battery life, which will be important once we're allowed to leave the house again.
The most exciting part of the new ThinkPad X1 Carbon is its build quality. During his demonstration, Avram comfortably held the laptop by the corner and spun it around without any fear for the computer. That's an important aspect of a laptop, as many of us hold them by the corner without realizing it, and it can cause damage to the computer. But, this one doesn't make any noises or creaks and doesn't feel like it is going to bend.
Tom's Hardware was impressed enough with the laptop that they gave it an Editor's Choice award. Check out the full review at Tom's Hardware.
One of the most interesting new technologies we experienced at CES this year was in the form of GaN chargers. That is because, not only is the technology fascinating, it makes for some incredibly practical products. Using this technology, for example, manufacturers can produce laptop chargers that are less than a quarter of the size of a traditional power brick. The new chargers are so small, in fact, that we can't even call them a brick anymore. Some of them are as small as a 2-outlet phone charger. For those who travel a lot, or really for anyone who brings a laptop with them, these chargers will make the experience better.
However, it is not just portable chargers where the technology could shine in the future. We've all seen power products, whether it be wall outlets, surge protectors, or even power towers, that include USB charging ports. These are only powerful enough to be able to charge small devices like phones and tablets if you're lucky. They simply cannot produce enough power to charge something bigger, like a laptop. However, with this now miniaturized charging technology, we could potentially see the chargers built into these types of power products. Imagine checking into a hotel room and, on the desk, there is a USB-C outlet ready to power your laptop. Beautiful.
As these new chargers are released, Avram has been putting them to the test with his handy new load tester, Using this device, he can see exactly how much power the chargers are able to produce. If the company says it's a 65-watt charger, are you actually getting that amount of power, or does it fall short? Or, more interestingly, does it over-deliver? It's always exciting to get more than you thought you were paying for. The round-up for GaN chargers will be available soon on Tom's Hardware.
It has been a year since the Raspberry Pi foundation released the Raspberry Pi 4. In that time, the upgraded hardware configurations have allowed the platform to expand into even more project and computing environments. But, with increased ideas comes increased resource demand. To respond to that new demand, a new configuration was released that has 8GB of RAM. Previously, the largest configuration available was 4GB of RAM.
This new hardware will give makers and engineers more memory capabilities, allowing for larger implementations. However, it is important to note just how difficult it is to fill 4GB on a Raspberry Pi 4. Running the official operating system, Avram opened dozens of browser tabs, some of which were playing 4K videos. He also had the photo editor Gimp open. With all of that happening, he was only able to fill 4.6GB of RAM, and that is unusual usage.
There will be uses where the increased RAM will be a big benefit. If you wanted to use the device for a large amount of on-device AI processing, especially of image and video content, you would need the addition RAM to keep the streamed image and video data available. You could also use the device as a media server, and if any encoding is needed, the added resources will help.
With the increase of RAM comes another substantial change: the operating system. For years, the official Raspberry Pi operating system has been Raspbian. However, that OS is developed and maintained by an outside organization and only supports 32-bit processing. To fully take advantage of more than 4GB of RAM, you need to be running a 64-bit OS. As such, Raspbian cannot be the answer for the new device. A 64-bit OS has been developed and released, but it means that it is not a Raspbian build. To respect the intellectual property and naming rights of the other organization, the official builds offered by the Raspberry Pi Foundation will officially be called Raspberry Pi OS going forward. This will be the case for both 32-bit and 64-bit versions.
Intel has released its newest processor, the Comet Lake-S Core i9-10900K. This new processor is intended to help fight off the rising threat of AMD's Ryzen processors. AMD has seen a huge rise, especially in the realm of high core count. The new Intel processor attempts to match this move, by including ten cores and, out of box clocks in at 4.9 GHz.
Obviously, with specs like that, the processor is not intended for an average consumer. The 10900K is aimed at enthusiasts, power users, and gamers. While it doesn't match AMD's Ryzen 9 3950X in terms of threaded performance, it does make it for it in overall performance as well as price. The Ryzen 3950X is currently retailing for $709, while the Intel 10900K is retailing for $529.
Intel's newest processor does have some downsides, however. First and foremost, it still uses 14-nanometer architecture, which is generations behind where AMD is on its 7-nanometer architecture. This means that to produce the same result, the power consumption is lower. This is a standard rule of processors - smaller transistors use less power. This processor does not buck that trend at all, being the most power-hungry processor that Tom's Hardware has seen in recent times.
With more power consumption comes more heat generation. That means that it takes more work to keep the processor cool. If you're going to build a quiet PC, either for streaming or just to maintain your own sanity, this processor will provide a bigger challenge. Intel rates the processor for 250W at peak performance, and the review even measured peaks as high as 325W at out-of-the-box settings. That is a massive increase over the previous generation, caused almost entirely because of the continued use of the 14-nanometer architecture design decision.
For the full review, head over to Tom's Hardware.
NVIDIA has added a new developer kit to its hardware lineup, called the Jetson Xavier NX. This new board is designed to allow developers to integrate artificial intelligence skills into a hardware project without the need for internet access or custom-designed hardware. Built in to the kit is a couple of common demoes, such as human detection, skeleton mapping, and attention tracking.
In addition to the included models, the Jetson Xavier NX is able to be trained for any AI workload. Perhaps you're building a scanner for an airport that verifies official identification versus forged documents. Or, maybe you're letting passengers know that their driver's license doesn't conform to the new REAL ID system, which will be required in 2021. You can train your system on-board or through an external AI training system and import the model into the device.
The most exciting aspect of this product is the ability to do all this AI training and processing live on the device without internet access. Because connectivity is never guaranteed, and speed and access can vary based on time of day, relying on internet access can be a limiting factor for AI. If you're building hardware for a factoring or manufacturing facility that may be deployed in a developing country, being able to use AI while off the grid can be the difference between market success and a bricked platform.
Once you have developed your application and are ready for system deployment, you can get just the Jetson Xavier NX deployment board and integrate it into your own custom hardware. This reduces the size and cost of the device, plus gives you greater flexibility in your deployment scheme. The developer board is available now for $399 and the deployment module will be available soon.
Whether you're a regular maker or you're looking for new things to try while in lockdown, the Raspberry Pi is a great platform to expiriment with. This board is made for both prototyping as well as learning, and this week, Tom's Hardware has some great advanced projects as well as simple projects.
In the more advanced project category, there are truly a ton of interesting and unique projects. Some are more conceptual while others are designed to improve your daily life. Take, for example, Raspbian XP - a version of the Raspbian operating system designed to look like Windows XP. If you miss the bizarre blue taskbar and green Start button, then this project is for you. However, it's not going to change your day. However, if you're looking to get into shape, HIIT Pi: The Raspberry Pi Personal Trainer might be a legitimate project for you. This uses computer vision to make sure you are doing the moves correctly, like how a personal trainer would in a gym.
If you're looking for a simpler project, perhaps one you can do with your kids, then the second category is intended for you. These projects take advantage of a diverse add-on board, known as the Sense HAT. This board has sensors for temperature, humidity, pressure, magnetic forces, orientation, acceleration. In addition, it has an 8x8 LED pixel matrix which can be used for pictures, words, and more. Learning to use the sensors is easy and can be done using the Scratch 3 block-based programming environment.
Tom's Hardware will help walk you through setting up the device, adding the HAT, and working with the sensors. Like any new technology, making the screen say "Hello, World!" is the place to start, and it's where they start. Once you've got that working, you can move on to learning about the joystick and the temperature sensor. Then, you get to learn the accelerometer. With that knowledge, you should be able to master the device and create your own projects.
When you think of the greast rivalries of the world, you might think of Holyfield and Tyson, or Axl Rose and Vince Neil. But, in the world of technology, there might not be any more interesting rivalry than AMD and Intel. For decades, these two companies have produced the vast majority of processors. For desktops and laptops, these two companies have owned the market. In the server market, Intel has long been the standard. For mobile phones, AMD was once the standard.
While the world is on pause, Tom's Hardware dedicated testing resources to putting the rivalry to the test in today's marketplace. They compared the current offerings from both brands across ten metrics, from price and value to heat and performance. On the total metric count, it was a clear win for AMD.
This win comes care of the difference between the companies' philosophies. AMD has always worked to be the low cost provider. They accomplish this by pushing their hardware to a higher threshold than Intel does. While this helped them in several categories, it did lose them in the overclocking capacity. Because they natively push their processors harder, it means that there is less head room at the top of the processor for users to push it farther.
The biggest win for AMD was in its value. For the same price, you can get an AMD processor with more cores and similar or higher clock speed. In fact, looking at the comparable product families, AMD's processors tend to run about 20% less per device than an Intel processor.
Now, it is important to note that, just because AMD won seven out of ten categories, does not mean that AMD is the right solution for everyone. When purchasing a pre-built machine, don't go out of your way to over customize your configuration. When building your own machine, consider what your intentions are and what your needs are going to be.
Since the beginning of the lockdowns, certain products have been in short supply. The most publicized have been toilet paper and hand sanitizer. However, there have been tech products that have been depleted as well - particularly webcams. But, since webcams themselves are difficult to acquire, people have looked for alternatives that can get you up and running for your next conference call.
During the last episode, Avram asked for input into using the Raspberry Pi as a webcam. This is because the parts to do so are relatively inexpensive and also easily acquired. A Raspberry Pi Zero can be purchased for under $30 and a camera module starts at $10. Pairing these two components together, you can create a type of IP camera, which can be imported onto your computer as a webcam using open-source software.
Avram went through the process of building one of these We-Fi enabled webcams and wrote about the process. While the process isn't especially difficult, it does produce variable results. As an IP camera, there are going to be latency issues generated by the connection between the board and the computer. Running over Wi-Fi is going to slow the feed, possibly creating lag.
There will also be performance variations based on the camera module that you purchase. The $10 module that Avram ran his initial tests with produced a decent result - 720p with a fairly stable connection. But, there are also camera modules that support upwards of 4k video. Clearly, a feed that detailed could overrun the connection between the devices, but is a good starting point for a better HD signal. Turning down the resolution from 4k could lead to better video quality in 1080p or 720p.
If you're not in the mood for a project of this scale, you can also use a phone or DSLR as a webcam.
These days, we definitely live in interesting times. Much of the world is completely shut down in an attempt to keep COVID-19 under control. Some people have lost their jobs, some have been furloughed, while others have shifted to working from home. No matter the scenario, many people still need to purchase things, including electronics. For some of us, it's about reworking our offices to allow us to more easily work from home. For others, it's about enhancing their downtime. For all of us, picking the right retailer is important.
All of the online and brick and mortar retailers have changed their policies in the wake of the shutdown. Some companies are no longer shipping regular products, some are not shipping at all, while others are working hard to fulfill orders. Before you try to make a purchase online, make sure that you know the current policies of the store.
For example, Amazon has changed its shipping policies, moving its priority to essential products. So, if you are trying to buy something that is more of a luxury item, it could take a while to receive. For example, Avram purchased over a dozen different Raspberry Pi cases and has only received one so far. For other maker components, a popular store is Adafruit. The company has converted all of its manufacturing to personal protective equipment (PPE), so it is unlikely that you will receive a product in the near future.
On the other hand, stores like Newegg and B&H Photo have committed to trying to keep business running as usual. That means that if you are looking for a computer, audio video, or photography component, these should be your go-to retailers right now. The key is to check with the company's shipping policies, and verify that you are buying directly from the store and not through a third party.
While interest in desktop PCs has waned in recent years, those who are still interested in desktops often build them themselves. That gives the ability to not only have the PC you want, but also to use it as an art piece. There are PC builders who go all out and customize their cases, turning them into spaceships or even scenes from videogames. However, that is not in the cards for everyone. One thing that can help customize and PC build, however, is RGB LEDs.
For most, some slight customizations here and there are the way to go. However, when Avram and his team get involved, they go all out. Instead of just picking the best of the best components, the team decided to build a PC with as much lighting as they could possibly fit into a Mini ITX case. They call this build the RGBaby.
This build is based around the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X, which obviously does not have lighting on it, but that's pretty much where it ends. Event the processor cooler, the Corsair H100i features lighting on the processor and two lighted fans on the top. The video card is a ZOTAC RTX 2080 AMP Extreme, which features LED strips across the front. The system RAM is HyperX Fury RGB adding a companion stripe to the lights on the video card. All of this is mounted to an ASUS ROG Strix B450-I motherboard, which features RGB LEDs across the edge.
The RGBaby is a companion to the previous build, the RGBeast. This build, which took place at the beginning of 2019, was similar, but larger. Because of the bigger case, they were able to accommodate a lot more components that needed to be skipped this time because of the smaller form factor.
To see the entire RGBaby build, check out the article on Tom's Hardware.
The Dell XPS 13 has long been considered to be one of the greatest lightweight laptops on the market. The company regularly updates the computer with new features and hardware options. This year's upgrade, which just went live from Dell, has made a number of high profile changes, all for the better.
A number of the changes are around the screen. The first and most welcomed change is the removal of the "nose cam." This highly unwanted feature was a move of the webcam built into the computer's screen bezel. Because the screen bezel had gotten so small, in what Dell calls the InfinityEdge, the company decided that the best course of action was to move the camera lens to the bottom of the screen. This meant that, when using the camera, it was often aimed up the user's nose instead of pointed at their face. This led to some unique and interesting conference calls. As of this model, the nose cam is gone, and the lens has been moved back to its rightful place.
The camera isn't the only part of the screen to be upgraded. The actual panel itself has seen some changes. The most notable is the aspect ratio has changed from the standard 16:9 to 16:10 (or 8:5). This gives more vertical screen real estate, meaning more content on the screen. Any time you can get more content on the screen without making it harder to read it is always a benefit.
The processor on the computer has also been upgraded, moving to the newest 10nm Intel processors. While this does likely indicate better battery performance, it does not necessarily mean any performance increases. Tom's Hardware's tests have proven little to no performance changes from one architecture to another. However, using the newest hardware does mean that it will likely have better battery life. We will know soon when the Tom's Hardware product review is published this week.
The Folding@Home program is a distributed computing platform that is dedicated to finding cures for some of humanity's biggest health problems. The program was started to run predictive algorithms on the folding of proteins. When proteins fold incorrectly, it can cause serious and longterm medical issues. However, over the years, the program has taken on additional issues, including computational drug design and other types of molecular dynamics. Currently, the program has added the COVID-19 coronavirus to the list of problems it is working to solve.
The way the program works is by taking parts of a workload and sending them to various computers around the world that are part of the program. The computer uses the unused computing power of idle machines to help run the predictive algorithms. Once the results are computed, they are sent back to the central server for analysis. This allows the program to accomplish far more than it could ever do alone.
As part of the program, Folding@Home allows users to group together and form teams. Those teams can compete against one another to see whose computers are accomplishing more for the program. Obviously, this is an unnecessary aspect of the program, but it makes it a lot more fun to participate. You can challenge your friends, or two friendly brands can see who can make the biggest difference.
Two of the brands from within Future plc have decided to compete against one another to see which brand can complete more work units. Tom's Hardware and AnandTech will announce the rules of their game, but you can help Avram win. Simply download the Folding@Home program to your computer and signup for team number 40051. By doing this, you can help Avram beat his colleague and help to find cures for diseases at the same time.
This week, Avram Piltch has some suggestions on how to improve your life if you have to work from home. While most people don't work out of their homes, that could be about to change. Over the past week or so, many companies have started suggesting that employees work from home because of fear over the COVID-19 coronavirus. But working at home is not as easy and straight forward as it might seem.
It is incredibly easy to get distracted while you work at home. Between family, friends, pets, and chores, it can be incredibly easy to get distracted and not be productive. But, if you do just a couple of simple things, you can avoid the temptations that will inevitably surround you. First, make a space just for work. This might not be simple, but it is important. You will also want to make sure it feels like work - keep it the way you would your desk. If you have space that is dedicated to your work time, it will feel more like work time.
An easy way to make your space feel more work-like is with productivity tools. Grab an extra monitor, a mouse and keyboard, and possibly a docking station. These items will improve your at-home experience significantly and make it so that you can continue to be productive. Most of these items can be acquired for under $100.
You also need to set boundaries with the people around you. Most people don't understand the idea of working from home and believe that it just means that you are home. Let the people in your life know that, during working hours, you are no more available for non-work activities than you ever were before. Allowing someone to violate that rule is a slippery slope and will get worse with time, so solve it early on.
If you have any additional suggestions, we'd love to hear them!
This week, Avram Piltch talks about some of the best and most unknown aspects of the Raspberry Pi computer. The Raspberry Pi entered the market 8 years ago, but with a different purpose than most might think. It was originally intended for Cambridge University, with a planned production of about 1000 units. Today, the brand has sold 31 million units - far more than the organization ever expected to produce.
In those 8 years, there have been at least 18 models made available, with at least one specially produced model. In those models, the RAM has gone from 256MB on the original 1B to an optional 4GB on the 4B. The processing power has also increased significantly, from a single-core 700MHz processor on the original to the quad-core 1.5GHz processor on the current model.
Somehow, even with all of the processing power enhancements over the years, the Raspberry Pi has technically gotten less expensive. The selling price has remained $35, but when you compare the value of the dollar in 2012 versus 2020, the original model would have sold for almost $40 in today's dollars. That means that we have gotten years worth of hardware enhancements for less relative dollars than the original.
While the Raspberry Pi can be found in tons of applications, from web servers to robotics, there is one truly unique location for one of the computers: space. There are two "Astro Pis," which are specially modified Raspberry Pi B+ models (first generation). The computers had to be modified to deal with the oddities of space and to survive onboard the International Space Station. The European Space Agency runs contests to allow school children to have their code run on these computers.
There's a lot more to know about the Raspberry Pi, which can be found in Avram's article at Tom's Hardware.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses whether or not it is worth upgrading your video card. Sure, your existing computer might have the ability to take the newest and most exciting video card, but is it worth the upgrade cost?
Tom's Hardware recently released a video card lookup to help you determine what video cards are compatible with your system. However, the most important question to ask yourself when considering a video card upgrade is, "What are your goals with the upgrade?" For example, if your goal is to play games in 4K, you video card might not be your limiting factor.
If your system is a few years old, your system processor might not be able to keep up with the requirements of 4K gaming. It's also possible that your motherboard might not support the latest and greatest cards. Or, your power supply might not have the 8-pin or 8+6-pin setup for the really powerful cards. These other limitations could possibly mean a bigger upgrade might be required to accomplish anything noticeable.
This is not to say that a video card upgrade is not a viable project. With a more modern setup, upgrading your video card could have a profound effect on your system's performance. This is especially true if you're going from an on-board card to a full graphics card. You might be upgrading from an older card that you kept from a previous system to something more modern.
However, it is important to remember that, in most system upgrades, the only part that is easily retained is the case. To get a lot out of your upgrade, it will usually require replacing the processor, motherboard, and RAM, on top of the video card. Plus, if it's a big upgrade, you'll possibly need a new power supply and, for speed, you might even consider an upgraded SSD.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses a new feature in Microsoft Excel: XLOOKUP. Now, we don't usually show off things like Microsoft Office functions, but this one is truly special. The predecessor to XLOOKUP, which is VLOOKUP, is the third most used function in Excel, and XLOOKUP expands on its capabilities by removing a number of limitations.
Both functions allow you to combine data from different sheets or files by joining on common data. For example, if you have one document with employee IDs and names, and another with employee IDs and addresses and phone numbers, these functions will allow you to join on the common data item, the employee IDs, and show the combined data. However, there are some significant differences between the old and new methods.
The most important change is in how you match data. With VLOOKUP, you could only do exact matches between sheets. With XLOOKUP, however, there are several ways of joining data. You can do the exact match, but you can also have it choose values above and below the closest match, or, most importantly, use wildcards. For example, if you want to return the first employee whose last name starts with S, you can search for "S*" rather than using an entire cell value.
Equally important is the amount of data that can be returned. With the older VLOOKUP, you could only return a single column worth of data per query. This means that if you wanted to return first name, last name, and address from one sheet, you would have to do three separate lookups. That means processing power and additional scripting to return everything you want. With the new XLOOKUP, however, you can return multiple columns in a single query. So, one lookup could return the first, last, and address.
In addition to all of this, the function call is actually shorter for XLOOKUP, making it easier to use. If you're about to learn about joining data in Excel, XLOOKUP is definitely the way to go.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses the long-awaited launch of Nvidia's cloud gaming service GeForce Now.
This week, Avram Piltch talks about the Intel NUC and the future direction of the product line. In the past, the company has released a limited array of models and configuration options to correspond with its processor upgrades. While the line has never been incredibly popular, it has been consistently stable.
This year, the company announced a change of direction, but one that is also familiar. The next generation of NUC will no longer be just an Intel-branded product. Instead, it will become a product standard, powered by the Intel NUC Compute Element - a self-contained computing card. These cards will plug into a daughterboard for power and provide the essentials of the computer. The manufacturers, including Razer and Adata, will provide both fully built and bare-bones models that customers can customize.
These systems can be upgraded, unlike previous models. They support discrete graphics cards for the first time. There are also upgradable RAM and SSD. The biggest upgradable component, though, is the Compute Element itself. When you need more power, you can simply replace the Compute Element and the system is upgraded.
If this idea sounds familiar, it's because it is. The concept is very similar to Intel's Compute Card, right down to the name. The Compute Card was designed to power embedded devices, such as smart TVs. The idea was that, rather than replacing the television, you could simply replace the Card. This would, theoretically, avoid the situation where Hulu and Netflix recently stopped supporting older smart TVs.
Like the Computer Card, the NUC Compute Element sounds like it is a solution looking for a problem. The price is higher than a regular PC while being only slightly smaller and being powered by laptop hardware. The video cards may be desktop quality, but the processors are not. Intel is going to have trouble finding an audience for this product.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses some of the most influential technology of the past decade. While some products produce a short-term change to an industry, others have long-lasting effects. In the past decade, there have been several massive moves that will likely never be reverted.
One of the most influential products of the decade was the AMD Ryzen 1800X processor. The product stood head and shoulders above what Intel was producing and, in grand AMD fashion, was far less expensive than what Intel was offering. The processor offered 8 cores and 16 threads, as opposed to the common 4 core processor being offered by Intel. It also ushered in the architecture that made it possible for AMD to produce the first 7nm chips, something that Intel still has not accomplished.
Another influential product in the 2010s, especially for Avram, has been the Raspberry Pi. This single-board computer has changed the way we think about computing. It also changed the way we think about what a computer can be, and what it is capable of doing. For so long, a computer was thought to be a larger, more powerful system that could do anything. With the Raspberry Pi, we can now think about a computer as a single-purpose device, whether that be to power a robot or a security camera. It also helped evolve the craft community into the maker movement.
For Scott, however, one of the most influential technologies of the decade has been virtualization. Without it, there would be no Azure, AWS, or Google Cloud. There would be no Project xCloud or Google Stadia. More importantly, there would be no blossoming startup community. The ability to create virtual networks in Azure and the like and scale them up and down at will, without having to purchase hardware, lease physical space to store them, provide power and internet, etc. And, none of it is a capital expense. Awesome.
This week, Avram Piltch talks about technology that he has been interested in for decades: alternate typing tech. Imagine you are at a trade show, waiting in line for a presentation, and you want to get some work done. Sure, you can use your phone and try and type something of consequence, but that's going to be infuriating (we've tried it). You could bring a tablet, but you still might have issues with a content system that requires a desktop. You could bring a laptop, but they're big and unwieldy, especially when you're in tight quarters. Avram has always believed there has to be another way, and there is.
The first option is DecaTxt, a small Bluetooth keyboard with only 10 buttons. By pressing the buttons in various combinations you can type a full keyboard worth of characters. The creator has been tweaking the device for years, always looking for ways to improve on his design. One of the key drawbacks to the concept is the learning curve. It can take some people a long time to wrap your head around the key combinations, making typing slow. For some, however, the typing will be as easy as the old T9 on flip phones.
If learning about a new key structure isn't in your wheelhouse, maybe a virtual keyboard will work. The Tap Strap is an input device that wraps around your fingers and senses movement, translating the movements into inputs. This can be used as standard key entry, but can also be used to replace a mouse, controller, presentation clicker, and more.
In addition to typing, these devices could be a brilliant addition to a virtual or augmented reality setup. And, as VR and AR hardware get closer to daily use technology, the more important innovations like the DecaTxt and Tap Strap will become.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses the ups and downs between buying a pre-made PC from a vendor or building your own from components. It's the age-old question in computing - do you save the time and buy a PC, or save the money and build it yourself? As it turns out, the price differential between a pre-made and a custom-made PC is not as great today as it once was. In fact, in Avram's research, there is only about $100 between the two options.
However, there is more to consider than just the price. On the side of buying a PC, there is definitely the time savings. Under a lot of circumstances, you have the ability to customize some of the components of your PC, without having to physically touch the machine. That can save a lot of time and effort in the process, not to mention frustration. But, you do not usually get the ability to choose every option, such as the brand and model of RAM or storage. Those components can make a huge difference to performance, but they are usually out of your hands.
On the other hand, building your own PC comes with the ability to handpick everything, from the make and model of components to the specific batch number, if you feel so inclined. This level of customization comes with the ability to fine-tune your machine to the exact specification you want, but it also means a lot of time investment, both in researching the components and the actual build process.
So, since cost is not the factor that it used to be, the real differentiator is your purpose. If you are looking for a PC for standard usage, buying a standard PC is probably the right way to go. However, if you are a creative, a gamer, or in another field that requires tuned hardware, building might be the way to do.
This week, Avram Piltch shows off the newest STEAM toy from Sphero, the RVR (pronounced Rover). This new vehicle separates itself from the already crowded programmable vehicle kits in a variety of ways. First, and most obvious, is that the vehicle is designed for all terrains. That means that it isn't limited to being used inside, but can be used outside, and even in the grass.
This isn't the only aspect of the RVR that makes it versatile. As is, the RVR can be controlled through the Sphero app. You can also use the app to program it, using the block-based programming system. This can be a great learning system for kids and adults to get familiar with the included aspects of the RVR. However, this vehicle is almost infinitely expandable because you can add external control boards to the top.
Whether you want to explore the capabilities of the Raspberry Pi, Arduino, or Micro:bit controllers, you can use any of them with the RVR. By adding one of these boards, you can introduce a whole host of sensors, controllers, and external resources. This expansion can allow the RVR to go from a STEAM toy to a sophisticated robot. platform. You can use it as a roving security camera, an environmental scanner, and so much more.
In addition to the additional sensors, you also get expanded connectivity options. Let the RVR stream live video to YouTube, or report sensor readings to Microsoft Azure. You can also combine external resources, like weather data, with local readings, to make decisions. All of these features can be used either as a learning experience for new hardware developers or as a pre-built robotics platform for more complex projects.
The Sphero RVR is available now. As of the time of this video, it is on sale on Amazon for $199 (regularly $249).
This week, Avram Piltch discusses the important things to look out for when purchasing a new computer. There are two ways to buy a new PC: pre-configured or self-configured. For the most part, pre-configured models are far less expensive than their custom configuration counterparts. For example, if you head to a manufacturer's website and look at their laptops, several of them offer the ability to customize the parts. If you go with the base model, you might have only 128GB of storage. However, you can upgrade that to 1TB for almost $600. However, if you were to purchase that same SSD yourself, it might only cost $100, meaning that you would be paying a $500 markup to have the drive pre-installed, and you don't get to keep the original 128GB drive.
A simple way to avoid the upcharge is by purchasing a pre-configured computer. Of course, this does mean that you might have to sacrifice something off of your ideal setup. Maybe you can't get the 1TB drive, but you can get a 512GB drive instead. Maybe you can't get 32GB of RAM, but you can get 16GB. For some, the compromise is okay, but for others, it would not be possible.
Another way to avoid the immense upcharge is by performing the upgrade yourself. In some cases, this is as easy as removing 2 screws. In other cases, it would require prying the body apart and repairing it with glue. For those models, it's generally not worth trying. But, there are tools to determine the upgradability of your model. You can use the Kingston Memory Configurator or the Corsair Memory Finder, both of which will tell you what can and can't be done with your computer.
No matter which way you decide to go, it is always important to know all of your options ahead of time.
This week, Avram Piltch shows off the Artie 3000 drawing robot. Artie is a new entry in the growing list of kids STEM toys intended to help teach kids about computers, logic, and programming. These toys all take different forms, and Artie is unique in the field. This product is a robotic drawing product, which allows the user to program its movements to produce a drawing.
While Artie is cute, some aspects make it less than ideal. Most robotic toys connect to their host devices via Bluetooth, Artie connects via WiFi. Artie has a web server built-in which serves up the web interface to program the robot. This produces a couple of issues. The first is that because Artie connects through WiFi, the computer or tablet does not have internet access. This means that looking for help will be impossible on the connected computer. So, to be able to use a tutorial or follow instructions, you will need two devices.
The second problem is that the interface is designed for a larger screen, particularly a laptop. It works well on a laptop, but most younger kids have more experience with a tablet or phone than with a laptop. As such, using the block-based programming system is not as easy to use as it is with other products.
While Artie is billed as a toy to learn how to program, this robot is not going to be a great introductory programming toy. That's because the system is very limited in its scope. However, Artie is a truly great product to help kids learn the basics of geometry due to its drawing focus. Over time, kids can learn the finer points of how to program the robot to produce geometric shapes. The more intricate the shapes, the more detailed the drawings can be. One of the included programs produces a very cool Spirograph-like design.
Because of the price and the legitimate learning opportunities, Artie is a good buy for most young kids.
This week, Avram Piltch talks about how and why to overclock your computing device. So, what is overclocking? It is the process of changing the operating parameters of a component to increase its performance. While the main CPU is the most common to overclock, you can also overclock your graphics card, or GPU, and your RAM.
While not long ago the process of overclocking was difficult enough that only computer aficionados got involved, today it can be as easy as changing a setting in a text file or your system BIOS. It does require that your hardware be overclockable, better known as unlocked. For an Intel processor, just make sure that the model number ends in a K. Modern AMD processors are all unlocked, as are Raspberry Pi processors.
Why might you want to overclock your components, though? For some, it can just be a fun challenge. Some people take it to extremes. There are competitions and professional overclockers who can use liquid nitrogen to pull out every drop of performance. But, for normal computer users, overclocking could potentially add some life to older hardware. Maybe your PC is getting a little slow, you've done a full reset, but it's just not quite enough. By overclocking your processor, you might be able to bring that device back to life.
Many people wonder why overclocking is needed. Why not just run the component at its full potential out of the box? Because every device is unique, manufacturers cannot predict the maximum potential of each component. So, rather than trying to tune each processor or stick of RAM individually, the manufacturers find the least common denominator and tune for that. That does, however, leave some headroom that you can take advantage of. Overclocking can also affect the overall lifespan of your components.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses a pair of interesting science experiments that have been conducted by Tom's Hardware over the past few weeks. The first involves the publication's favorite tech gadgets: the Raspberry Pi. The site has done a lot of projects using the board, but this one was unique. Rather than building something with it, they waterproofed it and used it completely submerged underwater. The result is accomplished by dipping the board into a bath of a chemical called CorrosionX. This chemical is incredibly toxic and should be used with care.
From a usefulness perspective, this project probably doesn't rank high for most consumers. However, there are some real-world applications. Raspberry Pi boards are used in a lot of robotic applications, and robots can get themselves into potentially damaging situations, completely outside of their control. Even if the case is already waterproof, adding this process on top of the case can protect the board in the event the case is damaged. Think of a product like a Roomba where the electronics could be protected from moisture even if the body is damaged.
The second experiment, which will be published this week, involved AMD, Intel, and pancakes. It's common knowledge that a computer CPU gets hot, and the chips have been used to cook before, but Tom's Hardware decided to test which manufacturer cooks better. They used comparable processors, one from Intel and one from AMD, and removed their processor fans. Adding thermal compound to a skillet, they placed it over the processor and ran a test to kick the processor to 100%. While both have similar operating temperatures, the Intel processor continued to run through the heat while the AMD Threadripper turned off for protection.
Again, the usefulness of the test is probably pretty low, but it is an interesting experiment. From a results perspective, it's important to know that an Intel processor will continue to run without proper heat dissipation. If you're building a computer and need it to keep running in extreme heat, potentially to the detriment of the hardware, Intel would be a good choice. If you're looking for a system with a strong self-preservation instinct, AMD might be the better choice.
This week, Avram Piltch shows off a preview of the newest addition to the Sphero lineup: the Sphero Mini Activity Kit. This kit builds on top of the existing Sphero Mini robotic ball, adding to it a variety of pre-planned activities that can be done with the ball. These activities give new owners ideas of things that can be done with their ball. This has long been a leading problem with robotic toys like this. Without ideas on how to use it, educational toys tend to be abandoned in fairly short order.
One of the activities that come in the kit is building a maze. To accomplish this, the kit also comes with the parts and pieces to build such a maze. Another activity is bowling and, once again, the kit has bowling pins to help encourage the activity. After working through some of the included activities, kids' minds can be sparked to look for new things to do or new ways to accomplish the same goals.
As with other Sphero products, the Sphero Mini can be controlled in several different ways. You can use it in play mode, where you run it like a remote-controlled car. It can also be controlled using the accelerometer in your phone or tablet, to move in the direction of the device. It can even move based on your facial expressions, with a smile moving it forward and a frown moving it backward. There is also a programming interface, which allows you to move the device around programmatically. This is where the fun of a Sphero really comes in. You can use the included block-based programming system to build logic, but you can also use full programming languages, like C#. With all of these options, you can come up with any number of ways to bowl or complete a maze.
The Sphero Mini is available now, but the Sphero Mini Activity Kit comes out in early October.
This week, Avram Piltch tries something new and unboxes the Ultimate Hacking Keyboard live on the show. This keyboard is unique in that it is designed to be modular, both in itself and with accessories. The small-framed keyboard detaches in the middle, allowing you to use it as a standard ergonomic keyboard, or configure it however is convenient and comfortable for you. But, the split keyboard design gives the ability to use the keyboard with additional features.
For example, the company will offer attachments for different input methods, like a trackpad, trackball, or track pointer (like on a Lenovo laptop). They will also offer a small additional key cluster. But these add-ons are just the beginning. The name is not just cutesy, it is because the entirety of the keyboard is open source. This could lead to additional accessories from other companies, or even in the form of maker projects. Of course, all of the expandability will only come to fruition if the product and platform become commercially successful. It doesn't make sense to make add-ons for devices without customers, just ask Motorola.
The biggest challenge to the success of the keyboard could be the general layout. While a keyboard of this style would likely be targeted at computer enthusiasts, the keyboard layout is far from it. There is no function row, number pad, directional pad, navigation keys, or media controls. For most computer and keyboard fans prefer more keys rather than less. All of these capabilities, except media controls, are only available via a function key combination. Unfortunately, media controls are completely missing, though you could use the key cluster add-on to replicate the missing feature.
The Ultimate Hacking Keyboard is available for pre-order, with product shipping in October. The keyboard runs $275, the add-ons run $60 each, and the palm rest runs $75.
Modern games are fun, but there is something special about retro gaming. The simplicity of the games, the focus on fun over graphics, the limitation of the controls. These old games are just pure, simple fun. While you can play these games on a standard computer, the experience is just better in the environment the games were designed for, whether that be the living room or an arcade cabinet. Luckily, there are ways to replicate those experiences using modern and inexpensive computing hardware, like the Raspberry Pi.
Using a Raspberry Pi, you can emulate nearly any gaming experience you want. Using ROMs, which are replications of original game cartridges, you can play the old games exactly as they were made - glitches and all. Some ROMs have been made publicly available legally, while others are available without a proper license. You can also use a cartridge reader to read the games directly. Whatever your method, using an emulator is the key to the experience. It's important to know that the Raspberry Pi 4 currently does no support this, but official support is in the works. If you are a little more adventurous, you can try your hand at a bypass.
For a console-style experience, you can buy cases online, or 3D print a case, that matches your style. Whether it be an NES, a Super Nintendo, or Sega Genesis, you can make your Raspberry Pi look like the console you know and love. Some of the cases even come with USB versions of the matching controllers, including some of the links above.
For an arcade-style experience, some cases can replicate an arcade gaming stick or even an entire arcade cabinet, complete with screen, joystick, and buttons. You can also add an external USB arcade stick. Most of these projects require assembly, but others are mostly plug-and-play.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses one of the biggest changes in the tech space for 2019: the price of solid-state memory. Both NAND flash and standard SSD drives have come down significantly in price, making them a great option for upgrading an existing computer. Many of us have an older laptop that is simply too slow for everyday use, but removing a traditional spinning hard drive or a hybrid drive and replacing it with a solid-state drive can completely change the experience.
Avram recently did this for a colleague from a sister publication. They had a laptop for their son, who wanted to use it for gaming purposes. The problem was that launching apps and games took way too long. So, Avram swapped out the drive, using one purchased at retail. The price for a 1TB solid-state drive was just over $100, making the price per gig around 12 cents. This represents a major shift downward in pricing. Scott also has a recent example of this upgrade. His business partner at Sumo Software has an older laptop with a hybrid drive, which was so slow that the laptop was retired. However, after ordering an SSD from Amazon, the laptop acts like an almost brand new machine.
When making this switch, there is an important part of the process that is required: cloning the old drive to the new one. Doing that will be far easier than trying to start from scratch, having to install Windows, reinstall all of your apps, etc. Instead, you can use a tool to take the original drive and duplicate it exactly to the new drive. Then, simply pull the old drive out of the computer, replace it with the new drive, and you are off and running. It's a small amount of work that can make a big impact.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses some of the best technology to send your kids with when they return back to school. Whether they're returning to college or starting high school, certain technology pieces can enhance their learning.
For those who already have a laptop, there are a few items that can make using it a little better. For example, an external keyboard makes typing those long papers less stressful on the wrists. A larger external monitor can also help with the overall ergonomics of your desk setup, preventing a lot of neck strain looking down at a laptop. You can also make small upgrades to the laptop to speed it up, including adding additional RAM or replacing a traditional hard drive with an SSD.
If you are looking for a new laptop, it's important to consider the usage. For example, a school-age student should look into what technology their school is using. While many schools use Windows, because it is the global norm, others are beginning to adopt Chromebooks because they can be less expensive for schools. Unfortunately, it creates a difficult scenario for parents, who are unlikely to be familiar with the operating system.
For college students, however, there are some common things to look for. Ideally, a budget between $800 and $1200 will get you a great laptop for college students. You can get a great model with long battery life, so you can take notes in all of your classes, enough RAM to run any software needed for class, and enough storage to not have to fight with external disks. Tom's Hardware offered their editors' advice on buying a new laptop for students, in which Avram said,
I recommend a lightweight Ultrabook such as the Asus Zenbook, HP Envy 13t or Dell XPS 13. If you want a 2-in-1 (better for sketching), consider the HP Spectre x360.
This week, Avram Piltch is showing off the newest addition to the LEGO augmented reality family: LEGO Hidden Side. Unlike the set that Avram tested last year, this series of products has both cool LEGO environments and AR that is fun. First, Avram discusses the sets themselves. With 8 in total, they vary from the simpler Graveyard Mystery to the more complex and beautiful Newbury Haunted High School. Like with any LEGO sets, the only real issue is the ease with which the pieces come apart.
The reason to mention the stability of the sets themselves is because of their integral nature in the game. Before you can play, you have to choose your region, which is indicated by the set you're wanting to play with. You then have to lock the app's AR to the physical location of the set. However, if it is not 100% perfect, it will not be recognized and you cannot play. For kids, this can be frustrating because any time you move a set, it could eject pieces or whole sections.
Once you've gotten past the technical issues of the game, it is a lot of fun. The augmented reality aspect of the game is not just a gimmick, as we've seen in the past, but legitimately adds to the experience. During his demo, Avram showed off that the tree in the set was actually in motion, plus it was raining in the graveyard. All of this is a precursor to the actual tasks of the game, which include finding items of a particular color and catching ghosts. The ghost hunting is similar to Pokemon GO, except you find them in the LEGO sets, not in the real world.
Avram will be publishing his full review to Tom's Hardware in the next few days, but spoiler, he recommends it to anyone with kids.
This week, Avram Piltch brings us up to date on one of his projects for his new favorite toy, the Raspberry Pi 4: the Picade by Pimoroni. This project features a 10-inch screen, mini arcade body, 6 player buttons, 4 utility buttons, and a joystick. The goal is to create a fully functional arcade cabinet that can run one of a variety of system emulators. Because this model is designed for the Raspberry Pi 4, as of publishing, there are still compatibility issues with some emulators and the new hardware. However, once those platforms are optimized for the new hardware, you'll have full system capability. It is important to remember that emulators and ROMs live in a legal grey area, so proceed with caution.
While Avram is still semi-early in his personal build of the project, he is familiar with Raspberry Pi emulator projects. He built another arcade-style gaming system based on a previous version of the hardware and learned a lot about the process. The inclusion of the utility buttons is an important one, as a Gameboy looking project only featured the original 4 buttons, making it difficult to escape a game. The utility buttons should help alleviate this problem.
On another project, he learned the difference between snap-in buttons and screw-in buttons, which has caused a small amount of concern. The Picade uses snap-in buttons, which can fit loosely, causing them to push through the cabinet if too much pressure is added. The benefit with this project is that the holes in the cabinet are pre-drilled, meaning they should be the perfect size for the buttons.
Obviously, with the current limitations of the Raspberry Pi 4's backward compatibility, or lack thereof, finishing this build is not exactly a priority. However, Avram is very excited to see the project completed and the beginning of playing games.
This week, Avram Piltch brings us the latest news on AMD's product launches. The company and its partners released new products based on the 7nm architecture. These products include the 3rd generation Ryzen processors, supporting motherboards, and new videocards.
The biggest release is the Ryzen 3000 series, the latest refresh in the company's processor lineup. The new processors are the first products on the market to use the 7nm architecture, with AMD beating Intel by quite a margin. They also outpace Intel's core count for the price, with the Ryzen 9 3900X offering 12 cores for $499, while the closest comparable Intel processor, Intel Core i9-9920X, offers 12 cores for $1199. That's more than double the price for the same core count. The base frequency is higher, with 3.8GHz versus 3.4GHz. Read more specs.
These new processors have moved to the X570 chipset, allowing for big improvements in overall performance. While the processors will work with the previous generation chipset, the X470, the new structure brings PCIe 4.0, which brings with it faster SSDs and higher peripheral throughput. Additional throughput could also make for better videocards in the future, as more motherboards begin to support the chipset.
The last product category is videocards, with the Radeon RX 5700 XT and Radeon RX 5700. These new cards compete with the GeForce RTX 2060 Super and RTX 2060 and actually get higher framerates than their comparable GeForce cards. You get 10% and 11% higher framerates, respectively. The RX 5700 runs $350, while the RTX 2060 averages just over $350. While you won't get raytracing with the new card, you will get really good 2K gaming. This isn't a big loss, as there are still very few raytracing compatible titles in the wild. Read more.
This week, Avram Piltch shows off the newest entry in the Raspberry Pi family: the Raspberry Pi 4. While this new model was not supposed to come out until this year, improved processor sourcing made it possible to bring it to market significantly earlier than expected. The newest model is a welcomed update to the Raspberry Pi 3, with the ability for more RAM, faster processing, and updated ports.
The most notable update is the changing of the video ports. Rather than a single HDMI port, the newest model has dual micro HDMI ports. This change allows for the use of two monitors rather than one on the previous model. In addition, both monitors can be run at 4K, albeit with performance degradation. In dual 4K, the monitors refresh at 30Hz. In single 4K or dual 1080p, the monitors can run in 60Hz, a marked improvement. The dual 4K monitors can also cause a lot of lag on the system itself.
In addition to the updated video ports, the USB ports also saw an upgrade. The center USB ports are now blue, indicating that they are now USB 3, rather than the USB 2 on the previous model. With the addition of USB 3 comes the ability to gain some huge performance improvements on external devices, such as SSDs. It also allows for important peripherals like the Google Coral Accelerator, which makes the Raspberry Pi better at image processing.
The new hardware comes along with a new version of the Raspbian operating system, Raspbian Buster. The new OS was not released ahead of the hardware, meaning that a lot of software does not work with it just yet. Of course, this is not unusual for Linux distributions, so users shouldn't be worried. Updated software will be released over the coming weeks, bringing back potentially lost features.
The Raspberry Pi 4 is available now online and from some local retailers.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses the impending impact of the trade war between the United States and China. The US imposed a 10% tariff on imports from China a while back, but a new and stronger tariff system is going into place now. The new tariffs will be 25% on billions of dollars worth of products, and will almost immediately be felt by consumers.
These new tariffs were felt in full force during Computex 2019. While it is not unusual to hear a company say that they aren't sure what the price point is going to be for a new product, this year the responses were different. Many companies said that they had a target retail price for their products, but that they weren't sure what the actual price was going to be, because they couldn't entirely predict how these taxes were going to affect the prices in the end.
Manufacturers are already beginning to look for ways to prevent these new tariffs. MSI CEO Charles Chiang spoke with Avram during Computex, explaining their plans. They and other larger manufacturers are beginning to look for new countries to manufacture their product in, such as Taiwan and Vietnam. While this would eventually represent cost savings, it is not inexpensive to move a manufacturing line, meaning that costs will still go up in the short term, but hopefully, less than they would with the tariffs. Not everyone can do this, though, so smaller brands might see big challenges in the upcoming months.
Another challenge to moving manufacturing to another country is infrastructure. Countries like Taiwan have a total population less than that of Shenzhen, the province of China where most manufacturing occurs. Add to that the need for roads, shipping, electricity, water, and more, and it creates hurdles that are not surmountable in the short term. The country could ramp up for production eventually, but it won't be able to handle a large influx in the next quarter.
This week, Avram Piltch is back from Computex 2019 in Taipei with some of the best technology he and his team from Tom's Hardware encountered. From processors to computer cases, Avram's got it all.
First, we've got the big announcements from AMD. In particular, the 3rd generation Ryzen processors. In addition to the Ryzen 3, 5, and 7, this year they have introduced the Ryzen 9, sporting a 12-cores and 24-threads. It will run $499 and compares to an 8-core processor from Intel. This new processor and the rest of the lineup will be available on July 7, 2019. In addition to the new processors, the new boards will support PCIe 4.0, which will allow for significantly faster SSDs. Current benchmarks top out at 5GBps, with future hardware expected to be in the 8GBps range.
In computers, he saw some interesting new products. In particular, is the MSI GT7600 Titan laptop. Rather than using a mobile processor, this beast uses a standard desktop processor and is overclocked to 5GHz. To accomplish this, the company designed special cooling to pipe out all of the additional heat that an overclocked desktop processor is going to add to a laptop. The drawback to this power, of course, is the weight; it comes in at about 9 pounds. If this is what you do for a living, though, the weight is not going to be a concern.
In addition, ASUS showed off the newest model of ZenBook Pro Duo, the laptop with a second screen above the keyboard. The jury's still out on whether this second screen adds anything useful to the experience, but a second screen is always nice. For those looking for a more complete monitor, they also showed off the ROG Strix XG17, a fully portable monitor that can connect to your laptop, or anything with HDMI, as a second screen.
As usual, unique computer cases were all over the floor, from the P200, a mostly open-air design from Thermaltake to a Heineken beer keg that can serve beer and computer power in one. There's a lot more to the Computex 2019 coverage, and it can all be found at Tom's Hardware.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses some of the new computer components that were announced this week. Starting off is Intel's 45-watt 9th generation H-series processors. The Core i9 (9980HK) now features 8 cores, which is more powerful than any mobile processor in history. The Core i5 and Core i7 feature 4-cores and 8-cores, respectively. These procs are still running on the 14-nanometer architecture that we've had for a few generations and is not running on the 10-nanometer design that the industry is waiting for. The difference between last year's processors and this year's processors is likely marginal.
Any time there is a new generation of processor, there comes a collection of new laptops that use them. This announcement is no different, as many of the major players announced new laptops that feature the new generation of processors. ASUS, for example, has announced new ROG Zephyrus laptop models. While the newer processor is nice, the real winner in these models is the 240-hertz refresh rate. That is an amazing accomplishment on a laptop screen.
In addition to Intel news from ASUS, we also have some AMD news. The company has announced a new AMD-powered gaming notebook, the ROG Zephyrus G GA502. This is the first AMD-powered gaming notebook using the new high wattage Ryzen processor, with NVIDIA graphics. They are running as low as
NVIDIA has also announced a new mobile video card: the GeForce GTX 1650. This new card is not a high-power card but is instead designed to be more of a mainstream card.
This week, Avram Piltch shows off the HP Spectre x360 13" 2-in-1 notebook. This new model of the popular Spectre x360 series has some interesting new features. One of the most interesting, though seemingly simple changes, is the angled back corners. On these corners, which are cut at a 45-degree angle, house the power button and charging port. This minor change is a nice design change but also has a nice functional change. With the charging port at an angle, it makes it easy to get to without having it stick out into your desk or pushing back into the wall.
The laptop is ultra thin, but you don't have to sacrifice a standard USB-A port for the size. With more laptops coming with only USB-C, it's nice to have a laptop with both choices. The laptop comes in a couple of color schemes, including a copper-banded and a blue. There are also two choices for screen resolution, both an HD (1080) and UHD (4k). While the screen is colorful, it does suffer from a lack of brightness.
This week, Avram Piltch shows off the brand new Hack Computer, a laptop designed to help teach kids about computers. There are two parts to the computer: the hardware and the operating system. The hardware is a quality laptop manufactured by Asus. Featuring a 1080p screen and lightweight design, it feels at home in the $299 price point. As for the operating system, it is a Linux build with tools and features specifically for the Hack Computer.
Where the Hack Computer really shines is the learning platform. Featuring characters that give you quests, Hack uses those quests to teach kids about the computer and how to code. For example, when in a game, there is a button that allows the child to flip the game over and exposes the inner workings. From there, the child is encouraged to alter the game parameters. As they do, they are given hints on ways they might want to accomplish their goal. They are also given information about coding and the inner workings of the computer.
Some of the information that is given is helpful, while others would seem more at home in a beginning engineering course. It is a little odd to tell an 8-year-old child that Latin root of the word cursor, for example. It's almost as if the target audience of the product changed at some point, but the original content was not removed. Speaking of content, the platform is a little light right now. That is because the platform is designed to expand over time, with a monthly subscription, though you get the first year of content included.
Fortunately, the Hack Computer offers an app store of sorts, so you can install some software you might consider missing as shipped. The Hack Computer is available now for $299.
This week, Avram Piltch talks about the death of a product that never made any sense: the Intel Compute Card. This tiny computer was about the size of a credit card but required a docking station to be used. Intel believed that this platform was the future of integrated devices, like smart TVs and refrigerators, but manufacturers never agreed. "Secure computing" also didn't pan out as a business model, because of the requirement for a lot of overhead. The problem is, this concept has been around for years, and will not be going anywhere any time soon. Samsung DeX is the same concept, with all of the same limitations. Microsoft Continuum was, again, most of the same issues. So, while Compute Card is gone, the idea is not.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses the future of USB, known as USB4 (or USB 4). While not everything is known about the new standard, such as the final marketing branding, we do know some. For example, we know that USB4 will be capable of up to 40Gbps transfer rates, equaling what Thunderbolt 3 supports currently. It will also support a smart switching capability when using both video and data over the same bus. Currently, each side gets 50% of the bandwidth, whether or not that is what is needed. In the new version, if video needs 20%, it will leave the other 80% of the bandwidth available for data transfer. This is similar to how Ethernet switches work today. For anyone using the port for external video cards, this will be an especially powerful upgrade.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses the history and milestones of the Raspberry Pi. It's hard to believe that its been 7 years since the original Raspberry Pi model released. In that time, almost everything has changed, except for the price of the computer. The original intention was to build only about 1000 devices, with the hope of getting more applicants to Cambridge University. Things changed really quickly, as educators, programmers, and makers all over the world took an interest in this full-featured computer with a very small price tag. Rather than 1000 devices, the organization has now sold over 25 million, with that milestone being hit only recently. One of the main reasons why the project has been so successful has been its $35 price. It's hard to imagine a computer with as much power as the Pi costing so little, but every top model has run in that price range. Another big reason is the organization tries to never end of life any of their products. In fact, 3 of the 5 products that have been discontinued have been because a key component was no longer available, making production impossible. No wonder the Raspberry Pi Foundation is so well regarded in the industry.
This week, Avram Piltch talks about some of the new announcements from Microsoft at Mobile World Congress 2019. The must-anticipated second generation of the HoloLens was the star of the show. The new hardware is lighter, faster, and smarter. Dynamics 365 brings an added benefit of hands-on tutorials, while new Azure capabilities make it easier to deal with pinning virtual objects. The new hardware will still sell for $3,500 but also has the option of leasing through a Dynamics 365 subscription at $150 per user per month.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses the future of Raspberry Pi, as told by the CEO of Raspberry Pi Trading, Eben Upton. Eben is also the creator of the platform and plans the direction of the platform today. While the original Pi was designed specifically for a limited audience at Cambridge, the current Pi (the Raspberry Pi 3 B+) is widely available, and the platform has sold over 24 million units.
The future of the platform is still partly up in the air. While they intend to maintain the price point of around $35, they are considering adding new capabilities. For example, USB-C is a possible addition for the future, though there is some concern over the durability. The processor and RAM, however, are guaranteed to get a needed upgrade from their current specs. What we do know for sure is that we will not see the new model in 2019.
This week, Avram Piltch gives us a hands-on with one of our favorite CES 2019 devices: Sphero Specdrums. When most people think of Sphero, they usually think of round robots, but this product definitely breaks the mold. In fact, Specdrums is a color sensing ring that allows you to play music. Simply place the ring up against something of a particular color, such as the included mat, and your phone or tablet will play the accompanying sound. Combined with beat loops, Specdrums can be any DJ's new best friend. In addition to the obvious, it is also a great educational tool, both for musicians and for people looking to learn about how color sensors can be used.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses his reactions to CES 2019 and what he sees as the trends that can be expected as we head into 2019. The real winner of CES, and possibly of the entire year, is AMD. As the company expands its reach and enhances its product offerings, chief competitor Intel is struggling to keep up. Intel has had production issues and has not been able to keep up with demand, leading new consumers and manufacturers to explore AMD-powered products. Another big trend of CES was RGB-enhanced products, which will make the next version of the Tom's Hardware RG-Beast experience even better.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses some of his predictions for what we will see and, more importantly, what we won't see in 2019. Avram expects to see the price of SSD drop seeing around 10 cents per gigabyte, meaning that you will be able to purchase a 1 terabyte drive for around $100. This should start a trend in laptops replacing their built-in drives to SSD, even on less expensive machines. He also expects a little disappointment in 5G - he expects that it will not go anywhere in 2019. Instead, it will be a lot of hype and very little delivery. Some cities will see spotty coverage start to show up, but nowhere is going to have a real rollout.
This week, Avram Piltch has a hands-on with a gaming keyboard he is currently reviewing for Tom's Hardware: the Viper Gaming V765 Mechanical Keyboard. This keyboard is designed for gamers, featuring a shorter actuation distance, making it easier to respond quickly while gaming. The switches are an uncommon white, which makes they click, but not require as much pressure to actuate. But it is also good for regular typing, as the keys put less pressure on your fingers, meaning you can type more and longer without fatigue. While he has not published the full interview, Avram is incredibly impressed with the keyboard, especially for the price.
This week, Avram Piltch talks about some of the Holiday deals that are still available. While Black Friday used to be a single day, it expanded into Cyber Monday, and today it encompasses nearly the entire month of December. Some of the deals that are available expire on Cyber Monday, there are still a ton of deals that you can get for yourself or a loved one right now.
This week, Avram Piltch is here to help you prepare for Black Friday deals and duds. Every year, retailers rush to bring you deals on clothing, electronics, components, and more. However, some of these supposed deals are not quite the special they pretend to be. In fact, it is not unusual to find a price that is higher than it is on a normal day. Or, more commonly, it is still not as great of a price as it would be from another store. Luckily, Avram has some of the best deals to look for, as well as how to avoid being taken.
This week, Avram Piltch is here to help you prevent buying an SSDud. This holiday, SSDs are expected to drop in price greatly, but not every drive is a good price. Sometimes, a sale price is higher than the regular price at another retailer. Sometimes, a drive that is inexpensive, is that way because it is not a quality product. Luckily, there are some great ways to spot a bad deal before you spend your money.
This week, Avram Piltch shows off Samsung's most recent laptop: the Samsung Galaxy Book 2. This attempt at a Microsoft Surface rival skips an Intel chip and, instead, uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 processor. That means that this laptop does not come close to the Surface Pro 6's performance or capabilities, though it does come close to the price. This below entry-level runs $1000 - an insanely high price for a computer that Avram describes as a secondary computer. This computer seems like technology for technology's sake.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses some stories of experiences PC refurbishers have had when opening up computers. Can you imagine opening up a desktop computer to find a loaded pistol instead of a CD drive? Or what about letting a collection of live roaches escape from a computer, only to have them infest your office? Those are just some of the bizarre and unpleasant experiences that refurbishers have shared.
This week, Avram Piltch has all of the information about Intel's newest generation of processors: the 9th Generation Core, also known as Coffee Lake Refresh. There is a trio of processors, an i5, i7, and i9. The i9 is the most interesting of the lot, upgrading the previous model, which had 6 cores, bringing an additional 2, for a total of 8. The launch did not come without controversy, however, as Intel's independent benchmark, run by Principled Technologies, was flawed at best. The company used standard cooling, standard RAM, and "game mode" on the AMD processor test while using an advanced cooler, overclocked RAM, and the full processor to test the Intel. Avram's got the details on the procs, the tests, and the responses.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses one of the most recent products he has had the opportunity to review: the Kano Computer Kit Touch. In March, Avram introduced us to the Kano Computer Kit, and this new model addresses one of the issues identified in the previous model: a lack of touchscreen. Most kids expect a screen to be touchable and making a kids device that required a keyboard and mouse was not a completely natural pairing. While the new model does bring touch, it does not bring touch-friendly capabilities to the platform in all places. Avram expects this to be addressed over time.
This week, Avram Piltch shows you how to enable Dark Mode across a variety of platforms on your PC. The feature has come out of the darkness in the past year, with many developers building the feature into their software, even on the web. Windows has supported the feature since Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8, but the capability is gaining wide adoption now. Luckily, Avram's got the process for Windows, Skype, Microsoft Word and more.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses Windows settings to change. Some of them speed up your computer while others make it less annoying to use. Some of his suggestions are pretty straightforward, like unhiding file extensions and hidden folders. On the other hand, some are more controversial, like disabling User Account Controls, garnering dozens of comments within hours on Tom's Hardware.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses his experiences in teaching his young son about electronics, robotics, programming and other STEAM-related topics. In the years the two have done projects together, Avram has learned a few things to look out for, as well as some best practices that have worked to keep his son involved and excited, including working with physical elements, like Arduino, as opposed to simply working in a virtual environment. There is little more exciting than creating something that affects a device in the real world, no matter your age.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses one of the biggest costs in building your own computer: Windows. While Microsoft sells a copy of Windows 10 Home for $139, there are other ways to get Windows 10 going for little or no cost. Whether you repurpose an existing activation key or purchase it wholesale, Avram's got some ideas to decrease the cost of your build.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses the legality of videogame ROMs and Nintendo's response to them. Previously, Nintendo has issued cease-and-desist letters to sites that host and distribute ROM files, but this week they ramped up their approach by suing. The suits bring back the topic of whether or not ROMs are legal. Tom's Hardware's Scharon Harding spoke to legal experts to arrive at a consensus: it's not legal. While there is no evidence that anyone has ever been sued for downloading, there is plenty of risk for sharing.
This week, Avram Piltch gives us a hands-on with the Elegoo EL-KIT-012 Smart Robot Car Kit V 3.0, an Arduino-powered robot kit he purchased on Amazon Prime Day 2018. The kit comes with everything you need to get started: an Arduino UNO, chassis, wheels, ultrasonic distance finder, IR controller and more. One oddity is that the instructions come on a DVD, but thankfully the company also offers them on their website, for those of us without an optical drive. Avram built the robot in a few hours with his son and highly recommends it to anyone interested in experimenting with Arduino.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses his less than stellar experience trying to purchase a laptop for himself. Earlier this year, while at LAPTOP Mag, he gave the Lenovo X1 Carbon a perfect score. A few months later, he publicly purchased one himself. A big part of his decision was the laptop's keyboard, a feature which is always important for him. Unfortunately, the experience of purchasing this laptop has not been great. In fact, 3 tries later, he has not found a single device that comes close to the experience he had on the review unit.
This week, Avram Piltch is immersed in a personal experiment of technological discovery: using Linux full-time. While this is not his first time running this experiment, he has taken it to a new level. He is using a newer flavor of Linux, Mint, and has installed it on his everyday laptop. In fact, his broadcast over Skype for the show was done from the Linux installation. There have been some ups and downs to the experience, and Avram has the details on his process.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses some of the ways that you can make your computer faster. No matter how fast or slow your computer is, most of the time it is waiting on you, not the other way around. So, to make your computing experience faster, you need to work on ways to speed up yourself. For example, learn to embrace the keyboard. Keyboard shortcuts can keep your hands on the keyboard, rather than moving back and forth to the mouse, taking extra time. Also, learning to type faster is a great way to speed up your experience.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses our favorite topic of the year: LAPTOP's Best and Worst Laptop Brands. Every year, the company creates a report card for the top 10 brands, with LAPTOP reviews, design, support & warranty, innovation and value & selection all factoring into the scores. This year, Lenovo once again reigns supreme, and Samsung and MSI sit at the bottom. Avram explains why and what it means for consumers.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses some of the best robots for kids of all ages. Whether your child is young and needs a device that doesn't require reading and gives a lot of assistance, or is older and wants to program with little to no help, Avram's got an option for you.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses some of the major advances that have happened in the world of processors in the past few weeks. He begins with the official release of Windows 10 on ARM, the new ARM-powered computers that run a complete version of Windows (compared to the previous Windows RT). The first generation can run most Win32 apps (32-bit applications), while a future update will add 64-bit application support as well.
Next are the Kaby Lake G processors from Intel. These processors combine Intel's processor power with AMD's integrated Vega graphics. These processors launched along side the new Coffee Lake processors, the full upgrade to the 8th Generation Core line, which exist in the i3 to i9 lines.
Each of these products has a particular user in mind, and Avram's got the information about each. He's also has a guide on processor choice on LAPTOP Magazine.
This week, Avram Piltch brings us the results of the LAPTOP Magazine Tech Support Showdown 2018. Once again, Apple takes the top spot, but they only took it by 3 points. Tying for #2 was Dell and Samsung. Coming in last was MSI. Avram tells us what went right and what went wrong.
This week, Avram Piltch brings us the latest product he is reviewing for Tom's Guide: the Kano Computer Kit. This kit is designed to help children understand how a computer works by allowing them to build one. Once the computer is built, a large collection of challenges and games allows the kid to learn how the computer works, and to program it to do new tasks.
This week, Avram Piltch brings us a view from an event that most of us cannot attend: Toy Fair 2018. This year's event showed off a number of different and unique toys. One of the most interesting toys was a motion-controlled quadcopter: the Spin Master Supernova Drone. Living in a cage, instead of out in the wild, this little device moves with you, rather than with a controller. Another interesting game is Mattel Flushin' Frenzy, a game that revolves around plunging a toilet. Don't worry, you definitely read that correctly.
Avram's got a lot more to tell you about, and Tom's Guide has their full list.
This week, Avram Piltch has got some new advice to help you save some money if you are considering purchasing a new laptop or desktop computer. Companies offer all sorts of add-ons and configuration options, but for most people, there are some that can simply be skipped, while others are absolutely essential. For example, never buy a laptop with a resolution below Full HD (1920x1080). The quality of the picture and, in particular, the crispness of text, will be painful to look at. Also, go for the SSD and skip a traditional hard drive. It will speed up your performance more than you might think. Avram's got a short list of features to skip, too. Check it out.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses one of the most disappointing trends in laptops: screen resolution. It's hard to believe that in 2018, as televisions are moving to UHD and screens are full HD or better, laptop screens are still shipping with 1366x768 resolution. It's not just a small number, either. 51% of business notebooks sold in 2017 were below full HD. In consumer laptops, the numbers are worse: over 60% of laptops sold were below full HD. This is a problem whose solution came a decade ago, so manufacturers should stop offering these low-end screens.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses a toy that is both strangely priced and strangely timed: the Star Wars First Order Stormtrooper Robot. This toy was released just this week, only days before Christmas, and commands a premium price of $300. This isn't the only programmable device to charge a price in this range, but it is possibly the least featured programmable toy in this price range. The companion app offers a strange use for augmented reality, in which the AR itself does not add to the experience. In fact, during this game, the robot itself doesn't add anything to the game. But does the promise of future updates make the robot worth the price? Avram's got an answer.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses the changes that came to the US regarding the internet, and what it could mean for you. In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission revoked guidances put in place in 2015, that discouraged internet service providers, or ISPs, from blocking or throttling websites for any reason. The intention of the guidances, referred to commonly as net neutrality, was to ensure that all internet users in the US would have the same access to content, no matter who their provider was. Now, with these guidances gone, Congress has the opportunity to step in and enact a binding legal framework.
This week, Avram Piltch has the much anticipated results of LAPTOP Magazine's AMD Ryzen 5 Mobile versus Intel Cire i5 tests. For this showdown, nearly identical models of the HP Envy x360, one featuring an AMD processor and one featuring the comparable Intel processor, were run against the same tests. While the results are mixed, they are very different from what you might have expected from an AMD vs Intel showdown from a year ago. For example, the Geekbench test goes to Intel, while the Cinebench test goes to AMD. The ultimate question, however, is which model should you buy? Avram's got your recommendation.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses some of the more nostalgic gifts that you can find for your friends and family. Whether you're looking for the new, modern Teddy Ruxpin or a Casio calculator watch, or maybe you want a Polaroid camera, Avram's got some interesting ideas.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses an important topic this time of year: laptops that make great gifts and are good for kids. The requirements are different: screens size should be smaller, platform should be chosen based on school's selection, price should be manageable and durability is must. Luckily, LAPTOP Magazine has tested a lot of laptops and can recommend the right one for you.
This week, Avram Piltch helps you prepare for Black Friday, which has expanded into a whole season, with deals over the next couple of weeks. Those deals can be overwhelming, with mass hysteria generated over televisions, laptops and more. Avram recommends making a plan by deciding what it is you are looking for, and what price would constitute a deal, and not jumping in just because something seems like a good price.
In addition, he shows off a new laptop he reviewed this week, the Acer Spin 1. This inexpensive laptop has an aluminum case and a screen better than some laptops triple its price, but it is powered by a Celeron processor. Who is it good for, and should you consider it? Avram's got the answer.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses a topic that many of us have forgotten about: bloatware. Over the past few years, the concept has changed, but has not gone away. Instead of Internet Explorer toolbars, today Microsoft and manufacturers pre-install casual games and other software. The question is, is the software that comes pre-installed a problem? Avram's got the answer.
In addition, Avram gives us a preview of the Asus Zenbook Ux430, the latest laptop to receive an Intel 8th Generation Core upgrade. While the review is still in-process, Avram's got some of the early results for this refreshed laptop.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses the introduction of AMD's Ryzen chips for laptop computers. This is a big move for the company, who has languished in the laptop marketplace for years. Following their successful Ryzen series for desktops, however, they will be challenging Intel's dominance and their 8th Generation Core processors. While we do not know all of the information about pricing, etc., we do have a lot of information about the processors themselves, as well as the first three laptops that will sport the processors this holiday.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses one of the biggest problems in laptop buying: pricing. Many retailers, including HP, Lenovo, Dell and Microsoft, list their laptops as "starting at," showing the price for the lowest possible configuration. Those prices are almost always for a configuration that you simply do not want, but by the time you get far enough into the process to know better, you feel committed to the purchase. Avram has some warnings on what to look for, what a minimum acceptable configuration should be, and how to not be taken advantage of.
This week, Avram Piltch has got two of the new laptops sporting Intel's 8th generation Core processors. While Lenovo's new Yoga may be a redesign, Dell's XPS 13 is a nearly identical clone of its predecessor, with an upgraded processor. Intel promises increased performance and better battery life - a claim that is hard to believe, but with Dell's laptop, easy to test. Are the claims correct, and is an 8th Generation Core processor worth waiting for? Avram has your answer.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses his latest review laptop, the ASUS VivoBook E403NA. This 14" laptop has 8 hours of battery life, an aluminum case and a full HD screen. Oh, and it comes in at only $399. Unfortunately, to get to that price, something has to be cut - in this case, storage and processor speed. See what Avram thinks about the overall value of the E403NA here.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses some of his and Tom's Guide's Best of IFA 2017. This year's list includes smartphones, smartwatches, augmented reality games, laptops and more. Whose products took the top spots? Avram's got the answers.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses one of the bigger reveals of the week - the 8th Generation Core processors from Intel. The branding is confusing to many leading to an important question - should I wait to buy a laptop with the new processors? Avram says, unless you're desperately in need, wait, unless the model of computer is not currently being considered for upgrade. Not all processors are currently being upgraded - in fact only the U-series Core i5 and i7 are on the upgrade path today. Avram's got all of the details on which to wait and which to buy.
This week, Avram Piltch talks about what resources you can use to enjoy the solar eclipse in the United States even more. Whether you want to watch online, find a companion app, build a viewer, or more, Avram, along with his colleagues at Tom's Guide and Space.com have all of the tools you need to make your experience better.
This week, Avram Piltch gives us a demo of the Circuit Cubes from Tenka Labs, a circuit-building kit for younger kids. The kit is LEGO-compatible, meaning you can enhance your projects using LEGO parts, but the kit differs from that of the LEGO BOOST. The BOOST is a kit designed to encourage programming, while the Circuit Cubes are designed to teach about electricity and circuit design. Instead of using wires to connect components, the Cubes use magnets and direct contact to transfer electricity from piece to piece. Avram and his son have tested the kit out, and Avram has his findings.
This week, Avram Piltch gives us a demo of the LEGO BOOST, a robotics kit for younger kids. The kit offers 5 guided projects and the ability to free-form create, all without having to "write" a single line of code. Instead, the development interface is entirely graphics-driven, meaning that kids who have not learned to read can still understand it. In fact, Avram's 5-year-old son was able to create his own programming without issue. The LEGO BOOST is available now for $159.95.
This week, Avram is here to help you prepare for the ever important back-to-school season. There are some tech items that every student needs, like a laptop, a backpack, a portable battery and more. Laptop Magazine has compiled some of the most important, and Avram talks about what they are and why they were chosen.
This week, Avram Piltch brings us some of the best tech on a budget. First, Avram discusses the treacherous terrain of inexpensive laptops. Usually, battery life is terrible, or screens are low resolution or very dim, or even incredibly heavy. It doesn't have to be this way, as there are some great deals under $200. In addition to laptops, Avram discusses one of the most essential computer accessories: the mouse. Inexpensive mice can be awkward to use or even overly basic. Some mice, however, are worth considering. $20 can even get you a wireless mouse from a reputable brand with navigation buttons on the side.
This week, Avram Piltch talks about the next STEM educational product he is reviewing: the Sony KOOV. The system is designed to help teach kids about programming logic and mechanical workings, while making the process as easy as possible. Avram and his son have worked with it for only a single day, but they have built one of the more complex projects. See what Avram thinks about his early experiences.
This week, Avram Piltch is back from Taipei with all of the details about Computex 2017. While CES might be the largest tech show, Computex is the largest computer show in the world. From new laptops to Windows 10 on ARM, odd computer cases and more, Avram has the info.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses one of the topics we have missed over the past few weeks: Microsoft announcements. First is the Surface Laptop, not to be confused with the Surface Book. The new Laptop is not a convertible, but instead a traditional laptop. It comes in a variety of configurations, including color choices, something new in the Surface family.
Next up is Windows 10 S, the new edition of Windows intended for schools. This edition is essentially a full version of Windows 10, with the limitation of not being able to install software from outside of the Windows Store. This allows for a greater sense of security for school officials, without any issues from students. Microsoft will use Windows 10 S to compete with Chromebooks, which have recently begun to infest schools because of perceived security.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses the much-anticipated Samsung Galaxy S8 and Samsung Galaxy S8+. These devices are the next generation of Samsung's most popular phone series. They are also Samsung's first major release since the ill-fates Galaxy Note7, which was recalled after devices began catching fire. Can Samsung fix its fate with the new phones? Avram's got the answer.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses LAPTOP Magazine's 2017 Best and Worst Laptop Brands results. While he is not able to discuss who took the top few spots, he was able to talk about one company who fell from grace this year: Apple. In the past 7 years, Apple has always taken the top spot. This year, the company fell not one place, but to a tie for 5th place. Considering in 2016 only 10 brands were rated, falling to a tie for 5th is beyond collapse. Avram discusses how their rankings work, what went wrong for Apple this year, and what went right for some of the others.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses the upcoming Windows 10 Creators Update. Microsoft may have just announced the public release date, but Avram has been using it for a while and has some of his favorite features. Unfortunately, most of the things that we were all excited about are missing.
This week, Avram Piltch brings us a summary of LAPTOP Magazine's 2017 Tech Support Showdown. Every year, the publication calls the 10 biggest laptop manufacturers, asking common support questions and rates the accuracy and usefulness of the company's responses. This year, some of the results are not just shocking, they are concerning.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses, in detail, his experiences at Toy Fair 2017 in New York. From drones and Arduino to conductive clay and an updated Teddy Ruxpin, Avram saw some interesting products. He also got to show off some products from Technology Will Save Us, featuring Electro Dough Kit, which is a conductive clay kit, and Mover Kit, a build-it-yourself fitness tracker for kids.
This week, Avram Piltch has with him the new Divoom Timebox Mini ($49), a smart alarm clock based on their existing Divoom Timebox ($89) product, just on a smaller scale. This device has 121 programmable pixels, which can dance to music, show app notifications or even function as a game. Of course, it also focuses on its primary task: an alarm clock. Avram has spent some time with the device, and has all of the details.
This week, Avram talks about some of the features that are nice to have, but are not required. If you are in the process of buying a new laptop and are looking for ways to save a little money, these features are a great way to save.
This week, Avram talks about the tech items that are not worth buying today. This time of year, with CES just behind us and MWC just ahead, there are a number of products that are about to be replaced by new models, so buying now would be a disappointment. Once a new model comes out, old models become more affordable and new models are faster, lighter and better than their predecessors. Of course, this is not to say that, if you drop your phone in the toilet you should wait, but if everything is still working, a few more weeks might do you well.
This week, Avram Piltch and Scott Ertz discuss CES 2017 and the types of products that they are hoping to see, as well as the parts of the show floor that they find most interesting. Robots on the show floor and Eureka Park's unique and sometimes weird products are some of the topics discussed about the upcoming event.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses some of the differences between the various families of processors available in computers. Not every processor is right for every person, and Avram has done the research for you to help you choose the most important piece of hardware in your next computer.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses some of the best deals that he and his team have found. These deals include laptops, monitors, toys and accessories, all curated so you don't have to go hunting.
This week, Avram Piltch and Scott Ertz discuss some of the products they have reviewed this year, which ones would make great gifts and which ones to avoid completely.
Also, watch or listen to find the secret phrase to enter to win a new Vinci headphone before they are available to the public.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses some of the best gadgets to watch for during the Black Friday state-of-mind. While Black Friday used to be a single day, it now accounts for most of November, and prices on a number of gadgets will be great. Others, however, may not go on sale, but these are the gadgets to grab up if they do.
This week, Avram Piltch and Scott Ertz discuss the announcements of the week from both Microsoft and Apple. Both companies showed off their ideas for the future of creative computing, and the two could not be more different. How do their visions differ? Listen and find out.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses a self-fulfilling prophecy in laptop sizes. Currently, the most popular size of laptop is a 15" screen, but that is mostly because it is the most popular already. But, what size is actually best for most people? Avram has his take on the topic.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses whether or not it is a good idea to purchase a new laptop right now. Last month, Intel's Kaby Lake processors were released, and we are starting to see the first new laptops sporting this hardware. For example, the Dell XPS 13 received a refresh, giving you a thin laptop, keeping ports and adding longer battery life and the new processor. But, is now a good time to get it, or any laptop, or should you wait for a little while? Avram has the answer.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses the future of keyboards and the various types of other input devices that currently exist and might exist in the future. This is in response to comments made by Dave Coplin, Microsoft's Chief Envisioning Officer, where he said it is "bizarre" that the keyboard has dominated as the primary input type. Since those comments he has clarified his statement, and Avram discusses his beliefs on the topic.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses one of his personal projects - the Chrome extension Silent Site Sound Blocker. This extension solves a common problem online: unsolicited noise. If you spend a lot of time on news sites, you will recognize the issue of ad videos playing automatically and making noise when you don't want them to. This extension allows you to prevent sites from making noise without your permission. Best of all? It's completely free.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses some of the fascinating new robots and toys coming to the market for the holidays this year. First is the Ozobot Evo, and enhancement on their existing robotic sphere, which adds smartphone control to the list of existing features. Next was the Anki OVERDRIVE, a modern smartphone take on the slot car. From the same company is the Cozmo, which is like a robotic pet with a forklift and can play games and even recognize faces. Lastly, we discusses the mCookie, an Arduino kit that is entirely magnetic snaps.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses the new line of Intel processors. Kaby Lake brings the 7th generation of Intel's Core I processors. These new chips bring faster speeds and higher turbo speeds. The stranger change, though, is in the Core m series of processors. These lower power chips often cost more and perform lower than their traditional counterparts, but will be lumped in with them. Intel Core m5 and Core m7 will now be called Core i5 and Core i7, making for market confusion. Making the decision even stranger is Core m3 will retain its name.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses one of the worst keyboard shortcut decisions in internet history: the backspace key. In most browsers, this key, in certain contexts, is the same as hitting the back button on the toolbar. The problem with this is that, if you're typing and accidentally click your mouse ,you can lose everything you've typed. Google is trying to fix this, hopefully others will follow suit.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses the technology products that you should avoid purchasing right now. Should you upgrade your Android phone? Your iPhone? What about your aging Lumia? Now might not be the time. Avram will let you know whether or not this is a good time to buy.
This week, Avram Piltch shows off an interesting take on the micro computer: the Gole1. This little Atom-powered computer works similar to an Intel Compute Stick, running Windows 10 and Android. It also adds a battery and 5 inch touchscreen. The question is, does the screen add anything to the experience, or is it just a gimmick? Avram has the answer.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses the ups and downs of Windows 10 this week. On July 29, Microsoft ended the free upgrade program for Windows 7 and 8 users to move to Windows 10. On August 2, Windows 10 Anniversary Update will be released, adding some new and exciting, but also some unexpected and potentially dangerous features to the operating system. Avram talks about them all.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses the recent addition of Android apps to two more Chromebook models. The company intends to bring the feature to almost all models, current and past, in the near future. Does this feature make Chromebooks worth considering, or is this just a gimmick that won't add enough value? We discuss.
This week, Avram Piltch brings to us some of the best laptops available for students. But, that's not all! He talks about which models are best for each major, and where you might be able to score a deal.
This week, Avram Piltch talks about the lawsuit against Microsoft in regards to Windows 10 upgrades. Microsoft decided to settle the suit without taking the issue to trial, paying $10,000 to the plaintiff. Avram is concerned about the ramifications of settling this suit, but in particular, how it could threaten security and innovation, with software companies worried about automatic updates.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses some of the ways in which technology was better in the 80s. From removable media to record television to self-powered phone, instant-off computers and less power-hungry gadgets, he talks about some nostalgia and some actual trends away from success.
This week, Avram Piltch talks about his experiences at this year's Computex event in Taipei. From Jetsons-style robots to backpack computers for virtual and augmented reality, this year's conferences was certainly eventful.
This week, Avram Piltch gives us some information about what to look for in a laptop sale and when is the best time of year to purchase.
MWC 2016 hasn't started yet, and already we have lots of information about new devices, like the HP Elite x3 Windows 10 phone, the LG G5 and more. Avram discusses the most important information we know so far.
Hosted by Avram Piltch, Editor-in-Chief of Tom's Hardware, and moderated by Scott Ertz, The Piltch Point is a livecast covering news, reviews, and previews of devices and components.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses a new laptop with some interesting features and quirks: the Vaio Z Flip. Since leaving Sony, Vaio has tried to differentiate themselves from the rest of the manufacturers, and with this laptop, they've done it with a unique hinge and a powerful processor. Is this a laptop to consider purchasing? Avram has the details.
This week, Avram Piltch talks about some of the new features coming to laptops and computers in 2016. USB Type-C can power a lot of new features, and a computer with those features make them better.
This week, Avram Piltch talks about the highs and lows of 2016. He talks about products that succeeded, those that didn't and some that never made it out of CES 2015.
This week, Avram Piltch has his annual update to the LAPTOP Magazine buying guide. He talks about what to look for in a computer, including hard drive types, memory, screen sizes and more. You don't want to make a laptop purchase without this information.
This week, Avram Piltch talks about one of the most important topics in technology for December: upgrading your PC. For some, rather than buying a new PC, you can make a few minor upgrades and breathe new life into your existing PC. Avram has some of the best upgrades that can be made today.
This week, Avram Piltch talks about some of the best deals for Black Friday, Cyber Monday and beyond. We also discuss some products that are better deals than others.
This eek, Avram Piltch returns with a bang, bringing 2 incredibly inexpensive PCs. First up is the InFocus Kangaroo, a tiny portable Windows 10 PC with the ability to add ports through an expansion port. The device is available through the Microsoft Store soon for a mere $99. Next is the Lenovo IdeaPad 100S, an 11" laptop running Windows 10 on an Atom Processor with 2GB of RAM. The laptop is available now for $199. The question is, are either of these machines worth their price? Avram has the answer.
This week, Avram Piltch talks about the release of the newest version of Microsoft Office. Office 2016 adds a lot of new capabilities, mostly focused on collaboration. The newest version is available now for Windows, Windows Phone and Mac.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses the week's events in regards to ad blocking. Apple's iOS 9 brought about the ability to download ad-blockers, and they were quickly popular among users. One developer, however, felt remorse for hurting websites and pulled his within 2 days. Avram spoke to ethicists, industry insiders and more for this report.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses the products announced by Apple at their September 9th event. He discusses the iPad Pro and its obvious inspiration from the Surface Pro, the paired Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard, also borrowed from Microsoft, the Apple TV and its gaming intentions and more.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses what we didn't get to hear about at this year's Intel Developer Forum: Skylake. Waiting for IDF 2015, the company talked about all of the cool new features of the next generation of processors, including its implementation into the Core M, Pentium and Celeron hardware. He also discusses some of the new computers that are taking advantage of the new Skylake architecture.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses the ups and downs of this year's Intel Developer conference. While we didn't get all of the information we might have wanted about the next generation of processors, we did learn a lot about the capabilities of RealSense cameras, including drones, robot butlers and more.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses the most important thing to come out of Verizon Wireless' big announcement - are the new plans a good deal for consumers? Shortly before the announcement, his team published an analysis of wireless networks speed, customer service and plans, but are Verizon's plans better now than before? Avram has the answer.
This week, Avram Piltch continues his coverage of the Windows 10 launch. While last week he talked about whether you should upgrade any why, this week he discusses what you should do now that you have Windows 10 running. In particular, how can you change some of the settings that default to something you might not want. This is must-have information for anyone running Windows 10.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses and shows off why you should upgrade to Windows 10 "without hesitation." With Cortana making her way to the desktop and a completely reimagined Start menu/Start screen hybrid, and the ability to change interface based on hardware with Continuum, Windows 10 is definitely ready for you to install.
This week, Avram Piltch shows off one of the most interesting built-in features we have ever seen on an Android tablet. The HP Pro Slate 8 offers a ballpoint pen that allows you to write on paper and it transcribes it onto the tablet. But, does this feature justify the $449 price point or is it merely a gimmick? Avram has the answer.
This week, Avram Piltch, Online Editorial Director of LAPTOP Magazine, answers a question he is often asked: what do you look for in a laptop. While we all know that no laptop is perfect, there are some features that should be considered before making a purchase. Avram discusses which features are essential for him, and which he can consider skipping.
This week, Avram Piltch has updated his editorial on Android vs iPhone. As a long-time Android user, Avram takes the Android side of the debate, giving us reasons why Android-powered phones make better devices than iPhones.
This week, Avram Piltch has a brand new Pebble Time smartwatch. The newest model in the Pebble family has added a microphone and color E Ink display, and a whole collection of apps to take advantage of both of these new features. But, is it enough to make the $200 price tag worth it? Avram has the answer.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses the overall meh reaction the world had to this year's WWDC by Apple. The company announced a huge collection of "borrowed" features that other platforms have had for years, but absolutely nothing new for any of their brands. This included Windows 7/8's snap, Windows 8's edge gestures, Windows' cursor locator, webOS's swipe to delete email and HERE Maps' transit maps.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses his experiences at this year's Computex in Taipei. From laptops and tablets to microcomputers, Computex had a lot of interesting products to talk about; it also had some weird announcements, the biggest of which coming from Intel.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses the rise in popularity of ad blockers and their effect on the Internet. In the past, it was limited to those who knew how to interact with plugins, but with the creation of ad blocking browsers, the ability to use these tools has gone mainstream. The problem is, without the ad revenue, how do the websites you visit stay in business? Avram discusses.
This week, Avram Piltch is back with two great topics for us. First we discuss his experiences at Microsoft //build with the upcoming HoloLens. He had the opportunity to build a test application and learned about the various ways you can interact with the virtual world projected into the real world.
Next he shows us the newest member of the Lenovo Yoga family - the Yoga Tablet 2 AnyPen with Windows (8"). The 8" Windows variant of this tablet has been around for a while now, but the introduction of AnyPen is the hero here. This technology allows you to use any metal object as a stylus, creating a great scenario for the garage, workshop or toolbox.
This week, Avram Piltch has the biggest show and tell yet, bringing 2 different products and 3 separate topics. First is the new Surface 3 from Microsoft, the theoretical successor but major step forward for the base Surface model. Upgrading from an ARM processor to an Intel, and from Windows RT to full Windows 8.1, this makes the Surface 3 a true productivity device.
The future of the Surface is Windows 10, which is in its technical preview phase. That preview received an update, with tons of new features and bug fixes. Chief among these additions is Outlook Mail and Calendar, the replacements for Windows Mail and Calendar. These new apps fix a number of the issues of their predecessors, namely the lack of POP3 access in email.
The upcoming Build Conference, which Avram will attend, likely has a lot of news about Windows, for the Surface, phone and other devices. One of those devices is HoloLens, Microsoft's Augmented reality platform, which is poised to change the way we interact with out computers forever. The surprise reveal several months ago showed promise, but what will the future hold, and who will make apps for the platform? Build is likely to reveal that information.
This week, Avram Piltch has a show-and-tell of the newly released Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge. The device, which released in the United States today, is the newest entry in the Galaxy family, adding the rounded LCD edges first found on the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge. It is the sister device to the Samsung Galaxy S6, which also was released today. The question at hand is, with the $100 price difference over the standard phone, is this a phone to consider?
This week, Avram Piltch talks about and shows off some of the best and worst aspects of the latest Windows 10 Technical Preview - Build 10041. We talk about 4-corner snapping, monitor seams and the Start menu, plus the issues with Netflix and whether it is time to try it out.
This week, Avram Piltch talks about his experiences at Mobile World Congress 2015, which he describes as the best ever. We follow the trends of mobile payments, biometrics, virtual reality and cheap phones. Most importantly, he talks about his experience with the HTV/Valve Vive and Portal demo.
This week, Avram Piltch has got an Intel RealSense developer kit and he is ready to show it off. Between virtual green screens, face scans and emotion detection, there are lots of interesting capabilities in this new technology.
This week, Avram Piltch talks about what you can do to prepare for a data breach. In the wake of this week's Anthem data breach, people are worried about what they might need to do to protect themselves, and what they could have done before to prevent it. Avram, and the teams at LAPTOP and Tom's Guide have put together lists of what to do both before and after a loss like this.
This week, Avram Piltch has a show and tell item for us - the Dell Venue 8 7000, a confusingly named, by interesting Android tablet. Sporting a bright, vibrant 8.4" screen and an Intel RealSense camera, is this $300 tablet worth the price? Avram explains.
This week, Avram Piltch explains some of the hardware to expect in your next computer. If Intel's expectations are correct, this is the year of computer upgrades, which means you are more likely to need this list than not.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses some of his favorite experiences from CES 2015. Whether it be a watch that can help you secure your computer and property to a mini computer from Intel, Avram saw it all.
This week, Avram Piltch shows off the newest member of the Android Wear family, the Asus ZenWatch. While the device itself is fairly sound, minus its band, it is still held back by the lack of capabilities of Android Wear itself. Does the hardware make this watch a keeper? Watch and find out.
This week, Avram Piltch gives some recommendations for how you can upgrade your technology experience for under $100. Whether it be an inexpensive extra monitor to make you more productive, an SSD to speed up your computer's performance or a keyboard to make typing more natural, he has something for almost everyone.
This week, Avram Piltch talks about the gadgets that are, and are not, good deals on Cyber Monday and beyond. An important thing to note about the month of December: if a product you want is not on sale today, check again tomorrow.
This week, Avram Piltch talks to us about some of the best ways to get Black Friday prices without leaving home. Some of these deals are available now, while some will have to wait for Friday. Where can you get the best deals this year? Watch and find out.
This week, Avram Piltch brings us a look at one of the most interesting takes on the convertible computer: the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro. This laptop, which can convert into a tablet, a presentation device and even a tent, has some serious tricks up its sleeve. But can its keyboard and battery live up to the rest of the line? Avram explains.
This week, Avram Piltch begins our holiday coverage with some of the inexpensive gifts available now from the LAPTOP Magazine and Tom's Guide Holiday Gift Guides. With wall sockets, Wi-Fi range extenders, keyboards and mice, there are plenty of great gifts that won't empty your wallet.
This week, Avram Piltch has the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, and he wants to show it to you. With a giant screen, great resolution and unique sensors is the new member of the Note family the new King of Phablets?
This week, Avram Piltch is back and talking about the things we have missed over the past few weeks without him. First we talk about and experience Windows 10, especially the things that are new to the OS. From the return of the Start menu to windowed modern apps, there is plenty to see.
Second, we talk about how to prepare to blame technology for mistakes. Whether you're prepared to respond to a bad Tweet, or explaining why your email attachment is missing, Avram has some great ways to be prepared for your mistakes.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses with the F5 Live team some of the known issues coming out of the launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Included are the camera, the battery and, of course, the bendable body. This conversation comes on the heals of F5 Live Episode 370, which discussed the software issues of the same launch.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses his experiences at Intel Developer Forum 2014. With announcements ranging from the Galileo successor Edison development board for Internet of Things devices, to the next Core family, Sky Lake, Avram was there for it all. Have you ever thought about a necklace that can tell you your mother's mood? How about a desk that can charge all of your devices wirelessly? A USB cable that can be plugged in either direction and charge your laptop? IDF 2014 had it all.
This week, Avram Piltch talks about some inexpensive ways to upgrade your existing or future gadgets. From memory cards for your phone to an SSD for your laptop or desktop, and even RAM upgrades, Avram has some great ways to make your gadgets work harder for you.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses the technology products we already know about and predict we will see during September and October. Among these products are the iPhone 6 (or whatever they decide to call it), the Moto 360, a new entry in the Surface family and the Lumia 730.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses his list of some of the worst gadgets of all time. Some of them make the list because of a terrible launch partner (Microsoft Kin + Verizon), while others make the list for being completely useless. If there weren't products like this, we would be out of a job, so let's dive in.
This week, Avram Piltch talks about mobile battery life and reveals that, through LAPTOP Magazine's extensive testing, T-Mobile phones last longer than their competitors. This information is based on identical handsets, such as the Galaxy S5 and HTC One, tested in multiple cities.
This week, Avram Piltch brings us a number of services offered by major companies that have zero benefit. Fortunately, these services cost a lot of money. Instead of using the services offered by these companies, Avram also brings us alternatives and solutions.
This week, Avram Piltch brings us some of the best apps available in the Android and iOS markets for toddlers. He discovered that, while most kids apps are appropriate for kids 5 and older, toddlers require a different set of features. For example, a simple menu structure and no reading make using the app possible for a 2-year-old.
Last week Avram Piltch told us about some of the best gadgets to purchase today. This week he's flipping it and talking about some of the worst tech purchases you could make today. From smartwatches and phones to wearables, he's got it all.
Avram Piltch often brings the world top 10 lists, but sometimes people just want the best of the best. That is what we have tonight. What is considered the best smartphone, laptop and tablet for what you are doing? Here are Avram and LAPTOP Magazine's choices.
Avram Piltch recently moderated a panel at CE Week in New York, presented by the Consumer Electronics Association. The panel was about wearable technology and its implications on our culture. He had 4 experts on representing both technology and culture (available on YouTube).
While doing a great job moderating the panel, he was inspired to write his own opinions on the topic. Tonight he discusses those opinions on why wearables and AR make us more human, not less.
Avram Piltch shows off the new LG G Watch, as well as the Android Wear platform. As he shows, the platform might not be ready for a public debut, and the G Watch might not be worth the $229 pricetag.
Avram Piltch is never one to back down from a topic, even if it might be controversial. This one, it turns out, was not. He discusses the reasons why you should NOT get an Amazon Fire Phone; for example, the whole concept of a store disguised as a phone.
Avram Piltch discusses all of the interesting items he saw at this year's Computex in Taipei. From Intel's Llama Mountain to Asus, MSI and Intel, he has got tons of information. In addition, we discuss Samsung's Tizen event and Windows Phones.
Avram Piltch and the crew from LAPTOP Magazine and Tom's Guide will be traveling a lot this month covering events all over the world. Starting next week, they will keep us up-to-date on Computex from Taipei and Apple's World Wide Developer Conference in San Francisco. After that they'll be helping us cover E3 2014 in Los Angeles and then Google I/O in San Francisco. With all of that going on this month, what can we expect? Avram gives us his thoughts.
Avram Piltch discusses his recent piece about five freedoms we currently take for granted online that could easily be swept away if net neutrality is not preserved. Whether you want to start a business or a blog, shop from a particular store or use a particular service, your ISP could prevent you from accessing it, and there would be nothing you could do about it, other than switch providers.
Avram Piltch knows that bloatware is one of the dirty little tricks that manufacturers and carriers play on their customers, on computers, tablets and phones. He also knows that there are ways to remove this garbage and explain some of them right here.
Avram Piltch knows that removing your hands from the keyboard to interact with the mouse is one of the biggest time wasters. This is why he compiled a list of 15 keyboard shortcuts you're not using. Whether snapping Windows, selecting content in Word or Excel, or opening and closing tabs in your browser, Avram has you covered.
Avram Piltch talks about his experiences at Microsoft's Build 2014 developer conference. In particular, he talks about the pros and cons of the most talked about feature of Windows Phone 8.1: Cortana. Based on Cortana from the Halo series, Microsoft's personal assistant has a lot to be excited about, and a lot to be apprehensive of. In addition, he discusses the addition of a notification area in Windows Phone 8.1 and the return of the Start menu in Windows 8.1.
Avram Piltch discusses one of the most important features in modern technology: battery life. Whether it's a laptop, tablet or smartphone, a short battery life can ruin your otherwise happy experience. Which devices have the best and worst ratings from LAPTOP Magazine? Avram tells you here.
Avram Piltch has written articles that have received their share of negative comments, and he wears that as a badge of honor. In fact, he believes that, for someone to take the time to respond negatively, he must have hit a good topic. If that is the case, this week was a success with the 6 Reasons the iPhone 6 Has Already Lost, having received whole response articles from Network World and The Unofficial Apple Weblog. He discusses the topics of his "well-received" article, as well as the sudden fame from his astute observations.
Avram Piltch discusses an interesting device he recently encountered: a smart vending machine that can use facial recognition and NFC to customize the experience for the customer. You can also use the connected machine to send gifts to the machine; for example, someone could purchase a pair of headphones remotely and you could pick them up at the machine.
In addition, he discusses the rumors surrounding the iPhone 6 (or iPhone Air), coming up at the end of the year. It is expected to be a slight, incremental change. The camera is expected to be the same hardware as the iPhone 5s, and battery life will continue to be a problem.
Avram Piltch talks us through some of the innovations he and his team discovered at this year's Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, Spain. Drawing from the Best of Mobile World Congress lists from both LAPTOP Magazine and sister site Tom's Guide, he discussed the second-generation YotaPhone, the Samsung Gear and Samsung Gear Fit, the Rambus lensless camera and more.
Avram Piltch discusses the ethical dilemmas created by wearable technology, such as Google Glass. Having spoken with domain experts, such as human cyborg and University of Toronto Professor Steve Mann, Former New York Times Ethicist Randy Cohen and About.com Etiquette Expert Debby Mayne, Avram brings us a unique view of the dilemmas created by this new technology and how some have begun to deal with them.
Avram Piltch gives us a hands-on with Lenovo's new version of the X1 Carbon and gives his, as well as LAPTOP Magazine's impressions of the device. Included is a discussion about the laptop's keyboard, screen and trackpad, plus battery life and, of course, whether or not it is worth the money.
Avram Piltch, inspired by a review of the capabilities of a modern smartphone compared to an entire RadioShack newspaper ad from the 80s, discusses how to duplicate some of our favorite 80s gadgets today. From the View-Master to the Atari 2600 - even a full MS-DOS PC - everything is possible on a modern smartphone.
Avram Piltch discusses some of the technological advances in the USB standard, including USB 3.1 set to debut this year. With the new technology comes new uses, such as 4K video delivered over USB, universal power delivery and USB C, a new tip to end the "which side is up" issue once and for all.
Avram Piltch discusses LAPTOP Magazine's top picks for CES 2014. From phones to watches, we talk about everything. He then sticks around for the rest of F5 Live as we also discuss our picks for best of CES 2014.
Avram Piltch covers some of the top tech fails of 2013. From the overall disaster that is BlackBerry to the launch failure of Ouya, from Samsung's Galaxy Zoom to HP's super-hot Chromebook 11, there were plenty of mistakes this year.
Avram Piltch talks about 5 of the top 13 gadgets from 2013 that rocked battery life. From a 20+ hour laptop to a 12+ hour videogame system and a 13+ hour smartphone, some companies really raised the bar on battery performance, but not everyone keeps up.
Avram Piltch discusses 3 of the 5 items on his list of technology gifts no one should be surprised by. From Chromebooks to the Surface 2, these gifts should not be given without first discussing the intent with the recipient.
Avram Piltch tells us of the newest Laptop Magazine record holder, the T440, having the longest non-slice battery life of any laptop ever tested. He also discusses Laptop Magazine's list of the best gadgets of 2013.
Hosted by Avram Piltch, Editor-in-Chief of Tom's Hardware, and moderated by Scott Ertz, The Piltch Point is a livecast covering news, reviews, and previews of devices and components.
Hosted by Avram Piltch, Online Editorial Director of LAPTOP Magazine, and moderated by Scott Ertz and Nicholas DiMeo, The Piltch Point is a livecast covering the news of the week in the mobile space.
Hosted by Avram Piltch, Editor-in-Chief of Tom's Hardware, and moderated by Scott Ertz, The Piltch Point is a livecast covering news, reviews, and previews of devices and components.
Avram Piltch discusses some of the annoyances with Windows 8.1 and how to solve them. From searching for files to not copying files in Modern UI; from quickly vanishing notifications to protecting you from yourself, Avram has the solutions.
Avram Piltch discusses and shows off the new Asus Transformer Book T100. Is it a tablet or is it a netbook? The answer to both is yes. Powered by a Bay Trail Atom processor and Windows 8.1, this little beast is a steal for $349.
Avram Piltch discusses the newly announced HP Chromebook 11 and why this device, alone with all other Chromebooks are not ready for primetime. With an app store that allows you to install apps that won't run on your device, 5+ second application load times and absolutely no consideration for using the device offline, this device doesn't know who it is designed for.
Avram Piltch talks about and shows off the new Galaxy Note 3 smartphone and Galaxy Gear smartwatch. With 11 hours of battery life on the LAPTOP Magazine test and a huge, beautiful screen that takes advantage of its stylus in a great way, is the Note 3 the best phone on the market? With limited syncing capabilities and a small collection of apps, however, is the Gear a yay or nay? Avram will let you know before you buy.
Avram Piltch discusses the top features of smartphones that no one could ever want. From attention seeking media players to gestures that are more difficult than the normal interaction method, today's smartphones truly have it all.
Avram Piltch discusses why the iPhone 5s and 5c is still behind the times. Between terrible battery life, small screens, lack of application side-loading and a lack of NFC, it just seems like skipping the iPhone is a good idea.
Avram Piltch discusses the newly announced Intel Bay Trail family of processors and their future in the tablet and laptop marketplace. Marketed as Atom in tablets and Celeron and Pentium for laptops, these processors offer significant improvements over the previous generation of Atom, but will they stand up to Avram's requirements?
Sherri L. Smith of LAPTOP Magazine, filling in for Avram Piltch, talks about the news of the week out of the Samsung camp: the Note 3 and Gear smartwatch.
Avram Piltch talks about his list of the worst default settings for desktop computers and how to fix them. From Office 2013's new smooth typing to Window's hiding of file extensions, changing many of these default settings can save you hassle in your daily life.
Avram Piltch explains some of the best, little-known features of Google's Android operating environment. Among these features are remote desktop, file server and Apache web server.
Avram Piltch talks about Tizen - Samsung's upcoming smartphone operating system and where it fits in the marketplace. He also discusses the similarities and differences between Tizen and other operating systems, such as Google's Android, HP Palm's webOS and BlackBerry's BlackBerry 10.
Avram Piltch discusses the new and exciting features coming to smartphones over the next 5 years. From additional sensors, like biometric identity and fitness, to always-on voice control enhances batteries and cameras, you almost won't be able to recognize the smartphone in 2018.
Avram Piltch discusses the newly announced Google Chromecast and why it is not a value for almost any consumer. With its incredibly limited operating system and almost entire lack of functionality, a $35 pricepoint is simply not worth it. Instead, Avram suggests looking into one of dozens of Android-powered mini PCs which are capable of doing everything the Chromecast can, plus running most Android applications, plus start in a price very similar to the Chromecast.
Avram Piltch shows off the Asus MeMO Pad HD 7, the new 7 inch tablet from the company. With nearly 10 hours of battery life, a high-quality screen, including color adjustments, and a quad-core processor, all for only $150, it is no wonder Avram believes this is the best 7 inch tablet in town.
Avram Piltch discusses some of the best ways to prevent your gadgets from being damaged or used for unintended purposes. Whether you don't want your toddler to turn off your computer while you are using it or you want to prevent them from purchasing a car on eBay, Avram has solutions for you.
Avram Piltch shows off the Acer Iconia W3, the world's first-to-market Windows 8 8" tablet. While we expect this to be the beginning of a popular product category, the first device has a number of killer features, including a custom Bluetooth keyboard and nearly 9 hour battery life.
Avram Piltch discusses some of the things he encountered while at Microsoft's annual developer conference, //Build. Topics include Windows 8.1's return of the Start button, Internet Explorer's multiple personality disorder and a lack of file control in modern mode.
Avram Pitch discusses the new and exciting computer products he experienced at Computex in Taipei. From an Android tablet that becomes a Windows 8 laptop to the first 8" Windows 8 tablet, plus a full refresh from Toshiba and a lot of Haswell processors, there is a lot to cover this week.
Avram Pitch discusses the 10 old technologies you won't believe are still in use today. Included are pay phones, pagers, dial-up Internet access and blank VHS cassettes.
Avram Piltch discusses details about Google I/O, their annual developer's conference. Included in the discussion are the biggest disappointments and whether the press should continue to hype developer events as if they are press events.
Avram Piltch discusses 6 amazingly arrogant statements made by technology executives. The list includes Steve Jobs' statement about Android, Steve Ballmer's statement about the iPhone and was inspired by the week's statement by BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins about tablets. He also discusses Acer's recently announced line of surprisingly odd notebooks and tablets.
Avram Piltch discusses his interactions with the Samsung Galaxy S4 on Sprint and LAPTOP Magazine's review of the device. He explains why the device received a 4/5 star rating, including the positives and the negatives.
Avram Piltch discusses 7 ways to recover the crashing PC market, including creating a reason for people to replace their current PCs, which manufacturers have not focused on in years. He also talks about the problems that could come to the tech market if a new war starts in Korea, especially with Samsung and LG headquartered in South Korea. He concludes with his favorite moments from the first 300 episodes of F5 Live.
Avram Piltch discusses the 10 tech annoyances his child will never experience. The conversation includes fond and not-so-fond reminiscence of these technologies and how they touched our lives and why we are glad they will be history.
Avram Piltch discusses the 5 worst tech product announcement events, including this week's event, plus Steve Jobs asking the press to stop using WiFi and others. In addition, we discuss the details behind the newly announced and highly anticipated Samsung Galaxy S4.
Avram Piltch discusses how to get some of the best proprietary features from Samsung, HTC, LG and Motorola Android phones on your Android phone, no matter the brand. Topics include Q Slide from the LG Optimus G and Popup Play from Samsung, Q Translator from LG and Bing Translate from Windows Phone, Smart Stay from Samsung, S Beam from Samsung and Android Beam on other Android phones.
This week, Avram Piltch discusses the newest version of the Intel Compute Stick, due out in a few weeks. The new model offers a few enhancements over the previous model, most notably an additional USB port and 802.11ac wireless. In addition, he talks about the state of mini PCs in the industry, including new entrants into the category, niche models and top-rated devices.