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This is the most recent feed available as of 06/23/2021 at 01:22 PM

What Windows 11 could do to solve Windows 10's worst problems

Microsoft is expected to launch Windows 11 this Thursday, and with that comes the hope that the new version will address some of the biggest problems with its predecessor, Windows 10.

Our hands-on with the leaked Windows 11 build gave us an idea of what the new operating system might be like. But if that leaked build was, as we were later told, an early, incomplete version, there’s likely more to come with Windows 11’s official unveiling. It’s also likely that Microsoft will still be working on Windows 11 for weeks and even months to come, providing an opportunity for yet more improvements. So now’s the time to add a few last items to the docket. Here’s a (short, incomplete) list of problems we’d like to see fixed in Windows 11. 

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Andover Audio SpinSub review: Deeply satisfying vinyl listening thanks to deep, vibration-free bass
The affordable SpinSub is the perfect low-frequency companion to the company’s SpinBase turntable speaker, pumping the bass from a remarkably vibration-free enclosure.

Lenovo powers new ThinkPad L-series notebooks with mobile Ryzen 5000

Lenovo is beefing up its Yoga business notebooks, specifically the 13.3-inch ThinkPad L13 Gen 2 and the ThinkPad L13 Yoga Gen 2, with AMD Ryzen 5000 Mobile processors. 

Announced Wednesday as part of virtual MWC (normally held live in Barcelona, Spain), both ThinkPad L13s are essentially the same laptop, though with one key difference: The Yoga is a 360-degree convertible, and the ThinkPad L13 is a traditional clamshell laptop. That results in a little less battery life for the Yoga model: 10.6 hours, versus 10.8 hours for its clamshell cousin, Lenovo said.

The addition of AMD’s Ryzen 5000 Mobile processors, however, is a first for the ThinkPad L13 lineup, and it arrives specifically following requests from customers, Lenovo said. (Specifically, Lenovo is using the AMD Ryzen 5000 Pro series of processors, with more corporate security and management features.) Executives also noted that the addition of AMD’s processors allow for 20 percent more battery life than a similar laptop powered by an Intel Core chip.

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The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 might be the most powerful 16-inch laptop

In the race to make the most powerful and light 16-inch laptop, Lenovo just pulled ahead with its ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4. Announced Wednesday as part of virtual MWC (normally held live in Barcelona, Spain), this redesign features Intel's newest 11th-gen Tiger Lake H CPUs inside, and amazingly up to a GeForce RTX 3080 Laptop GPU. It will go on sale in August with a starting price of $2,149.

For comparison, MSI's Creator Z16 offers an 11th-gen Tiger Lake H, but stops at a GeForce RTX 3060 Laptop GPU. Although not quite 16 inches, Dell's latest XPS 15 with an 11th-gen CPU tops out at GeForce RTX 3050 Ti.

Of course, Apple fans always wonder how the company's now-ancient MacBook Pro  16 would compare. Considering that it's still using a 9th-gen Intel CPU and a Radeon Pro 5500M—just stop right there. 

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How to get Peacock on your Fire TV right now
How to sideload Peacock on Fire TV while Amazon and NBCUniversal fight over money.

Microsoft, partners launch 'Designed for Xbox' 4K displays
If you're looking for a TV or Xbox specifically optimized for Xbox gaming, Microsoft and its partners Phillips, Acer, and Asus have three "Designed for Xbox" 4K displays for you to buy.

PCWorld's June Digital Magazine: How to spot an online scam

Stay on top of the latest tech with PCWorld’s Digital Magazine. Available as single copies or as a monthly subscription, it highlights the best content from—the most important news, the key product reviews, and the most useful features and how-to stories—in a curated Digital Magazine for Android and iOS, as well for the desktop and other tablet readers.

In the June issue

This month, find out how to spot an online scam, we recap the Intel Tiger Lake H CPU launch for gaming notebooks. Plus, check out our Surface Laptop 4 review.

Other highlights include:

  • News: Samsung's new Galaxy Book Pro laptops are thin, light, and smart. Why Microsoft is killing a favorite Windows 10 feature
  • Tested: Is Ryzen 5000 battery performance really that bad? Plus, how fast Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 5G chip for PCs is
  • Crucial BX500 SATA SSD review: An affordable upgrade drive
  • Hands-on: Xbox Cloud Gaming for the web brings Xbox gaming to your browser
  • 8BitDo Pro 2 review: The best 'Pro' controller for $50
  • Here's How: How to see what Google knows about you, and delete it. Plus, Windows 10's Clipboard History is the best little tool you're not using

Video highlights

Watch: Confused about the different types of SSDs? Not sure which one you should put in your PC? Alaina breaks down the speeds and feeds as well as the form factors that you need to know about when making your decision.

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Garmin Dash Cam 57 review: Small and mighty, now with cloud storage

The diminutive Garmin Dash Cam 57 reviewed here is the top of the line for the company’s new generation of mainstream dash cams. It’s on the expensive side ($230 from Garmin), but you get what you pay for. This dash cam is the culmination of several years of steady improvement from a company that’s in it for the long haul—and it shows in the design and performance, as well as the long warranty. It’s easily the best overall front-only dash cam we’ve tested. 

The big adds for Garmin’s latest generation, including the 57, are a parking mode (wake on G-sensor) and temporary cloud storage for your important captures. 

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Prime Day 2021 roundup: The best tech deals from Amazon and others

Our editors have been hard at work combing through Amazon’s Prime Day deals, as well as competing deals from other major online retailers. The result is a compilation of the best deals out there in all the popular tech categories: smart home; TV and audio; PC parts; laptops—you name it. We’ll be updating our recommendations as new deals surface, so bookmark this page and check back regularly.

Updated 6/22/21, 6:53am PST

Prime Day shopping tips

  • Deals can expire before their slated end time if quantities run out, so don’t wait too long if something appeals to you. 
  • Read our tips on the best way to snag Lightning Deals.
  • To qualify for Amazon’s Prime deals, you can sign up for a 30-day Prime membership if you haven’t already done so in the past.
  • Some retailers offer free 2-day shipping through ShopRunner, which many credit cards offer as a free perk. You can also sign up for a 1-year trial through PayPal.
  • Using PayPal for online purchases? Sign up for the company’s free return program, which foots the bill for return shipping on up to 12 purchases.

Quick links:

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FidelityFX Super Resolution is here: How AMD wants to make everyone's GPU faster

It’s finally here. As promised (and after months of teasers), AMD is unleashing FidelityFX Super Resolution upon the world on Tuesday, promising substantial frame rate boosts in PC games that support the image upscaling technology. AMD’s answer to Nvidia’s killer DLSS differs from the GeForce feature in some crucial ways, however, and that’s driven home by how FidelityFX Super Resolution is hitting the streets.

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How to install a dash cam

How do you install a dash cam? After so many years of dash cam reviews, experience has shown there's more to it than inserting the SD card, slapping the camera on the windshield, and plugging it into a power source. I've made every mistake in the books. Learn from my experiences with this step-by-step guide.

Where to place your dash cam

Your new dash cam came with either a suction mount, or a mount that uses semi-permanent adhesive. If it's suction, you can trial-and-error camera location until you hit the most convenient placement. If you’re dealing with sticky stuff, consider more carefully—you’ll likely get only one or two shots at it.  

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Accell Power Cube review: This minimalist surge protector delivers maximalist USB charging and flexibility
Like a child’s playtoy, the Power Cube comes neatly comes apart to provide more functionality.

Best Amazon Prime Day deals on PC components, monitors, networking gear, and more

Sift through the Amazon Prime Day sales on clothes, outdoor furniture, and beauty products, and you’ll find some surprisingly good deals on PC components and networking gear. While the offerings aren’t nearly as complete as previous years (you can’t build a whole PC with Prime Day PC component deals), those looking to upgrade or grab a few pieces for a project can still save a solid chunk of cash. Here are the best deals we’ve found on CPUs, monitors, cases, routers, and more during Day 2 of Amazon’s sale blowout.

Last updated 6/22/2021 1:16am: Refreshed with active Day 2 deals

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Nvidia beefs up DLSS with more games and Linux support

In the war to prove who’s better at high-resolution gaming performance, Nvidia on Monday added three more allies: Rust, Doom Eternal and Lego Builder’s Journey are joining the more than 55 other games to support its DLSS technology. The company also said Linux gamers would soon get access to DLSS through Proton for Vulkan.

DLSS, or Deep Learning Super Sampling, taps the AI Tensor cores on Nvidia’s 2000- and 3000-series GPUs to render games at a lower resolution, with comparable visual quality when increased to a higher resolution. We’ve tried DLSS, and it’s like black magic.

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Best midrange laptops: Affordable notebooks for work, school, and gaming

Each year, laptops improve across the board—between technology advances and the pressure of competition, the hardware inside offers better performance in greater leaps and bounds.

That means you don’t need to spend on a premium model to get a solid notebook. Whether it’s a traditional clamshell or a convertible with a 360-degree hinge, spending between $600 and $1,000 can get you a laptop you’ll enjoy using. Moreover, it’ll last the length of the work or school day without trouble.

Enough options exist now that finding the right model for you can take some time, so we’ve highlighted our top picks to make the hunt fast and easy. Read on to find your match. (To find laptop recommendations that span all price ranges, see our comprehensive guide to the best laptops.)

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Amazon Basics Computer Speakers (USB-powered) review: This cheap set fits the budget stereotype

Amazon Basics Computer Speakers are indeed basic. That hasn’t changed from when we initially reviewed them two years ago. From the packaging to the design, this USB-powered budget set has a spartan vibe. You won’t find glossy paper finishes or a thick manual full of details here. Instead, a plain brown box will land on your doorstep, with two plain, compact black speakers and a very thin user guide tucked inside. That’s it.

What has changed is the price. Back in 2019, these budget speakers could be found for as little as $10 for the set. These days they hover at $18, which starts to butt up against the cost of the superior Amazon Basics with Dyanmic Sound speakers—thus making them ripe for reevaluation.

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The Full Nerd: ep. 181: AMD Advantage Laptops and E3!

Why is there a Windows 11 if Windows 10 is the last Windows?

If Windows 10 was supposed to be the last version of Windows, why is there a Windows 11? Great question.

Like the answer to many questions, the answer is, “it depends.”

The authenticity of the concept of “Windows as a service” began in 2015, when Microsoft launched Windows 10. Over time, Microsoft said then, the company would simply deliver ongoing updates, adding features and patching bugs on the “Windows 10” platform. But, as we know now, whatever Microsoft adds to Windows, it’s still Windows. 

But Microsoft representatives never said that Windows 10 would be the last version of Windows—not really. That comment was actually made by Jerry Nixon, a Microsoft developer evangelist who spoke at the company’s ”Tiles, Notifications, and Action Center” presentation about Windows 10 at Microsoft’s Microsoft Ignite conference in 2015. According to the transcript of the session, Nixon’s comment was more of a throwaway line, one that he literally referred to as a segue. Microsoft developers could never talk about what they were currently working on, he said, only what they had worked on and released. That changed with Windows 10, because it was all one platform.

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Best external drives for backup, storage, and portability

Anyone who uses a PC should have an external drive. It can back up your precious data or store your overflow, and it can transport or transfer files between computing devices. Xbox One X users, especially, would be wise to invest in an external drive to augment the console’s measly 1TB hard drive (the external drive needs to be USB 3.0-compatible and will be formatted when you insert the drive). 

Two things are for sure: No one ever said they wanted less storage space, and no one ever said they wanted a slower drive. Our latest picks for best external performance drive (SanDisk’s Extreme Pro Portable and Samsung’s T7) are blazing-fast—great news if you’re transferring large amounts of data. We’ll also walk you through our other top picks, and everything you need to know to select the best external drive for your needs.

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Why you should shop Amazon Prime Day using Microsoft Edge

While you can shop online during Amazon Prime Day or the holidays using any browser you’d like, there are two good reasons for using the Microsoft Edge browser already on your PC: built-in coupons, and an automated check of an item’s price history.

Both of these Edge features offer a fantastic way to make sure you get the best deals for Prime Day—or any day, for that matter. 

Microsoft Edge is on your Windows PC

The Microsoft Edge browser is built right into every Windows PC. While the most popular browser remains Google Chrome, you can open up Edge (if you haven’t already) and quickly import bookmarks (Favorites), passwords, and more from another browser. (We have a detailed tutorial on how to import bookmarks into Edge.)

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Faster gaming frame rates for free: Resizable BAR explained

If you’re lucky enough to have snagged the latest graphics cards from Nvidia and AMD, you just got another bonus performance boost in your toolkit. It’s called Resizable BAR, and depending on your setup, the technology can give a noticeable lift in gaming framerates. Here’s how it works.

What are Resizable BAR and Smart Access Memory (SAM)?

Resizable Base Address Register (or Resizable BAR, as it’s known colloquially) is a new feature that improves communication between your processor and graphics card. It’s actually been part of the PCI Express specification for some time, but only now have manufacturers actually enabled it for use on the latest graphics cards, motherboards, and processors.

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House of Marley Positive Vibration XL ANC headphone review: Vastly improved sound, no noise
House of Marley's Positive Vibration XL ANC's offer very good sound and excellent noise cancellation. They're a major improvement over the previous generation.

The best laptops: Premium laptops, budget laptops, 2-in-1s, and more

The best laptops are getting better. Computex 2021 (virtual) brought a heavy rain of news from AMD, Intel, and Nvidia, everything from new CPUs to technologies that enhance gaming performance. The laptop market is still tight, but if you yearn for the latest and greatest, this is your time. Keep reading for the latest news and reviews. 

Our top picks from currently available laptops are below: 

Latest laptop news and reviews

Here are the latest stories:

Best gaming laptops: Know what to look for and which models rate highest

There are great laptops available now (as pandemic-fueled sales remain strong), and you can see our tested favorites below. But if you yearn for the latest and greatest, check out our news and reviews of laptops with AMD’s Ryzen 5000 and Intel’s Tiger Lake CPUs, and Nvidia RTX 30-series mobile GPUs. (Psst: We also have a list of the first laptops available with RTX 30-series.)

Here are the latest news and reviews, along with our top picks below. 

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Windows 11: Video first look

We’ve already downloaded and gone hands-on with a leaked early build of Windows 11, or what appears to be Microsoft’s next-generation operating system. Now it’s time for you to see what the leaked Windows 11 build looks like in our video tour of Windows 11.

In the video, you’ll see how the new, centered Windows 11 Taskbar works, including the new icons that Microsoft has included as part of Windows 11, too. There’s also a new Start menu that looks quite heavily influenced by Microsoft’s experiment with Windows 10X. (We don’t show it in our video, but there is a way to return to the Windows 10 Start menu within Windows 11, complete with Live Tiles.) 

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Celebrate 5 years of The Full Nerd with merch!

Since 2016 PCWorld's premier PC building podcast, The Full Nerd, has been bringing you news and analysis of the hottest PC topics every week. From reviews of hardware like CPUs and GPUs, to software tips and buying advice, The Full Nerd crew has worked hard to bring you a show that's educational and entertaining. Now in its fifth year, we are proud to have merch available to show off your PC-building chops, available at our Crowdmade store!

The Full Nerd merch Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

To celebrate the launch we have a limited-edition polo shirt available, as well as t-shirts, hoodies, hats, and even a mug. More gear and designs will be added often, so check back to see all the new merch we have available. It's a great way to show your support for our show. We look forward to seeing everyone decked out in the gear.

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Wireless keyboard buying guide: Know these details before you buy

You’re sick and tired of tripping over your USB keyboard’s cable and have decided it’s time to go wireless. Besides losing that annoying cable, a wireless keyboard also gives you the freedom to work farther away from your computer, or get some relief from your laptop’s cramped layout. 

We review wireless keyboards and are ready to help. Before you shop, here are some critical features you never had to think about with a wired keyboard, but you need to know now. 

Form factor: Full-sized or portable?

For wireless keyboards that stay on a desk or your lap all day, a standard-size model that looks just like a wired keyboard, but without the wire, will do in most cases.

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A cord-cutters guide to watching sports without cable TV
How to catch your favorite teams, games, and other sporting events without paying through the nose for a cable or satellite TV subscription.

Why don’t more laptops have upgradable RAM? | Ask an expert

Q: Why is soldered RAM so common in laptops? It seems very unfriendly to buyers. To get the amount of memory I want, my options are limited to extremely expensive gaming laptops—but I only need the specs of a mid-range laptop.

A: Replaceable SODIMM modules make uncommon memory configurations in the budget and mid-range feasible, for sure. But your description suggests you’re looking at ultraportable laptops, which is the likely reason you’re striking out in your quest for replaceable RAM.

Thin-and-light laptops tend to use low-power DDR4 (aka LPDDR4) RAM, which is a type that requires soldering. Why choose it over the SODIMM variety? Beyond the direct benefit to battery life, LPDDR4 also has the advantage of taking up less space—and not just in height. The room gained by using soldered memory helps keep the laptop slim and can be put toward other purposes, like cooling or a bigger battery.

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The Windows 11 leak is criticized as an early, incomplete build

Windows 11 may be better than we thought.

PCWorld has been told by a knowledgeable source close to Microsoft that the leaked Windows 11 build is being characterized as a portion of an incomplete, early build. The source characterized the Windows 11 build as not a final product, saying that Microsoft will likely offer a fuller look at what it plans to offer at its “what’s next for Windows” event on June 24.

The source did not refer to the leaked build as either “Windows 10” or “Windows 11.” Of course, running the winver command on the leaked build labels it as Windows 11. It’s also referred to as Windows Dev build 21996.1.

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