Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category

Guidemaster: Finding the best gaming monitors you can buy in 2019

August 23rd, 2019
The LG 34GK950F, our favorite ultrawide gaming monitor.

Enlarge / The LG 34GK950F, our favorite ultrawide gaming monitor. (credit: Valentina Palladino)

Welcome to Ars Gaming Week 2019! As a staff full of gamers and game-lovers, we'll be serving up extra reviews, guides, interviews, and other stories all about gaming from August 19 to August 23.

Any monitor can work for gaming, but a good gaming monitor will make your virtual exploits more polished. With their high refresh rates and adaptive sync, they can bring your games to a new level of fluidity. But since the market is flooded with confusingly-named choices, it can be tough to find the ones worth buying.

So for Ars Gaming Week, we set out to help. After spending the last three months researching dozens of gaming monitors and ultimately testing 14, we’ve come up with a few recommendations that should suit players of all kinds, whether you’re more into fast-paced online shooters or contemplative stories.

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Posted in Ars Gaming Week 2019, buying guide, Features, gaming monitors, guidemaster, Monitors, Tech, video games | Comments (0)

Guidemaster: The best keyboards, mice, and more for your gaming PC

August 23rd, 2019
A person whose head is cropped from the photo poses with 6 computer keyboards.

Enlarge / So many fingers have been typing and clicking in the name of journalism... (credit: Valentina Palladino)

Welcome to Ars Gaming Week 2019! As a staff full of gamers and game-lovers, we'll be serving up extra reviews, guides, interviews, and other stories all about gaming from August 19 to August 23.

Creating the best PC gaming environment to suit your needs is more complicated than just building the ultimate PC from scratch. Once you have your dream machine, you'll need a mechanical keyboard, a gaming mouse, a high refresh-rate monitor, and other accessories. But deciding on the peripherals to invest in has become more difficult—sure, you have more options now than ever before, but the other side of that coin has birthed a congested world of PC gaming devices.

PC OEMs have embraced gaming with open arms, so much so that most PC companies have their own lines of gaming devices, and those often include desktops and laptops in addition to keyboards, mice, and the like. These new participants, along with the well-known gaming device OEMs, have made the pool of potential peripherals so large that one person alone could not sift through all of it.

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Posted in Ars Gaming Week 2019, Features, Gaming & Culture, gaming headset, gaming keyboard, Gaming mice, gaming monitor, gaming mouse, Gaming Week, mechanical keyboards, PC gaming, Tech | Comments (0)

Report: Apple will unveil overhauled MacBook Pro, “Pro” iPhones this fall

August 22nd, 2019

Apple has already had a busy year with the launch of the Apple Card and the reveal of the above-pictured Mac Pro, but it's about to get much, much busier. A new report by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman and Debby Wu—who have reported reliably on Apple's plans in the past—details numerous upcoming product announcements from Apple.

Citing people familiar with the situation, the report mentions three iPhones, a MacBook Pro, an Apple Watch, iPad Pros, an entry-level iPad, a higher-end iteration of AirPods, and a more affordable alternative to HomePod.

And those are just the as-yet-unannounced products: Apple has already stated its intentions to release a new Mac Pro, an ultra-high-end display for creative professionals, the Apple TV+ streaming service, the Apple Arcade games subscription service, and new versions of its iOS and iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS software—all before the end of the year.

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Posted in airpods, apple, apple watch, HomePod, ipad, ipad pro, iphone, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone XI, iPhone XI Pro, MacBook Pro, Tech | Comments (0)

Unsweetened: Android swaps sugary codenames for boring numbers

August 22nd, 2019

We usually get a fun codename to go along with each big new Android release. The names are based on sugary snacks that started with the letter C in Android 1.5 and have been working their way down the alphabet. Over the history of Android, we've had 1.5 Cupcake, 1.6 Donut, 2.0 Eclair, 2.2 Froyo, 2.3 Gingerbread, 3.0 Honeycomb, 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, 4.1 Jelly Bean, 4.4 KitKat, 5.0 Lollipop, 6.0 Marshmallow, 7.0 Nougat, 8.0 Oreo, and Android 9 Pie (this last one dropped the decimal point!). Usually these names are a big deal. There are jokes and guesses made about them all year, Google often commissions a statue, and sometimes there are media events and huge cross-company, brand-sharing initiatives with companies like Nestle or Nabisco.

This year's Android Q is one of the harder letters to come up with a snack codename for, so today Google has announced it's not going to do snack names anymore. Android is getting a branding rework, and in addition to new logos and colors, the snack-based codenames are dead. Android Q is official as "Android 10" and just Android 10, with no extra names whatsoever. Google says the codename system was fun, but it wasn't "always understood by everyone in the global community:"

For example, L and R are not distinguishable when spoken in some languages. So when some people heard us say Android Lollipop out loud, it wasn’t intuitively clear that it referred to the version after KitKat. It’s even harder for new Android users, who are unfamiliar with the naming convention, to understand if their phone is running the latest version. We also know that pies are not a dessert in some places, and that marshmallows, while delicious, are not a popular treat in many parts of the world.

As a brand, Android is getting new logos and colors. The Android robot is actually part of the logo now, sitting next to or above the newly tweaked wordmark. The robot's green color has been changed significantly, too, moving from a neon green to a more seafoam color. While there is no official word on what will happen to the Android version statues that decorate the Android HQ lawn, Android Police reports the company has commissioned a big number "10" this year.

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Maybe don’t keep your Apple Card in a leather wallet, Apple warns

August 22nd, 2019
Apple Card physical card

Enlarge / There's also a featureless, very Apple-like physical card that you can order. (credit: Apple)

Apple's shiny new credit credit card boasts many features, such as clear statements, a cash-back program, and an extremely Apple aesthetic. The flat, white titanium design echoes a decade's worth of other Apple products, including the iPhone and MacBook. But while the card is compatible with Apple's virtual wallet, it is apparently not compatible with your actual wallet.

The Apple Card became available to all US consumers who own compatible iPhones earlier this week. It's primarily intended to be a virtual card running inside the Wallet app, but it is also a fully fledged MasterCard, backed by Goldman Sachs, and cardholders can request a physical card to accompany their virtual one.

The digital-first nature of the card becomes clear in the company's support guide for the physical card, which includes handling, care, and cleaning advice that unfortunately runs contrary to the way pretty much everyone uses or stores their credit card.

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Posted in apple, Apple Card, fashion, Tech | Comments (0)

Intel’s line of notebook CPUs gets more confusing with 14nm Comet Lake

August 21st, 2019

Today, Intel is launching a new series of 14nm notebook CPUs code-named Comet Lake. Going by Intel's numbers, Comet Lake looks like a competent upgrade to its predecessor Whiskey Lake. The interesting question—and one largely left unanswered by Intel—is why the company has decided to launch a new line of 14nm notebook CPUs less than a month after launching Ice Lake, its first 10nm notebook CPUs.

Both the Comet Lake and Ice Lake notebook CPU lines this month consist of a full range of i3, i5, and i7 mobile CPUs in both high-power (U-series) and low-power (Y-series) variants. This adds up to a total of 19 Intel notebook CPU models released in August, and we expect to see a lot of follow-on confusion. During the briefing call, Intel executives did not want to respond to questions about differentiation between the Comet Lake and Ice Lake lines based on either performance or price, but the technical specs lead us to believe that Ice Lake is likely the far more attractive product line for most users.

Intel's U-series CPUs for both Comet Lake and Ice Lake operate at a nominal 15W TDP. Both lines also support a "Config Up" 25W TDP, which can be enabled by OEMs who choose to provide the cooling and battery resources necessary to support it.

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Guidemaster: The best gaming headsets for your console or gaming rig

August 21st, 2019
Just an armful of the gaming headsets we tested.

Enlarge / Just an armful of the gaming headsets we tested. (credit: Valentina Palladino)

Welcome to Ars Gaming Week 2019! As a staff full of gamers and game-lovers, we'll be serving up extra reviews, guides, interviews, and other stories all about gaming from August 19 to August 23.

Most people can meet their gaming audio needs with a good pair of headphones. But if you play lots of multiplayer games or frequently use your console/rig to chat with friends, a good gaming headset and its included microphone will make more sense. Unfortunately, the market for gaming headsets remains riddled with junky hardware.

So for Ars Gaming Week, we're getting you some help. We spent the last three months testing 30 gaming headsets to find the ones most worth buying. Below you can find our current favorites, including options for those on a budget, those with cash to burn, and those who want to go wireless. And, like with all of our Guidemasters, you can consider this a living guide—we’ll be sure to update it as new standouts arrive.

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Posted in Ars Gaming Week 2019, audio, buying guide, Features, gaming headsets, guidemaster, headphones, Tech | Comments (0)

Guidemaster: The best Nintendo Switch accessories you can buy in 2019

August 21st, 2019
You can do a lot with this little guy.

Enlarge / You can do a lot with this little guy. (credit: Jeff Dunn)

Welcome to Ars Gaming Week 2019! As a staff full of gamers and game-lovers, we'll be serving up extra reviews, guides, interviews, and other stories all about gaming from August 19 to August 23.

The Nintendo Switch is one of the most inventive pieces of consumer tech in recent memory, but a few good accessories can make it more practical on a daily basis. And to prepare for Ars Gaming Week, we've spent the past couple of months researching and testing various controllers, chargers, adapters, and all sorts of additional gadgets to figure out which of those accessories are most worth buying.

Note that all testing was done on an original Switch console, not the newer model with improved battery life (and few other significant upgrades) or the forthcoming Switch Lite, which has Joy-Con controllers that are not detachable. We'll upgrade this guide in the future as more standout accessories hit the market (I’m still waiting on a worthwhile Switch headset, for one), but here's how to optimize everyone's favorite handheld right now.

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Posted in accessories, Ars Gaming Week 2019, buying guide, Features, Gaming & Culture, guidemaster, nintendo switch, Tech | Comments (0)

Apple TV+ will launch in November for $9.99, facing off against Disney+ at $6.99

August 20th, 2019
A man in business casual gives a presentation in front of a monstrous video screen.

Enlarge / Tim Cook announces Apple TV+ at an event on March 25, 2019. (credit: Ron Amadeo)

Disney earlier this year announced that it will launch its Disney+ streaming TV service on November 12 in the United States for $6.99 per month. Yesterday, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman published a report claiming that Apple's competing TV service, Apple TV+, will also launch in November, but likely at $9.99.

Both companies are entering an increasingly crowded streaming TV landscape that already includes the likes of HBO, Netflix, CBS, Showtime, and Starz, among others, and will soon see other major entries like HBO Max, offerings from AT&T, and offerings from NBC Universal.

According to the Bloomberg report, which cites people familiar with Apple's plans, Apple TV+ will launch with a "small selection of shows," including The Morning Show, Amazing Stories, See, Truth Be Told, and a documentary series about houses called Home. Apple is still mulling over prices, the report says, but is leaning toward $9.99.

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Posted in apple, Apple TV, Disney, Gaming & Culture, streaming tv, Tech, TV | Comments (0)

The death of “Works with Nest” begins now with Google account migrations

August 20th, 2019
Coming soon to a Nest near you: Your Google account.

Enlarge / Coming soon to a Nest near you: Your Google account. (credit: Google Nest)

The smart home company Nest is currently in the middle of a rocky transition from standalone Alphabet company to a full-on merger with Google's hardware team, where it will exist as a Google sub-brand. The details were announced during Google I/O 2019 and include the debut of the first "Google Nest" product, the shutdown of the "Works with Nest" (WWN) ecosystem, and the death of standalone Nest accounts and the Nest/Google data separation. Until now, the transition has mostly involved news and new products, but now a recent update to the Nest app will let existing Nest users "migrate their account to Google." Be warned that doing this will break a lot of things and is irreversible.

So far, it looks like the Nest-to-Google transition more or less involves shutting down everything that was unique to Nest and switching to the Google Home/Google Assistant ecosystem. Migrating your Nest account to a Google account basically means jumping ecosystems, leaving behind any "Works with Nest" integrations with other apps or devices. Basic things like the Nest app, website, and Google voice commands will still work, but that's about it. Amazon Alexa users will probably see the current "Works with Nest" skill stop working, but apparently there is a new "Google Nest" skill that will replace some of the functionality.

Google's support page on the transition warns that the process "is not reversible" and that "During the migration process, you will need to remove and disconnect all your WWN third-party product connections (also not reversible)." This means you'll have to take careful stock of your Nest integrations before you switch and make sure you know what will and won't break. If you mess up, there's no going back.

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