Page 1





50 TECH TIPS FOR SMART PEOPLE Savvy geeks, these are for you.


WHAT’S NEW NOW IBM FITS AI WAVE FORECASTER ON RASPBERRY PI Analysts used deep learning to build the speedy system.




READER INPUT Holding Equifax Accountable

JUAN MARTINEZ The ‘Smart Gun’ Debate


Artificial intelligence might seem like Silicon Valley’s latest obsession, but it’s nothing new.

Don’t Let Innovation Widen Gap Between Haves, Have-Nots


REVIEWS CONSUMER ELECTRONICS Google Pixel 2 Skullcandy Hesh 3 Headphones Ten Top Smart Home Devices Amazon Fire HD 10 Skullcandy Hesh 3 Headphones

HARDWARE Lenovo ThinkPad 25 Anniversary Edition HP Spectre x360 Viewsonic VP2768

SOFTWARE & APPS Todoist CyberLink PowerDirector

Lenovo 25







ny measure of professional success is bound to come with an appropriate amount of imposter syndrome. That’s become abundantly clear to me this week.

Standing on the Shoulders of Geeks

I’m writing these words in a hotel room at the base of the Taipei 101 Tower in Taiwan. I’ve spent the last few days talking to local startups, industry OHDGHUVJRYHUQPHQWPLQLVWU\RI¿FLDOVDQG VWXGHQWVORRNLQJWRJRLQWRWKH¿HOGVRIMRXUQDOLVP or computer science. I’m here to speak on issues relating to—but not OLPLWHGWR²ELJGDWDMRXUQDOLVPVRFLDOPHGLD SHUVRQDOFRPSXWLQJDUWL¿FLDOLQWHOOLJHQFH augmented reality, FinTech, digital privacy, and industrial policy in southeast Asian countries. This is silly, of course: Anyone who claims to be an H[SHUWLQDOOWKHVHVXEMHFWVLVDWEHVWDSRVHXU My presentations are always followed by a Q&A session with the audience. That audience could include 17-year-old college freshmen or experienced computer engineers at the forefront of WKHLU¿HOGV7KHLUTXHVWLRQVPLJKWEHEDVHGRQP\ presentation, but they might not. After all, PC Magazine covers a lot of ground. ,XVXDOO\JHWDTXHVWLRQOLNH³:KDWœVEHWWHUIRU sports photography, a D-SLR or a micro-fourthirds camera?� And that’s when I start to wish that Jim Fisher, PCMag’s senior digital camera


analyst, was available on Slack and not 12 hours behind Taiwan time. Likewise, when I’m asked whether the U.N, should take on a role in creating standards for cryptocurrencies, I have an opinion. But I really wish I could stop by Rob Marvin’s desk to ask him: Rob, PCMag’s business associate editor, is also our resident blockchain analyst. And when I’m asked, as I was today, when 5G standards will be settled, I’d love to be able to check in with PCMag’s lead mobile analyst, Sascha 6HJDQWR¿QGRXWZKDWWKHDFWXDOWLPHOLQHLV,¶P pretty sure Qualcomm has a 5G handset coming out soon. Beyond that, I’m a bit stumped. The truth is, I rely on the PCMag staff to keep me in the loop. For instance, I wouldn’t dream of buying a pair of headphones without reading Tim Gideon’s review of them, including his hipsterWXQHGFULWLTXHRIKRZWKH\VRXQGSOD\LQJ7KH .QLIH¶V³6LOHQW6KRXW´,DOVRZRXOGQ¶WEX\D79 ZLWKRXWFKHFNLQJVHQLRUDQDO\VW:LOO*UHHQZDOG¶V DVVHVVPHQWRIWKHSLFWXUHTXDOLW\IHDWXUHVHWDQG overall value. As Kaspersky Labs racks up a ton of bad press, security expert Neil Rubenking lets me know whether Kaspersky products are a threat to national security or an unfairly maligned solution. And before I upgrade from my Fitbit Blaze, I’m JRLQJWRDVN3&0DJ¶V¿WQHVVJDGJHWJXUXZHDEOHV DQDO\VW9LFWRULD6RQJZKDW,VKRXOGEX\ I’m lucky; I get to work with these brilliant folks every day. You’re lucky, too, because you can reap

the fruits of their labor in the PC Magazine Digital Edition and on

We’ve gathered up some of our best tips, tricks, and secrets to help you get the most from your technology.

In this monthâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s issue, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve gathered up some of our best tips, tricks, and industry secrets to help you get the most from your technology. And these DUHQÂśWEDVLFWLSVOLNHÂł<RXFDQKLJKOLJKWDZRUGE\ GRXEOHFOLFNLQJLW´RUÂł3UHVVWKHVSDFHEDUWRVFUROO down a web page!â&#x20AC;? If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re reading PC Magazine, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re way past all that. The information here is truly world-class, and it will change your life. I know, because Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2DC;ve read it all. In fact, some of this ZLOOSUREDEO\ÂżQGLWVZD\LQWRP\QH[W SUHVHQWDWLRQ,MXVWKRSHWKHWHDPDQG,DUHLQWKH same time zone when that happens.





Equifax’s lack of security before the breach and their reaction after the breach are deplorable. Financial restitution should be so great that it buries the company, making it an example so all other corporations take security of consumer data seriously. —zsukm007

Holding Equifax Accountable

In his column “Equifax Must Pay,” Sascha Segan called for accountability for the credit-reporting agency’s massive data breach. Readers overwhelmingly agree.

Sascha, you nailed it when you said that consumers cannot choose not to use Equifax. Any corporation that collects personal data on consumers must secure that data with the latest and toughest security measures available; it’s the law in many states. Data needs to be compartmentalized so that any single breach will not yield complete data. The fallout from this data breach may wind up damaging the U.S. economy worse than any recession. —Evil_MrM

Over the weekend I watched a show I had recorded a couple of weeks back. I was treated to a commercial for Equifax’s identity theft protection services, promising to defend you from all sorts of wrongdoers. The irony was both bitter and delicious. —RAWLCM

I agree completely—until companies, the board of directors, CEOs, CFOs, etc. are held legally,


Well, half of the U.S. population now has their data in criminal hands... The data can never be unstolen. We just need the other half of the population to have their data made public so everyone can be equal. Hopefully, some of the stolen data belongs to people who work at Equifax. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;MyDailyComment

Ask us a question!


Have a question about a story in PC Magazine, one of the products we cover, or how to better use a tech product you own? Email us at and weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll respond to your question here. Questions may be edited slightly for content and clarity.





IBM Fits AI Wave Forecaster on a Raspberry Pi BY STEPHANIE MLOT


cientists have developed an advanced wave forecasting system that can run speedy simulations on a Raspberry Pi. Using deep learning, analysts at IBM Research Ireland, Baylor University, and the University of Notre Dame built a system that far outpaces existing prediction models.

Costly and sluggish traditional platforms require a supercomputer to calculate KRZWLGHVZLQGVDQGWKHRFHDQÂśVYDU\LQJGHSWKVLQĂ&#x20AC;XHQFHWKHVSHHGDQGKHLJKW of waves. The new deep learning-enhanced framework, however, generates forecasts up to 12,000 percent faster than conventional designs, according to IBM Research member Fearghal Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Donncha, who also tipped â&#x20AC;&#x153;a vastly increasedâ&#x20AC;? set of data input.

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Accurate forecasts of ocean wave heights and directions are a valuable resource for many marine-based industries,â&#x20AC;? Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Donncha wrote in a blog post. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Many of these industries operate in harsh environments where power and computing facilities are limited. A solution to provide highly accurate wave condition forecasts at low computational cost is essential for improved decision making.â&#x20AC;?

Accurate forecasts of ocean wave heights and directions are a (YHQDUWLÂżFLDOLQWHOOLJHQFHQHHGVWROHDUQWKRXJK7KHWHDP valuable put the time-honored Simulating WAves Nearshore (SWAN) resource for model to workâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;generating training data (four years of marine-based forecasts, from April 2013 to July 2017) for their deep industries. learning network. A roaring success, the AI replicated images of more than 3,000 wave heights and periods with fewer errors than SWAN.

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Despite the huge reduction in computational expense, the new approach provides comparable levels of accuracy to the traditional physics-based SWAN model,â&#x20AC;? Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Donncha said. Not yet ready for primetime, the surrogate system is vetted only in Monterey Bay, CA. To expand the model, researchers PXVWUHSHDWWKHLUWUDLQLQJZLWKQHZORFDWLRQVSHFLÂżFGDWD² perhaps in collaboration with The Weather Company. $V2Âś'RQQFKDWROG='1HWWKHIRUHFDVWLQJÂżUPFRXOG provide information â&#x20AC;&#x153;from a wide variety of locations,â&#x20AC;? while ,%0FUHDWHVDVXLWHRIWUDLQHGPDFKLQHVVHWWRVSHFLÂżF locations across the U.S. coastline. â&#x20AC;&#x153;These models could then be readily provided based on a set of coordinates to enable exceedingly fast forecasts for any region within this location,â&#x20AC;? he told the tech blog. The scientists hope their product will one day serve the likes of shipping companies, which can use â&#x20AC;&#x153;highly accurate forecastsâ&#x20AC;? to determine the best route with the least fuel consumption and voyage time.





Elon Musk Could Help Puerto Rico Rebuild With Solar Power BY JOEL HRUSKA


eeks after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico remains in desperate straits. The island–which is an American territory and whose citizens are full citizens of the United States according to both Supreme Court rulings and acts of Congress–is still almost entirely without power. Virtually every aspect of disaster recovery, from medical treatment to home reconstruction, either requires or is made orders of magnitude easier by electricity. And Maria didn’t just wreck Puerto Rico’s generating stations; it destroyed the entire transmission grid. Elon Musk has offered to help Puerto Rico out, possibly by deploying solar power around the island. Puerto Rico is ideally situated for solar power in many respects. It’s relatively close to the equator—closer than any location in the continental U.S.—and it enjoys high amounts of sunshine for most of the year.

Muskâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s company, SolarCity, has been absorbed by Tesla and has been looking for ways to scale its battery projects to more customers. Puerto Rico, with its 3.5 million inhabitants, would be an enormous lift for Tesla, possibly more than the company can really handle at this point. Teslaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s similar efforts in American Samoa extended solar power and battery storage to an island with roughly 1,000 inhabitants. Puerto Rico has a population more than 1,000 times larger. 7KLVZRXOGQ¶WEHWKH¿UVWWLPHWKDW0XVNKDV raised an idea on Twitter and then carried it out as a long-term project; as The Verge noted, a Twitter bet between Musk and an Aussie software developer resulted in plans for what ZLOOEHWKHZRUOG¶VODUJHVWOLWKLXPLRQEDWWHU\ZKHQWKHVWDWLRQLV¿QLVKHG$QG WKHUHFRXOGEHRWKHUEHQH¿WVDVZHOO Historically, Puerto Rico has faced the second-highest electrical costs of any U.S. state save Hawaii, and its power grid was never in particularly good shape. Before Maria, Puerto Ricoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s power was generated by petroleum (47 percent), natural gas (34 percent), coal (17 percent), and renewable power (2 percent). The island has no reserves of any fossil fuel, which means all its conventional HQHUJ\UHTXLUHPHQWVPXVWEHFDUULHGE\IUHLJKWHU3XHUWR5LFRXVHGWRUH¿QH VRPHRILWVRZQSHWUROHXPEXWWKDWSUDFWLFHFHDVHGZLWKWKHODVWUH¿QHU\ shutdown in 2009. Building a power grid for the island that would cut its reliance on imported fossil fuels would be a major improvement, but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d also be extremely expensive. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a great deal of work to do to hammer out any concrete proposals, and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not yet clear what kind of funding will be available. Puerto Ricoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s economy was in terrible shape before Maria, with a debt load of over $70 billion. Now the islandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s situation is even worse, and as of this writing, we have no information on how or what Congress will do to help the territoryâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;whose citizens are as American as any Texan or Floridianâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;recover. The U.S. government helped fund Muskâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s previous work in American Samoa, but whether it will extend such support to the ravaged island of Puerto Rico is anyoneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s guess.





Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Time for a Digital Universal ID BY BEN ALGAZE


n the wake of the massive Equifax data breach, once again a spotlight has been shone on the overuse of the not-so-secret number that passes for a national ID in the United Statesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;the Social Security Number (SSN). Perhaps we have become numb to these hacks and data breaches. What, my credit card number was compromised? The credit card company will cancel it and issue another one. My address information? My cell number? Well thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s already out there in many places. My bank account number? Whatever, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll change it. Hold itâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;someone got my SSN? Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not an easy one to change. And unfortunately, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s overused for identity not just by government agencies but DOVRE\XWLOLWLHVWHOHFRPVDQGÂżQDQFLDOVHUYLFHVFRPSDQLHVWRLGHQWLI\\RXDQG give you credit and access to their services.

ORIGINS OF THE SSN The SSN was never designed to be a universal ID. It was designed to uniquely identify an individual, track their lifetime earnings, and enable them to collect WKHLUEHQH¿WVXSRQUHWLUHPHQW7KH,56DQGDKRVWRIRWKHUJRYHUQPHQW DJHQFLHVDWDOOOHYHOVDGRSWHGLWDVDQLGHQWL¿HU3ULYDWHFRPSDQLHVJLYHQWKH ODFNRIDQ\RWKHUIRUPRIXQLYHUVDOLGHQWL¿FDWLRQDGRSWHGLWDVDIRUPRI establishing accounts unambiguously. And it has become a requirement for KDYLQJDEDQNDFFRXQWDQGPRVWDQ\RWKHU¿QDQFLDOVHUYLFH The SSN is the key to all the information major credit bureau companies such DV(TXLID[KROGDERXWXV²\HWJLYHQKRZRIWHQ\RXXVHLWIRULGHQWL¿FDWLRQLW canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be considered a secret, like a password can. In 2009, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that they could develop an algorithm to guess SSNs from publicly available information. Part of the reason for that is the original structure of the SSN itself, which is based on the state of issue and is clustered around birth dates. Since the late 1980s, SSNs have been automatically issued at birth. Knowing where and when someone was bornâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; something freely divulged by many on Facebookâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;can help a hacker derive a SSN with a guessing algorithm and a reasonably powerful laptop. So the SSN is not a secure form of ID in todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s internet-connected world. Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the alternative? After 9/11, the issue of secure national IDs came up as a way to ensure against forgeries of ID documents for travel and other purposes. In 2001, Larry Ellison of Oracle called for a cryptographically secure national ID and offered to provide the needed technology free of charge. The reaction was predictable, as conservatives, libertarians, and civil liberties groups concerned about privacy were adamantly against the concept.

:KLOHWKHUHFRQWLQXHVWREH¿HUFHUHVLVWDQFHWRWKHDERYHLGHDRWKHUHIIRUWVIRU more secure IDs have moved forward. Based on the 9/11 Commissionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s UHFRPPHQGDWLRQLQ&RQJUHVVSDVVHGWKH5($/,'$FWZKLFKVHWV minimum security standards for state-issued IDs such as driver licenses. This is far from a universal ID and was really designed for making it harder to forge WKLVW\SHRILGHQWL¿FDWLRQWRHQDEOHEHWWHUVHFXULW\IRUDLUOLQHWUDYHODQGDFFHVV to Federal buildings. Better security standards for driver licenses will help, as WKH\DUHVWLOOXVHGIRUSK\VLFDOLGHQWL¿FDWLRQIRUPDMRUWUDQVDFWLRQVVXFKDV buying a car or house, but more often than not just the number is needed for a UHPRWHWUDQVDFWLRQRIVRPHRWKHUNLQG,IDKDFNHUVFRUHVDIXOO(TXLID[SUR¿OH (including a SSN and driver license number) on someone, they are in business. MODERN UNIVERSAL ID DESIGN Outside of the U.S., perhaps the most ambitious national I.D. effort is Aadhaar in India, which now encompasses 1.2 billion people. Originally begun in 2009 as a way to uniquely identify people for government social-welfare services, it KDVEHFRPHDOOEXWPDQGDWRU\LGHQWL¿FDWLRQIRUWUDYHO¿QDQFLDOVHUYLFHVDQG internet services. If that sounds eerily similar to the use of the SSN in the U.S., well, it isâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;except Aadhaar is a system based on modern technology, employing ¿QJHUSULQWVLULVVFDQVDQGSKRWRVDVXQLTXHLGHQWL¿HUV

Some critics in India are concerned about the implications of allowing private companies tapping into the system. Earlier this year, Microsoft showed a demo in Mumbai of its new Skype Lite service using Aadhaar to uniquely identify a user. While the authorization process is similar to using a Facebook or Google login authorization to identify someone on the web (which in those cases do not WUXO\VHUYHDVDQLGHQWL¿FDWLRQRIDUHDOSHUVRQ LQWKDWWKHGDWDDERXWWKH identity is not passed on, the security and privacy concerns are valid. *LYHQWKDWWKH$DGKDDUV\VWHPVWRUHVSK\VLFDOLGHQWL¿FDWLRQGDWDDVZHOODVD host of demographic information, a major concern is that if itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s compromised, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s really a single point of failure with disastrous consequences for the myriad services that depend on it. While Aadhaar employs state-of-the-art encryption, usually the compromise to such a system comes from a weaker linkâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;an improperly designed or unaudited mobile or web app or a phishing scam that steals a credential from someone with wide access to the system. WEâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;RE ALREADY COMPROMISED 7KHSULYDF\DQGVHFXULW\FRQFHUQVIRUDQ\W\SHRIXQLYHUVDOLGHQWL¿FDWLRQ database are of course completely valid. If a mandatory national/universal ID were established, how would we keep the government from capturing information on our every transaction? How do we keep private companies and RUJDQL]DWLRQVIURPRQO\XVLQJLWIRULGHQWL¿FDWLRQZLWKRXWWUDFNLQJ":KLOHWKHVH questions are valid, I would submit that our privacy is almost nonexistent already. We willingly trade privacy for free internet services from Facebook, Google, Amazon, and many other companies. Our cloud-stored emails, messages, SLFWXUHVSXUFKDVHVDQG¿OHVDOOFRQWDLQDWURYHRIGDWDDERXWRXUOLYHV Ostensibly, that data is mined for commercial purposes, but privacy laws have not kept up. The Equifax breach, potentially exposing identifying data of almost 150 million $PHULFDQVDOPRVWTXDOL¿HVDVDVLQJOHSRLQWRIIDLOXUH$VLJQL¿FDQWGDWDEUHDFK of a Facebook, Google, or Apple could also be characterized the same way, HVSHFLDOO\DVWKHVHFRPSDQLHVDUHDOODOVRPRYLQJLQWR¿QDQFLDOSD\PHQW services.

Databases that serve the health insurance industry have collected a mountain of information about our health history, including hospitalizations, diagnoses, treatments, and drugs prescribed. A universal ID might KHOSWRDGGPRUHWRH[LVWLQJSURÂżOHV²WKLQNDERXW health tracking from wearables. But that might actually EHEHQHÂżFLDOLQWKHORQJUXQDVDSSO\LQJELJGDWD analysis to it may enable better health outcomes. Finally, the NSA has the computing power to track every unencrypted voice, data, and email message in the country, in the name of national security. And it is used for that purpose. We think. The point? Privacy is almost nonexistent in todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s world. But that doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t necessarily imply either private companies or the government are using this information in nefarious ways, although we know that has happened and will continue to happen in the future. Fear of giving up further privacy should not limit us from using modern technology to solve a real LGHQWLÂżFDWLRQSUREOHPDQGGHWHUULQJIUDXG What does needs to happen to protect our privacy is the enactment of laws that recognize the collection of this information in the public and private sectors and put protections and penalties in place to guard against misuse.




A universal ID might help to add more to existing proďŹ lesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; think about health tracking from wearables.


Fast Forward: NerdWalletâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Tim Chen on Banking, Bots, and Bitcoin


ast Forward is a series of conversations with tech leaders hosted by Dan Costa, PCMagâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Editor-in-Chief. Tim Chen is the cofounder and CEO of NerdWallet. He and Dan met at the companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s San Francisco KHDGTXDUWHUVWRWDONDERXWPDNLQJEHWWHUÂżQDQFLDOGHFLVLRQVWKHSUXGHQFHRI ÂżQDQFLDOOLWHUDF\DQGKRZWKHÂżQWHFKVHFWRULVJRLQJWRHYROYHRYHUWLPH Dan Costa: Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s talk about the world of personal ďŹ nance and ďŹ nancial technology today. In a lot of ways, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s never been a better time to be a consumer in this space. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve got my phone here. I can check my bank account, I can move money around, I can make stock purchases, all from the palm of my hand. It seems like itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the best time ever to be managing your personal ďŹ nances but in a lot of ways, people still are coming up short.

Tim Chen: Absolutely. I see two huge consumer problems.

2QHLWÂśVUHDOO\KDUGWRVKRSIRUÂżQDQFLDOSURGXFWV,WÂśVKDUG to compare A, B, C, and D and know whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s up. And two, you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know what you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know about money. Unless \RXKDYHDJUHDWÂżQDQFLDODGYLVRUZKRÂśVJXLGLQJ\RXDORQJ you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know what to do next. NerdWalletâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s really setting out to try to solve both of those problems. Most people feel that before they get a ďŹ nancial advisor, you need to have a certain amount of money to protect. Most people who donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have large savings or stock accounts donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have a ďŹ nancial advisor at all, so theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re left on their own, on the internet. NerdWallet actually answers a lot of those questions for them. In part, because they have questions and they go to search but youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re doing something more than just answering questions via search, right?

7\SLFDOO\DÂżQDQFLDODGYLVRULI\RXGRQÂśWKDYH.. LQDVVHWVWKH\ÂśOOVD\Âł&RPHEDFNLQÂżYH\HDUV:HGRQÂśW have time to manage your money.â&#x20AC;? NerdWalletâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s really trying to bridge that gap. How do we get the up-andFRPLQJPLOOHQQLDORUDQ\PLOOHQQLDOWRJHWEHWWHUÂżQDQFLDO advice, know what to do next, and get the facts? What makes NerdWallet different than all of the other ďŹ nancial how-to sites on the internet?

NerdWalletâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s obsessively consumer-centric. I actually spend a ton of my time going around the country, going into peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s living rooms, showing them NerdWallet, DVNLQJWKHPTXHVWLRQVDERXWWKHLUÂżQDQFLDOOLYHVHWFMXVW to understand what they need. That permeates throughout the whole company. My hope is, when you go to NerdWallet, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s very obvious that level of care and detail has gone into everything we write, every product we create. We develop our roadmaps based on consumer need, not based on a top-down view of the business.

Unless you have a great ďŹ nancial advisor whoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s guiding you along, you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know what to do next.

People come to you for recommendations on everything from credit cards to mortgages. Can you talk a little bit about sort of the mix of ďŹ nancial products that you cover?

7KHUHDUHRUPDMRUÂżQDQFLDOSURGXFWV,I,ÂśPJRLQJ to simplify the banking space, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s you either have too little money, too much money, or you need to insure something. When you have too little money, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s usually for a college education, a car, or a house. When you have too much money, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re thinking about investing, and youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re insuring your life or your car or your house. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s kind of the universe of products, so we cover all that. I think one of the biggest issues that students face LVWKH\GRQÂśWNQRZKRZWRÂżOORXWWKHIHGHUDODSSOLFDWLRQ IRUÂżQDQFLDODLG6RZHÂśOOKHOSSHRSOHÂżJXUHRXWKRZWR ÂżOORXWWKH)$)6$IRUPIRUFROOHJHDQGWKDWNLQGRI thing as well. That seems to get to the crux of the matter, which is that people donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t understand that there are such things as ďŹ nancial products. They just think that there are things they have to pay for, and they donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t necessarily know the best way to go about it.

Exactly. How you typically go about getting something like a student loan or a mortgage is you either talk to 8QFOH%REVRZHKHDUDORWRIWKDWRU\RXMXVWGRZKDW the banker told you at your local branch. And thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not VKRSSLQJ,QIDFWDORWRIWKHVHÂżQDQFLDOLQVWLWXWLRQVDUH able to make so much money because they leverage their direct relationships with you to give you products WKDWDUHDWSULFHVWKDWDUHZRUVHWKDQ\RXFDQÂżQGRQ WKHLQWHUQHW3ULFLQJLVLQWHUHVWUDWHVRUIHHVLQÂżQDQFLDO products. We try to surface all those things very transparently.

If Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m going to simplify the banking space, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s you either have too little money, too much money, or you need to insure something.

There are some core concepts that people miss, too. When you go shopping for mutual funds, for example, and you get managed funds, the fees associated with those funds seem very, very small when you buy into the fund. But then when you start calculating what those fees would cost over a 20-year period or a 30-year period, the difference is huge. Most people just have no innate understanding of that opportunity that theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re losing.

Right. One of my painful moments of the last three years was when my parents called me and said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Hey, ZHMXVWSXWPRQH\LQWRWKLVIXQG7KHUHÂśVVRPH percent upfront fee and it locks rates and all this FRPSOLFDWHGVWXII´,ZDVMXVWOLNHÂł2KPDQ1RW\RX guys too.â&#x20AC;? Right? Did they not know what you did? Have they not visited your site?

Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re very independent. They visit the site, they use our credit card products. But they didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t even think that there could be this kind of landmine when it came to buying managed funds. My stepfather does the same thing when he goes shopping for cameras. Heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s always sending me the camera that he just bought. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m like, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Did you look at the reviews on PCMag? You know I do this fulltime.â&#x20AC;? So we have that in common. Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s talk a little bit about that, the idea of ďŹ nancial literacy. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not something that we teach in elementary school. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not something we teach in high school. You can graduate college without ever having a basic understanding of how compound interest works. Where are we falling down, and what do we need to close that gap?

One of my painful moments of the last three years was when my parents called me and said, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Hey, we just put money into this fund.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;

The way I think about that problem is, people who are about to become ÂżQDQFLDOO\>LQGHSHQGHQW@DUHW\SLFDOO\KLJKVFKRROWRFROOHJHWKDWWUDQVLWLRQ:H need to teach them some basics, but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s completely impractical to teach them everything. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s like asking them to memorize Wikipedia. First of all, whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the SRLQW"6HFRQGRIDOOZHMXVWZDQWWKHPWRPDNHJRRGGHFLVLRQVQRWWRNQRZ everything. So to your point, I think there are some basics like compounding interest, how credit scores work, when you need to buy certain things, that we can do right around that age. The rest of it, I think there are resources like 1HUG:DOOHWZKHUHZKHQ\RXJRDVNDVSHFLÂżFTXHVWLRQ\RXÂśUHJRLQJWRJHWEDFN a really clear answer. So I think thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s where technology should supplement. I think that one of the cool things about NerdWallet is that it makes managing your money kind of fun, as opposed to something you dread. You can see it in the way the stories are written and the way the advice is given. How much of that is designed to appeal to the millennial market and how much appeals to everyone across any age group?

We have a bullseye of what weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re going for and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s certainly people who are VWDUWLQJRXWDQGVHWWOLQJLQLQWKHLUÂżQDQFLDOOLYHVVRPD\EHUHFHQWFROOHJHJUDGV PD\EHSHRSOHZKRDUHJHWWLQJPDUULHGDQGEX\LQJDKRPHIRUWKHÂżUVWWLPH,WÂśV not that we donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to help everyone else. We do see that thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a lot more UHVLVWDQFHWRQHZWKLQJVQHZPHWKRGVRIÂżQDQFHZKHQ\RXÂśUHWDONLQJWR someone whoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s already bought a home, whoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s already set up a retirement plan. That group is often more hesitant to link their bank accounts or to get their credit score for free. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s this huge rift. Often, we can see people who think our name is ridiculous and before that, thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s all these people that are like, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the best thing ever,â&#x20AC;? so thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s right around when the rift happens. See a video of the full interview and many more at





What We Love Most This Month BY PCMAG STAFF

EMBR WAVE Do you huddle in your hoodie when everyone else is stripping down? Maybe you stand in front of the open refrigerator when your friends are cozying by the fire. Developed by “MIT-trained scientists,” the wrist-worn wearable Embr Wave promises relief. It doesn’t change your actual core temperature but warms or cools your wrist, which sends a signal to your brain to trigger what the company calls “thermal relief”—you simply feel warmer or cooler. The device runs on a rechargeable battery and lasts 25-plus sessions on a charge. $299.00;

GOOGLE PIXEL BUDS In the classic Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy book series, a “Babel fish” is a universal translator you stick in your ear. Google’s Pixel Buds aren’t just a pair of wireless earphones to listen to music with: They’re the company’s attempt at creating a Babel fish. Speak into the buds in one language, and your phone’s speaker pumps out another. If Google manages to nail the translation software, it’ll have a major leg up on Apple’s wire-free AirPods. $159.00,

CUBIBOT If the hefty price of most 3D printers has kept you from getting one of your own, your life is about to change: The compact Cubibot is actually affordable. Its features include a heated bed, filtered ventilation, a smart self-leveling bed, cloud printing, and Wi-Fi connectivity. The company promises easy setup, a wide variety of printing materials, and its own designing software (CubiSoft). Look for it to ship in February of 2018. $149.00,




Tim Bajari


Don’t Let Innovation Widen the Gap Between Haves & Have-Nots


ay Kurzweil, one of the most forwardthinking scientists alive today, has a pretty good track record when it comes to tech predictions, including his 1990 prediction about the rise of the internet. In a 2015 piece for SingularityHub, Peter Diamandis—a visionary in his own right and someone who knows Kurzweil well—outlined some of his favorite Kurzweil predictions for the next 25 years, including: “By the 2040s, nonbiological intelligence will be a billion times more capable than biological intelligence (a.k.a. us). Nanotech foglets will be able to make food out of thin air and create any object in physical world at a whim.” And this as well: “By 2045, we will multiply our intelligence a billionfold by linking wirelessly from our neocortex to a synthetic neocortex in the cloud.” Both predictions fascinate and scare me at the same time. Given my age, I probably won’t be around to see robots becoming smarter than us. And as a serious foodie, I am not sure I like the idea of nanotech foglets taking control in the kitchen, although that sure could help solve the world’s food crisis.

Tim Bajarin is the president of Creative Strategies and a consultant, analyst, and futurist covering personal computers and consumer technology.

Tim Bajari


As for multiplying our intelligence by a billionfold, the big questions are, what competitive advantage does that give a person, and at what cost? Imagine the potential gulf between the haves and have-nots that could arise. If we don’t control this with serious ethical checks and balances, we are inviting chaos despite these technologies’ great value. I’ve said it before, but I’m deeply concerned that our tech creators do not look hard enough at the possible downside their creations have on mankind. The result of this myopic thinking is that we now are seeing serious governmental interest and legitimate queries into the impact of technology for good and evil. In talking with many major high-tech companies, they are not equipped to deal with governmental intervention. Kurzweil’s predictions are fascinating and should be taken seriously. But I would suggest considering how these innovations impact society. For Silicon Valley to continue to drive our tech world, these types of deep-thinking exercises must become part of its DNA. If not, our future might not be as bright as some think it will be.




Juan Martine


The â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Smart Gunâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Debate


ore than 58 people were killed and 500-plus hospitalized last month in a mass shooting in Las Vegas. This tragedy sparked the usual partisan responses from lawmakers, the media, and those on social media. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re angry and weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve taken sides, but as a father of a 2.5-year-old, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m asking you to set that aside and agree on one basic point: None of us want innocent people harmed. If you do, stop reading this article. But if youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re among the 99.99 percent of our amazing country who doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want innocent people killedâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;by DFFLGHQWRULQWHQWLRQDOO\²E\ÂżUHDUPVOHWÂśV reopen the debate on â&#x20AC;&#x153;smart guns.â&#x20AC;? Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m a bleeding-heart liberal who also happens to ORYHVSRUWÂżVKLQJIRRWEDOODQGHYHU\RQFHLQ awhile, boxing and mixed martial arts. I understand thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a large contingency of Americans who love to hunt, collect guns, DQGJRWRWKHLUORFDOÂżULQJUDQJH,GRQÂśW necessarily get it, but my wife doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t understand why I love reeling in large striped bass, and she still loves me. This is our country in a microcosm: We are diverse, complex, stubborn, and traditional, but weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re also breathtakingly innovative. Smart gun technology, as it exists, probably wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have

Juan Martinez is Juan Martinez is PCMagâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Senior Editor, Business. His work has been featured on, NBCNews. com, Reuters, and TechRepublic, among others.

Juan Martine

prevented what happened in Las Vegas, but ¿UHDUPWHFKQRORJ\FRXOGSUHYHQWRUÀDWRXWVWRS similar attacks in the future. What if there was a way for you to own guns, to go hunting, and to feel safe against intruders ZKLOHPLQLPL]LQJWKHULVNRISRRU¿UHDUP handling? Imagine if you were to combine the technology available on your current iPhone or Samsung Galaxy phone with the most highSRZHUHGDVVDXOWULÀHLQWKHZRUOG/RFN\RXUJXQ so that only you or the people you trust could unlock it to begin shooting. Locate the gun in the event it was lost or stolen or remotely lock it. Think of all the accidental deaths, especially those involving children, and all the illegal ¿UHDUPVDOHVZHFRXOGZLSHRXWVLPSO\E\ combining these basic mobile device features ZLWK¿UHDUPV Now, let’s think of a few more advanced possibilities: For prolonged attacks similar to what we witnessed in Las Vegas, police would be able to remotely lock a weapon (or the weapons in a wide region) that are registered with local law enforcement, similar to the way police use LoJack to lock down and recover stolen vehicles. ,QWHOOLJHQW¿QJHUSULQWLQJFRXOGGHWHUPLQH whether a user was intoxicated and lock the device before a tragedy occurs. Those who use legally purchased weapons to commit criminal or violent acts would be held accountable, thanks to location and initiation data logged via software. Think all of the mass killings and domestic violence incidents that could be avoided.


Juan Martine

7KH1DWLRQDO5LĂ&#x20AC;H$VVRFLDWLRQ 15$ FODLPVWRQRWRSSRVHWKH development of smart guns (although its history suggests otherwise) as long as smart guns arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t the only option for gun buyers. I think itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s time for us all (the NRA especially) to rethink that stance. After all, this isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t a new issue: Smith & Wesson experimented with â&#x20AC;&#x153;child proofâ&#x20AC;? revolvers back in the 1880s. Opponents of smart gun technology will say government overreach will prohibit gun owners from achieving what the Second Amendment intends: For the people to bear arms for their own security, even if that means security against the government itself. To this, I have no argument. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s true. If the government wants to lock a registered smart weapon that belongs to one of its own citizens, future technology will likely make this possible. But just as we concede location-based privacy to businesses, mobile carriers, and the government in order to make calls, to receive coupons, and to play Pokemon Go, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll have to FRQFHGHWKHDELOLW\WRÂżUHZHDSRQVLQWKHXQOLNHO\HYHQWWKHJRYHUQPHQW decides to remotely lock a gun. Other smart gun opponents will argue that technological glitches and REVWDFOHVZLOOPDNHVPDUWJXQVGLIÂżFXOWRULPSRVVLEOHWRRSHUDWH%XW technology requires trial and error, and trial and error breeds frustration (I still havenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t been able to download iOS 11). But weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve improved TVs from black-and-white, staticky, blurry images to 4K live video shot from a cell phone and beamed to a 70-inch, wall-mounted device. Eventually weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll move to a place where smart guns are more fun, Ă&#x20AC;XLGDQGVDIHUWRXVHWKDQDQDORJZHDSRQVEXWZHKDYHWRVWDUW somewhere. A third group of opponents will argue that smart guns will be too H[SHQVLYH7KH\ÂśUHULJKW$WÂżUVWVPDUWJXQVZLOOEHPRUHH[SHQVLYH than current bottom-shelf weapons. But, like any technology, as more competitors enter the arena, as manufacturing becomes easier, and as SDUWVEHFRPHFKHDSHUWKHSULFHRIVPDUWJXQVZLOOGURS7KHÂżUVW portable computer, the Osborne 1, debuted in 1981 at $1,795. Today, you can buy an incredible laptop for as little as $269.

Juan Martine

Finally, and perhaps most frustratingly, gun owners will argue that it isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t fair to take away guns that donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t possess smart technology. Why, though? When seat-belt laws went into effect in 1968, it was forbidden for manufacturers to produce cars without seat belt technology. This was probably annoying for people who were used to hopping in a car and driving away untethered, but think about how many lives were saved. People didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t abandon driving. In fact, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d venture to say that more people drive today, to more places, at greater speeds, thanks to the invention and enforcement of the seat belt. And no, while itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not illegal to drive a pre-seat-belt classic car, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d bet that most people who could install a seatbelt in their classic car without VDFULÂżFLQJWKHLQWHJULW\RIWKHYHKLFOHÂśVDHVWKHWLFV (or excessive cost) would do so. But hereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the problem: Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not talking about these issues. We need less partisan bickering and PRUHIDFWVVWRSÂżJKWLQJRQFDEOHQHZVRU7ZLWWHU DQGKRQHVWO\VWXG\WKHLVVXH²DWQRQSURÂżWV think tanks, the CDC, and on Capitol Hill. Whatever the experts conclude, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m willing to bet that most Americansâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;liberal or conservative, pro- or anti-gunâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;would be optimistic about a future with fewer gun deaths.




Gun owners will argue that it isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t fair to take away guns that donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t possess smart technology. Why, though?


Preview: Google Pixel 2


oogle’s new Pixel is downright squeezable. The 5-inch Pixel 2 is a good-looking Android SKRQHEXLOWE\+7&WKDW¿WVZHOOLQRQHKDQG and should run speedily on all U.S. networks. (Verizon is the only U.S. carrier that will have the phone in stores, but the unlocked model will work on any U.S. carrier.) Its differentiating feature is that you can squeeze the phone to trigger Google Assistant, giving you exclusive features that you can’t get anywhere else. We spent some time with the Pixel 2 ahead of its release; we’ll follow with a full review and rating.

Google Pixel 2 Starts at $649

STANDARD SPECS The Pixelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s basic specs are par for the course for a 2017 Ã&#x20AC;DJVKLSVPDUWSKRQH<RXJHWDLQFKSVFUHHQ SPLJKWVRXQGXQLPSUHVVLYHEXWLWORRNV¿QH because the screen is smaller. As a 16:9 phone, though, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the same width (2.7 inches) as the Samsung Galaxy 6ZKLFKKDVDPXFKELJJHUVFUHHQWKH6LVWDOOHUDQG narrower and lacks the large top and bottom bezels on the Pixel 2. The Pixel 2 looks a bit behind the times.

Google Pixel 2 PROS Promising camera. Fast processor. Nice build. Exclusive Assistant features. CONS Small screen and big bezels for the size. No headphone jack.

The matte metal-and-glass back feels like a warm ceramic, with a pleasant interplay of textures. The phone comes in black, white, or blue-gray. It has a 4XDOFRPP6QDSGUDJRQSURFHVVRU*%RI5$0 DQG*%RU*%RIVWRUDJH,W¶VDOVR,3ZDWHU resistant (which means it can withstand water immersion between 15cm and 1 meter for half an hour) and supports fast charging, with a 2,700mAh battery. There are a few features missing that power users might want, but they arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t surprises: The Pixel 2 has no expandable memory, no headphone jack, and no dual6,0YHUVLRQ7KHUH¶VD86%&SRUWRQWKHERWWRPDQG dual front-facing speakers on the front. The front-facing speakers are more about clear sound than volume: We couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t get either the Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL to pump up to a volume that sounded decent in Googleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s supernoisy demo room.

Google Pixel 2, left, in blue-gray, black, or white; Google Pixel 2 XL, right.

,QWHUPVRI/7(VSHHGWKLVLVD&DW0ESVSKRQH with support for all the U.S. carriersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; bands except 70RELOHÂśVQHZ%DQG,WKDV[0,02RQDOOWKH carriers except Sprint, to improve signal strength. Again, you can buy it unlocked or on Verizon. YOUR PHONE WITH YOUR ASSISTANT Google wants Assistant to become the core of its FRQVXPHUSURGXFWVDQGLWZDQWVWRÂżOWHUDUWLÂżFLDO intelligence and machine learning into everything it does. So it took HTCâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most innovative technology this yearâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;the squeeze sensor on the side of the HTC U11, put it on the Pixel 2, and set it to launch Google Assistant, the companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s steadily growing, voiceactivated do-anything feature.

Squeeze the phone a little below the middle, and Assistant pops up. This works even when the phone is in a case.

It works. Squeeze the phone a little below the middle, and Assistant pops up. This works even when the phone is in a case. Unlike with the U11, you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t customize the squeeze to do something different; I looked in the VHWWLQJVDQGGLGQÂśWÂżQGDZD\WRFKDQJHWKHDSSOLFDWLRQ it launches.

Google wants Assistant to become the core of its consumer products, and it wants to ďŹ lter artiďŹ cial intelligence and machine learning into everything it does.


Google absolutely insists that its augmented reality V\VWHPZRUNVMXVW¿QHZLWKRQHFDPHUDDOVROLNHRQWKH L3KRQH,WVKRZHGRIIDIHZ$5GHPRV²WKHXVXDO furniture-placement app, a game, and an app that adds '¿FWLRQDOFKDUDFWHUVWR\RXUSKRWRV²EXWLWVWLOOVHHPV WKDW*RRJOH¶V$5&RUHLVZHOOEHKLQG$SSOH¶V$5.LWLQ terms of developer support so far. COMPARISONS AND CONCLUSIONS The processor, modem, and camera in the Pixel 2 are top-notch, and Google Assistant is very convenient. <RX¶UHJHWWLQJHTXLYDOHQWSRZHUWRWKDWRID*DOD[\6 IRUOHVV*RRJOH¶VVRIWZDUHDQGVPDUWVDUHWKHPDLQ reasons to buy a Pixel, however. The companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Nexus and Pixel phones have always been known for getting Android updates regularly and staying fast with time. I feel an opportunity was lost in the design department. Google is giving you less screen per square inch of SKRQHWKDQ6DPVXQJDQG/* ZLWKWKH9 DUHGRLQJ ULJKWQRZ<HVWKHELJEH]HOVDUHVLPLODUWRWKHL3KRQH DQGEXWWKHUH¶VQRUHDVRQWRFRS\RQHRIWKHL3KRQH¶V less attractive features. SASCHA SEGAN




The processor, modem, and camera in the Pixel 2 are topnotch, and Google Assistant is very convenient.


Skullcandy Hesh 3 Headphones Deliver Strong Audio



Skullcandy Hesh 3 $129.99 L L L l m


Skullcandy Hesh 3 PROS Solid audio performance with rich lows and bright, welldeďŹ ned highs. Sleek minimal design. Comfortable ďŹ t. Earpads block out a substantial amount of ambient noise. CONS Light on accessories. No inline remote on audio cable.


Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a strong bass presence, but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s never over the top, and the high-mids and highs command more of the spotlight.







Ten Top Smart Home Devices


magine that all the devices in your life could connect to the Internetâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;not just computers and smartphones but clocks, speakers, lights, doorbells, cameras, appliances, cooking utensils, you name it. And what if those devices could all communicate, send you information, and take your FRPPDQGV"7KLVLVQRWVFLHQFH¿FWLRQLW¶VWKH,QWHUQHWRI7KLQJV ,R7 DQGLW¶V a key component of home automation and smart homes. Here are some of the EHVWVPDUWKRPHSURGXFWVZH¶YHWHVWHG

Amazon Echo $179.99 EDITORSâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; CHOICE

L l l l m

Amazon Echo Dot $49.99 EDITORS’ CHOICE

L l l l m The original Echo is a Bluetooth speaker powered by Alexa, Amazon’s handy voice assistant. Alexa works with a number of smart home devices directly, as well as with If This Then That (IFTTT) to control plenty of others via “recipes” you can create yourself. It’ll take some work, but you can use Alexa to control most of the gadgets in your house by the sound of your voice. If you already have a favorite speaker, the inexpensive Echo Dot can connect to it and add Alexa functionality. And if you want a touch screen to see search results and make video calls, check out the Echo Show.

Netgear Arlo Pro $249.00 EDITORS’ CHOICE

L l l l h When we reviewed the Netgear Arlo back in 2015, we loved that it was completely wireless, weatherproof, and easy to install, but we were disappointed that it had no audio capabilities. The Netgear Arlo Pro not only adds two-way audio—it also offers sound-triggered recording. Other new features include rechargeable batteries, a base station with a loud siren, and USB connectivity for storing video locally on a USB drive. You don’t need to pay for a pricey subscription to view recordings that are stored in the cloud, and its wireless capabilities give you much more flexibility when you’re deciding where to place your cameras than most competitors.

August Smart Lock HomeKit Enabled $199.99 EDITORS’ CHOICE

L l l l h The big names in door locks have smart home options, but they haven’t pulled it off as well as upstart August. Its easy-to-install, Apple HomeKitenabled Smart Lock mounts over your existing deadbolt switch to provide connectivity for your door. It speaks via Bluetooth to your smartphone, granting quick access to you or guests. The latest version integrates tightly with Apple devices but still has support from other services, such as IFTTT.

Nest Learning Thermostat $248.80 EDITORS’ CHOICE

L l l l m The Nest Learning Thermostat has built-in Wi-Fi so you can remotely control the temperature from phone, tablet, or PC. This latest generation has a larger display and a few more sensors than its predecessors, in addition to geofencing support and a furnace monitor. If you find this version a bit too pricey, Nest also offers the Thermostat E, which has most of the same smart features for $80 less.icey.

Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 Starter Kit $199.99 EDITORS’ CHOICE

L l l l m Want complete wireless supremacy over the lights in your home? The Philips Hue line delivers with bulbs that let you control not only the intensity of the light but also the color. It can get pricey, to be sure, but the Hue ecosystem has been around long enough that it works with just about every other system out there, from Alexa to IFTTT to Siri. Not interested in colorful lights but still want that incredible granular control over an all-white bulb? Philips offers the Hue White for $14.95—almost a bargain price, at least for smart bulbs.

Anova Culinary Precision Cooker Wi-Fi $199.99 EDITORS’ CHOICE

L l l l m If you’re interested in sous vide cooking—in which food sealed in plastic is immersed in a hot bath to cook to perfection—you need an immersion circulator to get started. The Anova Culinary Precision Cooker uses Wi-Fi connectivity so you control it from anywhere, even when you’re not home. A large dial lets you set the desired temperature to within a tenth of a degree, a display shows the set and current water temperature, and an app keeps you notified of the cooking process every step of the way. It makes cooking sous vide as simple as can be.

Eufy RoboVac 11c $219.99 EDITORS’ CHOICE

L l l l m Robot vacuums are a luxury, smartphone-connected models even more so. The Eufy RoboVac 11 stands out as a relatively affordable option, though it doesn’t offer anything in the realm of connectivity. But for $70 more, the Eufy RoboVac 11c adds Wi-Fi for app control, Amazon Alexa compatibility, and better scheduling options. It still lacks some of the more advanced features you’ll find in pricier models, but as far as value goes, the RoboVac 11c can’t be beat.

QardioBase Smart Scale $129.99 EDITORS’ CHOICE

L l l l h Using technology at home to make you healthier makes good sense. For tracking fat, BMI, water, muscle mass, bone composition, and even pregnancy, look no further than the QardioBase Smart Scale. It shares the info it reads with a smartphone app, where you can also track your blood pressure and heart rate with the excellent QardioArm, an at-home blood pressure cuff. And its design is a standout.

Polaris 9650iQ $1,499.00 EDITORS’ CHOICE

L l l l h When we first tested robotic pool cleaners, the Polaris 9550 Sport took top honors thanks to its superb cleaning performance, easy-to-clean debris canister, and multiple programming options. The new Polaris 9650iQ Sport brings more of the same, only this time it offers Wi-Fi connectivity and a useful mobile app that lets you control the cleaner from your smartphone.







Amazon Fire HD 10 (2017) $149.99 L L L l m



Amazon Fire HD 10 (2017) PROS Affordable. Sharp display for the price. Good overall performance. Easyto-use interface and Alexa integration. Dual-band Wi-Fi. CONS No Google Play Store apps. Lowresolution camera.


You can enable Blue Shade, which reduces blue light during nighttime hours, something thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s reported to allow for better sleep.




Amazonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Fire OS is based on Android Lollipop and runs Android apps, but you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t access the Google Play store.






Lenovo 25 Has Retro Design, Modern Specs


he Lenovo ThinkPad 25 Anniversary Edition contains the technology and features of a modern business laptop built on the classleading Lenovo ThinkPad T470, but with subtle touches of ThinkPads past, including a non-chiclet keyboard, a choice of three TrackPoint caps, and red, green, and blue accents on its logo. This unique laptop FHOHEUDWHVWKHSDVW\HDUVRI/HQRYRÂśVĂ&#x20AC;DJVKLSEUDQG with modern components including a seventhgeneration Intel Core i7 processor, Windows 10 Pro, and a Thunderbolt 3 port.

Lenovo ThinkPad 25 Anniversary Edition $1,899.00 L L L l m

THINKPAD THROUGH THE YEARS Lenovo (formerly IBM) includes a short book about the history of ThinkPad line in the systemâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s packaging. The 7KLQN3DGDQGFZHUH,%0ÂśVÂżUVWVHWRI ThinkPad laptops introduced in 1992. While the new ThinkPads are thinner and much lighter, the family resemblance remains, from the soft-touch black exterior to the red accent from the TrackPoint cap in the center of the comfy keyboard. PC Magazine reviewed the ThinkPad 700c in the December 22, 1992 issue, and we called the $4,350 FRQÂżJXUDWLRQÂłDZRUNKRUVH´WKDQNVWRLWV0+] 486SLC processor, 8MB of RAM, and a 120MB hard drive. This was a 10.4-inch color laptop that weighed 7.6 pounds and lasted two to three hours on battery power. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve certainly come a long way since then. DESIGN AND AESTHETICS The 25th anniversary editionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s chassis matches that of the ThinkPad T470 in both physical dimensions, at 0.79 E\E\LQFKHV +:' DQGZHLJKW  pounds). The retro touches start on the top lid, with multicolored letters (red, blue, and green) on the ThinkPad logo, and continue when you open the lid and expose the old-school non-chiclet keyboard with its signature blue Enter key. It looks very similar to the keyboard on the 2011 ThinkPad T420s, but the feel of the key strokes and the switches underneath are more modern and as sturdy as todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s laptops. Also, the onepiece touchpad is wide like the one on the T470, not narrow like the T420â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s.

Lenovo ThinkPad 25 Anniversary Edition PROS Hot-swappable battery. Ethernet and Thunderbolt 3 ports. Includes interesting retro features. Discrete graphics. Comfortable keyboard. Speedy on benchmark tests. CONS Muddy sound. Matte screen ďŹ nish dulls colors.

Like the recent Thinkpad T470, this model has a full set of ports, including Ethernet, HDMI, USB-C/Thunderbolt 3, and USB 3.0.

7KHNH\ERDUGLVEDFNOLWÂżWWLQJFXUUHQWDHVWKHWLFVEHWWHU WKDQWKHVFUHHQPRXQWHGÂł7KLQN/LJKW´XVHGRQ ThinkPads from 2011 and earlier that simply threw a EHDPRIOLJKWRQWRSRIWKHNH\ERDUG$ÂżQJHUSULQW reader to the right of the keyboard works with Windows +HOORIRUDRQHWRXFKORJLQDQGWKHV\VWHPDOVRIHDWXUHV an IR camera for logging in with a glance. $S+'ZHEFDPLVLQLWVXVXDOSODFHDERYHWKH VFUHHQ,WÂśVRSWLPL]HGIRU6N\SHIRU%XVLQHVVDQGLV perfectly suited to web conferences. Likewise, the builtin speakers produce excellent speech audio, but audio from movie trailers and action videos was a bit muddled in our testing. 7KHNH\ERDUGKDVWKHÂłVHYHQURZ´OD\RXWFRPPRQWR pre-2012 ThinkPads, including an enlarged ESC key, function keys that act as F1 to F12 by default (you can, of course, change this), the PrtScn key and other auxiliary keys above the function keys instead of in the bottom row, and so on. The keycaps are traditionally shapedâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re curved but not as scalloped as modern ones. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d rather type on this keyboard than a laptop with VOLSSHU\DQGĂ&#x20AC;DWFKLFOHWVW\OHNH\V$JDLQLWÂśVDQRVWDOJLD trip for â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;90s users, but it may take a bit of time to relearn this keyboard layout.

PC Magazine reviewed the ThinkPad 700c in the December 22, 1992 issue, and we called the $4,350 conďŹ guration â&#x20AC;&#x153;a workhorse.â&#x20AC;?

Old-school volume and mute buttons sit above the top row of F1 to F12 keys.

While you read about the ThinkPadâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s past, you can relive some of that experience with an included set of three TrackPoint caps. Lenovo includes the mushroom-shaped (Soft Dome) cap that comes with every current ThinkPad but also a convex cup-shaped one (the Soft Rim), and two eraser-shaped (Classic Dome) caps, in case you want the tactile experience from the late 1990s to mid-2000s. All three types of caps work well, though Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m partial to the Soft Rim cap. Folks raised on touchpads likely wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t care, but pointing-stick comfort was an important differentiator before touch screens, touchpads, and multitouch support for both became commonplace. 7KHLQFKWRXFKVFUHHQKDVDIXOO+'UHVROXWLRQDQGDPDWWH¿QLVK7KHODWWHU KHOSVTXHOOUHÃ&#x20AC;HFWLRQVHVSHFLDOO\FRPSDUHGZLWKWKHJORVV\VFUHHQVRQWKH$SSOH MacBook Pro 13-inch and the Dell XPS 13 Touch. The downside to the matte ¿QLVKLVWKDWFRORUVDSSHDUVOLJKWO\GXOOHU7KDWVDLGERWKWH[WDQGJUDSKLFVORRN sharp on the display. EXCELLENT CONNECTIVITY (BUT NO DVD OR FLOPPY) The anniversary edition doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t go overboard with the nostalgia and include a Ã&#x20AC;RSS\RURSWLFDOGULYH,QVWHDGLWVVLGHSDQHOVPDWFKWKRVHRIWKH7KLQN3DG T470, which has an excellent set of I/O ports. On the left side is a USB-C/ Thunderbolt 3 port for SSDs or 4k monitors. You can also use the port with a USB-C charger or Thunderbolt 3 docking station. Also on the left is a traditional USB 3.0 port and the ThinkPad AC adapter connector.

Anyone who used a ThinkPad before 2011 will be familiar with these arrow keys.

2QWKHULJKWLVDQ(WKHUQHWSRUWDQ+'0,MDFND KHDGVHWMDFND.HQVLQJWRQORFNSRUWDQ6'FDUGUHDGHU and two more USB 3.0 ports. The wide selection matches other mainstream laptops, such as the Dell Latitude 14 7000 (7480). This array of ports is a lot more convenient than those on the MacBook Pro, which has USB-C connectors that require clunky adapters for 86%7\SH$+'0,RU(WKHUQHWFRQQHFWLYLW\DF Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4 handle wireless connections. The system comes with a seventh-generation Intel Core i7-7500U CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. The CPU choice, memory, and the SSD capacity are all a bit DERYHDYHUDJHJLYLQJ\RXTXLWHDELWRIIXWXUHSURR¿QJ Other business PCs, such as the Apple MacBook Pro, come with Core i5 processors and smaller 128GB or 256GB SSDs. The Dell Latitude 7480 has a Core i7 processor too, but includes only 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD for about the same price ($1,849). GOOD BATTERY LIFE, DISCRETE GRAPHICS Back in the day, many ThinkPads came with discrete graphics. Integrated graphics performance was subpar in the early part of this century and barely existent in the 1990s. Most modern ThinkPads (and business PCs in general) eschew discrete graphics to save money and curtail power usage, but, the ThinkPad 25 comes with Nvidia GeForce 940MX discrete graphics. On our 3D testing, it was the only business PC able to produce VPRRWKO\SOD\DEOHIUDPHUDWHVRQWKH+HDYHQ ISVRU frames per second) and Valley (48fps) tests at medium quality settings. Predictably, frame rates dropped at Ultra quality settings, but they were still tops in this group. The system also topped the 3DMark Cloud Gate and Fire Strike Extreme tests. You should be able to easily play Minecraft and Diablo III during work breaks, but newer games such as Destiny 2 will be a bit beyond the ThinkPad 25â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s capabilities.

The anniversary edition doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t go overboard with the nostalgia and include a ï¬&#x201A;oppy or optical drive.

Thanks to its Core i7 processor, this ThinkPad made short work of the PCMark :RUN&RQYHQWLRQDOWHVW SRLQWV DQGPXOWLPHGLDWHVWVOLNH+DQGEUDNH (1:57), Cinebench (375 points), and Photoshop (3:40). Its scores lagged the $SSOH0DF%RRN3URRQ+DQGEUDNHDQG&LQHEHQFKDQGWKH'HOO/DWLWXGH RQ3&0DUNDQG3KRWRVKRSEXWZHUHFRPSHWLWLYHZLWKV\VWHPVVXFKDVWKH+3 EliteBook 1040 G3, the ThinkPad T470, and the Toshiba Tecra X40-D. Battery life was good at 11 hours 48 minutes on our rundown test. We donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t say very good because, though it lasted this long on its included slim removable battery and built-in secondary battery, the ThinkPad T470 managed 17:39 using a combination of its internal battery and an extended removable battery. The system lasted 5 hours, 34 minutes on the internal battery alone, a safety net that gives the ThinkPad the ability to hot-swap the removable battery for a fresh one. A SOLID LAPTOP WITH A SIDE OF NOSTALGIA A quarter century is a long time: In that span, many PC makers have started up, and countless others have shuttered. But the ThinkPad brand has remained QHDUWKHWRSRIWKHFKDUWVDQGKDVLQÃ&#x20AC;XHQFHGWKH³PXVWKDYH´IHDWXUHVDQG laptop design. The top PC makers still put pointing-stick controllers on their mainstream business laptops to this day because so many businesses bought ThinkPads in the 1990s and the 2000s. Overall, the Lenovo ThinkPad 25 Anniversary Edition provides a nice walk down memory lane but is perfectly useable in 2017. It adds the nostalgia of the 1990s to a modern business laptop that will please ThinkPad fans as well as folks who miss the laptops of yore. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been fun putting this limited-edition laptop through its paces. For your mainstream business-user needs, we still recommend the Lenovo ThinkPad 7IRULWVÃ&#x20AC;H[LEOHFRQ¿JXUDWLRQV JOEL SANTO DOMINGO





Our Favorite High-End Convertible Laptop The original HP Spectre x360 was a hit when it debuted back in 2015, and we liked the 2016 model even more. It’s back again this year, keeping much of what we love, but adding a EDITORS’ CHOICE UH¿QHGGHVLJQDQGDVXSHUVKDUS.WRXFK screen. In addition to the UHD display, the latest HP Spectre x360 13 (starts at $1,199, $1,599 as tested) packs USB-C with Thunderbolt 3, plenty of fast SSD storage, and a chic new color scheme. Given the upgrades to what was already our top choice for highend convertible laptops, the 2017 model is an easy Editors’ Choice pick.

HP Spectre x360 13 (2017) $1,199.99 L L L L H

GHOST IN THE SHELL Retaining the slim shape of its predecessor, the new Spectre x360 13 adopts the stylish aesthetic of the nonconvertible HP Spectre 13. On our test unit, this means a very modern anodized aluminum body with a steelgray-and-copper color scheme. The copper trims the edges of the system and is used as an accent in several places. HP uses the same design approach with the 15inch Spectre x360 that we tested earlier this year, and it looks really sharp in both cases. HP offers two less H[SHQVLYH[PRGHOV DQG WKDWXVH silver trim around the edges. A true ultraportable, the Spectre x360 13 is seriously VOLPDQGOLJKW7KHVDPHZDVWUXHRIWKHÂżUVWLWHUDWLRQ and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s only slimmed down from there. The 2015 model measured 0.63 by 12.79 by 8.6 inches (HWD) and weighed 3.26 pounds, the 2016 model was 0.5 by 12 by 8.6 inches and 2.8 pounds, and this yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s version is minimally slighter at 0.5 by 12 by 8.5 inches and 2.8 pounds. This compares well with the Lenovo Yoga 910 E\E\LQFKHVSRXQGV DQGWKH'HOO ;36LQ E\E\LQFKHVSRXQGV  and means itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll barely register in your briefcase, shoulder bag, or backpack.

HP Spectre x360 13 (2017) PROS Fast performance. Slick, modern design. Slim build. 4K display with sharp image quality. USB-C with Thunderbolt 3 plus USB 3.0 ports. CONS Battery life is only average on the 4K model. Requires USB-C adapters for video out.

The new Spectre x360 retains the slim shape of its predecessor, but adopts the stylish aesthetic of the nonconvertible HP Spectre 13.

CONVERTIBILITY PLUS This is where the Spectre x360 separates itself from the Spectre 13. The laptop is able to fully transform into a Windows 10 tablet thanks to its hinge. Some systems are a bit too big, thick, or unwieldy to be used as in Tablet mode (the Samsung Notebook 7 Spin comes to mind), but since the x360 is so thin and small, it feels natural to hold it that way. This makes it easier to carry around in one hand, good for quickly showing off a design to a colleague nearby, or KDQGLQJRYHUWRDFRZRUNHUWRJHWDEHWWHUORRNDWVRPHGDWD<RXFDQDOVRÃ&#x20AC;LSLW into Tent or Display mode to show off the screen on a desk or table to a gathered group, though the 13-inch screen is a bit too small to see when youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re far away. I brought the Spectre x360 on multiple trips, and I can say itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s very well suited WRSODQHWUDYHO:LWKLWVZHLJKWDQGWKLFNQHVVLW¿WVLQWRDFDUU\RQRUXQGHU seat bag, and its convertibility is perfect for an airplane tray. My preferred method is rotating the keyboard face down on the tray with the screen pointed out toward me from the front, since I can view it at a good angle without it butting up against the seat back in front of me. If you think you can get away without the convertibility, some even slimmer and lighter options include the $VXV=HQ%RRN'HOX[H 8;8$ DQGWKH0LFURVRIW6XUIDFH/DSWRS 7KHNH\ERDUGFXWVDIDLUO\ORZSUR¿OHZKLFKSUHYHQWVLWIURPIHHOLQJDZNZDUG when you grip the back-side of the laptop in Tablet mode. Despite the thin build, the keys feel good to type on, offering more travel than, say, the Razer Blade Stealthâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s keyboard, which feels a bit shallow. The keyboard offers satisfying feedback, as did last yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s model, but the new color scheme avoids the previous gray-on-gray keycap lettering issue, which made it hard to read in some instances. The keys are also backlit with white lighting, and you can toggle the lights on or off as needed.

The touchpad tracks very smoothly, and though itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not too tall because of limited space, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nice and wide and still feels roomy. The Bang & Olufsen speakers provide admirable volume and sound quality, particularly given the laptopâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s size. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not a home-theater setup, of course, but you can comfortably play video or music and hear it across the room with little to no distortion at maximum volume. 2XUUHYLHZXQLWKDVDLQFK.GLVSOD\ZLWKWRXFKFDSDELOLW\ZKLOHERWKWKH DQGYHUVLRQVIHDWXUHSIXOO+'WRXFKVFUHHQV7KHSLFWXUHRQ WKH.VFUHHQLVVHULRXVO\VKDUSZLWKULFKFRORUV7KHUHVROXWLRQLVQÂśWQHFHVVDU\ on a display this size, but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a pretty drastic difference in clarity when compared with a 1080p screen of similar size. The resolution adds to the H[SHQVHEXWWKHH[WUDFODULW\LVREYLRXVDQG\RXFDQHQMR\.FRQWHQWLQQDWLYH resolution. And you get extra space to view and edit full HD videos with room for for toolbars and editing windows. You donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t get a ton of connectivity options given the X360â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s size, but the essentials are covered. The left panel holds the Power button, a USB 2.0 port, and the headphone jack, while the right side has the Volume rocker and two USB-C ports, each with Thunderbolt 3 and capable of charging the laptop. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s no base video ports such as HDMI or DisplayPort, but with adapters for the USB-C ports, you can connect any display youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d like. One more USB 3.0 port would have been useful so you could connect an additional peripheral, but again, an adapter in the USB-C port should have you covered. At the same time, including any USB 3.0 ports at all is appreciated, given some of the recent super-thin laptops that limit you to USB-C only, like the latest Apple MacBook.

The hinges allow the x360 to transform into tablet mode, with the keyboard folding back behind the screen.

For storage, thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a 512GB SSD on board, which means very speedy boot and load times. All three PRGHOVKDYH66'GULYHVRXUWHVWXQLWDQGWKH version offer 512GB capacities, while the least expensive model has 256GB. The same holds true for memory: The two more expensive versions include 16GB of RAM but the entry-level unit gives you 8GB. For wireless connectivity, the Spectre x360 uses dual-band 802.11ac :L)LDQG%OXHWRRWK+3RIIHUVDEDVHRQH\HDU warranty, with up to three years depending on FRQ¿JXUDWLRQ SPECTRAL SPEED Despite its small size, the x360 is quite fast. The 2.7GHz Core i7-7500U processor, SSD, and 16GB of memory make for snappy load times across the board. The PCMark 8 Work Conventional test shows a score slightly low than similar competition, mainly because WKH.GLVSOD\LVPRUHGHPDQGLQJWKDWPRVW7KDWGRHV UHÃ&#x20AC;HFWVRPHSRZHUORVVLQUHDOZRUOGXVHEXWLW¶VIDLUO\ negligible in day-to-day work. The multimedia scores back up those claims, showing fast times that compare favorably with the competition. Since the processor (and by extension, the integrated graphics) is the same as in last yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Spectre x360 13, the performance QXPEHUVDUHYLUWXDOO\LGHQWLFDOVDYHIRUZKHUHWKH. screen adds extra strain. Given the lack of discrete graphics, the x360 13 doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have much in the way of 3D power or gaming chops. You could get away with some Low- or Medium-setting games at a low resolution, but even playing at HD with modern titles is out of reach. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not unique to this systemâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;almost every ultraportable or 2-in-1 packs integrated graphics, since the emphasis is on slim and light form over gaming prowess. The expensive Microsoft Surface Book is an exception, but youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll have to pay a pretty penny for the discrete graphics version.

You can play video or music and hear it across the room with little to no distortion at maximum volume.

The Spectre x360â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s battery lasted 8 hours and 18 minutes in our rundown test. Most laptops in this FDWHJRU\IDUHEHWWHU7KHSUHYLRXV[ODVWHGIRU KRXUVWKH;36LQPDQDJHGZKLOHWKH<RJD 910 hit an amazing 21:28. The blame falls squarely on WKHSRZHUGUDLQLQJ.VFUHHQ UHPHPEHUWKRXJK\RX can order this system with an HD display instead), so itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a matter of personal preference as to whether a higher-resolution display or longer-lasting battery is more important. With this kind of battery life, it lasted through those aforementioned plane trips while playing GRZQORDGHG1HWĂ&#x20AC;L[YLGHRVWKRXJK\RXÂśOOFRPHFORVHWR running it down when going coast-to-coast in the U.S. SHARPER THAN EVER 7KH+36SHFWUH[IXOÂżOOVLWVPLVVLRQYHU\ZHOO coming together as a slick, versatile, travel-friendly FRQYHUWLEOHODSWRSWKDWSHUIRUPVDGPLUDEO\7KH. display looks excellent, making it very appealing even if it comes with some drawbacks. Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll turn heads with the Spectre X360 13â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s stylish design, and there are few machines Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d rather travel with more given the whole package. Save for the reduced battery life, the 2017 Spectre x360 improves on its predecessor, making it our top pick for high-end convertible laptops. If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d like to spend less for a speedy, well-designed convertible laptop with long battery life, the Lenovo Yoga 910 is our top midrange pick, though opting for a .VFUHHQEULQJVWKHSULFHXS MATTHEW BUZZI




The HP Spectre x360 13 fulďŹ lls its mission very well, as a slick, versatile, travel-friendly convertible laptop.


Viewsonic Has the Top Midrange Monitor Designed for professionals who require consistently accurate colors, the 27-inch Viewsonic VP2768 uses a WQHD In-Plane Switching (IPS) panel to deliver stellar color EDITORS’ CHOICE and grayscale performance with wide viewing angles. It also offers advanced color settings, hardware calibration, and a generous selection of video ports, including a DisplayPort output for connecting multiple monitors. Throw in a fully adjustable stand and a USB hub, and you’ve got our latest Editors’ Choice for midrange big-screen monitors.

Viewsonic VP2768 $529.99 L L L l m

DESIGN AND FEATURES The VP2768â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s black zero-bezel cabinet gives it a sleek minimalist look while making the 27-inch screen appear larger than it is. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s supported by a stand that provides tilt, swivel, height, and pivot adjustments, and it has four VESA-compliant holes for mounting the cabinet on a wall using an optional mounting kit. I/O ports are plentiful and are all positioned at the rear RIWKHFDELQHWIDFLQJGRZQZDUG<RX¶OO¿QGWZR+'0, inputs, two DisplayPort inputs (one full size and one mini), a DisplayPort output for daisy-chaining up to four monitors, a USB 3.0 hub with one upstream port and four downstream ports, and an audio output. Also at the rear of the cabinet, on the right side, are a power VZLWFKDQG¿YHIXQFWLRQEXWWRQVIRUQDYLJDWLQJWKH settings menus. The 27-inch IPS panel has a 2,560-by-1,440 resolution, a 350 cd/m2 peak brightness, a 1000:1 native contrast ratio, a 16:9 aspect ratio, a 60Hz refresh rate, and a 14-millisecond (gray-to-gray) pixel response. It uses a 14-bit LUT (Look Up Table) for precise color management and is hardware-calibration ready, but youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll have to supply your own colorimeter and calibration software solution such as ViewSonicâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s CSXRi1 ($279.99) which bundles an X-Rite colorimeter ZLWK9LHZ6RQLF¶V&RORUEUDWLRQSUR¿OLQJVRIWZDUH <RXJHWVLJQL¿FDQWO\PRUHSLFWXUHDGMXVWPHQWVZLWKWKH VP2768 than you do with the BenQ PD2710QC. In addition to Brightness, Contrast, and Sharpness settings are eight color space presets including sRGB, (%8 (XURSHDQ%URDGFDVWLQJ8QLRQ 6037( 6RFLHW\ RI0RWLRQ3LFWXUHDQG7HOHYLVLRQ(QJLQHHUV 5(& +'79 ',&20 PHGLFDOLPDJLQJ DQGWKUHH&$/ (calibration) presets.

Viewsonic VP2768 PROS Excellent color and grayscale performance. Advanced calibration settings. Stylish nobezel design. Lots of connectivity ports. Fully adjustable stand. CONS Pricey. Slow pixel response.

Advanced color settings allow you to select one of six Color Temperature presets, adjust Gamma and Black Stabilization levels, change red, green, and blue Gain and Offset values, and adjust six color Hue and Saturation levels. Other adjustments include a Blue Light Filter setting to help ease eyestrain, Aspect Ratio, DQGVL[DSSOLFDWLRQVSHFLÂżF9LHZ0RGHSUHVHWVIRU JDPLQJZDWFKLQJPRYLHVVXUÂżQJWKHZHEUHDGLQJWH[W and viewing photographs. There are also three ECO modes (Standard, Optimize, Conserve) and four powersaving Sleep modes (30, 45, 60, and 120 minutes). ViewSonic covers the VP2768 with a three-year parts, labor, and backlight warranty. Included in the box are a USB upstream cable, a mini-DisplayPort cable, a resource CD, and a factory calibration report. PERFORMANCE The VP2768 aced our color, grayscale, and viewingangle performance tests. Red, green, and blue colors matched up perfectly with their ideal CIE coordinates. Colors appeared well saturated in my test photos and while viewing an episode of â&#x20AC;&#x153;Stranger Thingsâ&#x20AC;? on 1HWĂ&#x20AC;L[

The Viewsonic VP2768 uses a WQHD IPS panel to deliver stellar color and grayscale performance with wide viewing angles.

The WQHD panel provided a sharp, highly detailed picture with excellent shadow and highlight detail thanks to its outstanding grayscale reproduction, as evidenced by its ability to cleanly display every shade of gray on the 'LVSOD\0DWHVWHS*UD\VFDOHWHVW9LHZLQJDQJOHSHUIRUPDQFHZDVDOVRYHU\ good, with no color shifting or dimming while viewing the screen from an extreme top, bottom, or side angle. The panel’s 14-millisecond pixel response isn’t ideal for gaming, but since the VP2768 isn’t designed for this purpose, it shouldn’t be a deal breaker. There ZDVQRWLFHDEOHPRWLRQEOXURQRXU&U\VLV 3& DQG&DOORI'XW\,Q¿QLWH Warfare (Sony PlayStation 4) gaming tests as well as minor screen tearing. Still, input lag, as measured by a Leo Bodnar Lag Tester, came in at a very reasonable 10.3 milliseconds. The Lenovo L27q and the BenQ SW2700PT are our leaders with a score of 9.5 milliseconds each. The VP2768 consumed 28 watts in testing while set to the Standard ECO mode, 23 watts while in Optimize mode, and 18 watts while in Conserve mode. The BenQ PD2710QC used 27 watts while set to the Standard preset and the Philips 279X6QJSW used 24 watts with the Standard preset, but neither offer powersaving modes. CONCLUSION There’s a lot to like about the ViewSonic VP2768. It’s a sharp-looking monitor that delivers highly detailed WQHD imagery, precise color accuracy, solid grayscale reproduction, and wide viewing angles. Its 14-bit LUT and advanced color settings allow you to keep the panel perfectly tuned with up to three custom calibration presets, and it’s chock full of features, including a fully adjustable stand, a four-port USB hub, and four digital video ports. At $529.99, it’s priced on the high side, but it’s a bit more affordable than the BenQ PD2710QC, offers more picture settings, and is hardware-calibration ready. It earns our Editors’ Choice for midrange big-screen monitors. JOHN R. DELANEY





Todoist Is a Clean FeatureRich To-Do List App If you’re looking for the best to-do list app, one that works on all your devices, has great features for monitoring your productivity, and lets you geek out on the organization of tasks, EDITORS’ CHOICE Todoist is for you. This excellent and reliable app is available across a wide variety of devices, is easy to use, and has great core features. Although the free version of Todoist is very good, it’s much better at the Premium level, which is competitively priced. If you need organizational help and are willing to pay, Todoist will keep you happy and productive.

Todoist $29.00 L L L l h

PRICING As mentioned, Todoist is a freemium product, like most other apps in the to-do list space. A free account gives you a good experience, but the Premium level unlocks features that people with productivity on the brain will want to use. With the free app, you get all the core features for making tasks, including subtasks, but you miss out on task labels and reminders, location-based UHPLQGHUVWKHDELOLW\WRDGGQRWHVDQGXSORDGÂżOHVDQG a productivity chart thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s unique to Todoist. The free account lets you make up to 80 projects for organizing your tasks, and you can share your project with up to ÂżYHSHRSOH A Premium account costs $28.99 per year, with no monthly option available. It adds full collaboration capabilities, location-based reminders, labels and reminders, the ability to add tasks via email, and more. You can organize up to 200 projects and have up to 25 people in each of them with a Premium account as well. PCMag has not yet evaluated Todoist for Business, which also costs $28.99 per user per year and adds some centralized management, log-in tracking, and priority support. A competing service called Any.doFree at iTunes Store charges a little less than Todoist for its Pro account, at about $27 per year. Collaboration features are restricted to Pro subscribers, although free users have access to some limited sharing capabilities, which are worth exploring if youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re looking to share a to-do list among household members. Remember the Milk has a Pro subscription for $39.99 per year with no monthly option. It has limited collaboration capabilities in its free version: You can share a list with up to two other people.

Todoist PROS Available on many platforms. Clean, simple interface. Neat productivity charts with Premium account. Good task classiďŹ cation tools. Collaboration supported. Locationbased reminders. OfďŹ&#x201A;ine functionality. CONS A few important features not available to free users.

Wunderlist was one of the most popular to-do list apps out there, but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s no longer being supported as of April 2017. The app was purchased by Microsoft, which has since released its own rather disappointing task-management app called Microsoft To-Do. Microsoft To-Do is missing a bunch of features that I ZRXOGFRQVLGHUFRUHWRDWDVNPDQDJHPHQWWRRODOWKRXJKLWÂśVÂżQHLI\RXÂśUH doing little more than jotting down a handful of things you need to remember to do each day. 9HU\VPDOOEXVLQHVVHVORRNLQJIRUDWDVNPDQDJHPHQWDSSZRXOGGRÂżQHZLWK or Todoist, as both have a business-grade plan. But another app worth considering is Asana. It costs a lot more, about $119 per year per person, but \RXJHWPXFKPRUHWKDQVLPSOHWRGROLVWV$VDQDLVDFRPSOHWHZRUNĂ&#x20AC;RZ management tool in addition to being a very rich task-management app. It might be overkill for personal use, but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an Editorsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Choice for communication and collaboration tools for small businesses. DESIGN AND FEATURES Todoist is a very capable task-management tool. One of its selling points is that it has apps for so many platforms, from iOS and Android to plug-ins for Gmail and Thunderbird. Apps for Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile are available, too. Within the past year, 7RGRLVWDOVR²¿QDOO\²DGGHGVXSSRUWIRU Slack, meaning you can send a task to your Todoist account from Slack by typing in a few simple words of text. Since Todoist is a cloudbased service, all your tasks and notes from one app automatically sync to all the other places in which you have Todoist installed. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve used the iPhone app for more than a year, and syncing has been reliable, but I have often had to force syncs in the browser.

To manage and conquer your to-dos, Todoist lets you create projects and add tasks to them. Projects can be color-coded to help differentiate them visually. 7DVNVFDQKDYHVXEWDVNVDVZHOODVGXHGDWHVUHPLQGHUVĂ&#x20AC;DJVQRWLQJWKHWDVNVÂś urgency, and more. Todoist supports natural language inputs, so if you want a task to be recurring â&#x20AC;&#x153;every two weeksâ&#x20AC;? or â&#x20AC;&#x153;every Friday,â&#x20AC;? typing those words into your task title makes it happen. Other shortcuts include using # and @ symbols to assign a task to a particular project or add tags. The desktop and Web versions also have manual options for entering recurring tasks that some people prefer to natural language entry for making sure they donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t introduce errors. For example, â&#x20AC;&#x153;today and every Fridayâ&#x20AC;? turned out to be invalid in my testing, although â&#x20AC;&#x153;every Fridayâ&#x20AC;? or â&#x20AC;&#x153;ev Fridayâ&#x20AC;? did the trick. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d rather have the ability to choose my options precisely from a set of selections. In the mobile app, there is no way to do that. You can, however, add a time to your due date, down to the precise minute. In the Todoist mobile apps, quick action buttons appear when you swipe on any task. These buttons let you change the task to be due today, tomorrow, next week, in a month, or to any date you choose. When you invite collaborators to access your tasks and projects, theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll have to sign up for a Todoist account, but they donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t need to upgrade to Premium. With collaborators, you can assign tasks to other people, or they might assign tasks to \RX<RXFDQXSORDGDÂżOHDQGDGGFRPPHQWVWRDQ\WDVNWKHVHPLJKWSHUWDLQWR information you need or information one of your collaborators need.

7RGRLVWDOVRJLYHV\RXDORWRIZD\VWRÂżOWHU\RXUWDVNV <RXFDQÂżOWHUE\SULRULW\DVVLJQHHRUGXHGDWH<RXFDQ DOVRFUHDWHDFXVWRPÂżOWHU,QJHQHUDOWKHRSWLRQVIRU customizing Todoist are pretty good, though you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t customize the badge count on macOS or iOS. The badge count always shows the number of tasks that are due today and those that are overdue. 7RGRLVWKDVJRRGUHPLQGHURSWLRQV(PDLOQRWLÂżFDWLRQV DUHLQFOXGHGDVDUHDIHZQRWLÂżFDWLRQVWKDWDUHVSHFLÂżF WRPRELOHGHYLFHVLQFOXGLQJSXVKQRWLÂżFDWLRQV606 QRWLÂżFDWLRQVDQGORFDWLRQEDVHGUHPLQGHUV ZKLFKDUH Premium only). Other task-management apps with location-based reminders include Apple Reminders and Remember the Milk doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have them at all, although in that app you can tag tasks that you want to do in a location. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just that you wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t automatically get a reminder about it when you reach that location. %\GHIDXOWQRWLÂżFDWLRQVDUHHQDEOHGIRUHYHU\WKLQJ making it a setting I recommend changing immediately. Another setting I had to change in the Todoist Mac app was the keyboard shortcut to show or hide the app. The default is the same as the shortcut for reopening the last FORVHGEURZVHUWDE FWUOVKLIW7 ZKLFKLVDFRPER, use frequently. If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re a fan of shortcuts, however, Todoist has plenty to keep you busy. I love that Todoist keeps automatic backups of your data. When I explored this section, I found eight backups with time and date stamps going back a few minutes to about a week. I also appreciate that 7RGRLVWZRUNVRIĂ&#x20AC;LQHV\QFLQJ\RXUFKDQJHVWR other places where you use the app when you have connectivity.

By default, notiďŹ cations are enabled for everything, making it a setting I recommend changing immediately.

GOOD PRODUCTIVITY KARMA Todoist has a unique feature called Karma that I like very much. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a small report showing your productivity KRZPDQ\WDVNV\RXFURVVHGRII WKLVZHHNEDVHGRQ your color-coded projects. Karma gives me a clear indication of whether Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m spending my time working on the projects that are my priority. Every now and again, I notice my Karma report shows Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been working too much on projects that are not important rather than focusing my time and energy on those that should be priorities. It also draws your attention to which days of the week you tend to get the most done. The Karma report is limited to Premium users. No other to-do list app Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve seen has anything like the Karma report. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s similar to a very lightweight version of a reporting tool you might see in a project management app. If it sounds useful, you should GHÂżQLWHO\FKHFNRXW5HVFXH7LPHZKLFKLVRQHRIP\ favorite productivity tools for monitoring time usage in this same way. If you like the productivity tracking in Todoist, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll probably also like RescueTime. TODOIST, OR NOT TODOIST? The Premium version of Todoist is one of the most feature-rich to-do apps Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve used. It has a simple and functional interface, support for collaboration, and apps for many platforms so that you can get to your to-do list no matter where you are. For all those reasons, Todoist Premium is an Editorsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Choice for to-do list apps. JILL DUFFY




Karma gives me a clear indication of whether Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m spending my time working on the projects that are my priority.


PowerDirector Is the Prosumer Video Editing App to Beat In the past year or two, the amateur video landscape has advanced considerably, and CyberLinkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s consumer video editing software LVXVXDOO\DPRQJWKH¿UVWZLWKVXSSRUWIRUQHZ EDITORSâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; CHOICE formats. Before 4K content could be shot on most smartphones, PowerDirector supported it. Now weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re starting to see 360-degree video and new highHI¿FLHQF\FRGHFVVXFKDV+DQGRQFHDJDLQ CyberLink is in the vanguard. And itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s still loaded with tools that help you put together a compelling video, complete with transitions, effects, and titles. It handles the standard trimming, joining, and overlaying of clips and effects with aplomb. PowerDirectorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fast, powerful video-editing tools make it the prosumer video editing software to beat.

CyberLink PowerDirector $129.99 L L L l h

PRICING AND INSTALLATION PowerDirector runs on Windows 7 through Windows 10, with 64-bit versions recommended. You can try out the software with a 30-day downloadable trial version that adds brand watermarks and doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t support 4K. Two editions of the standalone video editor are DYDLODEOHWKH8OWUDDQGWKH8OWLPDWH reviewed here. Another option is to bundle it with CyberLinkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ColorDirector, AudioDirector, and 3KRWR'LUHFWRULQWKH'LUHFWRU6XLWHEXQGOH The higher-end options add loads of third-party special effects from the likes of BorixFX, NewBlue, and proDAD. You can also get the complete suite for a subscription at $49.99 for three months or $99.99 per year. The pricing is competitive with that of Premiere Elementsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; $99.99, Corel VideoStudioâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s $99.99, and our Mac Editorsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Choice for video editing, Apple Final Cut 3URÂśV Installing the program takes up nearly a gigabyte of your hard drive, so be sure to use a machine with room to spare. I tested the Ultimate edition on my Asus Zen $L23UR=,&UXQQLQJELW:LQGRZV7KH installer no longer tries to add extra unrelated apps alongside the video editor, which makes me happy. INTERFACE The programâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s user interface is about as clear and simple as a program with such a vast number of options can be, but it can still get overwhelming when youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re GHHSLQWKHZHHGVRIÂżQHWXQLQJYLGHRRUDXGLRHIIHFWV You start off in a Welcome screen offering big button options of Timeline Mode, Storyboard Mode, and Slideshow Creator. Two choices below those include Auto Mode and 360 Editorâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;all these modes are selfexplanatory.

CyberLink PowerDirector PROS Fast rendering. Clear interface. Loads of effects. The most 360-degree video capabilities of any video editor. Multicam editing. 3D and 4K capability. Motion tracking. Screen recording. CONS No trimming in source panel. Number of options can make interface overwhelming. Doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t output 360-degree projects to H.265

If you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t need or want all these choices every time you start the program, the simple Always Enter Timeline Mode checkbox is for you. On this welcome screen, you can also choose your video projectâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s aspect ratioâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;16:9, 4:3, and (new for this version) 9:16, a tall mode, since some people never seem to learn to hold their phones sideways for videos. The PowerDirector editing interface maintains the traditional source and preview split panels on the top, with your track timeline along the whole width of the bottom of the screen. The storyboard view is more than just clip thumbnails. You can drag transitions between clips, apply effects, and add audio clips without switching to timeline view. I also like the buttons at the top for showing just video, just photos, or just audio in the source panel. Four mode choices line up at the top: Capture, Edit, Produce, and Create Disc. The timeline is easy to customize and navigate, with a button for adding tracks. Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re allowed up to 100. Vegas Movie Studio limits you WRZKLFKLVDOUHDG\SUREDEO\PRUHWKDQPRVWSHRSOH need, though not enough for high-end projects.

The programâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s user interface is about as clear and simple as a program with such a vast number of options can be.

By default, you get three pairs of video and audio tracks with Cyberlink, as well as effects, title, voice, and music tracks. You can lock, disable/enable view, or rename tracks from the left track-info area, and you can even use drag and drop to move them up and down on the timeline. Zooming the timeline in and out is also a snap, either with Ctrl-Mouse wheel or a slider control. BASIC VIDEO EDITING As with most nonlinear video editing software, you join and trim clips on the timeline. CyberLink has changed the default timeline behavior a bit with this release: When you drag a clip onto the timeline, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re likely to overlap with the H[LVWLQJFOLSWRWKHOHIWLQVWHDGRIWKHFOLSÂżUPO\VQDSSLQJQH[WWRDQH[LVWLQJ FOLSRQWKHWLPHOLQH<RXJHWDWRROWLSZLWKÂżYHRSWLRQV2YHUZULWH,QVHUW,QVHUW and Move All Clips, Crossfade, and Replace. When you use the Insert button that appears below the source panel when you select a clip, you can get your clip lined up without any fuss. The Trim tool (opened with a scissors icon) allows precise control down to the individual frame with two sliders, and the multi-trim tool lets you mark several In and Out points on your clipâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;a useful tool for cutting out the chaff. Some professional video editors I know lament, however, that you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t do a rough trim on a clip before dragging it down into PowerDirectorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s project timeline, as you can in Final Cut Pro X.

The Trim tool in PowerDirector is powerful, letting you remove sections from the middle of a long clip.

You use PowerDirectorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s unique and intuitive selection cursor to split video and delete sections. Fix/Enhance options also include video denoise, audio denoise, and enhancements to punch up color and sharpness. 3RZHU'LUHFWRUDOVRPDNHVLWHDV\WRÂż[OLJKWLQJDQG color. You can independently adjust the brightness, contrast, hue, saturation, sharpness, and white balance. New for Version 16 is color matchingâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;important for movies shot at different angles with different equipment and lighting. The new Color Match option appears when you have two clips selected, and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a simple matter of scrubbing to the frame in each that you want to match. It did a good job in my tests with scenery and dĂŠcor, but it could EHQHÂżWIURPIDFHGHWHFWLRQDVLWGLGQÂśWPDWFKVNLQWRQHV between clips very well. The new support for CLUTs, or color lookup tables, can give your movie a uniform look, by applying a color mood like those you see in the cinemaâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;for example, the dark-blue look of the Batman movies. PowerDirector supports a healthy number of ÂżOHIRUPDWVIRUWKLVLQFOXGLQJ'/&63&8%(0' MGA, RV3DLUT, and VF. Unfortunately, the program doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t give you much support in actually locating CLUTsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re pretty much on your own. Pinnacle Studio, the only other consumer editor I know of with CLUT support, starts you out with a good selection of the effects, by comparison.

Fix/Enhance options include video denoise, audio denoise, and enhancements to punch up color and sharpness.

The Magic Movie Wizard tool takes you through importing source content, adjusting that content, previewing, and producing. Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll need to add your own background music; PowerDirector offers no canned scores.

ASSISTED MOVIE MAKING One of the best things to come to home video editors in recent years was pioneered by Apple with the Trailers feature of the Macâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s included iMovie app. Adobe recently added a similar tool, Premiere Elementsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Video Story feature. :LWKHLWKHURIWKHVH\RXÂżOOWHPSODWHVLQZLWKYLGHRDQGSKRWRFRQWHQWWKDW meets the needs of a spot in the production, such as Group shot, close-up, or Action shot. These are elaborated with transitions and background music that match your chosen theme. PowerDirector has a similar tool, Express Project, which you can enter directly from the program startup panel. Express Project joins another similar tool, the Magic Movie Wizard, which takes you through importing source content, adjusting that content, previewing, and producing. You get four Styles to choose from, including Memory Field, 2ULJLQDO)DVW0RWLRQDQG6ORZ0RWLRQEXW\RXFDQGRZQORDGPRUHIURP, Cyberlinkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Web resource site. Unlike the iMovie tool, PowerDirector requires you to add your own background musicâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;there are no canned scores in the wizard or for Express Projects. Nine Express Projects are available for download, including Action, Extreme, Round the World, and Wedding. An Express Project requires only two steps: 'UDJJLQJDQ2SHQLQJ0LGGOHDQG(QGLQJRQWRWKHWLPHOLQHDQGÂżOOLQJWKH resulting clip tracks with your media. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nowhere near as intuitive or clear as Apple iTunesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Trailers feature or Adobe Premiere Elementsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Video Story feature. But it does offer guidance in crafting a digital movie, it is actually more customizable, and the results look pretty cool.

New for Version 16 is the Video Collage Designer. This is similar to a tool that appeared in the last version of Adobe Premiere Elements. Accessed from the Plug-ins button, the Video Collage Designer shows templates with your clips on the side. You simply drag and drop the latter into the former to get a nifty animated picture-in-picture. WORKING WITH 360-DEGREE FOOTAGE When you add a 360-degree clip to your project, PowerDirector pops up a dialog box asking whether you ZDQW\RXURXWSXWWREHRU',I\RXFKRRVHWKH latter, the View Designer window opens, which let you choose the resulting movieâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s point of view. You can move the angle around in this windowâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s preview in three axes (x, y, and z) with the mouse pointer. Clicking on up, down, left, and right arrows alters your point of view, and clicking the center of the arrow control snaps the view to straight on. You can zoom the view, and very usefully, use keyframes to switch from one viewpoint to another. That last option can take advantage of the Ease In option, which makes the motion more naturally accelerate and decelerate, rather than happening mechanically.

Nine Express Projects are available for download, including Action, Extreme, Round the World, and Wedding.

$YHU\FRROQHZHIIHFWZKLFK,ÂżUVWVDZRQ9LPHRLV produced by the Little Planet dropdown in the View Designer. This takes 360-degree content and realigns it so that the ground is shaped like a ball that any people in the video are walking around. Drag on the image downward and you can create the opposite type of world, in which the inhabitants are inside of a sphere. Also new for 360 videos are stabilization and, remarkably, motion tracking. CyberLink has really SXVKHGWKHHQYHORSHZLWKWKHVHÂżUVWPRYHUIHDWXUHV Unfortunately, I could not get good stabilization results in footage from my Samsung Gear 360, but when I tried sample shaky footage from CyberLinkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Steven Lien, the feature worked well. 0RWLRQWUDFNLQJZRUNVDERXWWKHVDPHDVLWGRHVLQ' footage, except the selection box changes shape to UHĂ&#x20AC;HFWLWVSRVLWLRQLQ'VSDFH,WÂśVDVLPSOHWKUHHVWHS process: You box the object you want to track, run the tracker, and then attach text or graphics to follow it. And it works better than any motion tracking Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve tested to date. The tracker displayed a circle centering on and a box around the colleagues head I was tracking, and it locked on perfectly. In the past these tools have tended to lose the tracked object, being distracted by background objects. It even kept up with the trackee when he walked behind a glass door. That was impressive! For projects that you intend to output in 360-degree format, you can still use the basic trimming, splitting, and joining editing tools, but there are a bunch of PowerDirector features you cannot use: Magic Movie, video cropping (think about it), and content-aware editing. You also cannot successfully mix non-360 content into a 360 project.

The Little Planet dropdown takes 360-degree content and realigns it so that the ground is shaped like a ball.

Adding titles and transitions is still possible, as is making color corrections and time speedups and slowdowns. The program now offers 11 360-degree title RSWLRQVLQFOXGLQJVRPHZLWKÃ&#x20AC;\LQDQLPDWLRQV<RXFDQ also change up the fonts with over 100 choices and apply effects such as stroke and drop shadow. These 360 titles stay in place as the viewer moves around rather than just statically remaining over the image. But you can also move them around, change transparency, and scale, all using keyframesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;pretty cool. Once youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve edited the content to taste, you output to +03IRUPDWRU\RXFDQXSORDGGLUHFWO\WR Facebook, YouTube, and now, Vimeo. The exporter lets you choose a privacy level and resolution, including 4K as an option. The 360 editor doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t let you export to +ZKLFKZRXOGEHQLFHFRQVLGHULQJWKH¿OHVL]HRI GHJUHH.FRQWHQWDQG+¶VVXSHULRU FRPSUHVVLRQ3RZHU'LUHFWRUFDQH[SRUWWR+IRU standard, non-360 content, however.

The program now offers 11 360-degree title options, including some with ï¬&#x201A;y-in animations.

ACTION CAMERA TOOLS PowerDirector can, of course, import and edit footage from GoPro cameras as well as from other action cameras from the likes of Sony, Kodak, and Ion. But the dedicated Action Camera Center under the Tools menu item appears when \RXVHOHFWDFOLS7KLVRIIHUVHIIHFWVVXFKDVFDPHUDSUR¿OHEDVHGFRUUHFWLRQVIRU ¿VKH\HGLVWRUWLRQYLJQHWWHFDPHUDVKDNHDQGFRORU,WDOVRLQFOXGHVHIIHFWV favored by action cam users, such as freeze-frame and time-shifts like slowdowns, speedups, and replays. 7KH¿VKH\H¿[KDVDQDGYDQWDJHRYHU GoProâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own video editor in that it cuts off less of the edge of the screen, and in my test shot, it distorted faces less than the GoPro software. Stabilization isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t an option in the stock GoPro software, and CyberLink offers enhanced VWDELOL]DWLRQDQGWKHDELOLW\WR¿[ camera rotation for a smoother look. The enhanced stabilization (which takes much longer) did a nice job of smoothing out bumpy shots, but I still occasionally saw some warpingâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;a common artifact of stabilization technology. 7KH(IIHFWWDERI$FWLRQ&DPHUD&HQWHULVZKHUH\RX¿QGWKHKLJKO\LQGHPDQG 5HSOD\6SHHGDQG)UHH]H)UDPHWRROV7KH¿UVWRIIHUVEXWWRQVIRUUHSOD\DQG reverse, and speed effects. You choose how long a piece of the clip the effect should be applied to, and from check boxes you can choose Ease In and Ease Out options. The tool lets you easily create fun effects that are prized by skateboarders, surfers, and other fun lovers. Another tangentially action-cam-related capability is the ability to import and HGLWFOLSVVKRWDWDKLJKIUDPHUDWHVXFKDVISVDQGISV,LPSRUWHGD sample of the latter from an iPhone 6, and when I dragged it into my timeline, I got a warning box telling me the frame rate differed from that of my project, but Settings offered only a maximum of 60fps for a project. A CyberLink contact informed me that the limit applied only to the timeline view and assured me WKDWISVFRQWHQWLVSUHVHUYHGDWRXWSXWWLPH$GGLQJDVORPRHIIHFWWRP\ test clip turned a hand clap into a terrifying bass thump.

MOTION TRACKING Motion tracking lets an object, text, or effect follow around something moving in your video. You pick the Motion Tracker choice from the same Tools menu as the Action Camera, after selecting a clip in the timeline. The tool makes tracking an object and adding a title, effect, or even another media clip a simple threestep process. You start by positioning a target box on the object you want tracked, then press the Track button, which runs through the video while following your boxed object. And then you choose what you want to follow the tracked object. $VPHQWLRQHGDERYHWKHGHJUHHWUDFNHUZRUNHGH[WUHPHO\ZHOOEXWWKH' tracker lost track of my subjectâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s face when he turned around, a common OLPLWDWLRQLQVXFKWRROV,Âż[HGWKLVSUHWW\HDVLO\E\VWRSSLQJWKHWUDFNLQJ realigning the box, and starting tracking again. For attaching text to motion-tracked objects in PowerDirector, you can easily attach a mosaic, spotlight, or blur effect, and you get a good choice of many fonts, colors, and sizes. You can even rotate the text with a handle. One thing Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d like to be able to add, however, is a speech bubble, something offered by Adobe and Corel. CONTENT-AWARE AND MULTICAM EDITING PowerDirector can analyze your clip for people, zooming, panning, speech, motion, and shaky video. This enables you to select or reject areas of interest or boringness. Premiere Elements has a tool that lets you manually pick your favorite moments, but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not automated like PowerDirectorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s. The Edit using Content Aware Editing right-click choice processes a clip, and then it shows a dialog with tracks for each of the detected events, such as Zoom, Pan, Faces, Speech, Shaky Video, and more. Clicking on any of the detected clip segments lets you easily select or deselect that portion of the clip for use in your project. Note that this feature doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t work with 360-degree content. :LWKVRPDQ\SHRSOHVKRRWLQJHYHQWVVLPXOWDQHRXVO\ZLWKWKHLU+'FDPHUD phones, multicam is no longer just for professionals. PowerDirector allows up to 100 multicam tracks, but what this really means is that you can sync that many tracks by audio in the main timeline. The actual multicam-switching interface still just has four video sources.

For synchronization, you get a choice of Audio Analysis (the best choice for amateurs), Manual, Timecodes, File Created Time, and Markers on Clips. When I used Audio Analysis, my two clips synced perfectly. The program lets you choose which trackâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s audio should be XVHGRU\RXFDQLPSRUWDVHSDUDWHDXGLRWUDFN+LWWLQJ Record played all angles synchronized, letting me switch among them. The tool creates sub-clips labeled 1 to 4 for the camera angles, with adjustable split points. When youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re done cutting, the clip sequence appears on the regular timeline. Subclips are in separate tracks, but you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t adjust the cut points there without losing footage and messing up the synchronization. The multicam designer itself lets you adjust these. Thankfully, you can also reopen a multicam sequence in the designer after youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve sent it to the timeline. In all, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a well-done and powerful tool. NEAR-PRO VIDEO EDITING If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re into keyframe editing (which allows precise control over when effects begin and end based on exact frames you choose) PowerDirector is there for you. It offers picture-in-picture (PiP), overlays, motion, cropping, and time codes. All effects and adjustments can be pegged to keyframes. You get over 100 transitions and special effects to choose from, including ten from NewBlue. And the app lets you install thirdparty effect plug-ins from Pixelan and ProDAD. Transitions are easy to add, and the program can decide what material before and after to use when you drop this kind of effect to a join line between clips. A search ER[OHWV\RXÂżQGDVSHFLÂżFW\SHOLNH3DJH&XUO$QG\RX can even create custom transitions using your images with the Alpha set of transitions, which rely on masking and transparency.

With so many people shooting events with their HD camera phones, multicam is no longer just for professionals.

PowerDirectorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s chroma-key tool lets you shoot someone with a single-color background, usually green, and create the effect of him or her being in an exotic scene by choosing a different background. Controls for tolerance of saturation, luminance, and edge sharpness let you create more-precise masks, and even in the default mode, I noticed none of the green halo I sometimes see around test subjects in other programs. A new Mask Designer lets you add transparency to mask objects (including your own images) and text. As with just about every effect, you can use keyframes to gradually ease in and out of these mask effects. 7KHSURJUDPRIIHUVSUHVHW3L3JULGV²IURPE\WRE\²DQG\RXUFOLS WUDFNVVQDSWR¿OOWKHUHVXOWLQJVSDFHV7KH3L3'HVLJQHUZLQGRZPDNHVFUHDWLQJ PiP movies simpler than in any competing app. And none of the competition can preview these types of movies without stop-and-start jerky playback. 4K AND 3D PowerDirector supports 4K video content. The software supports XAVC-S VWDQGDUGRI.DQG+'YLGHRVXVHGLQ6RQ\FDPHUDVDQGFDPFRUGHUV7KLVMRLQV VXSSRUWIRU&DQRQ'&-9&+04DQG*R3UR+HUR.FRQWHQW,QHGLWLQJ Go Pro 4K footage, performance is better than I expected, not even slowing GRZQZLWKFRPSOH[WUDQVLWLRQV%HLQJ¿UVWZLWK.FDSDELOLW\LVDUHDOIHDWKHULQ CyberLinkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cap, but much of the competition, such as Corel VideoStudio, now supports 4K. Unlike Premiere Elements, PowerDirector can import, edit, display, and SURGXFH'YLGHR,WFDQHYHQDWWHPSWWRFRQYHUW'FRQWHQWWR',WVXSSRUWV YDULRXV'V\VWHPVLQFOXGLQJDQDJO\SK UHGF\DQJODVVHV 'UHDG\+'79V and popular video and photo 3D formats. I downloaded several 3D samples, LQFOXGLQJKLJKGH¿QLWLRQFRQWHQWDQG3RZHU'LUHFWRUKDGQRSUREOHP displaying it. Once youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve got your 3D content in the program, you can add 3D transitions, particles, and titles.

AUDIO Audio tracks in the timeline by default show waveform lines, and you can turn volume up and down by grabbing and dragging them. The Audio Room, a simple track-volume mixer, features Normalize buttons for each track to even out clip sound levels. It’s also easy to create voiceovers with the Voice-Over Recording Room. CyberLink’s WaveEditor is a separate included app that lets you correct distortion, equalize, generate reverb, and apply a few special effects. It also includes VST plug-in support for third-party effects. The standard video editor also includes beat detection, which puts markers on the timeline at music beats so you can synchronize clip action. But for really advanced mixing, recording, syncing, cleaning, and restoration, there’s AudioDirector (included with the Ultimate Suite edition). With this separate app, you can easily apply HIIHFWVDQG¿[HVWKDWDUHSUHVHUYHGZKHQ\RXODWHURSHQ them in PowerDirector. New for Version 16 is automatic ducking, which automatically lowers background audio during dialog on another track. It didn’t do much for a loud concert video on top of an interview but worked better with a standard background track.

WaveEditor is an included app that lets you correct distortion, equalize, generate reverb, and apply a few special effects.

PERFORMANCE CyberLinkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s investment in 64-bit optimizations and graphics hardware acceleration has paid off. Other speed-boosters include OpenCL (Open Computing Language) support and intelligent SVRT, which determines how your clips should be rendered for the best-quality output and fastest editing. In my latest round of performance testing, the program remains the fastest among its peers. I tested rendering time by creating a movie consisting of four clips of mixed types (some 1080p, some SD, and some 4K) with a standard set of transitions DQGUHQGHUHGLWWRS03(*DW0ESV++LJK3UR¿OH7KHDXGLR ZDV03(*$$&$XGLR.ESV,WHVWHGRQWKH$VXV=HQ$L23UR=,& UXQQLQJELW:LQGRZV+RPHDQGVSRUWLQJD.GLVSOD\*%5$0D quad-core Intel Core i7-6700T CPU, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M discrete graphics card. 7KHWHVWPRYLH MXVWXQGHUPLQXWHVORQJ WRRNPLQXWHVHFRQGVIRU 3RZHU'LUHFWRUWRUHQGHU&RUHO9LGHR6WXGLRWRRNDQG$GREH3UHPLHUH (OHPHQWVWRRN2QO\3LQQDFOH6WXGLREHVWHGLWZLWKDWLPHRI%XW PowerDirector is certainly among the leaders. Its render speed with OpenCL acceleration enabled is nothing short of astonishing. During rendering, PowerDirector also shows you the time elapsed, time remaining, and what frame in the movie youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re at during the process. REAL POWER FOR YOUR VIDEO EDITS PowerDirector continues to lead the way in consumer video-editing software. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s more in this powerful, full-featured package than I have room to discussâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;slideshows, disc menus, and animated object design tools, to name just a few. Its wealth of powerful tools would be enough to give it a strong recommendation, but the speed with which PowerDirector handles editing and rendering digital movies really gives it the upper hand in the face of many competing products. CyberLink PowerDirector 16 Ultimate remains PCMagâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Editorsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Choice for enthusiast-level video-editing software, along with Corel VideoStudio and, for Mac users, Apple Final Cut Pro X. MICHAEL MUCHMORE






ere at PCMag, we use, evaluate, and write about technology pretty much all the time. Our main objective is to review and rate tech products so you can make informed buying decisions—but just as important as our product reviews are our tips for readers. Because once you buy that computer, phone, Bluetooth speaker, smartwatch, or robot vacuum, you’re probably going to need some help to get as much as you can out of your purchase.

:HOFRPHWRRXU7LSV,VVXHDEORFNEXVWHUHIIRUW¿OOHGZLWKRXUH[SHUWDQDO\VWV¶ advice for you, the technology consumer. Whether you’re looking for new ways to be more productive, to stay healthy, to keep yourself and your data safe online, or to entertain yourself, we have the tips. (And our website,, has an ever-burgeoning amount of additional guidance.) We love it when readers give us advice, too. Please send your favorite workarounds, shortcuts, and pro techniques to, and we’ll publish them in future issues.

PICK THE RIGHT WI-FI NETWORK. Have you ever tried to connect to public

Wi-Fi and seen multiple network names that are similar but not the same? EricsCoffeeHaus versus EriksCoffeeHaus, or HiltonGuest versus HiltonGuests, IRUH[DPSOH7KLVLVDPDQLQWKHPLGGOHDWWDFNXVHGE\KDFNHUV²GXEEHG Wi-Phishing—that tries to trick you into logging onto the wrong network to get to your info. Most people don’t take the time to check and jump on the strongest open signal they see. But you should always check that you pick the legitimate network.

PICK A SECURE WI-FI NETWORK. When youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re choosing a Wi-Fi hotspot to

ORJLQWRWU\WRÂżQGRQHWKDWÂśVJRW\RXORFNHGRXW<RXUHDGWKDWULJKW8VXDOO\ when you see the lock icon, it means you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t get access. Networks with no VHFXULW\GRQÂśWKDYHDORFNRUWKHZRUGÂłVHFXUHG´QH[WWRWKHPZKLFKVKRZVRQD Windows laptop. On an iPhone, if you click an unsecured networkâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;even if itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s your own home networkâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll get a warning that reads â&#x20AC;&#x153;Security Recommendation.â&#x20AC;? USE THE SIGNAL APP (available on iOS and Android): It can send encrypted

messages and make calls when both parties are connected to the internet. Though it has had some competition from WhatsApp and Viber, its reputation for security has made it indispensable to many, particularly those who live under governments that censor and monitor citizens (not to mention those who use it and other chat apps for more nefarious purposes). BE YOUR OWN HOTSPOT: Almost all laptops and phones make it easy to

become a hotspot for yourself and others. In Windows 10 devices, go to Settings > Network & Internet > Mobile Hotspot so you can pick the type of internet connection used and get the name of the network (or change it), as well as the network password youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll need for access (you can change itâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;it has to have at least eight characters). On macOS devices, go to Apple Menu > System 3UHIHUHQFHV!6KDULQJDQGFOLFNWKH,QWHUQHW6KDULQJER[3LFNDFRQQHFWLRQ type to share, how you plan to share it (Wi-Fi, duh), then click Wi-Fi options to name your Mac hotspot and give it a password. KEEP CALLS CONFIDENTIAL: To be truly anonymous, forget the smartphone.

The big-name OS makers are control freaks (Apple) and ad servers (Google). <RXUFKRLFHLVDSUHSDLGSKRQHDNDDEXUQHU(YHQZLWKDEXUQHUFDOOUHFRUGV H[LVWDQG\RXFRXOGEHWULDQJXODWHGYLDD*367KHXSVLGHRIDEXUQHULVQRW having your real name associated with the device. And as you see in the movies, you can always throw the phone into a passing truck and lead whoever might be tracking you on a merry chase. ADD A FIREWALL: Is your desktop or laptop computer connected directly to a


router uses Network Address Translation (NAT) to assign an IP address to every device on your home network, and those are then visible only on that network. Direct attacks can sometimes be stopped dead right there. Also, you need the router for sharing the internet connection and Wi-Fi. ANONYMOUS EMAIL: Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s essential for your email to go unnoticed if you want

to avoid spam (or surveillance). The problem is that email simply wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t built with security in mind. But some secure email services use encryption to scramble what you send and require the recipient to have a password that decrypts your message. Of Webmail services that handle encrypted messages, ProtonMail is considered the top of the heap. With a data center in privacyminded Switzerland, the service has a free tier and charges 4 euros a month for the full service. It keeps all your email info secure from search and has a connection directly through the Tor network (once you set it up).


VKRXOGEH6HWWLQJV!*HQHUDO!L3KRQH6WRUDJH!2IĂ&#x20AC;RDG8QXVHG$SSV especially if space is at a premium. It will automatically delete any apps you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t useâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;but it wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t kill the data associated with the apps, so you can always download them again later. Note that once you enable it, you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t turn it off in WKLVVDPHORFDWLRQ$SSOHDSSHDUVWRKDYHSXWWKHGLVDEOHRSWLRQIRURIĂ&#x20AC;RDGLQJ apps under Settings > iTunes & App Storeâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;scroll down and you can see the toggle.

MARK UP YOUR SCREENSHOTS: Taking a screenshot

has always been relatively easy in iOS: Just hold the power button and Home button at the same time. (On iPhone X, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll do it by holding the power button on WKHVLGHDQGFOLFNLQJ9ROXPH8SRQWKHRWKHUVLGH  The screenshot used to just land in Photos, but now, a thumbnail appears on the screen. Tap it, and youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re taken into the new editing screen, where you can crop, DGGDUURZVOLQHVVKDSHVSXWLQWH[WVLJQLWPDJQLI\D section, highlight, write on it, type on it (and change the font), select sections, undo/redo your actions, or use the lasso tool to grab your annotations and move them. When you click Done, you can save the screenshot to Photos or just delete it. CREATE PDFS FROM WEB PAGES: When you see a

page online you want to save or share and youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d rather not use Evernote or OneNote, make it into a PDF that can be annotated. On the page in Safari, click the share EXWWRQ WKHER[ZLWKWKHDUURZSRLQWLQJXSIURPWKH top). On the bottom row of icons that pops up, swipe left until you see Create PDF. If you plan to use it regularly, click the More button to reorder the icons, so &UHDWH3')FRPHVXS¿UVW2QFHWKH\¶UHUHRUGHUHG youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll see a little marker icon at the topâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;tap it to access the annotation tools. When youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re done, click Save File To, and youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll get the option to save to locations in the new Files app. CUSTOMIZE CONTROL CENTER: Swiping up from the

bottom of the screen on an iPhone has always brought up Control Center, but in the past it was limited to just the controls Apple wanted to provide. While thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s still true for many of the controls, including network connections, audio playback, screen mirroring, brightness, and volume, you can now customize all the rest. Add some cool controls in Settings > Control

When you see a page online you want to save or share, make it into a PDF that can be annotated.

Center > Customize Controls, including Low Power, 7H[W6L]H:DOOHW6WRS:DWFK9RLFH0HPRV'R1RW 'LVWXUE:KLOH'ULYLQJ1RWHVDQGPDQ\PRUH <RXU options may differ depending on the type of iPhone you have.) Tap the green plus button to add something to Control Center; select the red minus button to delete. To organize the order of the buttons, drag them using the menu on the right. Bonus tip: In Control Center, use a long-press to access an adjuster that controls the LQWHQVLW\RIVFUHHQEULJKWQHVVYROXPHDQGÃ&#x20AC;DVKOLJKW RECORD VIDEO OF YOUR SCREEN: One of the best

QHZIHDWXUHVKLGGHQLQL26LV6FUHHQ5HFRUGLQJ<RX can access it only by adding the button to the Control Center in Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls. Swipe up to get Control Center, hit the round button, and you get a 3-second countdown to the iPhone recording all the moves you make on screenâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be able to tell from the red banner at the top. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a SHUIHFWZD\WRVKRZRIIHUURUV\RX¶UHH[SHULHQFLQJRUWR show someone how to do something. The video is stored in Photos and shareable. To add audio as you record, use 3D Touch (or press it for a long time) and youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll get DQH[WUDRSWLRQWRWXUQ0LFURSKRQH$XGLR2Q7DSWKH UHGVWDWXVEDUWRFRQ¿UPLW¶VWLPHWRVWRSDQGWULP\RXU videos using the built-in tools to cut the beginning and end off of whatever you record. USE MESSAGES SPECIAL EFFECTS: iOS 10 debuted

the ability to send iMessages to other iPhone users with special effects, and iOS 11 has two new ones: Echo and Spotlight. To use them, type your message, hold down the send key, and tap Screen up top. Echo, which shows multiple echoes of your message (very effective with HPRML ZLOOEHWKH¿UVWRSWLRQ6ZLSHOHIWWRVHH Spotlight, which puts a literal spotlight on your message. Continue swiping left for other options.

Trim your iOS 11 screen videos using the built-in tools to cut the beginning and end off of whatever you record.


keyboard option into the built-in QuickType keyboard. To access it, hold down the emoji icon, which is typically used to switch between the installed NH\ERDUGV<RXœOOQRWLFHWZROLWWOHPLQLNH\ERDUGLFRQVRQOHIWRUULJKW²SLFNWKH one closest to your typing thumb. If you want the one-thumb keyboard permanently, go to Settings > General > Keyboards > One Handed Keyboard and mark the one you prefer. PREP FOR EMERGENCY SOS: Emergency SOS does two things: It initiates a

call to 911 without you having to open the phone app to dial (you may need to specify your local emergency number). Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll also deactivate Touch ID (and, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll guess, Face ID in the new iPhone X when it arrives). To turn it on, go to Settings > Emergency SOS. The actual activation is performed when you hit the power EXWWRQRQWKHVLGHRIWKHL3KRQH QRWWKH+RPHEXWWRQ ÂżYHWLPHVLQDURZ<RX have the option to have the phone play a countdown warning sound for when the call will go through, presumably to warn off those threatening you. STOP TALKING TO SIRIâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;JUST TYPE: Before iOS 11, the only way to

communicate with Siri was by using your voice. If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d prefer some subtlety, go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Siri > Type to Siri. Hold down the +RPHEXWWRQDVXVXDO²EXW\RXJHWDW\SHER[UDWKHUWKDQWKHDXGLRZDYHIRUP DWWKHERWWRPWRLQGLFDWH6LULLVOLVWHQLQJ<RXÂśOOJHWWKHVDPHDXGLRDQGVFUHHQ feedback as usual. This is also where one turns on â&#x20AC;&#x153;Control with Ring Switch,â&#x20AC;? so Siri does not speak up if you have the phone ring switch set to mute, which is always a good idea. If you set up Type to Siri, then the only way to talk to the digital assistant is to say â&#x20AC;&#x153;Hey Siri,â&#x20AC;? which you set up in Settings > Siri & Search. DO COOL THINGS WITH LIVE PHOTOS: With iOS 11, the frame rate of Live

Photos increases from 15fps to 30fps and supports features such as Loop, the %RRPHUDQJOLNH%RXQFHDQG/RQJ([SRVXUH7RWU\LWRXWVQDSDSKRWRXVLQJ Live Photos. Find the photo you want to edit in your Camera Roll and swipe up to select your desired effect. All three features are also available on the desktop via macOS High Sierra.



every time you start your PC, and some of them are not things you need running on your system all the time. Windows 10 gives you a new, easier way to limit what runs at startupâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;from the updated Task Manager. Invoke the Task Manager by pressing Ctrl-Shift-Esc. Switch to the Startup tab, and youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll see all WKHSURJUDPVWKDWORDGDW:LQGRZVVWDUWXS7KHGLDORJER[HYHQKDVDFROXPQ that shows you the Startup impact for each. The Status column shows whether WKHSURJUDPLVHQDEOHGWRUXQDWVWDUWXS<RXFDQULJKWFOLFNRQDQ\HQWU\WR change this status. SECRET START MENU: If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re a fan of that old-school (non-tiled) Start menu

H[SHULHQFH\RXFDQVWLOOKDYHLW²VRUWRI,I\RXULJKWFOLFNRQWKH:LQGRZVLFRQ LQWKHERWWRPOHIWFRUQHULWSURPSWVDWH[WXDOMXPSPHQXZLWKDQXPEHURI familiar popular destinations (Programs and Features, Search, Run). All these options are available through the standard menu interface, but youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be able to DFFHVVWKHPTXLFNHUWKURXJKWKLVWH[WXDOLQWHUIDFH

USE VIRTUAL DESKTOPS: Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve always found switching among apps and

applications snappier in Windows than in other desktop operating systems, but Windows 10 offers yet another optionâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;multiple virtual desktops. To work with WKHVHVLPSO\KLWWKHPXOWLVFUHHQLFRQQH[WWRWKHVHDUFKER[LQWKHWRROEDUDQG click the Plus sign all the way at the right of the taskbar. After this, to switch between desktops, you can press the button again and choose the large thumbnail of the one you want. ROTATE YOUR SCREEN VIA KEYBOARD CTRL-ALT-D ARROWS: This tip

wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be useful to everyone, but if you use multiple displays, this feature allows \RXWRRULHQWDSDUWLFXODUGLVSOD\LQDVSHFLÂżFZD\5RWDWH\RXUVFUHHQE\ simultaneously pressing Ctrl + Alt + D and any of the arrow buttons. The down DUURZĂ&#x20AC;LSVLWXSVLGHGRZQWKHOHIWRUULJKWDUURZEXWWRQVWXUQLWGHJUHHV and the up arrow brings you back to standard orientation. Alternatively, rightclick on the desktop background > Graphics Options > Rotation to turn your page around in all sorts of ways. This feature is available on Windows 7 and 10. SHAKE AWAY YOUR CLUTTER: This feature actually debuted in Windows 7,

but a lot of people donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know about it or use it (but they shouldâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cool!). If you have a display full of windows, you can clear it by grabbing the top of the window you do like and â&#x20AC;&#x153;shakingâ&#x20AC;? it to minimize all the other windows. If you VKRXOGH[SHULHQFHVKDNHUÂśVUHPRUVHVKDNHDJDLQDQGWKHZLQGRZVFRPHEDFN MAKE CORTANA YOURS ALONE: In the Cortana settings where you turn on

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Hey Cortanaâ&#x20AC;? is a heading to make Cortana respond best to â&#x20AC;&#x153;anyoneâ&#x20AC;? or â&#x20AC;&#x153;me.â&#x20AC;? Click the â&#x20AC;&#x153;to meâ&#x20AC;? (or the â&#x20AC;&#x153;relearn my voiceâ&#x20AC;? button if youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve done it in the past); &RUWDQDVWHSV\RXWKURXJKUHDGLQJVL[VHQWHQFHVVRVKHOHDUQVKRZ\RXVD\ Âł+H\&RUWDQD´7KHQ\RXUYRLFHZLOOEHWKHRQO\RQHVKHUHVSRQGVWR<RX should also make sure she knows your name. Click on the Notebook menu again, but select â&#x20AC;&#x153;About Me.â&#x20AC;? Click the Change My Name button, and enter the spelling of your name. Sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll ask you to click to see how she says it; if you like it, click â&#x20AC;&#x153;sounds good.â&#x20AC;? RECLAIM YOUR PRIVACY FROM CORTANA: Cortana learns as much about

you as she can, just like any good personal assistant. The difference is that you can tell Cortana to forget everything about you. Go to the Windows Settings and select Privacy, then Speech, inking, & typing. When you click the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Stop getting

to know meâ&#x20AC;? button, she willâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;that also turns off dictation and clears her NQRZOHGJHRI\RX1RWHWKDWWKHLQIR&RUWDQDKDVRQ\RXH[WHQGVLQWRWKHFORXG sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s saving your searches and history. On that same Settings page, click â&#x20AC;&#x153;Go to %LQJDQGPDQDJHLQIRIRUDOO\RXUGHYLFHV´WRFOHDUVRPHRXW<RXFDQDOVRJR directly to Cortana, the Notebook, and click settings and turn on/off Bing safe searches, web search history (which shows every single thing youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve ever said to Cortana), and more.

AVOID PHISHING SCAMS: Gmail has been successfully used in major phishing

attacks in the past, to target users with links to malicious content. Google noticed, and it hasâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;for Android, at leastâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;rolled out some protection. When thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a suspicious link in a message that you click within your Android smartphoneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Gmail app, Google pops up a â&#x20AC;&#x153;Warning â&#x20AC;&#x201C; phishing (web forgery) suspectedâ&#x20AC;? message. It might come up even for links you know are OK, but better safe than sorry. GET PAID (OR SEND MONEY): It took a while, but Google Wallet made it to

Gmail. Click the dollar sign icon at the bottom of a message, and you have the RSWLRQWRVHQGPRQH\2UVHOHFW5HTXHVW0RQH\WRWHOOVRPHRQHWRSD\XS<RX and the recipient each need a Google Wallet account with banking info attached; the Google Wallet setting for â&#x20AC;&#x153;Send money using Gmailâ&#x20AC;? must also be HQDEOHG7KHPD[LVJRLQJHLWKHUZD\

TAKE SOME SHORTCUTS: Gmail is chock-full of

keyboard shortcuts for just about everything you can do. Check out the Minimalistic Gmail Cheat Sheet from for an infographically perfect representation. Or just hit Shift+? while in Gmail to get a pop-up list. To switch things up, go to Settings > Keyboard Shortcuts tab to personalize the keys used (though you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t customize when youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re using Gmail in Google Apps for business). IMPORT OTHER EMAIL: <RXFDQ¶WEHDW*PDLOIRU

searching and sorting messages. So if youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve got some legacy email account using only POP3 that youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been checking on a client such as Thunderbird, ditch that software and get the messages into your Gmail account. Go into > Settings > Accounts and Import > Check mail from other accounts (itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s right in the middle). Add it and WKRVHPHVVDJHV¿OWHUULJKWLQVDPHDVDOOWKHRWKHUV<RX FDQDGGXSWR¿YH DONâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;T JUST LABEL SPAMâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;BLOCK USERS: If you got

a lot of crap messages back in the day, your recourse was to label them as spam. But now Gmail lets you fully block a user whoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bugging you. Click the More dropGRZQPHQX²WKDW¶VWKHGRZQDUURZQH[WWRWKH5HSO\ button on a message on the desktopâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and select Block >8VHUQDPH@ DRAG MESSAGES OR LABELS: Gmail doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t do

folders. Instead, it has labels. Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re functionally the VDPHDOEHLWGLVFRP¿WLQJWRWKRVHXVHGWRWKHZKROH folder paradigm. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s easy to drag a message from the LQER[WRDODEHODQGWKXV¿OHLWDZD\DUFKLYHGIRUIXWXUH VHDUFKHV%XWLIWKDWPHVVDJHLQWKHLQER[UHTXLUHV further attention, you can drag the label from the left VLGHEDUWRWKHPHVVDJH,WVWD\VLQWKHLQER[EXWLVUHDG\ for future archiving.

To switch things up in Gmail, go to Settings > Keyboard Shortcuts tab to personalize the keys used.

ADD A PLUS TO YOUR ADDRESS: Gmail ignores anything after a plus signâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;so goes to the same place as yourname@gmail. FRP7KLVDOLDVLVLQFUHGLEO\KDQG\IRUÂżOWHULQJPHVVDJHVDV*PDLOÂżOWHUVVHH whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s after the plus. So when you sign up for newsletters with \RXUQDPHQHZV#JPDLOFRP\RXQHHGWRÂżOWHURQO\PHVVDJHVVHQWWRWKDW address rather than from every individual newsletter sender. Note that this doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t always work, as many services donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t allow sign-ups with emails that have optional charactersâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;of which the plus sign is one. REOPEN CLOSED TABS: Have you ever mistakenly closed a tab? We all have.

But Chrome is a forgiving browser and makes it possible to get it all back. Just right-click on another open tab and select â&#x20AC;&#x153;Reopen closed tabâ&#x20AC;? or press ControlShift-T (Command-Shift-T on a Mac), and Chrome reopens any recently closed WDEV<RXFDQNHHSKLWWLQJLWIRUPRUHFORVHGWDEVZRUNLQJ\RXUZD\EDFN through your browsing history. And if you closed an entire window with all your precious pinned tabs, just open or click on a new Chrome window and select â&#x20AC;&#x153;Open closed window.â&#x20AC;? SEARCH WORDS OR PHRASES:

Highlighting a word and performing a drag-and-drop is fundamentally the same as performing a cut-and-paste, so it stands to reason that in Chrome, you FDQKLJKOLJKWDZRUGRUSKUDVHDQGGUDJLWLQWRWKHRPQLER[WRSHUIRUPDZHE search. Conversely, you can also right-click on a highlighted word or phrase to prompt a pop-up option to conduct a Google search. On a Mac, press Control and click on a highlighted word. ADD A LINK TO YOUR DESKTOP: Chrome offers an elegant baked-in feature

that lets you add a clickable link to your desktop for later use. Click the hamburger in the top-right corner > More tools > Add to desktop. This prompts DSRSXSZLQGRZZKLFKOHWV\RXQDPHWKHOLQNÂżOH DQGDFKHFNER[WKDWJLYHV you the option to open this page in a new window). This creates a clickable link on your desktop with an icon to represent the page. TIME TRAVEL WITH GOOGLE MAPS: Street View has amassed a huge

collection of imagery over the years. In 2014, Google introduced a way for users to see how Street View has changed over timeâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;a virtual time machine of sorts. ,QIDFWWKHFRPSDQ\GXEEHGWKLVIHDWXUH7LPH7UDYHO<RXFDQDFFHVVWKLV

IRXUGLPHQVLRQDOFDUWRJUDSKLFH[SHULHQFHZKHQLQ6WUHHW9LHZE\FOLFNLQJRQ the little stopwatch icon in the top-left corner (not available in all locations), which prompts a sliding scale that allows you to jump through Street Views over time. ADD MULTIPLE STOPS TO YOUR JOURNEY: To add multiple destinations in

the Google Maps mobile app, just enter your starting point and your ultimate destination and then click the three dots in the top-right corner. This prompts a pop-over menu with the option to â&#x20AC;&#x153;Add stop.â&#x20AC;? Click that, and you can add a URXWHZLWKPXOWLSOHVWRSV<RXÂśOOHYHQKDYHWKHRSWLRQWRGUDJDQGGURSVWRSV within your itinerary. This doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t work when youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re using the mass-transit option, though. BE YOUR OWN TRAFFIC REPORTER: On the desktop version of Google Maps,


Earth. Within Google Maps, right-click on a location and choose â&#x20AC;&#x153;Measure distance.â&#x20AC;? This drops a point (a white dot with a bold black line). Then click anywhere else on the map, and the distance between the points is calculated. <RXFDQVZLWFKEHWZHHQPHWULFDQG86PHDVXUHPHQWVE\FOLFNLQJRQWKHVFDOH LQWKHIRRWQRWH<RXFDQDOVRDGGPRUHSRLQWVDQGPRYHWKHSRLQWVDURXQGODWHU The total trip distance will be calculated in the main card.

FEWER ROKU CLICKS: As great as the Roku is, navigating from the remote can


GRZQORDGPRYLHVDQGVKRZVORFDOO\0RVW1HWĂ&#x20AC;L[RULJLQDOVDUHDYDLODEOHIRU GRZQORDGEXW\RXÂśOOÂżQGVRPHRWKHUVKRZVDQGPRYLHVDVZHOO-XVWFOLFNRQD title and (when available) hit the download icon. Or tap the hamburger menu on the top left and select â&#x20AC;&#x153;Available to Downloadâ&#x20AC;? to see everything you can download. Find your downloaded content via the hamburger menu > My Downloads. Android users can also specify a download location (under App Settings) to store everything on an SD card. RUN WITH SPOTIFY: /RWVRISHRSOHXVHPXVLFIRUH[HUFLVHLQVSLUDWLRQ:LWK

this knowledge, Spotify wisely created Spotify Running. The feature not only creates a soundtrack for your runâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;it also uses your deviceâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s accelerometer to detect your pace and choose songs accordingly. To access it, tap Browse > Running (or search Running) and select what you want to hear. FILL YOUR HULU WATCHLIST: The Watchlist (formerly the Queue) on Hulu is

a powerful way to stay up to date with your favorite new content on the siteâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; ZKLFKDSSHDUVDOPRVWGDLO\VLQFH+XOXKDVQH[WGD\DLULQJVRIDORWRIQHWZRUN TV. The secret: Find the page for your favorite show on Hulu and mark it as a favorite with a checkmark. The Watchlist is also available on all Hulu apps so \RXQHYHUPLVVDVKRZ²DÂł1HZ(SLVRGH´EDQQHUDSSHDUVDVQHHGHG<RXFDQ also visit the Watchlist from the top menu in a desktop browser.

RAISE TWITTERâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S QUALITY: Surprise! Not everyone on Twitter is real. There

are lots of bots on the social network, not to mention spammers. To limit your LQWHUDFWLRQVZLWKWKHPJRWR6HWWLQJV!1RWLÂżFDWLRQVDQGWRJJOHWKHVOLGHUQH[W to Quality Filter to on. Twitter hasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t given details on how this works but says it uses â&#x20AC;&#x153;a variety of signals, such as account behavior and origin.â&#x20AC;? KEEP SNAPCHAT SAFE: Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t let someone hijack your snapsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;Snapchat has

two-factor authentication. To enable it, tap the Snapchat icon > the gear icon on WKHWRSULJKW!/RJLQ9HULÂżFDWLRQ!&RQWLQXHDQGDYHULÂżFDWLRQFRGHZLOOEH sent to your phone. Once itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s enabled, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll need your password and an SMS code sent to your phone to log in to your Snapchat account on a new device. SEE WHOâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S IN YOUR FACEBOOK: Think someone is accessing your Facebook

DFFRXQWZLWKRXW\RXUSHUPLVVLRQ")LUVWJRWR\RXUVHWWLQJVSDJH8QGHUWKH 6HFXULW\DQG/RJLQVIROGHU\RXÂśOOVHHÂł:KHUH<RXÂśUH/RJJHG,Q´+HUH\RXÂśOOÂżQG all your active Facebook log-ins from desktop or mobile. It will usually provide GDWDRQWKHORFDWLRQEURZVHUDQGGHYLFH,IVRPHWKLQJVHHPVÂżVK\\RXDOVR have the ability to â&#x20AC;&#x153;end activityâ&#x20AC;? from an individual device or all devices. (This also comes in handy if you logged into your friendâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s computer or a public laptop, but forgot to log out.) MAKE FRIENDS WITH SLACKBOT: Think of Slackbot as the Siri of Slackâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;

H[FHSWLWÂśVQRWVRPHWKLQJ\RXWDONWRMXVWFKDWZLWK6HOHFW6ODFNERWLQWKH sidebar and start typing. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a scratchpad for mastering your Slack savvy; you can try slash commands, shortcuts, and so on. It pops up in other channels ZKHQQHHGHGIRU\RXULQWHUDFWLRQZLWK6ODFNRUWKLUGSDUW\DSSV'UDJÂżOHVWR Slackbot for your own personal storage on the serviceâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re searchable, but only by you. Type /remind me to [something] at [time] and you get an instant UHPLQGHUDWWKHWLPHVSHFLÂżHGRUVXEVWLWXWHDQ#PHQWLRQWRVHQGWKHUHPLQGHU to someone else. EXTEND YOUR LAPTOPâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S BATTERY LIFE: The easiest way to reduce power

consumption is to simply turn stuff off. Every component in your laptop needs power to function, but that doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t mean you need to power all of those components all the time. Start by disconnecting any unneeded peripherals VXFKDVD86%PRXVHRUH[WHUQDOGULYH DQGWXUQLQJRIIWKHELJJHVWSRZHUKRJV

like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios, graphics processors, and unused optical drives. Note: Before disabling any component or device, make sure the device is not in use and that it is not essential to continuing operation of the ODSWRS)RUH[DPSOH\RXGRQ¶WZDQWWRGLVDEOHWKHKDUG drive that houses the operating system or the processor that runs the entire laptop. SHARE YOUR UBER: We donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t mean literally (unless

you want to). If you feel unsafe or just want someone to NQRZZKHQ\RX¶UHVFKHGXOHGWRDUULYHZLWKRXWWH[WLQJ them every two minutes, you can share the details of your ride. When the app alerts you that your driver is on WKHZD\JRWR6KDUH0\(7$QH[WWRWKHGULYHU¶VQDPH enter the destination, and then select people from your contacts list that youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d like to share the info with. They ZLOOWKHQJHWDWH[WZLWKDOLYHPDSRI\RXUORFDWLRQ<RX FDQDOVRVKDUH\RXU8EHU(7$YLD6QDSFKDW SCHEDULE YOUR LYFT: If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re one of those super-

organized individualsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;or you just aspire to beâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be pleased to know that you can schedule a Lyft. When you request a ride, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re prompted to select a pickup ZLQGRZ<RXFDQVHWDVSHFL¿FWLPHXSWRVHYHQGD\VLQ advance. Also, the price will be set at the amount you see when you schedule. To cancel the pickup, go into the app, and on the lower left youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll see Cancel Ride. If itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s more than 30 minutes before the ride was scheduled, you will not be charged; if itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s within half an hour, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll EHFKDUJHG




You donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to disable the hard drive that houses the operating system or the processor that runs the entire laptop.




hen you compare the typical 21st century classroom with that of the early 1900s, the differences arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t terribly obvious. Teachers will be standing in front, giving instructions and sharing notes on a modern-day version of the old blackboardâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;say, an overhead projector or a shared computer display. Students will be sitting at their desks in the classroom or watching via online video-conferencing software. The technology has changed: A lot of the tools and processes have been digitized, some of it has been automated, and geographical barriers have been removed to some extentâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;but the actors and elements have remained much the same.

%XWWKDQNVWRDGYDQFHVLQDUWLÂżFLDOLQWHOOLJHQFH $, DQGPDFKLQHOHDUQLQJD VORZEXWVWHDG\WUDQVIRUPDWLRQLVFRPLQJWRHGXFDWLRQXQGHUWKHKRRG,QDIHZ years, teachers will no longer be alone in shouldering the burden of training the young generation or the workforce at corporations. $OUHDG\$,DOJRULWKPVDUHKHOSLQJHQKDQFHHGXFDWLRQE\FROOHFWLQJDQDO\]LQJ and correlating every interaction that takes place in physical and virtual FODVVURRPVDQGKHOSLQJWHDFKHUVWRDGGUHVVWKHVSHFLÂżFSDLQSRLQWVRIHDFK student. This might be the beginning of a revolution in one of the oldest and most valuable social skills that mankind has developed, and an imperative in a world where humans live and work alongside smart machines.

MEASURING LEARNER PROGRESS ,QVWUXFWRUVKDYHWRWDNHLQWRDFFRXQWHYHU\UHDFWLRQWRDOHFWXUHHYHU\EODQNRU attentive stare, every eager or hesitant response to a question, every assignment that is turned in early or late, and a lot more when assessing a studentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s grasp of DFRQFHSW7KLVLVKRZWKH\FDQÂżQGRXWZKHUHVWXGHQWVDUHODJJLQJDQGVWHHU them in the right direction. ,WLVDOVRZK\PHDVXULQJDOHDUQHUÂśVSURJUHVVDQHQGHDYRUWKDWLVGHHSO\VRFLDO in nature, is one of the biggest challenges every teacher faces, and a task that is hard to accomplish with classic rule-based software. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Course lectures, whether on a college campus or in a corporation, are SUHGRPLQDQWO\RQHVL]HÂżWVDOOZLWKWKHGRPLQDQWPRGHEHLQJWHDFKHUV VSHDNLQJWRVWXGHQWV´VD\V&KULV%ULQWRQ+HDGRI5HVHDUFKDW=RRPLDQ$, company that specializes in capturing and analyzing behavioral data in educational settings. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This is born out of necessity: it would be impossible, or at OHDVWLQHIÂżFLHQWIURPWKHVWDQGSRLQWRIWLPHIRUWKHWHDFKHUWRSDXVHWKHOHFWXUH for prolonged periods of time and address each student concern individually to EULQJDOOWRWKHVDPHSDJH,QVWHDGDVWXGHQWZLWKPDQ\TXHVWLRQVZRXOG usually be asked to follow up with the instructor outside of class time.â&#x20AC;? However, machine learning algorithms, which are based on analyzing and ÂżQGLQJSDWWHUQVDQGFRUUHODWLRQVEHWZHHQGDWDSRLQWVDUHSURYLQJWREHDQ effective tool in helping teachers quantify a studentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s understanding of a lecture. Âł%\DQDO\]LQJVSHFLÂżFVWXGHQW GDWD$,KDVWKHSRWHQWLDOWR help surface more quickly areas in which students may need more help, thereby improving student achievement and teacher support,â&#x20AC;? says Jessie Woolley-Wilson, president and CEO of DreamBox Learning, an intelligent mathlearning platform.

(TXLSSLQJWKHFODVVURRPZLWKDUWLÂżFLDOLQWHOOLJHQFHLV the equivalent of providing every student with a digital WXWRU%ULQWRQH[SODLQVÂł7KHDOJRULWKPVGULYLQJ$,FDQ be trained to detect when a learner is struggling and what caused them to struggle, or when they are bored and what caused their boredom,â&#x20AC;? he says. This is a shift from traditional learning software, which relied only on assessment responses to measure studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; grasp of the topics they study. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This data is often not available during a lecture, much less at the subsecond granularity in which a student may switch from a clear to confused point of view,â&#x20AC;? Brinton says. 7KHUHDUHQRZDQXPEHURI$,SRZHUHGSODWIRUPVWKDW FUHDWHULFKGLJLWDOSURÂżOHVRIHDFKVWXGHQWE\FROOHFWLQJ live information from the userâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s interaction with course PDWHULDODQGFRQWH[W,QDGGLWLRQWRNHHSLQJUHFRUGVRI grades and scores, Zoomi, the platform Brinton helped develop, tracks micro-interactions such as viewing VSHFLÂżFVOLGHVRUSDJHVRQ3')GRFXPHQWVUHSOD\LQJD VSHFLÂżFSDUWRIDYLGHRRUSRVWLQJDTXHVWLRQRUDQVZHU on a discussion forum. The data is then used to build a model that can give real-time insights into a studentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s understanding and HQJDJHPHQWZLWKVSHFLÂżFWRSLFV'DWDPRGHOVDOVRKHOS LQÂżQGLQJFRPPRQSDWWHUQVDPRQJPXOWLSOHVWXGHQWV and performing predictive analytics, such as forecasting how students will perform in the future.

Equipping the classroom with artiďŹ cial intelligence is the equivalent of providing every student with a digital tutor.

0RUHDGYDQFHGXVHRI$,FDQLQYROYHWKHHPSOR\PHQW of complicated computer-vision algorithms to analyze facial expressions, such as boredom and distractedness, and link those to the other data gathered on students in order to create a more complete picture of a studentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s learner model. FINDING AND ADDRESSING GAPS IN LEARNING 7KHUHDUHPXOWLSOHEHQH¿WVWRKDYLQJDUHOLDEOHGLJLWDO model that represents a studentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s knowledge. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The data can be used either automatically by an intelligent system to immediately engage students in learning H[SHULHQFHVWKDWVSHFL¿FDOO\DGGUHVVWKRVHJDSVLQ understanding, or by the teacher to identifyâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and UHVSRQGWR²WKRVHVSHFL¿FDUHDVRIQHHG´VD\V:RROOH\ Wilson of DreamBox. Third Space Learning, an online education platform founded in 2012 to provide one-to-one math tutoring, is QRZOHYHUDJLQJ$,DOJRULWKPVWRKHOSLPSURYHWKH performance of teachers. Since its launch, Third Space KDVUHFRUGHGGDWDDERXWWKRXVDQGVRIVHVVLRQV,Q partnership with University of College London, Third Space is now engaged in a project to mine the data with $,DOJRULWKPVLQRUGHUWR¿QGVXFFHVVIXOOHDUQLQJDQG teaching patterns and provide real-time feedback to its online tutors about how their students are keeping up with lessons. 7KH$,OHDUQHUPRGHOFDQDOVRSRZHULQWHOOLJHQWWXWRULQJ V\VWHPV ,76 ,QWHOOLJHQWWXWRUVZKLFKFDQZRUNLQD self-paced learning environment or in conjunction with human teachers, use a studentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s historical and real-time data to provide them with personalized content tuned to WKHLUVSHFL¿FVWUHQJWKVDQGZHDNQHVVHV3URYLGLQJD personalized learning experience is a goal that teachers have always struggled to achieve.

Providing a personalized learning experience is a goal that teachers have always struggled to achieve.

Âł$,SRZHUHGWXWRULQJV\VWHPVKDYHVKRZQWREHHIIHFWLYHDWWHDFKLQJZHOO GHÂżQHGVXEMHFWDUHDVVXFKDVPDWKVDQGSK\VLFV´VD\V5RVH/XFNLQ3URIHVVRU of Learner Centred Design at the University of College London Knowledge Lab. Âł$,FDQFXUUHQWO\UHOLHYHSDLQSRLQWVE\KHOSLQJZLWKUHFRUGNHHSLQJDQGZLWK the selection and recommendation of resources for learners to use.â&#x20AC;? $QH[DPSOHLV0$7+,$D$,SRZHUHGPDWKOHDUQLQJSODWIRUPGHYHORSHGE\ &DUQHJLH/HDUQLQJWKDWPLUURUVWKHEHKDYLRURIKXPDQWXWRUV0$7+,$FROOHFWV various data points and employs machine learning algorithms and predictive models to determine studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; knowledge and skill levels and estimate their performance in the future. The platform uses this data to adapt the learning path according to studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; learning processes. Âł(DFKVWHSLQDSUREOHPZKLFKFRXOGLQYROYHÂżOOLQJLQDFHOOLQDVSUHDGVKHHW plotting a point on a graph, etc., is associated with one or more cognitive skills,â&#x20AC;? VD\V6WHYH5LWWHU&KLHI3URGXFW$UFKLWHFWDW&DUQHJLH/HDUQLQJÂł'HSHQGLQJRQ whether the student does the step correctly or not, or asks for a hint, we adjust our estimate of the studentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s knowledge on the associated skills.â&#x20AC;? 0$7+,$XVHVÂłNQRZOHGJHWUDFLQJ´WKHSURFHVVRIGHWHUPLQLQJDVWXGHQWÂśV understanding of different concepts, as well as â&#x20AC;&#x153;model tracing,â&#x20AC;? the process of understanding a studentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s approach to solving problems, in order to adjust the softwareâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s support for the individual studentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s thinking process instead of redirecting them to a standard approach that may not make sense to them. This helps provide personalized content, with possibly countless learning paths.

MATHIA, an AIpowered mathlearning platform, looks at individual studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; work to determine the best way for them to learn.

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Our hints, for example, change based on the order in which VWXGHQWVFRPSOHWHWKHSUREOHPVWHSVLIWKLVRUGHULQJUHĂ&#x20AC;HFWV different ways of approaching the problem,â&#x20AC;? Ritter says. The evolution of intelligent tutoring systems can eventually lead to a richer self-paced learning experience. While it ZRQÂśWEHDUHSODFHPHQWIRUKXPDQWHDFKHUV$,SRZHUHG online learning platforms can play a pivotal role in making high-quality education available in areas where thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a shortage of teachers, and students have to learn by themselves. Âł7KHFRPELQDWLRQRIELJGDWDDQG$,FRXOGSURYLGHOHDUQHUV with their own personal analytics, which they can leverage to become the most effective learner they can be,â&#x20AC;? says Luckin.

The evolution of intelligent 6HOINQRZOHGJH NQRZLQJZKDW\RXGRDQGGRQÂśWNQRZ DQG tutoring VHOIUHJXODWLRQ IRUH[DPSOHEHLQJDEOHWRVWRS\RXUVHOIIURP systems can EHLQJGLVWUDFWHGE\ZKDWVRPHRQHHOVHLVGRLQJ DUHWZR eventually skills that such systems can help develop, according to lead to a Luckin. richer selfÂł$,FDQEHXVHGWRVFDIIROG VXSSRUW OHDUQHUVWRGHYHORS paced learning WKHVHNH\VNLOOVE\UHĂ&#x20AC;HFWLQJEDFNDFURVVWKHLUSHUVRQDOGDWD experience. using carefully designed interfaces and visualisations,â&#x20AC;? /XFNLQVD\VÂł,QWKLVZD\DOOOHDUQHUVFRXOGEHKHOSHGWREH better at learning, which would be useful across all subject areas.â&#x20AC;? 2QHRIWKHEHQHÂżWVRI$,SRZHUHGOHDUQLQJV\VWHPVLVWKH seamless assistance they can provide. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The same intelligent technologies that help students and their teachers inside the classroom should always be leveraged to do the same outside of the classroom,â&#x20AC;? says Woolley-Wilson. â&#x20AC;&#x153;They can bring the same power of personalized recommendations wherever the student is. Learning opportunities and access should no longer be restricted to a certain time or place as theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve typically been in our analog past.â&#x20AC;?

&RUSRUDWHWUDLQLQJFDQDOVREHQHÂżWIURP$,SHUVRQDOL]DWLRQ=RRPLZKLFK SURYLGHVRQOLQHWRROVIRUSURIHVVLRQDOWUDLQLQJXVHV$,DOJRULWKPVWRUHFRJQL]H learner preferences and dynamically adapt course content to meet their needs. )RULQVWDQFHEDVHGRQDXVHUÂśVSDVWEHKDYLRUDQGUHDFWLRQWRGLIIHUHQWPHGLD types, the platform can decide whether course material should be served in a 3')RUYLGHRIRUPDW3URJUHVVLYH%XVLQHVV3DUWQHUVKDVEHHQXVLQJWKHSODWIRUP since 2016 to train HR professionals, resulting in a 12-percent increase in course completion and a 30-percent increase in revenue. FINDING AND ADDRESSING GAPS IN TEACHING :KHQVWXGHQWVODJEHKLQGLQDOHVVRQĂ&#x20AC;DZVLQWHDFKLQJPHWKRGVDQG curriculum are often as much to blame as weaknesses in the students themselves. Was the cause of student misunderstanding something about the material itself, the manner in which it was presented, or the timing of the PDWHULDOZLWKLQWKHĂ&#x20AC;RZRIWKHFXUULFXOXP":DVLWWKDWWKHVWXGHQWKDGWKHĂ&#x20AC;X ZKHQVRPHQHFHVVDU\FRQFHSWVZHUHFRYHUHGSUHYLRXVO\"+RZGLGWKHVWXGHQW HQJDJHZLWKWKHPDWHULDO²DFWLYHO\RUSDVVLYHO\" Those are some of the questions that every teacher has to answer when assessing the quality of a delivered lesson and investigating the root causes of problems in learning. Âł*UHDWV\VWHPVFDQOHYHUDJHKXJHGDWDVHWVWRDVVLVWWHDFKHUVLQÂżQGLQJERWK ZHDNQHVVHVLQFXUULFXOXPDQGLQÂżQGLQJVWUXJJOLQJVWXGHQWV´VD\V:RROOH\ Wilson. â&#x20AC;&#x153;And itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s important to remember that the amount of help provided to the teacher depends on the quality of data available informing the analysis.â&#x20AC;?

AI can help human teachers ďŹ nd ďŹ&#x201A;aws in the curriculum and help struggling students.

DreamBoxâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s online adaptive-learning platform uses the data it collects from students to uncover learning gaps and then helps teachers to address them at WKHFODVVOHYHORUIRUVSHFLÂżFJURXSVRULQGLYLGXDOVWXGHQWV7KLVFDQLQFOXGH creating strategy groups, personalized learning plans, or focused assignments WKDWDGGUHVVVSHFLÂżFJDSVDQGFRPSOHPHQWWKHFRUHFXUULFXOXP $,DOVRKHOSVWHDFKHUVLQDVVHVVLQJWKHUHOHYDQFHRIWKHLUWHDFKLQJPDWHULDO â&#x20AC;&#x153;While the content is delivered â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;liveâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; in a classroom setting, most instructors prepare their materials electronically,â&#x20AC;? says Brinton, the researcher from =RRPLÂł$VDUHVXOWLWÂśVSRVVLEOHIRU$,WHFKQRORJLHVWRLQWHUSUHWWKHPDWHULDO determine the topics covered, and even analyze the course assessment materials to gain insight [as to] how well the assessment covers the course content.â&#x20AC;? =RRPLXVHV1DWXUDO/DQJXDJH3URFHVVLQJ 1/3 WKHEUDQFKRI$,WKDWSDUVHV the content and context of written material, to weigh the quality of a teacherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s course material. Zoomiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s algorithms remove content that does not have a positive impact on the learning process. The company is also working on DOJRULWKPVWKDWDXJPHQWWKHOHDUQLQJH[SHULHQFHE\ÂżQGLQJFRPSOHPHQWDU\ FRQWHQWDQGUHSXUSRVLQJLWWRÂżWZLWKLQWKHFRQWH[WRIDSDUWLFXODUOHVVRQZKHUH a student is struggling. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Soon, algorithms may be able to modify sentences for clarity, and even author new material on their own just as a human would do,â&#x20AC;? Brinton says. &RQWHQW7HFKQRORJLHV,QF &7, DQDUWLÂżFLDOLQWHOOLJHQFHUHVHDUFKDQG GHYHORSPHQWFRPSDQ\EDVHGLQ&DOLIRUQLDKDVGHYHORSHG$,WKDWDXWRPDWLFDOO\ JHQHUDWHVFXVWRPL]HGHGXFDWLRQDOFRQWHQW&7,ÂśVHQJLQHXVHVGHHSOHDUQLQJWR ingest and analyze syllabus and course material, master the knowledge and generate new content such as custom textbooks, chapter summaries, and multiple choice tests. The technology is being used by a number of companies and educational institutions. EDUCATION WILL REMAIN A SOCIAL EXPERIENCE :KLOHZHÂśYHVHHQLPSUHVVLYHHIIRUWVLQWKHDSSOLFDWLRQRIDUWLÂżFLDOLQWHOOLJHQFHLQ HGXFDWLRQWKHUHVXOWVSDOHLQFRPSDULVRQWRRWKHUGRPDLQVZKHUH$,DOJRULWKPV are causing major disruptions. The reason is that education and learning are fundamentally social experiences that are extremely hardâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;if not impossibleâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;to automate.

Âł$,FDQQRWUHSODFHWHDFKHUVEHFDXVHLWKDVQRVHOI awareness or metacognitive regulation, and it also lacks empathy,â&#x20AC;? Luckin, the professor from UCL Knowledge /DEÂł+RZHYHU$,ZKHQLWVGHVLJQLVLQIRUPHGE\ZKDW ZHNQRZDERXWOHDUQLQJDQGWHDFKLQJ LHWKHOHDUQLQJ VFLHQFHV FDQEHFRPELQHGZLWKELJGDWDDERXWOHDUQHUV to unpack the black box of learning and enable learners, teachers, and parents to track progress across multiple subjects, skills, and characteristicsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;this can provide vital information to support learners to become more effective as learners as well as to help them learn knowledge and skills.â&#x20AC;? 7KHDXJPHQWDWLRQDQGDVVLVWDQFHWKDW$,SURYLGHVWR the education and learning process will make teachers HYHQPRUHSURGXFWLYHDQGHIÂżFLHQWÂł7HDFKHUVZLOOEH able to focus on what they can do best: create excellent content, deliver strong lectures, and address the most pervasive pain points both in person and remotely, individually and in groups,â&#x20AC;? says Brinton. Another social aspect of education is collaboration. Students often learn more from working in groups and with each other as they do from listening to lectures and solving problems at their own pace. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The goals of education include more social interaction, such as learning to be a good collaborator or to communicate with others,â&#x20AC;? says Ritter, the product architect from Carnegie Learning. â&#x20AC;&#x153;So a challenge in personalizing instruction is to balance seeing a student as an independent learner who can proceed at his or her own pace with the need to work collaboratively with others.â&#x20AC;?

AI cannot replace teachers, because it has no selfawareness or metacognitive regulation, and it also lacks empathy.

 XW$,PLJKWDOVREHFRPHDIDFLOLWDWRULQFROODERUDWLYHOHDUQLQJ,QWHOOLJHQFH % 8QOHDVKHGDMRLQWUHVHDUFKSDSHUE\8&/DQG3HDUVRQZKLFK/XFNLQ FRDXWKRUHGH[SODLQVWKDW$,FDQVXSSRUWFROODERUDWLYHOHDUQLQJE\FRPSDULQJ student learner models and suggesting groupings in which participants are at a similar cognitive level or have complementary skills and can help each other RXW$,FDQDOVRWDNHSDUWLQOHDUQHUJURXSVDVDPHPEHUDQGKHOSVZD\ discussions in the right direction by providing content, posing questions and providing alternative viewpoints. 7KHXELTXLW\RI$,DFURVVWKHOHDUQLQJSURFHVVZLOOHYHQWXDOO\UHYROXWLRQL]H HGXFDWLRQ$FFRUGLQJWRD6WDQIRUG8QLYHUVLW\UHSRUWLQWKHQH[W¿IWHHQ\HDUV LWLVOLNHO\WKDWKXPDQWHDFKHUVZLOOEHDVVLVWHGE\$,WHFKQRORJLHVWKDWZLOO result in better human interaction both in the classroom and in the home. The classroom might remain more or less as it is today, but thanks to digital DVVLVWDQWV$,DOJRULWKPVDQGPRUHFDSDEOHWHDFKHUVIXWXUHJHQHUDWLRQVZLOO hopefully have access to higher quality education and will be able to learn at a much faster pace.





A The 30-Year AI Scare Cycle










REVIEWS EXECUTIVE EDITOR Wendy Sheehan Donnell MANAGING EDITORS Sean Carroll (software, security), Alex Colon (consumer electronics, mobile), Jonathan

Rougeot (hardware) LEAD ANALYSTS Michael Muchmore (software), Neil J. Rubenking (security), Joel Santo Domingo

(desktops, laptops), Sascha Segan (mobile) SENIOR ANALYSTS Jim Fisher (digital cameras), Will Greenwald (consumer electronics), Tony Hoffman

(printers, scanners), Jeffrey L. Wilson (software) ANALYSTS Tom Brant (hardware), Matthew Buzzi (hardware), Max Eddy (software, security), Ajay Kumar

(mobile), Victoria Song (consumer electronics) JUNIOR ANALYSTS Ben Moore (software) INVENTORY CONTROL COORDINATOR Alice Newcome-Beill



Arielle Rochette


CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Tim Bajarin, John R. Delaney, Jill Duffy, John C. Dvorak, Tim Gideon, Edward Mendelson, Laarni Almendrala Ragaza, Matthew Sarrel






Vivek Shah


Steven Horowitz Brian Stewart



Joseph Fortuna

James Yaffe


Mike Finnerty

Dan Costa


Anurag Harsh

Eric Koepele


Fredrick Rolff

Jason Steele

Stephen Hicks

Frank Bilich (media sales), Melissa Hart (marketing), Diane Malanowski (human resources), Jennifer Riccio (FP&A), Archer Rosenblum (technology), Suzanne Sypulski (Operations) VICE PRESIDENTS

THE INDEPENDENT GUIDE PC Magazine is the Independent Guide to Technology. Our mission is

to test and review computer- and Internet-related products and services and report fairly and objectively on the results. Our editors do not invest in firms whose products or services we review, nor do we accept travel tickets or other gifts of value from such firms. Except where noted, PC Magazine reviews are of products and services that are currently available. Our reviews are written without regard to advertising or business relationships with any vendor. HOW TO CONTACT EDITORS We welcome comments from readers. Send your comments to

or to PC Magazine, 28 E. 28th St., New York, NY 10016-7940. Please include a daytime telephone number. PC Magazine’s general number is 212-503-3500. We cannot look up stories from past issues, recommend products, or diagnose problems with your PC by phone. PERMISSIONS, REPRINTS, CONTENT, AND TRADEMARK RIGHTS For permission to reuse material in this

publication or to use our logo, contact us at Material in this publication may not be reproduced in any form without written permission. Copyright © 2017, Ziff Davis Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.