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• DELL ultra hD display • lenovo explorer • fitness bands • best free video editors
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| March 2017
Welcome Spring is a fantastic time for new beginnings and fresh starts – and it’s the same when it comes to your PC. Now is the perfect time to clear away the cobwebs of neglect from your Windows install, take out the trash of unwanted apps, and tidy up the files on your hard drive, so you can enjoy better performance in the year ahead – and we’ll show how to do exactly that with our in-depth feature on page 11. Turn to page 42 and you’ll also discover how to create the
perfect reinstall for Windows 7, 8.1 and 10; while our Explore section, starting on page 23, is packed with fantastic ideas for doing more with your PC – whether it’s having fun with the new Mixed Reality Viewer app, or getting creative with your photos. And when you’ve done all that, sit back, relax, and check out the sweet sounds coming from the latest smart home speakers on page 52. You know you deserve it! Enjoy the issue,
Rob Mead-Green Editor
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Find friends and family with My People Remove Windows’ preinstalled apps
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11 The ultimate PC refresh
Now’s the time to spring clean Windows – our in-depth guide will show you how
42 Create the perfect reinstall
Give your PC a new lease of life with our reinstall tips for Windows 7, 8.1 and 10
52 Smarter speakers
Control your kit and enjoy your tunes with our smart home speaker selection
6 Discover How to control your smart home with Cortana; the great graphics card shortage; and Google’s AI-powered camera 20 Subscriptions Save up to 46% on print and digital issues
35 Back issues Missed an issue? Don’t miss out – order now while stocks last!
68 Digital issues Get the world’s best Windows mag on your phone or tablet
90 Next month Find out what’s coming up in the April 2018 issue
Explore The best PC tutorials Your guide Rob Mead-Green says…
“If you’re looking for better ways to use your home computer, then this is the place to start. We’ll show you all the tips and tricks the experts use and more!” 24 Master notifications and more in Windows 10’s Activity Centre 27 Download and keep videos from YouTube and Facebook 30 Create and manage online passwords with True Key
64 Get answers to your technical questions with help from our PC experts 4
| March 2018
32 How to easily edit and replace colours in photos
36 Have fun with 3D models in the Mixed Reality Viewer app 39 Speed up your PC for free
Subscription bundle offer Print and digital bundle – only £14 every 3 months Find out more on page 20
hine – tips, c a m s w o d in the n your W 11 Spring clea iques to help you clear out tricks & techn faster, better performance clutter for
75 Our expert reviews
42 There are many ways to reinstall Windows – our indepth guide will help you choose the right one
52 Control your kit and enjoy fantastic sounds with our pick of the best smart home speakers
76 Dell UP3218K UltraSharp display 78 Lenovo Explorer headset 80 Beyerdynamic Aventho Wireless 82 AVM FRITZ!Box 7590 router 84 Happy Hacking Keyboard Pro 2 86 Fitness bands 88 Best free video editors
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March 2018 |
NEW things to do
talk it out You can control smart home devices, like this Nest thermostat, from your PC with Cortana.
| March 2018
Discover Get smart with Cortana
Co n nect you r ho me
Get smart with Windows’ virtual assistant, Cortana
Give Cortana access to your home’s smart devices and you can take control right from your PC
o some, Cortana – that chatty lady who really wants to help you search for things in Windows 10 – is a bit of an annoyance. You may even have switched her off entirely. But Cortana is more than just the modern day equivalent of Ask Jeeves: give her a chance, and she can do a lot more than just search. Cortana can help you fill your calendar, interact with web services and, if you’re feeling adventurous, she can connect to the devices around your home.
other end – and with a Hue starter kit (comprising a pair of bulbs and a controller) retailing for only £60, it’s really not expensive to get started. A properly configured Cortana, much like Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant, can sniff out your smart kit automatically. Simply click the search box on your Taskbar, then click the third icon in the stack on the left to see the Cortana notebook. This is where the digital assistant keeps a record of your searches and requests. If it’s switched on, you’re ready to go; if not, just sign in using the button provided. You’ll need a microphone if you want to talk to Cortana – your laptop likely has one, or a cheap headset will work if you’re using a desktop – and the digital assistant is always listening. Just say ‘Hey Cortana’ followed by your request – ‘Turn down the lights’, ‘Set the thermostat to 19 degrees’, and make your home a better, and smarter, place.
You can tweak the temperature of your home or dim the lights
At press time, Cortana is compatible with Nest thermostats, Philips Hue smart light bulbs, and the Wink, Insteon and Smartthings smart device hubs. This means you can tweak the temperature of your home, dim the lights, or interact with numerous compatible devices using your voice or a typed command, as long as you have the right hardware on the
X marks the Spot Echo keeps expanding Amazon’s Echo range is expanding fast. There are, as before, three sizes of traditional speaker Echo – from the Dot to the Plus, all recently refreshed with new hardware – but these have now been joined by camera-andscreen equipped extensions to the range. There’s the larger £200 Echo Show, and this, the dinky chopped-sphere Echo Spot at £129. That camera can link to Amazon’s ‘skills’, apps that extend what the device can do, and you can make video calls too.
Flat face The circular screen chops off the edges but gives the Echo Spot a unique look.
Google Clips What is it, then? It’s a camera, as you can plainly see. But not just any camera. It’s an AI-powered camera. You attach it to your person and head on out, or just leave it in the corner of your living room, and Clips will automatically fill its 16GB of storage (or your Google Photos account via Wi-Fi) with snaps when it thinks something interesting is going on. That sounds quite sinister Doesn’t it just? The concept of an AI camera is certainly interesting – who knows what shots you’re going to get – but the concept of a constantlywatching lens is slightly more unsettling. Luckily it seems as if Google’s new cam isn’t quite the scary HAL 9000 ever-vigilant eye that it appears to be on the surface. How so? Clips is not recording your every move and sending it online for analysis – it’s automatically editing what it sees to pull out the odd snap or clip, and backing them up to your personal storage. You don’t even have to connect it online if you’re worried. That said, we’re not entirely sure how it decides to start capturing, or how good results will be – although Google Photos often does a decent job with its automatically generated movies and collages. So what do you know? Very little. Clips was announced in October 2017, and Google recently put a batch on sale for $250 (the UK equivalent, as these things often are, would likely be £250) that sold out almost immediately – without revealing an awful lot about the hardware, software, or its AI. We should know more once we’ve gotten our hands on one. That’s a lot of money for a camera It’s a huge spend, particularly for a bog standard 12-megapixel snapper. But Clips, at this stage, is more a proof of concept, and we’d expect future iterations to hit a much more affordable price point.
Touching Physical controls, four microphones, and a touchscreen make this uniquely interactive.
Watch it You can stream video calls or TV – either zoomed in, or slightly cropped at the edges.
March 2018 |
Everyone’s talking about…
The great GPU shortage
Where have all the graphics cards gone, and why are they now so expensive? One word: Bitcoin
omputer builders and hardcore gamers are up in arms. Highend graphics cards are suddenly in short supply, and those which are available are now selling at levels typically way above the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. It’s all thanks to the boom in cryptocurrency. Finding new currency, in the most simple terms, means digging up one of a limited selection of secret keys; graphics cards, and their GPU processors, are perfect for the number-crunching required to mine them. So electricityhungry fanatics, seeking to capitalise on the digital gold rush, have snapped up the fastest cards on the market. Capitalism being what it is, this new scarcity has led to some cards almost doubling in price. GPU manufacturers, despite bumper sales, aren’t particularly happy about this trend. Nvidia has suggested that retailers sell only two cards per purchase, telling German site ComputerBase “For Nvidia, gamers come first. All activities related to our GeForce product line are targeted at
our main audience.” Sales of miningspecific cards, such as Asus’ Mining RX 470, haven’t exactly rocketed, perhaps because these cards lag behind today’s top hardware in terms of performance. Realistically, these restrictions – which are primarily a suggestion, rather than a solution – won’t change anything any time soon. Until cryptocurrency finds its level, and the difficulty and cost of mining new currencies outstrips the price of new hardware, retailers aren’t going to ask too many questions. That said, some have been working to support gamers, bundling more realistically priced cards in packages with monitors (which Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency miners aren’t interested in), or dropping online GPU sales altogether, reserving them for physical stores. Nvidia and AMD, the two largest graphics card makers, are no doubt in talks with retailers behind the scenes. But, at least for now, expect your next desktop PC to cost a lot more, particularly if you want it to pack some power.
Download this… VCV Rack vcvrack.com Analogue synthesisers are responsible for some of the most iconic and strange music of the past 50 years, but they’re pretty hard to get started with, both from a complexity and cost perspective. VCV Rack changes at least the second part of that equation: it’s a free simulation of a whole rack of synthesiser components, which you’re encouraged to wire up and twiddle with exactly as you wish. VCV Rack’s community is perhaps its finest asset, as synth enthusiasts have put together a host of free modules emulating real-world hardware, all available through the app itself. What’s more, while there are plenty of specific Rack tutorials online, VCV’s emulation of proper components means you can follow just about any guide to analogue synthesisers to get started. Enjoy making beep and bloops, but be careful of your speakers – things might get rough…
rack attack Create weird and wonderful sounds with this real-world synth simulator.
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uiz The 60-Secondm Q e sta rts no w! Pe ns at th e rea d y, yo u r ti
What was the name of Microsoft’s CD-ROM encyclopaedia? A) Encarta B) Magna Carta C) Carta Blanche
A) e2f2 B) h2g2 C) f2p2
And what was the name of its medievalthemed trivia game? A) Mind Maze B) Brain Bamboozle C) Think Quest
Which online encyclopaedia was founded in 1999 by author Douglas Adams?
What expert-written encyclopaedia led to the launch of Wikipedia? A) Mediapedia B) Nupedia C) Centipedia
Which American agency publishes the World Factbook? A) FBI B) NSA C) CIA
Which of these is not real?
A) Know Your Meme B) Urban Dictionar y C) Encyclopaedia of Blue Screens Answers 1A 2A 3B 4B 5C 6C
| March 2018
NEXT ISSUE ON SALE Thursday
Discover Facts & figures
Rob Mead-Green reveals a host of fascinating digital facts
! COOL $500
Cost of the “world’s safest flamethrower” from Elon Musk’s The Boring Company. The same firm will also sell you an “overpriced Boring Company fire extinguisher”, although its website confesses: “You can definitely buy one for less elsewhere, but this one comes with a cool sticker”.
Number of latitude and longitude points from a billion activities carried out by users of the fitness tracker app Strava. The data, which was published in heat map form, immediately aroused controversy since it can easily be correlated with known military bases, with routes that are most heavily used by personnel at the bases clearly shown.
3.6 MILLION Number of jobs in the UK that are expected to be replaced by machines by 2030, according to a report from the Centre for Cities thinktank. Up to one-third of jobs in some British towns and cities could be affected.
$8 millon Amount of money US rapper 50 Cent has apparently made from a long-forgotten Bitcoin account. The rapper enabled fans to buy his 2014 album Animal Ambition using Bitcoin, earning him $400,000 at the time. As he’s never touched his Bitcoin account since then that $400K has rocketed in value. The rapper said on Twitter: “Not bad for a kid from South Side, I’m so proud of me”.
Cost in Euros of a fine levied by the EU on chipmaker Qualcomm for violating anti-trust laws. Qualcomm apparently paid Apple billions of dollars for exclusive rights to have its 4G chips installed in iPhones and iPads between 2011 and 2016, locking out competitors such as Intel. In worse news for Qualcomm, it’s also being sued by Apple in a dispute over chip royalties. March 2018 |
The hottest new Windows hardware on the horizon
LG Gram Price £TBC, www.lg.com/uk One of the best new laptops to make it debut at CES 2018, the LG Gram is an ultra-thin ultrabook with impressive specs and incredible durability. Available initially in the US, the LG Gram is equipped with a choice of 13.3-inch, 14-inch or 15-inch touchscreen IPS displays, plus eighth generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processors. The good news continues with promised battery life of between 19.5 hours (13.3-inch) and 22.5 hours (15-inch). Plus there’s room inside the LG Gram’s lightweight shell for a second SSD alongside the first. But it’s the use of a Nano Carbon Magnesium full metal alloy body that really sets the LG Gram apart, enabling it to pass US military MIL-STD 810G durability tests for impact, pressure and temperature resistance. Throw in DTS Headphone X 11.1-channel surround sound, a fingerprint reader and Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) connectivity and the LG Gram looks tough to beat.
| March 2018
Windows 10 Refresh your PC
Spring is in the air, so refresh key parts of your PC by overhauling your apps, security, hard drive and the desktop
t’s easy to get stuck in a rut, but the first day of spring is a welcome reminder that life moves on – and so does your PC. If you’ve been trundling along for the past year or are feeling increasingly jaded, now is the perfect time to give your computer a shot in the arm. Not only will you give it a cosmetic makeover, but you’ll also tighten your security and find ways in which to make using it less of a chore and more of a dream. We’ll open with the cosmetics, revealing how to overhaul your desktop’s appearance, not simply for a fresh new look, but with the
opportunity to change the way it works – for the better, of course. We’ll continue the theme by reorganising your hard drive and revealing further ways in which you can do more with your desktop. Then it’s on to your apps, as we reveal modern alternatives for old favourites that find it increasingly hard to keep up with Windows 10. Finally, we’ll give your security a good refresh, ensuring your existing software is still up to scratch while revealing ways in which you can tighten it further. Ready to give your PC that fresh, spring feeling? Turn the page and start applying a lick of muchneeded new paint.
March 2018 |
Refresh your desktop
Give your Windows desktop a mild makeover or go further and swap out the shell for something different instead
ored with your Windows desktop? The default background and colour scheme can be a little dull at the best of times. Let’s start our Windows refresh by swapping it out for something more interesting. Right-click some empty space on the desktop and choose Personalise. Windows 10 users will find themselves at a screen where they can easily swap out the desktop background image for something else (Windows 7 and 8.1 users must first click Desktop Background). You can pick another image, a solid colour or a slideshow of images from a selected folder on your PC. By default, Windows will ‘fill’ the picture to fit the space, so parts of it will be cut off to fill your widescreen display without looking squashed or stretched, but other resizing options can be found under ‘Choose a fit’.
Change desktop theme
Your desktop background is part of your overall desktop ‘theme’, which includes a colour scheme for dialog boxes and other desktop elements, mouse cursor designs and even sounds. By default, Windows 10 will change the colour scheme to match your desktop background; Windows 8.1 users can find an automatic setting by clicking Colours. Alternatively, you can override the automatic setting under Colours by choosing a different scheme. If you’re short of inspiration for your new-look desktop, let Windows take the strain by downloading a pre-set theme. Windows 10 users first need to select Themes, then click ‘Get more themes in the Store’ to browse dozens of free alternatives. Just download and click Launch to switch back to Settings to apply the theme. It’s slightly more convoluted in earlier versions of Windows: here you need to click ‘Get more themes online’, then download your choice of theme as a .themepack
| March 2018
Why settle for one background image when you can set a slideshow?
file to your Downloads folder. Doubleclick this and it’ll be installed and made available as a theme. If you’d like to go further, why not craft your own desktop theme from scratch? It’s easy to work through the various dialog boxes – in most case it’s a simple case of point, choose, and click. When you’re done, save your theme and you’ll be able to switch between it and other themes easily.
Tweaking the desktop theme is usually sufficient for most people, but what if
Use the step-by-step guide opposite to set up Cairo and explore its main interface – it’s very simple to set up and use. You’re always in control – returning to the Windows desktop you know and love is a simple case of clicking the Cairo menu button in the top-left corner and choosing ‘Exit Cairo…’ You can then relaunch Cairo from the main Windows Start menu at any time. Select Cairo > App Grabber to change which programs are stored in the Programs menu and the Quick Launch section of the dock; choose Cairo > Cairo Settings for more customisation
“You can pick another image, a solid colour or a slideshow of images from a selected folder on your PC” you want to go even further? The answer lies in changing what’s known as the desktop ‘shell’, which replaces everything you see on the desktop. The step-by-step guide on the page opposite reveals how to use one such replacement shell, Cairo (http:// cairodesktop.com), to revamp your desktop. Unlike some shells, this won’t replace File Explorer, but instead sits on top of it, so it’s easy to close and remove at any time should you decide you don’t like it. Note, however, that Cairo is in an early stage of development, so there may be glitches – take a System Restore point or update your Macrium Reflect Free (www.macrium.com/reflectfree. aspx) drive image before installing it.
options. You can change the Theme to White.xaml under General to change the colour of the menu bar to a metallic grey, and switch to the Desktop tab to pick a different default folder to display on your desktop – or disable this part of Cairo completely by unticking Enable Desktop. Some options require Cairo to restart; simply click the button and it’ll do just that. If the idea of Cairo appeals, but doesn’t quite float your boat, then turn to page 14 to discover more ways to tweak your desktop – our suggestions include tools, such as SideSlide and TidyTabs, that enable you to reorganise your computer’s desktop more logically, making your PC easier to use.
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