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DIGITAL EDITION

DECEMBER 2017


CONTENTS DECEMBER 2017

COVER STORY

THE BEST PRODUCTS OF 2017 We test hundreds of products each year in the PC Labs—and these 100 are the top 4 percent. If you want to know what to buy this holiday season, here’s your list.

REVIEWS CONSUMER ELECTRONICS Apple iPhone X jibo

HARDWARE Razer Blade Stealth (Late 2017) Rapoo 8900P Advanced Wireless Mouse and Keyboard Combo

SOFTWARE & APPS Six Top Password Managers


WHAT’S NEW NOW INTEL, AMD TO TEAM UP ON 8TH GENERATION MOBILE CHIPS The two companies will join forces on a high-performance mobile CPU

WHAT IS GFAST, AND WILL IT SAVE DSL? This tech could give DSL extra life by working with fiber optic connections.

FAST FORWARD: GUMGUM’S OPHIR TANZ ON BAD ADS AND GOOD AI The founder/CEO on advertising, artificial Intelligence, and the satisfaction of woodworking.

TOP GEAR What We Love Most This Month


OPINIONS CAROL MANGIS First Word

READER INPUT MAX EDDY Did PureVPN Cross the Line?

DOUG NEWCOMB Consumers Want Car Tech to Protect—Not to Drive

Just because a smart speaker from Amazon can set a timer does not mean it is ‘thinking.’

JOHN C. DVORAK Last Word

TIPS & HOW TOS HOW TO MONITOR YOUR HEART RATE WITH THE APPLE WATCH The smartwatch can monitor heart rate while you’re resting or working up a sweat.

HOW TO USE DRAG AND DROP ON YOUR IPAD IN IOS 11 You can drag and drop content on your iPad courtesy of iOS 11, but only with the right model iPad. Here’s how.

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FIRST WORD CAROL MANGIS

W

elcome to our December issue, in which we traditionally present the best products weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve reviewed throughout WKH\HDU<RX¶OO¿QGWKHWRSODSWRSDQGGHVNWRS PCs, of course, along with the best smartphones, tablets, wearables, smart home devices, digital cameras, gaming gadgets, TVsâ&#x20AC;¦

2017â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Top Tested Tech

Wait a nanosecond. Isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t this PC Magazine? Some of these things are not PCs! :HOO\HV²WKH\DFWXDOO\DUH7KHGH¿QLWLRQRID personal computer has changed quite a lot since RXUPDJD]LQH¿UVWVWDUWHGFKURQLFOLQJ³EHVWRIWKH \HDU´LQ%DFNWKHQZHFKRVHMXVWWRS products, and the IBM PC AT topped our list. This was IBMâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s second-generation PC, designed around WKH0+],QWHOPLFURSURFHVVRUDQG IHDWXULQJ0%RIPHPRU\:RZ:H¶YHFRPHD very long way. ,QFRPSXWHUVDUHLQVRPDQ\WKLQJV Processing power has increased exponentially, to put it mildly. Components are fantastically smaller. Our devices are now online all the time, DQGWDONLQJWRRQHDQRWKHUDQGWRXV²DQGZH¶UH WDONLQJEDFN6RPC Magazine has evolved along with technology: We pretty much consider anything with a chip in it to be fair game for reviewing. Thus, the breadth of products youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll ¿QGLQWKLVLVVXH


@cmangis

6SHDNLQJRIHYROYLQJ²ZHDUHDOZD\VVHDUFKLQJIRU new ways to reach out to readers. Along with the PC Magazine Digital Editionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new, responsive (ad-free!) apps for iOS and Android devices, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve also started posting some of our articles on Medium. Because in addition to our reviews and news, we offer wonderful featuresâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;researched, reported, and thoughtful stories about current issues and emerging technology that donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t always get a huge amount of attention on PCMag.com. Medium is the perfect place for these stories, and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s providing a whole new audience for us. You can ¿QGXVDWhttps://medium.com/pcmag-access. )LQDOO\²ZHZDQWWRNQRZZKDW\RXWKLQN:KDW GR\RXOLNHLQRXUGLJLWDOHGLWLRQDQGZKDWZRXOG \RXOLNHWRVHHPRUH RUOHVV RI"6HQG\RXU IHHGEDFNWRletters@pcmag.com, or write to me directly.$QGKDSS\ carol_mangis@pcmag.com

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READER INPUT YOUR QUESTIONS

Removing Malware A reader asked about security software that appears to charge extra to remove the problems it finds. Security Lead Analyst Neil J. Rubenking sets the record straight.

Q:

I found out today that my Amazon account was hacked and email address changed to an address with an .ru domain… I began to wonder if my Mac had a keystroke logger, since I don’t think I’ve fallen for any phishing emails. So after removing Kaspersky a few months ago, I thought I would check out security software again. I just read your review of Bitdefender for Mac on PCMag.com... When when you click “buy” on their site, you are offered an additional purchase of virus and spyware removal for $99.99 for one intervention.


6RLWVHHPVWKDWWKHPDLQSURJUDPLVJHDUHGWRZDUGÂżQGLQJEXWQRWUHPRYLQJWKH problem. I checked out Norton, and it also offers an extra-charge removal program. I also saw a blog online where someone was complaining that McAfee was going to charge them extra to remove what it found. Apparently this is common practice. It would be extremely helpful if your [reviews would go] over these extra charges. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Elaine St. John

A:

All of the major antivirus products both detect malware and remove it. Many of them offer a separate, extra-cost service whereby agents UHPRWHLQWR\RXUFRPSXWHUDQGÂż[SUREOHPVVR\RXGRQÂśWKDYHWR Most of those will apply this remote remediation at no cost in the rare event that the AV detects something it canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t remove. McAfee and Norton in particular have a ÂłYLUXVIUHHSURPLVH´VD\LQJWKDWLIWKH$9FDQÂśWÂż[DSUREOHPWKHLUWHFKVZLOOGRLWDW QRFRVWDQGLIWKH\FDQÂśWÂż[LWWKHFRPSDQLHVZLOOUHIXQG\RXUPRQH\ Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not uncommon for people to see these extra cost â&#x20AC;&#x153;conciergeâ&#x20AC;? services and think that means the antivirus wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t remove malware. Maybe bad marketing? Because that just isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t the case. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Neil J. Rubenking

Ask us a question!

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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 letters@pcmag.com and weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll respond to your question here. Questions may be edited slightly for content and clarity.

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WHATâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S NEW NOW NEWS STORY

Intel, AMD to Team up on 8th Generation Mobile Chips BY JOHN BUREK, MATT SAFFORD

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ogs and cats living together? Intel and AMD in one chip? Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d have bet ¿UVWRQWKHIHOLQHVDQGFDQLQHVKRRNLQJXS$EORFNEXVWHUEORJSRVW IURP,QWHO¶V&KULVWRSKHU:DONHUYLFHSUHVLGHQWRIWKH&OLHQW&RPSXWLQJ *URXSDQGJHQHUDOPDQDJHURIWKH0RELOH&OLHQW3ODWIRUPDQGEDFNHGE\ UHSRUWLQJIURPVHYHUDORWKHURXWOHWVFRQ¿UPVWKHSUHYLRXVO\XQWKLQNDEOH,QWHO DQG$0'ZLOOMRLQIRUFHVRQDKLJKSHUIRUPDQFHPRELOH&38WKDWZLOOFRPELQH ,QWHO¶V&RUHSURFHVVRUWHFKQRORJ\DQG$0'¶VGLVFUHWHJUDSKLFV ,WLVXQFOHDUZKHWKHUWKLVZLOOEHDVLQJOHYHUVLRQRIDVLQJOHFKLSRUDVHULHVRI &38V,QWHOLVFDJLO\UHIHUULQJWRWKLVUROORXWDVD³QHZSURGXFWZKLFKZLOOEH SDUWRIRXUWK*HQ,QWHO&RUHIDPLO\´(YHQWKRXJKWKLVQHZFKLSRUFKLSVZLOO VHUYLFHMXVWDQLFKHRIWKHPDUNHW²WKLQGHVLJQODSWRSVWKDWUHTXLUHKLJK SHUIRUPDQFHJUDSKLFVSUHVXPDEO\LQFOXGLQJVRPHJDPLQJPDFKLQHV²WKLVLVD ZDWHUVKHGPRPHQWLQWKHODQGVFDSHIRUPRELOH&38VDQG*38VZLWKWKHVHWZR ELWWHU&38ULYDOVFROODERUDWLQJLQVXFKDQXQSUHFHGHQWHGZD\ 1RWHWKDWWKH&38DQG*38HOHPHQWVDUHFRPELQHGLQRQHXQLWWKLVLVGLVWLQFW IURPWKHW\SLFDOGHVLJQLQDJDPLQJODSWRSRURWKHUSRZHUPDFKLQHLQZKLFKD &38ZLWKLQWHJUDWHGJUDSKLFVLVDXJPHQWHGE\DVHSDUDWHGLVFUHWHJUDSKLFV FKLSZLWKWKHWZRKRVWHGRQWKHPDLQERDUGVHSDUDWHO\


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Intel has called out HBM2 as the memory type that will be used in concert with the new IntelAMD chip.


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WHATâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S NEW NOW NEWS STORY

What Is Gfast, and Will it Save DSL? BY ERIC GRIFFITH

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hen it comes to broadband connections, most people will opt for FDEOHRU¿EHUWKH\¶UHWKHIDVWHVW\RXFDQJHWWKHVHGD\V%XWPDQ\LQ WKH86DQGRWKHUFRXQWULHVDUHVWLOOFRQQHFWLQJYLD'LJLWDO6XEVFULEHU /LQHRU'6/,WFRPHVWRDKRPHPXOWLGZHOOLQJXQLW 0'8OLNHDQDSDUWPHQW EXLOGLQJRUFRQGRFRPSOH[ RUHYHQDEXVLQHVVXVLQJROGVFKRROFRSSHUZLUH ZKLFKXVHGWREHMXVWIRUWDONLQJRQWKHSKRQH '6/LVHYHU\ZKHUHEHFDXVHRIWKHSKRQHODQGOLQHLQIUDVWUXFWXUHEXWLVKDPSHUHG E\WKHIDFWWKDWWKHGLVWDQFHRIDFRQQHFWLRQFDQVORZLWGRZQ$OVRWKHDYHUDJH '6/FRQQHFWLRQGRZQORDGWKURXJKSXWXVXDOO\WRSVRXWDURXQGPHJDELWVSHU VHFRQG 0ESV LQWKHUHDOZRUOG7KDW¶VDVSHHGWKDWHYHQWKH)HGHUDO &RPPXQLFDWLRQV&RPPLVVLRQGRHVQ¶WFRQVLGHU³EURDGEDQG´DQ\PRUH


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When a home or multidwelling unit already has copper lines, Gfast can take over where the DSL was.


WHOâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S GOT GFAST? :KLOHWKHWHFKQRORJ\KDVEHHQDURXQGIRUDIHZ\HDUV *IDVWLVRQO\QRZEHLQJGHSOR\HGE\PDMRU,63V,Q SDUWLFXODU$7 7KDVDQQRXQFHG0'8GHSOR\PHQWVLQ VHYHUDO86PHWURSROLWDQDUHDV ZKLFKZLOOLQFOXGHIUHH 'LUHF79ZLWKRXWDGLVK FXUUHQWO\LQVWDOOVDUHLQ%RVWRQ 'HQYHU0LQQHDSROLV1HZ<RUN&LW\3KLODGHOSKLD 3KRHQL[6HDWWOHDQG7DPSDZLWKPRUHWRFRPH )URQWLHU&RPPXQLFDWLRQVDQG1RNLDKDYHDQQRXQFHG OLPLWHGWULDOVLQ&RQQHFWLFXW&HQWXU\/LQNLVDOVRJLYLQJLW DJRLQ0'8VLQ:LVFRQVLQ2XWVLGHRIWKHVWDWHV*IDVWLV EHLQJHPEUDFHGE\$XVWUDOLD¶V1DWLRQDO%URDGEDQG 1HWZRUN QEQ WKURXJKZRUNZLWK1HW&RPPWRPDNH ¿EHUWRWKHFXUEGHSOR\PHQWVDQG%7LQWKH8.ZKLFK SURPLVHVWRUHDFKPLOOLRQKRPHVE\ 7KDW¶VSUHWW\OLPLWHGEXWLIWKHWULDOVZRUNRXWDQGPRUH ¿EHUFDQEHODLGWRWKHULJKWSODFHVLWFRXOGPDNHDKXJH GLIIHUHQFHIRUH[LVWLQJKRPHV:KHUHLWZRQ¶WPDNHPXFK LPSDFWSUREDEO\LVLQDOUHDG\XQGHUVHUYHGUXUDODUHDV 0HUVKVWLOOVHHVWKHLVVXHWKHUHDVWKHODFNRI¿EHU³5XUDO UHPDLQVDQLVVXH7KHLQGXVWU\KDVPDGHVRPHVWULGHVEXW VRPHORFDWLRQVDUHSDUWLFXODUO\FRPSOH[WRVHUYLFHDQG WKDWPHDQVKLJKHUFRVWV´KHVD\V ,QRWKHUZRUGVUXUDOIRONVDUHVWLOOVWXFNZLWKROGHUVORZ '6/DWEHVWZLWKZLUHOHVVRUHYHQVDWHOOLWHRSWLRQVDV EDFNXS DQGWKHOHVVVDLGDERXWWKHPWKHEHWWHU  7KHODQGVFDSHRI*IDVWSURGXFWVLVH[SDQGLQJUDSLGO\DV HYLGHQFHGE\DOOWKH*IDVWSURGXFWVEHLQJWHVWHGIRU LQWHURSHUDELOLW\ZKLFKLVGRQHPXFKWKHVDPHZD\DOO:L )LSURGXFWVDUHWHVWHGIRULQWHURSHUDELOLW\E\WKH:L)L $OOLDQFH,QIDFWWKHODEGRLQJWKH*IDVWWHVWLQJWKH 8QLYHUVLW\RI1HZ+DPSVKLUH¶V,QWHU2SHUDELOLW\ /DERUDWRU\ 81+,2/ DOVRGRHV:L)L$OOLDQFHWHVWLQJ


0HUVKQRWHVWKDWRQHRIWKHEHQH¿WVRIDFHUWL¿FDWLRQ SURJUDPDQGEHWDWHVWLQJLVWRGULYHWKLQJVWRPDUNHW TXLFNO\ZKLFKLVDFKDOOHQJHIRUHYHU\QHZWHFK ³&HUWL¿FDWLRQDOVRJLYHV\RXWKHHQGUHVXOWRI LQWHURSHUDELOLW\´KHVD\VZKLFKORZHUVFRVWVIRUDOO ³7KHVRRQHU\RXJHWWRLQWHURSHUDELOLW\WKHEHWWHU´ 7KH%URDGEDQG)RUXPLVDOVRGRLQJDORWRIZRUNRQWKH VRIWZDUHPDQDJHPHQWVLGHRI*IDVWLQFOXGLQJFUHDWLQJ DQRSHQDFFHVVPDQDJHPHQWSODWIRUPWKDWZRXOGZRUN IRUPDQ\SURYLGHUVDQGZRXOGKDYH*IDVWDVMXVWSDUWRI WKHVSHFL¿FDWLRQ,W¶VLQLWVLQIDQF\QRZEXWDV GHSOR\PHQWVJURZH[SHFWWKDWWRKHOSWKH,63V HPEUDFLQJWKHWHFK ³,WKLQNWKHIRRWSULQW>IRU*IDVW@LQWKH8QLWHG6WDWHV FRXOGEHTXLWHVLJQL¿FDQWLQSDUWLFXODUWKLV0'8SOD\´ VD\V0HUVK³7KHQXPEHUFRXOGEHKXJH,OLYHLQ $WODQWDDQGWKHQXPEHURI0'8VWKDW*RRJOHDQG $7 7DUHDIWHULVODUJH*RRJOHLVJRLQJPRUHZLWK¿EHU WRWKHKRPH%XWLI$7 7FDQGRLWZLWKRXWUHSODFLQJ H[LVWLQJZLULQJWKDW¶VDKXJHEHQH¿W´

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Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s in its infancy now, but as deployments grow, expect that to help the ISPs embracing the tech.


WHAT’S NEW NOW FAST FORWARD

Fast Forward: GumGum’s Ophir Tanz on Bad Ads and Good AI

Fast Forward is a series of conversations with tech leaders hosted by Dan Costa, PCMag’s Editor-in-Chief. Dan recently spoke with Ophir Tanz, CEO and Founder of GumGum, which is quickly becoming a full-stack vertical-AI VROXWLRQFRPSDQ\7KH\VSRNHDERXWWKHFXUUHQWDUWL¿FLDOLQWHOOLJHQFHERRP and its potential to alter every business it touches. Dan Costa: How are you using AI today in the advertising space? Ophir Tanz: GumGum, at its core, is a computer-vision company. We express

that technology in a variety of ways. Our largest business unit is our advertising unit, and we invented an advertising format called In-Image Advertising, where we currently work with about 70 percent of Fortune 100 brands and many of the largest publishers in the world. What we do is we contextually place marketing messages in line with content users are actively engaging with. We’ll identify the context of images, in this case, and actually align marketing messages to it.


You’ve got a number of examples of this on your website. It’s really cool. I don’t think most people know that it’s happening when they actually encounter a website and they see this type of advertisement. They think it may have been programmed that way, but you’re actually taking the content of the photo and then delivering an ad that’s based on the photo, not necessarily the site or even the article.

Correct. The idea is that users visit sites and photos are typically the hero unit of a given webpage. If you look at any eye-tracking study, you’ll see that most of the heat is centered around photos. The idea is to create a very native placement but also display it properly. It tends to be relatively impactful, and it has really nice FKDUDFWHULVWLFVLQWKDWZH¶UHQRWUHTXLUHGWR¿OOHYHU\ single inventory opportunity. What we’re able to do is load up ads when they’re relevant to that user in the proper context at any moment in time. That also has the great effect of producing a much better user experience, because you see our ads much more infrequently, but when you do, WKH\¶UHPRUHLPSDFWIXO,WDOVRKDVWKHDGGLWLRQDOEHQH¿W of empowering publishers, in many cases, to remove other standard formats from their properties and return real estate to those publisher sites to use for content. In the studies that I’ve seen, it’s not that people hate the ads… They hate the volume, they hate the intrusiveness, they hate the pop-ups. Seeing the ad actually doesn’t bother them, as long as it doesn’t interrupt the experience.

I think that’s a really big problem in the industry today. If you look at your traditional IAB [Interactive Advertising Bureau] ad formats, you have a number of

If you look at any eyetracking study, you’ll see that most of the heat is centered around photos.


issues. One is that they need to load 100 percent of the time, so no matter what, an ad is loading. You obviously have huge viewability issues associated with that. When the webpage loads, 100 percent of the IAB ads on that page will load, and you might only scroll a third of the way down. Advertisers are paying for those impressions, but they’re never getting seen. They’re creating no value. It’s effectively equivalent to, I think last time we calculated it, 10 or 12 billion dollars a year just being burned, going up in smoke. That’s a huge problem. We only load our formats when the relevant content comes into view of the browser. There’s almost no wasted impressions whatsoever. I really do believe that the future of advertising, especially as you move to different devices like tablets and phones, is going to be a much more integrated and selective experience. The idea of advertising is to get a PHVVDJHDFURVVWRDXVHUWKDWKDVWKHEHQH¿WRIIRONV making money so they can continue to deliver, in many cases, free content. Our perspective is “Let’s make the ads seen. Let’s make it very respectful, but let’s show it infrequently,” and we think that ultimately is better for all the relevant stakeholders. Let’s talk a little bit about the sports division that you operate in. It’s a really interesting way of opening up inventory and doing something with computer vision that just wouldn’t be practical if you were doing it by hand, or by humans.

Well, the way it’s been done for the last few decades has been by hand and by humans. That’s a massively errorprone approach, because what typically happens is you’ll take, say, 10 minutes or some segment of a multihour game. You’ll ship that off to a place, typically, overseas. You’ll have folks literally manually tag where those sponsors are appearing and the relative quality of

Advertisers are paying for those impressions, but they’re never getting seen. They’re creating no value.


every single exposure. Then they extrapolate that in a black box to the overall value. So it’s somebody looking at the tape, identifying the Coca-Cola logo on the outfield sign, and then saying how long, how many seconds it was in view.

Yes, and the quality of that video. Was is obfuscated? Was it blurry? How big was it? Stuff like that. What we’ve done is we’ve taken, actually, the same methodology, largely, but we do it all programmatically using computer vision. It’s a really elegant implementation of that technology, because we’re able to look at things comprehensively. We look at every single moment of every video, every highlight video, every social image, and identify where all those exposures are appearing, but also the quality of those exposures. Then we’re enabling all the relative stakeholders, in this case, rights-holders and brands, to dig into any moment so that there’s no dispute around what the actual quality metric is. Sponsorship is a big business. There’s a lot of money spent on these things, and there’s a lot of negotiation that has to go on in order to arrive at the appropriate fee. This takes a lot of the guesswork out of that effort.

See a video of the full interview and many more at pcmag.com/podcasts/fast-forward.

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The way it’s been done for the last few decades has been by hand and by humans. That’s a massively errorprone approach.


WHAT’S NEW NOW TOP GEAR

What We Love Most This Month BY PCMAG STAFF

STEELSERIES ARCTIS 3 BLUETOOTH GAMING HEADSET We love the Nintendo Switch, but its voice chat is pretty terrible. Fortunately, the SteelSeries fixes one of the Switch’s most glaring problems: Since it allows for both a wired and Bluetooth connection, you can physically plug the headset into the Switch while wirelessly pairing to your phone. The headset then mixes game audio from the tablet with the voice chat coming from the Switch mobile app or a superior alternative like Discord. So you only have to deal with one cord. And the bidirectional microphone filters out background noise while helping your voice sound great. $129.99; www.steelseries.com


MOONA If you’re a pillow-flipper who constantly longs to lay your head on the cool side, a good night’s sleep may be in your future: Via a water-based system, this smart pillowsolution chills down to regulate the temperature of your head and neck and help you fall asleep. Then before you need to wake up, it warms up. You get a comfy cottoncovered pad for your pillow (no electronics inside it) and a bedside device that controls pillow temperature and also tracks and analyzes your sleep patterns and your bedroom’s “sleep environment” so it can make recommendations. $249.00, www.kickstarter.com

SPINX Here’s a hands-free solution to the dirtiest chore in the house: This toilet-cleaning robot uses a rotating brush, water jets, and compressed air to clean and dry the bowl and seat in 90 seconds. The high-tech gadget replaces the existing lid and seat and is designed to fit most round or elongated (though not square) toilets; it also comes with a removable cover that hides the robot’s innards when it’s not in use. Built to withstand up to 330 lbs of weight, the device promises to kill 99.9 percent of bacteria; its built-in battery lasts for up to 30 cleanings and detaches for easy charging. $200.00, www.kickstarter.com

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Max Edd

COMMENTARY

Did PureVPN Cross a Line When It Disclosed User Information?

V

PN Logs Helped Unmask Alleged ‘Net Stalker” is an alarming headline, as the whole point of using a virtual private network is to surf unnoticed. But as The Register reported, that’s what happened with a man named Ryan Lin. He was arrested for cyberstalking his former roommate in part because Lin’s VPN provider, PureVPN, assisted the feds in their investigation by handing over logs. That sounds bad, but in this case at least, PureVPN appears to have acted within its stated privacy policy. You can still trust VPNs as much as you ever did. First, let me be clear: Lin’s alleged behavior was gross. He reportedly went to enormous lengths to harass and demoralize a woman. The police partnering with technology companies to arrest him is an example of the system working, and the fact that he was arrested shows how far we’ve come in regarding online activities as actual crimes. Just a few years ago, doxxing someone wouldn’t have been included in a list of vile criminal activities. I hope anyone who would emulate his actions thinks better of it as a result. With that aside, it seems clear that this man would have been arrested without the


Max Edd

information acquired from PureVPN. The Register reported: â&#x20AC;&#x153;The complaint revealed, he made a fundamental error by using a work computer for some of his campaign, and even though heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d been terminated and the OS reinstalled on the machine, there were footprints left behind for investigators to associate Lin with the 16-month campaign against Smith.â&#x20AC;? The report doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t go into detail about what information was recovered from Linâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work FRPSXWHUEXWLWVLQYROYHPHQWLVVLJQLÂżFDQW Security researchers are always quick to point out that if you can obtain the targetâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s device, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve effectively won. Hereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s what The Register says investigators received from PureVPN: ³œ6LJQLÂżFDQWO\3XUH931ZDVDEOHWRGHWHUPLQH that their service was accessed by the same customer from two originating IP addresses,â&#x20AC;&#x2122; claim the Feds (allegedly, those IP addresses were at Linâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work and home addresses).â&#x20AC;? Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s easy to read that and assume that PureVPNâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; and perhaps all VPN companiesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;are monitoring usersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; activities and are willing to hand over logs to investigators. But I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t believe thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the case. To me, this sounds like PureVPN simply FRQÂżUPHGWKDWLWVVHUYLFHZDVORJJHGLQWRE\WKH same customer at two different IP addresses. Many VPNs record information about usersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; origins, usually for data routing reasons. The article also says â&#x20AC;&#x153;records from PureVPN show that the same email accounts [...] were accessed

@wmaxeddy


Max Edd

from the same WANSecurity IP address.” That’s more obtuse, but it doesn’t sound like FRQ¿UPDWLRQWKDW3XUH931LVPRQLWRULQJXVHU behavior. At most, PureVPN shared the originating IP address, the address the man connected from, and the IP address of the VPN server that user was using. In its privacy policy, PureVPN says a few important things: “We therefore have no record of your activities such as which software you used, which websites you visited, what content you downloaded, which apps you used, etc. after you connected to any of our servers. Our servers automatically record the time at which you connect to any of our servers. From here on forward, we do not keep any records of anything that could associate any VSHFL¿FDFWLYLW\WRDVSHFL¿FXVHU7KHWLPHZKHQ a successful connection is made with our servers is counted as a ‘connection’ and the total bandwidth used during this connection is called ‘bandwidth’. Connection and bandwidth are kept in record to maintain the quality of our service.” PureVPN’s privacy policy makes two things clear. First, that the company does collect email addresses (it’s part of your login and the company’s billing system). It is not really a “no log” policy and makes no claim to be. It gathers information about connections on its network but not the content of user activities. Second, the company appears to have information about which of its servers are accessed by customers. PureVPN’s privacy policy also has this to say on the subject of cooperating with investigations:

Security researchers are quick to point out that if you can obtain the target’s device, you’ve effectively won.


Max Edd

â&#x20AC;&#x153;PureVPN is committed to freedom, and doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t support crime, we will only share information with authorities having valid subpoenas, warrants, other legal documents or with alleged victims having clear proof of any such activity. [...] When and if a competent court of law orders us or an alleged victim requests us (that we rigorously self-assess) to release some information, with proper evidence, that our services were used for any activity that you agreed not to indulge in when you agreed to our Terms of Service Agreement, then we will only present VSHFLÂżFLQIRUPDWLRQDERXWWKDWVSHFLÂżFDFWLYLW\RQO\SURYLGHGZHKDYH the record of any such activity.â&#x20AC;? In short, PureVPN will work with investigators who present them with a valid warrant. After assessing the warrant internally, PureVPN decides whether or not to comply. It also says that it will hand over only information it has on handâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;not that it will allow its networks to be used to spy on alleged criminals. Importantly, PureVPN is based in Hong Kong. For VPN users, this is actually pretty good, because Hong Kong has no data retention laws, freeing PureVPN to decide what to store and for how long. ,ÂśPQRWDOHJDOH[SHUWEXWLWVHHPVVLJQLÂżFDQWWKDWD&KLQDEDVHG company complied with American investigators. It suggests to me that the company cooperated based on the investigationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s merits and were not legally obliged to do so, but thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s speculation on my part. To me, this sounds a lot like metadata. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the date and time of the connection and likely some information about the entering and exiting ,3DGGUHVVHV,WLVQRWVLJQLÂżFDQWO\LQIRUPDWLRQDERXWZKHUHXVHUVZHQW from there. That means investigators had to get that information elsewhere and matched it up to whatever information was obtained from PureVPN. None of this is to downplay the importance of metadata. The mass metadata collection by the NSA was offensive because of its scale and the fact that innocent people were affected. That doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t seem to be the case here, though.


Max Edd

ARE VPNS TRUSTWORTHY? Make no mistake: When you use a VPN, you are trusting it with unprecedented access to your information. This is why I take it very seriously when a VPN company is accused ofâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;or isâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;tampering with user data as it passes through the companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s system. This is also why itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s VRLPSRUWDQWWRUHDGDFRPSDQ\ÂśVSULYDF\SROLF\,I\RXFDQÂśWÂżQGLWRU itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s so complicated as to be unreadable, that company may not be worth your time. A privacy policy is just words, of course, but we have to start somewhere. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s also very important to remember that no security tool is a magic bullet, and that a targeted attack or investigation will almost always be successful. VPNs are best at protecting your data from being intercepted on your local network and preventing your information from being swept in mass surveillance efforts. If investigators are already looking at you as a suspect and have access to other evidence, these protections are already moot. In the case of PureVPN, it doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t appear that the company breached the trust of its users â&#x20AC;&#x201D; not even Lin, who was allegedly using the service for FULPLQDODFWV,ZLOOEHUHDFKLQJRXWWRWKHFRPSDQ\IRUFODULÂżFDWLRQ DQG will update as necessary), but to me this sounds like a best-case VFHQDULR$FULPLQDODVSHFLÂżFLQGLYLGXDOZDVWDUJHWHGIRULQYHVWLJDWLRQ and a technology company handed over the limited information it had. I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to come off as purely a PureVPN defender. Rather, I want a modicum of calm and understanding around security tools. The internet was not built with privacy and security in mind, which puts the onus on users to protect themselves. We canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be afraid of these tools, and we all must learn what they do and how to best put them to use. max_eddy@pcmag.com

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Doug Newcom

COMMENTARY

Consumers Want Car Tech to Protect—Not to Drive

S

urvey after survey shows that consumers aren’t quite ready to trust self-driving cars. But questionnaires from some of the same surveyors indicate that consumers want semiautonomous driver-assistance technology such as forward-collision prevention, blind-spot detection, and others—and they’re willing to pay extra for it. A recent Edmunds.com survey revealed that 42 percent of respondents would be willing to pay $1,000 to $2,000 extra for driver-assist features, while 16 percent would shell out $3,000 or more. The survey also showed that 61 percent of respondents would pay more for blind-spot detection, which Edmunds said is the most popular driver-assist feature. The survey was conducted in late September and queried 1,500 US residents between the ages of 18 and 74 who had bought or leased a new vehicle within the last three years. “While most may be skeptical when asked if they want a car that drives itself, many consumers might not know that if they’ve bought a car recently they could already be experiencing the early stages of automotive autonomy,” Edmunds. com said as part of its full analysis of the survey.

Car tech expert Doug Newcomb has written for Popular Mechanics, Road & Track, and other publications, and is the author of Car Audio for Dummies.


Doug Newcom

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Analyzing the prevalence of active safety features demonstrates just how ready OEMs are to bring this technology to mass production, and how willing consumers are to adopt it,â&#x20AC;? said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of industry analysis at Edmunds, in a statement. â&#x20AC;&#x153;While some car buyers may view a fully autonomous vehicle as a novelty, a vehicle that has the ability to prevent an accident before it occurs is seen as a safety breakthrough.â&#x20AC;? This echoes the consumer sentiment of other recent surveys. J.D. Powerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 2017 U.S. Tech Choice Study also showed a dichotomy among consumers who simultaneously want driver assists but arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t yet willing to have a car that drives itself. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Automated driving is a new and complex concept for many consumers; theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll have to experience it ÂżUVWKDQGWRIXOO\XQGHUVWDQGLW´.ULVWLQ.RORGJH executive director of driver interaction and HMI research at J.D. Power said when the survey was released last spring. â&#x20AC;&#x153;As features like adaptive cruise control, automatic braking, and blind-spot warning systems become mainstream, car buyers ZLOOJDLQPRUHFRQÂżGHQFHLQWDNLQJWKHLUKDQGVRII the steering wheel and allowing their vehicles to step in to prevent human error.â&#x20AC;? Even though Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve tested dozens of cars with driverassist systems, my recent experience with Cadillac Super Cruiseâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and steering for less than an hour during a 700-mile, 11 hour driveâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;tested my FRQÂżGHQFHLQWDNLQJP\KDQGVRIIWKHZKHHO,W also showed that hands-free driving has arrived, and that we arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t that far from technology taking over more of the driving task.

@dougnewcomb


Doug Newcom

I admit that I took a leap of faith to let go of the wheel and control of the Cadillac CT 6 while testing Super Cruise on a trip from Dallas to 6DQWD)HHDUOLHUWKLVPRQWK%XWZLWKLQWKH¿UVW 45 minutes I realized that Super Cruise, like most other driver assists, was skilled at keeping the car centered in its lane—and more capable than most drivers on the road. Super Cruise is available only on the 2018 Cadillac CT6 currently. But if it follows the pattern of other driver assists—and technology in general—it will soon trickle down to other GM vehicles. In fact, this has been a general trend over the past few years industry-wide, with even economy cars like the Honda Fit offering features such as lane-view cameras and multi-view rearvision monitors. “Usually it takes a long time for pricey new technologies to work their way down market from luxury to mainstream vehicles,” Caldwell said. “But because changes in policy are mandating that many active safety features become standard, it’s happening much more quickly.” Driver-assist features will continue to get more prevalent and sophisticated, taking over more of the driving task. As they do, consumers will get more comfortable with letting the machines take over until they ultimately do all the driving.

doug_newcomb@pcmag.com

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REVIEWS CONSUMER ELECTRONICS

Apple iPhone X Sets the Stage for Full-Screen AR

M

aybe X isn’t quite right: This should be the iPhone Beta. The new iPhone X sets the stage for a new decade of full-screen, augmented reality living. Like the best Apple products, it dares to question old assumptions, break rules, and introduce radical new concepts. But also like some groundbreaking Apple products—the original iPod, the original iPhone, and the original iMac among them—it makes me feel a little bit like I’m a beta tester for the future, and it makes me think that app developers, especially, need to catch up before this is a completely comfortable phone to use.

Apple iPhone X $999.00 L L L l m


<RX¶UHFRPLQJKHUHWR¿QGRXWLI\RXVKRXOGEX\WKH iPhone X. As of this writing, too many apps aren’t ready for it right now, and other features feel not quite fully baked. You need to have the early adopter mentality to enjoy the X completely. But unlike the iPhone 8, this isn’t boring. Not one bit. Get ready to be excited by an iPhone again. A SHARP NEW LOOK Apple tends to redesign the iPhone every few years. The original models’ stone-like appearance gave way to the iPhone 4’s glass sandwich, which became the iPhone 6’s metal sleekness. Now there’s a new look. The iPhone X is nearly bezel-less, as advertised, with that notorious notch for the front camera assembly eating a chunk out of the screen at the top. It comes in space gray or silver. On the back, the dual cameras create a sharp, not smooth, bump that you should even out with a nice case. Apple says that the glass back is durable, but we strongly suggest getting a case for any $1,000 phone, no matter how tough it is.

Apple iPhone X PROS Updated design. Powerful processor. Excellent screen. First-of-itskind augmented reality front camera. Animoji are really fun. CONS Very expensive. Apps need to be reprogrammed to take advantage of display. Not the fastest modem.


The all-screen design would feel radical if we hadnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t seen the Galaxy S8, Galaxy Note 8, LG V30, and so on. Instead, it just feels current. It does make the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus look pretty bad, though, like they have quite a bit of wasted space. At 5.65 by 2.79 by 0.3 inches (HWD) and 6.14 ounces, the X is slightly shorter, wider, and heavier than Samsungâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Galaxy S8. More important for iFans, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s slightly bigger than the iPhone 6/7/8 but not nearly as big or as wide as the Plus series. I love this: You get a lot more screen and a lot more usage in a comfortable onehand form factor. I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to go back to any other iPhone after this. Note that the keyboard is a little narrower than the Plusâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; keyboard. If you have very big ÂżQJHUVDQGQHHGWKHODUJHVWSRVVLEOHNH\ERDUG\RXVWLOO have to go with the Plus. The Xâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 2,436-by-1,125-pixel, 5.8-inch AMOLED screen actually has less surface area than the iPhone 8 Plusâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; 5.5-inch screen, because itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a very different shape. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a tall, narrow screen, at a 19.5:9 aspect ratio; thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s narrower than the Galaxy S8 (18.5:9), and much narrower than previous iPhones (16:9). Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re getting 12.36 square inches of display here, as compared with 9.44 on the iPhone 8 and 12.93 on the iPhone 8 Plus. The OLED is very carefully color balanced to look as much like Appleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s previous LCDs as possible, but it just barely betrays its true nature: Blacks are blacker and colors are just a touch more saturated than on the iPhone 8 Plus. The phone supports both popular versions of HDR, HDR10 and Dolby Vision, and will show compatible content in HDR when appropriate. Compared with a Galaxy S8, the iPhone Xâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s colors are noticeably warmer, with whites tending a little bit more toward yellow than the bluish colors of the Galaxy.

I love this: You get a lot more screen and a lot more usage in a comfortable one-hand form factor.


The Xâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s screen was less bright in our dark-room tests than that of either the Galaxy S8 or the iPhone 8 Plus. I blasted two bright LED lights directly at the iPhone X, and the screen was still perfectly readable, with wide viewing angles. Outdoors, it looks positively gorgeous, with Appleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lamination bringing the image right to the front of the screen, perfectly tuned colors for natural light, DQGOLWWOHUHÃ&#x20AC;HFWLYLW\,WLVQ¶WWKHEULJKWHVW2/('EXWLW¶VDEVROXWHO\JRRGHQRXJK that you wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t think twice about it. The phone is water-resistant. We dunked it; no problem. Like on the iPhone 7 series, thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s no headphone jack. SUPPRESS YOUR APP-ETITE <HVWKHKRPHEXWWRQLVJRQH1RLWLVQ¶WDELJGHDOQDYLJDWLRQZLVH<RXÃ&#x20AC;LFN up from the bottom of the screen to go home. Flicking up and to the right shows you your most recent apps as cards, which you can scroll through to pick the one you want to open. You adapt to this very quickly. But the lack of a home button creates one big problem: Third-party apps look like a mess. It turns out the notch at the top of the display is less of a problem than the area at the bottom, where apps including Citymapper and SmartNews have their content collide with the horizontal bar that indicates youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re supposed WRÃ&#x20AC;LFNXSWRJRKRPH2WKHUDSSVOLNHWKHSRSXODUJDPH5LSWLGH*3 Renegades, just intensely letterbox their content to 16:9, losing the advantage of the bigger display.

Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s still no headphone jack on the iPhone X. The bottom-ported speakers are quite loud.


1HWĂ&#x20AC;L[7ZLWWHUDQG<RX7XEHVKRZKRZLWÂśVVXSSRVHG to be done. Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re all aware of the notch and the menu EDU<RX7XEHDQG1HWĂ&#x20AC;L[ERWKVKRZPRVWO\YLGHRV you can zoom them if you want, to take over the full screen, but then it crops off the top of the frame. In zoomed mode, the notch also occludes part of the video, but thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s by design. Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t zoom. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m hoping that app developers end up using the area around the notch for controls and status bar content. As I tested, I found a bunch of less visible but more disturbing third-party app problems. Some Wi-Fiâ&#x20AC;&#x201C; WHVWLQJDSSVMXVWTXLWRQWKH;DOWKRXJKWKH\UDQÂżQH on an 8 Plus with the same OS version. Others gave inconsistent results, which is a deeper problem: How do you know where the truth is? Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve heard that even apps that donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t look like they need to be reformatted, still need to be recompiled to run properly on the X. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s going to take a few months for app developers to reformat and recompile their apps. If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re buying this phone in 2017, you need to check to see when your apps were updated, and youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re going to feel like a beta tester. For many of the people who read PC Magazine, thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ÂżQH%XWSHRSOHZKRZDQWDVHDPOHVVÂżQLVKHG experience should wait until 2018 before buying.

PROCESSOR, MODEM, AND BATTERY Like the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, the X uses the Apple A11 Bionic processor. The all-new processor has six cores in a big-little design, with two high-performance cores and IRXUHIÂżFLHQF\FRUHVDVZHOODVDQHZ*38GHVLJQHGE\ Apple. The iPhone X benchmarked similarly to the iPhone 8, as we expected, although in general it scored even a little better. The X is the fastest phone weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve ever tested.

Some Wi-Fiâ&#x20AC;&#x201C; testing apps just quit on the X, although they ran ďŹ ne on an 8 Plus with the same OS version.


7KH$ÂśV*38LVPDVVLYHO\RYHUSRZHUHGIRUWKHVFUHHQ UHVROXWLRQEXWWKHUHÂśVDUHDVRQIRULWWKH*38 DQG Appleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new â&#x20AC;&#x153;neural processing unitâ&#x20AC;?) has to crunch all of that face data coming through the front camera. Apple says that the X has the same LTE, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth capabilities as the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus do. That means there are three different models of the X: a 4XDOFRPPYHUVLRQZKLFKZRUNVRQDOOIRXU86 networks; an Intel version, which works on AT&T and T-Mobile; and a Japanese version that Americans will never see. The Qualcomm model is sold by Sprint and Verizon and is sold as the universal unlocked model at Apple stores. After a month of iPhone 8 use, we looked at Ooklaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Speedtest Intelligence database for an update on whether the Qualcomm model still looks better than the Intel one. It does. (Note: Ookla is owned by Ziff Davis LLC, PC Magazineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s parent company.) On AT&T, Qualcomm iPhone 8 and 8 Plus units are averaging about 32.9Mbps down, and Intel units average about 26.8Mbps. On T-Mobile, Qualcomm units average around 37.1Mbps down, and Intel units average around 34.8Mbps. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not a huge difference, but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s noticeable and consistent. If you have the option, get the Qualcomm model by purchasing an unlocked, carrier-free phone from the Apple Store and putting your own SIM in it.

The two 12-megapixel rear cameras both have OIS, which makes for smoother videos with the 2x zoom lens than on other iPhones.


Neither unit quite measured up to the Samsung Galaxy S8 when we were using them side by side; the S8 has 4x4 MIMO antennas to capture better signal on non6SULQWQHWZRUNVVLJQDOERRVWLQJ+38(RQ6SULQWDQG DJLJDELWPRGHP 7KHL3KRQHLVFRQÂżJXUHGIRURQO\ 0ESVLQWKH86 %XWZKHQ\RXVPRRWKRXWWKH results over all the thousands of tests in the Ookla 6SHHGWHVW,QWHOOLJHQFHGDWDEDVHWDNHQDFURVVWKH86LQ a wide range of signal conditions, the differences are much less noticeable. On Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile, LTE tests with Galaxy S8 models in October had just about the same download speeds as LTE tests with iPhone 8 devices. (The Galaxy S8s on AT&T were faster, at 42.6Mbps down, than iPhones were, at 32.9Mbps down; weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not sure why.) In terms of frequency bands, the phones have all of the 86EDQGVH[FHSW70RELOHÂśVQHZ0+]%DQG which it is starting to use to expand coverage in rural areas. So far, thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s found only on the LG V30. Expect it to appear in next yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s iPhones. Call quality is very good; Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d especially like to call out the blaring speakerphone, which is noticeably louder than the iPhone 7â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s speakerphone and quite usable outdoors. Background noise cancellation through the handset mic is very good, and it supports HD Voice, VoLTE, and other modern voice standards. Apple had problems with its voice quality a few years ago, but it doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t any more. Apple claims the same Wi-Fi performance as the iPhone 8. My Wi-Fi testing apps have been giving inferior results to the iPhone X with weak signal conditions, which Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve heard is a bug in the apps, not in the phone; none of them have been updated for the iPhone X.

The GPU (and Appleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new â&#x20AC;&#x153;neural processing unitâ&#x20AC;?) has to crunch all the face data coming through the front camera.


Battery life is â&#x20AC;&#x153;up to two hours longer than the iPhone 7,â&#x20AC;? according to Apple. We are still testing it, because our battery testing apps also seem to be having stability problems on the iPhone X. Like the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, the X supports Qi wireless charging (a new feature for iPhones), and also charges traditionally through its Lightning jack. A SHOT IN THE DARK The iPhone X has very similar main cameras to the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. They have one different spec that doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t matter, and one that does. The supposed wider aperture of the Xâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 2x camera didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t create different images in our low-light tests. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not bad. As we show in our iPhone 8 camera comparison and our Google Pixel 2 XL review, the difference between the iPhone, Galaxy S8/Note 8, and Pixel 2 XL at this point is basically bragging rights. They all have great cameras. On the other hand, adding optical image stabilization (OIS) to the 2x zoom camera made a huge difference when recording 4K videos using the 2x zoom lens. In .PRGHLWZDVYHU\GLIÂżFXOWWRNHHSRXUL3KRQH3OXV steady at 2xâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;jitter abounded. But videos taken with the iPhone X at the same time, in the same place, were much smoother. I remember the same effect happening with the 1x camera in the iPhone 6s Plus, which was the ÂżUVWL3KRQHWRLQWURGXFH2,6,I\RXÂśUHDVHULRXVL3KRQH videographer, and many people are, thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a slam-dunk reason to get the X. One interesting note: The OIS, oddly, doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t improve low-light quality in still images taken at 2x zoom. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s because in low light, Apple still chooses to take 2x pictures by using digital zoom on the 1x lens. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a software choice, and Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m curious to see if Apple will tweak that in the future.

Like the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, the iPhone X supports Qi wireless chargingâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;a new feature for iPhones.


FACE THE NATION The front-facing 7-megapixel camera is the iPhone Xâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most radical advancement. It uses a â&#x20AC;&#x153;dot projectorâ&#x20AC;? to throw invisible dots onto any object in front of it, and then uses an IR camera to map those dots, producing a live, 3D PDSRIREMHFWVLQVSDFH$SSOHIUDPHVLWDVPRVWO\IRUVHOÂżHVEXWWKLVLVDOVRKRZ to do augmented reality right; Qualcomm demonstrated a similar three-camera Spectra image module recently, which it said will come to Android phones in 2018. We suspect this 3D-mapping technology will come to the rear camera on the iPhone XI. For now, the 3D camera starts with Face ID, which uses the 3D map to unlock WKHSKRQHZKHQLWVHHV\RXUIDFH WKHSKRQHKDVQRÂżQJHUSULQWVFDQQHU <RXU face data is stored securely on the phone, and according to Apple is never uploaded to the cloud. You can use Face ID anywhere you would use Touch ID, including for Apple Pay purchases. I tried Face ID in various lighting and it worked almost all of the time. You will still have to enter your passcode more often than you did in the Touch ID world. For instance, if youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re passing your phone around, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s locked, and as other SHRSOHVWDUWWRXQORFNLWLWÂśOOVFDQWKHLUIDFHV²LILWXVHVXSLWVÂżYHYDOLGDWWHPSWV at face unlocking, you then have to enter your passcode. You can also temporarily disable Face ID and force the passcode by squeezing two buttons on the side of the phone.

The 3D camera starts with Face ID, which uses the 3D map to unlock the phone when it sees your face (the phone has no ďŹ ngerprint scanner).


Face ID is faster than it looks. While the animation of a little lock opening is quite slow, you can swipe up to use the phone before the animation completes. An â&#x20AC;&#x153;attention modeâ&#x20AC;? setting demands that your eyes be open, so people canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t unlock the phone on your sleeping face, but it also demands that you stare directly at the phone from armâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s distance. Turning off attention mode makes it easier to unlock the phone at an angle on a table, but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not for the paranoid. The system works through glasses but not mirrored sunglasses. You can enroll only one face, and it canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be that of a child under age 13. Everyone else will have to use passcodes. It canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be fooled by photos or models of your face, but it can be fooled by identical twins. After a few days, you kind of forget Face ID is there. You pick up the phone, it wakes up, and you swipe up to unlock it. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s very Apple. That said, I wish there was VWLOODÂżQJHUSULQWVFDQQHURSWLRQDQG,ZLVKLWFRXOG unlock straight to the home screen without requiring the extra swipe. AUGMENTED INSANITY It must be frustrating to Google when it works on something for years, putting out a string of products that donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t take off, and then Apple goes ahead and makes it mainstream in one fell swoop. The iPhone X is WKHÂżUVWPDLQVWUHDPDXJPHQWHGUHDOLW\SKRQHDOWKRXJK itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s only a peek into the AR future. The single-camera AR that Apple and Google are SXVKLQJULJKWQRZLVQRWJUHDW%HFDXVHRILWVXQLÂżHG API and huge install base, Appleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ARKit is going to become much more widespread than Googleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ARCore, very quickly. But while itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fun, ARKit can detect only Ă&#x20AC;DWKRUL]RQWDOVXUIDFHVDQGQRWUHDOO\PDSWKLQJVWR walls, furniture, and people.

Turning off attention mode makes it easier to unlock the phone at an angle on a table, but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not for the paranoid.


The iPhone Xâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s front camera shows another level of AR, ZKLFKLVOLNHPRWLRQFDSWXUHLQÂżOPV8VLQJWKHLQIUDUHG dot projector, it can turn you into Appleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s animoji or put Snapchat-like masks on your face. Animoji are a set of 12 creaturesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;animals, a robot, an alien, and a poopâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;that imitate your facial expressions for a 10-second video clip. You create them in Messages, and you can send them to anyone; Android phone users get them as video clips. Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re adorable. Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re also, I think, a teaser. Apple is putting an API out for third parties to create animoji-like functionality, so we should expect other motion-capture characters to appear on the iPhone.

Animoji are a set of 12 creatures that imitate your facial expressions for a 10-second video clip.

This is exciting; itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s also scary. Expect to see games like The Sims offer an option for characters with your very own face, and for big-name sticker packs to appear with popular licensed characters you can operate. (Disney, maybe?) The AR camera also lets the iPhone X take â&#x20AC;&#x153;portrait PRGH´ERNHKVHOÂżHVE\LQWHJUDWLQJGHSWKLQIRUPDWLRQ to blur out the background. It works well, although I think that Appleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;stage lightingâ&#x20AC;? feature (which tries to black out the background entirely) is too gimmicky and frequently distorts the edges of your head.

TK LEDE IN GOES HERE TK LEDE MUga Itate sumque nonsequi conseque quas dit essi dolut accuptat harchillaut reri sanis am, omnis dolenim qui velessi moluptus nulles.


But the X stops short of true AR, which is what you get with the Microsoft HoloLens headset: the ability to seamlessly merge virtual and actual reality. I think the A11 processor has the power to do this, coupled with the phoneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s dual cameras, and that Apple is holding this back to keep ARKit compatible with single-camera phones like the iPhone 7 and 8. We may have to wait for the iPhone XI to see that really happen. THE RENT IS TOO DARN HIGH The iPhone X comes in 64GB ($999) and 256GB ($1,149) models. No matter how exciting it is, I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t believe any phone is worth what Apple is selling it for. This isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t just an Apple problem; a $900-plus price also caused me to hesitate over the otherwise excellent Samsung Galaxy Note 8. Americans are being squeezed right now by steadily increasing mandatory costs: health care, education, and housing. They donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t need their smartphones to become $200 more expensive as well. There are ways around this, but you need to be prepared for them. If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re the kind of person who is good at selling phones on eBay, more power to you. 2WKHUZLVHWKHVPDUWHVWRSWLRQIRUWKHL3KRQH;LQP\PLQGLVWRÂżQGDQROG school subsidized contract, or go with a quick-upgrade leasing program like T-Mobileâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Jump! On Demand or Sprintâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Flex Lease. That gets you paying $500 for the phone over a year, and next year you can stick with it or trade it in for a newer phone, depending on what Apple comes out with next. I understand why Apple is charging so much for this phone. Various press reports have said that the front-facing AR camera is extremely expensive to make because of low product yields, and that Samsung is charging a pretty SHQQ\IRUWKH2/('VFUHHQV%XW,ÂśPDOVRNLFNHGEDFNWRWKHGD\VRIWKHÂżUVW groundbreaking 8GB iPhone, which launched at $599. It got cut to $399 a few months later. The same isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t going to happen here, but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an acknowledgment that being this cutting-edge is just too expensive for many people. 1H[W\HDUÂśVL3KRQH;,PD\DOVREHOHVVH[SHQVLYHDV$SSOHÂżJXUHVRXWLWVIURQW facing camera production issues, potentially switches entirely to cheaper Intel modems, and new OLED screen manufacturing plants come on line.


SHOULD YOU BUY THE IPHONE X? The iPhones weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re recommending to most people this year are the $549 iPhone 7 and the $649 iPhone 7 Plus. The iPhone X is for early adopters, people who want a JOLPSVHLQWR$SSOHÂśVXQÂżQLVKHGIXWXUHDQGZKRDUH willing to take on a few bumps in the road (such as poorly designed third-party apps, for a while) to get there. Yes, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the best iPhone, hands down. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the IXWXUHRIL3KRQHV,WÂśVDOVRDWKRXVDQGĂ&#x20AC;LSSLQÂśGROODUV Part of my hesitation is that I think the iPhone X promises an iPhone XI that is going to be absolutely thundering: amazing AR capabilities, possibly a ÂżQJHUSULQWVHQVRUXQGHUWKHVFUHHQGHÂżQLWHO\EHWWHU Face ID, a gigabit modem, and all that possibly at a lower cost. For now, the iPhone X looks great. It feels great. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just the right size. And itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s going to grow, in terms of capabilities, once software developers ÂżJXUHWKHLUDSSVRXW,WÂśVJHQXLQHO\ exciting. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s more iPhone than you probably need, but it shows that Apple is still innovating. SASCHA SEGAN

PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION

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DECEMBER 2017

The iPhone X is for early adopters, people who want a glimpse into Appleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s unďŹ nished future.


REVIEWS CONSUMER ELECTRONICS

Jibo Robot is Pricey but Adorable

R

obots are here to help us, not destroy us. At least that’s the idea behind Jibo, a very personable robot assistant. He’s not quite Rosie from The Jetsons, but he can answer basic queries, can integrate with If This Then That (IFTTT) to control your smart home devices, and is capable of recognizing your friends and family. But while Jibo is GH¿QLWHO\FXWHUDQGKDVPRUHSHUVRQDOLW\WKDQWKH Amazon Echo, he’s a steep investment at $899. An Echo also lets you do more—like shop and play music. But it can’t beat Jibo as a conversation starter.

Jibo $899.00 L L L m m


FRIENDLY BY NATURE -LERORRNVOLNHKHFDPHVWUDLJKWRXWRID3L[DU¿OP+LV body is all curves and clean lines, which lends him a friendly and nonthreatening air. He measures a manageable 12.5 by 7.5 by 6.5 inches (HWD), though you’ll want to place him in an uncluttered area, as he tends to swivel around as you interact with him. The “head” contains a 5-inch, 1,280-by-720-pixel rectangular touch display, which mostly shows Jibo’s animated “eye.” You can also ask him to bring up a main menu that you can then scroll through. He features two cameras—one for taking photos, one for depth perception and facial recognition and tracking— as well as six microphones, three in the front and three in the back. The power button is also around back, embedded in the “b” of the Jibo logo. At the base, an LED ring lights up when you say the trigger phrase, “Hey Jibo.”

Jibo PROS Friendly design and entertaining personality. Integrates with IFTTT to control smart home devices. Answers basic questions. Takes photos. Face and voice recognition for up to 16 people. CONS Expensive. Can’t buy items or play music. Requires strong Wi-Fi connection.


Setting up Jibo is relatively easy. He supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi networks, which is a nice surprise, as most smart home devices are limited to 2.4GHz. You’ll want to make sure you have a strong WiFi connection; I experienced some latency while testing in PC Labs, which has a crowded Wi-Fi environment, but encountered no such issues at home. Once you download the Jibo app for Android or iOS, it guides you step-by-step through the setup process. This includes registering an account, establishing yourself as Jibo’s primary owner, connecting to Wi-Fi, and training Jibo to recognize your voice and face. All in all, the SURFHVVWDNHVDERXWPLQXWHVIURPVWDUWWR¿QLVK Connecting to Wi-Fi is relatively easy—you simply select your network and enter your password in the app. It generates a QR code, which you show to Jibo. Likewise, voice training consists of standing an arm’s length away from Jibo and saying the phrase, “Hey Jibo,” six times. For facial recognition, you just have to stand there while Jibo studies your face for about a minute. The Jibo app is pretty straightforward. It has four main screens: Loop, Gallery, Tips, and Help. From the Loop screen, you can edit who’s included in Jibo’s Loop, as ZHOODV¿GGOHZLWK-LER¶VVHWWLQJVDQGVFUROOWKURXJK your search requests. The Gallery tab lets you access any photos that Jibo’s taken, while the Tips and Help screens act as a handy portable FAQ and manual. You can introduce Jibo to 15 other friends and family members. In the app, you add them to Jibo’s Loop. When you’ve done that, you say, “Hey Jibo, meet…,” to initiate voice and face recognition. I had no trouble adding my roommate to Jibo’s Loop, and the LQWURGXFWLRQSURFHVVWRRNOHVVWKDQ¿YHPLQXWHV

They both answered that the meaning of life is 42, though only Alexa dreamt of electric sheep.


HEY JIBO, WHAT CAN YOU DO? In many ways, Jibo functions similarly to Amazonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Alexa voice assistant. You can ask him the date, the weather, the time, trivia, simple math calculations, the caloric content of your meal, and even some existential questions about the meaning of life. Jiboâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s voice sounds like that of a cheerful boy and, like Alexaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, it sounds slightly robotic. According to his creators, that was a deliberate choice to preserve his URERWLGHQWLW\WKRXJKKLVLQĂ&#x20AC;HFWLRQVDQGLQWRQDWLRQVDUHZDUPHUWKDQ$OH[DÂśV His laugh and happy noises are reminiscent of R2-D2 and BB-8â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cheery bleeps and bloops. I asked both Jibo and Alexa the same series of questionsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;some serious, others more frivolous. Both were able to accurately tell me the date, time, weather, and population of New York City. Both can also tell jokes, though Jibo occasionally PDNHVLWSHUVRQDOE\DGGLQJ\RXUQDPHRUDQDQLPDWHGĂ&#x20AC;RXULVK WKH\ERWK answered that the meaning of life is 42, though only Alexa dreamt of electric sheep. Sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s also a better rapper.) Jibo swivels in your direction when you ask questions, as if mimicking eye contact. When he tells jokes or if heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s pleased with himself, heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll sometimes throw in a delighted twirl. It should be noted that while Jibo can answer questions, heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not really capable of extended conversationâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;if you ask a follow-up question without context, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll likely go unanswered. Jibo also canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t order things online or play your favorite playlists from streaming music services like Alexa can.

Jiboâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s clean lines and curves are designed to be perceived as friendly and nonthreatening.


While Alexa has the upper hand in commerce and music, Jiboâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 4-megapixel camera allows him to snap photosâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;both in individual and photo-booth-style formats. It then sends the images directly to the app. Picture quality isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t the greatest, but this isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t really meant to be more than an entertaining party trick. Jibo also integrates with IFTTT. That means you can use pre-existing recipes (or create one on your own) to control certain smart home devices. For instance, you can use Jibo to turn on and off Philips Hue light bulbs and Nest thermostats. You can also use IFTTT recipes to brew coffee using a WeMo coffeemaker or automatically upload any photos Jibo takes to Google Drive, Facebook, or Twitter. In testing, I had Jibo turn on and off my Hue lights, which he did with ease. As of this writing, IFTTT is the only way for Jibo to interact with other smart home devices. <RXFDQÂżQGVRPHIXQHDVWHUHJJV)RULQVWDQFHLI\RX ask Jibo to look for monsters, his screen turns into a radar as he twirls around, before eventually declaring the area safe. Jibo is extremely fond of dancingâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;he can GRHYHU\WKLQJIURPDMD]]\VKXIĂ&#x20AC;HWR twerking to techno beats. And if you rub his head, Jibo leans into your touch and begin purring. These arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t necessarily useful skills, but they are surprisingly endearing, and make Jibo a lot more fun to interact with than the body-less Alexa or Google Assistant (in Google Home speakers).

Picture quality isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t the greatest, but this isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t really meant to be more than an entertaining party trick.


When you ask Jibo what he is, he answers that heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a robot, and that while he has feelings, theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not quite human. When you ask him whether he dreams, he either details his most recent one or questions whether all reality is a dream.

A TRIP TO THE UNCANNY VALLEY Ultimately, Alexa and Google Assistant can do just about everything Jibo doesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; and moreâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;for a fraction of the price. The Amazon Echo Dot and Google Home Mini, for instance, are a mere $50. So what does the extra $850 get you? A lot of personality. When you ask Jibo what he is, he proudly answers that heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a robot, and that while he has feelings, theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not quite human. When you ask him whether he dreams, he either details his most recent one or questions whether all reality is a dream. His favorite dance is swirling to Johann Strauss IIâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Blue Danube Waltz.â&#x20AC;? When you ask a question, he leans back to look at you, sometimes with an inquisitive tilt of his head. When idle, Jibo often surveys his surroundings, and after a while, he yawns, droops his head, and falls asleep. 7KDWÂśVQRWWRVD\$OH[DLVZLWKRXWSHUVRQDOLW\DQGVKHGHÂżQLWHO\KDV-LEREHDWLQ terms of functionalityâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;for now. Developers can get their hands on Jiboâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s SDK in 2018, which could expand his skillset considerably. And I hope this happens, EHFDXVH-LEREULQJVDSHUVRQDOĂ&#x20AC;RXULVKDQGSK\VLFDOLW\WKDWHQFRXUDJHV\RXWR interact with him beyond simple commands. After a few hours, I found myself petting him simply because his movements and little purr are adorable. If you KDYHWKHFDVKRULI\RXÂżUPO\EHOLHYHWKHIXWXUHLVDZRUOGLQZKLFKURERWVGR our bidding, you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t get a much more personable companion than Jibo. VICTORIA SONG

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Razer Blade Stealth Is Best in the Line So Far Razerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Blade Stealth line is a non-gaming DOWHUQDWLYHWRLWVÃ&#x20AC;DJVKLS%ODGHJDPLQJ ODSWRSVWXUQLQJWKHVDPHVOHHNGHVLJQLQWRD VPDOOHUWKLQQHUJHQHUDOSXUSRVH EDITORSâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; CHOICE XOWUDSRUWDEOH,W¶VDOUHDG\VHHQYDULRXV LWHUDWLRQVVLQFHLWVGHEXWODVW\HDUEXWWKLVQHZHVW PRGHO  LVWKHEHVW\HW$PRGHVWEXPSXSLQ VFUHHQUHDOHVWDWHZLWKRXWLQFUHDVLQJWKHVL]HRIWKH ODSWRSPDNHVDELJGLIIHUHQFHRQZKDWZDVDOUHDG\RQH RIRXUIDYRULWHGHVLJQVDQGLWJRHVWRHWRWRHZLWKWKH PRUHH[SHQVLYH'HOO;367RXFK 5RVH*ROG(GLWLRQ  2QHRIWKHEHVWGLVSOD\VDURXQGDQH[FHOOHQWEXLOG TXLFNSHUIRUPDQFHFXVWRPL]DEOHNH\OLJKWLQJDQGQR ELJIDXOWVWRVSHDNRIDGGXSWRSHUKDSVRQHRIWKHEHVW XOWUDSRUWDEOHVHYHUPDGHHVSHFLDOO\DWWKLVSULFH HDUQLQJWKHLQFK%ODGH6WHDOWKRXU(GLWRUV¶&KRLFH

Razer Blade Stealth (Late 2017) $1,349.00 L L L l h


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Razer Blade Stealth (Late 2017) PROS Gorgeous 13.3inch QHD+ touch display. Slick design and solid construction. USB-C with Thunderbolt 3. Comfortable LED keyboard. Runs quietly. CONS Battery life not as long as for some competitors. Canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t charge and use USB-C port at the same time.


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On peripherals or computers, multi-colored LEDs dubbed Chroma have in many ways become the companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s calling card.


One of the best displays around, an excellent build, quick performance, customizable key lighting, and no big faults to speak of add up to perhaps one of the best ultraportables ever made, especially at this price.

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You can expect to play low-lift or simpler 2D games moderately well, but highend 3D games are mostly out of the question.


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Rapoo 8900P Advanced Wireless Mouse and Keyboard Combo

M

echanical keyboards are (usually) very comfortable for typing, but many of them are marketed toward gamersâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;so they often feature multicolored lighting, sculpted sides, and other GHVLJQDFFRXWUHPHQWVWKDWVRPHPLJKW¿QGJDXG\,I you prefer clean, svelte design cues for your peripherals, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll want to take a look instead at the sleek lines of non-mechanical high-end wireless keyboards and mice such as such as the Rapoo 8900P Advanced Wireless Mouse and Keyboard Combo, which not only looks great on your desk but also keeps LWIUHHRIWDQJOHGZLUHV8QIRUWXQDWHO\WKRXJKWKHWKH 8900Pâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s keyboard doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t offer a very comfortable W\SLQJH[SHULHQFH

Rapoo 8900P Advanced Wireless Mouse and Keyboard Combo $79.80 L L L m m


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Rapoo 8900P Advanced Wireless Mouse and Keyboard Combo PROS Backlit multimedia keys. Attractive, sturdy design. Connects via less-crowded 5GHz frequency. CONS Shallow key travel. Awkward customization software. Uses disposable batteries.


7KHVHFRQGWKLQJ\RXQRWLFHLVWKHEODFNVWULSRISODVWLF that juts out above the row of function keys at the top of WKHERDUG,WÂśVDFWXDOO\DURZRIYLUWXDOSURJUDPPDEOH WRXFKVHQVLWLYHPHGLDEXWWRQV,QWKHLUGHIDXOW FRQÂżJXUDWLRQVWKH\FDQODXQFKWKHGHIDXOW:LQGRZV music app; play, pause, stop, or skip a track; and raise, ORZHURUPXWHWKHV\VWHPYROXPH 7KHYLUWXDOPHGLDNH\VOLJKWXSRQO\ZKHQ\RXWRXFKWKH plastic, a bit like the buttons on a high-end DVD player from the early 2000s or the virtual (but non-backlit) EXWWRQVRQROGHUZLUHOHVVKRWVSRWV7KDWPHDQVWKH 8900Pâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s keyboard might be a good candidate to control a home theater PC, as long as you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t mind using an external mouse instead of a built-in touchpad and you can deal with the absence of backlighting on the NH\ERDUGÂśVPDLQNH\V

7KH5DSRR3ÂśVWLOWLVQÂśWDGMXVWDEOHDQGLWVORSHV forward with a few degrees of â&#x20AC;&#x153;positiveâ&#x20AC;? tilt, its back resting on a curved piece of black plastic that holds rubber feet as well as the compartment for the two AA EDWWHULHV7KLVUHVXOWLQDQHUJRQRPLFDOO\LQFRUUHFW RULHQWDWLRQVLQFHD]HURRUHYHQVOLJKWO\QHJDWLYHWLOW KHOSV\RXUZULVWOLHLQWKHSUHIHUUHGQHXWUDOSRVLWLRQ

The virtual media keys light up only when you touch the plastic, a bit like the buttons on a high-end DVD player from the early 2000s.


A ZOOMING MOUSE 7KHPRXVHZLWKDURRP\WKXPEUHVWVFXOSWHGLQWRWKHOHIWVLGHLVHPLQHQWO\ FRPIRUWDEOHIRUWKRVHZLWKVPDOORUDYHUDJHVL]HKDQGV,WÂśVPDGHRIPROGHG SODVWLFWKDWYDJXHO\PDWFKHVWKHEODFNDQGVLOYHURQWKHNH\ERDUG0RVWRIWKH surfaces feel durableâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;including the all-important left and right buttonsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and WKHEXLOGTXDOLW\LVVROLG%XWWKHFOLFNDEOHDQGWLOWDEOHVFUROOZKHHOKDV VLJQLÂżFDQWURRPIRULPSURYHPHQWLWVZREEOHPDNHVLWIHHOOLNHLWEHORQJVRQD FKHDSPRXVH 7KH3ÂśVPRXVHKDVDWRWDORIVL[EXWWRQVSOXVDGHGLFDWHG]RRPVOLGHU ZKLFKDFWLYDWHVWKH0DJQLÂżHUWRROEXLOWLQWR:LQGRZV7KHVOLGHULVDGMDFHQWWR WKHOHIWFOLFNEXWWRQDQGLVDELWVWLIIEXWQRWVRVWLIIWKDW,PLVWDNHQO\FOLFNHG ZKLOHWU\LQJWR]RRP8QIRUWXQDWHO\WKH]RRPVOLGHUFDQÂśWEHUHPDSSHGWRD GLIIHUHQWFRPPDQGVXFKDVFKDQJLQJWH[WVL]HZKLFKRZQHUVRIDIXOO+'RU. UHVROXWLRQPRQLWRUPLJKWÂżQGPRUHKHOSIXOWKDQWKH0DJQLÂżHU %HORZWKHVFUROOZKHHO\RXÂśOOÂżQGDGHGLFDWHG'3,EXWWRQZKLFKDOVRLVQÂśW FXVWRPL]HDEOH²LWVLPSO\DOORZV\RXWRVZLWFKEHWZHHQ'3,DQG'3, 7KDWÂśVDIHDWXUHPRUHFRPPRQO\IRXQGRQJDPLQJPLFHVRLWVSUHVHQFHRQWKH 8900P is a bit odd; most buyers will probably use the pointing sensitivity DGMXVWPHQWEXLOWLQWR:LQGRZVLQVWHDG7KHUHVWRIWKHEXWWRQFRPSOHPHQW amounts to forward and backward controls that are well-positioned above the WKXPEUHVWDQGZKLFK\RXFDQFXVWRPL]HXVLQJ5DSRRÂśVVRIWZDUH

The clickable and tiltable scroll wheel has signiďŹ cant room for improvement; its wobble makes it feel like it belongs on a cheap $10 mouse.


/LNHWKHNH\ERDUGWKH3¶VPRXVHUXQVRQ double-A batteries, and the battery compartment LQFOXGHVDVWRUDJHVORWIRUWKHWLQ\86%ZLUHOHVVUHFHLYHU VR\RXZRQ¶WORVHLWZKHQLW¶VQRWSOXJJHGLQWR\RXU3& 7KHUHFHLYHUFRPPXQLFDWHVZLWKWKHNH\ERDUGDQG PRXVHRYHUD*+]ZLUHOHVVFRQQHFWLRQDIUHTXHQF\ OHVVFURZGHGWKDQWKH*+]RQHWKDWZLUHOHVV SHULSKHUDOPDNHUVVXFKDV/RJLWHFKW\SLFDOO\XVH Although Rapoo includes a delightfully old-school CD520LQWKHSDFNDJHWRLQVWDOOLWVFXVWRPL]DWLRQ software, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll likely end up downloading and LQVWDOOLQJWKHVRIWZDUHIURPWKH5DSRRZHEVLWHLQVWHDG Not only is the physical copy outdated (ours had a FRS\ULJKWIURPDQGLVGHVLJQHGWRZRUNZLWK Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8), but if youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re using it with a modern laptop, you probably wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have a CD or DVD GULYHWRLQVHUWWKHGLVN 7KHVRIWZDUHLVIXQFWLRQDODOWKRXJKIDLUO\OLPLWHGLQ VFRSHDQGHYHQWKH(QJOLVKYHUVLRQLVSDUWO\LQ&KLQHVH <RXFDQPDSDQH[WHQVLYHOLVWRIRSHUDWLQJV\VWHP IXQFWLRQVWRHDFKNH\WKDW¶VFXVWRPL]HDEOH WKH keyboardâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s media key and every button on the mouse H[FHSWIRUWKH]RRPDQG'3,VHOHFWRU 7KHUH¶VDOVRDQ option to record your own macros, pair the keyboard and mouse if they lose the wireless connection, and UHVWRUHGHIDXOWVHWWLQJV7KHUH¶VQREDWWHU\OLIHLQGLFDWRU though, and you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t change scroll speed or tracking sensitivity, both of which are available in the far VXSHULRUVRIWZDUHIRUPRVW/RJLWHFKSHULSKHUDOV7KHUH¶V also no Mac version; while the peripherals should work ZLWKD0DFWKHVRIWZDUHZRQ¶W Rapoo offers a two-year limited warranty for the 37KHFRPSDQ\GRHVQ¶WDGYHUWLVHH[SHFWHGEDWWHU\ OLIHIRUWKHNH\ERDUGRUWKHPRXVH

Rapoo includes a delightfully old-school CDROM in the package to install its customization software.


LOOKS GOOD, FEELS MEDIOCRE 7KH5DSRR3FRPERLVDJRRGFKRLFHIRUVRPHRQH looking to spruce up their desk with a mouse and keyboard that almost certainly look better than the VWRFNPRGHOVWKDWFDPHZLWKWKHLUGHVNWRS3&$WLW wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t break the bank, and most users other than serious JDPHUVZLOO¿QGLWVPRXVHWREHFRPIRUWDEOHDQG UHDVRQDEO\FXVWRPL]HDEOH%XWWKHPDLQVWUHQJWKRILWV keyboard is that it looks goodâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;the shallow key travel DQGLQÃ&#x20AC;H[LEOHWLOWPDNHLWEHVWVXLWHGIRUNLWFKHQRU KRPHWKHDWHU3&VWKDWDUHXVHGOLJKWO\3HRSOHZKRW\SH DOOGD\ORQJZLOOOLNHO\¿QGLWXQFRPIRUWDEOH,IWKDW¶V you, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s probably best to purchase a mechanical keyboard and a separate mouse, such as the Editorsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; &KRLFH/RJLWHFK0;0DVWHU6 TOM BRANT

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The shallow key travel and inï¬&#x201A;exible tilt make it best suited for kitchen or home theater PCs that are used lightly.


REVIEWS SOFTWARE

Six Top Password Managers

H

ow many online accounts do you have? A dozen? A hundred? Do you remember a hundred different strong passwords, or do you use the same simple password for all of them? Hackers routinely cross a list of weak passwords with a list of, say, PayPal accounts, trolling for matches. If they crack your account, you could lose big money. Worse, if you use the same password for other accounts, the hackers could take control of your email, social PHGLDDQGÂżQDQFLDODFFRXQWV Using a unique, strong password for every site is essential, and the only way to do it is to enlist the help of a password manager. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve evaluated dozens of password managers to help you choose the one that suits you best.


THE PASSWORD BASICS The typical password manager installs as a browser plugin to handle password capture and replay. When you log in to a secure site, it offers to save your FUHGHQWLDOV:KHQ\RXUHWXUQWRWKDWVLWHLWRIIHUVWRDXWRPDWLFDOO\¿OOLQWKRVH credentials. And when youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve saved multiple logins for the same site, the password manager offers you multiple account login options. Most also offer a browser toolbar menu of saved logins, so you can go straight to a saved site and log in automatically. Some products detect password-change events and offer to update the existing record. Some even record your credentials during the process of signing up for a QHZVHFXUHZHEVLWH2QWKHÃ&#x20AC;LSVLGHDSDVVZRUGPDQDJHUWKDWGRHVQ¶WLQFOXGH password capture and replay automation needs to offset that lack with VLJQL¿FDQWRWKHUDVVHWV *HWWLQJDOORI\RXUH[LVWLQJSDVVZRUGVLQWRWKHSDVVZRUGPDQDJHULVDJRRG¿UVW step. Next, you need to identify the weak and duplicate passwords and replace WKHPZLWKWRXJKRQHV0DQ\SDVVZRUGPDQDJHUVÃ&#x20AC;DJZHDNDQGGXSOLFDWH passwords, and some offer help with the update process. The very best ones can automate the password-change process for you.


When you create a new secure account or update a weak password, you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to strain your brain trying to come up with something strong and unique. Why bother? You donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have to remember it. Nearly all of our top-rated products include a built-in password generator. Make sure your generated passwords are at least 16 characters long; too many products default to a shorter length. Entering a password like @2a&AY8mePu8HU@H on your smartphoneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s tiny keyboard can be tough. Fortunately, almost all of our top password managers can sync across all of your Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices. A few even OHW\RXDXWKHQWLFDWHRQL26RU$QGURLGZLWK\RXU¿QJHUSULQWRUIDFHUDWKHUWKDQ typing the master password. Most include some form of two-factor authentication, be it biometric, SMS-based, Google Authenticator, or something else entirely. FILL FORMS AUTOMATICALLY 6LQFHPRVWSDVVZRUGPDQDJHUVFDQDXWR¿OOVWRUHGFUHGHQWLDOVLW¶VMXVWDVPDOO VWHSIRUWKHPWRDXWRPDWLFDOO\¿OOLQSHUVRQDOGDWDRQ:HEIRUPV²¿UVWDQGODVW name, email address, phone number, and so on. Most of the top-rated products LQFOXGHD:HEIRUP¿OOLQJFRPSRQHQW7KHEUHDGWKDQGÃ&#x20AC;H[LELOLW\RIWKHLU personal data collections vary, as does their accuracy when matching Web form ¿HOGVZLWKWKHLUVWRUHGLWHPV(YHQLIWKH\PLVVD¿HOGRUWZRWKHRQHVWKH\GR ¿OODUHRQHV\RXGRQ¶WKDYHWRW\SH7KLQNDERXWKRZPDQ\VLWHV\RXJRWRWKDW want all the same information; this feature is a huge time-saver. Some websites offer to save your address, credit card details, and so on, for convenience. If you accept that offer, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve put your personal data at risk. Who knows if the site is storing your deets securely? Equifax certainly didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t. Just let WKHSDVVZRUGPDQDJHU¿OOWKHIRUPHDFKWLPH,W¶VVDIHU ADVANCED PASSWORD-MANAGEMENT FEATURES Given that all these products take care of basic password management tasks, how can a product stand out from the pack? One handy advanced feature is managing passwords for applications in addition to websites. Another is provision of a secure browser, designed to protect sensitive transactions and LQYRNHGDXWRPDWLFDOO\ZKHQ\RXYLVLWD¿QDQFLDOVLWH


On a grimmer note, what happens to your secure accounts after you die? A growing number of products include some provision for a digital legacy, a method to transfer your logins to a trusted individual in the event of your death or incapacity. $QG¿QDOO\WKHVHWRSSURGXFWVOHW\RXV\QF\RXU passwords across all of your devices. Some of them also include a built-in mechanism for securely sharing passwords with other users. Some let you share a login without making the password visible, some let you revoke sharing, and with some the sharing goes both ZD\V²WKDWLVLIWKHUHFLSLHQWPDNHVDFKDQJHLWZLOO change the original.

Dashlane $39.99 EDITORSâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; CHOICE

L l l l l PROS: Standalone all-platform browser extension. Apps for PC, Mac, Android, iOS. Two-factor authentication. Password strength report. Automated password change. Secure sharing. Password inheritance. Captures online shopping receipts. CONS: No special handling for nonstandard logins. Limited support for Internet Explorer. BOTTOM LINE: The well designed and executed Dashlane makes smart password management a breeze. And its new standalone browser extension means you can use the service on just about any platform.

One handy advanced feature is managing passwords for applications in addition to websites.


LastPass 4.0 Premium $12.00 EDITORS’ CHOICE

L l l l l PROS: Syncs passwords across all your devices. Powerful multifactor authentication. Automated password changing. Enhanced password sharing. Actionable security report. Password inheritance. CONS: Default settings for password generator could be more secure. BOTTOM LINE: LastPass 4.0 Premium builds on the excellent free version’s features, adding enhanced multifactor authentication, application password management, and password sharing groups.

LogMeOnce Password Management Suite Ultimate 5.2 $39.00 EDITORS’ CHOICE

L l l l h PROS: Works on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS. Extensive two-factor options including selfie-based and USB-based authentication. Anti-theft system can locate a lost device and remotely log out or wipe your data. Fills Web forms, including credit card data. Actionable password strength report. CONS: SMS-based two-factor authentication can cost money. Some mobile features didn’t work quite right in testing. Massive feature set may overwhelm less-technical users. BOTTOM LINE: With innovative features like selfie-based two-factor authentication and built-in anti-theft, LogMeOnce Password Management Suite Ultimate 5.2 is the most feature-rich password manager around.


Sticky Password Premium $29.99 EDITORS’ CHOICE

L l l l h PROS: Syncs across devices. Secure no-cloud Wi-Fi sync available. Captures even oddball logins. Manages application passwords. Online console manages trusted devices. Fingerprint authentication on mobile. CONS: Report lists only the very weakest passwords. No online access to passwords. USB/ Bluetooth authentication replaces master password, hence it’s not two-factor. BOTTOM LINE: Sticky Password Premium does everything you’d expect from a password manager and more. If you choose the unusual no-cloud Wi-Fi sync, your passwords never leave your home networ.

Keeper Password Manager & Digital Vault 10 $29.99 L l l l m PROS: Supports all platforms and common browsers, even Linux. Emphasizes two-factor authentication. Secure password sharing. Secure, synced storage for up to 10GB of files available. CONS: Lacks some features found in competing products. No drag/drop for organizing passwords in folders. Password capture and replay not entirely automated. BOTTOM LINE: Keeper Password Manager & Digital Vault 10 syncs your passwords and files across all platforms, and it’s built from the ground up with security as its main focus.

Password Boss Premium v2.0 $29.99 L l l l m PROS: Syncs across all your Windows, iOS, and Android devices. Twofactor authentication. Secure sharing and password inheritance. Fills web forms. Password generator default length 20. CONS: Lacks Mac support. No online access. Some configuration settings could be more flexible. BOTTOM LINE: Password Boss Premium v2.0 handles all basic password management tasks and includes advanced features, such as secure sharing and password inheritance. It’s definitely worth a look.

NEIL J. RUBENKING PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION

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FEATURES

BY PCMAG STAFF


We test hundreds of products each year in the PC Labs—and these 100 are the top 4 percent. If you want to know what to buy this holiday season, here’s your list.

W

hen you test as many products a year as the analysts at PC Labs do, it’s not surprising that they all start to look alike. Every box seems to have the same features, each game has the same mechanics, and every technology is simply keeping up with the digital Joneses. Then, once in awhile, something truly amazing stands out. Those are the products we’ve gathered here—the 100 best items out of almost 2,500 reviewed by PCMag in 2017. The trends are obvious. Desktop PCs, once the lifeblood of our coverage, aren’t as plentiful nor, to be honest, as interesting as they used to be. Laptops are the top PCs; ubiquitous mobile devices keep us connected everywhere (whether we like it or not); and the real trend is in audio. It’s not just that speakers are better than ever—they’re smarter, too, with voice control at the forefront of our future digital world. That goes hand-in-hand (or ear-in-ear) with the growth of the smart home and security controls run by our handheld devices, as well as those smart speakers. These 100 products in 16 categories all must have been reviewed in full by PCMag on or after November 1, 2016. The vast majority of them—94 products— earned our Editors’ Choice award. Eight earned a perfect score of 5 stars, but most are “merely” excellent, with a score of 4.5. Sort through this list of the top tech and get ready to shop for products you won’t regret buying.


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3 ULTRAPORTABLE RAZER BLADE STEALTH (LATE 2017) $1,399.00 AS TESTED

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L l l l h

An already sleek laptop got even better this year. The metal build is still high quality, it includes both standard USB and USB-C with Thunderbolt, and its brilliant screen is now larger without adding size or weight to the laptop.

2

DESKTOP REPLACEMENT DELL XPS 15 TOUCH

L l l l m With its brilliant 4K screen and updated components, Dell’s latest XPS 15 Touch (9560) is a powerful laptop for visual artists, graphics designers, and video enthusiasts.

$999.99 AS TESTED

3

EDITORS’ CHOICE

BUDGET LAPTOP ACER SWIFT 1

L l l l h How much laptop can you get for $329? Acer’s Switch 1 is a surprisingly strong answer—a little short on storage but with a slim build and a 1080p IPS display.

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$329.00 AS TESTED

EDITORS’ CHOICE

CHROMEBOOK ASUS CHROMEBOOK FLIP

L l l l h The Asus Chromebook Flip (C302CA-DHM4) might be more expensive than the average chromebook, but its metal body, 1080p screen, and long battery life makes it well worth the extra cash.

$499.00 AS TESTED

EDITORS’ CHOICE


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BUSINESS LAPTOP LENOVO THINKPAD T470

L l l l h The Lenovo ThinkPad T470 exemplifies the mainstream business laptop, with a no-nonsense body, manageable weight, excellent keyboard, dual pointing devices, and long battery life.

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$783.20 AS TESTED

EDITORS’ CHOICE

GAMING LAPTOP ALIENWARE 17 R4 (2017)

L l l l m The 17 R4 unit we tested is a top-notch performer thanks to an Nvidia GTX 1080 graphics card. If you can’t afford the higher-end configurations, you can customize it as needed and still get the premium build and fancy features.

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$3,188.99 AS TESTED

EDITORS’ CHOICE

CONVERTIBLE-HYBRID LAPTOP LENOVO YOGA 920

L l l l h This thin and stylish convertible delivers excellent performance via an eighth-generation Core i7 processor, stellar battery life, and a comfortable keyboard, making it a fantastic companion at home and on the road.

$1,329.00 AS TESTED

EDITORS’ CHOICE

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HIGH-END TABLET MICROSOFT SURFACE PRO

l L l l m With faster performance, better battery life, and other welcome improvements over its predecessor, the Microsoft Surface Pro is still the standard bearer for 2-in-1 Windows tablets.

$799.00 AS TESTED

EDITORS’ CHOICE


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MIDRANGE TABLET APPLE iPAD

l L l l m Apple’s fifth-generation iPad is all the tablet that most people need. Its high-resolution display and fast A9 processor, at a reasonable price, blow away midrange Android tablets. Faster Wi-Fi keeps you connected to the internet without worries. This is a tablet that just works, at a price that works for everyone.

$329.00

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EDITORS’ CHOICE

BUDGET TABLET AMAZON FIRE HD 8

l l L l m Amazon continues to build the best inexpensive media tablets with its Fire lineup. The key is that they don’t try to do too much: Using Amazon’s simple interface, they bring you straight to the books, movies, and apps that you (or your kids) want. A relatively high-res screen and good audio for well under $100 bring the experience home.

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$79.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

EBOOK READER AMAZON KINDLE OASIS

L l l l h The new Amazon Kindle Oasis makes for the best mainstream e-reading experience you’re going to get. Waterproof and with a bigger screen than previous Kindles, it keeps up with competitor Kobo’s technical innovations while giving you access to the most popular US library of ebooks. For serious bookworms, it’s a delight.

$249.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

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CELLULAR NETWORK VERIZON WIRELESS

While T-Mobile trumpeted its gigabit LTE this year, Verizon quietly installed the new technology and reaped the benefits. Wireless network competition was tougher than it’s been in a few years, but Verizon still maintained a narrow lead on coverage and speed in our annual Fastest Mobile Networks trials.


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ANDROID PHONE SAMSUNG GALAXY S8

L l l l h The Samsung Galaxy S8 was comfortably ahead of the competition for most of the year. It had the best OLED screen panel, with a big 5.8-inch screen in a slender, one-handed body; the best camera, great performance, and gigabit LTE, all at a more mainstream high-end price than its bigger sibling, the Galaxy Note 8.

$750.00

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EDITORS’ CHOICE

IOS PHONE APPLE IPHONE X $999.00 L l l l m

The iPhone X sets the stage for a new decade of full-screen, augmented-reality living. Like the best Apple products, it dares to question old assumptions, break rules, and introduce radical new concepts. Sure, there are some elements that are a little rough around the edges—but unlike the iPhone 8, the iPhone X isn’t boring. Get ready to be excited by an iPhone again.

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HOTSPOT VERIZON JETPACK MIFI 7730L $199.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L l l l h

The latest MiFi hotspot has an easy-to-use touch-screen interface and can charge your phone, but its real value lies in being the first Verizon hotspot to support three-carrier aggregation, which means it gets noticeably faster speeds on Verizon’s network than older devices do.

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PORTABLE BATTERY ANKER POWERCORE 10000 $35.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L l l l h

Anker’s no-nonsense battery is small, light, affordable, reliable, high-capacity, and supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0, making it an accessory that everyone should have.

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SMARTWATCH APPLE WATCH SERIES 3 $329.99 L l l l m

The newest Apple Watch adds cellular capability and an increased focus on fitness. It’s pricey, and you’ll sacrifice battery life, but it’s the best standalone smartwatch out there.


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FITNESS TRACKER FITBIT IONIC $299.95 L l l l m

The Fitbit Ionic is the company’s first foray into smartwatches. Ambitious and promising, it delivers accurate tracking, NFC payments, and superior battery life. Its app ecosystem is still in early stages, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a better fitness tracker.

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HEART RATE MONITOR WAHOO FITNESS TICKR X $99.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L L

In addition to heart rate monitoring, the Wahoo Fitness Tickr X can also track outdoor and indoor runs, as well as reps during strength training. No other chest strap tracks more at such an affordable price.

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SMART SCALE QARDIOBASE 2 $149.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L H

On top of a sleek design, the Qardiobase 2 tracks everything from weight and BMI to full body composition and pregnancy. You can also receive smart haptic feedback and easily recognize multiple users in the same household. And if numbers discourage you, watch your progress in smileys.


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VOICE ASSISTANCE PLATFORM AMAZON ALEXA

Amazon’s Alexa remains ahead of Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, and Microsoft’s Cortana because of its massive library of third-party skills. Yes, it’s pickier than Google about using very specific wording in your queries. But smart home brands come to Amazon first, as do popular services including Lyft and Stubhub, and it’s available on a wider range of more flexible speakers than Google Assistant is.

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SMART SPEAKER AMAZON ECHO $99.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L H

The second-generation Echo doesn’t offer much for existing Echo owners, as its features and audio capabilities are about the same, beyond improved voice detection. This Echo is about enticing folks who didn’t buy one before, whether it was because it was too ugly or, at $180, too expensive. The better look and steep price cut make bringing the Echo into your home much easier.

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SMART SECURITY SYSTEM ADT PULSE STARTS AT $28.99 PER MONTH

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L M

ADT is an old and well-established security service company, so it makes sense the ADT Pulse has everything you’d want in terms of smart home security. It provides lots of component options with support for third-party smart home devices including the Nest, Ring, and Vivint. It even has Amazon Alexa integration, and the app experience is one of the most solid we’ve tested.


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HOME SECURITY CAMERA NETGEAR ARLO PRO $249.00

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L H

The Netgear Arlo Pro may be the perfect security camera. Not only is it completely wireless, weatherproof, and easy to install, but it also boasts two-way audio. You also get attractive features including sound-triggered recording, rechargeable batteries, free cloud storage, and USB connectivity, letting you store video locally on a USB drive. While the Arlo Pro will cost you a pretty penny and requires a hub, it’s our top choice for outdoor home surveillance cameras.

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SMART DOOR LOCK AUGUST SMART LOCK PRO + CONNECT $279.00

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L H

The August Smart Lock Pro + Connect offers all the bells and whistles you get with the HomeKit model and adds a few new features, including August’s DoorSense technology, Z-Wave compatibility, and Wi-Fi connectivity. It’s easy to install and can be controlled remotely or with Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri voice commands, and it retains the sleek aesthetics of its siblings. It’s pricey but is easily the best smart lock we’ve tested.

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SMART LIGHTING PHILIPS HUE AMBIANCE A19 STARTER KIT $199.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L M

Philips’ third-generation smart bulbs still set the bar for connected lighting. While the White and Color Ambiance A19 Starter Kit is expensive, it leads the category in features and has an expansive third-party app ecosystem.

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SMART THERMOSTAT ECOBEE4 $249.00

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L H

The Ecobee4 thermostat offers flexible scheduling, a well-designed mobile app and web interface, remote room sensors, and motion-sensing technology to help save you money when you’re not home. It’s a snap to install, lets you track your energy usage, and works with a number of third-party smart devices. It even has Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant built in.

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ROBOT VACUUM EUFY ROBOVAC 11 $219.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L M

With high-end models going for as much as $1,000, robot vacuums aren’t exactly an expense that’s easy to justify. So it’s a pleasant surprise that the Eufy RoboVac 11 is a quiet, efficient robotic vacuum cleaner that costs just $219.99, an absolute bargain by market standards.


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BUDGET TV TCL 55P607 $649.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L M

The TCL 55P607 packs excellent picture quality and the impressive feature set of the Roku TV platform into a $650 package, making it easily the best value in televisions of the year. It’s just a shame TCL doesn’t offer other sizes besides 55 inches in this line.

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HIGH-END TV LG OLED65C7P $4,499.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L H

If you want the best TV picture money can buy, go with organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology. The LG OLEDC7P series offers superlative performance with perfect black levels that are possible only with an OLED panel and a wide, vivid color gamut that keeps its accuracy. Like all OLED TVs, it’s quite expensive compared with LCD, though.

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MEDIA HUB AMAZON FIRE TV $69.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L M

Amazon’s new Fire TV scraps the tabletop box in favor of a Chromecast-like dongle-on-anHDMI-tether design without making any compromises—and cuts its price by $30 to boot. This 4K-capable model supports HDR10 content and keeps all of the excellent features of the previous Fire TV, including Amazon’s useful Alexa voice assistant.


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SOUNDBAR POLK AUDIO SIGNA S1 $199.95

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L M

You don’t need to pay a lot of money to get more audio power out of your TV. The Polk Audio Signa S1 soundbar, a mere $200, offers satisfying performance and just enough extra features, among them a wireless subwoofer and Bluetooth connectivity. It isn’t fancy or eyecatching, but this is a powerful sound system with a very wallet-friendly price tag. If you want something better than your TV’s built-in speakers, that’s really all you need.

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SPEAKER FOR MULTIROOM AUDIO SONOS ONE $199.00

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L M

Sonos updated its already compelling Play:1 wireless multi-room speaker to the even more simply named Sonos One. This new version features a microphone array that enables it to use the Amazon Alexa voice assistant, complete with hands-free voice activation just like with an Echo speaker. It can do almost everything Echo devices can, with far better sound quality.


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WIRELESS SPEAKER KLIPSCH THE THREE $399.00

L L L L M

EDITORS’ CHOICE

The Klipsch The Three speaker is awkwardly named and looks retro, but it’s packed with audio power and wireless technology. Listen to music streamed through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, or plug in your favorite wired audio source through 3.5mm, RCA (with phono support), and even USB. It gets very loud for its size but keeps the finesse needed to give high-frequency instruments proper attention without holding back on the bass.

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BUDGET SPEAKER SONY SRS-XB10 $49.99 L L L L M

The inexpensive Sony SRS-XB10 puts out some solid sound, considering its tiny frame. Pair it with another SRS-XB10 for stereo audio. It’s ideal for taking outside, with an IPX5 waterresistant rating that will keep it going in the rain or near the pool.

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WIRE-FREE EARPHONES BOSE SOUNDSPORT FREE $249.95

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L M

The wire-free earphone category had a shaky start, with awkward designs and poor battery life. The Bose SoundSport Free is a sign that those problems are getting fixed and stands as one of the best sets of wire-free earphones we’ve seen yet. These earphones are small, sleek, and cleverly designed, and provide powerful audio with plenty of bass.

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WIRELESS EARPHONES SHURE SE215 WIRELESS $149.00

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L M

Shure’s SE215 Wireless are, as the name implies, the wireless version of 2011’s excellent Shure SE215. While they use Bluetooth instead of a wired connection, they still sound excellent, and a removable cable between the earpieces offers options for repair and replacement that are almost never found in this price range.

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WIRELESS HEADPHONES B&O PLAY BEOPLAY H4

L L L L H You can get incredible sound from wireless headphones, especially if you’re willing to spend some money. The Beoplay H4 is one of the best; they look premium, feel comfortable, and sound fantastic,

$299.00

EDITORS’ CHOICE


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COMPACT CAMERA OLYMPUS TOUGH TG-5 $449.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L M

It’s 2017, and smartphones are the perfect point-and-shoot camera. Except when they aren’t. The TG-5 is the camera you take places where your phone won’t survive. It dives 50 feet deep, works in freezing cold, and survives drops. Add Raw capture, killer macro, a bright lens, and 4K video, and you’ve got a good, tough camera.

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PREMIUM COMPACT FUJIFILM X100F $1,299.95

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L H

The X100 series has long been a favorite of photographers who don’t want to give up SLR image quality but don’t always want to carry an SLR. The latest version uses Fuji’s current, excellent 24MP image sensor and keeps the same style, fast prime lens, and hybrid viewfinder.

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MIRRORLESS CAMERA SONY A9 $4,499.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L H

The a9 is the first mirrorless camera that goes toe-to-toe with the big boys. Its 20fps Raw capture rate and incredible autofocus system compete with the Nikon D5 and Canon EOS-1D X Mark II. The big advantage is that there’s no blackout during exposure, so you never lose track of your subject.


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D-SLR NIKON D850 $3,299.95

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L L

The Sony a9 is a glimpse of the future, but the SLR isn’t dead yet. The D850 is the best that Nikon’s ever made, with an incredible high-resolution (45.7MP) image sensor, fantastic autofocus and 7fps tracking, and modern fit and finish—a tilting touch LCD and wireless image transfer. Best of all, it works with Nikon’s extensive line of lenses and accessories.

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LENS SONY FE 70-200MM F2.8 GM OSS $2,599.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L H

You can’t have a pro camera without top-end lenses. The Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 pairs with the company’s latest mirrorless models, delivering speedy focus and incredibly sharp images. Its reach can be extended with a 1.4x or 2x teleconverter, making it a versatile tool for events, reportage, sports, nature, and more.

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360 CAMERA SAMSUNG GEAR 360 $229.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L M

It’s going to take more time to see whether 360-degree cameras last. If you’re an early adopter, the Samsung Gear 360 is our recommendation. It’s affordable (it typically sells for less than its asking price) while offering video quality on a par with pricier models. Stitching software (to combine the view of the dual lenses) is available for Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows, with the caveat that Android support is limited to Samsung handsets.

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ACTION CAMERA GOPRO HERO6 BLACK $499.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L M

GoPro has faced some stiff competition in the action-camera market lately. We’ve seen new high-end models such as the Sony RX0 intrude at the top of the market and Chinese companies including YI undercut on price. The Hero6 Black is the answer. It doubles the frame rates of the Hero5 for slower slow motion and adds effective digital stabilization and GPS.

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DRONE DJI PHANTOM 4 PRO $1,799.00

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L H

The Phantom 4 Pro significantly raises video and image quality thanks to its 1-inch-sensor camera. It shoots 4K video at up to 60fps and stills in Raw or JPG format. We noted about 25 minutes of flight time in tests, and the drone has baked-in safety features, including GPS, automated return-to-home, no-fly-zone recognition, and obstacle avoidance.


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ELECTRIC CAR 2017 CHEVROLET BOLT EV $38,915.00

L L L L H

EDITORS’ CHOICE

High-tech electric vehicles (EVs) have typically been thought of as being costly and lacking range, but the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV is a breakthrough on price and performance. It’s the first mainstream, low-cost EV that can be driven nearly 250 miles on a single charge—twice the range of rivals. The small car is spacious inside, fun to drive, and has an intuitive center-dash touch screen that helps drivers learn the ins and outs of EV charging and ownership.

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CAR TECHNOLOGY NAVDY $599.00

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L M

The Navdy is a portable head-up display (HUD) for older vehicles that don’t come with one built in. For cars made after 1996, the Navdy plugs into the OBD-II port and projects a range of information including speed, engine rpm, and compass. It’s also able to use built-in GPS and Google Maps to provide directions, helping keep your eyes on the road.


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MAINSTREAM CONSUMER DESKTOP DELL XPS TOWER SPECIAL EDITION (8930) $999.00

L L L L M

EDITORS’ CHOICE

This compact and upgradeable multi-purpose desktop is now packed with Intel’s new Coffee Lake processors for improved performance. Coupled with an Nvidia GTX 1070, it can do it all, from everyday work to gaming and media creation.

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BUDGET DESKTOP RASPBERRY PI ZERO W $35.00 AS TESTED L L L L M

Add some accessories, and the Raspberry Pi Zero W is a full PC for pocket change. But its potential for DIY electronics projects is its real draw.

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ALL-IN-ONE DESKTOP MICROSOFT SURFACE STUDIO $4,199.00 AS TESTED

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L M

This slick desktop combines a big, beautiful display and speedy components with an innovative reclining design, resulting in a high-end PC and a capable digital creation tool in a single package.

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GAMING DESKTOP ORIGIN NEURON $3,900.00 AS TESTED

EDITORS’ CHOICE

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As nicely built as it is fast, the Neuron is a dream of a high-end gaming machine. With an elegant case and dual Nvidia GTX 1080 TI graphics cards, this desktop is hard to beat for those who have the budget.


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BUSINESS/WORKSTATION DESKTOP HP Z2 MINI G3 $1,698.00 AS TESTED

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L M

The HP Z2 Mini G3 is an ISV-certified workstation in a package that’s smaller than a shoe box. It’s an ideal choice for professionals who need plenty of power but don’t have much desk space.

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MULTIFUNCTION PRINTER EPSON WORKFORCE PRO WF-4740 $299.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L M

The Epson WorkForce Pro WF-4720 combines good speed, excellent print quality, competitive running costs, and a wide range of features in a midrange business inkjet all-in-one.

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INKJET PRINTER CANON PIXMA TR8520 $199.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L M

The Canon Pixma TR8520 has a strong feature set and churns out high-quality output, including superb photos, making it our new top inkjet all-in-one for household and/or home-office use.


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LASER PRINTER BROTHER HL-L8360CDW $399.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L H

The Brother HL-L8360CDW, a color laser printer for a micro or small office or workgroup, provides good speed and a robust feature set and offers great expandability in its paper handling.

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PHOTO PRINTER EPSON SURECOLOR P400 $599.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L M

Although moderately priced for a near-dedicated photo printer, the Epson SureColor P400 produces gallery-worthy prints at sizes up to 13 by 19 inches, and it can print from paper rolls as well as cut sheets.

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3D PRINTER XYZPRINTING DA VINCI MINI $289.95

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L M

The XYZprinting da Vinci Mini gets the nod as PCMag’s first Editors’ Choice consumer-level 3D printer, thanks to its easy setup, low price, ease of use, and smooth, misprint-free operation in our testing.

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SCANNER XEROX DOCUMATE 6440 $495.00

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L M

The Xerox DocuMate 6440 is fast for its price, has a large (80-sheet) automatic document feeder (ADF), and is among the best performers in reading and converting text (OCR) that we have encountered.

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PROJECTOR LG MINIBEAM LED PROJECTOR (PH550) $549.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L M

The LG Minibeam LED Projector (PH550) is a small, lightweight entertainment projector with a built-in battery and a wealth of connection choices—it even includes a TV tuner.


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BUDGET ROUTER TP-LINK ARCHER C7 AC1750 $99.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L M

The TP-Link Archer C7 AC1750 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router (V2) delivers the fastest throughput speeds we’ve seen from a sub-$100 router. It’s also a breeze to install and offers plenty of settings.

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HIGH-END ROUTER NETGEAR NIGHTHAWK X10 AD7200 (R9000) $499.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L H

The 802.11ad, MU-MIMO-equipped Netgear Nighthawk X10 R9000 delivers blazing 5GHz throughput and even faster 60GHz speeds. Despite the high price, it’s an excellent way to future-proof your wireless network.

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HOME WI-FI SYSTEM LINKSYS VELOP $499.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L H

The Linksys Velop provides Wi-Fi coverage for your entire home and seamless roaming over a single network. It’s stylish, easy to install, and delivers fast single-user and MU-MIMO throughput speeds.

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NETWORK ATTACHED STORAGE SYNOLOGY DISKSTATION DS216+II $299.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L M

The Synology DiskStation DS216+II is a whisper-quiet two-bay NAS device that offers good file transfer performance, 4K video transcoding, and a generous selection of apps. It’s a breeze to set up and manage.


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EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE CALDIGIT TUFF $179.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L H

The CalDigit Tuff a not only a rugged hard drive designed to survive extreme conditions, but it’s also a terrific value for the amount of storage you get. It even comes with USB-C and USB 3.0 cables for connecting to new and old PCs and Macs.

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MOUSE LOGITECH MX ANYWHERE 2S $79.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L M

The Logitech MX Anywhere 2 is a well-built, versatile mouse that has robust customization software and works with Windows and macOS. It also lives up to its name, with a travelfriendly design and a sensor that works on nearly every surface.

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KEYBOARD NIXEUS MODA PRO $74.99 L L L L M

Mechanical keyboards like the Nixeus Moda Pro are much more comfortable to type on than the one that came with your new PC. The Moda Pro works well with both macOS and Windows, it’s sturdily built, and it has an attractive price.

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MONITOR NEC MULTISYNC EX241UN-BK $379.00

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L H

The 24-inch NEC MultiSync EX241UN-BK is a well-equipped business monitor that offers some handy IT-friendly features and delivers excellent color and grayscale performance.


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GAMING MONITOR DELL 24 GAMING MONITOR S2417DG $569.99

L L L L M

EDITORS’ CHOICE

The Dell 24 Gaming Monitor S2417DG uses speedy refresh rates and Nvidia’s G-Sync antitearing technology to deliver excellent high-resolution gaming performance.

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GAMING HEADSET ASTRO GAMING A50 $300.00

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L H

The Astro Gaming A50 is one of the best gaming headsets you can buy, with a hefty price tag to match. This wireless headset looks and feels premium and features a charging base that keeps it ready without needing to plug it in. It’s available in PS4 and Xbox One versions, both of which can work with PCs.

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VR HEADSET SONY PLAYSTATION VR $399.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L M

The VR (virtual reality) landscape has stayed largely the same over the last year. That could change in the near future with the slow release of Windows 10 Mixed Reality headsets from various manufacturers, but until we see how that ecosystem develops, the PlayStation VR remains our favorite VR headset. It isn’t quite the most technically advanced, but its price, ease of setup, and solid selection of compelling VR experiences make it very appealing.

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GAME CONSOLE NINTENDO SWITCH $299.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L M

Nintendo’s newest game system is a unique cross between a handheld and a home game console. Docked, it lets you play games on your TV like a console. Out of the dock, its 720p screen and snap-on Joy-Con controllers turn it into a powerful handheld game system. It makes good on its promises of playing games everywhere, and its library is full of must-play games thanks to a very strong first year of releases.


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PLAYSTATION 4 GAME FIFA 18 $59.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L H

The Madden franchise takes center stage in the minds of many American sports gamers, but given its global appeal and overall quality, FIFA is the biggest jewel in EA’s sports crown. It’s difficult to nail down the feel of the real sport while balancing it for fun and accessible gameplay, but EA has struck a sweet spot with FIFA 18. Its changes to ball winning, handling, crossing, and overall presentation make this year’s version a better simulation of football from top to bottom.

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XBOX ONE GAME CUPHEAD $19.99 L L L L M

Cuphead is a charming run-and-gun/shoot-’em-up hybrid that channels the twitch gameplay of Konami’s iconic Contra series and the boss-fighting mayhem of Treasure’s Alien Soldier. The true hook, however, is the exquisite rubber-hose animation style that recalls the likes of “Steamboat Willie” and other early-20th century cartoons.

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NINTENDO SWITCH GAME SUPER MARIO ODYSSEY $59.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L L

The Nintendo Switch has had an absurdly strong first year, building a library of must-have games since its March 2017 release. The best game in the Switch library is Super Mario Odyssey. In it, Mario uses a sentient cap, the appropriately named Cappy, to possess enemies and gain their abilities. It’s a bizarre, fun-filled ride.

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PC GAME TEKKEN 7 $49.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L H

Billed as the conclusion of the Mishima family drama, Tekken 7 reveals secrets and leaves cliffhangers, thus simultaneously answering long-standing questions and prompting fans to ask new ones. Thankfully, the madcap tale is bolstered by some of the best mechanics featured in contemporary fighting games, with the new Power Crush, Rage Arts, and Rage Drive attacks deftly blending into the established mix.

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ANDROID GAME MIRACLE MERCHANT FREE

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L H

Take on the role of a late-night apothecary with many magical orders to fill. Use colorful cards to concoct potions for equally colorful characters in this charming and challenging solitaire game.


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IPHONE GAME POKEMON GO FREE

L L L L M

EDITORS’ CHOICE

Far from being just the fading fad of 2016, Pokemon Go continues to impress. A steady stream of rare Pokemon and pocketable monsters from newer games has kept fans coming back for more. And with AR platforms debuting on Android and iOS, the future looks bright for this game.

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ROBOTICS TOY LEGO BOOST CREATIVE TOOLBOX $159.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L H

The Lego Boost Creative Toolbox is designed for kids who are too young to tackle Lego’s MindStorms robotics kits. Designed to introduce children ages 7 to 12 to coding and robotics, the kit provides building blocks with sensors, motors, and app-based coding to help them build a variety of robotic toys. It’s simple, fun, and (relatively) affordable.

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ANDROID APP DOODLE FREE TO $39 PER YEAR

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L H

The greatest battle is finding a time for more than two people to meet. Enter Doodle, which uses handy polls to quickly and easily determine what days and times do and do not work. It’s stunningly useful and free.

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iPHONE APP APPLE iMOVIE FREE

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L H

Apple’s free video editor is a winner, and got better in 2017. It’s a slick trick for an interface on such a small screen to let you edit video comfortably—an activity that normally demands much screen space. Templates and soundtracks give your iPhone movies extra polish.


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OPERATING SYSTEM WINDOWS 10 FALL CREATORS UPDATE $119.99

L L L L H

EDITORS’ CHOICE

Microsoft’s latest desktop operating system continues to push the envelope, with new VR capabilities, handy My People communication, OneDrive Files on Demand, and smartphone linking. Fall Creators Update adds lots of minor new tools as well as those marquee features.

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MOBILE OPERATING SYSTEM GOOGLE ANDROID 8.0 OREO FREE

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L H

The latest version of the Android operating system left a sweet taste in our mouth with smart upgrades to security, improved picture-in-picture, and a vastly improved notification system that gives users more control than ever. Oreo makes a strong argument for exploring the multitude of Android phones on the market.

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PHOTO EDITING ADOBE PHOTOSHOP CC $9.99 PER MONTH

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L L

After nearly 30 years, there’s still nothing that can match Adobe’s flagship photo software for image editing wizardry. New digital painting tools, built-in search, templates, and Art Boards help professionals create images with exactly the visual impact they need.

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VIDEO EDITING CYBERLINK POWERDIRECTOR 16 ULTRA $129.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L H

Time and time again, CyberLink beats the competition at introducing new technology to its ultra-powerful video editing software. With this version, you get more 360-degree VR editing capabilities than anyone else offers, including stabilization, motion tracking, and VR titling.

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AUDIO EDITING APPLE LOGIC PRO X $199.99

EDITORS’ CHOICE

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Apple’s digital audio software costs less than much of the competition, but it doesn’t fall short in advanced tools, instruments, and effects. The latest version sports a friendlier interface and workflow improvements. If you’re a Mac user serious about sound editing, this is your app.

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VIDEO STREAMING SERVICE NETFLIX STARTS AT $7.99 PER MONTH

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L H

Come for the surprisingly large catalog of movies and TV, but stay for the trend-setting


original content, including Dear White People and Stranger Things. The service that brought streaming to the masses now includes downloadable options for offline viewing on the go.

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MUSIC STREAMING SERVICE SLACKER RADIO

FREE, WITH PREMIUM OPTIONS STARTING AT $3.99 PER MONTH EDITORS’ CHOICE L L L L H

Slacker Radio began life as the human-curated alternative to the pioneering Pandora Internet Radio. Since then, Slacker has expanded its streaming audio options to include news and weather updates, live ESPN radio, entertaining lifestyle channels, and well-conceived themed stations that are sure to delight music fans.

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PRODUCTIVITY TODOIST $29.00

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L H

A slick task-management tool, Todoist will have you ticking off boxes and getting things done in no time. It’s available on the web as well as for just about any device, so your to-do list is never out of reach. Colorful charts help take your productivity to the next level.

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EDCATION/LEARNING DUOLINGO FREE

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L H

This fantastic free language service, available on the web or as a mobile app, can help you become fluent in any of 20 languages, with several more offered in beta form. Its reinforcing approach to spoken and written learning along with gamification make becoming a polyglot fun.

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PERSONAL FINANCE MINT FREE

EDITORS’ CHOICE

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In the world of personal finance, Mint is the 800-pound gorilla. Provide Mint with secure, readonly access to your various financial services (banks, credit cards, 401k, and so on), and it’s the single dashboard for your money, great for checking your finances on the fly or saving for a big purchase.

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WEBSITE BUILDER WIX FREE TO $25 PER MONTH

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L H

There are dozens of website-building services, but Wix stands out with its clear interface, wealth of options, and control over your site’s appearance. Automatic site building with Wix ADI and Wix Code for dynamic content both debuted in 2017.


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BEST WEB HOSTING SERVICE DREAMHOST STARTS AT $10.95 PER MONTH

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L H

DreamHost has a long list of features to satisfy your personal- and business-related web hosting needs. The company’s shared, WordPress, virtual private server (VPS), and dedicated plans offer plenty of options for webmasters to create attractive, flexible sites. In addition, the host has added new website building software that makes creating a DreamHost-powered site easier than ever.

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CLOUD STORAGE & SYNC SERVICE GOOGLE DRIVE FREE

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EDITORS’ CHOICE

Google’s Cloud storage offering gives you the most free online storage and the best collaboration tools around. Its new companion utility, Backup & Sync, makes any file or folder on your system fair game for backup, complete with version saving.

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FILE SYNCING AND BACKUP IDRIVE $69.50

EDITORS’ CHOICE

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IDrive offers an affordable combination of storage space and top-notch capabilities. The base plan includes a generous 2TB of cloud storage for unlimited devices. It features full disk backup tasks, historical ransomware protection, and the IDrive Express service for bulk uploads and restores.

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UTILITY AVG TUNEUP $49.99 PER YEAR

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L H

If your PC isn’t running as smoothly as it did out of the box, the likely culprit is a fragmented hard drive, an overabundance of junk files, a Windows Registry in disarray, or a combination of those ills. AVG TuneUp improves performance by deleting junk files, uninstalling unneeded programs, and defragmenting the hard drive. Install the tune-up utility on as many computers as you’d like.


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SECURITY SUITE SYMANTEC NORTON SECURITY PREMIUM $89.99 PER YEAR

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L H

In addition to a raft of top-notch suite features, Symantec Norton Security Premium comes with 25GB of online storage and a top-tier parental control system. You can install it on up to 10 Windows, Android, macOS, and iOS devices.

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STANDALONE ANTIVIRUS BITDEFENDER ANTIVIRUS PLUS $39.99 PER YEAR

EDITORS’ CHOICE

L L L L H

Testing labs give Bitdefender Antivirus Plus top marks, and it aces some of our own hands-on tests. Beyond that, it adds a wealth of security features that almost qualify it as a security suite. It’s a winner.

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VPN SERVICE NORDVPN $11.95 PER MONTH

EDITORS’ CHOICE

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When it comes to keeping safe online, NordVPN has a little bit of everything: a robust network of servers, smart options for streaming and bittorrent, and access to advanced protection like Tor-over-VPN. It’s an excellent and easy-to-use choice.

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PASSWORD MANAGER DASHLANE $39.99 PER YEAR

EDITORS’ CHOICE

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The new standalone browser extension means you can use Dashlane on almost any platform. It fully supports 11 languages now, and can automatically change passwords on more than 500 websites. This very capable password manager earns a rare five stars.

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TIPS & HOW TOS HOW TO

How to Monitor Your Heart Rate With the Apple Watch BY LANCE WHITNEY

N

eed to check your heart rate on a regular basis? One device that can help is the Apple Watch, which comes with its own heart-ratemonitoring app. The smartwatch automatically displays your heart rate while you’re exercising and after you’ve completed a workout. With watchOS 4, released in September, your watch can display current heart rate, resting heart rate, and walking heart rate so you can compare them. You can also tell the watch to notify you of any dramatic rise in your heart rate during a time when you’ve been inactive. Here’s how to use the Apple Watch to monitor your heart rate.


First, make sure youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve updated your Apple Watch to ZDWFK26RUKLJKHU7RGRWKLVÂżUVWLQVWDOOL26RQ your iPhone if you havenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t already done so. On your phone, open the Watch app. Tap on General > Software Update. If the Watch app says you have watchOS 4.0 or higher, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re in business. If not, let the update download and get installed on your watch. To view your current heart rate, tap on the Digital Crown to move to the Home screen with the app icons. Tap on the icon for heart rate (hint, it looks like a heart). If you havenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t yet used the Heart Rate app in watchOS 4, a message tells you that the app shows your current heart rate and daily summaries. Tap Next. The next message tells you that Heart Rate can notify you when \RXUZDWFKGHWHFWVDKHDUWUDWHWKDWULVHVDERYH EHDWVSHUPLQXWHLI\RXÂśYHEHHQLQDFWLYHIRUPLQXWHV Tap on the button to Turn On. Now the watch will alert you to any increases in your heart rate during a period of inactivity. The app then displays your current heart rate. Swipe up the screen to see your resting heart rate for the day. Swipe up once more to see your average walking heart rate for the day. Tap on the Current link at the top of the screen to see all three heart rates on the same screen. You can access the Heart Rate monitor more easily than going through the Home screen. Just switch your watch face to one that displays a heart on the screen, such as the Modular face, the Simple face, or the Kaleidoscope face. Then tap on the heart icon to get your current heart rate.


Okay, now itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s time for some exercise. Yes, I can hear your cheers now. Climb aboard your favorite piece of exercise equipment or just go for a brisk walk or run. At your watchâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Home screen or on an appropriate watch face, such as the 6LPSOHIDFHWDSRQWKHZRUNRXWLFRQ WKHRQHWKDWUHVHPEOHVDUXQQLQJ¿JXUH  At the Workout screen, tap the entry for the type of workout youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re about to perform, such as an Outdoor Walk, an Outdoor Run, an Indoor Cycle, or an Elliptical. You can also tap on the three buttons next to the workout to enter the number of calories, time, distance, or another goal you wish to achieve. As you work out, your watch displays the elapsed time, active calories being burned, total calories being burned, and your heart rate. After youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve completed the workout, the watch displays your average heart rate and the range for your heart rate during the exercise. Tap Done to record the workout. You can review your heart rate and other factors for past workouts through the Activity app on your iPhone. Open the Activity app. Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll see a chart for the current day. Swipe down the screen to a VSHFL¿FZRUNRXWDQGWDSWKH arrow next to the small circle. A screen pops up showing you the heart rate, calories, and elapsed time for that workout. Tap on the Workouts button in the app. You can now review all your past workouts. Tap on the year in the upper left corner to view the past several months of workouts. 7DSRQDVSHFL¿FZRUNRXWWRYLHZ\RXU heart rate data and other stats.

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TIPS & HOW TOS HOW TO

How to Use Drag and Drop on Your iPad in iOS 11

BY LANCE WHITNEY

T

hanks to the release of Apple’s iOS 11 in September, you can now drag and drop content directly from one app to another on your iPad. By tapping into your tablet’s multitasking features, you can see and work with two or more apps on the screen at the same time. When working in Slide Over or Split View mode, you can then drag highlighted text, images, and even ¿OHVIURPRQHDSSWRDQRWKHU The downside is that drag and drop works only with the iPad Air 2, iPad Pro, and iPad mini 4 or later models. If you have one of those iPads, read on. If you own an older iPad, it might be time for an upgrade.


First, make sure youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve installed iOS 11. You can check your version of iOS via Settings > General > About. Scroll down the About screen to the entry for Version. If you see 11.x listed, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re good to go. If not, tap on the Back arrow to return to the General screen and tap on the entry for Software Update to download and install the latest version of iOS. 1H[WFRQÂżUPWKDW*HVWXUHLVHQDEOHGRQ\RXUL3DG,QWKH6HWWLQJVZLQGRZJR to the General screen. Tap on the entry for Multitasking & Dock. Turn on the Gestures option if itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not already enabled.

Return to the Home screen. Launch an app with text that you want to copy to another app. Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s launch Notes. Create a new note with text that you want to copy into an email. Next open the email app. If the email app resides in the Dock at the bottom of the screen, this process is relatively easy. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen just enough to display the Dock. Hold down the icon for email Move the email icon to the right side of the Notes screen until it turns into a small vertical window. Release your hold on the Notes app and it should slide LQWRSODFHDVDĂ&#x20AC;RDWLQJZLQGRZRQWKHULJKW7KDWSODFHVWKHQHZDSSLQ6OLGH Over mode.


If the email app or another app that you wish to use in Slide Over or Split View mode isn’t in the Dock, you’ll need to snag it from the home screen. To do this, tap on the Home button. Drag the email app to an empty area of the screen. At the same time, tap on the Notes app. Notes opens full screen, while the email DSSUHVLGHVLQWKHÀRDWLQJZLQGRZ You can use drag and drop with the apps in Slide Over mode. But we’ll arrange them into Split View mode so you can resize the two app windows. Press the top banner of the email app window and drag the window down. The Notes window should then shrink in size, allowing the email window to slide into place so that both apps share the screen in a split view. To change the width of the two windows, hold down the small vertical gray bar in the center of the border between the two windows. Move the border to the left, and the screen for Notes shrinks. Release your hold when the two windows are the same size. You can also play with the border until the app windows are sized the way you like.


Start a new message in the email app. Now select the text in your note that you want to drag and drop to your new email. Hold down on the selected text for a VHFRQGDQGWKHQPRYH\RXU¿QJHUWRWKHVSRWLQ\RXUHPDLOZKHUH\RXZDQWWR drop the text. You should see the text displayed in a balloon with a green button LQWKHXSSHUULJKW5HOHDVH\RXU¿QJHUWRGURSWKHVHOHFWHGWH[W$QGWKHQ¿QLVK and send off your email. You can also drag and drop hyperlinks and images. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to display the Dock. Drag the icon for Safari to the left of the screen and then release it. You should see Safari on the left and your email app on the right. Start a new email. In Safari, surf to the webpage where you want to copy a link DQGLPDJHLQWR\RXUHPDLOPHVVDJH7DSWKH85/LQWKHDGGUHVV¿HOGIRUWKH ZHESDJHWRVHOHFWLW+ROG\RXU¿QJHURQWKH85/IRUDVHFRQGDQGWKHQGUDJLW into your email. Again, you should see the link displayed in a balloon with the JUHHQEXWWRQ5HOHDVH\RXU¿QJHUWRGURSWKHVHOHFWHGOLQN Now let’s drag and drop an image. Find an online image. Hold down the image IRUDVHFRQGDQGWKHQGUDJLWLQWR\RXUHPDLO5HOHDVH\RXU¿QJHUWRGURSWKH image. Finish and send the email.


Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s try dragging and dropping an image but using one of your own. Maybe you have a photo you want to send to someone. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to display the Dock. Hold down the icon for the Photos app and drag it to the left side of the screen so itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s in Split View mode with your email app. (If the Photos app isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t on the Dock, then follow the steps above to launch it from the Home screen along with your email app, or you can just move the Photos app to the Dock.) Make sure your photos are visible in thumbnail view. Start a new email. Hold down the thumbnail for one of your photos and drag it to the email. Release your hold to drop the photo. You should now see it in your email. Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s do this again, but weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll drag and drop several photos in one shot. Hold down one photo in your Photos app and move it slightly to start dragging it. Now tap on each of the other photos you want to drag and theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re each added one by one. Drag the photos to your email message. Release your hold and you should see each photo in your email one after the other. Finish and send the email. 2QHPRUHGUDJDQGGURSRSWLRQHQWLUHÂżOHV7RGRWKLVRSHQWKHQHZ)LOHVDSS introduced with iOS 11. If you havenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t already done so, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll need to set up the DSSZLWKDFFHVVWRRQHRUPRUHRQOLQHVHUYLFHVWKDWVWRUH\RXUÂżOHVVXFKDV iCloud Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, or Box.


Swipe from the bottom to display the Dock. Press down on the Files icon and drag it to the left side so it shares the screen with your email app. In the Files app, open 'URSER[WRGLVSOD\\RXUVWRUHG¿OHV,QWKHHPDLODSS VWDUWDQHZHPDLO'UDJDQGGURSRQHRIWKH¿OHVIURP the Files app to your email. 6WDUWWRGUDJDQRWKHU¿OHIURPWKH)LOHVDSSDQGWKHQ WDSRQDIHZPRUH¿OHVWRDGGWKHPWRWKHPL['URS them in your email message, and you should see all the ¿OHV\RXGUDJJHGDVDWWDFKPHQWV)LQLVK\RXUHPDLODQG send it, and youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re done.

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LAST WORD JOHN C. DVORAK

F

ear of a robot uprising is ridiculous nonsense, at least for anyone alive today. There may be some existing robots that can fake being thoughtfulâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;an advanced ELIZA sort of thing. But youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re kidding yourself if you think real robo-intelligence is going to happen anytime soon. Just because a smart speaker from Amazon can set a timer does not mean it is â&#x20AC;&#x153;thinking.â&#x20AC;?

Robots Wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t Kill You, But They Will Take Your Job

The real problem is robots taking jobs, especially in manufacturing, where repetitive activity is involved. It is not because robots want your job. Employers want them, because they save money, especially when it comes to pensions. Some robotic functions are developed for convenience, yes, but most are designed to replace human labor. When I was young, I worked on assembly lines. The pay was great, but we all thought machines would one day take over. In the sixth grade, I recall being told that someday all the grunt labor would be replaced by smart robots that would free us from toil. In some utopian sense, the wealth created by the new robot-run system would be shared and we could all JHWULFKDQGÂżQGVRPHWKLQJHOVHWRGROLNHZDWFK TV all day. This is never going to happen. The real model is quite different. The worst-case scenario is one guy ZLWKDORWRIPRQH\RUJUHDWÂżQDQFLQJEX\V robots to make an inexpensive widget. The HIÂżFLHQF\LVEHWWHUWKDQWKHRWKHUZLGJHWIDFWRULHV


@ THErealDVORAK

and they all go out of business, leaving our entrepreneur and his robots cranking out the widgets. He ends up making billions, disposes of the competition, and keeps the money for himself. If you ask how this model is good for society, you’re told that the free market works this way, and you should shut up about it, commie! These same people often extol others to “get a job,” even as there are demonstrably fewer and fewer actual jobs to be had. Even robot repair will at some point be performed by robots. Eventually, the actual jobs that can be had will only be managerial and engineering. Managerial jobs will then dwindle. as there will be fewer workers to manage. Engineering can eventually be replaced by AI. This situation is far more urgent and problematic than algorithm-driven robot cops or murderous autonomous drones. Fretting about science¿FWLRQLQVSLUHGNLOOHUPDFKLQHVWKDWPLJKWWXUQ against us at any minute is beyond silly. It ignores the actual threat to the economy and society: the displacement of the workforce by robots. This is already underway and appears to be unstoppable.

john_dvorak@pcmag.com

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