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EDITORIAL

Editor:
Chris N. Fernando
cfernando@pcmag.com

Editorial
Back to School Gear You Need

DESIGN
Art Director:
Manisha Badle

Its almost back to school time! Which means its time for frantic
purchasing of all sorts of stuff one (or ones kid) may or may not need for
the school year.

ADVERTISING AND SALES


Business Development Manager:
Ranbir Sen
ranbir@pcmagme.com

Regardless of what youre studying or where youre doing it, you need
technology that will keep you productive and connected. We at PC Mag
understand the importance of technology in a students life. Hence we
have come up with this Back to School Special Edition under our
Tech@Home banner.

PC Magazine Middle and Near Easts


Tech@Home Special Edition is
published quarterly by:
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CONTACT US
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www.pcmagme.com

This publication may not be reproduced or


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The publishers regret to inform that they cannot
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in this issue. The opinions and views expressed
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Magazine is published under license from Ziff
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PUBLISHED IN:

This issue of Tech@Home is lled with buying guides about 2-in-1 hybrids,
ultrabooks, smartphones, tablets, gaming laptops, gaming monitors,
all-in-one PCs, wearables and so much more. And while we are at it, we
have also included a series of How to articles.
So, ip through the few pages to update yourself with the latest in tech
today, and do not forget to send in your comments to
cfernando@pcmag.com.

Contents
Editorial and Contents
News
How to Access Your Wi-Fi Routers Settings
How to Get Google to Quit Tracking You
How to Start Purging Your Digital Life
Gaming Laptops
Gaming Monitors
Ultraportables
Smartphones
2-in-1 Hybrids
All-in-One PCs
Tablets
Wearable Tech
10 Reasons to Upgrade to Windows 10
How to Make a Smart Home From Dumb One
Six Tools for Wannabe Makers

Sep - Nov 2016

03
04
10
12
14
16
18
20
22
24
26
28
30
32
36
40

Tech@Home

NEWS

POKEMON GO PLAYERS
BUYING BATTERIES FOR
THEIR BINGES

REPORT: APPLE
PREPPING TV GUIDE
FOR STREAMING APPS
With so many people now streaming video
as their only form of TV, Apple is reportedly
working on a guide that will bring content
from several different streaming apps into
one place. The new Apple TV guide may
let users see what kind of programming is
available in video apps like HBO, Netix, and
ESPN without having to open up each one
individually.
Apple is reportedly developing the interface
and letting programmers, distributors, and
customers work out how revenue would be
shared. If the report is accurate, it would be
a natural outgrowth of the single sign-on
service Apple unveiled at WWDC in June. That
feature will let customers authenticate all the
video channels from their pay-TV providers
with a single password.
Starting this fall, once Apple TV users
are signed into one network app, theyll be
automatically logged into all other supported
apps requiring authentication. But the TV
guide would take the idea one step further:
besides signing in, users could browse all the
shows and movies from the supported apps in
one place.
Roku already has a similar feature, but
its limited to the search function you can
search for a specic title across multiple apps,
but cant browse their collections at once.
One thing thats unclear is whether or not
Apples TV guide service would extend to
Macs and iOS devices as well as the Apple TV.
An Apple spokesperson declined to comment.

Tech@Home

Sep - Nov 2016

Pokemon Go has accomplished a lot of things.


Its gotten people to go outside, to make friends,
to realize parks exist, and to complain a lot when
their favorite third-party apps for nding the hardto-get digital creatures get taken ofine.
The game has also gotten people buying.
And while few are likely to go out and make a
smartphone upgrade just to play the game, thats
not to say they wont pick up an accessory or two
that enhances their Pokemon Go experience.
The rst thing at the top of our must-have list is
a mobile battery pack, since youre going to need
to frequently refer to your smartphones (batterydraining) screen to catch em all. And were not
the only ones who need a bit of a battery boost.
According to the most recent gures from NPD,
Pokemon Go players are to blame for a recent
surge in sales of mobile battery packs.
According to The NPD Groups Weekly Retail
Tracking Service, unit sales of portable power
packs designed to charge mobile devices such as
smartphones and tablets, have grown 101 percent
during the two-week period between July 10 and
July 23 compared to the year prior. While product
promotions played a role in the sales increases
experienced within the category, it was the
extraordinary popularity of the mobile video game,
Pokmon Go, that drove the most demand over
this time period, reads NPDs announcement.
Demand for portable power packs has been
strong this year, with unit sales increasing 35
percent year-over-year for the 12 months ending
June 2016. More recently, though, sales growth for
the devices has slowed. In the six weeks leading
up to Pokmon Gos launch, unit sales were
just four percent above the same period a year
ago. However, in the two weeks since the game
launched, sales of portable power packs reached
nearly 1.2 million units, representing a marked
increase in sales growth.

Trigon LLC
UAE, Yemen, Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain
Tel.: +971 4 342 6060
Email: kamran@trigon-gulf.ae

NEWS

JEEP HACKERS
RETURN WITH NEW
TRICKS
A year after Charlie Miller and Chris
Valasek disclosed a major security
vulnerability that could allow hackers
to remotely hijack your Jeep, the
infamous auto hackers are at it
again. The duo, who now work at
Uber, again teamed up with Wired
writer Andy Greenberg to publicize
a new arsenal of attacks against
the same 2014 Jeep Cherokee they
hacked last year.
By sending carefully crafted
messages on the vehicles internal
network known as a CAN bus,
theyre now able to pull off even
more dangerous, unprecedented
tricks like causing unintended
acceleration and slamming on the
cars brakes or turning the vehicles
steering wheel at any speed,
Greenberg writes. The researchers
plan to present their ndings at the

HTC LAUNCHING
NEW VIVEPORT
APP STORE THIS
FALL
Steam is mostly for games, no
question about that. And while
thats probably ne for most
owners of HTCs virtual reality
headset, the Vive, there are still
6

Tech@Home

Sep - Nov 2016

Black Hat conference later this week.


Check out the video below for a peek
at what they can do.
On the plus side, this new round
of attacks isnt quite as menacing as
last years, as they cant be carried
out remotely over the Internet.
At this time, the hackers can only
perform the attacks with a laptop
plugged into the Jeep, though
researchers cited in Greenbergs story
say its only a matter of time before
another remote vulnerability, like
the one Jeep patched last year as a

a number of
people who
are looking for
experiences
that dont
just have you
waving your
hands around
and shooting
at things. To solve that issue, HTC
has announced the ofcial rollout
of its new Viveport app store,
which headset-owners will be able
to use to download new virtual
reality experiences.
Viveport will feature content
across exciting, new categories for
VRlike information, edutainment,
social media, 360 video, news,

result of Miller and Valaseks work, is


discovered.
Jeep parent company Fiat Chrysler
Automobiles did not immediately
respond to a request for comment
from PCMag, but told Greenberg
that Miller and Valasek were using an
old version of the cars software, and
its highly unlikely the exploit could
be possible on the latest version.
The company also reiterated that
the attack requires a computer to be
connected to the vehicles onboard
diagnostic port.

sports, health, travel and shopping.


The upcoming release will also
introduce an update to Vive
Home, which is our personal and
customizable virtual space with
interactive widgets and more,
reads HTCs description. Dont start
sleuthing through HTCs website
for a link, though. Viveport is going
to have a developer beta rst, and
thatll arrive in a few weeks.
HTC is looking to launch
Viveport in around 30 countries in
fall, though the app has already
been live in China since this spring.
Thats mostly due to the fact that
Steam doesnt seem to have a
huge foothold in the region.

NEWS

TRANSCEND
INTROS DRIVEPRO CAR VIDEO
RECORDERS

Transcend has introduced the


complete DrivePro Car Video
Recorder series, including the
DrivePro 50, DrivePro 100,
DrivePro 200, DrivePro 220, and
DrivePro 520. Day or night, your
DrivePro Car Video Recorder is
your most reliable eyewitness
on the road. Every model in the
DrivePro series captures crystalclear Full HD 1080P (1920 x 1080)
video at 30 frames every second,
faithfully recording everything
happening on the road with its
wide 130 to 160 viewing angle
and large aperture lens.
Your DrivePro safeguards your
valuable video record with its
built-in battery to keep recording
for 30 seconds in the event of
power failure or interruption,
plus the G-sensor emergency
recording function protects
video files from erasure after
any unusual shock or impact is
detected. The Auto Power On/Off
feature ensures your DrivePro is
ready whenever you need it, said
the company in a statement.
The bright built-in 2.4-inch
colour LCD screen lets you review
video at any time, and your
recordings can also be copied
to PCs and other devices, and
viewed with Transcends free-todownload DrivePro PC Tool for
Windows. Theres also a quick
snapshot feature to take photos
at any time.

Tech@Home

Sep - Nov 2016

ANDROID WILL NOTIFY YOU WHEN


NEW DEVICES ACCESS YOUR ACCOUNT
Google is beefing up Android security with a new feature that aims
to give you more information about whats happening with your
account in real time. The Web giant is rolling out a feature that will
alert you when a new device accesses your account. The feature is
gradually making its way to all users, meaning you may not see it
for another two weeks or more.
But when its live, youll get a push
notification if a new device is added
to your account. Did you just sign
in? the message reads.
A new device accessed your Google
Account. If something looks fishy,
you can choose to review account
activity, and Google will inform you
what type of device was added, from
what location, and other information
(such as the browser and IP address
used). If all is well after all, just select
the option yes, that was me.
If you dont recognise the listed
device, it means someone else has
your password, and youll need
to select the option no, secure
account so Google can help you get
your account shored back up.

INSTAGRAM
STORIES RIPS
OFF SNAPCHAT

ASUS ANNOUNCES
NEW PRODUCTS AT
COMPUTEX 2016

Asus Chairman Jonney Shih took


the stage at the Zenvolution press
event at Computex 2016 to unveil
Zenbo, the rst Asus robot, along
with a portfolio of third-generation
mobile products designed to
provide users with revolutionary

Everyone has a story, and Instagram wants to help


tell yours. Instagram Stories lets users share all the
moments of your day, not just ones you want to keep
on your prole. As you post multiple images and
videos, content is automatically assembled into a
slideshow, which disappears after 24 hours and does
not appear on your prole grid or in your photo feed.
You dont have to worry about over-posting, the
company said in a blog post.
You can share as much as you want throughout
the daywith as much creativity as you want. Sound
familiar? Nearly three years ago, Snapchat launched
Stories, which lets users share snaps with multiple
people at once. Users can add text and drawings to
the photo canvases, which live for 24 hours before
disappearing. Instagrams version is rolling out
globally on iOS and Android over the next few
weeks.

functionality for
pursuing their
passions. The
incredible line-up
includes the allnew ZenFone 3
family, featuring
ZenFone 3
Deluxe, the new
agship Asus
smartphone with
advanced camera
technology
that takes
mobile photography to the
next level; ZenFone 3, a featurepacked smartphone that brings
premium design and empowering
performance to users; and ZenFone
3 Ultra, an incredibly powerful
smartphone with a 6.8-inch
Full HD display that excels at
entertainment. Also announced
were ZenBook 3, an ultra-sleek
and lightweight notebook with
a premium aluminum design,
along with Asus Transformer 3

and Asus Transformer 3 Pro, the


worlds most versatile PCs that
feature a combination of mobility,
convenience, and expandability.
While revealing Asus Zenbo,
Shih said, For decades, humans
have dreamed of owning such
a companion: one that is smart,
dear to our hearts, and always
at our disposal. Our ambition is
to enable robotic computing for
every household. Joining Shih
on stage, Intels Corporate Vice
President and General Manager of
the Client Computing Group, Navin
Shenoy said, For nearly thirty
years, Intel and Asus have been
collaborating to bring some of the
most innovative PCs and devices to
market. We are excited to continue
that collaboration on the new
ZenBook and Transformer 3 family
powered by Intel Core processors,
and we look forward to working
closely with Asus on expanding
beyond traditional clients into new,
emerging markets like robotics.
Sep - Nov 2016

Tech@Home

FEATURE

How to
Access
Your Wi-Fi
Routers
Settings

Heres how to change


a home Wi-Fi networks
name, password, or
other elements.

our router stores the


settings for your home WiFi network. So if you want
to change something,
you have to log into your routers
software, also known as firmware.
From there, you can change
the name of your network, the
password, the security level, create
a guest network, and set up or
change a variety of other options.
But how do you get into your
router to make those changes?
You log into your routers
firmware through a browser. Any
browser will do. At the address
field, type the IP address of
your router. Most routers use an
address of 192.168.1.1. But thats
not always the case, so first you
want to confirm the address of
your router.
Open up a command prompt
from within Windows. In Windows
7, click on the Start button and
type cmd in the search programs
and files field. In Windows 8.1
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Tech@Home

Sep - Nov 2016

and above, press the Windows


+ R buttons and type cmd. At
the command prompt window,
type ipconfig at the prompt itself
and press Enter. Scroll to the top
of the window until you see a
setting for Default Gateway under
Wi-Fi. Thats your router, and the
number next to it is your routers
IP address. Note that address.
Close the command-prompt
window by typing exit at the
prompt or clicking X on the
pop-up. Type your routers IP
address in the address field of
your Web browser and press Enter.
Youll be asked for a username
and password to access your
routers firmware. This is either the
default username and password
for your router, or a unique
username and password that you
may have created when you set up
the router.
If you created a unique
username and password, and
you remember what they are,

thats great. Just enter them in


the appropriate fields, and your
routers firmware settings appear.
You can now change whatever
elements you want, typically
screen by screen. On each screen,
you may need to apply any
changes before you move onto the
next screen. When youre done,
you may be asked to log in again
to your router. After youve done
that, just close your browser.
Okay, that doesnt sound too
hard. Butyep, theres always
a but, what if you dont know
the username and password for
logging into your router? Many
routers use a default username of
admin and a default password of
password. You can try those to see
if they get you in.
If not, some routers offer a
password-recovery feature. If this
is true of your router, this option
should appear if you enter the
wrong username and password
and then press Cancel at the login

prompt.
Still cant get in? Then youll
need to try to nd the default
username and password. Your
best bet is to run a Google or
Bing search with the brand name
of your router followed by the
phrase default username and
password, such as netgear router
default username and password
or linksys router default
username and password.
The search results should
display the default username and
password. Now try logging into
your router with those default
credentials. Hopefully, that will get
you in. If not, then that probably
means you or someone else
changed the default username
and password at some point. In
that case, you may simply want
to reset your router so all settings
revert back to their defaults. Youll
usually nd a small Reset button
on your router. Use a pointed
object such as a pen or paper

clip to push in and hold the Reset


button for around 10 seconds.
Then release the button.
You should now be able to log
into your router using the default
username and password. Your
rst task will be to change the
wireless network name, wireless
network password, and security
level. You should also go through
each screen to see if there are
other settings you wish to change.
Documentation and built-in help
should be available to assist
you with these screens if youre
not sure how to set them. Most
current or recent routers also have
setup wizards that can take care
of some of this labor for you.

The process for logging into


your router should be the same
whether you use your Internet
providers router or you purchased
your own router. It should also
be the same whether you use a
dedicated router or a combination
modem/router supplied by your
provider.
Finally, you can and should
change your routers username
and password from their default
values. This better secures your
router so only you can access the
rmware screens. Just remember
the new credentials to avoid
having to reset the router to make
any changes in the future.
Sep - Nov 2016

Tech@Home

11

FEATURE

How to Get Google to


Quit Tracking You
On Google Maps, the search giant is with you every step of the
way. But you can do something about it.

here you go, Google


goes. If you have
location services
turned on, then
Google Maps has keeps track
of every step you (and your
smartphone) take. Your Google
Timeline, introduced last year, can
be a true walk down memory lane,
but it can also lead straight to you
and leave the door to your privacy

12

Tech@Home

Sep - Nov 2016

wide open.
With Timeline, not only can
Google Maps show you where
youre going, but where youve
been. There might also be
photographic evidence since
Timeline syncs with any shots
uploaded to Google Photos.
If youve turned on location
services, Google is constantly
pinging your phone from cell

towers and Wi-Fi and using


GPS to see where you are. The
frequency with which it finds you
can be every few minutes or every
few seconds, painting a pretty
accurate picture of where you are
at all times.
If this all seems less helpful and
more harmful, you can remove
your location history and tell
Google to quit it already and stop

Settings > Maps History and tap


the X next to the location you
want to delete. On iOS, there is
not currently an option to delete
everything at once.

following you. Heres how.

that appears.

ANDROID

You can also navigate to


Hamburger icon > Settings >
Google Location Settings >
Location and toggle it to off.

When you upgrade to the


latest version of Google Maps,
and check out your Timeline
(Hamburger icon > Your timeline),
Google will ask you to turn on
Location History. You can then
check out where youve been. I
signed in on a borrowed Galaxy
Note 4, so the only thing it had
tracked was my location at the
ofce.
If youd rather not have your
Android phone tracking your
location, go back to Your timeline
and tap on the three dots on the
upper-right corner.
Select Timeline Settings
Scroll down to Location Settings.
Tap Location History is on.
A pop-up window will appear;
tap the checkmark next to On
Tap OK on the window

You can also get rid of


everything under Delete All
Location History. A pop-up will
warn you that everything is about
to be deleted, which might affect
how Google Now and other apps
that use Location History work.
If thats okay with you, check the
box next to I understand and
want to delete and then Delete.

APPLE IOS

For iOS, go to Google Maps, make


sure youre signed in, and scroll
to Settings. Tap Location History,
where youll see a slider that can
go from On to Off. Slide it Off.
To erase the past, navigate to

To only enable location tracking


while youre using the app (not
in the background), go to your
iOS devices Settings > Privacy >
Location Services > Google Maps
and select While Using the App.
This can be helpful if you want the
phone to remember where youve
been for future searches but not
be constantly tracking you.

WEB

You can also clear your history


from a desktop. Go to Google
Maps and sign in to your account.
Select Menu and then Your
Timeline. Youll see every place
youve been while Google Maps
has been with you.
You can delete just one day by
selecting the day on the top left
and clicking the garbage can icon.
To delete your entire location
history, go to the Timeline, click
the gear icon on the right side of
the screen and select Delete all
Location History. Like on mobile,
a pop-up will ask you if you really
want to do that. If so, check
the box next to I understand
and want to delete all Location
History and then Delete Location
History.
Sep - Nov 2016

Tech@Home

13

FEATURE

How to Start Purging Your


Digital Life

Bogged down with


digital clutter?
Start purging junk
from your digital
life with these tips.

few times during the year,


I get an urge to purge.
Whether its spring cleaning
my closet or taking an hour on
New Years Day to archive all of last
years emails, I nd it incredibly
gratifying to dump (or sometimes
simply hide) stuff I dont need.
Theres a whole lot of hippie
rhetoric about how clutter-free
environments lead to clarity of
mind, and Im not necessarily
saying I believe it all, but I sure do
feel less stressed when the junk is
gone.
If you enjoy a good purge and
have a messy digital life, here are
some suggestions and tips for
getting rid of some old data.

DESKTOP

The computer desktop becomes


messy when we stick a le there
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Tech@Home

Sep - Nov 2016

for convenience, usually so


it will be in our line of sight
and well remember it exists.
When we repeat this behavior
over and over, the principle
defeats itself. How can you
see and remember a le
among a heap of others, all
crowding the desktop?
The easiest way to clean up
the desktop is to view all the
les in a list, rather than looking
at the graphical representation of
the desktop itself. In other words,
open a Finder window in OS X or
File Explorer in Windows. It makes
it easier to spot les that are ready
to be deleted. You can much more
easily see their le names, le type,
and date they were created or last
edited. You can also turn on the
preview option for images, PDFs,
and other les because taking a

glance at them might help you


determine whether theyve come
to the end of their usefulness.
Also, dont leave your year
folders on the desktop! It will
only clutter it again. Put them
somewhere youll remember easily,
such as within the My Documents
folder or maybe in a le-syncing
folder, like the main Dropbox
folder.

EMAIL

No one has time to sort through


their email messages one by one.
Dont do that. Instead, apply the
same concept that you used to
clean up your desktop to sweep
old emails out of sight. Create
a new email folder (or a label in
Gmail) called 2015. Create another
one called 2014. Scroll through
your inbox or lter it by date and
select everything from that year.
Now move all those messages en
masse to the corresponding year
folder. Your messages are still in
your email account. You know
where you can nd them. You can
read them and reply to them any
time. But your inbox is now much
cleaner, and you can feel good
about that.

PHOTOS ON YOUR PHONE

I have a really quick and easy way


to move photos off an iPhone (or
any smartphone) that involves
using cloud storage. If you follow
the steps in that article, you
shouldnt have any trouble cleaning
up your phone. Quite a few cloud
storage apps have a button that
quickly and efciently copies all
your photos to the online account,
which means you can delete the
photos from your phone. If cloud
storage is not something you want
to use, you can check out devices
such as the SanDisk iXpand to do
the trick for you.

whereas the screen


thats hardest to
reach likely has apps
you dont use.

BROWSER TABS

Are you a tab hoarder?


Do you leave open
dozens of tabs in your
browser, sure that any
day now youre going
to read all those articles
or watch all those videos
you opened? here are
a number of solutions
for managing excessive
browser tabs. An easy one
is to bookmark all your open
tabs, which is generally a one-click
option in the browser. All your
tabs will be saved so you can open
them again any time, but you can
close them for now, dump the
cache, and start over with a fresh
browsing session.

FRESH START

Few people have good habits of


purging their digital junk, but
thats to be expected. Digital junk
is new. We dont yet have a lot of
established rules of hygiene. But
try cleaning out your desktop,
email, phone, and browser. It can
be as rewarding as cleaning out
your physical junk.

APPS (MOBILE)

To sort through your apps and


decide which ones you dont
want, rst start by backing up
your phone (see how to back up
an iPhone), just in case you delete
something accidentally and want
to restore the data in it. In many
cases, your data will be in a cloud
account, and it will restore as soon
as you reinstall the app and log
into the account. But not all apps
work that way, and its a good idea
to back up regardless.
Now, go to the screen thats
farthest from your home screen.
The reason is that your homescreen
probably has apps you do use,
Sep - Nov 2016

Tech@Home

15

GAMING LAPTOPS

Gaming
on the

Go!

If you want to win while on the road, here


are the latest gaming laptops you could
consider.

16

Tech@Home

Sep - Nov 2016

urists will argue that you


need a PC to truly play games,
especially if youre a fan of
pushing the levels of graphics
quality beyond the capabilities of
a mobile phone or a mere gaming
console. In this regard gaming
desktop is still the king, particularly
when it comes to having the kind of
components and horsepower needed
to smoothly run 4K gaming and to
support virtual reality (VR) setups.
But sometimes you want something
to tote around the house or over to
your friends place. If thats what you
need, were here to help you choose
the right gaming laptop.

ASUS ROG GX700


Asus new ROG GX700 is the worlds rst
liquid-cooled gaming laptop. It is designed
to give you a gaming laptop with the overclocking potential to go toe-to-toe with
extreme gaming desktops. GX700 features
Windows 10 Home, an overclockable Intel
Mobile K-SKU processor, Nvidia GeForce
GTX 980 graphics, and DDR4 RAM to give
you desktop-like power at home, and
ultra-performance on-the-go.

ASUS ROG G752


The latest ROG gaming laptop the G752
showcases the evolution of the brand, with
a revolutionary design nished in a new
Armor Titanium and Plasma Copper color
scheme. With Windows 10, a 6th-generation IntelSkylake Core i7 processor, up to
64GB DDR4 RAM, and the latest NvidiaGeForce GTX graphics, ROG G752 delivers
exceptional gaming performance.

DELL ALIENWARE 15
This is one gaming laptop that has been
built to push every boundary. The Alienware 15 is a 15-inch laptop with Intel Core
processors, dynamic overclocking and carbon-ber materials for the ultimate gaming experience. Add an optional graphics
amplier for 4K gaming.Its outtted with
copper heat sinks that enable proper cooling, full-throttle graphics performance for
up to 100W of dedicated graphics power
from AMD or Nvidia.

MSI GT80S 6QE


TITAN SLI
The engineers and designers at MSI made
a serious impression with the arrival of the
GT80 Titan gaming notebook. This 18-inch
behemoths conguration delivers two GTX
980M graphics cards and a fantastic mechanical keyboard that made the GT80 so
impressive, but also leverages a new Intel
Skylake processor and DDR4 system RAM
for even greater performance.

ACER PREDATOR 17
The new Acer Predator 17 comes with
an impressive list of specs, which include
an Intel Core i7-6700HQ, 32GB of RAM,
Nvidia GTX 980M graphics chip, and two
hard drives, one a 512GB PCIe solid state
unit, the other a 1TB mechanical drive with
solid-state cache.

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17

GAMING MONITORS

All You Need to Know About

Gaming Monitors
A fast, well-connected display is a key element in any PC gamers arsenal.
Heres what you should look for in a monitor for gaming.

hether youre a
serious PC gamer
or a casual afterhours warrior, your
hardware can mean the difference
between victory and defeat. In
this guide, well help you choose
a display that will give you an
edge over your opponents while
delivering a smooth, immersive
gaming experience. We highlight
the factors to consider when
choosing a gaming monitor, and
give our current favorites.
When it comes to gaming
monitors, bigger is almost always
better. If you have the room, a 27inch screen provides plenty of real
estate and offers the opportunity
to go beyond Full High-Definition
(FHD). Many of the newer 27-inch
models are Wide, Quad HighDefinition (WQHD) monitors with
maximum resolutions of 2,560 by
1,440 pixels. You could also opt

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for a 30-inch, 4K or Ultra-HighDefinition (UHD) monitor or a


34-inch ultra-wide monitor with or
without a curved panel.
Gaming monitors should have
a fast pixel response and a high
refresh rate. The most commonly
used pixel response spec is gray
to gray, which is measured in
milliseconds and signifies the time
it takes a pixel to transition from
one shade of gray to another.
A low pixel response will help
eliminate the smearing of moving
images and provide a smoother
overall picture than a higher pixel
response.
A monitors refresh rate refers
to the time (per second) it takes
to redraw the entire screen and
is measured in Hertz (Hz). Most
LCD monitors have a 60Hz refresh
rate, which means the screen is
refreshed 60 times per second, but
fast-moving images may appear

blurry at this refresh rate, or the


panel may suffer from screen
tearing.
The latest crop of gaming
monitors use synchronization
technology to help reduce tearing
and other motion artifacts while
lowering input lag (which we
measure on all displays we
review using the Leo Bodnar
Video Signal Lag Tester). Displays
equipped with Nvidias G-Sync
or AMDs FreeSync modules give
control of the screens refresh
rate to the GPU (instead of the
monitor), which allows the
display to operate with a variable
refresh rate. The result is a very
smooth gaming experience, with
decreased input lag. However,
G-Sync and FreeSync monitors
require a compatible graphics
card with a DisplayPort 1.2 or
HDMI 2.0 output.

LG 34UC87C
The LG 34UC87C is a 34-inch, 21:9 Curved UltraWide
display that allows multi-display set-up tailored to
users rened needs. With multi-display stand and a
few accessories available at LG, what you have is a variety of customized set-up options. With this one, you
can enjoy its 2x3 cinematic viewing experience as the
graphic motion sweeps across massive screen estate

LG 25UM58-P
The LG 25U58-P is a 25-inches 21:9 UltraWide FHD
(2560*1080) display that offers visual comfort and
ensures your best viewing pleasure. There is no color
shift or no distortion of color at all. The display comes
with a Game Mode, consisting of FPS, RTS, and Custom modes, provides a customized gaming experience
that varies with genres.

AOC AG271QG
The AOC AGON AG271QG is a 27-inch Flat QHD monitor. The monitor supports both G-Sync and Free Sync
technologies, offers a refresh rate of 144Hz & 1ms,
and comes with a Gaming Mode Setting. The monitor
also comes with a Control Keypad, 1 HDMI Input and
1 DisplayPort Input, among other features.

AOC AG322FCX
The AOC AG322FCX is a 32-inch Full HD MVA Curved
Monitor featuring a refresh rate of 1800R/144Hz and
supporting Free Sync technology. The monitor comes
with Gaming Light Effect and an optional Control Keypad. In terms of connectivity, the monitor comes with
ports such as 1 VGA (Analog) Input, 1 DVI (Digital)
Input, 1 HDMI Input and 1 DisplayPort Input.

ASUS ROG SWIFT PG248Q


This one is a 24-inch Full HD gaming monitor with
an ultra-fast 1ms response time to eliminate smearing and motion blur. It comes with an overclockable 180Hz refresh rate and G-SYNC technology for
super-smooth gameplay. ASUS-exclusive GamePlus
hotkey is also included for in-game enhancements
while GameVisual is also present for optimized visuals.

ACER PREDATOR X34


Designed for discerning gamers, the Acer Predator
X34 is a 34-inch ultra-wide gaming monitor
featuring a curved screen and Nvidias G-Sync
anti-tearing technology. It uses an In-Plane
Switching (IPS) panel to deliver rich, accurate colors
and crisp gray-scale reproduction, and its UWQHD
resolution provides outstanding image detail.

Sep - Nov 2016

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19

SLUG
ULTRAPORTABLES

Ultraportables
Become
Mainstream!
If you need a laptop thats a breeze to carry
everywhere and will last all day on a single
charge, these thin, light, power-efficient
ultraportables are worth a look.

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he evolution of laptops has


always been driven by the
push for thinner, lighter, and
more power-efficient designs,
but in recent years these demands
have coalesced into what may be the
perfect expression of laptop design:
the ultraportable.
What exactly defines this category?
In general, most ultraportables weigh
less than 1.8-kgs (and often less than
1.36-kgs), have screens 14-inches or
smaller, use processors more powerful
than the Intel Atom, and offer
enough battery life to survive most of
a workday off-plug.
These systems are now faster than
ever, are well suited to travel, and
come with a variety of features and
display resolutions wide enough to
fit anyones needs. Here then are the
latest Ultraportables on the market
today

ACER ASPIRE S13 (2016)


Combine a thin form factor, long battery life, the latest
6th Gen Intel Core processors, improved fundamentals,
and you get the Aspire S 13 ultrabook. At 14.58mm
(0.57 inch) the Aspire S 13 is one of the thinnest 13
notebooks in its class, making for a beautifully
slender notebook thats easy to carry around.The USB
3.1 Type-C port supports ultrafast data transfers while
the USB 3.0 port can charge your devices when the
notebook is powered off.

DELL XPS 13

HP SPECTRE 13
The Spectre 13 is one of the
thinnest laptops around. Despite
that, HP has managed to
cram in Intels Core i-series of
processors rather than Core M,
which is quite a feat. In terms
of looks, it easily has one of the
most-eye-catching designs. The
bottom portion and lid of the
laptop is built using carbon bre
and the copper accents add a lot
of bling.

The Dell XPS 13 isthe smallest


13-inch on the planet with the
worlds rst InnityEdge display
More screen, less to carry: The
virtually borderless InnityEdge
display maximises screen space
by squeezing a 13-inch display in
an 11-inch frame. It comes with
the latest 6th gen Intel Corei processor and Windows 10 for
enhanced performance.

LG GRAM 15
ASUS UX305CA
The Asus ZenBook UX305CA is
designed to go everywhere you
go. Weighing a mere 1.2kg and
just 1.23cm thin, its never a
burden, always a delight. But
its not just an amazinglybeautiful, lightweight laptop: its
seriously powerful too, packed
with the latest high-performance
technology.

The LG Gram 15 provides size


without the weight. With its
innovative design, the 15.6-inch
screen weighs under 1kg. It is a
large ultrabook that offers ample
workspace while being shockingly lightweight and ideal for
travel.

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FEATURE

We test and rate hundreds of


smartphones each year. These are
some of the latest models on the
market today

Mobility
Matters

or most of us, smartphones are


at the center of our universe.
The typical feature set of these
palm-size marvels is astounding.
Its your phone, your messaging
device, your on-the-go Web
browser, your camera, your music
player, your GPS, and more.
Here then are the latest
smartphones available on the
market today.

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OPPO F1 PLUS

LG G5

Oppo F1 Plus smartphone comes with


a 5.5-inch touchscreen display with
a resolution of 1080 pixels by 1920
pixels. The phone is powered by a 2GHz
octa-core MediaTek MT6755 processor
and it comes with 4GB of RAM. The
phone packs 64GB of internal storage
that can be expanded up to 128GB via a
microSD card.

LG G5 smartphone comes with a 5.3-inch


touchscreen display with a resolution of
1440 pixels by 2560 pixels at a PPI of 554
pixels per inch. The device is powered by
2.15GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor and it comes with
4GB of RAM. The phone packs 32GB of
internal storage that can be expanded up
to 200GB via a microSD card.

Sep - Nov 2016

ALCATEL IDOL 4S
The Alcatel Idol 4S comes with a 5.2-inch touchscreen display
with a resolution of 1080 pixels by 1920 pixels. The device is
powered by 1.4GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 652
processor and it comes with 3GB of RAM. The phone packs
32GB of internal storage that can be expanded up to 512GB via
a microSD card.

APPLE IPHONE 6S

Apple iPhone 6S smartphone comes with a 4.7-inch touchscreen


display with a resolution of 750 pixels. The phone is powered by
A9 processor and it comes with 2GB of RAM. The phone packs
16GB of internal storage. The iPhone 6S also packs a 12-megapixel
primary camera on the rear and a 5-megapixel front shooter for
seles.

BLACKBERRY DTEK 50
The BlackBerry DTEK50 smartphone comes with a 5.2-inch touchscreen display with a resolution of 1080 pixels by 1920 pixels. It is
powered by 1.2GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617
processor and it comes with 3GB of RAM. The phone packs
16GB of internal storage that can be expanded up to 2TB via
a microSD card.

HTC 10
HTC 10 smartphone comes with a 5.2-inch touchscreen display
with a resolution of 1440 pixels by 2560 pixels. It is powered by
1.6GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor and
it comes with 4GB of RAM. The phone packs 32GB of internal
storage that can be expanded up to 2TB via a microSD card.

XIAOMI MI5
Xiaomi Mi 5 smartphone comes with a 5.15-inch touchscreen
display with a resolution of 1080 pixels by 1920 pixels. The
device is powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core Qualcomm
Snapdragon 820 processor and it comes with 3GB of RAM.
The phone also packs 32GB of internal storage.

SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE 7


The Note 7 comes with a wraparound screen, 12-megapixel
camera, expandable storage and water-resistant coating. It is
one of the rst smartphones to ship with an iris scanner that
can read your eyes and let you into your phone in seconds.

HUAWEI P9
Huawei P9 smartphone comes with a 5.2-inch touchscreen
display with a resolution of 1080 pixels by 1920 pixels. The
device is powered by 1.8GHz octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 955
processor and it comes with 3GB of RAM. The phone
packs 32GB of internal storage that can be expanded via
a microSD card.
Sep - Nov 2016

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2-IN-1 LAPTOPS

HOW TO BUY A 2-IN-1


HYBRID?

here are plenty of reasons


to scoop up a 2-in-1, the
most important of which
is to have one device that
can double as a laptop and a
tablet. When you need to get work
done, you can use a keyboard and
touchpad while running traditional
desktop programs, and when you
want to kick back and play games,
check Facebook and enjoy other
touch-based apps, you can go into
slate mode. But how do you decide
which hybrid is right for you?
Use these five essential buying
tips, and youll be guaranteed to
double your computing pleasure.

1. CHOOSE YOUR SIZE

The first step in determining which


2-in-1 is right for you is to figure
out how big of a device you need.
2-in-1s range from 10-inch models,
which are the best for on-thego types; to all-purpose hybrids
between 11 and 13 inches; to giant
models with 15-inch screens.

2. DETACHABLE OR ROTATING
HINGE?

2-in-1s typically come in one


of two designs: detachable or
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like, touch-based experience or you


wont need to do a lot of typing,
a detachable is probably the type
of 2-in-1 youll want. However, if
you do a lot of writing or prefer a
touchpad for navigating the user
interface, you may want to opt for
a bendable 2-in-1s with hinges that
bend back a full 360 degrees to go
into tablet mode.

offer the best performance, but


if youre looking to save a few
bucks, you can opt for a traditional
hard disk, which is more common
among less expensive systems.
Many budget systems also feature
eMMC (embedded multimedia
card) flash storage, which is
essentially a stack of SD cards
attached to the motherboard.

3. GET THE RIGHT

4. DONT SKIMP ON SCREEN

Most 2-in-1s feature an Intel


processor, but thanks to the
companys relatively simple naming
scheme, its not too difficult to
target the kind of performance
youre seeking. The highest-power
systems feature an Intel Core i7
or m7 chip. The main differences
between the two are that the
m7 sacrifices a bit of speed in
exchange for a little extra battery
life, and it doesnt need fans for
cooling. Midrange models often
have Core i3, i5, m3 and m5
CPUs, which offer a good balance
between price and performance.
4GB of RAM is standard on almost
every 2-in-1 nowadays, but 8GB
is better if you can afford it. For
storage, solid-state drives (SSDs)

The most affordable 2-in-1 hybrids


have 1366 x 768-pixel displays, but
we strongly prefer sharper 1920 x
1080 full-HD screens. With these
panels, youll enjoy better image
quality and the ability to snap two
wide windows side by side for
some serious multitasking. Some
models have even higher-resolution
quad-HD (2560 x 1440 pixels) or
ultra-HD (3840 x 2160) displays,
which offer more detail and are
better choices for people who do
photo or video editing. Ultra-HD
is the same resolution as the 4K
content thats becoming more
widely available both in Blu-ray
discs and online, so it makes this
the resolution of choice for movie
fiends as well.

PROCESSOR AND SPECS

RESOLUTION

ASUS UX360
ASUS NEW ALL-METAL convertible laptop
is the ZenBook Flip UX360. The 13.9 mm
thick laptop weighs in at 1.31kgs and employs a fanless design, which likely contributes to its stated 12 hours of battery life.
It runs on an Intel Core M3-6Y30 Processor
with Windows 10 (64bit) operating system
pre-installed on the device. It also comes
with 8GB of RAM, 256GB M.2 SSD SATA3
and a 13.3-inches LED Back-lit display.

DELL INSPIRON
17 7000 2-IN-1
THIS ONE IS THE FIRST of its size, the
powerful Inspiron 17 7000 2-in-1 with a
17-inch display. It also packs in discrete
graphics capability and a brushed aluminum
design. The Intel Core processor guarantees
high-level performance so you can conquer
your workload. Paired with discrete graphics
you can power through video edits and enjoy more detailed gaming without slowing
down.

ACER SWITCH
ALPHA 12
ACERS NEW SWITCH ALPHA 12 is a 2-in1 notebook with Windows 10. It delivers
a heightened level of mobility with Acer
LiquidLoop cooling, excellent performance,
and an ultra-slim, flexible notebook-to-tablet
design that is both elegant and sturdy
helping people do more.

HP SPECTRE X360 15T


CONVERTIBLE-HYBRID LAPTOPS like the
HP Spectre X360 15t have a rotating hinge
that lets you access the touch screen easily.
For day-to-day use, using the systems 15.6inch 4K-resolution screen in traditional Notebook mode is more comfortable. But when
youre watching movies, youll appreciate
being able to rotate the screen into Stand or
Tent mode, so the keyboard is out of sight.

MICROSOFT SURFACE
BOOK
MICROSOFTS NEW SURFACE BOOK, is a
powerful, capable hybrid that marries the
best qualities of a laptop with the versatility of a Windows tablet. Its innovative
design and big, beautiful display, along with
class-leading performance and more than
15 hours of battery life in our tests are well
worth the price.

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ALL IN ONES

Are You Ready for AIO?

o the 15-inch display on


your laptop is starting
to feel cramped, and
you work mainly in one
location. Yes, you could attach
an additional screen to your
notebook, or opt for a tower PC
with a separate monitor, but you
should consider an all-in-one
(AIO) desktop.
For about the same amount
you would spend on a
midrange-to-high-end laptop
with a 17-inch screen (or more
likely less), you can get an AIO
desktop PC with a 23-inch-orlarger screen. Heres what to
look for when youre shopping
for an all-in-one PC.
The first thing to look at is
the screen. While less expensive
AIO PCs will come with 20inch screens, those are better
suited to cramped spaces
like classroom labs or dorm
rooms. What you really want
is a display at least 23 inches
on the diagonaland larger
is better if you can do it. Look
for In-Plane Switching (IPS)
technology for the best screen
quality. IPS screens are inherently
better at off-axis viewing, which
means you wont have to be
sitting perfectly centered to see
accurate colors and all the detail
in your images.
To touch screen or not to
touch screenthat is the
question. Windows 10s tiled
Start interface was designed
with touch screens in mind, and
makes interacting with your
various applications as easy as
its ever been. But although
these can be fun and functional
for families, a touch screen isnt

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Short on space? All-in-ones (AIOs) combine


the sleekness of laptops with the power of
a traditional desktop PCs. Heres our buying
advice along with our top picks at a variety of
price points.
100% necessary yet, especially if
you plan to use the all-in-one like
a traditional computer, in which
case youd be better off using a
keyboard and mouse.
If youre planning on using the
touchscreen at least 50% of the
time, look for systems with screens
that can recline down to horizontal
(90 degrees) or almost horizontal.
This lets you use the system like a
large tablet, so you dont have to
hold your arm out constantly to
use the touch screen.
Some AIO stands let you
pivot the screen into a portrait

orientation. Portrait mode lets


you view content like webpages
and some pictures without
wasted space to the sides of
the screen. Its a boon for Web
developers and layout artists still
working on print publications.
If Portrait mode is something
youd be interested in, make
sure the system features autorotate; without it, youll need
to switch display settings every
time you pivot the display. Here
then are the latest AIOs on the
market today.

1. ASUS ZEN AIO PRO Z240ICGT


If youre a multimedia professional or a visual-arts enthusiast, the Asus Zen AiO
Pro Z240ICGT may be right up your alley. The Z240ICGT heralds the next wave
of premium all-in-one desktops, with a bright Full HD screen and the processing
power to create stunning visuals. A quad-core Intel Core i7-6700T CPU and an
Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M discrete graphics card give the Asus AiO Pro the power to breeze through any graphics processing test you put it through.

2. APPLE IMAC WITH RETINA 5K DISPLAY


(2015)

The 2015 Apple iMac features a brilliant 5K Retina In-Plane Switching (IPS)
display backed by a beefy Intel Core i5 processor and AMD R9 graphics. Its the
system to get if you perform a lot of tasks that require insane levels of visual
detail, like graphics, photography, scientific analysis, and video. The 8GB of system memory and 1TB of hard drive storage are more than adequate for intricate
graphics work.

3. DELL OPTIPLEX
24 7000 SERIES ALL-IN-ONE (7440)
The Dell OptiPlex 24 7000 Series All-In-One (7440) is a terrific business all-in-one
desktop that has a vivid 4K screen and tons of I/O ports, and is a strong performer on the kinds of tasks that will matter most to you at work. Its expensive,
but if your business is in need of reliable new desktops that wont give your IT
technicians headaches, the OptiPlex 7440 is an ideal choice.

4. MSI GAMING 24GE 2QE-014US


MSI has expanded its all-in-one (AIO) gaming desktop line with its Gaming 24GE
2QE-014US. It ticks off the requisite component checkboxes with an Intel Core
i7 processor, a mainstream, enthusiast-level Nvidia GeForce GTX graphics, and a
solid-state drive (SSD) for quick bootups and app launching. This third-generation model shows a lot of promise, and its certainly fast enough to play games
at full HD resolution.

5. ACER ASPIRE AZ3-710-UR54


The Acer Aspire AZ3-710-UR54 is a sleek, midrange all-in-one desktop with a
large 1080p touch display, plenty of storage, and decent performance in our
tests. This Windows 10 system does not have any one particular weak point, and
its moderate pricing makes it appealing, but that lower cost means it lacks the
power of slightly more expensive systems.

4
5
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27

TABLETS

Take a
Tablet!

ablets may not be as


popular as they once were,
but that doesnt mean there
arent any great ones out
there. Whether youre looking for
a tablet on the high or low end of
the spectrum, youll be sure to find
plenty of options.
Although Apples iPads may
come to mind first, there are
many high-quality Android tablets
out there, and even a Windows
option. For those of you who are
on a budget, the market does offer
a wide range for each budget
no matter how small or big the
budget is.
In this guide, theres plenty
of choice in tablets and the list
includes all the ones you should
seriously consider. The main players
are Apple with the iPads, the latest
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Whether youre looking for an


Android, Apple, or Windows
tablet, heres what to consider,
along with the latest crop on the
market today.

of which is the 9.7-inch iPad Pro


and Microsoft with its Windows 10
Surface tablets.
The Android efforts from the
likes of Asus, Acer, LG and so on,
also make up a big part of the
overall tablet market in this region.
The main things to consider are
size and price, though there are a
few specialist tablets these days
that offer something different.
The general rule is the bigger
the tablet, the higher the fee.
Tablets mainly come in three screen
sizes 7-inch, 8-inch and 10-inch
though smaller and larger tablets
do exist.
7-inch tablets are usually cheap,
light and perfect for reading while
youre on the way to or from
work. However, theyre not terrific
for watching videos. 10-inch

tablets are good for productivity


and watching videos on, but
theyre a lot heavier and more
expensive. 8-inchers strike a decent
balance between the two and
are increasingly the most popular
tablet size.
You also need to think about
which type of tablet you want.
For example, if youre after a
tablet to replace your laptop, a
hybrid could be your best bet.
In that scenario, check out our
2-in-1 feature in this issue for the
options available. Weve included
some of the best specialist tablets
too, including one thats great for
gaming.
Here then are the latest tablets
you can lay your hands on!

ASUS ZENPAD Z580CA


The Zenpad Z580CA is Asus latest flagship small tablet.
Its designed to replicate the success of Asus original Nexus 7
and offer buyers top end specifications, while costing a piddly
relatively less. The tablets key selling points include an 8-inch
high-resolution Quad-HD display and, Intel quad-core Moorefield processor. It also comes with 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and 8-MP rear and 5-MP front cameras.

ASUS ZENPAD
Z300CNL
The new Asus Zenpad
Z300CNL comes with Android 6.0 OS. It also packs in a
10-inch screen, Intel quadcore Moorefield processor,
2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage,
and 5-MP rear and 2-MP front
cameras.

SAMSUNG GALAXY
TAB E

ACER ICONIA
TAB 10
The Iconia Tab 10s 10-inch full
HD display is the right balance of
portability and comfortable viewing. It also features IPS technology,
which provides uncompromised
visuals from wide viewing angles,
making it great for sharing. With
four front-facing Acer speakers with
160 surround sound and DTS-HD
Premium Sound, youll enjoy audio
thats clear and immersive.

Impeccably portable at just 8.5 mm


thick and 495-gms, the Galaxy Tab E
couples sleek-look design with incredible practicality. Its unique, non-slip
fabric-style rear casing provides you
with a secure and comfortable grip.
The tablet comes with a powerful 5MP
rear camera, as well as easy-to-use
one-click photo and video controls.

APPLE IPAD PRO


The iPad Pro 9.7-inch, Apples appealing
new mid-size tablet, proves that while laptops
might still be the best tool for working on the
go, theyre no longer necessary. The iPad Pro
offers good build quality and new features
compared to other iPads on the market.

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29

WEARABLE TECH

New Wave of Wearable


Technology

odays technology makes it easy to monitor


daily activity and stay connected. From basic
activity trackers to sophisticated smartwatches,
find the ideal wearable to help you stay up-todate with the important details of your life.
Youll find wearable technology for every level
of fitness, whether you want to monitor everyday
activity, start a fitness program or train for an athletic
competition. And when you pair your wearable tech
device with a compatible app, its easy to set fitness
goals and log your progress. Many activity trackers are
worn on your wrist, and youll find a variety of styles
that look like bracelets or watches. More discreet
fitness wearables, can be tucked into your pocket,
worn on your belt, worn around your neck or attached
to your clothing. The display options can show your
progress in real time, or alert you to progress using
lighted codes
One of the simplest ways to track your activity
level is by logging the number of steps you take. You
can find a variety of affordable pedometers to track

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your steps. Youll also find more advanced wearables


that can track stairs climbed, distance traveled, sleep
quality, heart rate and more. Some can even calculate
your calories burned based on this data.
If youre interested in tracking more advanced
fitness data, a wearable with GPS function can log a
variety of information. Youll find trackers and GPS
watches to track your speed, number of laps and
more. If you are training for a triathlon or just like
to include aquatic activities as part of your fitness
routine, you can also find water-resistant wearable
tech devices to log strokes and distance.
A popular wearable technology option is the
smartwatch. These stylish yet functional devices allow
you to conveniently and discreetly manage your digital
life. Smartwatches sync with your iPhone or android
phone and can even double as activity trackers. Most
smartwatches deliver alerts, notifications and apps to
your wrist.
Here then are some of the latest on the market
today.

ASUS ZENWATCH 2
A great watch experience starts with the perfect fit. Available
in two sizes, the Asus ZenWatch 2 brings sophisticated style and
powerful functionality to any wrist. The watch comes with curved
glass and a stainless steel casing that conforms to your wrist, with
soft leather or rubber straps for all-day wear. You can also get a full
charge in as little as 1 hour, so the watch can spend more time on
your wrist and less time on the nightstand.

APPLE WATCH
The Apple Watch does all things that other smartwatches on the
market can. It can deliver all of the notifications from your iPhone
to your wrist, so youll never miss anything important. With your
phone connected, you can make calls through the watch itself, and
Apple has added some new methods of communication, including
the ability to send taps, sketches, and even your heartbeat. The
Apple Watch can tell you when to turn right when youre walking
down the street, or hail a cab with the tap of a button.

MISFIT RAY
The Misfit Ray is a modular device with a central tracking component you can switch between bands to match your outfit. The tracker portion is a tiny cylinder made of brushed matte aluminum that
measures 1.5 inches long, 0.5-inch around, and weighs 8.5-gms. It
comes in black, green, navy, white, stainless steel, or rose gold with
a silicone band for $99.99, or with a leather band for $119.99.

SAMSUNG GEAR S2
Samsungs latest smartwatch abandons the Android Wear OS
in favour of the companys homegrown Tizen OS, which proves to
be a smart choice indeed. The Samsung Gear S2 has a user-friendly
interface thats worlds easier to use than Android Wear. And the
watch itself has a great design that combines the round face and
stainless steel case of a traditional timepiece with a futuristic, rotating bezel that makes navigation even easier.

HUAWEI WATCH
The new Huawei Watch looks good and runs Android Wear
operating system. It comes with a longer battery life than most
smartwatches, a sharp display, and a solid heart rate monitor that
gives it an edge over other smartwatches. There are six models of
the Huawei Watch available. They come in combinations of black,
stainless steel, and rose gold-plated watch cases with black leather,
steel link, stainless steel mesh, black-plated link, alligator-pressed
brown leather, or rose gold-plated link bracelets.
Sep - Nov 2016

Tech@Home

31

FEATURE

10 Reasons to Upgrade to Windows 10

Theres a heck of lot to


gain with the Windows
10 upgrade. Take our
visual tour of its top
new features.

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Sep - Nov 2016

e keep hearing and


reading things about
how scary Windows
10 is, but in our
own experience, its been pretty
delightful to use. Things such as
Windows Hello face login, touchscreen support, multiple desktops,
Quick Access in File Explorer, and
even the Edge browser improve my
daily computing.
Sure, those few souls who
depend on Windows Media Center
for their home entertainment will
be disappointed, and some may
be running very ancient software
that will no longer work. Privacy is
another fear, but you can disable
any usage reporting if you like
(though you lose some of the

best new features), and you dont


even need to sign into an account
(something not possible on Macs).
The key takeaway, however, is
this: In most of the things that
really matterspeed, security,
interface, compatibility, and
software toolsWindows 10 is a
vast improvement over its forbears.
A major thrust of Windows 10s
design was to be more familiar
to users of pre-8 versions of
Windows and more attuned to use
with a mouse and keyboard than
Windows 8, with the return of the
Start menu (albeit in modernized
form) a major part of that effort.
Nevertheless, Windows 10 is a
chance for everyone who missed
out on all the real performance,

security, and feature advances in


Windows 8 and 8.1 to get caught
up.
With Windows 10 having
reached the one-year mark, a major
update, Windows 10 Anniversary
Update, has already rolled out.
The operating system was a free
upgrade for a year, but now that
party is over, and youll have
to pay. The Home edition costs
$119.99, and the business-focused
Pro edition goes for $199.99. If
youve already made the upgrade
to Windows 10, the Anniversary
Update is free, and if you buy a
new PC, it will most likely come
with the new OS. You can also
purchase USB installers for both
editions at a physical Microsoft
Store or on the Microsoft Store
website.
Tablet users should now
upgrade to Windows 10, since the
Anniversary Update takes their
needs into account as well. For
example, the Edge Web browser
now lets them swipe back and
forth through browsing history,
and the All Apps view on tablets
now fills the screen, rather than
being a very deep list. Of course,
the vast majority of update
candidates are running existing
Windows versions on laptops and
desktop PCs, and for them the
upgrade, as the list below shows, is
highly recommended.
Note that the new operating

system sheds some features that


werent used by a large enough
audience for Microsoft to continue
offering them. Things like the
aforementioned Windows Media
Center, Windows 7 desktop
gadgets, and a few more trifles
bite the dust. You can read more
about whats going away and
how to replace it in 6 Features
Disappearing in Windows 10 (and
How to Replace Them).
An underlying reason to
upgrade, aside from any features
listed here, is to take advantage of
advances that come with newer
technology; simply experiencing
the little conveniences and updated
design that accompany any new

operating system can be refreshing.


Several of the advantages listed
below were also features of
Windows 8.1. But a major goal of
Windows 10 is familiarity and a
much simpler learning curve than
Windows 8. From that standpoint,
Windows 10 aims to give you the
best of both worlds.
Without further ado, here is
why you should upgrade that old
Windows box:

1. SPEED

Startup and more. If you never


made the move to Windows 8 or
8.1, youve missed out on one of

Sep - Nov 2016

Tech@Home

33

FEATURE

calls. And Cortana isnt just


about voice commands: Her
Notebook keeps track of your
interests, popping up info such
as your favorite sports team
scores, local weather, and
even trafc conditions for your
commute home.

4. UNIVERSAL APPS

the best things to hit Windows


operating systems in forever:
Fast startup. There are even
comparison videos showing
that Windows 8.1 starts up
faster on a MacBook than OS
X. And thats compared to a
fast booting operating system.
Compared with Windows 7, the
newer Microsoft OSes leave the
older one at the gates. Another
speed boost mostly aimed at
gamers will come from DirectX
12, the new 3D engine that
will get game developers closer
to the metal for a new level of
immersive performance.

2. THE START MENU

The loud voices in the tech


community have long clamored
for the return of the Start menu
after its replacement by the Start
screen in Windows 8. Which is
kind of funny, since the same
group scoffed at Start when it
rst appeared in Windows 95,
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Sep - Nov 2016

as something too noob-like to


bother with. Anyway, Microsoft
has heeded the cries for its
return, but given it a tile-based
appendage, so as not to lose live
tile info, and to still allow for the
OS to be touch-enabled.

3. CORTANA

Its nice to be able to talk to


your technology. If youve used
an Xbox One or talked with
Siri, you know how convenient
it can be to interact with your
technology hands-free. Hey
Cortana, play music, or take
a note are just for starters.
You can get more specic with
reminders that will show up on
any device running Cortana
which will soon include
Androids and iPhones along
with Windows Phones. You can
say, Remind me to buy milk
when Im near a supermarket,
or remind me to ask my wife
about her mother when she

If you use Windows 7, you


dont have an app store.
Windows 10 lets you nd
software you need for large
and small tasks, and you can
run apps either windowed or
full-screen. These apps run in
their own sandboxes, so theyre
more secure than old-school
Windows apps. They also
integrate with the system by
offering notications in Action
Center and built-in sharing; for
example, a photo app could
share to an Instagram app
using a standard share button.
Windows 10 also comes with
slicker and more powerful
productivity and media apps,
including new Photos, Videos,
Music, Maps, People, Mail, and
Calendar. The apps work equally
well as full-screen, modern
Windows apps using touch or
with traditional desktop mouse
and keyboard input.

5. TOUCH

Just about every screen in


your life these days is a touch
screenyour smartphone,
your tablet, even your car

default browser into the modern


world of browsers. That means
improved compatibility and
speed, and add a few helpful
new capabilities like webpage
markup and reading mode. Edge
has also been shown to be much
less demanding on laptop and
table batteries than Chrome. New
for the Anniversary Update version
is support for extensions, with a
few heavy hitters like LastPass and
Adblock available already.
navigation system. So
why not your desktop or laptop
PC? Ive heard the whining about
ngerprints on the screen, but
why is that more of a problem
than on a smartphone, where a
ngerprint takes up a much larger
percentage of the surface area?
Ive used the all-in-one PCs like
the Asus Zen AiO Pro Z240IC, the
Surface Pro 4 convertible tablet,
and a tower with an Acer T232HL,
and I can tell you that, while touch
isnt my primary way to input to
the computers, it can be darned
convenient at times.

6. ACTION CENTER

Your smartphone pops up


notications for messages,
updates, and even breaking news,
so why shouldnt your PC? With
Windows 10 it does. Similar to the
Mac OS X Notication Center, the
Action Center shows messages
from email, the system itself
(youve installed an update, for
example), and from apps. You
may see a weather warning or a
birthday reminder. An advantage
of these over Windows 8/8.1s
Toast Notications is that you can
go back and looks at the entries
you missed, until you specically
dismiss them. The same holds for
Windows 7s ephemeral system
tray notications.

7. A BETTER BROWSER

Formerly known as Project Spartan,


Microsoft Edge brings the OSs

8. SECURITY

Windows 10 inherits the Secure


Boot feature from Windows 8 and
makes it even more secure. This
requires any code that runs right
when the OS starts be signed by
Microsoft or the hardware maker.
Unlike Windows 8, Windows 10
PCs can be set up so that this
feature may not be bypassed.
Three other security feature for
Windows 10 are Device Guard,
Microsoft Passport, and Windows
Hello.

9. VIRTUAL DESKTOPS

For years, some of the moresophisticated Mac users have


found the ability to switch among
several virtual desktops useful.
Windows 10 nally brings the
capability to Microsofts desktop
operating system. In Windows
10, the feature is incredibly easy
to use: Just click or tap the taskswitching icon next to the Cortana
search box in the taskbar.

10. XBOX APP

If youre a gamer, youll love the


integration with Xbox that comes
in Windows 10. Not only does
the Windows 10 Xbox app let you
keep track of your friends and
achievements, you can also stream
games from the console to the PC
and play multiplayer games from
your PC against other players on
Xbox. The Windows Store now
eases the process of nding games
and purchasing them for use
across PC and Xbox.
Sep - Nov 2016

Tech@Home

35

FEATURE

How to Make a

Smart

Home From a Dumb One

ts summer, 40+ degrees


outside, and youre about to
leave home. As you leave your
bedroom, the lights dim slowly
and eventually turn off. You walk
down the hall, step out the door,
and lock it. Inside, you can hear the
air condition sputter to a stop.
As you saunter down the street,
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Sep - Nov 2016

you wonder if you left the coffee


pot on, but dont think twice about
it, as the appliance is running an
automated check right now to
ensure its off. Later that night,
around 11:15, your mattress cover
will cool down your side of the bed
so its just the way you like it by
11:30, when you hit the hay.

This kind of smart home system


is already possible. All kinds of
small appliances, light bulbs, door
sensors, and other home products
can automatically turn on and off
when triggered by certain actions.
Smart homes make life more
comfortable, and theyre typically
designed to be power-efficient,

ADT Pulse

Insteon Starter Kit

which could save you money.


If youre interested in taking
your home from dumb to smart,
how do you start? And how
can you build on it to make it
incrementally more intelligent all
the time? One very important note
about smart home components is
that you must change the default
user name and password when you
set them up. If you dont, youre
leaving your home exposed to
hackers and other threats.
My First Smart Home
At PCMag we analyse and review
smart home products. We can
obviously recommend a good first
buy for someone making his or her
home smart for the first time.
Some of the most affordable
products are smart light bulbs. But
dont get suckered into buying
them right away. On their own,
they cant do much at all. The
best place to get started is to
start with a hub. One that we can
recommend for beginners is the
$50 Wink Connected Home Hub. It
isnt perfect, but its cheap, and it
supports most of the digital home
connectivity protocols out there.
Once you have a hub, then you
can add a few light bulbs.
Some smart lightbulb sets can
cost upward of $200. Part of the
reason we recommend the Wink
hub is because it works with GE
Link Connected LEDs, another
great product for first-timers. At
$15 each, theyre some of the
least expensive connected bulbs

on the market. If 15 bucks sounds


stiff for one bulb, you should know
that their life expectancy is 22
years, and they use 80 percent less
power than traditional bulbs. So
the savings could add up fast.
You can control individual bulbs
or groups of them from your
smartphone. And you can schedule
bulbs so that they turn on when
you wake up, or turn off when you
leave for work.
Lets say you like your current
bulbs and lighting exactly the way
they are. Another route into the
same baby-step is to add dimmer
modules to your existing lamps.
The $99 Insteon Starter Kit includes
one hub and two lamp dimmers,
which are like plug adapters. You
plug your existing lamp into the
module and plug the module into
the wall. Insteon CEO Joe Dada
told us that a new user can be up
and running with this
kit in just a few
minutes.

One more simple product that


we can recommend for beginners
is theQuirky Pivot Power Genius.
Similar to lamp dimmer adapters,
the Quirky Pivot is a power strip
that lets you plug in things you
already own. It has two outlets
that can be controlled remotely
using a mobile app (plus two
dumb outlets). Anything you
plug in can be scheduled to turn
on and off according to a schedule
or times you set.
Step Up Your Smart Home
Light bulbs might keep you busy
for a while, but at some point,
youll want to connect more
things. Very few products around
the home cant be connected to
the Internet, according to Ryan
Fant and Nayeem Hussain, cofounders at Keen Home, another
smart home device company that
makes smart air vents.
Nest Thermostat

Sep - Nov 2016

Tech@Home

37

FEATURE

GE Link Connected LEDs

Quirky Pivot Power Genius

Everything from speakers to


slow cookers are smart these days,
they told us by email. Soup pots
and coffee makers are limited in
their utility, though, and if youre
really ready to step up your smart
home, youll want a device thats
simply, well, smarter. The new Luna
smart mattress cover is a perfect
example.
The Luna cover (available to
pre-order for $199 in a queen
size, $219 for king, and $229 for
38

Tech@Home

Sep - Nov 2016

California king) fits over


your existing mattress and
connects with other
devices that are related
to sleeping, like
alarm clocks, lights,
and thermostat. I
saw the new mattress
cover in action recently,
when Luna co-founders
Matteo Franceschetti
and Massimo
AndreasiBassi set up an
entire fake bedroom to
demonstrate how it works.
Luna is full of sensors that learn
what time you go to bed, how
quickly you fall asleep, and what
temperature you like your side of
the mattress. It tracks your heart
rate and respiratory rate while
you sleep, and that helps it figure
out when youre in light and deep
sleep. With that information, it can
work with a smart alarm clock to
wake you up during a window that
you set, say between 6:15 a.m. and
6:35 a.m., but it wont wake you if
youre in deep sleep.
Franceschetti and Bassi
mentioned one other key

component to making a smart


home a little smarter: IFTTT. IFTTT
stands for if this, then that. Its
a website and mobile app that
you use to write little commands,
but without any programming.
You create an account on IFTTT
and authenticate it to connect to
other online services that you use,
everything from email to Facebook
to the account that controls your
smart mattress cover. Then, by
selecting options on the screen,
you make what IFTTT calls recipes,
such as, If the mattress senses
I got out bed, then turn on the
smart coffeemaker.
Going Whole Hog
Once you have the basics down,
you might want to go whole hog
with your smart home. So whats
next?
To deck a house out, switches
and keypads are crucial, said
Insteon CEO Joe Dada. They give
you control of all your lighting and
appliances whether theyre in the
same room or not. They also give
you the status of devices you cant
directly see, for example knowing

whether my kids lights are still


on.
Dada said if youre interested in
really ramping up your home, think
about adding a smart thermostat
for climate control, like the Nest
Thermostat, and door sensors to
see movement in and out of the
home. Peoples coming and going
can inform the actions of your
smart appliances, creating those
if-then commands.
Fant and Hussain of Keen
Home suggested three areas in
which someone might specialize
while kitting out their home. If
the customer is focused primarily
on security, then perhaps they
should invest in ADT Pulse, they
explained. It is important to note
that the Pulse platform charges a
premium monthly price compared
to other options on the market. If
the customer is focused primarily
on entertainment, then perhaps
they should look into smart home
offerings from regional telecom
operators such as Etisalat and
Du. They have packages which
tie in enriched video (cable and
streaming) with smart lighting
and thermostat controls. If the
customer is focused primarily on
comfort, then perhaps they should
build their smart home around the
Nest Learning Thermostatwhich
also acts as connected home hub
to communicate and coordinate
other devices.
Part of the beauty of the Nest
system family of products is it
includes a smart smoke detector
called Protect as well as a simple
security camera, the Dropcam Pro.
Nest supports a huge number of
devices made by other companies,
too, so its flexible to your needs.
Dada recommended the pros
look into his companys Insteon
Connected Kit (about $349), which
includes an Insteon Hub, two
dimmer modules, a thermostat, an
open/close door sensor, a motion
sensor, a leak water sensor, and a
Wi-Fi camera.

Luna bedcover

The Upkeep Question


Deciding on products to buy,
getting them, installing them, and
setting up commands for their
use takes a little time, but by and
large, its a one-shot investment
per product on the order of about
30 minutes. Keeping up those
appliances and home systems,
however, will cost you, but not
very much, according to Fant and
Hussain at Keen Home.
Outside of a product
occasionally losing network
connectivity and replacing
batteries, there shouldnt be too
much ongoing maintenance for
someones smart home, they told
me. Most of the products that
receive great customer reviews and
that I would recommend to friends
are quite robust and reliable.
Upkeep time over time, they
add, should be about the same
as maintain an average smoke
detector. Any connected home
product that adds complexity to a
consumers life is at best a poorly
designed product and at worst a
solution chasing a problem.

Wink Connected Home Hub

Sep - Nov 2016

Tech@Home

39

FEATURE

DIY ALERT: Tools for


Wannabe Makers

Here are just some of the amazing


maker tools you can nd today.

umans have been making things for pretty much our entire
existence. In fact, some claim that the ability to create things for
functional or recreational purposes from our imagination is at
least part of what makes us human. But only in relatively recent
times have technical tools and components been available for use by
individuals, giving us the opportunity to make more sophisticated things
than ever before.
Some are disguised as toyswhich is doubly great, since theyre STEMinspiring for kids and perfectly usable by grownups, too. Here are just
some of the amazing maker tools you can nd today.

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Sep - Nov 2016

RASPBERRY PI

A DEVICE INTENDED to be an educational


jumping-off point for nascent geeky
DIYers is essentially an inexpensive
computer: You can plug in a mouse and
keyboard, add whichever components
you wish, and use it like any other
computer. Makers have created some
amazing projects using the Raspberry
Pi, including a solar smart meter, a 3D
scanner, and even a mobile phone.

LITTLEBITS

FOR DIYERS 8 AND OLDER, LittleBits are


magnetic modules that snap together
to create working electronic circuits
for fun and/or to power cool little
projects. Numerous versions of the kit
are available. The Little Bits Base Kit is a
great way to get started: It comes with 10
modules, including a DC motor, dimmer,
and light sensor. For more ambitious
creators, the LittleBits Gizmo & Gadgets
Kit, which earned our Editors Choice
award, gives you 15 modules, including
two 9-volt power modules with batteries
included, two slide dimmers, a light
sensor, and more. LittleBits Smart Home
Kit supplies what you need to experiment
with home automation and networked
robotics. And the LittleBits Arduino Bit, an
individual module, is an Arduino-based
microcomputer thats built into a threeinput, three-output LittleBits module.

ARDUINO

ARDUINO IS AN open-source prototyping


platform that, simply put, can read
all sorts of inputs and turn them into
outputs. Like Raspberry Pi, Arduino was
originally created for students, but is now
used by a large community of makers for
a crazy variety of projects. Want build a
mood light that changes according to
Twitter trends? Or a photography rig to
capture splash photos? How about a
power meter that tweets usage data?
The possibilities are endless. Recently,
Arduino debuted the Primo board for
Internet of Things projects. You wont
have to add components for Wi-Fi,
Bluetooth low energy, NFC (near-eld
communications), and infrared, because
theyre already built in.
Sep - Nov 2016

Tech@Home

41

FEATURE

ELLO 2M

A SMALL DIY COMPUTER thats


designed to be tinkered with; in fact,
you have to assemble it yourself. Youll
end up with a computer thats perfect
for learning programming, designing
electronics, and general hackery.
You get six stacked circuit boards (all
pre-soldered components) that you
sandwich together to create the body
of the device. A 7-inch touch-screen
LCD, electronics prototyping board,
and a full keyboard are all built in. You
can pre-order one now through Crowd
Supply (a DIY-oriented crowdfunding
site) with an expected delivery date
later this year.

LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3

THE ROBOTICS KIT thats the best and


most accessible way to teach your
kidsor yourselfhow to build and
program robots earned 5 stars and a
PCMag Editors Choice award. In the
box are a Mindstorms EV3 Intelligent
Brick (the brain of the set), an
infrared remote control, three servo
motors, a color sensor, a touch sensor,
an infrared sensor, and 550 Lego
Technic pieces. Even better, you can
integrate your standard Lego pieces
into your robotic creations. The Lego
Mindstorms Commander app for iOS
and Android includes preset control
panels for five robots you can build in
the 3D Builder app. More important, it
lets you create manual control panels
for your own creations, with different
buttons, switches, and displays
available to control motors and check
sensor inputs.

3D PRINTERS

NOT VERY LONG AGO, the few 3D


printers in existence were hulking,
expensive machines reserved for
factories and well-heeled corporations.
But these amazing devices (which
youll find all over at any Maker Faire)
have become viable and affordable
products for use by designers,
engineers, hobbyists, schools, and even
consumers. You can print out one of
the myriad designs available online (see
Thingiverse, Pinshape, and more) or
even design your own.
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Sep - Nov 2016

Dell and Windows 10. Built to run together.

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