Dash cams are already essential in many countries because of scam artists who try to create accidents so they can sue you. They’ve also proven useful for catching cars flying into buildings, or the occasional meteor, as happened in Thailand and in Russia, all thanks to dash cams in the right place at the right time.
The $170 Z-Edge F1 ticks nearly all the boxes a front/interior dash cam should tick, especially for professional and rideshare drivers. Boasting 1440p front video, 1080p front/interior video, good night and low-light captures, and GPS, it’s almost the total package—once you figure out how the heck to use it.
Features and specs
The F1 is a wide-body camera, measuring approximately 4.25x1.75x1.35 inches. It’s handsome as dash cams go, with a suction mount that also incorporates the GPS module. Nicely, the GPS module serves as a handle that rotates to aid the removal mechanism. If you’ve used a high-suction model that relies on only a rotary dial, you’ll appreciate how much easier it is.
If you’re using your smartphone for GPS directions but leaving it in your lap or cupholder, it’s time to get a phone holder for your car. These mounts allow you to position a smartphone within line of sight—and keep it out of your hands, thus avoiding a ticket in some states.
The best phone holder isn’t the same for everyone, however. Car manufacturers not only use different types of vents, but they mix up the positions of both CD players and vents too. States also have different laws for what can be attached to a windshield (and where).
Accordingly, our list of the best phone mounts doesn’t single out just one or two picks. Instead, we’re sharing the most convenient and reliable models as a group after putting them to the test in a variety of cars.
This upgraded version of my $272 Black Friday gaming PC has a better motherboard, faster RAM, and double the amount of RAM and storage. Not shabby for an extra $40, and us being in the middle of the year. You don’t even need to live near a Micro Center to get this price, either—nor are you limited to this one budget build. A plethora of CPU deals and a handful of GPU deals are available for folks with larger pockets.
In case you forgot to buy your phone a present, it’s World Emoji Day today. And to celebrate, Apple and Google have unveiled a slew of new emoji based on the approved characters in Unicode 12 that will be arriving in iOS 13 and Android Q later this year. And the theme this year is inclusion for everyone. Even vampires.
Whatever your race, gender, sexual orientation, or disability, you’ll be able to find an emoji to express yourself. On both iPhones and Android phones, the Holding Hands emoji has been greatly expanded to include more than 70 combinations and sex, gender, and race, so you’ll be able to properly represent your relationship no matter who your significant other may be.
The Google Pixel 3a makes a strong case for tossing out the spec sheet. On paper, it looks like yet another boring budget smartphone, with a middling processor, single front and rear cameras, and a bare-minimum 1080p screen. But in your pocket, you might just mistake it for a premium phone.
Part of the reason why is because, well, it’s a Pixel. Specifically, it looks a lot like the notchless Pixel 3 and the rumored design for the Pixel 4, and of course, it runs the latest version of Android. But while the high-priced G-stamped phones always left something to be desired when it came to design, the $399 Pixel 3a looks like a budget phone but acts like a premium one. It’s almost like Google has been setting us up for this all along.
Update: We've since added 3D viewport and Synegy's Cinescore performance results and have updated our gaming benchmarks to include scores for the older Ryzen chip in Far Cry 5 and Deus Ex: Mankind United.
Our review of AMD’s 12-core Ryzen 9 3900X CPU, in five words:
Damn, this CPU is fast.
But keep reading, because the Ryzen 9 3900X is likely as significant, and likely as game-changing, as AMD’s original K7 Athlon-series of CPUs that crossed the 1GHz line first, or its Athlon 64 CPU that ushered in 64-bit computing in a desktop PC.
You’d think the Ryzen 9 3900X would have a hard time achieving the same greatness. It's true that it doesn't quite shake all the gaming-performance bugaboos of past generations. But we think when the dust settles, the CPU series will easily be a first-ballot, CPU hall of fame entry.
Nextbase’s new GW modular series, including the $230 422GW reviewed here, have raised the bar for dual-channel dash cams. They’re pricey, but feature an HDMI port that, besides outputting video, accepts any one of three $100 rear cameras: a cabin view (interior) module, a traditional rear-window mounted unit, and a unique telephoto rear module that captures what’s behind you without the hassle of wiring, or obscuring your view.
Beyond that, there’s phone connectivity, Alexa, GPS, and a touchscreen. If it weren’t for the lack of infrared lighting for interior night captures, the 422GW would be hands-down the best dash cam I’ve ever tested. For my purposes it still is, but if you’re driving a taxi or patrol car at night, the unit’s interior captures aren’t going to cut it.
Because of limitations in a motherboard's BIOS, third-generation Ryzen chips may not boot with older AM4 motherboards. The solution? An exchange program that can solve what's essentially a chicken-and-egg problem for users building their first Ryzen PC.
The problem can be traced back to the motherboard's UEFI/BIOS. AMD pledged to make the AM4 socket backward-compatible all the way to the original Ryzen. Unfortunately, the amount of code necessary to accommodate all of the various microprocessor permutations has stretched the limits of what AM4 motherboards can handle.
That's presented two issues. First, the latest X570 boards have dropped support for older chips like the first-generation Ryzen because of these limitations. But the opposite is also true: Consumers who buy the latest third-generation Ryzen processor may find themselves unable to boot their new chip when it's paired with a cheap, legacy motherboard, including those powered by an X370 and B350 chipset.
The second-generation Eero Home WiFi System is even easier to set up than the first, thanks to wireless access points called Beacons that plug straight into AC outlets. It’s also more powerful, thanks to a new Qualcomm mesh Wi-Fi router chipset and a tri-band Wi-Fi radio. Eero says the $399 kit reviewed here is suitable for a three- to four-bedroom home, and I agree. The router delivered triple-digit throughput in every room of my 2800-square-foot home—more than enough bandwidth to support several HD video streams simultaneously.
A mid-range performer
But when you look at the benchmark charts below, you’ll see that while the new Eero (I’ll call it Eero 2 from here) is much faster than the first-generation product, it was the fastest mesh router in the field of eight that I’ve tested to date in only one location in my home, and that was with a MacBook Pro as the client. Interestingly, that location was my home theater, a spot that most wireless devices have difficulty penetrating because of the thickness of its walls and ceiling and the presence of acoustic caulk sandwiched between its multiple layers of drywall.
The New BittBoy V3 is a handheld retro gaming emulation device that looks like Nintendo’s classic GameBoy—but has hardware powerful enough to play NES, Genesis, and even Playstation 1 games. For $70 (including an 8GB micro SD card) it offers great battery life, a nice screen, and consistent emulation. As of this writing we’re also seeing some great summer discounts. It’s a relatively easy option for those who like to take some favorite video games on the road, as long as you’re willing to deal with a few drawbacks.
Protecting yourself from online scams is a fact of life now. According to the FBI’s 2018 Internet Crime Report, Internet scams from 2014 through 2018 cost consumers $7.45 billion. Scams include online shopping/non-delivery of products ordered, identity theft, credit card fraud, and denial of service/DDoS attacks. Other threats include various flavors of ransomware, malware, scareware, and viruses, along with a few dozen other categories of crime.
I got hit with ransomware—twice—and learned a lot from the remedies I tried, as well as the experiences of friends who were hit. Read on to see what I did, and be sure to check PCWorld’s thorough guide to removing malware and our follow-on story about how to rescue your Windows PC from ransomware for more information. We wrap up with a checklist that will help you fend off online scams of all kinds.
If you’ve chosen to enable Amazon’s Alexa on Windows, you’re in for a bonus: In the future, you may get to talk to Alexa—and not Cortana—while your PC is locked.
Microsoft celebrated Amazon Prime Day by announcing Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 18362.10005, a small build in the 19H2 or “Slow” ring. Those updates are part of what you might call the “patch” feature update that’s due this fall, rather than the “new feature” release, or 20H1, due sometime in the spring of next year.
What’s interesting, of course, is that most people would consider talking to Alexa on the lock screen a feature, rather than a fix. (Right?) Alexa is already available as an app for Windows. But Alexa is also a part of Windows, and can be invoked by saying “Hey Cortana, open Alexa.” (Always-on, listening assistants may pose a risk to privacy, as we’ve pointed out.)
Last year I called Elgato’s Stream Deck “a valuable tool in anyone’s streaming kit.” Long known for affordable capture equipment, Elgato had entered another important hardware niche and created an inexpensive video switcher—one that was only the size of a card deck. With multiple customizable buttons, you could manage all facets of your streaming process without every leaving your primary screen.
But maybe even a card deck is too large, and maybe the Stream Deck’s 15 OLED buttons were overkill, because now Elgato’s returned with the Stream Deck Mini—a smaller, scaled-back, and even cheaper version (at $99.95 on Amazon) of the same concept. So which is right for you? Let’s investigate.
Pro-grade equipment at a bargain price. That’s the reputation Elgato earned as first YouTube videos and then Twitch streaming took over video games. Straddling a line between hobbyist and professional-grade—a line that’s hard to walk competently, I might add—Elgato’s capture cards have become a mainstay of streamers at all levels.
The Stream Deck, Elgato’s latest piece of hardware, is something altogether different: A video switcher (or mixer), not a capture card. But aside from some early-days software issues, it’s poised to be just as important a piece of kit for a certain tier of creatives.
Power at your fingertips
Video switchers are a fairly standard (and boring) part of multi-camera broadcasts. If you’ve ever watched a sporting event or another live broadcast, chances are a switcher was employed—it allows a producer to switch between multiple camera feeds on the fly, rather than sticking a camera on a tripod and calling it a day. Usually it’s a big gray rectangle full of dials, levers, and color-coded buttons.
Acer’s Predator Helios 300 has achieved something we never thought a gaming laptop could do. It actually manages to be popular, powerful, and affordable.
You’d think popularity would be the hardest thing to prove, but that’s what caught our eye first. A specific model of the Predator Helios 300 has maintained a steady position among the top ten bestselling laptops on Amazon for many, many weeks. It just won’t quit.
It’s not every day that Microsoft can’t work out a bug on its own hardware, but that’s what has happened with the Microsoft Surface Book 2: Microsoft has blocked the devices from updating to the Windows 10 May 2019 Update.
Microsoft says the root cause is issues with the discrete GPU inside the notebook. Two things may happen, Microsoft said in a support note: Either Nvidia’s discrete GPU may disappear from the Device Manager, or games that require the discrete GPU may simply refuse to open. A Surface Book 2 evaluation unit issued to PCWorld by Microsoft experienced that problem, refusing to play the game Broforce, as evidenced by the screenshot that accompanies this story.
After spending nearly a week with the Pixel 3 XL, my three first impressions of Google’s newest handset haven’t changed: It’s the fastest Android phone I’ve ever used. The cameras are awesome. The notch is an eyesore.
Thankfully, the first two qualities make up for the third. Mostly. If the Pixel 3 XL didn’t have such an ostentatious notch, it would still be an ugly phone, but after a couple days I wouldn’t have cared anymore. Six days later, the notch is still the first thing my eyes go to every time I unlock my phone. It would be one thing if there was some next-generation camera or sensor that demanded such a large notch. But as it stands, there appears to be a lot of unnecessary space around the twin cameras, ambient light sensor, and speaker that live inside it.
Frank Azor has made it official: The co-founder of Dell's Alienware business has now joined AMD as its chief architect of gaming.
AMD welcomed Azor to AMD via tweets from AMD chief executive Lisa Su and other AMD employees. Azor also announced the change in his Twitter bio, where he's known as chief architect of gaming solutions. "Thanks @LisaSu. This is a huge opportunity to grow the gaming industry! I'm really excited to be part of the @AMD family," Azor tweeted Monday.