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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.
We've been reading about the specter of a Palm reboot for a while now, so Monday's release of a new handset with the company's iconic square logo on the back wasn't really news. But it still has its surprises:
It doesn't have an actual name. It's just the "new Palm phone."
It runs Android.
It's Verizon exclusive.
You need to have another Verizon mobile phone to activate it.
It costs $350.
So the new Palm phone isn't really a Palm phone at all. Heck, it's not even really a phone. Sure, there's a 4G LTE chip in it, but it's no more a phone than the Apple Watch is. It relies on Verizon's NumberShare service to act like a phone when your actual phone isn't around.
We got access to the PC version of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 ($60 on Humble) at the same time as the rest of the world, so I’ve been playing catch-up all day. Don’t ask me why Activision didn’t make it available ahead of release. I expected it to be truly broken given the circumstances but...nope. Everything seems fine, at least on a technical level.
Of course, reviewing Call of Duty is a lot easier this year given Black Ops 4 doesn’t have an actual singleplayer campaign, and the Blackout battle royale mode had a beta last month. I’ve spent some post-release time with Blackout though, plus a bit of time in traditional multiplayer and of course this year’s time-traveling Zombies stories.
The notch. By now it’s become a fairly commonplace feature on premium phones. Even some budget handsets are starting to get in on the act.
But the Google Pixel 3 XL reignites the notch frenzy. Why? Because it’s so damn big. Google didn’t just add a normal screen cutout to the top of its latest flagship phone, it added the biggest one I’ve ever seen, big enough to house two cameras and a speaker. I generally don’t mind phone notches, but there’s something about the Pixel 3 XL’s that really bothers me. Is it the shape? The depth? Just an optical illusion? A little of all three?
In the latest episode of Android Confidential, I take a look at what makes the Pixel 3 XL’s notch so distracting compared to similar phones. I compared the Pixel 3 XL against the notchiest Android phones I could find to see if it’s really that much bigger. How does it stack up to the Essential Phone, LG G7, OnePlus 6, LG V40? Here’s what I found out:
The mouse is a simple tool: point and click. That’s it. But if you’re a PC gamer, you know that pushing virtual paper around on your desktop isn’t the same as fragging bots and shooting zombies. (Not even remotely.)
What’s more, picking the right gaming mouse is an intensely personal decision. Every little detail—its overall shape and size, the shape and placement its buttons, its cable (or lack thereof), its weight, its materials—can change how you feel about it. More than any other peripheral, a mouse is the hardest to recommend, because there is no objectively perfect mouse. Everyone’s hands are different.
We kick things off with an overview of the mainstream 9th-gen CPUs, Intel’s refresh of the Core X high-end desktop chips, and the beastly unlocked, 28-core Xeon W-3175X, just to get everybody on the same page. If you want the speeds and feeds in black and white, be sure to hit the link above.
Microsoft’s looking to buy Obsidian? And there’s a Baldur’s Gate 3 in the works? 2003’s rumor mill is churning hard this week.
Those stories, plus Star Citizen shows off another flashy trailer, The Walking Dead will finish out its final season, Stories Untold studio No Code shows off its second project, and a speedrunner finishes Into theBreach faster than I could write this article.
This is gaming news for October 8 to 12.
Waiting on citizenship
Star Citizen continues down the long and winding road to (hopefully) becoming a real game people can play. CitizenCon took place this week in Texas, unveiling yet another trailer for the star-studded Squadron 42, the accompanying singleplayer campaign. It’s an impressive trailer, though there’s still no release date in sight.
If there's one thing every computer needs, it's more ports. Anker's 7-in-1 Premium USB-C hub adapter adds convenience and more connections to your setup all in one place, and today you can snag one from Amazon for $50, down from a list price of $70 and the lowest we've ever seen it.
We love Samsung’s CHG70 curved FreeSync 2 display despite the hefty $600 price tag for the 27-inch version and the even heftier $700 price for the 32-inch model. Today, you’ll love the 27-inch version even more since Amazon is selling this glorious HDR display for $426. Samsung’s monitor has been dropping in price lately—it was $490 just a few days ago—but still, $426 is the monitor’s all-time low, and the first time it’s hit this price.
It’s always been hard for me to recommend Razer’s Naga line, not because they’re bad mice but because they’re not the mice for me. They’re specialty hardware, not Swiss Army knives. The original Naga and its telephone-style numpad was designed for MMO players who need a lot of shortcut keys. The Naga Hex was a compromise of sorts, with half as many buttons in a much more intuitive, ring-shaped layout. But both always seemed overly complicated to me, especially for day-to-day use.
What if you didn’t have to choose, though? What if you could get the 12-button, six-button, and a standard two-button layout from the same mouse? Enter the Naga Trinity.
The bargain-priced Lenovo Legion Y530 weighs less than five pounds and measures less than an inch thick—impressively portable for a gaming laptop. It packs impressive quad-core multitasking performance, a comfortable keyboard, a reasonably bright screen and solid battery life. Unfortunately, the Legion Y530’s middling graphics card struggles to deliver buttery visuals from today’s AAA games, and its performance will only go downhill as more demanding titles come down the pike.
Price and specifications
We reviewed the cheapest version of the Lenovo Legion Y530 (81FV0013US), which comes with a quad-core Intel Coffee Lake Core i5-8300H processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB solid-state drive. This CPU’s eight threads of processing power (thanks to Intel’s hyperthreading technology) promises plenty of multitasking, perfect for gamers who want to stream or create content while they play. Because it lacks a larger secondary drive, however, the Y530 doesn’t have enough storage for more than one or two top-tier games at a time.
Antivirus software is nearly as crucial as a PC’s operating system. Even if you’re well aware of potential threats and practice extreme caution, some threats just can’t be prevented without the extra help of an AV program—or a full antivirus suite.
You could, for example, visit a website that unintentionally displays malicious ads. Or accidentally click on a phishing email (it happens!). Or get stung by a zero-day threat, where an undisclosed bug in Windows, your browser, or an installed program gives hackers entry to your system.
Which Intel motherboard should you buy? After initially launching with the Z370 chipset alone in October 2017, Intel fleshed out the 300-series lineup with a full range of motherboard options in April, complete with nice extra features not included in Z370. It then plopped a cherry on top by releasing enthusiast-class Z390 motherboards alongside the 9th-gen Core processors in October 2018. These motherboards should work with both 8th-gen and 9th-gen Core CPUs (though older models may need a BIOS revision to support the new chips) so you’ve got options galore now.
History is my favorite part of Assassin’s Creed. Years ago I used to read through all the historical database entries, getting context about historical figures and landmarks in Florence, Rome, colonial Boston, and more. And I spent hours in Assassin’s Creed: Origins’s Discovery Tour earlier this year, admiring how much detail Ubisoft put into recreating Ptolemaic Egypt from both primary and secondary sources.
Join The Full Nerd gang as they talk about the latest PC hardware topics. Today's show is all about Intel's Core i9-9900K, the news, the benchmarking controversy, and is this the end of mainstream hyperthreading? As always we will be answering your live questions so speak up in the chat.
Microsoft’s Surface has moved from breaking trail to setting the pace in the U.S. PC market, as the company cracked the top five PC vendors for the third quarter, according to research firm Gartner. But other forces could shake things up even more in the months to come.
Gartner predicts that Intel's CPU shortages will persist until 2019, yet have no apparent effects on PC demand. AMD will simply pick up Intel’s slack while Intel prioritizes the high-end PC market, the firm said. For that matter, Windows PCs aren’t even showing the strongest growth. That crown goes to Chromebooks, which grew by double digits within the U.S., Gartner said.
The Pixel 3 XL hasn't even gone on sale yet and a lot of words have been written about the notch. I know, because I've written many of them. The controversy over the Pixel 3 XL's extra-large notch will surely rage on for weeks to come, at least until the next tech tumult takes hold of our attention.
In response to the outcry, Google has offered a solution. Sort of. In a tweet from the Made by Google account, the company confirmed that there will be an option to hide the display cutout on the Pixel 3 XL for those who prefer "a more traditional smartphone look." Or, you know, one that's not ugly as hell.
So here we are. The most awkward antivirus review ever. I mean how do you review a security platform that was accused of being a proxy for an unfriendly government just one year ago? Kaspersky Lab denies the allegations, but regardless of what the truth is, the accusation is out there.
Now, one of the first things many Americans think of when it comes to Kaspersky is Russian espionage.
The reality is we have no way of ascertaining the truth so we’re going to do our best to set aside the controversy. This review is not going to weigh the spying accusations into the score. We’ll look at this suite like we would any other, and then leave it to you to weigh the other considerations—though we do have a helpful article on the Kaspersky controversy with advice from experts.
'Razer' and 'affordable' go together about as well as 'Apple' and 'affordable.' That all changed Wednesday night when Razer introduced the Razer Blade 15 Base Model gaming laptop.
The Razer Blade 15 Base Model with 8th-gen Core i7-8750H, GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q 16GB of RAM, 128GB SSD, and 1TB hard drive will be available starting Wednesday night for $1,599. The company also has a configuration for $1,799 that doubles the SSD and hard drive capacities.
If spending less than $1,600 for a gaming laptop is beneath you, Razer also announced a special edition of the Razer Blade 15 Advanced Model in all-white. Called the Razer Blade 15 Mercury White Limited Edition, the laptop clones the specs of the current Advanced Edition except for the white aluminum shell and non-backlit logo on the lid.
It was only last year that Razer finalized its purchase of Nextbit and quickly released the Razer Phone—the world’s first gaming-centric smartphone. This year’s Razer Phone 2 maintains its focus on the unique design language and hardcore internals we loved, while refining key weaknesses and adding RGB for maximum ‘tude. My colleague Gordon Mah Ung and I got some hands-on time with the Razer Phone 2 a couple of weeks before launch—and even though it looks similar to last year’s version, it’s been reworked from the inside out.
Razer Phone 2 specs and features
Announced Wednesday, the Razer Phone 2 will be priced at $800 and will be available for pre-order soon. Below are the main Razer Phone 2 specs (look for camera specs later in the story):