Maybe this will be the year virtual reality goes mainstream. If we say it enough times we’ll be right eventually, yeah?
But it really does feel like 2020 might be the year. Four years into consumer virtual reality, I finally feel excited again. The hardware is great, and cheaper than ever before. The games are promising, albeit few. And there’s a sense that maybe the “We need software to sell hardware to make developing software worthwhile” vicious cycle has finally been overcome. Maybe.
I could be wrong. I certainly hate to get excited about virtual reality’s prospects in 2020, in a “Fool me twice” sort-of way. I’ve had my heart broken by VR before. And yet…
This week, Kotaku reported that PlayStation 4 exclusive Horizon: Zero Dawn may come to the PC in the near future. And let me first say, it’s interesting this became big news because when Quantic Dream announced that Detroit: Become Human was coming to PC last year—another Sony-published game—it didn’t inspire nearly the same levels of pontificating about Sony’s intentions for the PC.
Of course, people generally praised Horizon: Zero Dawn and disliked Detroit. Maybe that’s the only difference, that Horizon is seen as one of Sony’s “prestige” games.
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.
We’re not suggesting that PC security software is fool-proof. Antivirus software often can’t do much to stop zero-day exploits, for example. But it can detect when the undisclosed vulnerability is used to install other nasty bits, like ransomware, on your machine. Anyone who actively uses email, clicks on links, and downloads programs will benefit from an antivirus suite.
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.
That said, we can guide you on your search. Below are our recommendations for gaming mice, built on years of experience first and foremost as gamers, and second as writers here at PCWorld.
The more things change, the more they stay the same, the saying goes. That couldn’t be more true for our review candidate today, Check Point’s ZoneAlarm Extreme Security. We reviewed this software nearly six years ago, and in that time the Windows interface has not changed.
Sure, some features have disappeared and others have taken their place, but overall it’s the same program with the same dated interface. That’s set to change, however. A Check Point spokesperson told us the company is planning a major interface and user experience overhaul for 2020.
Note: This review is part of our best antivirus roundup. Go there for details about competing products and how we tested them.
When you start ZoneAlarm Extreme Security the first thing you’ll notice is that it looks a little fuzzy. It appears Check Point didn’t update its app for high-resolution displays. We tested ZoneAlarm Extreme Security on a laptop with a 1080p display, and found that the menu items and tiles were noticeably lacking in sharpness.
Chromebook fans have been able to get their game on ever since Google Stadia launched in November, but a new report from Android Police claims that more might be on the way. According to an interview with Kan Liu, Director of Product Management for Chrome OS, Google is working toward bringing Steam support to Chromebooks, too.
Granted, this is Google we’re talking about, so it’s not all that surprising that they’re working on major features that may or may not get released. But taken at face value, this is a particularly interesting tidbit. It’s unclear whether Google is working in direct conjunction with Valve or if Steam support would even launch as an official feature, but Liu suggested Google is definitely serious about the project.
I had a feeling it wouldn’t be too long before The Elder Scrolls Online played its Skyrim card, particularly since the last two expansions were set in places we never saw in the most popular mainline Elder Scrolls games. And sure enough, yesterday developer ZeniMax Online revealed a trailer and some facts about ESO’s upcoming Greymoor expansion, which takes place in the upper northwest corner of the Viking-themed realm.
It looks like a fun romp, especially if you’re into vampires, werewolves, and other assorted favorite Halloween costumes. It also looks and sounds a little too familiar for anyone who’s played the game in the last couple of years, and that’s not just because of the setting. Considering that we’re rapidly approaching the 10th anniversary of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – one of the most popular RPGs of all time – I would’ve expected something a little more ambitious.
Razer first released its iconic DeathAdder mouse in 2006. Thirteen years later, there have been multiple revisions and even more special edition reskins. In 2020, we’re arguably on...let’s call it the Razer DeathAdder 7. Maybe 8? It depends on how you look at it.
And yet Razer would argue otherwise. For 2020, Razer’s chosen a name for its new DeathAdder so daring, we had to sit up and take notice: the Razer DeathAdder V2. Forget the past decade, this is the first deserving successor to the original DeathAdder—or at least, that’s what Razer would like us to believe.
How does it fare then? Is the DeathAdder V2 worth the name? Is it so revolutionary, it deserves this bit of pageantry? Well…
Once upon a time we had loot boxes and everyone hated them, myself included. Remembered mostly as a pernicious ploy to merge gambling and gaming, it’s important to remember that they also worked—for a while, at least. That was why they were so frustrating. Chasing skins in Overwatch, or engrams in Destiny 2, it was junk food I (and many others) couldn’t stop eating. Then loot boxes ran afoul of regulation, or even the threat of regulation, and boom: no more loot boxes.
Having tabooed one form of monetization though, developers quickly moved to another. Modeled after Fortnite—hell, borrowing the name from Fortnite in many cases—we got Battle Passes. A new strategy for a new era, Battle Passes are built for games-as-a-service. They’re supposed to keep people coming back for months or even years to see what’s new.
As convenience goes, wireless charging can’t be beat. You simply drop your phone onto the charger and walk away. Gone is the headache of managing cables that inevitably break or get lost.
Until recently, the main drawback to wireless chargers has been slow adoption and slow charging. This style of charging is still not ubiquitous, but you can now find Samsung, LG, Sony, and Moto phones that support it on the Android side, and Apple has adopted it for its iPhone lineup as well. And the technology itself is finally reaching a point where its speed is easier to live with, too.
Now that it’s a good time to go out and grab a stand or pad, we’ve tested some of the most popular models out there for both Android and iPhone, and discovered our favorites among the bunch. Read on for our findings, and check back periodically for our latest updates.
You can put away your Texas Instruments graphing calculators, kids. Microsoft’s bringing that capability to the Calculator app within Windows 10, as part of a new Insider build.
Windows 10 Build 19546 includes a special Graphing Mode for Windows Calculator, as well as a new Indexer Diagnostics app for delving a bit deeper into what Windows is making searchable on your PC. Microsoft has said previously that the company is migrating the Fast Ring into a more generic bunch of future code, so it’s not clear whether the new Calculator capabilities will be rolling out as part of the upcoming “20H1” release, or held over until a future release. (Edit: Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc has confirmed it will be a separate release.)
Not all that long ago, the spring of 2020 seemed like a golden age of wonders. We complained there would be too many games—Watch Dogs Legion, Dying Light 2, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2, Baldur’s Gate III, and the crown jewel Cyberpunk 2077.
Now uh...maybe none of them will release in the spring. Most were already delayed or simply absent, i.e. we haven’t heard word of Baldur’s Gate III since the Google Stadia event announcing it last June. But today CD Projekt announced Cyberpunk 2077 is delayed to September 17, where it will join Watch Dogs Legion and Bloodlines 2.
Microsoft and its partners, including JP.IK and Positivo, are launching new “Always Connected PCs” for education in conjunction with T-Mobile, which will supply the laptops with 4G LTE SIM cards.
The two Always Connected PCs will be built around undisclosed Qualcomm Snapdragon chips. Many more education devices that Microsoft and its partners plan to announce at the BETT 2020 show in London next week will be based around Intel’s Gemini Lake Refresh chips, an update to 2017’s Gemini Lake processor for low-cost PCs. Those PCs will offer up to 46 percent more performance than their predecessors, according to Intel and Microsoft.
Mophie’s Wireless Charging Pad has a simple name and a simple design. It’s a small black (or white) disc with a shiny finish, encircled with a rubber ring that keeps your smartphone from slipping off its surface. A single port on the back accommodates the included power cable with barrel adapter; a status light resides on the front.
Note: This review is part of our roundup of wireless charging pads. Go there for details on competing products and our testing methods for both Android phones and iPhones.
Yes, its looks are as basic as a wireless charging pad can get, and we dig it.
I hopped on the Android bandwagon early: I sold my iPhone 3G in 2009, bought an HTC Hero, and never looked back. I’ve been using Android every day since then, writing about Google’s platform as a tech journalist. Nonetheless, I’ve tried to keep pace with iPhone developments, and recently set aside a week of my life to get reacquainted with Apple’s smartphone.
I put all my Android phones in a drawer and settled into life with the iPhone 11 Pro. Admittedly, the iPhone does some things extremely well, even for a long-time Android user like myself. However, there are also plenty of things I hate with a fiery passion.
Where the iPhone wins
Apple’s Taptic Engine: Haptics are an underappreciated but important aspect of interacting with a smartphone, and Apple understands this. The “Taptic Engine” is essentially a giant vibration motor bolted right to the iPhone’s frame, and it’s fantastic. The haptic feedback is tight and powerful, surpassing all Android phones on the market. It can almost feel like you’re pressing physical buttons on the screen sometimes. Google’s Pixel phones have by far the best haptics on Android, but even those devices are far behind Apple.
The important dates start in June of this year, when Google will end support for Chrome Apps on the Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms. Education and Enterprise customers on these platforms will get a little more time to get their affairs in order, until December, 2020.
Microsoft said Wednesday that while it will begin rolling out its new, Chromium-based Edge browser today, the process will take several months to complete for the PC market as a whole.
Microsoft said in a blog post on Wednesday that the new Edge browser would be pushed to PCs as part of a “measured rollout” that will take months to complete. In fact, if you’re on the stable version of Windows, you’ll be somewhere in the middle of the line.
Microsoft will first roll out the new Edge via a subset of Windows Insiders on the Release Preview ring. It will be “offered to additional devices as data and feedback indicate that users are having a good experience,” Microsoft said. (Here's our review of the new Microsoft Edge browser.)
Microsoft’s new Edge browser is coming, ready or not. Starting Wednesday, Microsoft will begin pushing it out to Windows 10 PCs, a complete revamp built on the Chromium technology of Google Chrome. This review, based on a late beta version available via the Windows Insider program, is a solid, mainstream browser with a few tempting features. But it’s facing a real uphill battle.
By any estimate, Microsoft’s Edge—new or old—won’t make a splash. That’s because, at least where market share is concerned, it’s Google Chrome’s world, and we’re just living in it. As of December, Chrome commanded over 67 percent of the browser market, as measured by NetMarketShare. Firefox, currently the second most popular browser, captured just 9 percent.
Now that Microsoft has ended support for Windows 7, it has an opportunity to rethink how it manages its operating system. It would be a good time to take some lessons from its age-old enemy, Apple: Stop doing some things that make Windows upgrades onerous, and start doing some things that will keep Windows users faithful and happy. Some particularly important things to stop and start come to mind, like:
Stop: Charging for upgrades
Microsoft fell far short of its widely publicized goal to get a billion people to upgrade to Windows 10 within three years. It’s not hard to see why. While Microsoft offered a long grace period to upgrade to Windows 10 for free, those who missed the deadline have to pay up (unless certain unofficial loopholes to upgrade to Windows 10 for free still work). Windows 10 Home costs $139, while Windows 10 Pro, which brings “enterprise-grade security, powerful management tools like single sign-on, and enhanced productivity with Remote Desktop and Cortana,” will set you back $200.