PCWorld December 2018

We review the Google Pixel 4a, plus what to expect if you’re switching from an iPhone SE. Find out if your Chromebook is expiring. Reviews of Note 20 Ultra, Norton 360 Deluxe, Mullvad vs. NordVPN, and much more!

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12 Numéros

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5 min
samsung’s folding galaxy phone reveal was a giant disappointment

After more than an hour of tiring Bixby announcements, cursory Galaxy Home details, and long-winded IOT speeches during the opening keynote to its developers conference, Samsung finally showed us what we were all waiting for: its new folding phone. Except it wasn’t really a phone at all. Samsung’s big innovation is the Infinity Flex display, and we still don’t know much about what Samsung is going to do with it. Senior vice president Justin Denison waxed poetic about an advanced composite polymer and reduced thickness that paves the way for rollable displays, foldable phones, and thinner handsets. Except he didn’t actually show us any of that. The brief glimpse we got of the phone revealed a super thick handset with giant bezels and an obvious hinge. Presumably we were looking at a…

1 min
google’s chrome 71 will block ‘abusive’ ads that trick you into clicking them

Google Chrome 71, due in December, will block what it calls “abusive” ads—ones that employ deceptive elements to trick users into clicking on them, Google said recently. In fact, the new browser will remove all ads from sites that feature these types of ads, the company said in a blog post. Google defines an abusive ad as one that includes a deceptive behavior—for example, an ad that includes a deceptive “close” or “X” button within it. In a legitimate ad, clicking such a button would close the ad. A deceptive ad makes the element part of the ad itself, so that clicking it actually launches the ad. That’s the sort of behavior that will trigger Google’s ire. Site operators found to harbor such ads will have 30 days to check their Abusive Experiences…

6 min
hints of windows 10’s 2019 future show up in early ‘19h1’ builds

We’re already seeing hints of the next version of Windows 10, due in the spring of 2019 and known by the code name “19H1.” Some are cosmetic, like the new Acrylic look and feel to the Windows sign-in page. Others are more substantive, like the new Search Indexer. But wait, you ask: Isn’t Windows 10’s October 2018 Update still in limbo? Yes: The October 2018 Update, delayed due to the potential for data loss, hasn’t been pushed to anyone but Windows Insiders. Currently there is no further news to share about its release, a spokesman said. Microsoft’s Windows teams move on parallel tracks. What’s known as the “Fast Ring” usually helps test the next version of the OS. As that version moves into its final testing phases before release, a second “Skip…

3 min
what amd’s 64-core ‘rome’ server cpu tells us about ryzen 2

AMD’s Ryzen 2 consumer CPU isn’t coming until 2019, but we saw hints of what to expect in “Rome,” the 64-core server CPU AMD unveiled in early November. It’s based on a new 7nm Zen 2 core that’s likely to find its way into Ryzen 2 next year. Let’s take a closer look. Each Rome CPU will feature 64 cores with symmetrical multi-threading for 128 threads per socket. The CPU itself is “revolutionary,” AMD said, and is built around eight separate 7nm “chiplets” with eight cores each. The chipsets contain no memory controller or PCIe, but are instead tied to a central IO chip built on 14nm. The IO chip has 8 channels of DDR4 plus support for PCIe 4.0. The company connects each chiplet to the IO chip via a 2nd-generation…

4 min
android security: why google’s demands for updates don’t go far enough

If there’s one thing about Android that Google desperately wants to fix, it’s updates. Unless you’re buying a Pixel or an Android One phone, you’re never really sure whether you’re going to get updates as they’re available or, really, at all. It’s a question whether you’re buying a thousand-dollar Galaxy Note 9 or something much cheaper: What’s going to happen to my phone in 6, 12, or 24 months? Now Google is trying to make sure everyone has the same answer to that question. According to a report in The Verge, Google’s latest Android partner contract finally includes language that mandates security updates for a minimum of two years, lest the OEM in question lose future phone approval. That all sounds well and good on paper, but it’s not like Google is playing…

3 min
goodbye, cortana: microsoft’s javier soltero leaves, putting the digital assistant’s future in doubt

Javier Soltero, who briefly led the development of Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant, plans to leave the company, Soltero confirmed on November 6. Soltero confirmed his decision via Twitter after ZDNet reported the story earlier in the day. Microsoft representatives had not previously responded to requests for comment, but confirmed his departure after Soltero’s Twitter message. “I’ve made the decision to leave Microsoft,” Soltero wrote. “The past 4 years have been an incredible experience. I’m humbled to have been a part of building something that 100M+ users depend on every day and grateful to have worked with some amazing people. “I am deeply optimistic that Microsoft will continue to grow by building great products for people around the world,” Soltero added. “I’m grateful to have learned so much about what it really takes…