Tech Advisor February 2020

Every issue of Tech Advisor is packed with the latest news, reviews and features plus comprehensive and impartial buying advice as well as easy-to-understand tutorials and workshops to help you to get the most from your PC. Whether you want to buy the best value equipment or make the most out of equipment you already own, Tech Advisor delivers expert advice you can trust.

United Kingdom
IDG Communications - UK
12 Issues

in this issue

10 min
10 biggest ignite reveals include more ways to tie office to the web

Microsoft plans to announce a boatload of new capabilities to Office, search, and Edge at its Ignite conference last month, including rollout plans for its Chromium-based Edge browser, a tool to read your email aloud in the Outlook app, corporate insights driven by Microsoft Search, and more. But subtle improvements such as natural-language queries in Excel may prove more significant. The firm has arguably struggled to align search and the web with its traditional Office silos of spreadsheets, presentations, and documents. Now, executives say they’ve cracked the problem. Microsoft hasn’t lost its idealistic view of the Internet, dating back to Internet Explorer’s ‘beauty of the web’ campaign. But today, the web provides more opportunities and more challenges to solve, said Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president in charge of Microsoft’s Modern Life &…

2 min
‘project silica’ targets glass as the storage medium of the future

In contrast to Microsoft’s new Edge browser, natural-language querying in Excel and other near-term innovations, one of the more interesting announcements you won’t see anytime soon is storing data within glass: Project Silica. At Microsoft Ignite, the company showed off how it developed (with help from the Warner Bros film studio) a three-dimensional recording system to store the movie Superman within a pane of glass. Using ‘voxels’, a three-dimensional version of the pixels that display images on a PC monitor, Microsoft was able to store the digital version of the movie inside a Project Silica glass. More than 100 layers of voxels can be stored on a sheet of glass 2mm thick. In 2016, Microsoft began showing off how it could use DNA strands to store data, as a biological analogue to…

7 min
google pixelbook go

Price: £829 from Eight years into the Chromebook’s existence, the category is still dominated by small, super-cheap laptops. Google has previously tried to inspire greater things with halo models – the super-premium Chromebook Pixel of 2013, and the stylish Pixelbook of 2017. But most users couldn’t or wouldn’t pay for them. “We heard loud and clear that people loved the design and wanted a lower price,” said Matt Vokoun, Google’s Senior Director of Product Management for Create Hardware. Enter the Pixelbook Go, a laptop with a careful balance of quality features and economical compromises. Its £629 starting price (via Google) is still somewhat high – and the top-end model will cost £1,329. Still, it could bolster a sparse ‘middle class’ of Chromebooks that’s still struggling for traction. And it’s a darn…

19 min
google pixel 4 xl

Price: £829 from The Google Pixel 4 XL can lay claim to the only real smartphone breakthrough of the year: a shrunken radar chip that’s so advanced it can detect when you reach for your phone so you’ll never have to stare at a blank screen again. It’s a delightful feature that makes phones with ambient or always-on displays feel like they’re stuck in the past. Combined with Face unlock, the Pixel 4 XL’s Motion Sense technology makes me feel like the phone anticipates all my moves, and this truly saves time by limiting how often I need to tap the screen. Before you even unlock it, the Pixel 4 XL exudes futurity and sets you up for an experience unlike anything you’ll find on a Galaxy or iPhone. Unfortunately, the rest…

16 min
chromebooks versus windows laptops: which should you buy?

Should I buy a Chromebook or a Windows laptop? Whether you’re seeking out the best computer for your child or just weighing which inexpensive computer would make a great Christmas gift, weighing a Chrome OS-powered Chromebook versus a PC can be a tough choice – and we can help you choose the right one. Who should buy a Windows PC? A notebook PC powered by Microsoft Windows offers several advantages: Windows offers the most flexibility to run just about any app, as well as the choice of any browser you choose. You can tweak and configure your laptop as you choose. That convenience demands more computing horsepower, and often a higher price compared to most Chromebooks. Prices can soar into the thousands of pounds, and if you need a powerful PC for gaming…

5 min
hands-on with microsoft’s project xcloud

When Microsoft began calling for people to test its Project xCloud cloud gaming service, I was sceptical of how it would perform over the toughest stress test you can throw at it: a cellular connection. That’s why I was surprised at how well it works. I’ve been trying the Project xCloud beta off and on for more than a week now. Keep in mind that Microsoft is actually testing two betas at the moment: Xbox Console Streaming, where you’re streaming games you own from your Xbox to a mobile phone or tablet; and Project xCloud, which takes a pre-selected batch of four games and allows you to play them over a wireless connection. I’ve tested only the latter, though the former is now live for Xbox Insiders. Let’s pause to talk about…