PCWorld June 2019

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!

United States
12 Issues

in this issue

5 min
here’s why lenovo’s thinkpad x1 foldable tablet may have really killed the laptop for me

We get it. You’ve already decided that folding screen devices are a Mach 3 flame-out at 85,069 feet. But hear us out, because Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 foldable prototype (it has no official name yet) just might have you thinking that you’ll never want to buy another laptop again. Seriously. The ThinkPad X1 foldable prototype concept is simple: Take a 13.3-inch, Intel-based, full-service Windows OS–-running PC/tablet/device and fold it in half, with a diagonal corner-to-corner measurement of about 10 inches. At about an inch thick, it has the feel of a medium-sized journal. If you’re on the train or plane, you can simply open it and do your pleasure reading or browsing. While Lenovo didn’t disclose the weight, it felt close to or lighter than Apple’s iPad Pro 13, which comes in at…

2 min
samsung pushes back galaxy fold release to ‘run further tests’ following poor reviews

I guess it’s true what Kenny Rogers said: You gotta know when to fold ‘em. After announcing recently that it was delaying the Galaxy Fold launch events in Hong Kong and Shanghai, Samsung has now also reportedly pushed back the U.S. release date of its next-generation handset following a flurry of poor reviews and problems with the device, according to a statement from the company. The Wall Street Journal initially reported that the Fold would be delayed “at least until next month,” but Samsung’s statement is even less concrete: “While many reviewers shared with us the vast potential they see, some also showed us how the device needs further improvements that could ensure the best possible user experience. To fully evaluate this feedback and run further internal tests, we have decided…

4 min
google’s next-gen assistant blows past siri with 10x speeds and deeper awareness of your life

Sayonara, Siri. During Google’s I/O keynote on May 7, the company revealed several jaw-dropping new features coming to Google Assistant, and the AI-enhanced software on Android phones appears ready to run laps around Apple’s still-too-simple rival. Google calls it “the next-generation Assistant.” The secret sauce? Moving Google Assistant’s processing from the cloud to your device. CEO Sundar Pichai claims that the company managed to condense Assistant’s speech recognition models from 100GB in size all the way down to a mere 50MB, letting it run directly on your phone. “This breakthrough enabled us to create a next-generation Assistant that processes speech on-device at nearly zero latency, with transcription that happens in real time, even when you have no network connection,” Google crowed in its announcement post. Google says the shift allows Assistant to…

2 min
microsoft issues a rare windows xp patch to combat a virulent wannacry-like exploit

Windows XP may be dead, but Microsoft refuses to leave it to the worms. Today, the company warned users to apply a critical patch for a remote code execution vulnerability that could open older versions of Windows to attack. Common-sense caution isn’t enough, because the exploit can trigger even with no action taken by the user. “In other words, the vulnerability is ‘wormable’, meaning that any future malware that exploits this vulnerability could propagate from vulnerable computer to vulnerable computer in a similar way as the WannaCry malware spread across the globe in 2017,” Microsoft’s Simon Pope warns. As with the nasty WannaCry, a widespread attack that locked computers and held them ransom, Microsoft is taking the rare step of issuing security patches for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003—two “dead”…

5 min
intel: you don’t need to disable hyper-threading to protect against the zombieload exploit

If you’re in a panic to figure out how to turn off Intel’s Hyper-Threading feature to prevent ZombieLoad, the latest Spectre-like CPU security exploit, then take a deep breath: Intel’s official guidance does not actually recommend that. The bad news? None of what we tell you is going to make you feel any better. ZombieLoad is similar to previous “side channel” attacks, which trick Intel processors into coughing up potentially sensitive information that otherwise would be kept private by the CPU. The exploit hits most Intel chips and can be used on Windows, macOS, and Linux, the ZombieLoad researchers said. ARM-based and AMD-based CPUs aren’t impacted. “While programs normally only see their own data, a malicious program can exploit the fill buffers to get hold of secrets currently processed by other running…

3 min
nvidia’s geforce gtx 1650 and gtx 1660 ti give affordable gaming laptops more firepower

The GTX 1060’s years-long reign over the mainstream gaming laptop market is ending. Nvidia recently announced that its GeForce GTX 1660 Ti and GTX 1650 GPUs are coming to gaming notebooks, where they’ll join the more powerful mobile GeForce RTX options introduced earlier this year. (Haven’t heard of the latter GPU? Surprise!) Nvidia concurrently announced the GeForce GTX 1650 desktop graphics card. Interestingly, Nvidia did not announce a non-Ti mobile version of the GTX 1660. Based on previous pricing trends, we’d expect the GTX 1650 to slip mostly into systems costing less than $1,100, while the GTX 1660 Ti will likely be reserved for laptops in the $1,000 to $1,600-or-so range. Beyond that lies the mobile RTX 2060’s territory. These new GPUs should provide a substantial boost over their predecessors. While we haven’t…