PCWorld May 2020

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

8 min
which internet providers are lifting data caps during the coronavirus, and which aren’t

As American businesses are forced to shut down because of COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus), customers are anxious about their bill for internet access. Data caps, an annoyance in the best of times, suddenly can mean paying additional fees if a family sheltering in place goes over its limit. Think of it: you’re working from home, videoconferencing over Skype or Zoom, while your kids are playing games and chatting with friends. There’s streamed movies to watch in the evenings. Disney+ and Netflix may be in constant rotation, adding to the bandwidth strain. That’s a lot of data! In response, some ISPs and cellular service providers are providing relief for customers. Some are merely adhering to the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge (PDF), which asks the signees not to terminate a customer’s service for…

8 min
intel calls its 5.3ghz ‘comet lake-h’ chip for gaming laptops the ‘fastest mobile processor’

Intel’s 10th-gen Comet Lake-H mobile processors for gaming laptops aspire to something that, so far, AMD’s Ryzen hasn’t emphasized: pure clock speed. Announced April 2, Intel’s 10th-gen H-series chips go above 5GHz, a new frequency high for mobile PC processors. In fact, most of Intel’s six new 14-nm Comet Lake-H-series chips top 5GHz, including a “step up” Core i7 chip, the Core i7-10875H (2.3GHz base, 5.1GHz turbo). Intel has designed it as a slightly cheaper alternative to the new uber-premium Core i9-10980HK, though both chips include 8 cores and 16 threads. It’s this new Core i9 that sets a high-water mark for clock speed, cresting at a whopping 5.3GHz. All this potentially sets up a hot debate among mobile gamers: buy in to Intel’s claims that most games still are largely dependent…

8 min
nvidia levels up geforce gaming laptops: rtx super gpus, max-q advancements, and price drops

After months of speculation and leaks, Nvidia’s long-awaited GeForce RTX 2070 Super and 2080 Super GPUs are coming to laptops, having launched on April 2 in unison with Intel’s “Comet Lake-H” 10th-gen Core processors for mobile gaming. That’s great! But believe it or not, it may be Nvidia’s least enticing announcement that day. The company also announced cheaper prices for gaming laptops across the board, and some massive upgrades to its energy-efficient Max-Q technology to let GeForce GPUs soar even higher when they’re paired with Intel and AMD’s latest notebook processors. Let’s look at the new GPUs and Nvidia’s pricing changes first, then dive into the Max-Q tweaks, since they’re worth deeper explanation. The Super-fied laptop incarnations revolve around the same underlying hardware as desktop GeForce RTX 2070 Super and RTX 2080 Super,…

2 min
chrome os’s new tablet mode is more like android (and the ipad)

Many updates have passed since Chrome OS introduced a proper tablet mode for convertibles with version 70, and while Google has certainly refined the system, it’s done little to fix its core navigation issues. The main problem: It’s kind of confusing. But the next Chrome OS update will go a long way to fix that. With the upcoming version 81, Google is bringing a new way to navigate when you’re not using the trackpad. It’s similar to both Apple’s new gestures on the iPad Pro and the latest Android 10 navigation with three main components: Swipe from the bottom of the screen to get to the home screen. Currently, you need to bring up the shelf and use the button on the far left or minimize your current window to return to…

2 min
samsung’s low-cost galaxy a-series phones aim to reverse u.s. smartphone slump

While its thousand-dollar-plus flagship phones might get all the attention, Samsung’s best-selling phone of 2019 wasn’t the Galaxy S10 or the Note 10+, it was the $350 A50. Now, with a global smartphone slump that has hit the Galaxy S20 hard, Samsung is doubling down on that strategy. Make that sextupling down. On April 8, Samsung announced six new Galaxy A phones coming to the U.S., ranging from the ultra-cheap $110 Galaxy A01 to the $600 Galaxy A71 5G. The handsets have an array of different features and specs, but they all have three things in common, which Samsung calls “everyday essentials.” That means you’ll get premium-grade displays, cameras, and batteries, and lots of storage at an affordable price. All six phones also have dual-, triple-, and quad-camera systems with ultra-wide, depth,…

4 min
killed by apple: dark sky isn’t alone in android app graveyard

In a press release that was as surprising as it was terse, weather app and API purveyor Dark Sky announced that it had been acquired by Apple. Of course, iOS users will be fine and the Dark Sky will continue to be available for purchase in the App Store until it inevitably replaces the stock weather app in an upcoming iOS release. Android users aren’t so lucky. Dark Sky offered no promises or hope, saying plainly that the Android and Wear OS apps will no longer be available for download in the Play Store and service to existing users and subscribers will end on July 1.(Subscribers who are still active at that time will receive a refund for whatever remains of their $3 annual subscription fee.) What really hurts is that Apple…