PCWorld August 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

9 min
arm macs and amd rising: how intel’s endless 10nm struggles cost it so much

Intel’s endless 10nm nightmare has cost it so, so much. It all started on September 5, 2014. That’s the day Intel introduced 5th-gen Core M chips based on “Broadwell”, the company’s first processors built using the 14-nanometer manufacturing process. Despite some manufacturing woes that pushed Broadwell back from its expected 2013 release, Intel’s offering served as the vanguard of processor technology. AMD remained stuck on the 28nm process with its abysmal Bulldozer architecture. A mere month later, the Apple iPad Air 2 launched with a custom A8X chip that couldn’t quite hang with Intel’s older Haswell CPUs in Geekbench—but it was getting close. Nearly six years later, the tables have turned. Intel’s 10th-gen Core processors remain on an (upgraded) 14nm process. AMD’s Ryzen chips have snatched the computing crown, and Apple’s doing…

4 min
closing microsoft stores means more support and buying headaches for windows users

Apple Macs “just work” (for now, at least). PCs are hobbyist machines. Both are stereotypes, sure, but they might offer some explanation why Apple Stores are thriving and Microsoft just decided to close all of its stores. Microsoft spun the closure into a “new approach to retail,” one that would be driven through its website and online sales channels, rather than through a network of physical stores. (Amazon must be chuckling at this.) But the writing was on the wall: In 2019, Microsoft shuttered virtually all of its retail kiosks at malls and other shopping centers, leaving the larger Microsoft Stores on uncertain ground. If you walked into a mall the last few years, the evidence was there in front of you: shoppers visited Apple Stores, and generally ignored Microsoft Stores. That’s…

5 min
microsoft teams adds ‘together mode’ in massive update

Microsoft today said that it’s shaking up online Teams video meetings with a new Together mode that places participants in a virtual auditorium. It’s all part of a redesigned Teams experience that capitalizes on some of the promises Microsoft has been making for years. There’s even a pair of Teams smart displays. Microsoft said the company has spent much of the last few months rethinking the way in which video meetings were conducted. About 60 percent of those surveyed said they felt less connected to their colleagues due to the coronavirus, so Microsoft’s new Teams update tries to make nonverbal communication a priority. Several features play into this aspect of the Teams revamp, including chat bubbles, an updated way to “raise your hand” during meetings, and even live reactions. An earlier version…

3 min
powerful new qualcomm snapdragon 865 plus headed for gaming phones

Recently, Qualcomm unveiled the Snapdragon 865 Plus 5G platform, confirming previous rumors while offering faster CPU and GPU clock speeds, upgraded Wi-Fi, plus 5G modem support. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus 5G platform (also referred to as the Snapdragon 865 Plus, when speaking about the chip itself) is essentially an upgraded version of the Snapdragon 865 chip the company unveiled last December for premium smartphones. The Snapdragon 865 introduced a host of new features, including camera upgrades, AI, security, and gaming. The Snapdragon 865 was designed around Qualcomm’s standalone X55 5G modem, and the Snapdragon 865 Plus is as well, though neither is integrated. Both the 865 and the 865 Plus are 7nm chips. Almost all of the features on both the Snapdragon 865 and 865 Plus are common to both platforms.…

2 min
belkin thunderbolt dock core is first dual-powered thunderbolt dock

In late June, Belkin launched the Thunderbolt Dock Core, which the company claims is the first Thunderbolt-certified dual-powered Thunderbolt 3 dock. The $170 Thunderbolt Dock Core accepts your laptop’s power supply (assuming it charges via USB-C), which can plug into the USB-C (PD) port on the side of Belkin’s dock. The port then supplies up to 60W to the laptop, which is typically enough to power an ultralight laptop or similar model. Because the device is dual-powered, the opposite is also true: The dock can pull its own power directly from the laptop’s Thunderbolt cable if needed. What’s the difference between a USB-C hub and a Thunderbolt dock? They use the same physical interface—a Thunderbolt port can sometimes be indicated by a small lightning bolt, though your laptop’s manual is sometimes the…

2 min
windows file recovery is windows’ new tool for finding lost files

Accidentally deleting a file can be a nightmare. A new Windows 10 recovery tool, Windows File Recovery, can help—though it’s geared towards those who don’t mind using a command-line interface. Windows File Recovery, a free Microsoft app now on the Windows Store, offers a way to restore files that have become accidentally deleted. It does require Windows 10 build 19041 or higher, however, and also doesn’t work on a file that’s been stored to the cloud. You’ll also need two separate drives, which can be as simple as a USB drive if you’re trying to recover a file from the boot disk. The app is essentially a command-line interface disguised as an app, so recovering a file is a strictly text-based affair. Microsoft automatically creates a recovery folder for you called Recovery_<date…