PC Magazine March 2019

PC Magazine provides lab-tested reviews, detailed tips and how-tos, insightful feature stories, expert commentary, and the latest tech trends to help you at work, at home, and on the road. And for a limited time, we're offering a copy of Breakout: How Atari 8-Bit Computers Defined a Generation with new subscriptions. This brand-new book is all about what made Atari's computers great: excellent graphics and sound, flexible programming environment, and wide support.

United States
Ziff Davis
12 Issues

in this issue

2 min
moving into the smart home era

In ancient days, we had to do all of our household chores slowly, laboriously, by hand. But early in the 20th century, there was a revolution. It started with the humble vacuum cleaner—the first portable electric one, that is, dubbed the Electric Suction Sweeper. Then came refrigerators, dishwashers, microwaves… all the mod cons that make living in a house a much more pleasant and less strenuous proposition than it had been. Now we’re moving into a new era: the age of the smart home. And coincidentally, the Roomba, descendent of the pioneering vacuum cleaner, has already enjoyed a fair amount of success. But shouldn’t we be a little further along by now? It’s a cliche at this point, but why aren’t we living like the Jetsons yet? Lots of smart home products…

3 min
safety first

ARE PASSWORD MANAGERS SAFE? Neil, I enjoy your reviews. How can I trust a web-based [password] manager… to be honest about the security of my passwords? Thanks for any comments! NEIL RUBENKING’S REPLY: Plenty of other entities could betray you or leak your data. But password managers are solely about password security. A breach or (unlikely) misuse of your data would be the end of the company. And in almost every case, data is encrypted using a key that only you have, meaning two things: If you lose the key, you’re hosed; and nobody else—not a disgruntled employee, not the NSA—can open the data store. That aside, you can get non-cloud, totally-local-yet-syncable password management. The best example is MyKi. Note that it has evolved since my review; the new version is in my…

readersinput_ipad opener
1 min
your gps devices may stop working on april 6

Remember the Y2K bug? It didn’t turn out to be the disaster everyone predicted. But come April 6, we could be facing a similar kind of disaster—only this time, it’s GPS devices rather than computers that might grind to a halt. As The Register reported, the problem stems from the fact that GPS signals include a timestamp, and part of the timestamp is a week number stored as ten binary bits. This allows it to store 1,024 weeks before it resets, which means the reset happens after roughly 20 years. On April 6, that reset happens, potentially causing GPS devices around the world to stop working. The good news is that existing GPS devices can be patched to avoid this potential problem. But whether a patch is available depends on how old…

1 min
smartwatch sales jump thanks to built-in lte

Americans are increasingly hopping on the smartwatch bandwagon, according to new data from The NPD Group. Sixteen percent of US adults—about one in six—now own a smartwatch, up from 12 percent in December 2017, the market research firm announced. During the 12-month period ending in November 2018, smartwatch makers raked in nearly $5 billion in sales, up 51 percent from the same timeframe a year earlier. Smartwatch unit sales, meanwhile, jumped 61 percent during the period. That growth was primarily driven by consumers aged 18 to 34, NPD said; 23 percent of people in that age bracket own a smartwatch. “Over the last 18 months, smartwatch sales gained strong momentum, proving the naysayers, who didn’t think the category could achieve mainstream acceptance, had potentially judged too soon,” Industry Analyst and Director for…

3 min
most website terms of service are incomprehensible to americans

A recent study on the terms of service (ToS) policies used by Google, Facebook, and hundreds of other prominent online companies have concluded that the documents are written in a way that renders them functionally useless to most US adults, despite the fact that these documents are considered to be legally binding. Or put differently, and without all the fancy language: People are being held accountable to contracts that they literally cannot understand, even if they want to. Two law professors analyzed 500 of the most popular websites in the United States and the sign-in wrap contracts that these sites use. The documents themselves were analyzed using two separate scales for evaluating the readability of a document: Flesch-Kincaid (F-K) and Flesch Reading Ease (FRE). F-K measures how difficult a document is…

2 min
230 new emojis arriving this year

Heads up, emoji lovers: A brand new batch of icons—including gender-inclusive couples, a waffle, a pinching hand, a sloth, an otter, a yawning face, a guide dog, an ice cube, and a white heart—are coming later this year, and the Unicode Consortium offered a preview. In total, 230 new emoji are slated to arrive on mobile phones this year. That will likely happen in September or October, as part of the Emoji 12.0 release, said the Unicode Consortium, the nonprofit that approves new emojis. The release includes 59 new emojis and 171 gender and skin tone variants on existing ones. The list includes accessibility characters: two different types of wheelchairs (manual and motorized), a service dog, a guide dog, a probing cane, a mechanical arm and leg, a deaf person, and an…