PC Magazine April 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
the new streaming wars

Do you remember the days before cable, when pretty much all you could watch on television were ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, and a few weird and fuzzy channels on the UHF band? I might be giving too much information away here, but I grew up during those days. Despite the limited options, my brother and I watched TV—a lot. After school, after dinner, Saturday morning (cartoons!), and whenever else we could convince our parents to let us. That says a lot about the hypnotic attraction of the screen. TV—even early, low-res TV—is where screen addiction started for a lot of us. Today, of course, we have multiple screens to watch, both at home and when we’re on the move. Everything looks a lot better than it used to. And the amount of…

2 min
who’s really leading in 5g?

That’s a little shocking, because most observers believe Apple is going to introduce 5G phones a full year later than Android phone vendors. Actually, those 2019 “5G phones” are really “5G-ready” but not “5G-usable” this year. They will have the first version 5G modems inside, but true 5G cellular service won’t be available in most places until at least 2020 (if not later). There is no rush for Apple to put 5G modems in its 2019 iPhones, and (as rumored) they will include second-generation 5G modems in their 2020 iPhones… when they are actually usable.—Jurassic Apple has never (well, since Jobs took it back over) been an actual technical innovator. It’s just been good at assembling extant technology and marketing it as breakthroughs. Not to say that Apple hasn’t introduced “new” things that…

5 min
the best of mwc19

We go to a lot of trade shows throughout the year, but Mobile World Congress definitely holds a special place in our hearts. Maybe it’s the setting—Barcelona is magical—or maybe it’s the fact that every year, the show manages to bring together a consistently impressive roster of new products. If MWC had a theme for 2019, it’s hard to say whether that would be 5G or foldable phones (or 5G foldable phones?), which made a big splash and feature prominently on this list. But our seven favorite products reach beyond the trends, representing the absolute best of what the industry has to offer for the year ahead. Best Phone HUAWEI MATE X One phone absolutely stole the show this year: the Huawei Mate X. In addition to being the most attractive folding phone we’ve…

4 min
jigsaw chrome extension tunes out internet toxicity

What if you could turn a dial and tune out an abusive tweet in your Twitter mentions or an insulting comment on Facebook? Google’s sister company Jigsaw has released an experimental Chrome browser extension called Tune, which lets users control how much “toxicity” they want to see in comments across the internet. Tune is built on Perspective, Jigsaw’s API that trains machine learning (ML) models to identify and score comments that could be perceived as abusive or harassment. At launch, the browser extension works across social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, and comment platform Disqus. It acts as a knob that lets users set the “volume” of conversations. Turn it up to see everything, or turn it down all the way to “zen mode” to replace toxic comments with small…

5 min
5 reasons foldable phones are a bad idea

Smartphones used to come in all shapes and sizes: phones with keyboards, rotating cameras, 3D screens. Smartphone design has standardized around the flat glass slab in recent years—but things are starting to get weird again. Multiple smartphone makers seem to think 2019 is the time to make science-fictional folding phones a reality. Devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X look cool in demos, but foldable phones are probably a long, long way from being any good. Here are five reasons the current crop of devices is going to be bad. EVEN “NICE” PLASTIC SCREENS ARE STILL PLASTIC Everyone thought Apple was crazy to put a big glass screen on the original iPhone, but that turned out to be a good idea. Glass adds to the structural strength of your…

1 min
origami-inspired robot gripper could pack your groceries

Robots continue to become more agile, able to cope with more varied environments and complete complex tasks, but they still struggle when it comes to picking up delicate objects without causing damage. A team of researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have come up with a solution, though, and they have origami to thank for it. Rather than trying to copy the human hand, MIT professor Daniela Rus, director of MIT’s CSAIL, and a team of researchers from MIT and Harvard created a new gripper. It’s cone-shaped and collapses around an object, similar to the way a Venus flytrap works. The gripper is hollow and vacuum-powered, with inspiration coming from Uri Shumakov’s origami magic ball. Rus is aiming to create a robot that can pack your groceries, which…