PC Magazine February 2020

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
somebody (you work for) is watching you

We write a lot about privacy—especially in recent years, as technology enables more and more ways to eradicate it. Privacy is a huge topic, of course, encompassing personal data collection and marketing, location tracking, facial recognition, smart speakers that can record you in your home, and networked video cameras that record you everywhere else. In our February cover story, “The Quantified Employee,” author Chandra Steele narrows in on privacy in the workplace; specifically, on worker surveillance by employers and the shiny new ways it’s accomplished. If you thought the boss reading employees’ email or checking out their social media was invasive, try being outfitted with data-collecting wearables and even microchips. And yep, the latter is already happening. Even if your employer isn’t forcing you to wear a monitoring device, chances are good…

3 min
facing our fears

I oppose all biometrics of all kinds, as it negates our right to exemption from unreasonable searches, fails to provide due process, and is an unwarranted privacy invasion. At the corporate level, the corporations trade, share, sell, and give away our data as part of their approved business plan, in secret and leaving us no control over it. Meanwhile, police, corporations, and governments all over the world see Face ID as the golden fleece for unique identification and verification… It doesn’t require anything in writing, has no language barrier, has no need for interpretation by agents, doesn’t require touching the person, and can be done secretly on masses of people. And of course, that’s why it will be done. It’s nice that current systems do not forward face ID data to the…

17 min
the best of ces 2020

A new decade is here, and the future looks bright—at least when it comes to technology. The 53rd annual CES in January has raised the stakes for what to expect in the coming months and beyond. Of course, some new products and ideas shine more brightly than others, so our editors and writers got together to determine exactly which ones we’re most looking forward to in 2020. This year’s show brought lots of exciting new desktops, laptops, and components, which make up the bulk of our winners. There were also more smart home devices on display than ever, not to mention some very cool cars, robots, and prototypes. And with the rise of 5G, many of these devices feature unprecedented levels of connectivity. You might notice that, for the first time in…

3 min
first look: intel’s ‘horseshoe bend’ is an even bigger foldable tablet

Foldable-screen PCs were one of the biggest trends of CES 2020, but only one of the models on display could actually make a passable substitute for a desktop when it was unfolded. That’s Intel’s “Horseshoe Bend” prototype, which can open up to a seamless 17.3-inch display that resembles a small all-in-one PC or a mobile monitor. The Horseshoe Bend idea is very similar to Dell’s Concept Ori prototype and Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold, which is scheduled to go on sale this year. All three designs have displays that bend in the middle, and all of them can be propped up on a table with an external keyboard to function as a makeshift desktop when they’re not connected. “Thanks to its larger size, Horseshoe Bend’s key feature is its ideal blend of portability…

5 min
autism xr program helps students navigate social minefields

When Marc Petz was a first-year computer graphics/animation instructor at Michigan’s Kent Career Technical Center, a colleague was struggling to meet the needs of a student with autism. Petz’s class was asked to develop visually appealing stories the student could use to practice targeted social behaviors, and Autism XR was born. The web-based augmented reality program has students participate in scenarios with virtual humans who—through facial recognition and natural language processing—coach them through specific social situations. The first iteration of Autism XR, an app-based virtual reality prototype, went on to become a top 10 national finalist in Samsung’s Solve for Tomorrow Tech for Good competition. It’s now being retooled as an AR program for general use. Petz has also been working on a children’s book about inclusive learning environments with co-worker Mary Musto…

5 min
5 things i want in the playstation 5 and new xbox

Next-generation home video game consoles will soon be upon us. This year, Microsoft will release a long-awaited new Xbox, and Sony will finally unveil the PlayStation 5. We can expect the usual graphics, frame rate, and storage improvements, but there are issues from this current generation that need to be remedied in the next. Here’s what home video game consoles need in 2020. WELL-STRUCTURED BACKWARD COMPATIBILITY Some argue that backward compatibility isn’t important. I vehemently disagree. Preserving video game history is vital to the medium, as older hardware ages and breaks down. Microsoft is doing a bang-up job with this feature. On the new Xbox, you can play games created for that particular console, as well as Xbox One titles. Microsoft plans to leverage its free Xbox Backward Compatibility emulation (which is compatible…