PCWorld May 2021

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

4 min
microsoft didn’t lie: the surface laptop 4 really is twice as fast

Microsoft unveiled the Surface Laptop 4 on Tuesday with some bold performance claims: The Surface Laptop 4 should surpass the performance of the Surface Laptop 3 by 70 percent or so, or even offer twice the performance under certain scenarios. Does it live up to the hype? Does it ever. Although the difference between the two generations of Surface Laptops narrows during everyday activities, our early tests show the Surface Laptop 4 winning any CPU-intensive tasks by a mile. Microsoft is shipping the Surface Laptop 4 in both of its traditional display sizes: 13.5 inches and 15 inches. Under the hood you’ll have a choice of two microprocessors: either the 11th-gen (Tiger Lake) Core chip from Intel, or the Surface Edition processor codesigned by Microsoft and AMD, and based on AMD’s Ryzen…

3 min
amd’s new ryzen 5000g chips wield radeon graphics— and double the cores

AMD’s modern Ryzen APUs with integrated Radeon graphics have been a big hit with budget PC builders since their arrival, and they should be in hot demand given the untenable state of today’s graphics card market. But there hasn’t been a fresh DIY offering since the Ryzen 3 3200G’s release in 2019—until now, that is. In April, AMD quietly announced a new generation of Ryzen 5000G desktop processors, including models that have significantly more cores than they did before. You might still be waiting a while to get your hands on one, though. The Ryzen 5000G series—built around the “Cezanne” architecture that debuted in AMD’s excellent Ryzen 5000 Mobile chips—will debut first in prebuilt computers by the likes of Dell and HP before rolling out in DIY retail form later this year,…

1 min
google photos finally lets pc users copy text from an image

One of the handiest Google Photos features just landed on the desktop—via your browser—where it could be even more valuable. The mobile version of Photos supports a technology called Google Lens. In 2018, Lens introduced optical character recognition (OCR) technology that can automatically copy any text found in an image, allowing you to paste it elsewhere for easy saving. As 9to5Google spotted over the weekend, that Lens OCR feature is now rolling out to desktop browsers, and that rocks. Enabling OCR in Google Photos makes it easy-peasy to take a picture of a document, book, or anything else on your phone, open it in your browser, and quickly copy its contents into an Office file. It’s already active on my account and it works scarily well on the handful of pictures I…

2 min
android loses a huge innovator as lg quits making phones

One of the biggest innovators in Android is bowing out. LG recently revealed that it is exiting the phone business to focus on other “growth areas” such as smart home devices, robotics, and electric vehicles. Existing phones will remain available until the stock is sold through, and the company says, “LG will provide service support and software updates for customers of existing mobile products for a period of time which will vary by region.” Don’t expect to see the nifty rollable phone that LG showed off at CES. And an OS update to Android 12 in the fall probably isn’t in the cards either, since many of LG’s phones haven’t gotten Android 11 yet. The shutdown comes as no surprise—LG’s phone division posted massive losses over the last several years, and rumors…

1 min
looks like nvidia’s rtx 4080 won’t launch this year

Don’t expect a new generation of Nvidia graphics cards anytime soon. As part of his GTC 2021 keynote, CEO Jensen Huang revealed “Grace,” the company’s new Arm-based data-center CPU—yes, Nvidia is making CPUs now!—and in a slide showing Nvidia’s revamped data center chip stack, the next-gen “Ampere Next” graphics architecture was listed as coming in 2022, with “Ampere Next Next” scheduled for 2024. Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference largely focuses on developer, business, and data-center announcements, and the slide showing a 2022 release for Ampere Next relates to that context—not consumer-oriented GeForce graphics cards. Nonetheless, Nvidia’s latest and greatest architectures usually debut in the form of ultra-expensive data-center GPUs before trickling down to PC gamers as GeForce products. That happened for this first Ampere generation, for example. So the 2022 arrival of Ampere…

2 min
dell’s xps 13 9310 just got a mesmerizing upgrade

Dell’s beloved XPS 13 premium laptop will get the infinite black treatment, thanks to a new OLED panel option. The OLED is the fanciest of four screen options Dell will offer for the XPS 13, all of them in the same taller and more useful 16:10 aspect ratio. The OLED option will add $300 extra over the basic display option. Full pricing should be available when the new SKUs come online. Here are all the display options for the XPS 13: Base (touch or non-touch): 1920x1200 (FHD+), 500-nit touch with Eyesafe technology. OLED: 3456x2160 (3.5K), 400-nit touch with DisplayHDR 500, 100 percent DCI-P3. 4K: 3840x2400 (4K UHD+), 500-nit touch with DisplayHDR 400, 90 percent DCI-P3. If you haven’t seen an OLED display, prepare to be impressed. Unlike traditional backlit screens, which rely on blocking…