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PCWorld Jul-13

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!

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15 Issues

in this issue

3 min
pcs aren’t dead, they’re microwaves

RECENT NEWS HASN’T been generous to PCs, especially after market research showed that shipments fell by double-digit percentages in the first quarter. Common wisdom declared that PCs are done. And yet PCs aren’t dead—they’re microwaves. But not for much longer. The Push to Appliancehood Until the early nineties, computers were a luxury. Today, however, everyone has a PC, just as everyone has a stove, a refrigerator, and a microwave. PCs have evolved into appliances—indispensable, yet unexciting. And a whole range of factors helped make this transition happen. Economy: Consumers and companies alike are doling out their dollars with great caution. So the prospect of plopping down a few hundred dollars on a laptop simply isn’t enticing, especially if your current PC still works well enough. Technology: Improvements to computer performance have slowed to a…

4 min

Online Privacy Regarding Melissa Riofrio’s “Scary Times for Online Privacy” [Editor’s Desk, May]: Does anyone really believe a “Do Not Track” concept will work? Does anyone remember the “DoNotCall.gov” telephone privacy law? I don’t see where that law worked very well. I still get more than a half dozen solicitation calls a month, for credit cards, home security, and so on. I can’t even get the “DoNot-Call.gov” site to help! Big business will find a way to get around any “Do Not Track” policy. Dom Catarinicchia Hamilton, New Jersey Melissa Riofrio’s Editor’s Desk column in the May 2013 issue was spot-on. In addition, she could have mentioned that no one recently seems to have read George Orwell’s fundamental and entertaining books Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm—both are required reading on her theme of privacy and…

4 min
design innovation: the pc’s salvation?

AS LAPTOP AND DESKTOP sales plummet, some PC manufacturers are wading out of their comfort zones in hopes of breathing life back into the market. Two recent examples: Toshiba, a manufacturer perhaps best known for midrange PCs at competitive prices, took a swing at the ultrapremium market with the Kirabook, a thin and light laptop with an ultrahigh-resolution display on a par with Apple’s Retina-packing MacBook Pros. And HP placed a big bet on futuristic motion controls, announcing that it will bundle Leap Motion controllers with select PCs, embedding the technology directly into future devices. Other PC makers are trying their own experiments. Acer has teased about a “unique notebook” that may be able to convert into a desktop with a raised touchscreen. Meanwhile, Asus has launched a desktop that transmogrifies into…

1 min
ads coming soon to your outlook.com inbox

IT WAS GOING to happen sooner or later: The clean, minimalist Outlook.com will soon start displaying advertisements alongside your inbox and email messages. Microsoft announced users in the United States and Brazil will be the first to see the new-format ads, christened versaTiles. Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom are set to follow suit soon. The New versaTiles Microsoft’s versaTiles are basically display ads based on flexible-size tile strips that appear along the right-hand side of the screen, next to your main inbox view. They also appear when you are inside an email. At first glance, the ads appear similar to the text ads Gmail users get in their inbox, but when you hover over the Outlook ads, they reveal images, videos, or more info. The Outlook…

1 min

Samsung Changes PC Naming Scheme Samsung has announced that it will gather all its Microsoft boxes under the ATIV brand, simplifying nomenclature. The move will affect Samsung’s Series 3, 5, and 7 all-in-one computers and more than half a dozen of its laptops. For example, the all-in-one models, which the company announced last summer, will be called the ATIV One 3 (Series 3), ATIV One 5 (Series 5) and ATIV One 7 (Series 7). Report: Amazon Plans Own Set-Top Box After conquering the low end of the tablet market with the Kindle Fire, Amazon may be getting ready to invade the living room with a television set-top box. Citing three unnamed sources, Bloomberg Businessweek reports that Amazon is planning to launch its box this fall. The report doesn’t say how much the device…

1 min
how wireless networks may learn to live together

RESEARCHERS AT THE University of Michigan have invented a way for different wireless networks crammed into the same space to say “excuse me” to one another. Wi-Fi shares a frequency band with the popular Bluetooth and ZigBee systems, and all are often found in the same places together. But it’s hard to prevent interference among the three technologies because they can’t signal each other to coordinate the use of the spectrum. In addition, different generations of Wi-Fi sometimes fail to exchange coordination signals because they use wider or narrower radio bands. Both problems can slow down networks and break connections. Michigan computer science professor Kang Shin and graduate student Xinyu Zhang, now an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin, set out to tackle this problem in 2011. Last July, they invented…