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PC Magazine

PC Magazine January 2016

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.

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United States
Ziff Davis
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12 Issues

in this issue

3 min.
fit to be tried

I’m on the Fitbit bandwagon for the fourth time. I lost one to the laundry, another fell off at an Apple press conference, and the other one—geez, where is that one? Anyway, I don’t have a good track record with these things, but I’m doing it again with our Editors’ Choice–winning Fitbit Surge. The Surge is one of the most advanced trackers on the market, with GPS, a heart rate sensor, and the ability to identify multiple types of exercise. But I didn’t get a Fitbit for the hardware. I got it for the software. There are lots of ways to track your steps these days. Until I splurged on the Surge, I was using an app called Moves on my phone. Of course, it only worked when I had my…

3 min.
“skyscraper” chips promise powerful computing boost

A team of researchers led by Stanford’s Mohamed M. Sabry Aly, Subhasish Mitra, and H.-S. Philip Wong want to put a “skyscraper” of computer chips in your next PC. The idea is to stack application processors, memory modules, and other components one on top of the other in “a revolutionary new high-rise architecture for computing,” according to the Stanford News Service. Such an “electronic super-device” could power a computer that combines “higher speed with lower energy use [to] outperform conventional approaches by a factor of a thousand,” Wong said. Stacking chips has long been seen as a viable path toward building a more efficient, powerful computing architecture than the current template, which lays out and connects components on a flat board, like“single-story structures in a suburb,”as the researchers put it. But buildinga…

4 min.
panasonic enters the body camera fray

I’d rather be shot with a Panasonic than a Taser. Wouldn’t you? Driven by recent high-profile police shootings, body cameras are spreading across U.S. police departments. About a third of the 18,000 police forces in the U.S now use body cams, according to a report from B2B seller Insight that was commissioned by the cross-governmental U.S. Communities organization, and President Obama has requested funding for 50,000 more cameras. Panasonic’s brand-new Arbitrator BWC, released on December 1, is a big name stepping into a market dominated by two other firms, VieVu and Taser. Panasonic says that its advantage comes from being an actual maker of cameras and in having an end-to-end system for data management and storage, which Panasonic has been working on for the past decade with its police dashboard camera systems. The…

6 min.
the quest to improve video game ai

One of the most common user complaints about gaming is the AI. It’s been this way for decades, which doesn’t seem to make sense—computers today are vastly more powerful than systems built 30 years ago. We recently sat down with Brad Wardell, CEO of Stardock and the author of the AI in Galactic Civilizations II, about this problem—and how DirectX 12 (DX12) and improved multithreading support offer hope of improvement. SCALE, COST, AND COMPLEXITY The first problem, Wardell explained, is that good AI doesn’t really sell games. Gamers may value it, but it’s not the determining factor in whether people buy a title. At the same time, AI is now tightly coupled to graphics and must be communicated visually. It’s no longer enough to tell the player that “the shopkeeper looks frightened”—players…

6 min.
dna as storage for mankind’s permanent record

In this era of cloud storage and ever-recoverable user accounts, the idea of data just “disappearing” can seem downright odd. The EU has had to pass Right to be Forgotten legislation just to require companies to work to make it possible for data to go away. Yet given the sheer volume of data being generated and made available on the Internet these days, can that trend possibly persist? Tweets already pass out of easy access through search in just a few weeks’ time. The Internet is beginning to buckle under the weight of user-generated video. Can digital storage media progress fast enough to keep up with mankind’s ability to generate ones and zeroes? Perhaps it doesn’t have to. In DNA, evolution has come up with a highly specialized form of storage: physically…

2 min.
what we love most this month

AUTOMATIC ADAPTER Because not everyone can afford a smart car, Automatic has devised an inexpensive solution. The Adapter plugs into the standard diagnostics port hidden under the dash of most cars built in the last 20 years. Pair that with the companion mobile app and you can view information about your car and driving habits. Automatic also diagnoses your "check engine" light, reminds you to drive more efficiently, and remembers where you parked—because you never do. $99.95 automatic.com GRAAVA Stop spending hours editing your video footage into a 3-minute clip to share on social media. Instead, strap on the Graava camera and let the miniature machine do all the work for you. Using its camera, microphone, accelerometer, GPS, and heart rate monitor, the gadget serves as your eyes and ears, when your eyes and…