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PC Magazine

PC Magazine March 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

4 min.
privacy is never about just one phone

As this issue goes to press, Apple is under a court order to unlock an iPhone 5c for the FBI. The phone belonged to the now-deceased Syed Farook, who was one of the shooters in the San Bernardino killings from December of last year. According to law enforcement, unlocking this phone could save lives by revealing the communications and contacts of a known murderer. Apple has five days to respond to the order, but the company’s CEO, Tim Cook, has made it clear that he does not want to comply. Is unlocking this one phone really that big of a deal? Absolutely. This is a big new problem, and it requires a new debate. Farook’s phone is running iOS 9. This latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system requires a passcode to…

3 min.
reader input

Not Getting a Dell Five years ago, I bought what was a top-of-the range computer, the Dell Vostro 3700. It was quite expensive at that time, and I expected it to serve me well for a good few years. I now find that it is not compatible with Windows 10, due to a Dell hybrid graphics card! When I approached Dell, they said it was down to Nvidia to produce suitable drivers, and they didn’t know when that might occur. I then contacted Nvidia, who said they had produced all the drivers needed (32- and 64-bit) for Windows 10 to work, but that Dell had customized the graphics card, so any update would be down to Dell. I then spoke again with Dell, who denied this, but suggested I contact Microsoft, who…

9 min.
your favorite laptops and desktops

When choosing your next computer, whether it’s for personal use or work, you’re likely going to look at a few familiar brands: Apple, Asus, Dell, HP, and Lenovo. After all, these five companies accounted for more than 84 percent of the PCs sold in the United States in the fourth quarter of 2015, according to research firm Gartner. Given such a concentrated market, sometimes it’s easy to forget all the other companies making PCs. Don’t. You may be missing out on a better option. Among the other 15.9 percent of companies making sales are familiar names like Acer, Microsoft, and Toshiba, as well as the somewhat less common Alienware (which is owned by Dell), CyberPowerPC, and MSI. As we launch our 2016 Readers’ Choice Awards with the laptop and desktop categories,…

3 min.
an end to scaling: intel will sacrifice speed to reduce power

Faster, cheaper, smaller. For decades, those three words drove innovation in Silicon Valley and across the world. Even after clock speed increases flatlined after 2005, the semiconductor industry found ways to drive performance forward while increasing total transistor counts and improving on-die integration of various components. These days, SoCs, GPGPU, and Intel’s own Xeon Phi are all designed to increase performance even though clock speeds are largely static. Now, however, Intel has acknowledged that the future of semiconductors may rely on technologies that reduce absolute performance in exchange for improved power consumption. William M. Holt, head of Intel’s Technology and Manufacturing Group, made the announcement at the International Solid State Circuits Conference in February, when discussing some of the options Intel is evaluating. Don’t expect to see any of this next…

2 min.
connecting remote areas to the internet—by satellite

Delivering Internet access to remote areas is challenging, as the traditional method of running lines from connected regions is extremely expensive. There are a few approaches to doing this wirelessly—Google’s Project Loon balloons, for example. But a company called ViaSat is teaming up with Boeing to provide super-fast Internet access to remote areas from space. The just-announced ViaSat-3 satellite will have one terabit of available bandwidth. Yes, 1Tbps. ViaSat has made this announcement a little early, though. It has yet to announce its second-generation satellite, the ViaSat-2. That platform is supposed to head into orbit on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in a few months. Although the ViaSat-2 is no slouch, it will only have one-third of the available bandwidth of the planned ViaSat-3. Once its new generation of satellites is…

2 min.
the glove that can fight parkinson’s disease

During med school, Faii Ong met a 103-year-old patient covered in soup, and asked the nurses why they weren’t helping her. “There’s nothing we can do,” they responded. The medications for Parkinson’s disease, from which the patient suffered, don’t work forever, the nurses explained, and beyond a certain point they don’t help much at all. So Ong went to work. In less than two years, he and a “crack team of engineers, designers, and medics” have gone on to win the first inaugural £10,000 F-factor prize and produce the GyroGlove: a wearable device designed to mitigate the hand tremors suffered by Parkinson’s patients. The GyroGlove is a cordless thin-and-light wearable hand stabilizer. It’s powered by a battery, with a tiny integrated controller that drives a precession hinge and turntable, and a responsive…