Reviews/How Tos

Overclockers and frequent PC builders alike can appreciate the advantages of having an open air bench or rack for testing. These make component swapping a breeze for comparisons and provide a flexible platform for checking a build before installing it inside a tight case. Few things are more frustrating than learning your motherboard is dead on arrival after you finished meticulously routing every last cable.As nice as open air cases and test benches are, however, they have largely come with their own share of hassles. Many test benches walk a spectrum between structural rigidity and layout flexibility.... Read more...
If you like the idea of using a stylus with your mobile device, then you probably prefer the precision and additional functionality over the convenience of a fingertip. That, or you've picked up a brand-new HP Pro Slate 8, a tablet targeted at working professionals that includes a rather useful and unique accessory dubbed the "Duet Pen" that enables some pretty interesting features. In the HP Pro Slate 8's case, you can still poke its 7.9-inch screen all you want with a finger. The stylus, an accessory that ships with the $470 tablet, isn't an absolute necessity. You don't need it for everyday... Read more...
Though it still hasn't grabbed consumers like some manufacturers had hoped, the smartwatch market is growing rather quickly, and a number of good options are currently available. For some users, price may be one of the key factors holding them back from buying a smartwatch. While many watches cost at least $250, and some can run hundreds of dollars more, ASUS’s latest ZenWatch 2 we'll be showing you here is available for as little as $129. Of course, any time we see a budget-friendly smartphone, laptop, tablet, or smartwatch we assume sacrifices were made to keep the price low. In the case of the... Read more...
Periodically, Amazon updates and revamps its lineup of tablets with upgraded models and new names. While the company's tablets have kept the Fire branding over the years, the combination of letters and numbers that follow have changed. This year, for example, Amazon removed the HDX tag and now offers tablets with simply “Fire” or “Fire HD” branding. As its simpler name may suggest, Amazon’s latest Fire tablet is a more basic model that doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles of the HD series, which is available in three sizes. Instead, the all-new 7-inch Fire tablet has an ultra-low $50 price... Read more...
Competing with Apple in the mobile space isn't rocket science, it's just a matter of sticking to a proven formula for success -- build a premium device with superior specs than the one Apple is selling, inject it with Android, and then undercut the iWhatever in price. That's not to say Apple is the only premium slate target of opportunity but we'd surmise Apple would consider it the sincerest for of flattery anyway. Incidentally, we've just described the ASUS ZenPad S 8.0. It's a well designed Android tablet with Intel inside, and it boasts better specs than the iPad mini 3. It's also less expensive... Read more...
We just left Samsung’s Unpacked 2015 event in New York City, at which the company unveiled its latest flagship, big-screen smartphones, the Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Note5. Immediately following the on-stage presentations and big reveals, Samsung opened up a demo area featuring the new devices and we got to spend some hands-on time with each of them. A video of both devices in action is embedded below. Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ Home Screen Before we dive into the video, we should point you all towards our existing coverage. We’ve got additional details regarding the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ available at... Read more...
Many of us have gazed in awe at some of the gorgeous, high-definition videos captured with ultra-expensive drones, and wished we could produce the same kind of imagery on our own. But for most of us, budgets would not allow it.  With that in mind, Parrot sought to integrate a quality, full HD video camera into a lightweight drone, built with safety and accessibility as top priorities. The company also wanted to produce a drone that offered an engaging piloting experience with substantial range and an expertly designed, custom controller kit. The end result is the Bebop Drone and Skycontroller... Read more...
In November, Amazon announced the latest addition to its hardware line-up, the Amazon Echo. The Echo smart speaker doubles as a digital assistant and home entertainment device. It’s an always-connected, always-available Siri or Cortana-like device designed for your home that can provide answers to common questions, play music, provide traffic updates, control your lights, read audiobooks, and much more. Because it’s tied to your Amazon account, the Echo can also be used to reorder products you’ve previously purchased from Amazon. Although the Echo was announced in November, it was available for... Read more...
The tablet world is shifting quickly. While arguments for and against the need for a "third device" have been raging since the early days of the iPad, we're seeing tablets emerge that are far more potent and capable than ever before. In fact, it's tough to lump products like Dell's Venue 10 7000 in with bargain-bin slates that are clearly built to be used primarily for mobile Internet browsing and other strictly consumption-based use. This device we're testing here is cut from a different cloth. In many ways, it's paving a new path for tablets, and at first blush, you may assume that such a well-engineered... Read more...
Microsoft's third iteration of the Surface Pro was a monumental improvement over the first two incarnations. For many, the third time really was the charm. It was powerful enough to replace most laptops, and versatile enough to serve as two device types without major compromises on either side. A year later now, and Microsoft presents us with the third iteration of the standard Surface. You know, the one without the "Pro" dangling from the end. It's cheaper, slimmer, and toned down, but it's also aimed at a broader swath of consumers. The base Surface 3 checks in at an alluring $499, but that's... Read more...
HP acquired VoodooPC back in 2006, bringing the creative genius of owner Rahul Sood into its fold and ensuring that its gaming lineup of desktop PCs and Laptops would get a lot more style and attitude. Sood and HP eventually parted ways, but the ghost of VoodooPC, its DNA and swank logo stayed on, giving HP a unique gaming line. The HP Omen 15 is the latest gaming laptop in this series and it has Voodoo personality from the moment you take it out of the box. Before you dive into the nitty-gritty, let's give you a walk-around and demo of the Omen 15 in action... HP Omen 15 Specifications & Features... Read more...
As Intel (and other chip makers) have been able to shrink its processors, integrate more features, and reduce power requirements over the years, manufacturers have been able to fit them into smaller and smaller form factors. That means notebooks and tablets have gotten thinner, lighter, faster and more portable over the years, of course, but it also means that desktop systems no longer need to be big boxes crammed with numerous components and cooling hardware. In some ways, Intel’s NUC series of products are the epitome of this dynamic. Intel’s NUC systems are ultra-small form factor systems that... Read more...
Alienware's new Area 51 gaming desktop PC arrived late last year and it certainly turned heads, including ours, due to its somewhat radical design. Sure, we've seen some wild chassis designs out of Dell's Alienware gaming PC division in the past, but their new, redesigned Area 51 machine really broke the mold. In fact, if you're stuck on the old gray or black box design of most legacy systems, the "Triad" chassis of the new Area 51 may be too much of a departure for you to wrap your head around. We think, with a little investigation into the mechanical engineering and simple physics of the... Read more...
Intel is readying its latest generation of NUC small form factor systems, based on the company’s recently-released Broadwell-U processors. We got our hands on a Core i5-powered version dubbed the NUC5i5RYK. To be more specific, this little machine is packing a Core i5-5250U processor with on-die Intel HD 6000 series graphics. The system also sports built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0 and USB 2.0, M.2 SSD support, and a host of other features. We’re still readying our full review, but in the meantime we thought you’d like to take a peek at the diminutive Intel NUC5i5RYK to get a sense... Read more...
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