Chime in: Share your Surface horror stories

Chime in: Share your Surface horror stories

Back in 2017, trusted recommendations site, Consumer Reports, made headlines after blasting Microsoft’s Surface lineup for reliability issues. Polling over 90,000 subscribers, it failed to recommend the premium collection of PC and tablets, potentially delivering a heavy hit to sales. Our Executive Editor, Daniel Rubino, questioned its findings at the time while diving deeper into Consumer Reports’ methodology.

Consumer Reports just recently reversed its stance on Surface, now recommending the Surface Pro, Surface Laptop, and Surface Book 2 to consumers. However, we’re still not short on horror stories from Windows Central readers, as seen in one recent post in our forums.

While Windows Central recommends most of the Surface line, there are some issues that can’t be ignored. Are you a Surface user? We want to hear your thoughts on the topic and any horror stories you’ve had over the years. Drop into the forum thread linked below and share your thoughts.

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Nintendo could Switch things up with an updated console in 2019

Nintendo could Switch things up with an updated console in 2019
Nintendo Switch review
Nate Barrett/Digital Trends

The Nintendo Switch hasn’t even been out for two years, but it seems Nintendo is hard at work on new hardware. According to The Wall Street Journal, Nintendo will release a new Switch model in 2019. The report cited “suppliers and others with direct knowledge of the plan.”

Though the report doesn’t offer many specifics about the hardware, it will “likely share many features with the current version and be compatible with existing Switch game software.”

As far as enhancements go, Nintendo could be looking to upgrade the Switch’s screen. The Switch’s current display is “without some technologies that are standard in more recent smartphone LCDs,” the report stated. Nintendo is considering adding technology that “would make it brighter, thinner, and more energy-efficient.” It’s unclear exactly how “current” of technology Nintendo might use for an updated display, but it “isn’t expected to adopt the organic light-emitting diode or OLED panels used in Apple Inc.’s iPhone X series.”

Battery life is probably the biggest downside of gaming on the go on Switch, so a more energy-efficient screen would be a welcome addition. As of now, the Switch currently holds a charge for about three hours when playing AAA games like Super Mario Odyssey.

While it may sound surprising to some that Nintendo is already planning new Switch hardware, it actually falls in line with Nintendo’s typical handheld release schedule. Nintendo released the DS Lite in 2006, two years after the original model launched. Just a year after releasing the Nintendo 3DS, the manufacturer released the Nintendo 3DS XL. Nintendo constantly iterates on its handhelds (three Game Boy Advance models, four DS models, six 3DS models). Since the Switch also doubles as a handheld, we’d actually be surprised if this is the only hardware upgrade the system receives in its life cycle.

The Switch started off on a tear, moving roughly 10 million units in its first nine months. In July, Nintendo announced it had sold nearly 20 million units. However, only about 1.9 million consoles were sold between April and June, less than Nintendo expected. While that’s no reason for alarm, it makes sense why Nintendo would want to reinvigorate interest in its console.







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What to expect from Google’s Pixel 3 event

What to expect from Google’s Pixel 3 event

Pixel 3 and 3 XL

Good grief, has this thing been leaked to death. Thanks to the Pixel 3 XL (I’m going to call it “Xposed Lyft”) incident, we have a pretty good idea what it’ll look like. The larger flagship will have a notched screen, glass back and, more or less, looks very similar to its predecessor. Meanwhile, the smaller model looks like a shrunken Pixel 2 XL, with a 5.5-inch notch-free display. It appears to have a 2,160 x 1,080 resolution, dual front cameras and just one on the rear. Both models should come with a Snapdragon 845 processor and run Android 9 Pie.

Some rumors suggest we can expect software features like the same “Active Edge” navigation gestures as the Pixel 2 and updated shortcuts. For instance, double pressing the power button could launch the camera app while long pressing it may take a screenshot, which doesn’t sounds like a great idea. You might also be able to hold down on a restaurant’s name in Gmail to make a reservation. For the full details, we’ll probably have to wait till next week to find out.

Pixel Slate Chrome OS detachable

Leaks frequently come from careless partners, and we have accessory maker Brydge to thank for this exposé. It appears to be a Chrome OS tablet codenamed Nocturne, which we’ve seen references to in Chromium code for months. Its real name, though, is probably Pixel Slate. From what we can tell this device would be Google’s first 2-in-1 detachable. Renders show a fingerprint reader embedded in the power button and pogo pin support, while Chrome OS code indicates a display resolution of 3,000 x 2,000. Some rumors suggest it could support Windows 10, too, though it doesn’t seem like that will be ready at launch.

We’ve already seen the first Chrome OS tablet and detachable from Acer and HP respectively, but like the Pixel C and Pixelbook, Google’s own hardware could set the standard that others need to live up to. For example, it might get new features first, like Assistant on the Pixelbook. Of course, expect it to cost more, too.

Home Hub

While the first Assistant-powered smart displays from Lenovo and JBL were worthy rivals to Amazon’s Echo Show, we might see a better contender from Google itself. The Home Hub looks to be a 7-inch screen attached to a speaker base, with an aesthetic that neatly matches the company’s smart home lineup. Basically it looks like a small Home Max grew a face. The rumor also indicates the Home Hub will be surprisingly light at just 480 grams (1.05 pounds), which is the same as the original Google Home.

The smart display should enable a richer Assistant visual experience, which should include some of the new features Google just announced. For example, you should be able to see footage from your Nest security camera on the screen, follow recipes on YouTube or see your Google Photos. The recent updates to Assistant also enable onscreen fitness coaching and interactive messaging, which would make it far more useful on something like the Home Hub. A separate retail leak suggests this will cost just $150 — cheaper than both Lenovo’s and JBL’s, which cost $200 (though the Link View goes up to $250).

New Chromecast

Seriously, can Google trust its retail partners at all? Best Buy actually sold an unannounced Chromecast to a customer last month that’s supposed to go on sale October 9th. The third-generation device looks similar to its predecessor, with the same round puck dangling from a cable. It even appears to cost the same $35. This looks like just a subtle refresh, though FCC documents suggest we could see Bluetooth support and potentially more powerful WiFi.

Considering the reports we’ve heard about Google making its own game-streaming console, and the just-announced Project Stream, it’s also possible that the new Chromecast could let users play games like Assassin’s Creed on their TVs. That would tie in nicely with the Bluetooth capability, which could be used to connect controllers.

Surprises?

If Google has anything else up its sleeve, it’s done a far better job of keeping those secrets to itself. Though rumors of a Pixel Watch were rife, Google appears to have shut down those reports. A new Google-made watch under another name might still be possible, though the company seems to have been focusing on its Wear OS software and partnership with Qualcomm lately instead.

It’s also high time we saw an updated version of the Pixel Buds, but leaks are scarce. Though they did get some new gestures and features earlier this year, the wireless headphones are still disappointingly far from the world-changing devices we were promised. We’re not holding our breath for second-gen earbuds, but man it would be nice.

We’ve exhausted our pool of knowledge of what Google has in store, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the company unveiled anything unexpected next week. Who knows, maybe a Google-branded microwave is on its way. If I were you, I’d stay tuned to find out.

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LG’s Watch W7 looks like the dumbest smartwatch of the year

LG’s Watch W7 looks like the dumbest smartwatch of the year

Android smartwatches may be about as dead of a form factor as Android tablets, but that isn’t stopping OEMs from continuing to pump out these little packages of wrist-mounted sadness. The latest is LG’s “hybrid” smartwatch, the Watch W7, which one-ups the usual Wear OS hardware package by slapping physical, analog watch hands on top of the display.

The watch hands look great in LG’s press renders, which only ever show the watch face, but if you try to use any of the “smart” capabilities of your smartwatch, you’ll quickly realize how bad of an idea this is. The physical watch hands constantly obscure the display, making it difficult to see the text and buttons on your smartwatch. To make matters worse, the watch hands need to connect to the requisite gearing in the body of the watch, so there’s also a sizable hole in the center of your tiny 1.2-inch display. To make matters even more worse, the layout has the display, then the watch hands, then the glass cover, so there’s a large air gap between the display and the display cover. As we learned in early smartphone designs, not bonding the display to the cover negatively affects display brightness and contrast.

Google’s Wear OS is definitely not built to work around physical watch hands, so you’ll always be fighting watch hands and the display hole as you try to see what’s actually on the screen. LG has a Band-Aid solution for the watch hands at least—you can press a side button and have the watch hands move into a horizontal mode temporarily, which obscures slightly less of the screen. The main benefit of the physical watch hands is that you can turn the smart watch portion off and run in a “watch only” mode for 100 days, but at that point you might want to just buy a regular watch. The watch hands are also available to some of LG’s apps, so they can act as a compass pointer or stopwatch.

The specs are also a disaster. The Watch W7 uses the two-year-old Qualcomm Wear 2100 SoC instead of the new Wear 3100 that was announced a month ago. Packing in a physical hand movement means there isn’t room for many of the components of a good smartwatch, so the Watch W7 can’t do decent fitness tracking or payments, thanks to the lack of NFC, GPS, and heart-rate monitor. This means the watch is only really useful as a notification machine, but, again, it’s awful at that, thanks to the hole in the center of the screen and the physical watch hands.

The real kicker is that all this costs more than a brand-new Apple Watch. The LG Watch W7 is $450 and launches October 14.

Listing image by Sascha Segan

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November’s Free PS4 PlayStation Plus Games Revealed Early

November’s Free PS4 PlayStation Plus Games Revealed Early

Bullet Storm: Full Clip Edition is one of November’s free PS Plus games, revealed weeks early.Credit: People Can Fly

Well, that was early.

Typically, Sony reveals the coming month’s free PlayStation Plus games a few days before the end of the month. Almost without fail Sony reveals the new batch of games on the last Wednesday of the month and then makes them available to play the following Wednesday, or first Wednesday of the new month.

Not so with November of the year of our Lord 2018. Sony has jumped the proverbial gun—at least for the free PS4 games.

For November, PS+ subscribers will have access to two PS4 titles as part of their monthly subscription. Here’s what they are, courtesy of an ad spotted on PlayStation.com.

Bullet Storm: Full Clip Edition is a remake of the classic bullet hell shooter and it’s a total blast. It’s just pure, run-and-gun mayhem and lots of fun. It’s the perfect PS Plus offering. With a 75/100 rating on Metacritic and it’s not the highest-rated or best-reviewed game to ever land on PS+, but it’s a solid shooter and I highly recommend it. Besides, it gets a “Very Positive” user rating on Steam.

Also, you simply will not get tired of kicking bogies off cliffs. This is the most OP kick since Dark Messiah of Might and Magic. Glorious.

Yakuza Kiwami is another remake, this time of the 2005 PS2 classic Yakuza game. I’ve only played some of the game, but it got great reviews (80/100 on Metacritic) and is one of those games—and franchises, really—that’s on my ever-growing “to play” list. Good lord, but that list is long and monthly free games on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One do not help.

Yakuza KiwamiCredit: Sega

For those who don’t know, the Yakuza series is a Japanese third-person crime game series with combo-based combat, mini-games and a heavy emphasis on story, so if that sounds fun to you, it’s free in November.

We’ll see what PS3 games are added to this list later in the month. If you’re curious about October’s free PlayStation Plus games, read about those here. You can see the free Xbox Games With Gold for October here.

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Bullet Storm: Full Clip Edition is one of November’s free PS Plus games, revealed weeks early.Credit: People Can Fly

Well, that was early.

Typically, Sony reveals the coming month’s free PlayStation Plus games a few days before the end of the month. Almost without fail Sony reveals the new batch of games on the last Wednesday of the month and then makes them available to play the following Wednesday, or first Wednesday of the new month.

Not so with November of the year of our Lord 2018. Sony has jumped the proverbial gun—at least for the free PS4 games.

For November, PS+ subscribers will have access to two PS4 titles as part of their monthly subscription. Here’s what they are, courtesy of an ad spotted on PlayStation.com.

Bullet Storm: Full Clip Edition is a remake of the classic bullet hell shooter and it’s a total blast. It’s just pure, run-and-gun mayhem and lots of fun. It’s the perfect PS Plus offering. With a 75/100 rating on Metacritic and it’s not the highest-rated or best-reviewed game to ever land on PS+, but it’s a solid shooter and I highly recommend it. Besides, it gets a “Very Positive” user rating on Steam.

Also, you simply will not get tired of kicking bogies off cliffs. This is the most OP kick since Dark Messiah of Might and Magic. Glorious.

Yakuza Kiwami is another remake, this time of the 2005 PS2 classic Yakuza game. I’ve only played some of the game, but it got great reviews (80/100 on Metacritic) and is one of those games—and franchises, really—that’s on my ever-growing “to play” list. Good lord, but that list is long and monthly free games on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One do not help.

Yakuza KiwamiCredit: Sega

For those who don’t know, the Yakuza series is a Japanese third-person crime game series with combo-based combat, mini-games and a heavy emphasis on story, so if that sounds fun to you, it’s free in November.

We’ll see what PS3 games are added to this list later in the month. If you’re curious about October’s free PlayStation Plus games, read about those here. You can see the free Xbox Games With Gold for October here.

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