One of founding fathers of hardcore tech reporting, Gordon has been covering PCs and components since 1998.
One of founding fathers of hardcore tech reporting, Gordon has been covering PCs and components since 1998.
Official news came much sooner than expected. On Tuesday, just a day after leaks surfaced on the company’s Canadian and Mexican sites about models with a bigger screen and dramatically more LEDs, Amazon confirmed the launch of three new Kindle Paperwhites. In addition to a successor for the existing Paperwhite—which was already the best Kindle you can buy—two fresh variants have gone up for pre-order: the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition and the Kindle Paperwhite Kids.
A larger screen is the biggest and most notable upgrade on Amazon’s latest e-readers. While these keep the same flush-front design and 300ppi resolution as the current fourth-generation Paperwhite, the display has grown from 6-inches to a roomier 6.8-inches and sports a narrower bezel. It also comes with a new ability to shift the color temperature of the screen’s backlight from white to a warmer amber tone, with the swankier Signature Edition featuring an auto-adjusting light sensor.
The screen isn’t the only bit of hardware that got an upgrade—Amazon says that other revamps should mean 20 percent faster page turns. Battery life jumps to up to 10 weeks on a single charge too, compared to the last generation’s maximum of 6 weeks. And in a possible answer to internet criticism, charging is at last done over USB-C. When used with a 9W or more powerful adapter, each of these new Paperwhites can be fully charged in 2.5 hours. The Signature Edition supports wireless charging as well and is compatible with any Qi wireless charger.
Paired with the hardware updates is the redesigned Kindle user interface announced by Amazon earlier in September. The feature changes, which the company says will roll out through the end of the year, include promises of easier navigation between the home screen, library, and current read; improved sorting within your library; and simplified setup via the Kindle app on iOS and Android if you pair the Kindle with your phone.
The Kindle Paperwhite costs $140 for the 8GB fifth-generation standard edition, $190 for the first-generation 32GB Signature Edition, and $160 for the ad-free Kids Edition . The Kids Edition includes a “kid-friendly” cover, one-year membership to Amazon Kids+, and two year limited warranty, while the Paperwhite and Paperwhite Signature Edition include a complimentary four-month access to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited library. Pre-orders begin today, with shipping starting on October 27.
Not sure if the new Kindle Paperwhite is the right e-reader for you? Our round-up of the best Kindle models can help you decide, as can our coverage of the top competition in the form of EPUB-friendly readers like the Kobo Clara.
Protecting your personal data isn’t just smart these days—it’s a necessity. As the world grows more and more connected, your private info becomes more and more valuable. Whether it’s using leaked info from website breaches to hack into your other accounts or holding your personal computer ransom for money, malicious evildoers won’t hesitate to ruin your day if it puts profits in their pockets. And a recent scary Microsoft Office hack reminds us that local files can secretly be malware in disguise as well.
All is not lost though. Following some basic security principles can help protect you from most of the attacks you’ll find on the World Wild Web. Better yet, these five easy security tasks should take only a short while to get set up. Do them now and sleep easier at night.
1. Use a password manager
On of the biggest security risks these days is password reuse. Major websites and services report massive data breaches on a shockingly regular basis. If you’re using the same email and password for multiple accounts, and any of those accounts leak, attackers can hack into your other ones using the information.
Using strong, unique passwords for every account you own protects against that—but memorizing a different random password for every website you create an account for is next to impossible. That’s where password managers come in. These tools can create strong randomized passwords for you, store the information, and automatically fill in login fields on websites and software alike. Browsers are starting to offer basic password management tools too. They work in a pinch but aren’t good enough overall. Investing in a proper password manager is well worth it (especially because many services offer a free tier).
Our guide to the best password managers can help you find the perfect fit for your needs.
2. Enable two-factor authentication
Most major services now offer a two-factor authentication feature, especially if they handle more sensitive personal data. Turn it on whenever you can. If a hacker does somehow manage to gain access to your login information, 2FA can still save your bacon.
Two-factor authentication requires you to confirm your account two ways before you’re able to log in: with something you know, and something you have. The “something you know” is your username and password. The “something you have” comes courtesy of an authorized tool you have in your possession. Usually, 2FA requires you to input a code that’s either sent to you via text message or email when you try to log in on a device for the first time, or to grab a code from a supported 2FA app, or connect a security device devoted to account authentication. The exact method varies by service, and many offer several 2FA options. Without that code, hackers can’t break into your account even if they have your login information.
Our two-factor authentication guide explains the concept more deeply, and includes our picks for the best 2FA apps and hardware.
3. Stay safe with security software
Now that your online accounts are locked down, it’s time to turn our attention to security for your personal computer. You don’t want malware secretly siphoning off your information while you’re banking or browsing your medical history, after all, while ransomware can lock you out of your computer completely until you pay a bounty.
That’s where security software comes in. Yes, you still want to run antivirus and a firewall even in 2021. Good news, though: The Microsoft firewall that ships with Windows 10 gets the job done just fine these days, while the Windows Security tools that come bundled with the operating system (including antivirus) now offer surprisingly good protection. Better yet, they’re enabled by default in Windows 10 if you aren’t running a third-party alternative.
You still may want to run paid-for security software, as those suites offer much more than mere antivirus protection these days—you’ll also receive tools that protect against malicious ads, more advanced firewalls, family protection for several devices, VPN access, and more. We regularly evaluate security software, and our guide to the best Windows antivirus suites can walk you through the top options. Use something though, even if it’s just Windows Security.
4. Don’t use a Windows admin account
Here’s one of the biggest under-the-radar security pro tips around: Don’t use a Windows administrator account day-to-day. Instead, use a secondary standard account.
A lot of malware tries to sneak itself on your system. Only administrator accounts can install software in Windows. If you’re using a standard account, you won’t be able to allow a rogue program onto you PC accidentally (at least not easily). For the best security, set up your computer with all the software you need using an admin account, but then use a secondary standard account to go about your business in general life. It’s very easy to switch over to your administrator account quickly when you need to install something new.
And definitely set your friends and family up with standard accounts if you’re sharing your computer with others. This Microsoft help page explains how to create accounts in Windows 10.
5. Back up your data
Finally, backing up your data is an underappreciated but vital aspect of your security toolkit. If a virus does manage to breach your computer’s defenses, having a comprehensive backup can help you restore any lost data, and potentially help you sidestep ransomware bounties.
There’s no single way to back up your data. Some people take “images” of the entire operating system, others rely on online backup services, and some folks simply drag key files over to external hard drives on the reg. Any method works as long as you’re doing something!
We’ve got several resources that can help you set up a data recovery plan, including guides to the best Windows backup software and the best online backup services. We’ve also rounded up the top free backup services, and have a guide explaining how you can back up your data for free using built-in Windows tools. Using free tools typically require a more patchwork, intensive process than the user-friendly premium offerings, but hey—they work.
Well that didn’t take long. Mere hours after announcing Windows 11’s October 5 release date, the company is booting Windows Insider preview PCs with unsupported hardware out of Windows 11 testing.
The move isn’t a surprise. Microsoft allowed Windows Insiders who have been testing Windows 11 to continue to do so even after revealing surprisingly strict hardware requirements for the operating system, with the caveat that access will be pulled eventually. But it caps off a tumultuous few days for the company.
On Friday, Microsoft seemingly capitulated to PC enthusiasts upset about relatively new computers being thrown overboard by Windows 11, telling journalists that you’ll be able to install the OS manually on officially unsupported PCs—only to sour that goodwill just hours later by saying that unsupported Windows 11 PCs won’t be entitled to updates, including security and driver updates.
The Windows 11 hardware fiasco just keeps getting worse. Quit toying with our emotions, Microsoft.
Anyway, the day that Microsoft announced Windows 11’s release date, Windows Insiders on unsupported PCs began receiving a message telling them they’re no longer eligible for the Windows 11 Insider program, as seen in BetaWiki’s tweet above and confirmed by BleepingComputer. Unsupported Insider PCs need to go back to Windows 10 to continue participating in the program (and presumably continue to receive updates).
While the move isn’t a surprise, the timing is, as Microsoft previously stated that Windows Insiders with non-compatible hardware would be able to continue to run Windows 11 until it was “generally available.” Most PCs released or built over the last three years will run Windows 11 without issue, however.
Need to get up to speed on Windows 11? Our hands-on preview of Windows 11 can walk you through our thoughts around the most significant changes, while our Windows 11 FAQ answers all the questions you might be asking. If you want a higher-level overview of what’s coming, be sure to check out our guide to 7 big changes in Windows 11.
Amazon’s Prime Video has been surpassed by the sheer number of Netflix original movies, which seem to come out weekly. While Netflix has caught up in terms of quality, the service still concentrates more on mainstream entertainments. Amazon, on the other hand, is more focused on artful movies and risk-taking.
Updated August 21, 2021 to add 10 additional recommendations, which we’ve listed first. Our previous list of recommendations follow, starting with Blow the Man Down.
The streaming service is nurturing great directors: Leos Carax, Spike Lee, Gus Van Sant, Park Chan-wook, Richard Linklater, Steve McQueen, Jim Jarmusch, Todd Haynes, Lynne Ramsay, and more. Ditto for talent; actors like Joaquin Phoenix, Adam Driver, and Kate Beckinsale all appear in more than one Amazon Studios film. Additionally, Amazon’s library of catalog titles—several examples of which are on this last—is far more vast than Netflix’s, especially when it comes to titles made before 1980.
Here are our top picks:
Acclaimed French director Leos Carax (The Lovers on the Bridge, Holy Motors) brings us this strange, beautiful, and devastating musical, entirely written by the cult band Sparks. Even if you know the works of those artists, Annette (2021) is still like nothing you might expect. A comedian, Henry (Adam Driver), whose shows are more like angry rants, falls in love with an opera singer, Ann (Marion Cotillard). Henry talks about his audiences in terms of “killing them,” while Ann likes to think she’s “saving” hers. They marry and have a child, Annette, who is embodied by a series of creepily beautiful marionettes.
There’s a murder or two, and it’s discovered that baby Annette can sing, beautifully, when exposed to moonlight, so Henry decides to take her on the road and show her off to the world. What could go wrong? The songs are (perhaps purposely?) a bit repetitive and not terribly catchy (at least not right away), but the movie has so many moments of gorgeousness and heartbreak, that adventurous streamers will find it worth a look.
Spike Lee’s explosive career proves that there’s hardly anyone quite so talented, prolific, or foolhardy working today. He takes risks and fails quite often; some of his more recent efforts are close to unwatchable, and certainly some viewers will think that of Chi-Raq (2015), Amazon’s first original film. It’s based on the ancient play Lysistrata by Aristophanes, and largely written in a hip-hop rhyme scheme with some musical numbers thrown in, but it’s also set in a modern-day, violence-ridden Chicago, nicknamed “Chi-Raq” to sound like “Iraq.” Chi-Raq (Nick Cannon) is also the name of the leader of a gang, the Spartans, at war with the Trojans, headed by the one-eyed Cyclops (a loony Wesley Snipes).
When a woman (Jennifer Hudson) loses her son to a stray bullet, Chi-Raq’s sexy girlfriend Lysistrata (Teyonah Parris) decides to rally all the women and withhold sex from their men until arms are laid down and peace is at hand. Angela Bassett co-stars as an older woman who reads books (gasp!), John Cusack is a preacher, and Samuel L. Jackson is a kind of Greek chorus. It’s messy, over-the-top, and repetitive, but it’s undeniably passionate, and even oddly optimistic.
A masterpiece from Terry Zwigoff, Ghost World (2001) was his feature filmmaking debut after the great documentary Crumb (1995) and his debut documentary Louie Bluie (1985). Zwigoff and Dan Clowes adapted Clowes’ comic book, freely expanding the characters and situations in a personal way, reflecting Zwigoff’s sensibilities as well as Clowes’s. It’s a cynical movie that doesn’t rest on cynicism. It’s brave enough to explore what might be lurking underneath cynicism, finding loneliness, restlessness, and other all-too human attributes.
Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson star as Enid and Rebecca, best friends who have just graduated high school, coasting on a trail of withering commentary about everything around them. Eschewing college, they agree to get jobs and an apartment together, but Enid must make up for a flunked art class. She also becomes involved with the source of a practical joke, Seymour (Steve Buscemi), a shy collector of old 78 records. The movie’s flat, suburban landscape contains many layers, from the pair of pants (“still there”), to Illeana Douglas’ short-sighted art teacher, who—ironically—prefers art with a message to anything personal.
Korean director Park Chan-wook is best known for his twisted cult classic Oldboy (2003), and cinema buffs know him for his other, equally subversive work. So it’s no surprise that this 2.5-hour costume drama is far from the stodgy, stuffy thing it could have been. Based on a novel by Sarah Waters, The Handmaiden (2016) takes place in the 1930s during the Japanese occupation of Korea. A young Korean pickpocket, Sookee (Kim Tae-ri), is chosen by a con artist who poses as a Japanese count (Ha Jung-woo), to assist in a new scam. Sookee is to become a new handmaiden for a beautiful Japanese heiress, Lady Hideko (Kim Min-hee), while the Count swoops in to win her hand in marriage. Together they will try to drive her insane.
Meanwhile, Lady Hideko lives with her uncle (Cho Jin-woong, with an ink-blackened tongue), who keeps a collection of rare erotic books and forces her to read to guests on a regular basis. Eventually Sookee upsets the plan when she begins falling in love with Lady Hideko. Director Park commands complete control over his ornate frames and opulent decorations, using them to suggest various layers of deceit and desire.
Directed by the extraordinarily creative 24 year-old Steven Spielberg, Jaws (1975) still stands among his finest films. Adapted by Carl Gottlieb and Peter Benchley from Benchley’s best-selling novel, the movie simply tells the story of a shark attack at a summer resort, and the attempts of Sheriff Brody (Roy Scheider), shark expert Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and salty captain Quint (Robert Shaw) to catch it. But what really makes this movie stand out from any other monster movie is the astounding level of confidence that the young director seems to have; he chooses amazingly unique angles for maximum suspense, and the editing by Verna Fields is never less than superb.
The movie spends time deepening the relationships between the characters—the scar-comparing scene is as essential as any of the shark scenes—and the scare scenes are actually scary. Even the ending is more concise and click-perfect than in most of the more mature Spielberg’s output. Best of all is John Williams’ essential music score, which not only invented that unforgettable “da-nuh” theme, but also knew when to pipe down and let the shark make some noise.
Stanley Kubrick’s third feature film, The Killing (1956), was the one that showed him as a fully-formed talent, capable of making masterpieces. It’s a low-budget film noir, but it’s so brilliantly complex, so perfectly executed, and so intensely gripping, that it feels like a high art classic. Written by Kubrick and legendary pulp novelist Jim Thompson (based on a novel by Lionel White), the movie concerns a race-track robbery, planned by a large team of criminals, each with a specific job to do at a specific time.
The brilliantly cast performers are all character types, and we know everything we need to know about them at a glance. Sterling Hayden is Johnny Clay, the mastermind; Elisha Cook Jr. is a meek teller who has access to the back room; Marie Windsor is his bitter, poisonous wife; Timothy Carey is a quasi-psychopathic sniper, and so on. The various pieces click together viciously and most satisfyingly in an impossible 84 minutes.
Last Flag Flying
Directed by Richard Linklater, the seriously underrated Last Flag Flying (2017) is a worthy companion piece to Hal Ashby’s The Last Detail (1974), both based on novels by Darryl Ponicsan. It involves a road trip taken by three former military men, all of whom served together in Vietnam: ex-Marines Sal Nealon (Bryan Cranston) and Richard Mueller (Laurence Fishburne), and ex-Navy Corps medic Larry “Doc” Shepherd (Steve Carell).
It’s 2003, and Doc has lost his son in the current war in the Middle East and wishes his old friends to accompany him to claim the body. Sal is a lovable loudmouth while Mueller is now a reverend at his local church; Doc is simply quietly processing his grief. Their charismatic combo — and three outstanding performances — provides not only big laughs but also easily makes the tear-ducts flow. Linklater guides them through the story with his usual easygoing flow and a frozen, wintertime rural-ness, with amusingly out-of-place Christmas decorations.
Part of Steve McQueen’s five-film “Small Axe” series, the 70-minute Lovers Rock might be the best and most purely watchable of all his films. Normally a brainy and sober filmmaker, McQueen usually focuses on social issues, but with one of his films, Shame, he took a sharp turn and explored human sexuality. Here he turns to human sensuality as he depicts the events of a house party in West London in the 1980s.
It begins as DJs set up their equipment as food is prepared, and Martha (Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn) sneaks out to get dressed at a friend’s house. Much of the evening is spent on the dance floor, grooving to reggae music, as the DJ chats and raps over the beats, the bodies bobbing and swaying and singing in the increasingly sweaty, sultry atmosphere. There’s some flirting and sexual advances, and even a possible threat of violence. It feels like the other shoe may drop at any point—McQueen is not exactly a feel-good filmmaker—and that things may turn sour or explode. Miraculously, Lovers Rock is more about a mood, being a community, and letting go, at least for a little while.
A flat-out masterpiece, Paterson (2016) easily ranks with director Jim Jarmusch’s best (Stranger Than Paradise, Dead Man, etc.). It’s a poetic film about poets and poetry, about black-and-white and color, and about a place in the world. But it’s also very funny and totally lovable. In Paterson, NJ, a man called Paterson (Adam Driver) drives a bus by day and writes poetry when he can. (The gorgeous poems, which are shown printed on the screen as they’re scribbled, are by Ron Padgett.)
In the evenings, he walks their bulldog Marvin to a favorite bar, where he nurses a beer and watches the locals. Paterson’s significant other is Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), who decorates (lots of circles) and cooks (cheddar cheese and Brussels-sprouts pie!) as well as making cupcakes for a bake sale. She also orders a guitar and learns a song. The movie takes place over the course of the week; the weekend brings a game-changer, which is both sad and beautiful. It’s ultimately a beautiful movie about observing, finding the circular, Zen-like flow of life, and getting back on the bus again.
Sound of Metal
In the powerful, disquieting Sound of Metal (2020), Ruben Stone (Riz Ahmed) plays thundering drums for a metal band called Blackgammon. His girlfriend Lou (Olivia Cooke)—her eyebrows bleached ghostly white—plays clamorous guitar and shrieks unintelligible lyrics. One day while assembling the merch table, Ruben experiences a drop in his hearing. The Oscar-winning sound design tells us what it’s like; everything is muffled and distant. A doctor informs Ruben that he’s already lost most of his hearing. He winds up at a camp for deaf and hearing-compromised individuals, run with tough love by Joe (Paul Raci).
Ruben is determined to raise the money for cochlear implants and resume his music career, but Joe argues that deafness is not something that needs to be “fixed.” It’s a fascinating conundrum, and the movie makes it fully universal and touchingly human, all the way up to its shattering climax. In their roles, both Ahmed and Raci (who, in real life, is the child of deaf parents and a rock musician who performs in ASL) are extraordinary.
Windows 10 comes preloaded with a number of different font types (based on which language package you’re using), but you can also find a ton of different types of fonts (both free and paid) online. Installing these fonts on your Windows 10 PC is pretty simple. Here’s how.
[Further reading: How to work with Microsoft Word’s cursive, script or handwriting fonts]
Install fonts using the source file
You can quickly install a font using the font file’s context menu. When you download a font from the web, more often than not the files come in compressed ZIP folders. In this case, unzip the compressed files by right-clicking the folder and then selecting Extract All from the context menu.
Next, decide where you want to unzip the files. Click Browse in the window that appears to open File Explorer.
Once File Explorer is open, choose the location you want to unzip the files. Once ready, click Extract.
Open the folder that contains the unzipped files and right-click the font that you want to install. Click Install from the context menu to install the font on your user account, or Install for all users to install the font on all user accounts.
The font will begin installing. The installation process will only take a few seconds.
Install fonts from Control Panel
Another popular way of installing fonts on your Windows 10 PC is by using Control Panel.
Open Control Panel by typing control panel in the Windows Search bar and then clicking the Control Panel app from the search results.
In Control Panel, click Appearance and Personalization. Next, click Fonts.
You’ll now see a large library of fonts currently installed on your computer.
To install a new font, drag and drop the font file in the font window.
After a few seconds, the font will appear in the library. Once it appears, the font is successfully installed.
Install fonts from the Settings app
Microsoft provided the ability to install from the Settings app in its Windows 10’s April 2018 update. Instead of digging through multiple levels in the Settings app to search for the Font options, just type font in the Windows Search bar and then click Font settings from the search results.
The Fonts options will open in the Settings app. Drag and drop the font file that you want to install into the Add Fonts section. The font will begin installing. The installation process takes only a few seconds.
As you can see, the process for installing fonts is relatively straightforward, and there are a few different ways to do it. If you want to take your font game to the next level, you can even make your own using Microsoft Font Maker. Give it a shot!
The best wireless keyboards do more than free you from a cable. They let you toss the crummy keyboard you got for free with your PC—does anyone like that one?—and they also give you options. The models we’ve reviewed range from full-size desktop slabs to portable models that skip easily from laptop to tablet to phone. Whatever you need to type with, there’s a keyboard for it.
Wireless keyboard cheat sheet
Our quick-hit recommendations:
Keyboard choice can be very subjective. That said, we’ve based our reviews on hours spent with each model, banging away on work projects, surfing the web, and keeping up on social media.
There’s truly no one size to fit all, but our reviews aim to give you enough specifics to make a sound decision. Check out our buying advice at the end to help you choose from other models you find.
For more tetherless convenience, see our roundup of the best wireless mice.
Updated 8/02/21 to include our review of the Asus ROG Falchion, a compact and capable wireless gaming keyboard that offers a satisfying experience for PC gamers, but skimps on amenities the competition offers. Scroll to the bottom of this article to see links to all our wireless keyboard reviews.
Best overall wireless desktop keyboard
Logitech’s K800 Wireless Illuminated Keyboard is indispensable if you often type late into the evening or otherwise work in dark environments. This backlit keyboard not only provides the necessary light but also offers one of the most comfortable and pleasant typing experiences we’ve encountered, all at an affordable price.
[$99.99 MSRP (now heavily discounted); available from Amazon]
Runner-up: We still like the sleek, elegant Microsoft Modern Keyboard. It looks as good as its feels, with pleasingly clickable keys, a bevy of dedicated Windows keys and an ace up its sleeve: a built-in fingerprint reader. Our only gripes about this rechargeable, Bluetooth-enabled device are its lack of programmable keys and its lofty price tag. Read our full review.
Best budget wireless keyboard
Dedicated typists looking for a premium, snappy keyboard without going the mechanical route should give Logitech’s MK540 Advanced combo a serious look. For a very reasonable price you get a roomy keyboard with dedicated media buttons, programmable keys, and tactile typing. The mouse is no slouch, either
[$59.99 MSRP; available through Logitech.]
Runner-up: The $20 Macally Full Size Wireless RF Keyboard makes a great no-frills keyboard replacement for your desktop or laptop. It’s got a roomy layout, simple wireless setup, and responsive keys—in other words, it covers all the basics with aplomb, at a price that can’t be beat. Read our full review.
Best Bluetooth keyboard
As its name clearly states, Logitech’s K780 Multi-Device Wireless Keyboard promises to be the one keyboard to rule all your computing gizmos. Indeed, it’s fully compatible with Windows, Mac OS, Chrome OS, Android, and iOS—and more importantly, it provides fast and effortless switching between your computer, smartphone, and tablet.
[$79.99 MSRP; available on Amazon]
Best ergonomic wireless keyboard
Logitech’s Ergo K860 has finally conquered reviewer Michael Ansaldo’s skepticism about awkward ergonomic keyboards. In the few weeks he used the K860, he noticed increased typing comfort and reduced muscle tension, all without sacrificing productivity to a steep learning curve. “It showed me that just because my usual typing posture doesn’t cause pain, it doesn’t mean it can’t be improved,” he claimed. It’s a little expensive compared to a conventional model, but it’s the only ergonomic keyboard we’d heartily recommend.
[$130 MSRP; available through Amazon]
Best wireless gaming keyboard
Corsair’s K63 wireless gaming keyboard is compact, durable, and reasonably comfortable to type on. It’s only the second wireless mechanical keyboard from a major manufacturer. It’s also the first with backlighting, though its single, bright-blue color may come to annoy you as time goes on. Still, whether you’re in for casual couch gaming or just want a cleaner, wire-free desktop, the K63 is a solid choice.
Coolest-looking wireless keyboard
The Azio Retro BT Classic is a vintage-style mechanical keyboard priced like a real antique, but if you have the cash, it’s certainly striking. From its deep, clicky keystrokes and wood or leather paneling to its LED-backlit keys and rechargeable battery, the Bluetooth-enabled Retro Classic will delight serious typists with old souls and money to burn.
[$219.99 MSRP; available through Amazon]
Wireless keyboards: Bluetooth vs. USB
Wireless keyboards connect to a PC in one of two ways: via Bluetooth or a USB receiver. Some older Windows 7 machines may not support Bluetooth. On the other hand, if you need a keyboard to work across different platforms on newer devices, a Bluetooth-enabled model is what you need.
All the USB receiver-driven models in this roundup were flawless examples of plug-and-play keyboards. Pairing Bluetooth keyboards (compared to Bluetooth headsets, let’s say) requires a few more steps, and only one of the models was slightly flaky in maintaining its connection.
Bluetooth keyboards tend to cost a little more but also offer longer battery life. As you’re shopping (particularly if you have big fingers), keep in mind that some hardware makers sacrifice the keys’ size and spacing to give you portability.
How we test wireless keyboards
It was hands-on all the way with our keyboard testing. We spent at least one full workday typing exclusively on each model we tested, with follow-up time to allow for a learning curve. We assessed the primary typing experience: key design, typing feel, and even noisiness. We also tried the secondary features: hotkeys, switches and dials on multi-platform models, and even the ability to adjust the angle or other comfort characteristics.
We considered the size, weight, and durability of each model against its purpose—whether it was designed to be portable or desk-bound, and compact or fully featured. For instance, we balance the versatility of multi-platform models like Logitech’s K780 against its performance as an actual keyboard you need to use every day (and in this case, it wins on all counts).
How to shop for a wireless keyboard
You’re going to use this keyboard every day, so make sure it fits your typing habits and your needs. Here’s what to keep in mind as you shop.
Size: A model that will always sit on your desktop can be bigger and heavier, and usually some other advantages some with that. As more of us carry laptops or tablets, however, we’ll look for models that are compact or portable. These will sacrifice some features but be easier to take with you.
Keys: Look for keys that are sculpted and spaced for typing comfort. This is why we encourage trying before buying: We’ve had very different experiences with traditional keys vs. chiclet-style vs. flatter key designs, and it’s surprising how little things like the texture or the amount of dimple will make or break a choice. Most mainstream keyboards use membrane technology, which is adequate for most users, but heavy-duty users and gamers will likely prefer keyboards with mechanical switches (which are not reviewed here). Windows hotkeys, or even programmable keys, are great bonuses, especially for power users.
Adjustability: Some keyboards offer no adjustment for angle or height. Look for models with adjustable legs or feet. We haven’t included ergonomic models in this round of reviews.
Battery needs: All wireless keyboards use batteries. Check closely for the type and number of batteries you need, and whether a starter set is included. We note the vendors’ specified battery life in each review.
Price: When it’s so easy to get a keyboard for free, it can be hard to justify actually buying one. The good news is, you can get a solid model for as little as $40, including some of the ones we’ve reviewed. We show the MSRP for each model, but of course you can often find it for less at online or brick-and-mortar stores.
All our wireless keyboard reviews
Keyboards are a very personal choice. Whether you want big or small, desktop or portable, with more or fewer buttons and adjustments, you can find it in one of our other keyboard reviews, listed below.
What’s causing GPUs to die while playing Amazon’s beta game, New World? No one seems to know yet, but EVGA confirmed it has already shipped replacement GeForce RTX 3090 FTW3 cards to affected customers.
A company spokesman confirmed to PCWorld that it has enough GPUs to replace reportedly dead cards, and it would cross-ship cards directly to impacted customers under warranty.
EVGA wouldn’t say exactly how many dead card reports it had received, but the spokesman described it as a “small handful.”
The company also said it has received no new reports of GeForce RTX 3090 FTW3 cards dying since Amazon Games patched New World to implement frame rate lock options in-game, as well as “clamp down” on frame rates in the menu screen.
Locking down frame rates in a video game can help prevent sudden increases in frame rates. The load on the graphics card will drastically increase from leaving to the game and dropping into the menu, which is often still rendered in 3D.
You can think of it as driving a car at up a hill and accidentally dropping the transmission into neutral, with your foot still flooring the gas pedal. In that case, the engine RPMs will race out of control until your foot can get off the gas. In a game, that transition can make frame rates go from 100 fps to suddenly 300 fps or higher.
Whether that’s the cause of the issues isn’t known, of course. Many games implement frame-rate locks in the menu, and many games don’t, without previous issues.
Amazon Games itself has defended the game’s safety. “Hundreds of thousands of people played in the New World Closed Beta yesterday, with millions of total hours played. We’ve received a few reports of players using high-performance graphics cards experiencing hardware failure when playing New World,” an Amazon spokesperson told PCWorld through email.
“New World makes standard DirectX calls as provided by the Windows API. We have seen no indication of widespread issues with 3090s, either in the beta or during our many months of alpha testing,” the company’s spokeswoman said. “The New World Closed Beta is safe to play. In order to further reassure players, we will implement a patch today that caps frames per second on our menu screen. We’re grateful for the support New World is receiving from players around the world, and will keep listening to their feedback throughout Beta and beyond.”
With EVGA’s news that it has received no reports of failed cards since the patch, it’s probably safe, right? That remains to be seen. In the Reddit forum that has documented many of the failures, a person claimed their GeForce RTX 2070 went kaput Friday morning.
While most of the public reports seemed to impact EVGA’s GeForce RTX 3090 FTW3, popular YouTuber Jayztwocents posted on Twitter that he has received emails from people claiming failing cards across multiple families and brands of cards. Those reports are unconfirmed by the companies that make them, so it’s very difficult to gauge how wide spread the problem may be, let alone what the issue is.
Jayztwocents actually tried to break his EVGA GeForce RTX 3090 RTX3 in the latest version of New World without success, in a video posted to YouTube last night.
That obviously begs the question: Is it safe to play the New World beta? Switching on the frame rate limits probably makes it so, but that’s a decision every gamer would have to make for themselves. Obviously, more information from graphics card vendors, board makers, and Amazon Games would help soothe nervous gamers.
For its part, EVGA officials said the investigation is continuing. We likely won’t know more until the company receives the bricked cards back from customers.
Following a U.S.-only “technical preview” that kicked off back in January, Ring announced Tuesday that users worldwide can now enable end-to-end encryption for supported Ring devices. Ring also unwrapped a pair of new security features: support for authenticator apps and CAPTCHA.
Ring users around the globe can now opt-in to video end-to-end encryption for more than a dozen cameras and doorbells. During the initial technical preview, only eight Ring devices supported end-to-end encryption.
The new list includes the Video Doorbell Proand Pro 2; the Ring Video Doorbell Elite and Doorbell Wired; the Spotlight Cam Wired and Cam Mount; the second-gen Stick Up Cam Elite and Cam Wired ; the Indoor Cam; the Floodlight Cam (1st-gen), the Floodlight Cam Wired Pro and the Floodlight Cam Wired Plus ; and the third-gen Stick Up Cam Plug-In .
You can activate end-to-end encryption by visiting the Control Center at Ring.com or on the Ring app.
Ring camera feeds and recorded videos are already encrypted on their way to the cloud and while they’re sitting on Ring’s servers. With end-to-end encryption, however, Ring videos are wrapped in an additional level of AES 128-bit encryption, starting locally on the camera itself and continuing all the way to a user’s iOS or Android phone, where it’s finally decrypted.
Once you enable end-to-end encryption, no third parties will be able to see your videos without the private decryption key of a public/private key pair, which is stored only on an “enrolled” phone and secured by a 10-word, auto-generated passphrase.
While end-to-end encryption will prevent strangers from snooping on your videos, enabling the extra security will also nix a few key features—namely, those that rely on in-the-cloud analysis.
For starters, those who opt into end-to-end encryption will have to do without motion verification and “people-only” mode, which leverage the cloud to detect movement and people in your video footage.
Other handy Ring features that won’t work with end-to-end encryption enabled include shared video links, the Ring event timeline, rich event notifications, and “shared” users, not to mention Pre-Roll, Bird’s Eye View, and Snapshot Capture. You also won’t be able to view your encrypted videos or live feeds on Ring.com, the Windows or Mac desktop apps for Ring, Amazon Echo Show or Fire TV devices, or any third-party devices.
Yes, that’s a lot of functionality to give up, but plenty of Ring users may figure that the extra security provided by end-to-end encryption is well worth the tradeoff—and besides, you can also disable end-to-end encryption if you wish.
Authenticator app support
Besides the worldwide rollout of end-to-end encryption, Ring is also unveiling support for authenticator apps as an option for two-step login verification.
Among the authentication apps you can use for logging into your Ring account are Google Authenticator, Twilio Authy, Microsoft Authenticator, and LastPass Authenticator.
Once you’ve enabled the use of an authenticator app from the Ring Control Center, you’ll be prompted to retrieve an authentication code from the app each time you log into your account.
Previously, Ring only offered email and text verification for two-factor authentication. Those methods of two-step verification are better than nothing, but authenticator apps are far more secure.
Another new Ring security measure may inspire a few groans. CAPTCHA, the effective but much-loathed security feature that makes you prove you’re a human by checking a box or solving annoying “visual puzzles,” is coming to the Ring and Neighbors apps.
The addition of CAPTCHA can help prevent spambots from logging into your Ring account, and if you ask us, more security is always a good thing. Still, there’s nothing fun about trying—and too often, failing—to pick out buses, bicycles, or crosswalks from a grid of tiny pictures.
Self-service device transfer
Ring had one more feature to announce Tuesday: an easier way to transfer ownership of a Ring device to a new user.
Instead of having to call customer support, the new owner of a used Ring device can now scan it during setup and follow the instructions from the Ring app. Doing so will notify the previous owner, as well as de-link the former owner’s videos and events from the device before transferring ownership to the new user.
The self-service device transfer won’t work if the product is marked as stolen, enrolled in end-to-end encryption, or is part of a Ring Protect plan.