Apple today seeded the first beta of an upcoming watchOS 3.2.3 update to developers for testing purposes, one day after releasing watchOS 3.2.2, a minor bug fix update.
Registered developers can download the watchOS 3.2.3 update through the Apple Watch app on the iPhone by going to General -> Software Update. To install the beta, the Apple Watch must have 50 percent battery, it must be placed on the charger, and it needs to be in range of the iPhone.
watchOS betas are only available to developers because there’s no way to downgrade the software on an Apple Watch, so non-developers will need to wait for the public release to get the update.
We don’t yet know what’s included in watchOS 3.2.3, but as a minor 3.x.x update, it likely focuses on minor bug fixes, performance improvements, and security enhancements. We’ll update this post should anything be discovered in the first beta.
This is likely to be one of the last updates to the watchOS 3 operating system, as Apple is set to debut new watchOS software at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June.
Related Roundups: Apple Watch Series 2, watchOS 3
Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)
Discuss this article in our forums
With the launch of MacOS Sierra came an important change to Siri: You can now use Apple’s virtual assistant on Mac computers, in addition to iPhones and iPads. This makes sense! Siri’s capabilities are growing quickly, and now that voice-enabled assistants like Microsoft’s Cortana are busy hanging out on Windows 10 computers, Siri has a reason to get more competitive.
The result is a more capable Siri, one that is readily available for those who’ve installed the latest MacOS updates and provides plenty of automated services to help you out. However, many Mac users may not know how to activate the feature, or what to do with Siri on a desktop (especially if their iPhone is lying directly beside them). Thankfully, we’ve got some ideas — read on to find out more.
Siri is not listening in on every conversation you have near your computer — you have to enable and launch the virtual assistant before it will start listening in MacOS. On your desktop, Siri is identified by a circular icon, one filled with multi-colored waves. You can find this circle in your Dock, or in the upper-right corner of your desktop.
If you don’t see the icon, that means you haven’t enabled Siri yet. To do so, access System Preferences in the Dock, and look for the Siri icon and title in the lower section of the window. Click on Siri, and then on the left-hand side of the window, make sure that “Enable Siri” is checked. Here, you can also change the language for Siri, change your mic input, or create keyboard shortcuts for Siri.
Now, click either Siri icon and the voice assistant will immediately pop up in a gray window and start listening (you’ll also hear a short chime). The box even allows you to quickly edit any questions Siri is interpreting, so it’s worth paying attention to. Keep in mind that using Siri on your Mac usually stops or interferes with any other sound your computer is making, including conversations or conferences. Also, remember if your Mac device doesn’t have a built-in mic, you’ll need one.
Controlling settings and apps
With Siri now paying attention, you may be wondering how to use the feature on your desktop. We’re going to talk about two important uses — dealing with settings and apps, and searching for files or info on your computer. Note that you can ask Siri any question that you would on a mobile device, like, say, “What time is it in Spain” or “What’s the weather like in Florida.” Then again, having Spotlight and Google at your fingertips makes these questions kind of silly.
To make the most of Siri, consider using the assistant to change settings and operate apps. For example, a command like “Show my photos from last week” will bring up all the photos uploaded to MacOS last week, which is useful when sorting through pictures or creating slideshows. Many native apps are open to commands this way. “FaceTime [name]” will open a video call, for instance, while “Add [name] to my [event]” will update your calendar with new information. Twitter and Facebook also work with these commands, allowing you to search for tweets from a certain person or time period.
You can also use Siri for more general info. You can say “How much free space do I have on this Mac,” or instance, or “Turn the volume down.” You can control iTunes and Apple Music in this manner, too.
Searching for files and information
Using Siri in MacOS allows you to find files quickly. You can get specific by saying things like, “Show me the file Business Presentation 22,” or perform batch requests with commands like, “Show me the files [name] shared with me over the weekend.” This works for a variety of documents and types of content.
When Siri finds documents that match your description, it pulls up a large menu and shows you the files, allowing you to open or move them as needed.
Finding stuff like this extends to online resources, too. “Search the web for images of Tesla vehicles” will bring up a buffet of images to work with. You can also search for specific emails or contacts that you may only have murky memories of. More mundane searches about stocks, sports data, and measurements work as well.
Making use of Siri results
When Siri shows you a document or piece of information in a drop-down list, you can take an extra step. Each list of results will house a small addition sign in the upper-right corner. Click this, and Siri will move this info to your Notification Center, and keep the subject there permanently. For example, if you ask about game times for the Seattle Seahawks and click the addition sign, you’ll be able to view game times within your Notifications from now on. This works for Twitter feeds, too, as well as various types of documents you want to keep up on.
Everyone likes apps, but sometimes the best ones are a bit expensive. Now and then, developers make paid apps free for a limited time, but you have to snatch them up while you have the chance. Here are the latest and greatest apps on sale in the iOS App Store.
These apps normally cost money, and this sale lasts for a limited time only. If you go to the App Store and it says the app costs money, that means the deal has expired and you will be charged.
More: 200 Awesome iPhone Apps | The best Android apps for almost any occasion
Revenge of the Calculators
This app is intended for entertainment purposes only and does not provide true calculator functionality. But it does include nine hilarious mock calculators that you can use to prank your friends.
Multi Translate is a professional translator and interpreter app able to convert any language into three others simultaneously.
This camera is meant for taking stunning motion photography. And while other photo apps may have serious competition on the App Store, Photosets promises to be one-of-a-kind.
The dBA Meter app is well calibrated with professional noise meter tool OKTAVA 110A-PRO, and can measure sound SPL level/noise no matter where you are.
Expenses OK is the fastest way to track your expenses. Just enter data in the widget of the app and see how you’re spending your money.
Time Manager is an easy way to keep track of your daily activities. With one touch you can access all your common tasks and edit them at any time.
Why it matters to you
An Uber doesn’t always take us to our final destination — sometimes it’s just part of the journey.
Getting from one place to another these days often involves two or more methods of transportation. And no one understands this better than Uber, which will often take you from your apartment to the train station or from the train station to the airport. So now, Uber is making multimodal transportation a bit more of a seamless process by introducing an integration with the Transit app on Android in nearly 50 cities across the United States. That way, you’ll have a better sense (when you’re in your Uber) of what the best next step in your journey ought to be.
Beginning Tuesday, once riders have jumped into their Uber rides and are a block away from a transit stop, they’ll start seeing upcoming departure times in Uber’s feed. The ride-sharing app promises to refresh these times regularly so that passengers will always have the most updated information available. Should you need more data, you can tap once and make your way over to the Transit app, where Uber promises concise directions, service disruption information, and more.
“Our integration with Uber is a perfect match, as we both envision a future in which every journey is shared using a combination of transit options,” said Jake Sion, chief operating officer at Transit. Indeed, the two companies hope that their collaboration will allow for a viable alternative to personal car ownership, reduced traffic and parking, and better connected cities.
“While there’s still much more work to do, we’re excited that our integration with Transit can help us get one step closer to this reality,” Andrew Salzberg, Uber’s Head of Transportation Policy and Research wrote in a blog post. The integration is now available on Android in the following U.S. cities:
- Albuquerque, N.M.
- Ann Arbor, Mich.
- Atlanta, Ga.
- Baltimore, Md.
- Boston, Mass.
- Buffalo, N.Y.
- Charlottesville, Va.
- Chattanooga, Tenn.
- Chicago, Ill.
- Cincinnati, Ohio
- Cleveland, Ohio
- Dallas, Texas
- Dayton, Ohio
- Denver, Colo.
- Detroit, Mich.
- Fort Myers, Fla.
- Grand Rapids, Mich.
- Hampton Roads, Va.
- Honolulu, Hawaii
- Houston, Texas
- Indianapolis, Ind.
- Jacksonville, Fla.
- Kansas City, Mo.
- Las Vegas, Nev.
- Los Angeles, Calif.
- Louisville, Ky.
- Madison, Wis.
- Miami, Fla.
- New Orleans, La.
- New York, N.Y.
- Orlando, Fla.
- Philadelphia, Penn.
- Phoenix, Ariz.
- Pittsburgh, Penn.
- Portland, Maine.
- Portland, Ore.
- Raleigh, N.C.
- Sacramento, Calif.
- Salt Lake City, Utah
- San Diego, Calif.
- San Francisco Bay Area, Calif.
- Seattle, Wash.
- St. Louis, Mo.
- Tampa Bay Area, Fla.
- Washington, D.C.
- Worcester, Mass.
HTC has finally take the wraps off of its long-awaited and highly powerful HTC U11, the company’s flagship smartphone for the year, and arguably its best smartphone to date. It’s not, however, without competition.
Perhaps one of the biggest surprises last year was the Google Pixel, Google’s entry into the self-designed smartphone world and a phone that generated a ton of buzz and praise when it was launched back in October. How does the new HTC U11 compare with the Pixel? We put the two head-to-head to find out.
Specs and performance
143.8 x 69.5 x 7.3mm (5.6 x 2.7 x 0.2-0.3-inches)
153.9 x 75.9 x 7.9mm (6.06 x 2.99 x 0.31 -inches)
143g (5.0 oz)
169g (5.96 oz)
1,080 x 1,920 pixels (441 pixels per inch)
1,440 x 2,560 pixels (534 pixels per inch)
Android 7.1 Nougat
Android 7.1.1 Nougat
64GB (U.S.), 64/128GB (International)
MicroSD card slot
Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
4GB (U.S.) 4/6GB (International)
GSM / CDMA / HSPA / LTE
GSM / CDMA / HSPA / LTE
12MP rear, 8MP front
12MP rear, 16MP front
Yes, version 4.2
Yes, version 4.2
Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, barometer
Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, magnetic
USB-C, headphone jack
Very Silver, Quite Black, Really Blue
Blue, black, white, gray, red
Google Store, Verizon
Sprint, HTC.com, Amazon
Starts at $650
4 out of 5 stars
Newer flagship phones are almost always more powerful than older ones, and this is no exception. It’s clear that the HTC U11 is a more powerful device, and that’s largely thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor.
That’s not to say the Snapdragon 821 in the Google Pixel is a bad chip — it’s not. It’s just a little outdated. While the Snapdragon 821 scored a very respectable 141,092 on AnTuTu, the Snapdragon 835 went above and beyond, hitting a hefty 183,227. That’s quite an improvement and means that the HTC U11 should both be faster now, and should last longer as it’s more battery efficient.
When it comes to storage and RAM, the U11 wins outright. If you live in the U.S., you’ll only get access to 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage for the U11. The international version, however, allows for a choice of 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, or 6GB of RAM with 128GB of storage. The Google Pixel offers 4GB of RAM with either 32GB or 128GB of storage.
The HTC U11 may not have as much storage if you live in the U.S., but it does come equipped with a MicroSD card slot so you can expand it if you need.
Winner: HTC U11
Design and display
The two phones offer unique and interesting designs. The Google Pixel has a half-glass back that certainly is unique, though it didn’t have mass appeal. The HTC U11 boasts a shiny glass back design with a gorgeous range of colors. The phone features sleek, rounded corners and edges with HTC’s Edge Sense, which allows you to control the phone by squeezing it. There is something missing from the HTC U11 — a headphone jack, something the Google Pixel offers.
When it comes to the display, there are a few things to consider — type of display, size, and resolution. The Google Pixel offers a 5-inch display with a resolution of 1,080 x 1,920 pixels, with a pixel density of 441 pixels-per-inch (ppi). The 5.5-inch HTC U11, on the other hand, offers a resolution of 1,440 x 2,560 pixels, with a pixel density of 534 pixels-per-inch. To be fair, Google does offer the 5.5-inch Pixel XL, which has the same resolution and pixels per inch, though it’s more expensive than the regular Pixel.
There’s another thing to consider and that’s type of display. The HTC U11’s display is LCD, while the Google Pixel sticks with AMOLED technology. Many consider AMOLED to be slightly better because it’s more energy efficient and offers deeper blacks and brighter colors. It also means the U11 is not compatible with Google’s Daydream virtual reality platform.
Still, while design is largely subjective, we’re awarding this one to HTC. The U11 certainly turns heads.
Winner: HTC U11
Battery life and charging
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
While the Google Pixel offers a battery capacity of 2,770mAh, the HTC U11 goes a step further with a capacity of 3,000mAh. Capacity isn’t the only thing to consider here — because of the bigger screen with a higher resolution, the Pixel will last a little longer than the U11. That’s direct from Google and HTC — Google lists the Pixel as offering up to 26 hours of talk time, while HTC says the U11 will last 24.5 hours. That alone the Pixel the winner.
When it comes to charging, things are a little different. The HTC U11 offers Quick Charge 3.0, while the Google Pixel offers “Fast Charging.” We don’t yet know exactly how quickly Quick Charge 3.0 will charge the HTC U11, but the Pixel will give you 7 hours of use with 15 minutes of charging.
Because of the longer life on a single charge, the Google Pixel wins this category.
Winner: Google Pixel
When the Google Pixel first launched, it was hailed as having one of the best cameras out there. Can the HTC U11 dethrone it? The rear-facing camera on both phones is 12-megapixels, however the Pixel’s sensor has an f/2.0 aperture, while the HTC U11’s sensor has an f/1.7 aperture. That means that the U11 should be slightly better in low-light situations. On top of that, the U11 offers optical image stabilization, while the Pixel does not. Both phones offer dual-LED flashes.
Regardless, the Pixel is our favorite smartphone camera. HTC told us it expects the U11 camera to be slightly better than the HTC 10, which currently sits one point below the Pixel on DxOMark. We’ll have to wait and see, but the U11 just might beat the Pixel.
When it comes to the front-facing camera, things are a little less competitive — while the Google Pixel has an 8-megapixel front-facing camera with an f/2.4 aperture, the U11’s front-facing camera has a whopping 16-megapixels, which should be very helpful for the selfie-lovers out there.
Winner: HTC U11
Both of these two phones use the latest and greatest Android Nougat, which offers excellent features like improved multi-tasking, useful notification bundling, and more. The HTC U11, however, has some special features built-in as well, making it a little different for those who are interested.
For example, the device offers HTC Sense, the company’s Android overlay. Sense has evolved quite a lot over the years, and it’s now a lot less intrusive than it was a few years ago. The device will come with a few HTC-specific apps, but apart from that, HTC’s phone’s are now pretty similar to stock Android.
As a part of the bundled features, the HTC U11 comes with HTC Sense Companion, which is HTC’s digital assistant. Unlike Google Assistant, Sense Companion is not a voice assistant. Instead, it anticipates your needs using things like your calendar, your location, and your phone use habits. Thankfully, the U11 still offers Google Assistant, and it also offers Amazon Alexa.
On top of that, there’s a new feature that we’re seeing in the U11 — HTC Edge Sense. Edge Sense basically allows users to control aspects of the phone using a touch-sensitive edge on the phone.
There is a serious advantage to getting a Google-built phone with Google-built software: Updates. Google pushes regular security updates to the Pixel, while manufacturers are known for being a little more lax in pushing those updates — potentially leaving your phone open to hacks.
While the HTC U11 does offer some HTC-specific features, many argue that less is more when it comes to Android. Many prefer to stick with one digital assistant, while others argue that manufacturer-specific apps only serve to take up storage space. Because of the fact that it’s really down to personal preference, we’re making this one a tie.
The HTC U11 looks nice and shiny, but that comes at a cost. The entire back of the phone is coated with glass, as is the front because of the screen. Really the only metal part of the phone’s design is the aluminum frame, which is found on the edges of the device. The Google Pixel also features a lot of glass, but a little less so thanks to the half-glass back, with the other half being metal. Because of that, if you drop your Pixel, you’re much less likely to shatter the glass than if you drop a HTC U11.
Still, the HTC U11 is IP67-certified, meaning that it can handle being submerged in up to 1 meter of water for as long as 30 minutes. The Google Pixel would win a drop test, but the HTC U11 can take a dip in the pool. This one’s a tie.
Price and availability
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
The Google Pixel starts at $650 for the 32GB version of the phone, however the 128GB will set you back $749. The device has been available for some time now, but Google has stock issues — you might have trouble snagging one with your preferred size and color.
HTC will offer the U11 unlocked on its website and Amazon for $650 — it will be compatible with Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile networks. Sprint is the only carrier to sell it directly, and you can get it for $29 a month for 24 months, or a full price of $696. The U11 is available for pre-order now, and it will start shipping in June.
Considering you get more storage for the same price as the standard Pixel, HTC gets the win here.
Winner: HTC U11
Overall winner: HTC U11
Surprise, everyone! The newer phone is better. While the Google Pixel is an excellent device, and even beats out the HTC U11 in battery life, the U11 is more powerful, is easier on the eyes, and is waterproof. If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line phone and like HTC’s design and included software, then the HTC U11 is a great option.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t consider the Google Pixel. If you’re into stock Android and like the idea of consistent and regular updates, the Pixel may be a better choice.
In November 2016, Hewlett Packard Enterprise announced it had a working prototype of The Machine, its long-gestating research project investigating memory-based computing. Today, the company revealed a newer iteration of the potentially game-changing system. The new prototype represents a major step forward in terms of its computing power, and HPE is seeking partners to test its limits.
After years in the lab, The Machine is about to be put through its paces — and while the vast majority of us will never use this technology firsthand, we could feel its effects in everyday life.
HPE’s first working prototype of The Machine, unveiled last year, comprised of just a couple of nodes, with access to eight terabytes of memory in total. The specifications of the new model make clear it’s a massive step forward, as it’s outfitted with a whopping 160TB of memory, spread across 40 nodes.
Put another way, the system can hold the text of every single book in the Library of Congress in memory – approximately 160 million books – five times over. Big data is getting bigger all the time, and The Machine is built to offer a better way of working with huge data sets.
The system can hold the text of every single book in the Library of Congress in memory, five times over.
The initial reveal of the prototype last year prompted speculation regarding the future of the project, as HPE announced its intention to implement technologies developed for The Machine elsewhere in its portfolio of products as early as 2018. Some interpreted this as an acknowledgement that The Machine itself would never become a product on its own. Andrew Wheeler, Vice President and Deputy Director of Hewlett Packard Labs, sought to set to set things straight when he spoke to Digital Trends about the project last week.
“There was probably even a little bit of confusion around some of that last year, because this prototype has always been just that — it’s been a prototype,” explained Wheeler. “We weren’t trying to say that we’re not working toward productization of something called The Machine, it’s just that that’s further out in time.”
HPE hopes to continue progress, confident that The Machine’s architecture can be scaled to an exabyte-scale single-memory system, and from there leap to a 4,096-yottabyte (yes, that’s a thing!) pool of memory. For now, though, the company is working on its relationships with partners, whose usage of the hardware will inform future development.
“It’s a little bit of a messy recipe, if you will,” observed Wheeler. “There’s no clear path to how innovation like this is done. You get a vision, you get working on it, and you see where both the technology, the problem, and the opportunity takes you.”
The Machine is an ambitious project. At its core, it seeks to reassess today’s computing architecture at the most basic level. Unlike virtually all of today’s computers, The Machine is built around memory at its core, rather than a processor, to make interaction between different components more efficient.
“We can’t rely on the technologies of the past. We need a computer built for the Big Data era,” wrote HPE CEO Meg Whitman in a press release detailing the new prototype. The company is betting big on the advantages The Machine can offer to its partners and their customers. It’s the largest research and development project that it’s ever taken on.
This commitment, though massive, isn’t all surprising. Research from IBM suggests 90 percent of all the data in the world today was created in the last two years. Terabytes upon terabytes of data is recorded every minute of every day. This data can be used in ways not yet dreamed, but today’s computers can’t sort through the data effectively.
To fix that, HPE has spent years researching technology that could create a new kind of computer. The Machine isn’t about one singular breakthrough; it uses several different technologies at the same time. The benefit to HPE is that it might be possible to utilize individual technologies elsewhere, when it seems appropriate.
When The Machine was first announced, much was made of its potentially groundbreaking memristor components. HPE is still hard at work finding a memory solution that will do the project justice, given that it’s central to the differences between this system and a normal computer.
“There’s no clear path to how innovation like this is done.”
“The architecture is a fundamental tenet, so we do want to exploit any memory technology that comes online and is made available from now, five years out, ten years out,” said Wheeler. “Certainly, we do believe one of the emerging non-volatile memories will provide us with the density, and really, the cost, that allows us to build for the problem at hand.
But it’s not just about the memory. Shuttling data around the system is critical, as well, and the company believes photonic interconnects are the likely solution. This technology, which uses silicon to transfer optical signals, provides higher bandwidth and uses far less energy than current solutions.
The project is also making advances in areas that aren’t directly linked to its memory-based architecture. Since The Machine will be working with huge amounts of enterprise data, it’s imperative that it can keep that data safe and secure. According to Wheeler, the team at Hewlett Packard Labs were thinking about security “from day one.”
“That’s another great thing about this program. It’s allowed us to really think about security from the ground up, and build it in from the very primitive levels — from the silicon and the hardware, all the way through the firmware, and the operating system, and the applications,” explained Wheeler. “I think it’s going to pay great dividends for us in the future.”
The Machine and Me
The technology in The Machine could one day show up in a home computer, but it’d be on a much smaller scale, and wouldn’t appear for years – perhaps decades. Still, that doesn’t mean The Machine isn’t important to you. Once it’s rolled out in industry, The Machine could bring meaningful changes to everything from your next doctor’s appointment, to your Facebook feed, to your self-driving car.
The Machine could play a role in helping medical staff provide more personalized healthcare for their patients. Within the system’s memory, software could access the patient’s entire medical history, their family’s medical history, genomic data, environmental influences that they’ve been exposed to, and records of how successful treatments given to other similar patients were.
We often think about computers taking over roles in established professions. However, this kind of implementation demonstrates how a system like The Machine could provide an ancillary service, eliminating extraneous information and delivering only the most relevant data to the medical professional. Working with a broad, internationally sourced data set, The Machine could provide a wealth of contextual information that might allow doctors to offer a more accurate diagnosis to their patient.
Moving onto social media, Wheeler told us the current prototype of The Machine is capable of holding every action that takes place on Facebook worldwide, over the course of a ninety-minute period, in memory. All at once. In doing so, it could solve a problem that’s been blighting the social media giant.
The Machine could handle every action that takes place on Facebook worldwide over a 90-minute window, all at once.
In theory, Facebook Live is a fun way for people to offer friends a window into their lives. In practice, it’s become a platform for highly offensive content, including livestreamed rape and murder. The entire appeal of the feature is that it’s live, which makes it very difficult for Facebook to police what users do with it. The Machine theoretically has enough processing power to keep an eye on everything that’s going on around the world, which could facilitate a solution to detect and block unwanted streams before they go viral.
Finally, there’s the nascent industry of self-driving vehicles. In this case, the advantages that The Machine offers aren’t about a vast body of data, but how quickly data can be accessed. Wheeler raised a concern about an autonomous car communicating with a central server to make decisions. In heavy traffic, when an unexpected situation comes about, quick communication could be the difference between a safe journey and a horrible accident.
“We don’t have time,” he explains. “The speed of light is the speed of light, and latency matters. We need to make the decision within that vehicle, which means that vehicle needs to be able to store and process everything that’s happening, all those central inputs. That decision needs to happen then and there.”
The Next Big Thing?
The Machine is a mammoth undertaking, and that’s why it has such a broad range of potential applications. In truth, even HPE doesn’t know its full capabilities — that’s why the company is working with partners to test it out in all kinds of different situations.
It’s easier for most of us to swoon over the iPhone than enterprise-grade hardware, but the scale of The Machine is far beyond a typical enterprise product. A computer like The Machine could power the next great leap forward in computational capability, and in doing so, it would power innovations are too difficult, or expensive, for traditional computers to handle. The Machine could become a part of everyday life.
As the world has become dependent on computers, their foundational technology has stayed relatively static. However, between projects like The Machine, investigations into quantum computing, and other similar research, it’s clear that there’s a thirst to see what could be achieved if we rethink computer architecture.
What remains to be seen is whether the technology’s applications can live up to the promise of a huge leap forward in computing. With a working, large-scale prototype in its possession, HPE is about to find out whether The Machine offers a benefit to its customers — and, in turn, that will determine whether memory-based computing is a neat idea, or the next big thing.
Why it matters to you
Expedia is adding Mastercard’s Masterpass digital payment system to three travel websites, with the aim to make transactions secured and faster.
Traveling is an adventure, but booking the actual tickets required for that adventure is a bit of a chore. On May 16, Mastercard announced a way to shave some time off the online booking process: Its Masterpass digital payment system now accepted by Expedia.com, Orbitz, and Travelocity, and makes going from payment to relaxing on the beach a tad faster.
Launched in 2013, Masterpass allows shoppers to use an app to securely pay for purchases. But unlike most digital payment systems, transactions happen faster since payment and shipping details are integrated into a single account – no need to manually enter details every time you check out, which can be a huge bottleneck when planning travel on a mobile device. The service links to a debit or credit card and acts as a digital wallet for both online and in-store merchants.
The new payment option is designed to speed up ticket purchases from Expedia.com, Orbitz, and Travelocity, three brands owned by Expedia, Inc. With the address and payment information stored in the system, it makes booking flights, hotels, car rentals, and even cruises simpler.
“We are delighted to partner with Expedia on Masterpass to advance their mission of revolutionizing travel through the power of technology,” said Linda Kirkpatrick, executive vice president of Mastercard’s U.S. Market Development team. “With Masterpass as a payment option on Expedia.com, Orbitz, and Travelocity, travelers are a just a few clicks closer to their dream experience.”
“At Expedia, we build products leveraging the latest technologies in order to make travel easier throughout the entire trip experience,” said Expedia’s Arthur Chapin, senior vice president of Global Product and Design. “We have some of the best travel brands with Expedia.com, Orbitz, and Travelocity and adding Masterpass to our family of websites gives travelers another quick and secure payment option, so they can focus on having an amazing holiday.”
Chances are, you can vividly recall JFK’s famous inauguration speech in 1961, whether you were alive or merely watched the broadcast after the fact. The exact opposite sentiments apply when it comes to laptops: Ask not what you can do for your laptop — ask what your laptop can do for you.
You’ve probably owned a few notebooks, you know what features you like, and you’ve likely experienced the good and the bad that come along with choosing a machine. For instance, the inconvenient hassle of toting around a 17-inch behemoth, or the inevitable letdown that goes along with streaming Netflix movies to an 11-inch screen. Fortunately, there is a bevy of suitable options, for every lifestyle or purpose, so long as you know what you’re doing. And remember, there are exceptions to every rule.
Here’s our list of the most common laptop buying mistakes, so you can leave all potential regrets at the door. If you want to build your own computer, check out our PC parts buying guide.
Mistake #1: Buying the cheapest available model
The cheapest computer may be easy on your wallet, but it probably won’t have all the features you need, and chances are that it lacks the longevity you want.
Let’s say you’re deciding between a dual-core and quad-core processor. You want to run many applications at once, but you choose the dual-core processor because it’s, well, a little less expensive. Now you have a system that’s not as powerful as your needs demand, and that problem will plague you until it’s time to buy again.
Rather than jumping for the lowest price, it’s best to find the laptop that will actually serve your needs. A good way to begin your search is to know exactly what you need. Make a list of must-have features, then cross-check that list with spec sheets.
Mistake #2: Paying too much
Don’t buy more laptop than you can afford. Chances are good that if a laptop strains your budget, it has something that you don’t need. The top-of-the-line Macbook Pro 13 from Apple costs more than $3,000. Realistically, that’s more computer than most people need — and the least expensive Pro is only $1,500. That’s over a thousand dollars that you may be tempted to spend just because something is shiner and has higher numbers, but not because you need it. Don’t let marketing fool you into paying too much!
A good example of this is the 2016 MacBook models with the Touch Bar. The Touch Bar was a new bit of tech, and it got a lot of people excited to see what it offered. However, the Touch Bar ended up being a little bit controversial. Not everyone liked it, and some considered it more trouble than it was worth. People who upgraded to the new MacBook just for the Touch Bar ended up rolling the dice on a feature they didn’t really understand out of sheer excitement.
Mistake #3: Buying a laptop “for today”
It’s an old bit of advice, but it still holds true. Unless you are obsessed with getting the latest tech and newest models (hey, some of us have a good excuse) a new laptop will probably last at least a few years, and likely more if you want to save money on another purchase for as long as possible. That means that, instead of buying a laptop for today, you should buy one for where you will be in a couple years.
The classic example here is the college student who doesn’t have a degree yet, but has decided to buy a new laptop. While it may be tempting to buy a laptop for their current major and interests, that’s usually a mistake. Colleges have lots of technical tools for students to use. When it comes to a personal laptop, it’s a better idea for a student to buy a laptop for the job they would like to have after graduating. That often means focusing more on a business-friendly laptop with the right capabilities for a professional environment.
This tip also goes hand-in-hand with “buying the cheapest model available.” For instance, the new Microsoft Surface Laptop can be purchased for $1,000. However, the base model has only 4GB of RAM and a 128GB hard drive. That’s going to limit its long-term appeal, because it will quickly run out of hard drive space, and may not handle multiple applications well. Going for a step-up model with a bigger hard drive is a good idea.
Mistake #4: Ignoring ports and compatibility
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
Not all laptops include the ports you depend on. Need a card reader? How about three USB ports? You might be out of luck. The current ultrabook trend is sending ports into extinction. Do you use Apple products? Then a Thunderbolt 3 port may be a necessity to get things done. Do you have an older external hard drive with USB 2.0 ports? The newer USB 3.0 Type-C ports on laptops may not work for you.
Take stock of the ports you need — including what protocol they use — then double-check your laptop options. If a new laptop lacks the ports you need, then you’ll want to factor in the cost of adapters.
Mistake #5: Opting for the highest available resolution
A device boasting a 4K display is certainly worth more than a cursory glance, but its not always the right choice given may laptops have yet to properly master scaling anything over 200 pixels per inch. High-resolution laptops often display smaller menus because legacy Windows apps render dimensions in pixel size. More pixels on the screen reduces the size of everything, including fonts, icons, and other key aspects of the visual display.
Battery life is also negatively impacted by a high resolution because a brighter backlight is needed to drive all those pixels. Models designed from the ground up for a pixel dense panel, like the MacBook Pro with Retina, can still manage long life, but many 4K notebooks have lackluster endurance. Dropping down to 1080p can provide an extra hour (or two) of life away from a socket.
Mistake #6: Not trying before buying
It should probably go without saying, but always give the laptop you’re considering a proper test drive if at all possible. Many everyday laptops are available for testing at big, brick-and-mortar stores such as Apple, Best Buy, and the Microsoft Store, allowing you to fiddle with the trackpad, keyboard, software interface, and other components that substantially differ from model to model.
It’s easy to overlook the importance of features absent from the spec sheet, such as the touchpad’s responsiveness or the visibility of a glossy screen in daylight, so trying your desired laptop within its element guarantees you a better idea of what you’re buying. You don’t necessarily have to purchase the laptop in the retail store, but you should at least get some hands-on experience before making a final decision. If that’s not possible, buy from an online store with a strong return policy.
Mistake #7: Thinking size doesn’t matter
Size matters, especially when it comes to a laptop. Whereas a bigger display allows for a more expansive and often better viewing experience, it also cuts into the portability factor. A laptop’s size often determines the size of the keyboard and trackpad, meaning you’ll likely be cramped when opting for a laptop measuring less than 13 inches.
That said, it’s best to consider how you’ve used laptops in the past, whether your own, or one belonging to someone else. A smaller ultrabook may be a viable option for frequent travels, but for those looking for a standard laptop, you’ll probably want to opt for one with a 13.3- or 14-inch screen. If you rarely leave your home with your system, consider a 15.6-inch model for maximum screen real estate.
When in doubt, think about what you tote around now, how it feels on your shoulder, and how much space you need at the coffee shop. Also consider tablet laptop hybrids, which trade storage and power for more comfortable keyboards and seriously low space requirements.
Mistake #8: Becoming obsessed with one specification
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
Tunnel vision is bad news when buying a laptop. While it’s fun to pit spec sheets against each other, avoid picking out one particular specification as your favorite and only looking at that factor.
For example, manufacturers love RAM. It can be easily be expressed as a number, and bigger numbers are better. It’s also cheap, so packing in some extra gigabytes is an easy way to make a laptop look faster. Truth be told, however, you rarely need more than 8GB of RAM, unless you are using some serious software for work purposes. If a laptop has more, that’s great, but don’t obsess over it.
Likewise, don’t become obsessed with battery life, or resolution, or processor speed. If you’re on a budget, and most people are, you’ll need to learn to balance a variety of hardware. A jack-of-all-trades notebook is often better than one that’s lackluster in several areas, but excels in just one.
Mistake #9: Choosing an ultrabook when you need something bigger
Ultrabooks have risen to become one of the most popular types of laptops, and it can be very tempting to automatically assume they are the best choice for you. They’re lightweight, small enough to fit easily into a briefcase or pack, and the prices of many models — especially Chromebooks — are some of the lowest around. What’s not to love?
Well, ultrabooks aren’t for everyone. Just because they’re in a lot of headlines and get great reviews doesn’t mean they are always the best type of laptop. A Chromebook may be light and cheap, but they also have very little storage and are useless if you need to keep big projects on your hard drive, or need a large, high-res screen for design projects. A Microsoft Surface Book may be just right for a professional who depends on Office 365, but all those impressive specs won’t look nearly so impressive if you really need a MacOS platform instead. So while you will see a lot of favorable comments on today’s top ultrabooks, keep in mind that your personal situation is a little more complicated.
Mistake #10: Assuming a 2-in-1 is the same as a laptop
Tablets, 2-in-1s, and laptops are distinct categories. They aren’t interchangeable. While you can perform many tasks with a tablet and keyboard that you can with a laptop, the similarities soon end. Tablets remain far more constricting when it comes to multitasking, fast web browsing, using complex apps, or running any kind of demanding software. Just because something has a screen and keyboard doesn’t mean that it can do everything a laptop can. This is the opposite mistake of getting focused too much on one spec — if you ignore all the specs, you’ll start making assumptions about what the machine can do, and that’s dangerous territory.
Buying a laptop is complex, but you can find the tools you need to be successful. Our reviews here at Digital Trends are a good start. We’ll walk you through every feature of a notebook and how it performed in our hands-on testing, from display quality to performance. We take an in-depth look and evaluate every laptop we receive, including everything from the user interface and the display to performance and overall design. Remember that you have options. You’re not required to buy that 17.3-inch laptop your local retailer is selling for a song. Hunt around the Internet a bit and you’re almost certain to find a similar price on something more suitably sized. The wrong laptop is never a good deal, no matter how appealing the price.
[Photo credits: Laptops: Jurgen Ziewe/Shutterstock; Trackpad: Fabio Alcini/Shutterstock; RAM dodi31/Shutterstock]
This guide is continually updated to reflect the most pervasive, laptop-buying mistakes. Last update: May 8th, 2017. Matt Smith contributed to this article.
Why it matters to you
Scanning film — whether to salvage old memories or for a new hobby — is a time-consuming process, but this app could change that.
Converting film into digital files is a time-consuming process, but a new prototype program is aiming to do the deed with just a smartphone and a light source. FilmLab, currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, is an app that scans and converts negatives into positive digital files.
Once the film is processed with chemicals and is no longer sensitive to light, the film strip is placed on a light source, such as a light table. The app then accesses the smartphone camera and automatically detects the edges to find each frame. Select a single frame from that negative and the camera will snap several photos, convert the inverted colors of the negative into a positive print and save a digital file.
To get around the resolution limitations of a smartphone, the app shoots multiple RAW files of the same frame, stitching them together to get a higher resolution file. Or, for even more resolution, users can shoot photos of the film on a digital camera, then still use the app to convert the negatives.
Under development by Abe Fettig, a 20-year programmer with previous experience working for Google and Listening Room, the app is designed to easily digitize negatives, including automatic cropping and conversion. The software is under development both to digitize old photos and to allow the growing number of modern film photographers to easily convert and share their photographs. Fettig is planning to make the platform compatible with multiple film types, including 35mm, medium format film and slides, all with both color and black and white support.
Since the app uses RAW files, the program is expected to be compatible with cameras equipped with that capability, including iOS devices from the iPhone 6s and later and Androids running Lollipop 5.0 and later. Fettig is asking the Kickstarter community to help finalize the app’s development, including enhancing the resulting image quality through automatic white balance and color adjustment.
Early backers can gain access to the program’s beta version for an $18 pledge. The app, which will sell for $30, will also be available to backers outside of beta for $5. If the campaign and the development are successful, backers will be able to gain access to the beta version as early as July, with the full version expected to launch later in the summer or early fall.
Updated on May 13, 2017 to remove expired offers and add new bundle deals.
The Raspberry Pi is one of the most versatile and understated computing platforms you can find. Priced at around $36 for the basic board, it can be outfitted and turned into a low-budget media center PC, a classic gaming station, or an Internet of Things (IoT) base station for your smart home.
In terms of hardware, the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B packs a 1.2GHz, 64-bit quad-core ARMv8 CPU paired with 1GB of RAM. There’s also onboard Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, a MicroSD slot, four USB ports, and a full-size HDMI port. Overall, it provides a solid foundation for all types of DIY projects.
Below, we’ve rounded up a few deals on different Raspberry Pi 3 bundles. So whether you’re into retro gaming or hoping to build a Raspberry Pi-based coding machine, we’ve got something for everyone.
CanaKit Raspberry Pi 3 Complete Starter Kit
CanaKit’s complete starter kit remains the top-selling Raspberry Pi bundle, and it’s easy to see why. This package comes with the latest Raspberry Pi computer board and a 32GB MicroSD card preloaded with NOOBS software to get you started right out of the box. Also included is a 2.5-amp Micro USB power supply, an HDMI cable, two heat sinks to keep your board running cool, and a sleek black enclosure to protect your Raspberry Pi and give you access to its ports. Amazon is offering this excellent starter bundle for just $70.
$70 on Amazon
Vilros Raspberry Pi 3 Basic Starter Kit
If you already have a spare HDMI cable and microSD card laying around and just need a basic kit to get started, then this Raspberry Pi bundle is for you. Like most kits, this starter bundle from Vilros includes the Raspberry Pi 3 B, two heat sinks, and a 2.5-amp USB power supply, as well as an attractive black plastic case. Available for just $50, this top-selling bundle is the cheapest kit on this list and makes a great starter package for those who already have an HDMI cable and microSD card and don’t want to pay extra for those components.
$50 on Amazon
Kano Computer Kit
For a near-complete computer setup and a great project for kids and students, check out the Kano Computer Kit. Along with the Raspberry Pi 3 computer and enclosure, this bundle includes HDMI and USB cables, an 8GB MicroSD card, and a wireless keyboard with built-in touchpad. Assemble the computer, hook it up to an HDMI display, and you’re ready to dig into the pre-installed games, coding apps, and learning software. The Kano Computer Kit is great for teachers, home-schoolers, computer clubs, and young tech enthusiasts, and is currently available for $128 on Amazon after a $21 discount.
$128 on Amazon