The average length and quality of our sleep has been steadily declining in recent years and the consensus is that our smartphones are at least partly to blame. There is still some debate about the impact of blue light from phone screens, but most manufacturers have taken note and now offer some kind of option to enable you to filter out blue light around bedtime. This may help you fall asleep more easily, especially if you’re in the habit of reading on your phone in bed.
We’ll show you how to turn blue light filters on and off for a variety of Android phones and for Apple’s iPhone in this guide, but we recommend setting up an automated schedule because it’s easy to forget to turn it on and off manually.
How to use Night Shift on your iPhone
Introduced in iOS 9.3, the Night Shift feature in iOS allows you to filter out blue light and adjust the warmth of the colors in your display. To turn it on go to:
- Settings > Display & Brightness > Night Shift
We recommend toggling on the Scheduled option and selecting the hours that best suit you. Ours comes on at 10 p.m. and goes off at 7 a.m. but you can also choose Sunset to Sunrise to have iOS pick hours automatically based on your location.
How to use the blue light filter on your Samsung Galaxy
The majority of Samsung Galaxy phones have a blue light filter option now. The fastest way to turn it on is to pull down your notification shade and swipe down again to access your quick settings. One of them is called Blue light filter and you can tap to toggle it on and off. Alternatively, look in:
- Settings > Display > Blue light filter
You can tweak the opacity with a slider and you can also tap Turn on as scheduled and then pick Sunset to sunrise or Custom schedule if you want to specify your own preferred hours.
How to use Night Light on your Pixel phone
On Google’s Pixel phones and some other stock Android devices running Android 8.0 Oreo and later you can find a blue light filter option here:
- Settings > Display > Night Light
Tap on Schedule to specify your own hours and change the level of filtering with the Intensity slider.
How to filter blue light on other Android phones
Different manufacturers have coined different names for their blue light filters, but the majority have one. You’ll generally find a quick setting option in your notification shade and scheduling options in Settings > Display.
LG calls it Comfort View, HTC and OnePlus call it Night Mode, Huawei calls it Eye Care, Motorola calls it Night Display, and Xiaomi calls it Reading mode.
What if your phone doesn’t have a built-in blue light filter?
If you’re unlucky enough to have a smartphone without a blue light filter, or you dislike the option you do have, then you can always try a third-party app instead.
Our favorite blue light filter app on Android is Twilight.
If you use your laptop or computer late at night, then check out how to use a blue light filter on PC or Mac.
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NASA is striking up deals with other countries in the name of sending more humans into space. The American space agency has recently signed a deal with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in order to advance human space travel. In a recent tweet, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced the signing of a joint letter of intent “for cooperation in human space flight.” The cosigner was the Director General of the UAE Space Agency, Dr. Mohammed Al Ahbabi. Bridenstine added, “I look forward to working with @DrAlahbabi to further humanity’s exploration of space.”
This morning I met with the Director General of the @UAESpaceAgency, HE Dr. Mohammed Al Ahbabi. We signed a joint letter of intent for cooperation in human space flight. I look forward to working with @DrAlahbabi to further humanity’s exploration of space. pic.twitter.com/LJfBoilO6q
— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) July 18, 2018
It’s not yet entirely clear what the joint letter actually entails in terms of cooperation between the two space agencies, though it seems likely that astronauts from the Middle Eastern nation will be able to board American space missions. As it stands, the UAE is selecting its first crew of astronauts, and has already whittled down the field of candidates to nine individuals who are currently undergoing training. This group will ultimately be narrowed down again, as only four astronauts will make the final cut to go into space.
The first astronaut from the UAE is currently slated to make his or her way to the International Space Station by April 2019, and in that flight, the country will be partnering with Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos.
This is not the first time that NASA and the UAE have struck up a deal with regard to the cosmos and space travel. Two years ago in June 2016, the two parties agreed to an outer space and aeronautics research partnership. But in this latest joint letter, both NASA and the UAE are focused on sending humans into space, in addition to other lofty goals.
Of course, if the UAE is depending upon NASA to get its astronauts beyond Earth’s atmosphere, they may have to wait a while longer. NASA’s contracts for these services with both SpaceX and Boeing are taking a bit longer than anticipated, which means that even American astronauts are being delayed in terms of liftoff. That said, we will have to see if an accelerated timeline manages to result in flights for scientists from both the U.S. and the UAE.
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Image Credit: David Breyer
The hybrid web-app solution, progressive web app, is touted as the possible solution to Microsoft’s app gap; but it may do more good for Google than for Microsoft.
Google and Microsoft are fierce competitors in AI, productivity tools, search and more. Additionally, Google’s refusal to bring its first-party apps to Windows phone was a strategic blow that contributed to the platform’s poor adoption.
Given this troubled history and present rivalry, it’s ironic that Microsoft’s Jeffrey Burtoft, principal program manager for partner app experiences, reached out to Google to forge a partnership in developing progressive web app (PWA) standards. Google had introduced service workers or scripts that run in the background, into its web-app solution that reduced the system’s resource usage, allowing PWAs to work efficiently. Microsoft was intrigued by Google’s approach which seemed superior to its own Universal Windows web-app strategy.
Microsoft had been investing in a Universal Windows web-app bridge called Westminster, which it merged with Google’s PWA solution after the two joined forces. Though this partnership is seemingly the best chance Microsoft has to close the app gap, it may profit Google even more.
Related: PWAs, the great equalizer
Microsoft’s PWA potential
Microsoft needs PWAs, Centennial apps and the whole of the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) to succeed. Ironically, the company’s historic lack of support for its ecosystem is counterintuitive to the resources it possesses and the dire state in which that ecosystem has languished. Microsoft’s reaching out to Google for a partnership likely reflected a sense of desperation for a strategy that it realizes is a “Catch 22” that would benefit its own ecosystem while enhancing Android’s and Chrome’s growing threat to Windows.
PWAs could help Microsoft populate the Microsoft Store with a plethora of apps. Granted, some app categories don’t translate well to PWAs, and PWAs may not have the quality or features of dedicated apps. Still, if the strategy is successful, PWAs would greatly benefit cellular PCs, Microsoft’s Surface Go LTE category (and OEM devices it inspires) and Microsoft’s rumored Project Andromeda pocket PC category.
As Microsoft pushes Always Connected PCs (ACPCs), it is forced to highlight their laptop productivity aspects since the touch-centric mobile platform (even for 2-in-1s with detachable keyboards) is weak. Surface Go has the same weakness. PWAs provide hope that the whole of the Windows 10 ecosystem would benefit from them, particularly since Windows 10 treats them as native universal apps. Such an outcome would make Microsoft’s connected Windows PCs, particularly small mobile-focused devices like Surface Go or Surface Andromeda, more relevant.
Google’s PWA play
Android is the most used mobile platform in a mobile-centric personal computing world. PWAs would benefit Google by reducing a user’s need to download apps that consume device space and are frequently ignored once downloaded.
Furthermore, the mobile web and search are still highly frequented to accomplish tasks despite app stores boasting millions of apps. PWAs, which combine websites with the UI and other benefits of dedicated apps, optimize on this web-centric user behavior. Google’s search and A.I. fortés could help it make PWAs in the Android and Chrome ecosystem a quick, seamless and rich experience.
Additionally, if PWAs become a “standard” computing experience, Chromebook efficiency and appeal could be boosted. Though not as popular outside of the U.S. education sector, Chromebooks are a growing segment. PWAs as part of Chrome make those devices even more practical.
PWAs’ double-edged success
Image Credits: David Breyer
As personal computing becomes more connected, Google browser-based Chromebooks and web-based tools make its connected personal computing strategy appear forward-looking in some regards. Combined with Android’s dominance of mobile, PWA’s app-web solution fundamentally enhances Google’s personal computing strategy by making web experiences on millions of popular Android phones and Chromebooks behave like native apps.
Microsoft is reportedly delaying Surface Andromeda to refine the OS and bolster the Windows ecosystem with PWAs. Though PWAs may be Microsoft’s best chance to close the app gap, they’re also Google’s tool to make Chromebooks more relevant and Android and Chrome more powerful.
If you want a lot of protection and a lot of style for your Pixel 2 XL, check out this case from Spigen.
Spigen has made its name on phone cases and other accessories, offering plenty of different styles and color options to make your phone look its best.
Spigen’s cases are among the best you can get for the Pixel 2 XL, and one of the classiest is Spigen’s Neo Hybrid Herringbone case.
Spigen Neo Hybrid Herringbone for Google Pixel 2 XL
Bottom line: This case is a great option if you want a unique look for your phone while still having plenty of protection.
- Two color options
- Herringbone pattern stands out from the crowd
- Allows squeezing for Google Assistant
- Great protection
- Hard to remove the phone once case is installed
See at Amazon
Distinctive and protective
Spigen Neo Hybrid Herringbone for Pixel 2 XL What I like
I don’t know why Google doesn’t offer the Pixel 2 XL in Kinda Blue, but this case lets me have both the larger screen size and the awesome blue color. It also protects my phone, which is pretty important when phones are so expensive these days. I usually don’t like using cases full time, only putting them on when I go to the gym or head out for a job. But something about the color and the design of this case makes me want to have it on all the time — which is, admittedly, a double-edged sword.
The design stands out from a crowd, especially in the blue color. The gunmetal color option is a bit more subdued, but either two-tone option should make it easy to spot your phone from across a room. I can’t recall seeing anyone else with this case since I’ve owned it, which would be handy if you left your phone somewhere by mistake. The Herringbone pattern also makes it easy to grip the back side of the phone.
The fingerprint sensor is just as easy to use with this case as it is with the phone naked, even without recapturing my prints. I also had no issues with photos or videos I took with the case on, or the microphone being muffled with the case around it. The USB-C port is just as accessible, and all of my charging cables fit without issue.
Needs some breathing room
Spigen Neo Hybrid Herringbone for Pixel 2 XL What I Don’t Like
I don’t typically use cases 24/7. Even though I like this color and the Herringbone pattern, I still like to take my phone out and have less bulk in my pocket. But getting the phone in and out of the case takes more effort than I would think necessary, and I can’t help but think I’m going to harm the phone or the case. The tradeoff to this is the phone is protected that much better — and it won’t pop out of the case by accident — so whether this is truly a downside depends on how often you swap cases.
Unique style, great protection
Spigen Neo Hybrid Herringbone for Pixel 2 XL
Despite my complaint about getting the phone in and out of the case, this is a really great case for not a lot of money. You get a unique color and style that will stand out from the crowd and keep you from losing your phone, while there’s plenty of protection in case you accidentally drop your device.
out of 5
If you want plenty of protection and a unique look for your phone, don’t hesitate to get this case.
See at Amazon
Subnautica’s murky depths are waiting to test your survival. Here’s everything you’ll need to know once you dive under
Indie developer Unknown Worlds Entertainment has partnered with console development extraordinaire Panic Button (known for the recent Nintendo Switch ports of DOOM and Wolfenstein II) to bring Subnautica to PlayStation 4. Soon everyone can get a taste of what lies beneath the sea.
If you have thalassophobia, this isn’t the game for you.
What is Subnautica?
Subnautica is an adventure survival game that allows players to explore its underwater world to their heart’s content. This is no ocean you’ll be familiar with, however, as it is set on an alien planet with unknown threats. Whether you’re exploring a long-forgotten cave system, building a base, harvesting plant life and resources, or encountering some of Subnautica’s otherworldly creatures, there’s activities for everyone to enjoy.
As I mentioned earlier, Subnautica doesn’t take place on Earth. When humanity begins to colonize other planets in the late 22nd century and a faster method of travel is needed, you’re sent out to construct such a device. While doing so, you’re also tasked with scanning a planet known as 4546B for signs of another ship that has been missing for nearly a decade. Whatever befell that ship appears to have struck yours as you’re hit with an energy pulse and crash land on 4546B. What awaits you is the mysterious tale of an ancient civilization and its quest to save its dying race. As the story unfolds, you’ll see just what measures they went to in order to try and ensure survival.
Murky depths: Environment
Planet 4546B is full of exotic locations to explore. As the developer states, there are “sun drenched shallow coral reefs to treacherous deep-sea trenches, lava fields, and bio-luminescent underwater rivers” among its diverse offerings. You’re not just skimming the rocky ocean floor. You’ll be discovering a whole alien ecosystem that sustains various forms of life. Some of these out there may help you on your journey, while others may be looking to turn you into a snack. No pressure.
For some encouragement to dive deep into these areas, you’ll also be able to locate crafting blueprints and maps to help you survive. The danger should be well worth the effort. So if you thought you could just be content in your little corner of the ocean (do oceans have corners?), you’re sadly mistaken. That is, depending on what mode you choose to play in.
Treacherous Survival: Gameplay
Survival sims tend to turn a lot of people off as the constant threat of death and micromanagement of resources can seem intimidating instead of a fun challenge. Luckily Subnautica has several modes that players can enjoy so they aren’t forced to deal with frustrating survival mechanics.
Survival is essentially Subnautica’s “normal” mode. You must manage your oxygen, hunger, and thirst to stay alive. Should you die, you’ll lose all of your resources and respawn. Your items will be at the location where you died so you can still attempt to gather what you lost.
There are ways to ensure that you don’t lose everything you’ve worked so hard for. By entering either a Lifepod 5, a Seabase, or a Cyclops, you can secure your inventory. This means that whenever you die, you’ll keep whatever items were in your inventory the last time you secured it in one of the three aforementioned structures.
Hardcore, as you can probably guess, isn’t for the faint of heart, and is meant for more serious survival sim fans looking for the greatest challenge. This mode features permadeath, so once you die, it’s game over. You’re only given one life, and the game completely begins anew should you meet your demise.
If you don’t want to risk life and limb, there is a Freedom mode for your enjoyment. This mode takes out the stress of managing your resources so you won’t need to worry about dying of hunger or thirst. However, similar to Survival, you will need to to keep an eye on your oxygen levels.
And if Freedom is just a tad too intense for you, there’s always a Creative mode. Think of this like Creative in Minecraft. You’re open to explore at your leisure without worrying about any hazards since your character cannot die. You can also craft anything without needing the usual required materials and blueprints to do so. Lastly, your bases and vehicles do not consume energy in this mode.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Subnautica will support PlayStation VR for the time being, despite supporting the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. Unknown Worlds attributes this to the difficulty of getting Subnautica to run at the high frame-rates that VR requires. The team is already struggling to achieve a smooth 30 FPS on consoles, and VR would require at least 60 FPS. So for now don’t get your hopes up for a PSVR release, but never say never. There’s always the chance that Unknown Worlds will revisit the possibility in the future.
When can you play it?
Subnautica first released into Steam Early Access in 2015 and into Xbox Game Preview in 2016, so if you prefer either of those platforms you’re good to go. For everyone looking forward to the game on PlayStation 4, you’ll need to wait a bit longer.
Unknown Worlds Entertainment is currently aiming to release Subnautica on PlayStation 4 sometime this fall. An exact date is unknown at this time. Though both Amazon and GameStop list its release for Friday, December 7, this could be a placeholder date.
You can pre-order the physical retail version of Subnautica for $29.99. It’s unclear if this will differ from the price on the PlayStation Store should you purchase it digitally as it is priced at $24.99 on Steam and the PS Store does not have it listed yet. The Game Preview version on Xbox One costs $19.99. We’ll update this once a store page goes up on PlayStation’s end.
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Frequently video chat with friends, co-workers, or podcasters? Here are a few tips to help you look like a pro.
Video chatting with friends and co-workers has practically become a way of life in our modern world. I use Skype and FaceTime pretty much daily in my home and work life, and because of that, I’ve spent a good deal of time trying to perfect my video quality.
Whether you wear pajama bottoms or a dress shirt for a video chat, you shouldn’t have to settle for sub-par results: Here are my favorite tips for making your webcam video look better than the rest.
- Film from above, not below
- Light it up
- Create a good backdrop
- Add effects and white balance with iGlasses
Film from above, not below
Whether you’re using a desktop, laptop, third-party webcam, or phone, the worst you can do is have your camera below your face, pointed up — human faces do not look great chin-first. In an ideal world, you want your camera positioned slightly above eye-level, looking down at you. Make sure not to position it too high, however: You don’t want to look like you’re craning to stare into the camera when talking to someone.
Light it up
While the “calling you from a dark cave” look is great if you’re trying to cultivate an air of mystery, it’s not the best way to chat with your co-workers. If you want to communicate effectively, you want some light on your face. The best way I’ve found is with ambient lighting behind your computer or webcam — adjustable Hue lights that bounce their light off the wall like a Hue Go, or Nanoleaf Aurora.
If you need to bathe an entire office in light, consider getting a few portable LED lights and tripods: iMore editor-at-large Rene Ritchie uses these to light up his personal studio at home for video shows like MacBreak Weekly.
A word of advice: You never want to point lights directly at your face unless they’re from a distance and allowed to diffuse somewhat, and you’ll want to make sure you’re evenly lighting yourself on both sides, lest you get the opposite of dark cave calling — “I’m in an interrogation room, send help.”
Create a good backdrop
If you’re routinely chatting from a specific space in your home — especially if these video chats are for work — it may behoove you to declutter your surroundings.
A few things to avoid in the background of video chats:
- Windows and lit lights: Both will create giant highlight spots that can either provide a wacky backlight or just pull focus from your face. To fix, cover your windows with drapes and turn your lights off
- Crazy patterns: They’ll pull focus
- Reflective glass in picture frames: I’ve broken this rule myself, but be careful of putting posters or pictures on a wall that can reflect your studio lights, or use anti-reflective acrylic.
- Garbage and other mess: Especially if you’re calling someone for work, make your studio space look professional and ditch the mess
Your tips and suggestions?
Do you have any tips and suggestions for great webcam video? Let me know below.
Tired of the monopoly that most internet service providers (ISPs) have over their communities? How about a different kind of telecommunications giant instead?
In publicly disclosed FCC emails and in a confirmation to Wired, Facebook has revealed that it is looking to launch an in-house developed satellite called Athena to offer broadband service to “unserved and underserved” areas. The low Earth orbit satellite is slated to launch sometime early next year, and would first have a “limited duration” mission. It seems likely that Facebook could then launch Athena again for a longer period of time if its initial trial proves to be successful.
“While we have nothing to share about specific projects at this time, we believe satellite technology will be an important enabler of the next generation of broadband infrastructure, making it possible to bring broadband connectivity to rural regions where internet connectivity is lacking or non-existent,” a Facebook spokesperson said about Athena.
IEEE Spectrum speculated as early as May of this year that Facebook was working on a satellite internet project, citing emails with the FCC — and it’s far from alone. Both SpaceX and OneWeb aim to beam internet down via satellite to underserved communities; SpaceX launched the first two of a planned large fleet of Starlink satellites for this purpose in February, and received FCC approval for the plan in March.
For the time being, Facebook’s project is nowhere near as ambitious. This first satellite seems more of a trial than anything else, as internet from low-Earth orbit would necessitate a bevy of satellites (a la Starlink) for real coverage.
That said, it’s still interesting to see what Facebook plans, especially considering that its previous attempts at these sorts of services didn’t work well. Earlier this year, the company decided to abandon efforts to build its own internet drone after four years of development. We’ll see how well this latest project fares.
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Today’s wearables generally depend upon your pulse and heart rate to gauge your fitness and health. A team of scientists from Stanford is taking a closer look at another metric: sweat.
Researchers from the California institution have created a flexible wearable that senses cortisol levels in your sweat. Cortisol, a stress hormone, is often an accurate indicator of athletic performance and potential disease, as it effectively communicates the activity of your adrenal and pituitary glands. Measuring cortisol levels has traditionally required several days of lab tests — but this new wearable reduces the wait time to just a fraction of that.
While sensors generally detect a molecule’s positive or negative charge, cortisol is particularly difficult to track because it is neutral – that is to say, it has no charge. But materials scientist Alberto Salleo created an elegant solution: a stretchy sensor around a membrane that will bind only to cortisol. When this sensor is worn on the skin as a patch, it brings in sweat through small holes at its bottom. Charged particles like sodium and potassium (also found in sweat) will seamlessly pass through the membrane. They’ll be blocked, however, if cortisol is in the way. As such, the sensor can still detect these charged ions, but only if cortisol is present as well.
“We are particularly interested in sweat sensing, because it offers noninvasive and continuous monitoring of various biomarkers for a range of physiological conditions,” said Onur Parlak, a post-doctoral scholar in the Salleo lab and lead author of the paper detailing the team’s findings. “This offers a novel approach for the early detection of various diseases and evaluation of sports performance.”
As it stands, a user only needs to be sweating enough to glisten in order for the patch to work. From there, measuring cortisol levels is just a matter of a few seconds. Of course, the technology has not quite been perfected. Currently, if you’re sweating too profusely, the sensor isn’t quite so effective, which defeats its purpose. Researchers also want to better the general reliability of the data, and are looking into a saliva sensor, so you don’t have to work up a sweat every time you want to track your cortisol levels.
Ultimately, the team hopes to create a device capable of tracking several biomarkers simultaneously, giving folks a clearer and more unique idea of what is happening in their bodies.
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Asus ROG Swift PG279Q
There’s a lot of things gaming monitors need to nail to be worth the money. The Republic of Gamers Swift PG279Q does nearly that with it’s 27-inch, 2,560 x 1,440 display, boasting a very low four millisecond gray-to-gray response time, but more importantly, G-Sync compatibility and a maximum refresh rate of 165Hz. That’s the highest we’ve seen yet, and a good 21Hz “better” than the previous maximum of 144Hz.
But is the 21Hz jump noticeably better? That’s a key question that must be answered. The PG279Q’s retail price is $800 – extremely steep for a 1440p display, and about $130 more than Asus’ early 144Hz gaming display. In other words, you’re paying about six bucks per extra frame of refresh per second. Let’s see if that’s a good deal.
Most monitors are boring to look at, with chunky gray or black bezels attached to drab silver stands. But the Asus’ PG279Q is not most monitors. It combines bezels just a quarter-inch thick with a large, triangular stand neck, and red LED-backlit accents and Republic of Gamers logo. The look won’t be for everyone, but it stands out without going completely over the top.
I honestly can’t think of a single flaw in the PG279Q’s design.
The monitor is as functional as it is attractive. The wide stand base keeps the monitor in place, while the stand neck provides all the adjustments expected of a good office display; height, pivot, tilt, and rotation up to 90 degrees. There’s also a small wire routing cut-out in the stand neck to help tame clutter.
I honestly can’t think of a single flaw in the PG279Q’s design. Even the backlit logo is not so bright to be overly distracting, and it can be turned off if desired.
Input options are a bit limited with the PG279Q. It offers HDMI 1.4a and DisplayPort 1.2a, and just the latter supports G-Sync. Compared to monitors as a whole, this is a limited selection of connectivity, but it’s actually more than the average G-Sync display provides. The monitor also offers two USB 3.0 ports, but they’re tucked away near the video inputs and difficult to use.
The PG279Q’s on-screen menu is tucked away in the lower right hand flank, as is typical, but operates a bit differently than most. The top button is actually a joystick, and is used to navigate the majority of the options. The joystick can be pressed or tilted to select options. The other buttons, from top to bottom, are the exit button, a quick-access button for gaming-related settings, a turbo button (for changing refresh rate), and the power button.
This scheme works well, and is easily the best implementation of a joystick control scheme I’ve yet seen on a monitor. It’s helped by the fact the joystick itself is small, smooth and requires little effort to use.
Asus ROG Swift PG279Q Compared To
BenQ EX3200R Gaming Monitor
HP Dreamcolor Z32x
Philips 276E6ADSS LCD monitor
AOC mySmart A2472PW4T
Samsung SyncMaster BX2450
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
It’s good the controls work well, because there’s a lot to navigate. The menu includes a wide selection of GameVisualizer pre-sets that are optimized for certain genres, five levels of blue light filtering, color temperature adjustments, brightness, and contrast. But while there’s a lot to choose from, there’s not much discrete control. Color temperature settings are simply “warm” or “cool,” and expert adjustments like color saturation, hue and gamma are not included. Arguably they’re not the focus of a gaming monitor, but I think they should be a part of any monitor as technically capable – and expensive – as this.
The star of the show is the overclocking feature, which enables a refresh rate of up to 165Hz. This is not on by default, so the monitor is set to a 60Hz refresh rate out of the box, with an option to switch to 120Hz. Despite the use of the scary term, “overclocking,” setting the monitor to 165Hz is easy to do, requiring nothing except a reboot of the monitor’s firmware. We didn’t notice any negative effects from using it, so I think most users will turn it on and leave it on for the life of the monitor.
Like most monitors, the PG279Q presents an overly bright and extremely bold image out of the box. That’s great for a store shelf, but it’s a bit much for home use. Still, out-of-box image quality is quite respectable, particularly in the area of color reproduction. Games look well saturated and vivid on this display. Depth doesn’t live up to quite the same standard, but there’s enough perceived contrast to provide a three-dimensional look to high quality graphics. The IPS panel provides excellent viewing angles on both the horizontal and vertical axis.
Calibrating the display transforms it into a truly excellent panel.
These impressions were backed up by the test results. They found the display’s maximum brightness reaches an incredible 391 lux, making it one of the brightest monitors we’ve ever reviewed. Color gamut came in at 100 percent of sRGB and 78 percent of AdobeRGB, and average color error came in at DeltaE 2.17. Anything below one is considered generally unnoticeable to the naked eye. Surprisingly, the color error was fairly well distributed – cyan and blue saw the highest error, which is normal for LED backlit monitors, but the deviation was less than typical.
Overall, the PG279Q performs well. It isn’t exceptional in any particular area, but it’s in the upper tier of results across the board. There’s just one exception to that – gamma. We measured a curve of 2.4, which is off the target of 2.2. Most competitors come in at the ideal 2.2, or at 2.1. Higher numbers represent darker reproduction of grayscale.
In practice, this means that images will appear darker than they should. It’s not a huge concern for gamers, but it’ll be a problem for anyone who edits photos, videos, or other digital media, given the monitor provides no option for gamma adjustment.
While the PG279Q performs well out of the box, calibrating the display transformers it into a truly excellent panel. This is mainly because of color accuracy. After calibration the AdobeRGB gamut rose to 79 percent and color accuracy dropped to an average of .81, which is near perfection, and the third best result we’ve ever seen – behind the Samsung U32D970Q and the display on the Zenbook NX500 notebook. Contrast happily remained at a respectable ratio of 630:1 despite the fact my calibration more than halved the maximum brightness of 391 lux to a more reasonable 120 lux.
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
Nothing I could do changed the gamma curve, though, and that’s going to remain an issue for anyone looking to do professional work alongside gaming. It also might be a problem for gamers who enjoy dark games, because a curve of 2.4 means the display is rendering images darker than it should, which can result in loss of detail in shadowy scenes (you literally may not see the bad guy that gets you). Fortunately, most modern games have in-game tools to increase gamma through software, so it should be possible to tame it.
I also flipped through the refresh rate settings to see if, by chance, they changed image quality. They did not – which is what should be the case. Color accuracy is the same at 165Hz as it is at 60Hz. The blue light filter hurts color accuracy, though the display actually manages a delta error of only 1.5 at the first level of filter, which is still quite good.
G-Sync at 60, 144 and 165 Hz
Testing complete, I kicked back, relaxed and played some games. For the most part I stuck to Diablo 3, a long-time favorite of mine, and a game that benefits greatly from high refresh rates and frame synchronization. I also played World of Warships and Grand Theft Auto V, games that aren’t as ideal for showcasing the PG279Q.
Try as I might, I couldn’t see much difference between gaming at 144Hz and 165Hz.
I came away liking the monitor a great deal, but not specifically because of its high refresh rates. Try as I might, I couldn’t see much difference between gaming at 144Hz and 165Hz. Maybe animations in Diablo 3 looked smoother sometimes, or maybe they didn’t. It’s hard to say. Certainly, the major issues that are tamed by G-Sync, stuttering and screen tearing, were no different. They’re no different at 165Hz than at 60Hz.
Most games don’t provide full use of the maximum refresh rate, anyway. Even Heroes of the Storm doesn’t max out the 165Hz potential on our test rig, which has a Core i7-6700K processor and GTX 980 Ti graphics card. Framerates are usually in the 130 to 140 FPS range. Grand Theft Auto V dips below 60 FPS with all the details turned up, and World of Warships has a strange engine cap of 72 FPS.
Put simply, while the refresh rate is nice to have, I don’t know that even a 144Hz refresh rate is worth much, never mind 165Hz. The feature functions as intended, but it doesn’t bring a lot to the table. Personally, I’d be happy with a 60Hz refresh rate on a G-Sync monitor.
It has speakers, but does anyone care?
There are two speakers, rated at two watts of power each, on the backside of the PG279Q. As with most monitors, they serve little purpose aside from bare-minimum audio for gamers who’ve lost their speakers or headphones. Audio is reasonably clear at medium volume, but tends to distort when significant bass is introduced. The rear-facing location also means audio does not travel well when the display is pushed up near a wall.
Asus ships the PG279Q with a three year limited warranty. That’s typical for monitors in this price range – in fact, a few offer a five year warranty, though no competitor with G-Sync compatibility does at this time.
Asus has a mission to make the Republic of Gamers product line world-class in every category, and the ROG Swift PG279Q spares nothing in search of that effort. It offers not just excellent image quality, but also a high refresh rate, frame synchronization through G-Sync, and design that’s as attractive as it is functional. Gaming monitors have a somewhat deserved reputation for sacrificing image quality at the altar of response times, but no such compromise exists here.
The monitor isn’t perfect. The gamma curve is too dark, which can lead to problems with visible detail in very dark games. I’d also like to see more inputs. And I suppose the response time of four milliseconds isn’t the lowest, but that likely only matters for Counter Strike players with professional aspirations.
You might think, given high refresh rate’s failure to noticeably change gameplay, that this $800 monitor is a poor value. That’s not the case. There are several competitors on the market, like the Acer XB270HU and Asus’ previous PG278Q, the latter of which is only $670. But the alternatives generally use a TN panel, and they can’t match the color gamut and viewing angles of the PG279Q’s IPS screen. While the refresh rate is the headline feature, the quality panel is what really makes Asus’ latest efffort its greatest.
It remains true that $800 is a lot to spend on a 1440p monitor, but if you want G-Sync, and you want both image quality and refresh rate, there are few alternatives. I also rather like the older Acer XB280HK, which provides 4K resolution – but with a much narrower color gamut and 60Hz refresh rate, it’s really no longer in the same league. The newer Acer XB270HU, meanwhile, did not hold up well in our contrast testing. The ROG Swift PG279Q lives up to its flagship aspirations, and sets a new standard for G-Sync gaming monitors.
Unfortunately, you can’t 3D print your own furniture quite yet — at least not easily. Unless you have access to industrial-level machinery or are willing to print a gazillion pieces on your Makerbot, printing home furnishings on demand just isn’t possible for most of us. However, despite the fact that printing an entire coffee table or lounge chair is currently out of reach, the internet is brimming with 3D printable joints and connectors that make building your own furniture a snap. In this article, we’ll highlight one such piece, and show you how to build a nifty little end table using a 3D printed part and a few basic building materials.
Tools & Materials
Here’s everything you’ll need to make this project come to life Riley Young/Digital Trends
- Router (optional)
- 24″ x 24″ wood panel
- 7/8 inch dowel rods (3)
- 1/4 inch plank of any length
- Double-sided tape
- Finishing nails
- Tape measure
*Note: To complete this project, you’ll also need access to a 3D printer with a build envelope that’s at least 105mm wide and 130mm tall. This doesn’t mean you need to own one though!
Step 1: Make the 3D printed joint
Before you do anything else, you should fabricate the 3D printed tripod joint. This part is the keystone of the entire table, so it’s crucial that you get it right. By printing it first, you’ll be able to take it with you when you head out to buy materials, and make sure that all the dowels and screws you get will fit properly. Don’t worry if you don’t have a 3D printer — we’ll show you how to get around that in a moment (skip to the last paragraph of this section for details).
Don’t have a 3D printer? Don’t worry. There are tons of online services that allow you to order 3D printed parts.
The first step is to download the 3D model, which was designed by a guy named Alejandro Macias. It’s a wonderfully simple design, but you’ll need to tweak it a bit before you print — otherwise the dowels won’t fit, and your table won’t have legs. After you’ve downloaded the print file and loaded it into your slicer program, the next step is to scale the part up to around 106 percent of its original size. Feel free to go 107 if you want to be extra safe.
Once that’s done, you’re ready to print — but for best results, you should take a moment to ensure the printer’s settings dialed in properly first. After printing a few of these suckers, we determined that you need to bump up the number of shells (the outer layers of the print) and the amount of infill (the interior of the print) considerably in order to give the completed part more structural integrity. We printed ours with six shells and 40 percent infill, but you might want to kick it up even more (say, 8 shells and 50 percent infill) if you plan on putting heavier items on the table.
Riley Young/Digital Trends
Finally, you’ll also want to print with supports in the interior, since there’s a tricky unsupported stalactite in the middle of the model that could cause the print to fail.
Don’t have a 3D printer? Don’t worry. There are tons of online services that allow you to order 3D printed parts that are tailored to the exact specifications you need. We recommend using 3DHubs (a service that puts you in touch with local 3D printer owners in your area), instead of more expensive services like Shapeways and Sculpteo. Just make sure that whatever service you end up using knows your parameters (scaled to 106 percent, extra shells and infill, supports in the interior) before they get started.
Step 2: Prepare the table legs
As we said up front, we scaled up the 3D-printed flange to fit commonly available 7/8-inch wood dowels. If you scale the part to 106 percent, those dowels will slide right in for a perfect fit, and there are small holes in the sides of the tubes to fix them in place. We cut our dowels to about 18 inches long, resulting in a roughly 20-inch high tabletop, which is nice for a small side table like this one.
Riley Young/Digital Trends
Knowing the legs would be round dowels and the top would be round too, we decided to continue the round, modern theme throughout the table. Therefore, we rounded the ends of the dowels where they hit the floor and used a router to round over the edges of the tabletop to match.
Pro tip: The secret to round feet
There are lots of ways to turn the ends of the dowels into a nice little orb. We went with the simplest: rolling the dowel on our worktable as we held a sanding block against the end at and angle. You could also roll the dowels against a disc or belt sander to make the process faster.
Shoot for three bevels that are roughly even all around.
In any case, the secret to a perfect roundover is to start with a big, even, 45-degree bevel. Do this on all three legs before moving on, to be sure the bevel is similar on all three. You want the bevel to cover about half of the diameter on the end of the leg, and be even all around.
Just keep checking it as you work it, hitting the areas that are a little thin until the whole bevel is even.
Next, you change the angle of the leg as you sand, to make new, smaller bevels on the two points created by the first bevel. Shoot for three bevels that are roughly even all around. Finally, hit the last, tiny points created by the first three bevels and you should be very close to a perfect roundover. You can finish smoothing it by holding the sandpaper in your hands.
Step 3: Cut and smooth the tabletop
The biggest tabletop this small plastic flange can support is about 18 inches in diameter. We wanted the top to be solid wood, not plywood, so we started with a big, edge-glued craft panel from Lowes. It’s challenging to glue solid boards into a panel and smooth them flat and level, so these pre-made panels are a great shortcut. Our panel was made from pine (as are most pre-made panels) which matches the dowels nicely.
Riley Young/Digital Trends
To cut out the round top we could have created a large compass from a strip of wood, with a nail stuck through one end and a pencil point coming through a small hole at the other, and then attempted to follow the line with a jigsaw (or a bandsaw if you have one). But we went with a slick trick that guarantees a smooth, accurate cut and a perfectly round top.
Using a 1/4-inch thick piece of wood (plywood, MDF, or even solid wood will work), we created a compass jig for our jigsaw. At one end of the strip we drilled a small hole that fits a nail. That nail goes into a center hole on the bottom side of the panel. About nine inches away from the nail hole we drilled a 1/4-inch hole for the jigsaw blade.
Keep your eye on the blade as it cuts.
The first step is to attach the compass jig to the bottom of your panel, and insert a pencil in the blade hole to draw an 18-inch circle on the bottom of the panel.
After that, you can cut away the wood in front of the blade hole, and then use double-sided tape to attach the base of the jigsaw to the jig, with the blade poking through the blade hole.
It’s really important that the jigsaw be square to the line of the cut so the blade doesn’t try to wander sideways. The way to do this is draw a line between the nail hole and blade hole, and then make sure the base of the jigsaw is square to that line when you attach it.
Now, to use the jig, put the nail loosely in the nail hole without putting it into its hole in the bottom of the tabletop. Turn on the jigsaw and cut toward the circle you drew earlier. The goal is to end up cutting in the same path as the circle.
Riley Young/Digital Trends
As you get close, keep pausing and checking to see if you can drop the nail in its center hole yet. As you get close to the pencil line with the saw, you should be able to drop the nail in. At that point the magic happens.
Pivoting on the nail, the compass jig will guide the jigsaw in a perfect circle. Keep your eye on the blade as it cuts. If it starts flexing left or right away from the line, pivot the the jigsaw a little in the other direction as you cut to bring the blade back toward the line. The double-sided tape has enough flex to allow that.
Extra credit: Round the table edges too
To complete our round theme we rounded the edges of the table with a small router and a 3/8-inch roundover bit, guided by a small bearing that rides the table edge. The trick here is to create a partial roundover on each side of the table. If you do a full 3/8-inch roundover on a 3/4-inch thick tabletop, when you flip it to rout the opposite edge, there won’t be a flat surface for the bearing to ride on. So raise the bit a little so part of the bearing catches the centerline on each pass. That leaves a mostly rounded edge with a hard line on the top and bottom side, which looks nice. Feel free to blend the curves with sandpaper but try not to dull that hard line.
Step 4: Throw on some finish and screw it all together
Before attaching the wood parts, we applied some Watco Teak Oil on ours, but practically any wipe-on oil finish will do. Sand the parts up to 220-grit and then flood on the oil with a rag. Let it soak in for a few minutes before wiping off the excess.
Riley Young/Digital Trends
The surface will be a little rough after the first coat, but here’s an easy way to smooth it. Just tear pieces off a brown paper grocery bag, and use those to rub all of the surfaces. The grocery bag paper is a subtle abrasive that burnishes wood nicely. Finally, apply another coat just like the first one for a low-key finish that brings out the beauty of the wood and adds a little protection.
As for attaching the parts, you’ll notice that the 3D printed flange has small screw holes built into it. You’ll likely need to drill these a little larger to allow the screws to pass through freely, without stressing or breaking the plastic.
To attach the tabletop, we drew criss-crossing pencil lines through the nail hole on the bottom, to help us place the flange in the center. Use screws that are 3/4-inches long or less to be sure they won’t pop out the top side of the table.
We did the same for the legs, opening up the screw holes in the plastic a little to prevent cracking. You’ll notice that one of the legs will go deeper into the flange while the other two will be blocked by the first and not go as deep.
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Riley Young/Digital Trends
Riley Young/Digital Trends
Riley Young/Digital Trends
To make sure you don’t create the Leaning Table of Pisa, draw a light pencil line about 1.5 inches from the end of each leg before inserting it, to help you insert them all the same amount. Once you do, use the screw holes in the flange to locate and drill small pilot holes in the sides of the dowels before driving the screws. There isn’t much danger of the screws cracking the tabletop, but they could split the dowels if you don’t drill pilot holes.
After that, you’re done! Plop this sucker in your living room and enjoy!
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