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Computing

This GeForce RTX 2060-equipped Asus TUF A15 laptop is down to $800

Today is the day to pull the trigger on that new gaming laptop purchase. Best Buy is selling the 15.6-inch Asus TUF A15 gaming laptop with a Ryzen 7 processor and a GeForce GTX 2060 for $800, good for $200 off the MSRP and an all-around excellent price for this laptop.

The Asus TUF A15 has a 15.6-inches 1080p display with 8GB of RAM and a 512GB NVMe SSD for onboard storage Diving further under the hood, you’ll find a Ryzen 7 4800H, which is a Zen 2 processor with eight cores, 16 threads, a base clock of 2.9GHz, and a boost up to 4.2GHz. 

Graphics, meanwhile, are handled by an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060. That’s a nice GPU, and while it’s not the most powerful graphics you can find for a laptop, it supports newer features such as real-time ray tracing for enhanced visuals, and DirectX 12 Ultimate features such as variable-rate shading. In short, this GPU should have no trouble powering your gaming habit for years to come.

The laptop also has built-in DTS sound speakers, HDMI output for those times you need a bigger screen, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. This is an excellent laptop for the price and on top of everything else you get a free month of Xbox Game Pass for PC.

[Today’s deal: 15.6-inch Asus TUF A15 gaming laptop for $800 at Best Buy]

Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.

Ian is an independent writer based in Israel who has never met a tech subject he didn’t like. He primarily covers Windows, PC and gaming hardware, video and music streaming services, social networks, and browsers. When he’s not covering the news he’s working on how-to tips for PC users, or tuning his eGPU setup.

Repost: Original Source and Author Link

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Computing

What’s the Difference Between Windows 8 and 10?

As it’s quickly become the new Windows standard, like XP before it, Windows 10 gets better and better with each major update. At its core, Windows 10 combines the best features of Windows 7 and 8 while ditching some controversial features, like the full-screen Start menu.

Released in 2015, Windows 10 aimed to create a fresh and understated operating system experience and now comes standard on virtually every PC. Whether you’re leery of making the jump to Windows 10 or want to know exactly how they compare, let’s dig into some significant differences between Windows 8 and Windows 10.

Note that as of 2023, Microsoft will no longer be offering updates or support for Windows 8, so users should plan accordingly.

The Start menu is back and better than ever

One of the most common complaints about Windows 8 was that Microsoft abandoned those who loved the classic desktop and Start menu, which makes up most of the Windows user base. With Windows 10, they wanted users from XP up through 8.1 to feel at home.

A big part of that campaign is rooted in the return of the Start menu. The Windows 10 Start menu works much as previous versions did, but also adds Windows 8’s tiles to the mix.

Windows 10 start menu

The tiles are movable and resizable, and the Start menu is highly customizable overall. The tiles in the new Start menu function a lot like the tiles from Windows 8. Windows 10 also carries over live tiles from Windows 8, which display personalized information.

The search bar in the Start menu is much more robust than in previous versions of Windows as well. As soon as you begin typing, the OS will start trying to find search results for your topic on the internet and your local machine.

Classic vs. universal apps

In Windows 8 and 8.1, apps from the Windows Store took up the whole screen, which made multitasking more difficult. While Microsoft tried to force the mobile-centric Start screen on people, many users felt like the classic desktop had been stripped of essential components. Windows 8 offered two distinct experiences, neither of which appealed to its target audience.

Windows 10 classic and universal apps

In Windows 10, apps downloaded from the Windows Store are usable in Windows. Combined with the ability to run multiple virtual desktops at the same time, working in Windows is much easier this time around. The same Windows Store apps are already available in the Windows 10 Technical Preview. Inevitably, as the OS evolves, there will be new additions and improvements that make multitasking even more effortless.

Find more at the Windows Store

The Windows Store houses a bunch of useful applications explicitly designed for the Windows 8 Start screen, but that left Windows 7 users out in the cold. Microsoft has made the Windows 10 Store a tool that all users will appreciate, bringing the functionality of Windows 8 together with the feel of Windows 7, which a lot of users missed with the upgrade to 8.

Make it your own

In Windows 8, big icons and simple choices were at the forefront. The Start screen allowed you to quickly arrange and resize live tiles, increasing their functionality and ease of use.

With Windows 10, the classic desktop and tiled UI are no longer distinct interfaces — instead, elements of both are present and highly configurable. Live tiles are now integrated into the Start menu rather than in their interface, where they can be moved, customized, set to show quick information, and launch programs. Applications can also be pinned or moved to the taskbar for easy access.

One OS to rule them all

Between Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10, RT, and Windows Phone, there are many iterations of Windows, which can be confusing. Windows 8 was closer to RT and Windows Phone than previous versions, making it easier to create cross-platform apps and utilize features like live tiles. They were still distinct operating systems, however, and required separate apps and programming to function correctly.

Windows10VS one platform

Rather than creating an entirely separate OS for touch and classic keyboard and mouse controls, Microsoft is focusing on creating a user experience that is satisfying and useful across all platforms. While Windows 10 doesn’t look the same on your laptop, tablet, or Windows Phone as it does on your desktop, it has much of the same functionality and shared applications.

The big buttons that provide quick shortcuts are sure to please anyone who uses the touchscreen with their Windows device. The whole idea was to make Windows 10 feel like one OS that’s just responding to whatever device and environment you use it in.

Multiple virtual desktop configurations

While Linux and Mac OS X have explored the world of multiple desktops already, Microsoft had declined to support the feature in its desktop OS until Windows 10. The introduction of the Start screen in Windows 8 seemed to confirm that the Windows organizational strategy was focused on better single desktop management.

Windows 10 multiple desktops

In Windows 10, you can simply add or remove new desktop environments and open programs in them when you do. The functionality is easily accessible from any screen, including from within Windows Store applications.

Get the full picture with Task View

Task View spreads out all your processes and running applications, even those across multiple desktops, so you can quickly move between active programs. In Windows 8, the reliance on full-screen Windows Store apps limited the number of ways to organize your applications, and tools that let you do so quickly fell by the wayside.

Windows 10 Snap View

Task View seemingly combines OS X’s Expose feature and a more sophisticated version of the current Windows-tab option. Along with Task View, Windows 10 features a snap assist feature that pulls up previews of all your other windows when you snap an app to either side of the screen. You can easily select the paired application, making it easier to organize your workspace, close unresponsive programs, and view data usage info.

Improved Command Prompt

It’s not all about improving functionality for every PC owner — Microsoft still has a place in its heart for the power user. Among the developer and power user tools that were updated in Windows 10 was the Command Prompt. If you haven’t used it before, you probably won’t be impressed to know that functionality like copy and paste was added.

However, if you’re a seasoned Command Prompt veteran, you’ll be glad to see that it received some love, too. There are a large number of new options and hot keys that make it even easier to execute commands and launch programs.

Hello, Cortana

One major difference between Windows 8 and 10 is the inclusion of Cortana, which is basically Window’s version of voice assistant programs like Siri and Alexa. However, Cortana is designed to use data and machine-learning techniques to learn your preferences and respond to your needs more accurately and efficiently the more you use it.

With Cortana, users can find files and launch programs locally and search for data on the internet via voice commands. Setting up or disabling Cortana is quick and easy to do, offers excellent options to improve your machine’s accessibility, and can make mundane tasks much easier.

File Explorer improvements

Another boon for Windows 10 users is the streamlined and improved File Explorer. In addition to being able to search and access all your PC’s folders, the Quick Access section lets you easily locate recently updated files so you can stay productive.

Change programs with a Snap

Windows 8 users will likely be familiar with the frustration of only being able to run apps next to each other or using full-screen. In Windows 10, each app and program window can be automatically resized by dragging up, down, left, or right with the Snap Assist feature. This allows Windows 10 users to snap four apps per screen. When combined with Windows 10’s ability to create virtual desktops, users can create four-app productivity setups to improve efficiency without wasting valuable screen space.

Xbox connectivity

There has been an increase in interest for cloud-based gaming recently. So, it is not surprising that Microsoft decided to jump on board. Microsoft needed to determine a way to link Xbox and apps with the newest Windows update. By including Xbox apps and Minecraft for free with Windows 10, Microsoft allows players to stream their games to a Windows 10 PC or other supporting devices. However, this leaves Windows 8 users out of luck if they wish to up their gaming.

Experienced users know Windows OS and Microsoft quite thoroughly and rely on them to run their computers, so customer criticism is essential. Microsoft listened to user’s comments when Windows 10 set to prioritize user experience. They got rid of the Start screen that turned users off of Windows 8. It now reflects the user-friendly Start menu of Windows 7 or Windows XP. Windows 10 also features more classic layout features.

Windows 10 is a nostalgic flashback to what gamers love about the earlier rendations of the platform. Users love the accessibility and high-quality performance it offers. Though pretty much anything is better than Windows 8, Windows 10 rates highly across the entire board.

Editors’ Choice




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Computing

Gateway GWTN156-3BK review: A gaming laptop that lives a bit too loud

Gateway’s back! This once-famous PC company from the 1990s was purchased by Acer some years ago. It sat idle until Acer resuscitated the Gateway brand earlier this year, complete with spotted-cow mascot, as a Walmart exclusive. One of the first new offerings, the poetically named Gateway GWTN156-3BK, builds a Comet Lake-H mobile CPU and a modestly aggressive Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 chip into a laptop costing just $999 at Walmart.

Does it deliver? Absolutely. While both the available memory and SSD are sparser than we’d like, our tests revealed satisfactory to very good gaming performance. The design has its highlights too, including a decent keyboard and a good mix of connectivity options.

This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best laptops. Go there for information on competing products and how we tested them. 

Gateway GWTN156-3BK logo 1 Mark Hachman / IDG

The Gateway spotted-cow logo reappears on the lid of the laptop.

Gateway GWTN156-3BK: Specs and features

In a year when everyone needs a laptop to work or study from home, even a vintage PC brand like Gateway can get some traction—we saw this laptop move in and out of availability during our review period. (There is also a version with a Ryzen 5 4600H and a GeForce GTX 1650 for $799.)  There’s no relationship to Walmart’s own Motile house brand, of which we reviewed the surprisingly good Motile M142 budget laptop (currently out of stock). 

With most premier gaming laptops priced at several thousand dollars, the question we want to answer is where Gateway (or Acer) cut corners to bring this gaming laptop down to its $1,000 price point. There are no variations on memory or SSD size, for instance, though the amounts you get are adequate. Here are the primary specs:

  • Display: 15.6-inch LCD IPS (1920×1080, 120Hz) non-touch
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-10300H (“Comet Lake”)
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 6GB
  • Memory:  8GB Micron DDR4-3200 
  • Storage: 256GB PCIe SSD (PM8256GPTCB4B8TF-E13T2A)
  • Ports: 1 HDMI 2.0, 2 miniDisplayPort 1.4, USB-C (charge+data transfer), 2 USB 3.1, ethernet, microSD, Kensington lock
  • Camera: 720p (user-facing)
  • Battery: 46.7 Wh (design and full charge)
  • Wireless: WiFi 6 (Intel AX201), Bluetooth 
  • Operating system: Windows 10 Home
  • Dimensions (inches): 14.2 x 9.7 x 0.8in.
  • Weight: 4 pounds
  • Color: Black
  • Price: $999 at Walmart

The external design is plain, with a charcoal plastic shell and the classic Gateway spotted-cow badge adorning the lid. The quirkiness of the brand—there’s another cow peering quizzically at you from the laptop’s desktop background—is somewhat at odds with the gamer aesthetic, especially with the cow gazing down at the RGB-lit keyboard.

Gateway GWTN156-3BK power performance toggle Mark Hachman / IDG

Gateway’s GWTN156-3BK provides a button to the left of the power button to switch between Office, Gaming, and Turbo modes, but it has little effect.

What does scream “gamer” are the aggressive ventilation openings to the sides, bottom and rear. The fans scream too, unfortunately—almost always whining gently in the background, even when manually set to the low fan mode in the Control Center utility. It was often loud enough to annoy me until I donned headphones.

Related, to the left of the power button above the keyboard there’s a secondary button with three modes: Office, Gaming, and Turbo. For the life of me I couldn’t understand why Gateway had included it, as our performance testing revealed that the modes did absolutely nothing that our tests could discern. Once the fan dropped down into “low” and shut off in Office mode, I finally grokked why the toggle was useful.

The port layout is plentiful and yet frustrating. USB Type-A ports adorn both sides of the laptop, supporting an external keyboard and mouse if you so wish. A dropjaw version of the ethernet connector provides both high bandwidth and reduced ping times. There’s a single HDMI port and two miniDisplayPort connectors, perfect for my existing miniDP-to-HDMI cables. There’s even an increasingly rare SD card slot.

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Computing

Windows Update Not Working for Your Latest Upgrade? Here’s How to Fix It

As a cornerstone of your system’s integrity and security, Windows Update is underestimated. Microsoft also delivers featured OS updates from Windows Update. The update process is vastly streamlined for Windows 10, but that doesn’t mean it’s always problem-free, especially when it comes to compatibility and patches.

Here, we’ll show you how to get Windows Update working again when it fails and what to do if it looks like an update is causing problems.

Manage when automatic updates reboot your machine

You can’t permanently turn off automatic updates in Windows 10, but you can manage when your machine reboots after installing an update. That way, you can at least make sure your machine doesn’t restart during your workday or at an inconvenient time. Here’s how:

Step 1: Go to or search for Settings. Then select Update & Security options.

Step 2: Select the Windows Update tab at the top of the list on the left-hand side. Then, click Change Active Hours in the middle part of the window.

Step 3: This will bring up a window called Active Hours, which will let you set a start and end time for when restarts will occur. Keep in mind that this doesn’t change when updates install, but only when your machine will automatically restart — and that will only happen when you’re not actively using it. Select your preferred times, and click Save.

Step 4: If an update is already scheduled, then you can select Restart Options from the main Windows Update settings page to choose a custom restart time. Just toggle the setting on, and then choose your preferred time and day.

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Step 5: Finally, you can pause system upgrades temporarily for up to seven days. Keep in mind that there are separate settings for significant updates and quality updates like security updates.

To defer upgrades, select Advanced Options on the main Windows Update page. Use the drop-down lists to decide how many days you want to delay them.

You can also use this menu to make other adjustments to the way updates are applied, including whether they’re automatic or manually triggered. You even have the option to pause them entirely.

Run the Windows Update troubleshooter

Microsoft knows that sometimes things (like the infamous Windows 10 May 2019 Update) can bring along a few unwanted issues, which is why the company created the Windows Update troubleshooter. This tool will run through your primary operating system parameters and look for any obvious problems that may be keeping Windows Update from functioning correctly. If it can, the troubleshooter will also fix them automatically. At the very least, it will let you know what the issue is.

Try this analysis early on if you’re experiencing update issues. Head over to Microsoft’s support page and click Download Troubleshooter for Windows 10 the tool should take care of the rest. It might ask you for administrator privileges to perform a more in-depth check, but beyond permitting it to do so, you don’t need to do anything else.

It won’t solve every problem, but it’s a great place to start and will usually provide useful information even if it can’t offer a fix.

Check your installation error code

If your general update or featured update fails or creates problems, it will often give you an installation error code. The codes don’t tell you much by themselves, but they do include a lot of useful info if you hop online and consult Microsoft’s guide on the matter. Below, we’ve provided a table highlighting some of the more common errors.

0x80073712 A file needed by Windows Update is likely damaged or missing.
0x800F0923 This error might indicate that a driver or other software on your PC isn’t compatible with the upgrade to Windows 10. For info about how to fix this problem, contact Microsoft support.
0x80200056 This error could mean that the upgrade process was interrupted because you accidentally restarted your PC or signed out of your PC. Try upgrading again, and make sure your PC is plugged in and stays turned on.
0x800F0922

This error might mean that your PC couldn’t connect to the Windows Update servers. If you’re using a VPN connection to connect to a work network, disconnect from the VPN, turn off the software (if applicable), and try upgrading again. The error could also mean there isn’t enough free space in the System Reserved partition. You might be able to fix this problem by using third-party software to increase the size of the System Reserved partition.

0xC1900208 – 0x4000C This error means there are issues with an incompatible app preventing your PC from completing a Windows upgrade. To fix this error, you will need to check that all apps are updated to their latest versions and try again. If you still have issues, consider deleting the offending app and completing the update before downloading it again.

0xC1900200 – 0x20008

0xC1900202 – 0x20008

This may signify that your PC doesn’t meet the minimum requirements to download or install the upgrade to Windows 10.

0x80070070 – 0x50011

0x80070070 – 0x50012

0x80070070 – 0x60000

This likely indicates that your PC doesn’t have enough space available to install the upgrade. Free up some space on the drive and try again.

Note that this guide is designed specifically for Windows 10 and recent versions like the Windows 10 May 2019 Update. Error codes may not mean the same thing in other versions of Windows.

If all else fails, these quick fixes might do it

windows 10 october update

Have all the automatic checks and codes failed you? It’s time to go back to the tried-and-true methods, the tricks that have been solving update errors since the update was first invented. Here are a few options that may work for you.

Reboot your computer

This is a surprisingly effective method that will solve a host of computer issues — and it often works for Windows Update. When you encounter an error message, reboot your machine and try to run the updates again. If you haven’t run Windows Update for some time, then you might have to repeat this process several times before all updates have been installed.

Do you have enough disk space?

One scenario in which updates may fail is when your system drive is running out of space. Double-check that you have at least 10GB of free space. If you don’t, perform a disk cleanup to remove files. To do so, type Disk Cleanup into Cortana’s search box, click Disk Cleanup to start the utility, and, if requested, select your system drive (usually C:). Afterward, specify the type of files that you want to get rid of and select OK. Try to stay away from important system files.

Third-party software like CCleaner is a fantastic option for those needing a bit more disk space. To find more information about this, take a look at our complete guide on managing Windows 10’s storage space.

Is malware causing the issue?

Make certain you check your system for malware. If you do not, you may be open to potential dangers. Malware leaves you with a vulnerable system by messing with core system files or turning off Windows services. Antivirus software is 100% necessary, so if you do not have it right now, check out our list of personal favorites for Windows-based machines. In the list, there is easily accessible antivirus software that keeps your computer safe at no cost.

Contact Microsoft support

If you have already gone through all of these options, you likely need to call the Microsoft support team to attempt to diagnose the problem. Head over to the company’s contact page. When you get to this page, you can start a chat, request a time to call back, or schedule a future call. There is an option to ask the community as well. That can take a bit more time, but if other users have run into the same issue, it can be incredibly useful.

Editors’ Choice




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Computing

This 14-inch Lenovo Chromebook is less than $200 right now

If you need a cheap Chromebook for work or home-schooling, we’ve got a great deal for you today: Walmart is selling the 14-inch Lenovo Chromebook S330 for $200, good for $100 off the MSRP and nailing the sweet spot for Chromebook pricing.

This version of the S330 features a 720p display (1366 x 768), is powered by Mediatek’s MT8173C quad-core processor, and has 4GB of LPDDR3 with 32GB of onboard storage (plus two years of 100GB Google Drive storage). Those specs might not seem like much for a 2020 laptop, but for a $199 Chromebook, they’re excellent. Plus it’s super-portable at just 3.3 pounds.

For ports, the laptop has one USB-C, one standard USB 3.0, and a microSD slot. There’s also one HDMI port for when you want to connect a bigger screen, as well as a 720p webcam and dual 2-watt speakers. Obviously, it runs Chrome OS, but it also supports the Google Play Store so you can run Android apps, and it should also work with Linux in order to run a few necessary desktop apps.

We haven’t reviewed this laptop, but it has 4 stars on Walmart with more than 550 ratings and 4.5 stars on Amazon with more than 1,300 reviews. So if you need a solid machine at a great price for work and a little play, look no further than this deal on the Lenovo Chromebook S330. 

[Today’s deal: Lenovo Chromebook S330 for $200 at Walmart]

Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.

Ian is an independent writer based in Israel who has never met a tech subject he didn’t like. He primarily covers Windows, PC and gaming hardware, video and music streaming services, social networks, and browsers. When he’s not covering the news he’s working on how-to tips for PC users, or tuning his eGPU setup.

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Computing

How to Block a Website

Whether you’re looking to protect your kids from sketchy websites or protect yourself from distracting sites while working, sometimes we all need to block a website for our best interests. Balancing privacy, freedom, and controls can be tricky to navigate.

While many laptops come with some parental controls already installed, some are more user-friendly than others. We’ll walk you through exactly how to use the settings and how to use host files and routers to do this.

kmiragaya/123RF

Method No. 1: Using parental controls

Both Windows and MacOS have built-in parental controls that you can use, making it easy to block what you don’t want to be accessible on your system. If you find that you want more features, we’ve outlined the best free parental control software here.

Parental Controls in Windows 10

Step 1: You must first set up a child account. To do so, go to the Windows 10 settings menu by searching for it or clicking the cog icon in the Start menu.

Step 2: Click Accounts.

Step 3: Click on the Family & Other People tab and click the Add A Family Member button.

Step 4: Click Add A Child and enter the required information to set up your child’s profile.

Step 5: Go to your Microsoft account page. Select the Web browsing tab and check the box labeled Only See Websites On The Allowed List.

Step 6: Here, you will see sections for Always Allow These and Always Block These. Enter URLs for any sites you want to block in the appropriate section, and click the Block button to the right.

Using parental controls in MacOS

Windows isn’t the only operating system that allows you to monitor your child’s activities online. You can use the Parental Controls feature in MacOS to block websites, which is particularly helpful if you want to keep your kids off certain websites without restricting other users’ access.

Step 1: Open System Preferences and click the button labeled Parental Controls.

Step 2: Your Mac will ask if you want to create a new profile with parental controls or add them to your current profile. Assuming you want to block websites for when your kids use the computer — while keeping them open for you — select Create A New User Account With Parental Controls.

Step 3: If your current profile is password-protected, you will need to enter your password. Once you’ve created the profile, select it in Parental Controls and click the Web tab.

Step 4: If you’re feeling particularly draconian, you can also allow access to only specific websites. If not, click the Customize button.

In the resulting pop-up window, a section to add websites that are always allowed and never allowed will appear.

Step 5: To add a website that you want to block, click the addition sign under the Never allow heading and enter the address of the site you want to block. Now, enter as many websites as you want to block, one per line.

Step 6: When you’re finished, click OK in the bottom-right corner.

Method No. 2: Altering host files

Block using Windows hosts file

Blocking specific websites in Windows is child’s play — and usually child-proof. It’s completely free, doesn’t require any additional software, and takes a few quick alterations to the Windows hosts file on your computer. The hosts file, a plain text file your operating system utilizes for mapping IP addresses and hostnames, can be used to redirect a domain name back to the local computer, essentially blocking the desired website. It’s a great way to restrict users from seeing content you don’t want them to see, regardless of the browser and the time of day.

However, keep in mind that you must have administrator privileges to change the file, and it can be a little technical. You can always undo the change if need be, but the process is a little more hands-on than the Windows/MacOS parental controls.

Step 1: Using Windows Explorer, navigate through to the hosts file by going through C: > Windows > System32 > Drivers >, Etc.


Step 2: Double-click Hosts and select Notepad when prompted to choose a program to open the file with. Alternatively, you can launch Notepad and navigate to the host file by choosing File > Open and locating the file through that window.


Step 3: In Notepad, you will see several lines of text used for mapping purposes. Underneath the last line of text — it should say something regarding a local host — enter 127.0.0.1 and press the spacebar. Next, type the IP address of the website you want to block on the same line. For example, type 127.0.0.1 www.youtube.com to block all traffic from the popular video-sharing site.

Step 4: Continue to add websites you wish to block in this manner, each beginning with 127.0.0.1. followed by a space and the appropriate website. Make sure only to use www and avoid adding http unless you want to render the entry invalid. Do not alter any other text in the hosts file.

Step 5: Once you’ve added the sites you want to block, click the File option in the upper-left corner, choose Save — do not change the name or save location — and ignore any warnings regarding editing the hosts file. Then, close Notepad when finished.

Step 6: Open your favorite browser and test the results! You should automatically get a blank page whenever you attempt to access any of the sites on your blocked list. You may have to restart your browser and wait several minutes for the changes to take effect.

Using MacOS hosts file

Blocking websites using MacOS works similarly to blocking them using Windows. The process is free, relatively quick, and requires altering your Mac’s hosts file to redirect a specified domain name. It’s a simple process that will prevent users from seeing content you deem block-worthy across browsers, but one that can be reversed if you want to grant access to the sites in the future.

Step 1: Launch Terminal by accessing the main applications folder, clicking Utilities, and selecting the program from the resulting list. You can also do so by searching for the program in Spotlight.

Step 2: Now it’s time to make a copy of the hosts file just in case something goes awry. Type sudo /bin/cp /etc/hosts /etc/hosts-original on the Terminal command line to make a backup of the file in question. Hit Enter and type in your administrative password when prompted. It may appear as though the keystrokes aren’t being registered properly — i.e., your cursor won’t move — but rest assured that they are.

Step 3: Type sudo nano /etc/hosts and hit Enter on the Terminal command line to open up your hosts file in a nano box. Then, enter your administrative password when prompted.

Step 4: Once the hosts file is opened, you will see several lines of text used for mapping purposes. Underneath the last line of text — it should say something regarding a local host — enter 127.0.0.1 and press the spacebar. Next, type the IP address of the website you want to block on the same line. For example, type 127.0.0.1 www.youtube.com to block all traffic from the popular video-sharing site.

Step 5: Continue to add websites you wish to block in this manner, each beginning with 127.0.0.1. followed by a space and the appropriate website. Ensure that you only use www and avoid adding http, unless you want to render the entry invalid, and do not alter any other text in the hosts file.

Step 6: When finished, hold down the Control key and press O to save the changes. Then, hold down the Control key and press X to exit the hosts file.

Step 7: Next, type sudo dscacheutil -flushcache and press Enter again to flush your existing cache and put the changes into effect. Alternatively, you can restart your computer.

Once you’re back up and running, open your favorite browser and test the results! You should automatically get a blank page whenever you attempt to access any of the sites on your blocked list.

Method No. 3: Using your router settings

Blocking all users, at all times, on all browsers can take some time using the above methods. Fortunately, your router doesn’t require any external software and is another fantastic tool that will grant you network-wide control over the blocking process. Although we cannot guarantee your router can block specified websites, most routers are equipped with some parental controls for restricting website access completely, during certain days of the week, or even during defined hours.

Step 1: Open the web interface on your router. As a general rule, you can gain access to your router if you input 192.168.1.1 in your browser’s address bar. Next, you’ll need to enter a username and a password, but the defaults can vary based on the router.

If in doubt, you can check your router’s instruction manual, which should include the username, password, and default IP address. If the information is unavailable, try looking up the router’s defaults at routerpasswords.com or cirt.net.

Step 2: Navigate to the router security panel or tab that features the blocking controls. You’ll have to do some snooping around to figure out the appropriate settings, but many manufacturers label security menu items as Access Restrictions or Content Filtering.

Step 3: Once you have your location, input the websites you need to block. You might be presented with extra options to restrict the website further through other means. Make sure to click save and apply before closing out the tab.

Whatever the reason may be, there’ll come a time when you will have to put some restrictions barring access to an inappropriate website. You can unite a triad of your router, host file alterations, and parental controls to effectively block hazardous websites or inappropriate content.

Editors’ Choice




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Computing

Intel’s first NUC laptop is a stylishly generic notebook

We’ve come a long way from Intel’s original Next Unit of Computing modular computer that brought tiny computing to the mainstream. We’ve come so far, in fact, we’re not sure what’s actually “NUC-y” about Intel’s new NUC M15 laptop, which is intended as a “whitebook” design that other notebook makers can utilize for their own products.

Intel unveiled its in-house-designed laptop yesterday with a list of specs that is simultaneously welcome and somewhat confusing. The NUC M15 comes with either an 11th gen Core i5-1135G7 or Core i7-1165G7 processor, paired with either 8GB or 16GB of LPDDR4X RAM. For ports, you get two USB-A and two Thunderbolt 4, plus a full-size HDMI port, lock port, and headset jack.

We welcome the inclusion of two old school USB-A ports, but their presence should tell you about the body of the laptop. It’s a striking CNC-milled aluminum “unibody” shell with appealing right angles everywhere. In many ways, its looks to us like a bigger version of Google’s original Chromebook Pixel.

intel nuc m15 laptop kit 1 Intel

Intel’s NUC-based M15 laptop features a premium look and feel 

The key difference is the screen size: With a 15.6-inch diagonal display width, the NUC M15 is a pretty big laptop for “just” a low-wattage CPU without discrete graphics. Usually, premium laptops deploy 13-inch screens for low-wattage parts, and 15.6-inch displays for high-wattage CPUs with discrete graphics.

Intel takes advantage of the large body by fitting in a pretty massive 73-Watt-hour battery, which the company says is good for 16 hours of video playback. However, it also adds to the weight: All that aluminum, battery, and screen results in a hefty 3.5-pound package, “only” a half-pound heavier than a Dell XPS 13—but also “only” a half-pound lighter than Intel’s previous in-house laptop design, which we reviewed under the given name of XPG Xenia 15.

The Intel/XPG laptop impressed us. Sure, the software may not have been as polished as what you’d find in an Alienware, Asus or MSI gaming laptop, but it really packed in the performance at a reasonable price. And by reasonable, these won’t be fire-sale laptops—expect the premium body and features to cost from $1,000 to $1,500 for the NUC M15.

Just why is Intel doing this?

Because it was designed by Intel (and built by laptop maker Tongfang), the XPG Xenia 15 also made some intelligent choices to not sacrifice performance at the altar of thinness. In some ways, that’s what Intel may be trying do overall to with its “Whitebook” program. With these Whitebook kits, Intel is basically footing the bill for most of the expensive design work of making a laptop, and then letting smaller vendors add their own flourishes before selling them under their own banners.

Putting a 15- to 28-watt CPU into a 15.6-inch laptop is, perhaps, Intel’s effort to show what its Tiger Lake chips can do when they aren’t constrained by thermals. While very impressive overall, Intel’s 11th-gen sings the loudest when it’s given a little more power to consume and a little more room to get hot. 

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Computing

Google Nest Wifi Review: Mesh Networking Without The Hassle

“Google’s Nest WiFi is a great mesh networking system with a secret. It’s also a smart speaker.”

  • Simple installation and setup
  • Google Assistant integration
  • Ability to expand coverage
  • Contemporary design fits any decor
  • Somewhat expensive
  • Single ethernet port

For the average person, getting internet service at home means calling up a local service provider or surfing the web to uncover some of the best deals around. Once there’s something worth subscribing to, a technician comes out for the installation. You’re usually up and running in a matter of minutes. Most people don’t ever worry about replacing a router unless it gives out or if they need to have more coverage.

That’s where the Google Nest WiFi comes to life with its whole-home coverage and consistency. Fundamentally, the Nest WiFi aims to accomplish the same task as most other Mesh Wi-Fi routers, but Google’s interpretation is distinct for notable features that continue the company’s focus on delivering multi-functional devices for the smart home. Not only will it be the brains behind monitoring your home’s Wi-Fi network, but it’s a system that will help to build up your smart home with Google Assistant. Why just stick with smart speakers when this incorporates Google Assistant into its access points?

It’s priced at $269 for the starter pack, which includes the router and access point. Are you looking to expand your existing system? You can buy additional access points for $149 through Google directly

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to set it up

Routers can be overwhelming to set up, especially for those who don’t have a background in networking. Google makes the process painless and simple with the included quick start guide. I’ve had my fair share of frustration with overly complex router setups, but this one was without question the simplest to get up and running.

Using the Google Home app on my Android smartphone, I was guided to connect the Nest WiFi router to my existing Xfinity xFi Gateway modem using the included Ethernet port.

John Velasco / Digital Trends

Once I finished setting up the appropriate SSID and password for my network, connecting the Nest WiFi point required me to capture the QR code on the unit using the Google Home app. From there, it automatically communicated with the router to establish the mesh network.

While I do appreciate Google’s approach with the setup process, anyone who has configured other mesh networking systems won’t find it unique or unusual. For example, Netgear’s Orbi Mesh Wi-Fi system has a similar setup process. Mesh networking systems are all about ease-of-use, and Google’s competitors at Netgear and Linksys haven’t been caught off-guard.

The real key to Google’s approach is Google’s own brand. The Nest WiFi maintains the company’s software look and feel. If you use a Pixel phone, or own another Google Home device, the Nest WiFi will seem familiar from the start.

Finally, a smarter implementation

There’s little love given to routers in general. Once they’re set up, they’re typically left hidden behind a cabinet or entertainment system and forgotten unless a problem arises. Here, the integration of Google Assistant with the Wi-Fi point shows the company embracing the multi-functional aspect of its devices.

Not only is the Wi-Fi point helpful in expanding coverage in the home, but it can be used to do all the same things as any of Google’s smart speakers. It essentially doubles as a Nest Mini speaker, allowing it to play music, access Google Assistant, and even control other connected smart home gadgets through voice actions.

Speaking of music, it’s a slight step up from the Nest Mini’s audio performance with the pronounced bass it pumps out, making it a smidgen more substantial and pleasing to the ear. Similar to the Nest Mini, proximity sensors can detect when you’re close, and will light up the LEDs on top of the unit. Even better, I like how the LED ring around the body lights up whenever you command the Google Assistant.

Mind you, it’s $149 a pop, versus a meager $50 for the Nest Mini. The Nest WiFi access point is router first, smart speaker second. Still, it’s nice to see it function as more than just an access point for a mesh network.

The pricing is on par with its rivals, seeing that add-on satellites for Netgear’s Orbi and Amazon’s Eero mesh systems have a similar MSRP. Letting the hardware double as a smart speaker gives Google’s offering more value.

Blanketing dead zones

I live in a small apartment that’s around 1,100 square feet, so my existing xFi Gateway manages to cover most places, though outlying areas can be spotty. The worst spots are in my bedroom and bathroom, where I tend to see weaker Wi-Fi connectivity, usually at around one or two bars. The signal needs to pass through a couple of walls and other obstructions.

The Nest WiFi mesh system blankets those areas with sufficient coverage, without degrading speed in the process, by simultaneously leveraging the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands for optimal performance. I’m still able to get speeds of about 900 Mbps down and 40 Mbps up, which are similar to what I get when I’m in the same room as my Xfinity xFi Gateway. For those outlying areas that didn’t quite get blanketed previously, it’s great to see that my connection speed is now retained.

John Velasco / Digital Trends

The benefit here is the added reach of my Wi-Fi network. Even though it doesn’t drastically change my current setup, I can enjoy better Wi-Fi in the extreme corners of my home, which makes for a more reliable connection overall.

By itself, the router delivers upwards of 2,200 square feet of coverage, while each Wifi point adds another 1,600 square feet. The benefit here, naturally, is that you can scale the setup accordingly to deliver proper coverage throughout the home. Of course, this isn’t something you can achieve with most routers, unless they’re designed with mesh networking in mind.

For comparison, the 2nd generation Eero Pro gateway covers 1,750 square feet, with each beacon capable of blanketing 1,500 square feet. Even more impressive, however, is the 3,500 square feet coverage with Netgear’s Orbi Router and the additional 2,000 square feet coverage with each satellite.

Overall, Google’s Nest WiFi is not the most technically capable option. However, the average American home is just under 2,500 square feet. That means a Nest WiFi router with one access point should be adequate.

Room for more expansion

Google’s approach to this is networking simple and easy, something I feel is achieved here with the Nest WiFi. However, those who crave advanced controls and features will be disappointed by the slim offerings here.

Sure, there’s access to features such as setting up a guest network, parental controls/restrictions, and even prioritizing traffic, but you won’t find other advanced features that serious networking geeks love about routers — like MAC address filtering, specifying static IP addresses, and dynamic DNS. There are mesh systems that do offer these features, but the cost attached to them is higher.

John Velasco / Digital Trends

Another thing that may disappoint people is that the Nest WiFi router only features a single Ethernet port. Meaning, you’ll need to purchase an Ethernet hub if you need to hardwire several devices to the network. The majority of mesh Wi-Fi routers tend to offer a single ethernet port, but then you have a few, like the Linksys Max-Stream AC2200 router, which are more generous with its four Ethernet ports.

While I do appreciate the Google Assistant integration with the Wi-Fi point, it really would’ve been beneficial to have an Ethernet port as well — but sadly there’s none.

Try out these new Google Assistant features

Broadcast messages to specific rooms

The broadcast feature is beloved for so many reasons, especially when it comes to announcing dinner’s ready throughout the home. Now, though, you’ll be able to broadcast messages to specific rooms. Just say for example, “Hey Google, broadcast to the bedroom, ‘breakfast is ready!’”

Enhanced Voice Match support

Did you know Google Assistant can deliver personalized information to multiple people in the home? Google Assistant is now capable of supporting up to six people’s voices with Voice Match on a smart speaker or display, so that you only get relevant details that pertain to you.

Adjusting “Hey Google” sensitivity

In busier or noisier areas, it’s possible that Google Assistant can be initiated by accident. If you want to adjust the sensitivity whenever the wake phrase “Hey Google” is spoken, you can now do it through the Google Home app.

Interpreter mode

Google Assistant’s interpreter mode can be handy when you have guests over who speak another language. Rather than having to translate each spoken sentence, interpreter mode will simply translate conversations in real-time — so conversations can be spoken naturally. You can enable it by saying, “Hey Google, be my German translator” or “Hey Google, help me speak Spanish.”

Washing your hands

It’s more critical than ever before to ensure you wash your hands properly, especially with the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak continuing to spread. The Nest Mini offers a brand new feature to help out kids. You simply say, “Hey Google, help me wash my hands,” and from there, it’ll play a tune for 20 seconds to encourage adequate time for washing hands.

Warranty information

Since it’s stationary, there shouldn’t be much of a concern about it going bad. In the event it does, there’s a one-year limited warranty that covers defects.

Our Take

The Google Nest WiFi is priced at $269 for the starter pack. It’s more costly than some of the alternatives. However, incorporating Google Assistant adds value, but it’s also one of the easiest mesh systems to configure and cover your entire home.

Are there better alternatives?

If you’re looking for something cheaper with the same expansive reach, then you’ll want to consider the alternatives — like the Netgear Orbi that costs $200 for the same configuration. While Netgear’s mesh system offers more range, it doesn’t have the smart assistant feature you get with the Nest Wifi point.

Another option is Amazon’s new Eero 6 router, which at $159 for a 2-pack system, is a bargain. These two options offer the same straightforward setup as Google’s Nest Wifi.

If you want more advanced setup options, consider the Linksys Velop MX5300 or Netgear XRM570 Nighthawk Pro Gaming WiFi Router. They’re substantially more expensive at $400 each for the routers themselves, but you get advanced networking controls and several Ethernet ports to hardwire devices.

How long will it last?

Given that the router and Wi-Fi point are going to be stationary, it should last quite a while undisturbed — much like any networking gear.

Should you buy it?

Yes. Not only will you be able to expand your Wi-Fi’s coverage, but the Nest Wifi system can be used to control your home’s various connected devices. 

Editors’ Choice




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Computing

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 9310 review: Actual gaming chops in a tiny laptop

Dell’s XPS 13 2-in-1 9310 is mostly an evolutionary update to the XPS 13 7390 2-in-1 we reviewed last year, but with one key change. Thanks to Intel’s 11th gen Core i7-1165G7 chip, gaming is actually conceivable on this sub-three-pound laptop.

Most other things didn’t change, and we have our beefs about the design. But that game-ready performance boost alone makes the XPS 13 2-in-1 special. 

This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best laptops. Go there for information on competing products and how we tested them. 

xps 13 2n1 9310 4 Gordon Mah Ung

XPS 13 2-in-1 9310 specs

Dell’s XPS 13 2-in-1 sets a standard for thin-and-light Windows laptops that’s hard to beat—with a price to match. The model we tested ($1,714 as configured from Dell.com) remains true to form. But there are drawbacks to laptops this small, which we’ll go into after we look at the specs.

CPU: Intel Tiger Lake 11th-gen quad-core Core i7-1165G7

GPU: Intel integrated Iris Xe graphics

RAM: 16GB LPDDR4X/3266

SSD: 512GB Toshiba/Kioxia BG4 NVMe PCIe, permanently soldered

Display: 13.4-inch, 1920×1200, 16:10 IPS, rated at 500 nits and 90 percent of DCI-P3 color gamut. Touch- and pen-enabled (pen optional), with Gorilla Glass 5.

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The Best Desktop Monitor Deals for January 2021

When you’re shopping around for desktop PC deals or doing research to build a computer yourself, it’s easy to get caught up in your choice of CPU, GPU, and RAM and neglect (or cheap out on) essential add-ons like your monitor. You’ll spend hours looking at that monitor, though, and as your primary interface with your computer, it’s not hard to see how a sub-par display can quickly ruin your experience — whether you’re working, gaming, streaming videos, or just surfing the web.

The best monitors aren’t often cheap, but you don’t have to pay as much as you might think to get a good one. To help you get started, we’ve gathered up the best desktop monitor deals available right now, followed by a brief summary of our monitor buying guide to help you make the right choice.

Today’s best monitor deals

Full HD monitor deals

Most monitors on the market today are 1080p (also known as “Full HD” or the abbreviated “FHD”), meaning that they feature a vertical resolution of 1,080 pixels. This resolution dominates the 21- to 27-inch monitor category — any bigger than that and you’ll want to start looking at Quad HD (1440p) or 4K Ultra HD (2160p) – but for the vast majority of computing applications, 1080p is still a fine place to be.

If you’re simply looking for an affordable, no-nonsense monitor for a desktop workstation, a 1080p in the 21- to 27-inch range is more than likely what you’re after. The good news is that this is the cheapest type of monitor out there, particularly if you’re not interested in paying more for things like higher refresh rates or Vsync technologies (i.e. features you find on displays built for gaming). And with the above monitor deals, you might even be able to score a solid name-brand Full HD monitor for around 100 bucks or so.

Gaming monitor deals

Acer Predator XB3 Gaming Monitor review
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Gamers tend to demand a lot more from their computer hardware than average users, and this applies as much to gaming monitors as it does to everything else. A lousy display will quickly put a damper on your gaming enjoyment, and along with screen size and resolution, you need to consider things like refresh rate and Vsync features that will allow your display to keep up with your GPU (even a PC with the strongest graphics card will experience stutter and lag if it’s connected to a sub-par monitor).

Once you’ve decided upon a size and resolution — 1080p Full HD, 1440p Quad HD, or 4K Ultra HD — you’ll want to look for a monitor with a refresh rate of around 144Hz. The refresh rate dictates framerate, and a minimum of 120Hz is necessary to smoothly enjoy gaming 60 frames per second. Anything less and you will very likely experience on-screen stuttering and lag. A good gaming monitor should also have either Nvidia G-Sync or AMD FreeSync technologies (go with whichever one matches your graphics card) which greatly mitigates or eliminates obnoxious and immersion-breaking screen-tearing.

You’ll pay a bit more for these technologies, but don’t go super-cheap when you’re looking for a monitor to complete your gaming PC. These are popular items that are regularly on sale, however, so definitely keep an eye on this page and let our monitor deals save you some cash.

Curved and ultrawide monitor deals

HP Envy Curved 34
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Curved and ultrawide monitors are a relatively new thing in the world of desktop displays and could be a good alternative to traditional monitors and multi-monitor setups depending on your needs. The idea behind a curved panel is that the entire screen is directed toward the viewer’s eyes; admittedly, however, the advantages of curved displays are largely subjective and dependent upon each user’s preferences, so it might be a good idea to look at some in-person before deciding whether or not a curved monitor is really your speed.

On the other hand, the advantages of ultrawide monitors are obvious, and if you’re going for one of those, it’s almost certain that you’ll be looking at a curved design which is simply easier to view at super-widescreen resolutions. Just be prepared to pay for it: Ultrawide displays are the most expensive of the bunch, but if you find the right deal, it might be worth it — and could even save you money if you were considering buying two or three separate monitors instead.

Standard-sized curved displays aren’t often more expensive than their non-curved counterparts, though, so if you decide this style is right for you, then we’ve made sure to include a few curved screens in the above monitor deals to help you find the right one for your battle station.

4K Ultra HD Monitor Deals

samsung space monitor
Riley Young/Digital Trends

Ultra HD, more commonly known as “4K,” has pretty much become the standard for televisions now, but 4K monitors aren’t quite as common. That’s largely because PC displays are typically smaller than home televisions, but also because monitors are still considered peripherals and most people understandably don’t want to spend hundreds more on one – especially when the benefits of Ultra HD will be less notable on a smaller screen than they will on a big living room TV.

That said, you probably sit closer to your computer monitor than you do to your TV, and with the cost of 4K panels dropping drastically in recent years, now’s not a bad time to upgrade to a UHD display for your PC if you’re thinking about it. That’s especially true if you’ve built or are building a 4K-capable gaming machine. Along with ultrawide displays, 4K monitors are costly (as you’d expect), but they also provide some of the best opportunities for savings, so we’ll make sure to keep our deals list updated with any Ultra HD options that are available at the moment.

Looking for more great stuff? Find tech discounts, MacBook deals, cheap Chromebooks, home office deals, and much more on our curated deals page.

We strive to help our readers find the best deals on quality products and services, and we choose what we cover carefully and independently. The prices, details, and availability of the products and deals in this post may be subject to change at anytime. Be sure to check that they are still in effect before making a purchase.

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