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‘The Last of Us Part I’ is a gorgeous, faithful, expensive remake

One thing that is notably different is enemy AI. Human enemies are smarter and more aggressive, working together to flank you; they’re also a lot harder to lose once they pick up your trail. Infected, meanwhile, present their own set of challenges. Clickers, the blind Infected that use echolocation to find you and can kill you in one shot, have the same behavior they do in Part II. They’ll often stop their wandering and let out a series of “barks” — and if you’re near them when they do, well, you’re probably going to die quickly. In the original game, you were mostly safe as long as you didn’t make too much noise walking, but now you have to keep moving or hiding at all times.

The mega-powerful Bloaters are also modeled after their counterparts in Part II. The biggest change in their behavior is that they’ll build up a head of steam and charge at you like a bull — if you get out of the way they’ll often slam into a wall or other object and be stunned for a moment, a great opportunity to blast away at them with your shotgun. But in Part II, you can use the dodge button to dance out of the way. Since there’s no dodge in Part I, you have to sprint out of the way instead, something that’s not nearly as reliable. After getting so used to dodging the Bloater’s charge in Part II, it was a real pain to not have the same move here. And if a Bloater grabs you, it’s an instant death, so you’ll want to treat these upgraded enemies with the utmost care.

The Last of Us Part I review screenshots

The AI and behavior of your allies has been upgraded, too, which addresses a big complaint about the original game. If you were in stealth, your allies were essentially invisible to enemies, which meant that your cover couldn’t get blown if Ellie or another companion ran out in front of a Clicker. This avoided the frustration of being seen when you didn’t actually do anything to reveal your position, but it also meant that it looked pretty ridiculous when characters could run right out in front of enemies and not get spotted.

Now, your companions are much smarter at mimicking your behavior, going into cover when you’re in stealth and only revealing themselves if you do the same. Once or twice in my playthrough, an ally would be “out of position” and in the enemy’s line of sight, but, as in the first game, they’re essentially invisible. The good news is that it just doesn’t happen very often. It’s not perfect, but it’s an improvement.

The Last of Us Part I review screenshots

The haptic feedback system and adaptive triggers on the PS5’s DualSense controller also offer some subtle but noteworthy improvements to gameplay. Naughty Dog says each weapon has different resistance and feedback from the triggers, and the haptic vibrations are unique as well. While I can’t recognize every slight detail, shooting a revolver feels quite different on the trigger than shooting the shotgun or drawing your bow. Haptics accompany actions like reloading too, so you’ll feel a vibration for each pump of the shotgun after Joel takes a shot. There are too many haptic touches throughout the game to count, but one of my favorites is that you can “feel” rainfall as it vibrates lightly across the controller, like droplets are bouncing off your body.

Updates galore

While graphics and AI are the changes most people will notice first, there are a lot of smaller tweaks throughout that make The Last of Us Part I feel more like Part II. Things like a redesigned HUD and weapon selection interface, aiming reticles for different weapons and button prompts (like mashing square to open a blocked door or holding triangle to lift a gate) all match their counterparts in Part II. While weapon upgrade options are identical to those in the original game, the new visuals of Joel working on his guns with various tools are a lot more interesting than in the original game.

The Last of Us Part I review screenshots

Sony / Naughty Dog

Upon finishing the game, you’ll unlock a host of bonus material and gameplay modifiers. Most significant are the Permadeath and Speed Run modes. Just as in Part II, Permadeath removes all checkpoints, and if you set it to the most difficult level, one death sends you back to the very beginning of the game. For those who want a significant challenge but aren’t quite that dedicated, you can do Permadeath “per act” (which Naughty Dog estimates encompasses two to three hours of gameplay) or “per chapter,” which adds some checkpoints within each act. You can also try it at any difficulty level, which makes the challenge a lot more accessible. I know I’m not good enough to try a truly obscene Permadeath run on the ultra-difficult Grounded difficulty, but I have kicked off a run on Hard, which I should have a prayer of surviving.

Speedrun mode is pretty self-explanatory, but it’s a nice quality of life enhancement for people who like to play games as quickly as possible. It enables an in-game timer that automatically pauses during cinematic and scene transitions. Once you finish the game, you’ll find a recap that breaks down your speed per chapter as well as your total play time, and the game saves records broken down by difficulty level and permadeath setting.

The Last of Us Part I review screenshots

Other unlockable extras include tons of concept art, both from the original release and new art done for this 2022 rerelease. There’s also a viewer that lets you explore highly detailed character models for just about everyone in the game; it also lets you see the disgusting details of the Infected in close range if you’re into that sort of thing. More Part II extras brought over here include a set of filters you can apply to tweak the visuals of the game (think an 8-bit setting or one that renders the game in a comic book style) and a bunch of gameplay modifiers. You can turn on infinite ammo or crafting supplies, one-shot kills, slow motion, explosive arrows and much more. Only hardcore fans are probably going to spend time with these, but they can add some fun new ways to play the game — combining something like unlimited ammo with a permadeath setting on the game’s hardest difficulty would be a particularly unique challenge, for example.

It’s not a stretch to say that The Last of Us Part II helped push accessibility in the video games industry forward — Naughty Dog provided players with an extensive and impressive selection of options, and I’m very glad to see that the company replicated that with Part I. Setting include a host of control adjustments (including complete control remapping), visual aids like magnification and high contrast modes, features that make navigating the world easier like a ledge guard to keep you from falling to your death, a text-to-speech reader, audio cues, extensive combat modifications and much more.

The Last of Us Part I review screenshots

Sony / Naughty Dog

It’s all present in Part I, along with a new feature that delivers haptic feedback on the controller to help deaf or hard-of-hearing players feel the emphasis in how lines of dialog are delivered. The game also includes audio descriptions for cutscenes, something that wasn’t present in Part II. All these accessibility modifications are important additions and things that any player can appreciate if they want to customize their experience with the game.

At a more basic level, Part I also lets you set a custom difficulty level. There are six options, but you can also set different challenges across five parts of the game: player, enemies, allies, stealth and resources. So you could make it a little easier to stay in stealth, or make resources more plentiful while otherwise keeping enemy aggressiveness high, for example. It’s yet another way to tweak your experience to match your skill level.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that virtual photographers will love Photo Mode in The Last of Us Part I. It’s even better than it is in Part II thanks to the addition of three lights that you can place anywhere around a scene to make things even more dramatic. You can adjust the color temperatures, brightness, position and many more options to customize the scene further than ever before. I can’t wait to see what the incredibly skilled virtual photography community around these games does with Part I. (All screenshots in this review, with the exception of those credited to Sony, were taken by me using the game’s Photo Mode.)

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Game

New World Review: A Gorgeous Mountain With Nothing on Top

“New World brings a lot of excellent MMO twists to the table, but its marred by bugs, stale quests, and a lack of endgame content.”

Pros

  • Engaging combat
  • Great customization
  • Useful faction system
  • Enthralling player-driven content

Cons

  • Boring narrative
  • Lackluster dungeons
  • Nonexistent endgame
  • Can potentially brick your computer

The best way to describe New World is to call it … a new world. It brings so many interesting and fresh ideas that are pretty simple — and sometimes obvious — to the MMO genre. Veterans and casual players alike will truly have a new experience with this game. However, as is often the case when setting out for uncharted territories, some people will be confused by many aspects of the game and may have a hollow feeling when they get to the top of the mountain.

Massively multiplayer online role-playing games used to be the titans of gaming. Back in the days of old, World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2, and even Everquest were these giant watering holes that players would gather around to experience these virtual worlds together. However, that was then, and now the landscape of gaming is completely different. Coming out with an MMO — a completely new IP as well — during 2021 of the Gregorian calendar is somewhat of a risk. Amazon Games took this as a challenge, and it has genuinely crafted a unique experience with New World.

But what will that experience be like for players? Let’s use that mountain metaphor as the basis of this review and ask ourselves three simple questions. What is it like to start the climb? How is the journey to the top? What do we do when we get to the summit? You can obviously use these questions for practically any piece of media. However, using it as a metaphor for an MMO feels particularly apt as this genre is notorious for requiring a significant amount of time from the players. Is it worth climbing at all? That depends on what you want out of the journey.

The base of the mountain

Entering the world of Aeternum, the landmass where New World takes place, can be as simple as creating a character and hopping in, or it can be as difficult as trying to find a server that isn’t full, won’t crash, and will load all the proper assets and textures.

When I got through the opening cinematics, I found myself in a situation I was familiar with as an MMO player. I saw my character in an unfamiliar location, covered in rags, and with a weapon that is only slightly more effective than a tree branch. The game shifted into something new once I got through the combat tutorial — I soon discovered that this is an action RPG. There are no auto attacks that plague MMOs like World of Warcraft. Every attack must be done deliberately, as does every block, dodge, and spell. This isn’t new in MMOs, but action-style combat with modern sensibilities really freshens up your minute-to-minute gameplay. Grinding feels less like a chore as players will eagerly jump into a mob of enemies to work on damage combos.

Player hunting a bear.

Built-in classes are not featured in this game — instead, playstyle and weapon choice will determine the “class.” This allows a great sense of freedom as players can mix and match weapons to find a playstyle that suits their needs. Enemies in this game also have a variety of resistances that make some weapons less or more effective. This means players should bring a variety of weapons to certain quests and expeditions in order to properly prepare for anything that will come their way.

Grinding feels less like a chore as players will eagerly jump into a mob of enemies to work on damage combos.

When you’re not barreling into enemies, you’ll find yourself out in the vast world that is filled with various resources to collect: Trees, rocks, bushes, berries, and plenty more. These are vital to the crafting system in the game. Outside of quest rewards and expeditions, all gear must be crafted. This adds an extra layer of freedom and customization as players are free to wear what they want.

The combination of the action-styled combat and resource gathering really makes the beginning of the game engaging. The thrilling combat pushed me to try new weapons and attack combos, while the gathering presented a nice cooldown period that let me explore the strange land. It’s the right pace for our hike further up the mountain.

New world, old look

Looking at New World on a graphical level is somewhat of a mixed bag. Aeternum is actually gorgeous and looks incredibly vibrant compared to the empty and dull regions found in World of Warcraft. Forests are filled with trees and other dense flora while plains feel open and majestic. Spending time in the world is truly a treat and made me excited to see what I could find, even if it was just a nice little pond to fish in.

However, this magic fades away once you enter a settlement and start to interact with NPCs and other players. The human models in New World just don’t look terribly good. They are not some eldritch horrors masquerading in humanoid meat sacks; they’re just uninspired. Even the character creation options are not that expansive, and I couldn’t find a combination that I was particularly happy about.

The gear doesn’t make it much better, either. Many times, the armor or clothing looks cluttered and mashed together, making even the more flamboyant options feel messy. I truly cannot believe I am going to say this, but New World made me appreciate World of Warcraft’s choice of style. Even though much of the shoulder armor in World of Warcraft is unsightly, it at least creates a stark and interesting silhouette.

Worn mountain trails

After coming down from the high of the beginning of the game, New World levels out and settles into its basic loop. RPG fans will know this song well: Go to a town, get quests, do quests, get rewards, then travel to the next town. Unfortunately, this song got old over 15 years ago when World of Warcraft was doing the same thing. The quests are structured as the rote kill X, collect Y, and go to Z. You do these mindlessly, as the narrative surrounding them is not particularly interesting.

The main story isn’t really engaging, and frankly, I was spamming through dialogue very early in my playthrough — something I rarely ever do. I try my hardest to buy into the narrative of any game I play, but there really isn’t anything to latch onto here. A newly discovered landmass is filled with a strange magic that corrupts everything it interacts with. There are no notable twists on these tired tropes, and the game doesn’t have anything particularly profound to say.

Two players grouping together.

Expeditions, the dungeons of New World, also fall into this pit. Dungeons are meant for a group of players, usually three to five, to party up and fulfill specific roles to take down specific challenges, which usually ends up just being a tough boss at the end. They can be good to break up the normal questing as you fight something a little more challenging with the promise of better loot. That said, there is little that expeditions do to distinguish themselves from normal quests. All of the enemies in expeditions can be easily found throughout Aeternum, and they fight exactly the same. There isn’t anything dynamic to change them up — they are just mobs to burn down. Bosses are slightly harder and have some specific mechanics, but nothing really noteworthy to make them a memorable experience.

There are no notable twists on these tired tropes and the game doesn’t have anything particularly profound to say.

Fortunately for New World, it’s saved by the dynamic aspects of how players can change the world. Settlements, or towns, are not just a bunch of buildings and quest givers. They are controlled by the game’s faction mechanics. The Mauraders, the Syndicate, and the Covenant are all vying for control of Aeternum and for the loyalty of the players. Each territory is controlled by one of these factions and players can reap benefits by being part of the faction that is in control. Fast travel might be cheaper to use in your controlled territory or the taxes at the trading post might be less costly. There are actual impactful benefits to your game if you are in a territory that your faction controls.

New World even takes this a step further by allowing companies, or guilds, to have governing control of the territory. The governing company can establish the tax rate of the settlements found in the territory and can fill its pockets with that wealth. This incentivizes players to interact with their factions and companies, and it also encourages them to go to war with the other two factions.

New World players in War mode.

Territory control is not set in stone; players from other factions can disrupt the influence of the controlling faction until the land is primed for war. Waging war allows two companies to challenge each other for control of a territory in a 50-versus-50 PvP mode where the attackers must siege a fort while the defenders must protect it for a certain amount of time. These battles determine what faction controls the area and what company will govern it.

Beware the bugs

I would be remiss to not mention the plethora of technical challenges that New World seems to be infested with. I didn’t experience anything game- or computer-breaking in my playthrough, but there is a “buyer beware” warning needed here. There are plenty of people who run into many technical issues in the game. These range from game crashes and textures not loading to the apocalyptic damage to the power source of your computer. The infamous bricking seems to have lessened in frequency from the beta, but this is still something you need to consider when playing this game.

Even the gorgeous landscapes can be destroyed by poor frame rates, something that can vary depending on where you are. Again, besides an occasional frame hiccup, I personally did not experience any bugs that ruined my playtime. I am not alone in this, and we are perhaps the majority, but understand the risk that your computer may not be up to the task of running this game. These issues can obviously be solved with some patches, but after the Cyberpunk 2077 fiasco, where there are bugs that are still not fixed, you should be aware of the game that you are buying now instead of the game that it will be eventually.

Finally at the summit

Currently, New World’s level cap is 60, and by that time, you will have seen everything that the game has to offer. And I mean literally, because there really isn’t an endgame to speak of. There are no raids or special content that opens up to maxed-out players. You will be at the peak of the mountain and the only thing you will be able to see is what’s beneath you.

New World players in combat.

So what do you do once you reach the top? You can complete quests in territories you haven’t traveled to, level up different weapons, or craft the gear that you have been putting off. These don’t feel like endgame activities — and they’re technically not. Much like the theme that keeps popping up in New World, the end game is the freedom to do what you want.

In other MMOs like World of Warcraft, the endgame is just a giant list of things to do. Players need to have a proper gear score, there are raids to run, you professions can be maxed out. New World doesn’t have that list of chores. Instead, players can just do what they want to do. Granted, many of these things will not feel satisfying compared to downing Ragnaros in Molten Core.

The real gem inside this clam is the conflict between factions and the interactions you have with other players.

My solution to this issue is to focus on player-driven content.  The player-driven content is the true backbone to New World, and it can really engage players. There isn’t really a way to avoid that content, either, as there are no NPC shops in this game. The entire marketplace is completely player-driven, similar to the auction house found in World of Warcraft. Investing yourself in the politics of the factions and creating a community within your company is what New World wants you to do.

Relying so much on players creating their own conflict or, more realistically, their own content is risky. However, there is enough here in New World that, with the right mindset, you can truly invest yourself into something rewarding and fun.

Our take

New World’s combat and crafting system breathes new life into the MMO genre and makes playing the first couple of hours incredibly enjoyable. However, with a dry narrative and boring content, it can feel bland the longer you play. The real gem inside this clam is the conflict between factions and the interactions you have with other players. This game is not for everyone, not even for many MMO veterans. If the idea of player-run settlements and massive PvP battles that decide the fate of the territories interest you, then this is the game for you.

Is there a better alternative?

Each MMO offers something unique and, in New World’s case, something very specific. Final Fantasy XIV has a stronger narrative, while World of Warcraft is overflowing with things to do. However, if large-scale PvP battles and player politics interest you, then this might be the MMO for you.

How long will it last?

It will probably take you about 40 hours to complete the main quest line and a little more to max out your character level. After that, it is up to you how long you wish to play it. MMOs have the tendency to have longer playtime than you expect.

Should I buy it?

Yes. If the factions, war, and player-driven economy interest you, then you’ll love what’s happening here. If that sounds daunting to you and you want an MMO with more curated content, then I would suggest something else.

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Bionicle Fan Game Debuts Gorgeous Environmental Trailer

A team of Bionicle fans isn’t willing to let the strange franchise disappear just yet. With Lego’s blessing, developer Team Kanohi is putting together a full-on 3D adventure through the strange world of the Toa titled Bionicle: Masks of Power. A new trailer for the fan project just debuted, presenting an impressive look at the Bionicle universe and the Lego creatures that live in it.

Bionicle is one of the Lego group’s many franchises, but it may just be its most niche. It started in 2000 giving kids strange, masked characters to assemble. However, Bionicle has gained a cult following over the years thanks to its extensive lore. The entire franchise had an underlying story told through webcomics, games, books, and eventually direct-to-DVD movies. The original run of Bionicle ended in 2010, with a revival lasting only one year, from 2015 to 2016.

Team Kanohi’s revival of the Bionicle IP already looks impressive. The project has been in the works for five years, though we’d only seen a pair of short teasers in that time. An environmental trailer for Masks of Power offers the first real tour of the game’s world, which has been created using Unreal Engine 4. The trailer goes across multiple environments, from snowy tundra to volcanic wastelands littered with lakes of lava.

Of course, Bionicle creatures show up in the trailer as well, appearing highly detailed and even faithful to the original builds.

While the game doesn’t currently have a release date, its website offers some details on what players can eventually expect. Bionicle: Masks of Power is going to be an open-world game where players will “face challenging puzzles, fearsome beasts, and deadly hazards as you endeavor to find all 12 masks.”

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Computing

HP Launches Gorgeous Chromebase All-In-One to Rival the iMac

HP has a new all-in-one desktop to take on Apple’s newly redesigned 24-inch M1 iMac computer. This time, the company is teaming up with Google to bring Chrome OS to its 21.5-inch Chromebase, an elegant all-in-one featuring a swiveling display, a conical speaker that doubles as the desktop’s floating stand, and a touchscreen. The latter is a feature that isn’t supported on any MacOS-powered computer to date.

The biggest highlight of HP’s Chromebase is that’s designed for your home and can quickly be used for entertainment and productivity. The 21.5-inch FHD display floats on top of the conical speaker, which serves as the stand. Additionally, you can rotate the screen between portrait and landscape modes.

This makes HP’s Chromebase the first Chrome OS-powered desktop to feature a fully rotating display.

The feature could be useful for select Android apps that only support portrait orientation, for example, and for e-reading and coding. And when you’re done, you can easily switch back to landscape view by rotating the screen.

A rotating screen is one of HP's Chromebase's signature design features.

While the Chromebase doesn’t sport the same flat and angular aesthetic as its more popular rival, the design of HP’s Chromebase is still striking. The speaker stand also features Bang & Olufsen-tuned audio as well as a dual-array digital microphone to summon Google Assistant.

To make things clean, all the ports — you get four USB-A ports and two USB-C ports — are located on the back of the speaker stand. HP includes a white wireless keyboard and mouse with the Chromebase.

The company also brought some hardware privacy controls from its other PC products, including a 5-megapixel front-facing webcam with a physical privacy shutter.

Ports are located on the rear for connectivity on the HP Chromebase.

With Chrome OS under the hood, you’re also getting access to a whole library of Android apps through the Google Play Store as well as access to Stadia on Chromebooks for game streaming. All of this is powered by a dual-core 2.4GHz Intel Pentium Gold 6405U processor alongside 64GB of built-in eMMC storage, 4GB of DDR4 memory, and an extra M.2 expansion slot for expansion.

HP’s Chromebase 21.5-inch All-in-One Desktop is expected to be available starting next month with a starting price of $599. The device will be sold through HP’s online store as well as through U.S. retailers like Amazon and Best Buy.

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Game

‘Ghost of Tsushima’ director’s cut trailer shows off the gorgeous Iki Island

Sony and developer Sucker Punch have revealed some more details about what’s next for Jin Sakai in , an expanded edition of the . They also released a gorgeous new trailer for the upcoming version, which hits PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 on August 20th.

You’ll be able to explore an entirely new island called Iki. Jin learns that a Mongol tribe led by a shaman named Ankhsar Khatun has taken residence there. Khatun is “not only a conqueror of nations, but a shepherd of souls. And the danger she presents to Jin and his people is unlike any they have faced,” Sucker Punch senior writer Patrick Downs .

Iki is a “lawless land of raiders and criminals” which has been out of samurai control for decades. Jin will run into pirates, smugglers and “mad monks” on the island. He’ll explore haunted caves and learn new techniques.

The expanded story will also delve deeper into Jin’s painful past. “With everything that has happened this past year, it’s no accident we also wanted to tell a story of healing,” Downs wrote. “And we felt this would pose a unique and compelling challenge for Jin.”

Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut is a $20 upgrade for owners of the original game. It costs an extra $10 to upgrade the PS5 version of either the base game or the director’s cut. Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut will also be available as a direct purchase for $60 on PS4 and $70 on PS5.

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Computing

Razer Announces the Opus X, a Gorgeous $99 Headset

Razer is expanding its headset lineup with the Opus X, a wireless lifestyle audio peripheral featuring Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), a low-latency gaming mode, 40mm drivers, dual microphones, and Bluetooth 5.0.

Manufactured with aesthetics in mind, the Opus X sports a stylish body and comes in various colors including Razer Green, Mercury White, and Quartz Pink. It is meant to serve as a fashionable wireless headset that also handles your gaming, entertainment, and work needs.

Razer promises that this over-ear headset sounds as good as it looks, and will be vying for a spot among the best gaming headsets you can buy right now. Its tuned 40mm drivers are aimed at providing an immersive experience, with sharp mids, crisp highs, and punchy lows. With its ANC technology, the wireless cans promise to nullify unwanted ambient noise to create an immersive and uninterrupted experience. You also have the option to switch to its Quick Attention Mode when you want to listen to ambient sounds and stay aware of your surroundings.

Featuring a whopping 30-hour battery life with ANC on and 40 hours without ANC, Razer says its Opus X are designed for never-ending entertainment on the go. Its use of the latest Bluetooth technology ensures a seamless connection with impressive stability, higher bandwidth and a long range, which makes it a fit for watching movies and shows. This multipurpose headset’s dual built-in mics should ensure it can handle calls, videoconferencing, and in-game chatting well.

Razer’s latest release also sports a 60ms low-latency gaming mode that can be fired up for what the company promises will be a lag-free connection with zero stutter. This wireless headset is aimed at providing a solution for gaming, entertainment, and work – all in one. It will also be a reasonably priced headset if it manages to deliver on all that it promises.

The Opus X will be available for purchase on June 14 from Razer.com, RazerStore locations, and select retailers for $99. The Opus X Razer Green edition will be a limited-time exclusive at Razer.com and RazerStores, so make sure to hurry if you’ve got your eyes on this one.

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Computing

Mozilla FireFox 89 Brings a Long-needed Gorgeous New Look

Mozilla’s Firefox web browser has gotten a new look. Now rolling out in version 89 is a massive redesign, putting simplified design, cleaner menus, and tab pages front and center.

The biggest change to Firefox in years, Mozilla believes these visual updates will “get you where you want to go even faster.” That’s because the core experiences of the browser have all been updated so that things are easier to use — from the toolbar, streamlined menus, updated prompts, and a new floating tabs system.

The most significant of the changes that you’re likely to notice first is the new inspired tab design. In version 89, your tabs “float” at the top of the title bar, tucking tab information in a neat place, right where you need them. The tabs even have a more rounded design, helping to make moving tabs around a lot easier.

Tabs will no longer cramped together as they have been in previous releases. Visually, that is meant to pair up with calmer colors and lighter iconography throughout the user interface in the browser, making things feel more consistent as you click through menus.

Adding to that is a simplified browser toolbar. Mozilla has moved less frequently used items out of the toolbar, so you can focus on your navigation. That even ties right in with the more streamlined menus, which have been reorganized so that most used controls are where you need them. Even the labels have been updated, with removed iconography for a cleaner look.

Some of the other changes in Firefox 89 include updated prompts. It is now easier to understand and control things like the permissions for the webcam, and microphone, in a single hub. You even should see fewer prompts whenever you browse, as the release reduces the number of alerts and messages you see (for things such as notifications) so you can browse with fewer distractions.

If you’re not already seeing Firefox version 89, you can update it today in a couple of steps. Just click the menu button, and then choose Help followed by About Firefox. The About Mozilla Firefox window will open, and then Firefox should download the latest version. You’ll have to click Restart to update Firefox to apply it.

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Tech News

The Global Drone is a premium flyer with a gorgeous 4K camera for under $100 during this sale

TLDR: The Global Drone 4K Platinum Version is a compact, durable, stable flying drone with a fantastic 4K camera onboard, all for less than $100 with this extra Memorial Day Sale deal.

The way drones have become an everyday part of life is fascinating enough, but as the proliferation continues, their creep is spreading into places you likely never expected. 

Sony is working on a patent for technology that would use a network of drones to throw a noise cancellation net over a space, particularly in a busy open area like a public park or outdoor shopping area. Meanwhile, the Navy is developing a drone that would limit bird nests and hatching eggs around airfields to prevent potential birdstrike disasters. And wait — who was controlling an ominous drone swarm that sparked law enforcement taskforces in the U.S. Midwest?

Even if you don’t have a business use (or a scary surveillance use) for a drone, they’re still incredibly fun to fly — and right now, the Global Drone 4K Platinum edition from Mesay puts the talents of a top-notch drone in the sub-$100 price range with this TNW Deals’ Memorial Day Sale offer.

The 4K in its name should tip you off to one of this flyer’s key selling points — its gorgeous 4K camera for capturing sharp high resolution images and video while in flight. Right through the controller attached to your phone, the Global Drone can shoot and record 720p, 1080p, or even 4K quality video or photos to document every one of your wild flights.

The 6-axis gyro ensures a super stable flight, especially in its altitude hold mode. Meanwhile, the three-level flight speeds can help pilots through all kinds of aerial maneuvers, including 360-degree rolls and some crazy flips. This drone is also designed to be headless, so the unit is always oriented on takeoff and doesn’t require any adjustments to get yourself headed in the right direction.

With a body crafted from high-strength, resistant-engineered materials, the Global Drone is both lightweight and durable, tough enough to survive some less-than-brilliant flying or even any dings and scrapes that can happen on the ground. The adjustable wings even fold in to secure the drone in a compact 5 by 3 by 2 inch bundle for easy transport.

You can check out Mesay’s Global Drone 4K Platinum Version at one of its lowest prices of the year, including a special TNW Deals’ Memorial Day Sale price through June 2 that brings the total down to only $98.97 for this killer craft.

Prices are subject to change.

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Computing

Hands on with the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3: Gorgeous reworking, inside and out

Even before you can start talking about the new 15-inch Surface Laptop 3, or AMD’s custom Ryzen inside of it, you simply have to admit: Microsoft’s new all-metal Surface Laptop 3’s are gorgeous. 

Full disclosure: I’m typing this on a Microsoft Surface Book 2, so there’s some justification for my love of shiny metal. And that’s where the Surface Laptop 3 starts: with metal options in Sandstone, plus Matte Black, Cobalt Blue and the traditional Platinum. Yes, the Alcantara fabric is still an option, but if you want a Surface Book-like option without the price, Microsoft has you covered.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 Mark Hachman / IDG

The new 15-inch and the existing 13-inch form factors of the Surface Laptop 3, in metal and the traditional Alcantara fabric.

The Surface Laptop 3 ships in two options: the traditional 13-inch form factor, and the new 15-inch option. But while the original Surface Laptop may have been priced affordably for students, the Surface Laptop 3 soars into higher budget ranges. The base prices are $999 for the 13-inch version and $1,199 for the 15-inch. A tricked-out 15-inch laptop costs a whopping $2,799—the same price as the MacBook Pro. However, both the memory and storage in the top-tier Surface Laptop 3 exceed the MacBook Pro’s.) The most expensive 13-inch Surface Laptop 3 is $2,399, $400 more than the most expensive MacBook Pro. Daaaaamn.

Is it worth it? Aesthetically, we’ve already told you that we’re a sucker for pretty notebooks, and both are lighter than you might expect. More objectively, when you look at the spec list, there’s a lot to like.

Microsoft surface laptop 3 configs Microsoftt

Surface Laptop 3 configuration options. Note that the most expensive option is either sold out or just unavailable.

It’s worth noting that though the Surface Laptop 3 is designed for consumers, there will be a business option that allows corporate buyers to purchase a 15-inch Surface Laptop in an Core (Ice Lake) configuration, with Windows 10 Pro. 

While we’ve said before that both Surface Laptops are surprisingly attractive, they’re also unexpectedly light: 3.4 pounds for a 15-inch laptop is an unexpected bonus. They’re as sturdy as ever, steadfastly refusing to flop around. As noted earlier, there are several color options from which to choose. The Sandstone option looks particularly attractive.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 Mark Hachman / IDG

A new USB-C port now appears on the Surface Laptop 3.

Aside from the obvious differences in size, though, neither of the Surface Laptop 3’s are visually different from the other. They each have a Surface connector and a USB-A port, the same as before. Now, however, the microDisplayPort of previous generations has been replaced with a single USB-C port. None of the new Surfaces, including this one, enable the USB-C port with Thunderbolt I/O. Nevertheless, there’s enough bandwidth to power a 4K display, we’re told.

Though the Surface Pen can be used with the new Surface Laptop 3, that’s not really the point. They can also be used with the Surface Dial, though it’s a bit awkward to use while in laptop mode.

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Computing

Gigabyte Aero 17 review: A gorgeous 4K laptop that finally makes sense

If you’re squinting at this review from your tiny 13-inch laptop screen, you may be like the many people who started working from home a few weeks ago and realized that portability means nothing if you’re going blind using a tiny screen.

Gigabyte’s Aero 17 has the answer, by offering superb performance and a gorgeous, 17.3-inch UHD 4K HDR 400 panel to boot. Never mind that the laptop also features Intel’s newest 10th-gen, 8-core, Core i7-10875H Comet Lake H CPU and Nvidia’s stellar GeForce RTX 2070 Super Max-Q GPU.

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

A 4K laptop that makes sense

We haven’t been big fans of 4K displays on smaller laptops, as the hit on battery life typically hasn’t been worth the pixel-density tradeoff. With the Aero 17 though, we’re pleased to say battery life was far better than we expected for a 4K panel (more on that later).

aero 17 front Gordon Mah Ung

The 10th-gen Comet Lake H and GeForce RTX Super were supposed to be the stars, but the 10-bit, HDR 400 4K screen is what might convince you to ditch your tiny 13.3-inch laptop.

And yes, the 4K pixel density is far more useful on a 17.3-inch screen than a 13.3-inch panel. It’s enough resolution that you can tile multiple windows and they’re all still legible.

The Aero 17’s panel is also rated for VESA’s HDR 400 spec, which mandates such things as its name implies: a minimum of 400 nits’ peak-level brightness, and sRGB color gamut support.

We measured the Aero 17’s brightness peak at about 423 nits. While the HDR 400 rating is the entry level for HDR specs and mandates only 100 percent of sRGB, Gigabyte brings more to the table with 100 percent of Adobe RGB color gamut. The panel, an AU Optronics B173ZAN03.2, is a rated 10-bit panel, too which means it’ll push more than 1.07 billion colors.

Gigabyte continues to offer factory Xrite Pantone color calibration on every laptop panel. Gigabyte suggests, perhaps with some bias, that some of its competitors only do batch testing of panels.

Let’s just say if you’re going to go big, you might as well go with a panel with a lot of pedigree. Because the Aero 17 leans toward content creation professionals rather than gamers, the panel and hardware are really intended for workers, not players.

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