‘Deathloop’ update adds much-needed accessibility options and a photo mode

Arcane Studios has released the third major update for Deathloop, which adds a slew of accessibility features. There’s now an accessibility category in the options menu that includes the previously introduced settings (some of which have been upgraded) in addition to the new ones.

Players will be able to adjust various gameplay elements, though some settings will be limited to the single-player mode — i.e., when you play as Colt and Julianna is controlled by AI rather than an invading human. These include slowing down the game speed, adjusting the number of reprises (or lives) you have and making the combat easier or harder. There are more user interface options as well, such as the ability to change the color, size and opacity of some text and graphical elements.

In addition, players will, at long last, be able to navigate menus using the directional buttons instead of having to use a cursor. What a concept! If you prefer to use a cursor through, you can now adjust its movement speed.

When Deathloop landed on PS5 and PC last September, it was widely acclaimed, with critics praising its well-constructed gameplay, art style, level design and story. However, accessibility advocates pointed out issues that made the game difficult for disabled players to enjoy, such as the text size, lack of a controller remapping option and low contrast. Hopefully, this update will address most, if not all, of their concerns.

“We are truly grateful to the players and the ally community who gave us so much feedback when Deathloop was released,” lead UI/UX designer Yoann Bazoge told the PlayStation Blog. “We took the time to read all of the accessibility reviews and watch the videos of players explaining why they couldn’t play Deathloop. We then worked on a document listing all of the feedback and drew up a roadmap of what the additions would be for Game Update 3.”

Meanwhile, Arcane has added another much-requested feature: photo mode. This will only be available in single-player mode and you’ll be able to use poses, filters and stickers. Players can switch between Colt and Julianna, and choose a different outfit or weapon to capture the exact shot they want.

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Tech News

These $20 online learning options could make this the summer of your new career

TLDR: These six course bundles explore new career skills worth considering from graphic design and machine learning to music production at beyond, each for just $20 right now.

World economies are revving back up, but the interesting point is that many of the world’s workers are taking a different view of whether getting back to normal is a good thing. For many, a collection of low wage jobs with few benefits and little upward mobility aren’t working anymore. 

If you feel like it’s time to launch a new way of life, regardless of your new direction, it’s probably worth taking a look at some of the online training opportunities available now as part of the summer July 4th sale. Right now, all these course bundles that retail between $1,200 and $2,500 are at the summertime-ready price of just $20.

Dive in. Get your summer started right. The learning is fine.

The School of Graphic Design Mastery Bundle

These seven courses with over 40 hours of training help introduce users to the world of graphic design, ranging from courses in design theory to practical use of some of the most powerful graphics apps anywhere. From basic principles of color theory, typography, branding, layout and more to using some of the crown jewels of the Adobe Creative Cloud like Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, this training is an inside track to a viable future as a design professional.

Get The School of Graphic Design Mastery Bundle for $20 (Reg. $1,400)

The Ultimate Deep Learning and NLP Certification Bundle

Even if you never thought of yourself as a hardcore data scientist type, the machine learning and artificial intelligence sectors are absolutely bursting with options. This package of six courses covering 36 hours of material introduces the basic tenets of machine learning, the principles of artificial intelligence powering that advancement, and practical frameworks for putting this cutting-edge knowledge into practice.

Get The Ultimate Deep Learning and NLP Certification Bundle for $20 (Reg. $1,200)

The Premium DJing and Music Production Bootcamp ft. Ableton and Logic Pro X

Who hasn’t pictured a career as a world-famous musician…or, at the very least, an uber successful record producer? Over nine courses and more than 56 hours of training, students get practical training in crafting music, from the fundamentals of music theory, through recording and mixing tracks using Ableton 10, one of the most popular and trusted audio workstations around. There’s even training here in how to promote your music via social media, the recording industry, streaming services and more.

Get The Premium DJing and Music Production Bootcamp for $20 (Reg. $1,791)

The Ultimate 2021 White Hat Hacker Certification Bundle

There may be no more pressing occupation in our modern world than defending vulnerable computer systems from exploitation and attack. Over this 10-course, nearly 100-hour collection, learners take in all the basics of becoming a white hat hacker, using the tools and abilities of the cybercrooks and thieves to do right, patch weak spots, strengthening protections, and generally battling against the forces of evil to help make the world a better, happier place. Plus, this collection comes with testing prep to help secure valuable CompTIA security credentials to start your new career.

Get The Ultimate 2021 White Hat Hacker Certification Bundle for $20 (Reg. $1,345)

The Ultimate Cybersecurity and IT Career Certification Pathway Training Bundle

How about expanding from just cybersecurity expertise to literally everything in the expansive IT field? This giant collection with almost 170 hours of intensive training opens doors across the entire internet technology industry, featuring coursework with training to help nab up to 6 different CompTIA certifications. Armed with all that accomplishment, students are ready to apply for — and land — the introductory IT jobs they need to get a career started.

Get The Ultimate Cybersecurity and IT Career Certification Pathway Training Bundle for $20 (Reg. $1,592)

The Master Learn to Code 2021 Certification Bundle

Learning to code is the reading, writing and arithmetic of the 21st century. To get started programming, this 13-course bundle with almost 120 hours of coursework lays out all the basics to get rolling. From languages like Python, C++, Ruby, and more to project-based learning to a deeper exploration of areas like computer science, big data, and machine learning, new students get the exposure to all the various platforms and techniques for creating anything they need to build digitally. At less than $1.50 per course, it’s too good a deal to pass up.

Get The Master Learn to Code 2021 Certification Bundle for $20 (Reg. $2,594)

Prices are subject to change.

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Tech News

Galaxy Z Fold 3 to have 256GB and 512GB storage options

Google was never a fan of removable storage on Android and refused to put microSD card readers in any of its Nexus or Pixel phones. Other Android phone makers, however, preferred to keep users happy, and Samsung used to be one of those. Despite the initial backlash, Samsung has been slowly removing memory expansion options from its flagship phones. That makes this rumor about the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s storage options even more significant, especially in light of its rumored price tag.

While it might be a shame and a disappointment to not have a microSD card slot on phones like the Galaxy Note 10 and the Galaxy S21, it might be a bit forgivable not to have one on foldable phones. Samsung has probably tried to avoid any potential place of entry for particles, given how sensitive some internal components are. It also may have been trying to reduce manufacturing costs by leaving out what it may consider unnecessary features.

Unfortunately, that also means you’re left with the storage capacity available when you bought your phone and for the price it was sold. For the Galaxy Z Fold 2 and its $2,000 price tag, having only 256GB of storage forever can feel suffocating. The good news, at least based on rumors, is the Galaxy Z Fold 3 will be cheaper than last year’s foldable phone. Even better, it will still start at 256GB.

It’s a matter of perspective, of course, and 256GB is still 256GB, which means it might still not be enough for some users. Now, however, it may have a price that sets expectations better. Not only that, but the rumors also point to 512GB configurations, most likely for higher price tags.

It will be admirable and impressive if Samsung manages to really push the price of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 down despite having a lot more features. These are based on unofficial information, of course, and we won’t know until August how much Samsung will be asking for the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and its features.

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Xbox Design Lab returns with Xbox Series X|S controllers, new customization options

Today is a pretty big day for Xbox Design Lab. The website, which allows customers to design and buy custom Xbox controllers, is coming back online after going dark around 9 months ago. It’s making a pretty big comeback, too, as it now offers the redesigned Xbox Wireless Controller that launched alongside Xbox Series X|S along with several new customization options.

Xbox Design Lab launched in the middle of the last generation, but Microsoft took the website offline in October as it prepared for the impending launch of Xbox Series X|S. Now that the launch of those new consoles is officially in the books (even though we’re still waiting for stock levels to stabilize), Microsoft has relaunched Xbox Design Lab with some new options.

For starters, there are 18 different colors to pick from for pretty much every controller component. The body, back, d-pad, bumpers, triggers, and thumbsticks can all be customized in one of these 18 shades, including new colors like Shock Blue, Pulse Red, and Electric Volt – three colors that have been introduced in this new generation.

Microsoft says that most of the resin colors – all but Pulse Red, Zest Orange, Regal Purple, and Robot White – are “made with plastics containing 30% post-consumer recycled (PCR) materials by weight” as well, so they’re a little more environmentally friendly than the controllers of the past. In addition to the new colors, Microsoft has also rolled out a new option for the ABXY face buttons: black-on-color. The View, Menu, and Share buttons are getting a new black-on-white color option as well.

A controller made through Xbox Design Lab costs a little more than a standard Xbox Wireless Controller, coming in at $69.99. Users can also opt to laser engrave their controller for $10 more. The Xbox Design Lab is open for new orders today, and Microsoft says that all controllers will be delivered within 14 business days of their order date.

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Tech News

Samsung Smart Monitors now have 43-inch UHD and 24-inch FHD options

Many monitors these days have gotten much better and much more advanced but the way they work has mostly remained the same. You plug in a video source, like a computer, console, or even a phone without which the monitor is basically useless. Late last year, Samsung launched a new breed of displays that, while also acting as monitors, can also serve their own content from other sources. These Samsung Smart Monitors are now growing with two new models covering the smallest and the biggest needs.

What makes Samsung’s Smart Monitors line special is that they can be useful even without a computer or phone attached. Running the same Tizen OS that it uses on its Smart TVs, the monitors can actually also stream content directly via Samsung Hub. It can also connect to remote computers, like those from Microsoft 365.

This update brings two no models to the fold. On one end of the range is a new M5 24-inch screen with an FHD resolution to cater to those with cramped spaces. On the opposite extreme is a hulking M7 43-inch option that, thankfully, also comes with a higher density UHD resolution. At this point, the Smart Monitor really becomes more like a Smart TV that happens to also connect to a laptop or phone.

The latter part is an important distinction for Samsung, of course, as it plays into its DeX system for mobile. Especially with the newly announced Smart Keyboard Trio, Samsung is pushing DeX back into people’s consciousness. Hopefully, it means it’s also preparing some updates and improvements to the platform soon, perhaps when it launches the Galaxy Z Fold 3 in July or August.

In addition to announcing new Smart Monitor models, Samsung is also boasting about the remote that comes with the 43-inch UHD model which is made from recycled plastic and can be charged from solar power or lightbulbs. Other models are also getting remotes that are at least partially crafted from recycled plastic.

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Tech News

Apple’s iMac purge continues as 21.5-inch storage options thin

There’s been something of an iMac purge happening over at Apple lately. At the beginning of the month, Apple made two configurations of the 21.5-inch iMac unavailable, and now the company has delisted those two models entirely. That, obviously, suggests that Apple has straight up discontinued the two models in question, thinning out its iMac offerings before an expected refresh later this year.

The two iMac configurations facing oblivion are the 512GB and 1TB SSD options for the 21.5-inch model. Earlier this month, still showed those storage options on the listing for the 21.5-inch iMac, but they were grayed out and couldn’t be selected while choosing configuration options. Now, as spotted by MacRumors, Apple has removed references to those storage tiers entirely, leaving the 256GB SSD and the 1TB Fusion Drive as the only storage options.

Those aren’t the only iMac options that have recently disappeared from Apple’s website. Apple has also removed the page for the iMac Pro after it was listed as available “while supplies last” earlier this month, signaling that it has been discontinued as well.

That’s a pretty good indication that Apple is looking to refresh the iMac line at some point this year. We’re not sure when Apple plans on revealing these refreshes, but we’ve already heard a number of rumors about the new iMacs. We’ve heard, for instance, that Apple may launch a line of iMacs with colorful chassis as an apparent throwback to the various iMac G3 models we saw around the turn of the century.

Then, of course, there’s the rumor that Apple is planning to outfit these refreshed iMacs with its own in-house CPUs, which is pretty easy to believe. We’ll see what happens later this year, but by the time we close the book on 2021, there could be a new slate of colorful iMacs available through Apple’s store.

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32-Bit vs. 64-Bit: Understanding What These Options Really Mean

You’ve probably seen 32-bit and 64-bit options available whenever you download an app or install a game. Your PC might even have a sticker that says it has a 64-bit processor.

But does it really matter when most new PCs have a 64-bit processor? Here’s the real difference between 32-bit and 64-bit.

Here’s why it matters

Simply put, a 64-bit processor is more capable than a 32-bit processor because it can handle more data at once. A 64-bit processor can store more computational values, including memory addresses, which means it can access over 4 billion times the physical memory of a 32-bit processor. That’s just as big as it sounds.

Here’s the key difference: 32-bit processors are perfectly capable of handling a limited amount of RAM (in Windows, 4GB or less), and 64-bit processors can utilize much more. Of course, to achieve this, your operating system also needs to be designed to take advantage of the greater access to memory. This Microsoft page runs down memory limitations for multiple versions of Windows, but if you’re running the latest Windows 10, you don’t need to worry about limits.

With an increase in the availability of 64-bit processors and larger RAM capacities, Microsoft and Apple both have upgraded versions of their operating systems designed to take full advantage of the new technology. The first fully 64-bit operating system was Mac OS X Snow Leopard in 2009. Meanwhile, the first smartphone with a 64-bit chip (Apple A7) was the iPhone 5s.

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

In Microsoft Windows, the operating system’s basic version puts software limitations on the RAM amount that applications can use. Even in the ultimate and professional version of the operating system, 4GB is the maximum usable memory the 32-bit version can handle. While the latest versions of a 64-bit operating system can drastically increase a processor’s capabilities, the real jump in power comes from software designed with this architecture in mind.

Applications and video games that demand high performance already take advantage of the increase in available memory (there’s a reason we recommend 8GB for almost anyone). This is especially useful in programs that can store a lot of information for immediate access, like image-editing software that opens multiple large files simultaneously.

Most software is backward compatible, allowing you to run applications that are 32-bit in a 64-bit environment without any extra work or issues. Virus protection software (these are our favorites) and drivers tend to be the exception to this rule, with hardware mostly requiring the proper version to be installed to function correctly.

The same, but different

You can find an excellent example of the data processor capacity differences through your computer’s file network. On a Windows computer, there are two Program File folders: Program Files and Program Files (x86).

Through the Windows system, all applications use the same shared resources called DLL Files. These files are structured slightly differently depending on whether you’re running a 32-bit or 64-bit application. You’ll run into some obstacles if a 32-bit application tries to reach for a 64-bit DLL version. In those instances, the application will typically stop working. 

Many applications still use the 32-bit operating system because its design has been on the market for a long time. However, that’s changing on some platforms. Some developers have found a solution; on Modern 64-bit systems, you can run both 32- and 64-bit software. The computer uses two specific Program File directories. If your 32-bit app is in the correct x86 folder, your computer will be able to access the correct 32-bit version. Beyond that, the applications in your Program Files directory can access other available content.

Editors’ Choice

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Tech News

Twitter tests new image options that could be open to abuse

As a primarily text-based social network, Twitter’s multimedia support sometimes feels almost tacked on instead of an integral part of the system. The social network giant has recently been putting its focus on videos in Fleets and audio in Spaces and Voice DMs but it has unfortunately left simple images lagging behind. Twitter has announced new experiments in testing that could upgrade that experience but open up the platform to some misuse of those features.

Twitter has always had an image cropping problem, something that has long irked artists and creatives using the platform. While you would see the full image while previewing it before uploading and when you tap on the image after being posted, timelines will only show a cropped portion of the full image. What portion gets cropped out and which gets shown has always been a subject of speculation and arguments over the Internet.

Twitter now says it will no longer be cropping photos and what you see in the Tweet composer preview is what you will see in your timelines. If you uploaded a rather tall photo and it shows up in the composer preview as a tall photo, then Twitter says that it will be in its full glory on the timeline as well.

Unsurprisingly, that news was welcome not only with relief but also with challenges to the integrity of that new feature. Some users have tried to upload extremely tall photos that would have probably taken ages to scroll through. Nice try, Twitter says. The test is being applied only to images with standard aspect ratios and it will probably try to keep it that way to prevent people from gaming the system.

Twitter is also testing the ability to upload 4K images, depending on your Internet connection settings. Both these features are still in their testing phase and available only on Android and iOS. It remains to be seen if they will end up becoming standard features or scrapped after getting abused.

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Tech News

The Surface Laptop 4 may arrive in April with both AMD and Intel options

Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 3 is an excellent laptop, but some people lamented that it was only available in an AMD configuration for the 15-inch model. Worry not, for it seems the Surface Laptop 4 may allow you more choice between Team Red or Team Blue.

The rumor comes courtesy of German site WinFuture, which has an excellent track record with leaks. Based on the report, it appears Microsoft might offer a choice between Intel and AMD for both sizes of the laptop. Previously, you could only get an Intel Chip on the 15-inch model by buying a special ‘Surface Laptop 3 for Business.’

Here’s what else we learn from the report:

  • The laptop will be available in 13.5 and 15-inch sizes again.
  • Microsoft is sticking to the tried and trusted Surface Laptop design, so expect few visual changes.
  • It will be available in Ryzen 5 (4680U) and Ryzen 7 (4980U) configurations, although they will be branded once again as ‘Surface Edition’ chips with a few tweaks.
  • The AMD models will max out at 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage.
  • The Intel edition will come in Core i5 (1145G7) and Core i7 (1185G7).
  • The Intel configuration will also come in 32GB and 1TB configurations.

It’s worth noting that while the original version of the 15-inch Surface Laptop 3 was AMD-only, Microsoft did also offer a ‘Surface Laptop 3 for Business’ with Intel chips. It appears Microsoft wants to make both versions readily available to consumers, but we’ll have to see exactly how these configurations play out come April.

As much as I dig the Surface Laptop’s design, it would be nice to see a design refresh. It’s been nearly unchanged since the 2017 model — other than the addition of all metal and 15-inch models –and those bezels are quite hefty by modern standards.

Of course, these are just leaks, so take these details with a grain of salt. Still, it’s nice to see that consumers have a bit more choice on their processor options, for a change.

Did you know we have a newsletter all about consumer tech? It’s called Plugged In –
and you can subscribe to it right here.

Published March 9, 2021 — 03:05 UTC

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Samsung Galaxy Book S review: Incredible battery life, WWAN options sell this on-the-go PC

The Samsung Galaxy Book S is worth a look for several reasons: This ultralight, fanless 13.3-inch clamshell combines superb battery life with WWAN connectivity that compels you to work on the go.  Priced at $1,000 on, the Galaxy Book S is affordable, too.

The Galaxy Book S boasts Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8cx chip, an ARM processor that trades middling performance for a crazy 16 hours of battery life. Samsung’s learned what users like: The laptop adds a decent fingerprint reader, USB-C ports, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. 

It’s the best Qualcomm-powered PC we’ve seen in some time, including the Microsoft Surface Pro X, but the standard performance caveats of Snapdragon notebooks remain. Meanwhile, some X86-based machines have improved so much in battery life that they’ve stolen Qualcomm’s claim to fame. 

Samsung Galaxy Book S primary 1 Mark Hachman / IDG

Samsung Galaxy Book S basic features

Samsung’s own site offers the Samsung Galaxy Book S right now, though it’s scheduled to ship by April 1. You must select from one of two carriers, Sprint or Verizon. (There is no unlocked version.) Samsung asked us to add that while the Samsung Galaxy Book S is sold out right now through Sprint, however, it is still currently available for purchase through Best Buy and Microsoft, too. 

While Sprint is charging the full $1,000 price, Verizon’s currently taking $100 off if you pay for it as part of its 0% APR 24-month payment program via the Samsung link. Trade-in options are available for both carriers. We were unable to test the purchase via Verizon due to lack of an account; however, we successfully tried the same process using the Sprint link.

Regardless of how you purchase, the Galaxy Book S will have these specs:

  • Display: 13.3-inch (1920×1080) 10-point touch
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx octa-core processor (2.84GHz, 1.8GHz)
  • Graphics: Adreno 680
  • Memory: 8GB LPDDR4X RAM
  • Storage: 256GB SSD
  • Ports: 2 USB-C, microSD/nanoSIM tray
  • Camera: 720p HD (user-facing)
  • Battery: 39.8Wh (rated), 39.4Wh (as tested)
  • Wireless: Wi-Fi 802.11ac VHT80 MU-MIMO, Bluetooth 5; X24 modem for LTE WWAN
  • Operating system: Windows 10 Home
  • Dimensions (inches): 12 x 8 x 0.24 inches (6.2mm)
  • Weight: 2.18 pounds, 2.49 pounds with charger
  • Colors: Mercury Gray (as tested), Earthy Gold
  • Price:  MSRP: $1,000 (Samsung); $1,000 (Sprint); $900 (Verizon)
  • Optional accessories: $80 Samsung Galaxy Books S Pouch

The Samsung Galaxy Book S ships with the standard Windows bloatware (Candy Crush Friends, etc.), and a surprisingly light helping of Samsung apps. Samsung Gallery connects to Samsung’s cloud storage for images; Samsung Flow lets you move files between Samsung devices; and Samsung DeX connects a Galaxy phone in a desktop-like environment on your PC. Windows provides comparable apps itself, but the Samsung apps are designed to be more seamless.

Super-thin, super-light

At just over two pounds, the Samsung Galaxy Book S lands in tablet territory (including a keyboard). Thanks to its anodized aluminum construction, you’d have to call it one of the most impressive ultralight PCs around. We received the Mercury Gray color from Samsung for review, though the pinkish “Earthy Gold” is also available. 

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