2015 Chrysler 200C Uconnect 8.4AN

Pros Large and intuitive screen interface. Accurate voice recognition.Cons LCD instrument panel controls are too complex. Only one embedded app. Bottom Line Chrysler's Uconnect 8.4AN infotainment system is one of the best in any car at any price. By Doug Newcomb
The Uconnect 8.4AN infotainment system in the all-new 2015 Chrysler 200 isn't all that new, itself. The system, with its 8.4-inch touch screen, was first introduced in 2011 and at the time was the largest touch screen on the market, pre-Tesla Model S and its massive 17-inch in-dash display. But even though it's a bit long in the tooth by tech standards (though updated by a recent software refresh), the Uconnect 8.4AN system in the 2015 Chrysler 200C that we tested (and that comes as part of the $1,395 Navigation and Sound Group option) is still one of the best available and our Editors' Choice, thanks to its large screen, intuitive interface, and useful features.
The Uconnect 8.4AN infotainment system makes good use of its ample screen by keeping the display uncluttered. Arrayed along the bottom are small icons for the seven main functions: Radio, Menu, Controls, Climate, Navigation, Phone, and Apps, while at the top are even smaller tiles for inside and outside temperature, audio and navigation info, and time.

Press one of the function icons at the bottom and the interface for that function takes over the center portion of the screen, allowing the features to be discerned and accessed with only a glance. For example, when the navigation function is being used, the center of the screen displays a various features as large icons, a map or info such as lane guidance. Even the app screen, the most cluttered of the menus, is logically laid out. The only screen that seems a bit overwhelming is the Settings submenu of the Controls screen, which presents a staggering list of choices that are best scrolled through while parked.
Nextcar Bug artThe in-dash display is complemented by an almost-as-large 7-inch LCD instrument panel (IP) in front of the driver that provides pertinent info from upcoming nav maneuvers to driver assistance status. The IP display is controlled by steering wheel buttons that, unlike the touch screen, take time to get used to and can distract from the road ahead.
In addition to the simplicity and intuitiveness of the Uconnect 8.4AN interface, the 2015 200C (like all Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep vehicles) has one of the best voice recognition systems on the market. While several automakers claim "one-shot" destination VR entry for navigation (the ability to say the building number, street name, city, and state all at once rather than in individual segments) Chrysler vehicles are one of the few that can actually consistently accomplish this.
Embedded and Brought-in Connectivity
The Uconnect 8.4AN infotainment system in the 200C comes with a 12-month trial of the Uconnect Advantage service, Chrysler's brand of embedded connectivity (a subscription costs $14.99 a month after the 12-month trial). Uconnect Advantage includes traditional telematics services like automatic crash notification, emergency assistance, stolen-vehicle location, plus a companion smartphone app that allows remote features such as door lock/unlock and engine starting. However, it only supports one app: Yelp for local search.
But as part of the free Uconnect Access Via Mobile, the system is compatible with four apps for streaming music and other content: Aha, Pandora, Slacker, and iHeartRadio. These use a Bluetooth- or USB-connected phone—and the data plan on the device—for access to the cloud instead the car's embedded 3G modem. Through the modem, an owner can also choose to add Wi-Fi hot spot capability to the car for $9.99 a day, $19.99 a week, or $34.99 a month.
While I've never seen much need for this feature, or paying for data when I already have it on my phone, it came in useful when I was test-driving the Chrysler 200. I had family traveling in Europe, and was looking for a Starbucks so that I could connect my iPhone to Wi-Fi to use the Skype app to call them. I then realized that I could connect my phone to the 200's Uconnect Wi-Fi system to make the call. I didn't even have to pull over to have the conversation, since the call was routed through the car's Bluetooth hands-free system. This points to another Chrysler technology advantage: From initial device pairing to its long list of features, the automaker's Bluetooth phone system has for years been one of the best.
The Uconnect 8.4AN infotainment system's combination of a touch screen and semi-configurable IP display is similar in some ways to the ill-fated MyFord Touch that's available on the Fusion, a strong competitor to the 200 in the midsize sedan segment. But, where MyFord Touch can be confusing and caused backlash from consumers and the press, the Uconnect 8.4 system is a rare example of simplicity and intuitiveness in infotainment. And with technology becoming a bigger selling point, the Editors' Choice Uconnect 8.4AN infotainment system could tip help the scales for some buyers.

View the original article here


Pros Flexible website building tools. Excellent customer support. Email tightly integrated into Microsoft apps.

Cons Basic account lacks one-month Web hosting option. You must pay for the website builder. Has a higher cost of entry than competing Web hosting services. Bottom Line GoDaddy is an attractive Web hosting service that has incredible customer service, email that's integrated into Microsoft products, and a flexible web building tool, but a few niggles prevent it from being the king of the Web hosting hill.

By Jeffrey L. Wilson

If you have a business—or plan on starting a business—you'll need a Web presence so that potential customers can find your services online. To do that, you'll need to invest in a Web hosting company like GoDaddy (starting at $6.99 per month, or $3.49 per month with an annual commitment) that'll provide the foundation for your website. GoDaddy has flexible website creation tools, WordPress hosting/management, and surprisingly helpful customer service representatives, but its all-around package lacks the depth found in Arvixe, PCMag's Editors' Choice for Web hosting. Setting up my basic Linux-based GoDaddy site (Windows hosting is also available) complete with website-building software and e-commerce store cost $33.86, which is on the high side among services I've reviewed.

Compare Selected

Shared Web Hosting Packages
GoDaddy, like 1&1 and Arvixe, charges a monthly fee for its hosting services, but it reduces the price if you commit to a multi-month or annual package. Unfortunately, GoDaddy requires you to sign up for its pricier Deluxe or Ultimate plans (starting at $8.99 and $14.99, respectively) for the option to pay for Web hosting on a month-to-month basis (the basic Economy requires you to sign up for a minimum of three months). This may have not have much (if any) impact on businesses, but a cash-strapped blogger may not appreciate GoDaddy's lack of a single month option in its Economy package. In that regard, Arvixe (starting at $7 per month) is a better option.

The Economy shared hosting package (which places your website on servers with other websites) includes a free domain name (in the form of yoursite.com) that you can keep as long as you use GoDaddy, 100GB of storage, the ability to host one website, unlimited bandwidth, 100 email addresses, and 200 apps. The Deluxe plan (starting at $8.99 per month, or $4.49 per month with an annual commitment) builds upon the Economy package by adding unlimited storage, unlimited website hosting, and 500 email addresses. The Ultimate package (starting at $14.99 per month, or $7.49 per month with an annual commitment) adds a premium DNS management tool, 1,000 email addresses, and a one-year SSL Certificate.


Dedicated Server Plans
GoDaddy's Economy (starting at $99.99 per month, or $79.99 per month with a two-year commitment), Deluxe (starting at $199 per month, or $159 per month with a two-year commitment), and Premium (starting at $299 per month, or $239 per month with a two-year commitment) plans offer more server power than shared hosting, and they are recommended for highly trafficked websites.

Those dedicated servers come in a variety of CPU, RAM, RAID, and storage configurations. GoDaddy's most-powerful dedicated server starts at a relatively low $299 (four-core Intel i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, two 2TB hard drives), but after you add RAID, Control Panel, and other features, the total cost quickly approaches those of 1&1 and Arvixe's dedicated servers. The highest-end 1&1 dedicated server starts at $599 per month (dual 2.1 GHz, six-core AMD Opteron 6272 CPUs, 64GB of RAM, 2,400GB HDD, RAID 6 alignment). Arvixe's high-end dedicated servers start at $719 (dual 2 GHz Intel Xeon CPUs, 32GB of RAM, four 240GB SSDs, Raid 10 alignment). GoDaddy has a 45-day money back guarantee for annual plans, but Arvixe one-ups it with an impressive 60-day money back guarantee. Read GoDaddy's terms of service for full details.

Setting Up a GoDaddy Hosted Site
GoDaddy's flexible Website Builder is an excellent site-building tool. I found it incredibly easy to add forms, social media links, Google Maps, slideshows, and other items to my site (superfuntechgo.com) by dragging them around the template. GoDaddy's Website Builder produced a far more attractive site than the competition.

Unfortunately, GoDaddy's WebsiteBuilder isn't free; you must shell out an extra $1 per month to use the tool. Granted, that's not a lot of money, but it's extra cash out of your pocket. 1&1 and Arvixe include their site tools for free.

GoDaddy has dozens of apps in its Installatron library that can be used to improve your website, including Homefinder, PayPal, and Yelp. GoDaddy also offers WordPress-centric hosting starting at $1 per month. Signing up for it has its advantages; GoDaddy has thousands of themes and plug-ins, nightly backups, and automatic WordPress software updates.

View the original article here

Leo Bodnar Video Signal Lag Tester

Pros Compact. Affordable. Very easy to use.

Cons HDMI only. Only supports one resolution. Bottom Line The Leo Bodnar Video Signal Lag Tester is a handy little device that lets you see if your monitor or HDTV is experiencing significant input lag.

By John R. Delaney

If you've ever wondered if your Call of Duty: Black Ops opponents are really that much faster than you or if something else is preventing you from getting in that all-important first shot, it's entirely possible that your monitor or HDTV is your real enemy. Today's monitors, HDTVs, and projectors suffer from a malady known as input lag, which is best described as the amount of time it takes for a display to react to a command from an input device such as a game controller. For example, if you're using a monitor with a high input lag, you may notice a delay between the time you pull the trigger and the time your on-screen gun actually fires. When fractions of a second count, this can be the difference between life and death for hardcore gamers. That's where the Leo Bodnar Video Signal Lag Tester ($114.74) comes in.

Here at PC Labs, we recently started measuring input lag of the monitors, HDTV, and gaming projectors we review using the Video Signal Lag Tester. Designed by Leo Bodnar Electronics, a small electronics manufacturer based in Northamptonshire, England, it's a relatively affordable standalone device that uses a photoelectric sensor to measure signal lag. In a nutshell, the tester sends signals to the monitor, HDTV, or projector via an HDMI cable, and the sensor measures the time it takes for the display to register the signal.

The Basics of Input Lag
Input lag is measured in milliseconds and should not be confused with pixel response, which is also measured in milliseconds (pixel response is the amount of time it takes for a pixel to change, either from black to white or from gray to gray). Slow lag times can be caused by a variety of things, including the monitor's signal processing, the graphics card's settings, a slow computer, a faulty controller, and the game itself. Once you determine there is significant lag, you can take steps to reduce it by upgrading your PC, tweaking the GPU, and dialing back game settings, such as anti-aliasing, anisotropic filtering, texture quality, and resolution, but the display will always introduce some level of input lag.

To help reduce input lag, many monitor and HDTV manufacturers have included a preset Game mode that shuts down most of the digital processing going on behind the scenes (noise-reduction and video-smoothing settings, for example). In most cases, Game mode does indeed lower the lag time, but picture quality usually takes a hit and may display artifacts like blurring and jaggies (jagged edges instead of smooth lines).

There are several ways to measure input lag; one method involves using a reference CRT with no known lag, a stopwatch, a PC with dual video outputs, and a high-speed camera. The idea is to send a signal to the reference screen and the screen being tested and take pictures to see how long it takes each monitor to process the incoming signal. Another method requires an oscilloscope, which can range in price from a couple hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, depending on features like maximum bandwidth and sample rates. In our case, we decided to keep it simple with the Leo Bodnar Lag Tester.

Design and Features
The tester is slightly larger Leo Bodnar Video Signal Lag Tester
than a deck of playing cards. It measures 1.0 by 3.0 by 4.5 inches (HWD) and has a red and black plastic housing. There are HDMI and mini-USB ports on one end, a yellow button on the top, and the aforementioned photo sensor on the bottom. Also on the bottom is a compartment for the two included AA batteries that power the tester; you can also use the mini USB port to supply power. There are no DisplayPort or VGA outputs, but you can use an HDMI-to-DVI cable if your monitor does not have an HDMI input. The tester supports only one output resolution, which by default is 1080p with a 60Hz refresh rate. If you want to test at 720p, you have to specify that when ordering, or you can send in your existing tester to have it reprogrammed. As of now, you can't have it both ways.

The Lag Tester is easy to use. Simply plug an HDMI cable into the tester and connect it to your HDTV or monitor, or gaming projector. Press the yellow button and wait for the screen to display three white bars and a timer. Hold the tester up to the middle bar with the sensor positioned over the center of the bar and wait for the lag time to be displayed. You'll get different readings from each of the three bars because the screen is refreshed from top to bottom, so you can expect a faster time from the top bar and a slower time from the bottom. The manufacturer recommends using the middle bar for an average result, which is what we do.

Leo Bodnar Video Signal Lag Tester

If your gaming skills are as sharp as ever, but you still can't keep pace with the competition, it may be time to add an input-lag monitor like the Leo Bodnar Video Signal Lag Tester to your arsenal. At around $115 (plus shipping), the lag tester may not make sense for the average consumer who may only use it a couple of times, but when you see as many HDTVs, monitors, and projectors as we do in PC Labs, it's a relative bargain.

View the original article here

Yahoo Aviate Launcher (for Android)

Pros Clean and simple to use. Tidies up apps alphabetically, by theme, and by context.

Cons Allows duplicate home screen apps. May not work well with all phones. Bottom Line Organization nerds will love the way Yahoo Aviate Launcher for Android tidies up their apps.

By Jill Duffy

Yahoo Aviate Launcher (free) is an Android app designed to simplify your phone and organize your apps. It's well designed to be dead simple at first glance, and the more you explore it, the more features you'll find. It's a great launcher app for anyone looking to simplify their Android experience.

Compare Selected

Aviating Android
With Yahoo Aviate is installed and activated, you're greeted with a new and simple home screen with ten app icons at the bottom.

Yahoo Aviate Launcher (for Android)You can change the set of home screen icons, but be careful when you do because Aviate won't prevent you from loading duplicates. You don't have to fill all ten slots, which is nice if you really want to keep your home screen simple. 

Swiping once right to left brings up App Collections, or themed sets of apps, which Activate creates for you. These include apps for productivity, entertainment, music, social networking, and so forth. At the bottom of this screen is an option to create your own App Collection. You can change the order of Collections by pressing and holding one, and then dragging and dropping it.

One more right-left swipe brings you to a page of all your apps, alphabetized. I don't know why it brings me great joy to see this page (maybe it's just in my organized nature), but it does. A vertical list of letters on the right lets you jump quickly to that entry in the list of apps. Hit I, for example, to quickly get to your Instagram app. 

Swiping in the other direction (left to right) from the home page brings you to a Space. Spaces are context-sensitive screens of apps and widgets. For example, you can have a screen for Work, which might have a shortcut button to draft an email, a list of your productivity apps such as Mailbox, and perhaps a widget for the task-management app Any.do. Different Spaces surface based on where you are or what time of day it is.

Yahoo Aviate Launcher (for Android)For example, for the Work Space, you start by setting your office location. Aviate automatically pulls up a traffic report when you're on your way to work. A shortcut to your Work space remains on the home screen while you and your phone and physically at the office. That works well for people who work in an office during regular hours, but it's less ideal for people who don't always work from the same location or work off hours.

Another Space that's handy is simply called Today, and it's preloaded with a widget listing upcoming calendar events, a weather summary, and news headlines.

One shortcut that some Android fans take issue with is swiping up to reach Favorite People, or shortcuts to people whom you contact frequently. There are two problems with it. First, vertical swiping gestures are not customary on Android, and second, you must list at least four contacts. You can't pick two or three or even one. It has to be four or more.  

Also in the notes for Aviate, Android warns that Android +4.0 is recommended for the best Listening Space, one of the Spaces that supports your music, and that Samsung Galaxy users should upgrade to 4.3. Be forewarned. You might experience crashes and other instabilities if you don't.

One great features is that if you have your Android phone set to another language, you can use Aviate in that language, too. In addition to English, the app supports French, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Bahasa, and Russian.

Smooth Landing
All in all, I love Yahoo Aviate Launcher. It's a wonderful launcher app that simplifies the Android experience. It's ideal for anyone who doesn't want to spend huge amounts of time customizing their phone manually.

View the original article here

HTC Desire 816 (Virgin Mobile)

Pros Massive, high-quality LCD. Loud front-facing speakers. Runs Android 4.4.

Cons No split-screen multitasking. Mediocre call quality. Bottom Line On Virgin Mobile, the HTC Desire 816 is the best big phone for small budgets.

By Eugene Kim

The Virgin Mobile Supreme is a fine smartphone, but at 5 inches, it barely qualifies as a phablet by today's standards. Virgin Mobile subscribers looking for a bit more screen should turn their attention towards the HTC Desire 816, a 5.5-inch midrange Android phablet. It draws on the strengths of HTC's flagship One line, pairing a high-quality LCD with excellent front-facing speakers for a superior media experience. Granted, it's not the fastest or sharpest phone on block, but it closely approximates the design and features of handsets costing more than twice as much. The Desire 816 is an affordable, modern Android phablet that offers tremendous value at $299.99 (unsubsidized) and earns our Editors' Choice award on Virgin Mobile.

Compare Selected

Design, Features, and Call Quality
From behind, the Desire 816's glossy plastic and rounded edges are reminiscent of the Apple iPhone 5c, while the front resembles HTC's One line with embedded BoomSound speakers on the top and bottom. It's not poorly built or cheap feeling by any means, but the all-plastic build lacks that same luxurious quality of HTC's beautiful aluminum unibody devices.

Size is a given, but the Desire 816 is pleasantly slim and light at 6.17 by 3.1 by 0.31 inches (HWD) and 5.82 ounces. The rounded, matte plastic edges feel comfortable to hold, but this is definitely a palm stretcher and pocket buster. Volume and Power buttons are on the left edge and far too high up—I had to adjust my grip and awkwardly stretch my middle finger or thumb to reach any of the buttons. HTC doesn't include the useful tap-to-wake gestures found on the One line, either, making it more of a nuisance.

The 5.5-inch, 720p LCD won't win any sharpness awards, but this is clearly a high-quality panel that will look good enough for most at 267ppi. The screen has a near-180-degree viewing angle, gets bright enough for outdoor use, and reproduces natural-looking colors. The BoomSound speakers aren't quite as loud as those on the One (M8), but they're still a big upgrade from typical smartphone speakers, especially in this price range. The speakers coupled with the expansive display make for one of the most enjoyable mobile media experiences since the HTC One Max.

The Desire 816 connects to Sprint's 3G CDMA network and 4G LTE network, including the faster tri-band Spark frequencies. In midtown Manhattan, I saw download speeds of 6-10Mbps and upload speeds of 5-8Mbps, which is on the slow side for LTE, but not unbearable. Call quality was about average in my tests, with strong performance from the earpiece, but weak transmissions through the mic. Voices came through the earpiece loud and clear with volume to spare, while my voice sounded muted and garbled at times. Noise cancellation worked well in my tests, but at the expense of voice quality—in louder environments, transmissions through the mic sounded overly digitized.

Also onboard are dual-band 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, and NFC radios. The Desire 816 easily paired with an Era by Jawbone Bluetooth headset.

Performance and Android
The Desire 816 is powered by a quad-core, 1.6GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 with 1.5GB RAM. It's a setup we're all too familiar with at this point—it's featured in a whole slew of budget-friendly devices like the Motorola Moto G and Huawei Ascend Mate2. Just about everything runs smoothly, with the exception of more graphically taxing games like Asphalt 8, which is playable, but prone to jerkiness. For everyday tasks like Web browsing, media playback, or casual games like Temple Run, the Desire 816 has more than enough power.

Related Story See How We Test Cell Phones

HTC's Sense 6 skin runs atop Android 4.4.2 and functions nearly identically to what we've seen on the One (M8). That means BlinkFeed, Zoe, and HTC's custom camera, gallery, and music apps. HTC has done a nice job refining the once-bloated Sense, offloading features to the Google Play store and keeping things lean for smooth performance on midrange phones like the Desire 816. It pays off, but it would have been nice to have a multitasking feature like LG's QSlide or Samsung's Multi Window to take advantage of the extra screen real estate.

Of the 8GB of internal storage, only 3.76GB is available to users out of the box. Our 64GB microSD card worked fine for media, but with apps exceeding the 1GB mark, that paltry internal storage will fill up quickly.

We couldn't perform our usual continuous talk time battery rundown test, but in a separate test, which loops a video with screen brightness set to max and Wi-Fi on, the Desire 816 lasted 7 hours, 34 minutes. That's a positive result that bodes well for Netflix bingers who want to take advantage of the big screen and loud speakers here.

Cameras and Conclusions
Equipped with a 13-megapixel, rear-facing camera, the Desire 816 is capable of producing some really nice images. Outdoors and in good light, shots look incredibly crisp and full of detail. I much prefer the extra pixels here as opposed to HTC's UltraPixel sensor used on the M8—with the Desire 816, you have a lot of room for cropping after the fact. Image quality doesn't suffer much under indoor lighting either, which is impressive. Some grain and softer details are noticeable, but totally fine for online uploads. Video resolution tops out at 1080p, but frame rates can get a bit jerky in low-light scenarios, while footage itself can be overly grainy. Outdoors and in good light, video looks sharp and true to life.

On Virgin Mobile, the HTC Desire 816 is the best big phone for small budgets. Voracious media consumers will appreciate the expansive display and loud speakers, while performance is in line with the price. And $300 for this much phone is a fantastic deal. If you're looking for something smaller, the Virgin Mobile Supreme has a more manageable 5-inch display and still represents good value at $300, while the even smaller HTC Desire features the same front-facing speaker setup as its larger sibling. For phablet fans on Virgin Mobile, though, the Desire 816 is a top pick and earns our Editors' Choice award.

View the original article here


Pros Choice of Linux or Windows host. Easy to configure email.

Cons Expensive. No phone customer service outside of the U.K. Base plan is too limited for most use; less expensive plans are restrictive. Bottom Line 123-reg offers good domain management tools, but as a Web host, it nickels and dimes you for every single feature and application, making it an expensive option for a basic website, blog, or online store.

By Fahmida Y. Rashid

What you need from a Web hosting provider may be fairly simple: some storage for your content, network bandwidth so that people can access the site, and the ability to add tools and applications to make your life easier. If that's all you need, U.K.-based 123-reg (starting at $4.13 per month) offers a bare-bones Web hosting service worth considering, but for more than that, you'll need to pay. All the extra charges make 123-reg expensive, and it has no one stellar feature that makes the price tag worthwhile. I tested 123-reg using the Business plan, and after adding the 20 percent VAT, setup fees (£9.99, or $16.55, a one-time fee), domain registration fees (£10.99, or $18.21, a year), the ecommerce add-on, and the website builder, the total cost for my Business plan came out to $70 for the first year.

Compare Selected

Most Web hosting service reviews we write at PCMag.com are based on the basic plan, but, in this case, I signed up for the Business plan at 123-reg because the Start Up package doesn't have most of the features competing providers offer in their basic plans. I discuss the plans in detail, below. The monthly price at the top of this review is for the Start Up plan, but this review looks at the features that come with the Business plan, so that I can accurately compare 123-reg with other Web hosting providers.

Packages and Plans
123-reg offers three hosting plans: Start Up, Business, and Professional. The base plan, Start Up ($4.13 per month, or $49.56 per year with a one-year commitment) is very basic, offering 1GB of storage, unlimited bandwidth, 100 email mailboxes at 1GB each, some email security, and not much else. If you already have an existing HTML site (one that's not too big) you can upload via FTP, the basic plan is sufficient. The plan supports Ruby, PHP, ASP.NET and Perl, but that's about it. You can't install databases, so any application that requires a SQL database is out—popular forum software phpBB and any type of content management software are both no-go. There is also no command line access.

Business (starting at $6.89 per month) is comparable to what you would see with competitors such as the Editors' Choice Arvixe and Network Solutions, with 50GB storage, 500 email mailboxes at 1GB each, database support, website statistics, almost 70 third-party applications you can install, a stock image library, and access to website templates. 123-reg offers a choice of Linux or Windows hosting, which is unusual and welcome. So if you need Windows hosting, 123-reg is an option to consider, if you don't want to deal with Microsoft's Azure cloud environment.

The Professional plan (starting at $12.49 per month) offers unlimited email, mailboxes, and databases. Since the company is based in the U.K., 123-reg offers a co.uk domain for free in the Start Up Plan, three for Business, and five in Professional. Since I was registering a .com domain, I also incurred an additional £10.99 ($18.21) domain fee.

123-reg makes selecting a package harder than it needs to be. In addition to the plan choices, you also have the option to buy a Website Builder package, which is a hosting plan specifically for hosting a regular website, or an e-commerce shop. You can also look into hosting with Drupal, Joomla, or WordPress (starting at £4.16, or $8.27, per month). This kind of hosting provides you with a managed version of these content management systems. One nice thing is that you don't need to deal with updates or basic configuration of these systems, because 123-reg handles them for you.

High-Performance Web Hosting Packages
123-reg also offers high-performance hosting packages Virtual Private Servers (starting at $31.46 per month for a one-year commitment), Cloud Servers (starting at $59.74 per month for a one-year commitment), and Dedicated Cloud Servers (starting at $180.57 per month) plans. These offer more server power than shared hosting, and they are recommended for highly trafficked websites.

Dedicated servers come in a variety of CPU, RAM, RAID, and storage configurations, but the power will cost you: The high-end specification for 123-reg's dedicated server running CentOS 6 starts at $329 per month, or $3,626 per year (24 Core processor, 96GB RAM, four 2TB hard drives, RAID 10 alignment). The Plesk control panel is included, as are nightly backups and snapshots. The cost goes up to $483 per month if you are looking for a Windows Server 2008 dedicated server with similar hardware.

Next: Setting Up a Site on 123-reg

View the original article here

Mpow Mbox Portable Bluetooth 4.0 Wireless Stereo Speaker

Pros Inexpensive. Attractive design. Solid sound quality for the price. Very good speakerphone.

Cons Distorts at high volumes. Lackluster bass response. Bottom Line The Mpow Mbox is a budget Bluetooth speaker that delivers solid sound in an attractive package, but bass isn't its strong suit.

By Alex Colon

There's no shortage of inexpensive Bluetooth speakers, but they don't exactly put a premium on design. The Mpow Mbox Portable Bluetooth 4.0 Wireless Stereo Speaker, however, has an attractive, aluminum-clad build that belies its $49.99 price tag. Sound quality is totally solid for the price, though the Mbox definitely isn't for big bass lovers. And while you can get a speaker with bigger sound without spending a lot more money, few will look as good on your desk as the Mbox.

Compare Selected

Design and Pairing
The Mbox is very attractive in an industrial, minimalist sort of way. The rectangular speaker is white on the front and back, with a sleek aluminum housing along the sides. The edges of the aluminum have been machined on the front to create a shiny, almost reflective band. And the speaker grille has an attractive matte white finish, which is covered by a milky plastic overlay perforated with four rows of large holes for visual interest. The back of the speaker is plain white with an Mpow logo in the middle. The whole package is unassuming, but stylish, and neutral enough to complement most decor.

The speaker measures 1.9 by 6.6 by 1.5 inches (HWD) and weighs 9.9 ounces. It's small enough to fit in just about any bag, which makes it great for travel. It's also a good size for a desk or kitchen counter—large enough that you know it's there, but not so big that it's in the way.

The top of the speaker is home to three white, clicky multifunction buttons, which work a bit differently than you'd expect. The middle is for Play/Pause, as well as answering or ending a call. The button to the left works as a Volume Down button, but only if you hold it down. If you just press it, it brings you to the previous song. You'd expect those functions to be reversed, but you get used to it. Similarly, the button on the right skips to the next song when pressed, and raises the volume when held down.

On the back of the speaker you'll find a power switch, a micro USB charging port, and a 3.5mm Aux input (the speaker comes with both micro USB and 3.5mm cords). The Mbox enters pairing mode automatically just a few seconds after turning it on. I had no trouble connecting it to my Apple iPhone 5s following the standard Bluetooth pairing procedure, and after that it automatically connected whenever the phone was in range.

The Mbox has a 1,500mAh lithium-ion battery, and Mpow estimates up to ten hours of battery life. That depends largely on volume and whether you use Bluetooth, but it's a solid number for a speaker this size. 

Mpow Mbox inline

Performance and Conclusions
The Mbox puts out some pretty good sound—as long as you don't set the volume too high. Once you turn things past 80 percent, distortion starts to set in, especially when there's a lot of bass involved. On tracks with intense sub-bass content, like The Knife's "Silent Shout," the Mbox pops and cracks with distortion at higher volumes. Dialing it down solves this problem, but it means the speaker can't get quite loud enough to fill an entire room with sound.  

On less intense tracks, like Radiohead's "Paranoid Android," the Mbox fares much better, delivering clear mids and highs. This still isn't a speaker for deep bass lovers, though, as the acoustic guitar and shaken percussion in the beginning of the track lack the warmth the Logitech X300 brings to the table with its superior bass response. The speaker is still capable of deliver some satisfying low-end, providing just enough bass to add some depths to tracks like Yo La Tengo's "Green Arrow."

Still, the Mbox is at its best when listening to tracks that don't call for a ton of low-end. On tracks like Bill Callahan's "Drover," the Mbox brings a crisp edge to the mids and mid-highs of the guitar and vocals without sounding too bright.

The Mbox also has a built-in speakerphone, which is helpful when you're listening to music on a connected phone. Call quality was surprisingly good, with voices coming in loud and clear on both ends of the call.

For just $49.99, the Mpow Mbox delivers a solid combination of looks and performance. It sounds better—and is far better looking—than the slightly less expensive AmazonBasics Mini Ultra-Portable Bluetooth Speaker. On the other hand, you don't have to pay a lot more to get a speaker with better sound quality. The JBL Clip costs the same amount as the Mbox, and delivers richer, fuller sound (though its clip-on design is better suited to travel than stationary use). Our Editors' Choice, the Logitech X300, offers far more powerful, room-filling sound for just $20 more than the Mbox. It might not look quite as sleek, but its colorful, bright design is equally stylish in its own right.

View the original article here

Gunnar Optiks Phenom Premium Prescription Computer Eyewear

Pros Solid build quality. Tint can help reduce eye strain. Compatible with some prescription vision plans.

Cons Expensive. Bottom Line Gunnar's high-end prescription glasses combine excellent build quality with a pleasant lens tint.

By Will Greenwald

We've reviewed Gunnar glasses in the past, and have looked at them generally favorably, despite some dubious claims regarding the benefits of their signature yellow tint. However, there are some good explanations for the tint, and good reason to expect some benefit in reducing eyestrain. You still need to be able to see through those glasses, though, and if you use prescription lenses, regular Gunnars won't do you much good. Fortunately, Gunnar Optiks offers prescription versions of its glasses, and sent a pair of its Premium Rx prescription lenses in gray Phenom frames for review. At $349 for the Premium Rx lenses in the Phenom frames, Gunnar prescription glasses might seem a bit pricey. Fortunately, certain vision plans actually cover prescription Gunnar glasses, at least in part, and when you compare them to the glasses you find behind your optometrist's counter instead of the glasses you can find on shelves at the drugstore, the price tag seems much less daunting.

Frames and Accessories
Gunnar frames can be made out of a variety of materials and feature a variety of designs and colors. Different frames with Premium Rx lenses range from $319 to $369, and glasses with the step-down Standard Rx prescription lenses can be found for $219 to $299. The pair I tested had a Phenom frame in Graphite (gray). It's a slim, rectangular model made out of an aluminum and magnesium alloy, with hidden spring hinges on the arms and adjustable nose pads for better fit. Because the frame is metal, the glasses feel very sturdy despite the very slim design, and weigh just half an ounce.

The glasses come with a hard-shell, leather carrying case that holds them securely without rattling or squeezing them. A microfiber pouch that can both hold the glasses and wipe the lenses is also included. 

Prescription Lenses
The Gunnar Premium Rx prescription glasses are engineered by Carl Zeiss Vision and ground robotically for precision, compared with the standard Gunnar Rx lenses, which are ground with analog technology, presumably by the same sort of equipment and human control with which most optometrists grind lenses. Gunnar is not clear about precisely what the difference between the two grinding technologies are for the end result, at least beyond the implication of better accuracy of the grind, and we can't evaluate whether the Premium Rx lenses are strictly sharper or more accurate than Standard Rx lenses.

However, to add to the value of the Premium Rx lenses, Gunnar also adds Pure Coat anti-reflective coating. I didn't have a pair of Gunnar Standard Rx glasses to compare them with, but when held against my own prescription glasses and a pair of non-prescription Gunnars, the Premium Rx lenses seem to reflect much less light. I saw no image of my own eye looking back at me, or ghost lights dancing over actual light sources. The Pure Coat seems to work very well at its job, and can potentially justify the Premium Rx lens value when the advantages of robotically ground Carl Zeiss lenses don't clearly do so.

I am nearsighted, with a right eye that's weaker than my left eye, so my use case with prescription glasses is slightly unique. I'm perfectly fine sitting in front of a monitor and staring at small objects with the naked eye. It's distances of more than six feet that give me issues, so the prescription Gunnars are much more suited to me as couch-bound gaming glasses rather than desktop gaming glasses. Fortunately, I'm the sort of gaming lunatic who connected his tower to his HDTV so he can play Steam games on 55 inches, so I still got a good sense of what it's like using the Gunnars with a PC.

Gunnar's Claims
Gunnar's glasses are tinted yellow-amber (with the exception of the company's sunglasses, clear, and 3D lenses), and consistently curved. Gunnar claims many advantages from these characteristics, but confirming them with complete certainty would be difficult for a team of optometrists. However, we can look at whether these claims are at least realistic, and evaluate them based on my own use.

Gunnar Optiks Premium Prescription

It's easy to discount the lens tint as gimmicky and pointless, especially when you can find "high-definition" glasses with similarly tinted lenses on the As-Seen-on-TV shelf of any drugstore. However, there is a very good reason for the tint. White is not simply pure white; it depends on the lighting and the display. A white can be cool, resulting in a bluish tint like fluorescent lights, or it can be warm with a comparative orange tint like incandescent lights. We're generally better suited to warmer light, and warmer whites; cool lighting and whites can indeed cause eyestrain. It's one of many reasons some people report headaches when they work around fluorescent lights.

When I test HDTVs, I set the white balance to the warmest possible setting before measuring color accuracy. This generally results in the most accurate colors short of calibrating each color level individually. This makes the whites of the screen appear orange or amber compared to when I first turn them on, because they tend to be very cool out of the box. It's the same case with computer monitors (which is why, even without Gunnars, I recommend the excellent f.lux software to adjust your computer's color temperature). Gunnar's tinted lenses use that same principle, only with a filter for your eyes and not the screen itself. It makes everything appear warmer without significantly disrupting the balance of the actual colors, and it indeed can reduce eye strain.

The curved lenses, Gunnar claims, reduce airflow in front of the eyes and keeps the air around them more humid than otherwise. The idea behind this is that you blink less when you're working on a computer or sitting in front of a television, so your eyes get drier and more prone to irritation. I can't confirm this claim or its benefits, but I can say that I did not notice any appreciable gust or airflow around my eyes when I wore the glasses. Also, to the credit of both the lenses and the Phenom frames, I didn't notice my eyelashes brushing annoyingly against the lenses, which has been a problem with some other pairs of glasses.

Performance and Conclusion
Eyes are all different, but the Gunnar Premium Rx lenses handled my prescription perfectly. I could see objects greater than six feet away sharply, just as if I wore my normal glasses. While they're personally not optimal for use in front of a monitor, they worked very well with my HDTV for movies, games, and even reading websites. 

The most notable difference was outside of the home, though. The glasses aren't tinted enough to function as effective sunglasses, but they make overcast days look slightly warmer and seem to let objects stick out slightly more in low light. I can't say they directly improve contrast, but the tint is fairly helpful.

Gunnar glasses might seem like complex shades with dubious benefits, but they're surprisingly well-crafted and functional. If you use prescription glasses, you might want to consider a pair for both staring at screens and walking around. The tint can indeed reduce eyestrain, and the lenses are sharp and (for the Premium Rx versions) don't show any glare. They're still pricey, but as prescription lenses they might be covered under your vision plan.

View the original article here

LG G Vista (Verizon Wireless)

Pros Extra-large display. Outstanding battery life.

Cons Overly reflective screen. Cheap-feeling, glossy plastic body. Bottom Line Though it lacks a certain pizazz, the oversized LG G Vista smartphone delivers the big-screen goods for small budgets.

By Eugene Kim

The LG G Vista clearly trades on the success of the G3 in form, but it's closer in function to the LG Lucid 3. Given the $49.99 (with two-year contract) price, that is perfectly fine—this really is simply an entry-level smartphone that happens to be huge. The 5.7-inch display will appease phablet fanatics, and LG's useful software features trickle down from the G3. Herculean battery life just sweetens the deal. Verizon doesn't carry many phablets right now, so if you're set on supersizing your smartphone, the G Vista is a good value. If you can stretch your budget to $100, do it—at that price you can get our Editors' Choice phablet on Verizon, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, which is superior in every respect.

Compare Selected

Design, Features, and Call Quality
Without anything for scale, it would be difficult to distinguish the G Vista from the G3. The bezels are slightly larger and the back is a glossier, cheaper-feeling plastic, but from the shape down to the rear-mounted button placement and camera arrangement, the inspiration for the G Vista is readily apparent. There's no getting around the sheer size here (5.99 by 3.12 by 0.36 inches (HWD) and 5.93 ounces), but the rounded back fits comfortably in the hand, much like the smaller G3. LG also bakes in a few useful software tricks to mitigate the difficulties of a large device, which I'll cover shortly.

The 5.7-inch, 720p LCD looks reasonably sharp (258ppi), but at this size the lack of 1080p makes a noticeable difference. Text-heavy websites look pixelated and you can start to see aliasing in icons and other home screen elements. The viewing angle is wide, but the display looks slightly recessed behind the glass, not bonded to it like with higher-end phones. The screen gets pretty bright, but that gap seems to add some glare and reflectivity that makes using the phone in bright outdoor light somewhat difficult.

The G Vista connects to Verizon's CDMA (800/1900MHz) and LTE (Bands 4/13) networks, which means fast speeds on the new XLTE bands. Call quality was unexceptional in my tests. Voices coming through the earpiece were a tad harsh and treble heavy, while transmissions through the mic sounded thin and distant. Noise cancellation was average, drowning out nearby conversations, but struggling with wind buffeting. In my tests, the massive 3,200mAh battery was good for an outstanding 23 hours, 45 minutes of continuous talk time.

Dual-band 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, and NFC radios round out the wireless connectivity options. The G Vista had no issue connecting to an Era by Jawbone Bluetooth headset.

Performance and Android
Powering the G Vista is a quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 SoC with 1.5GB RAM. This same setup can be found in a whole host of budget-friendly devices from the Motorola Moto G to the HTC Desire 816, another big-screen phablet. Performance, as you might expect, is essentially identical between all of these handsets, with any differences stemming from software customizations. LG's Optimus UI has gone through some refinements, but it's still a heavier load than HTC's skin. As such, some animations can stutter and feel a bit delayed, especially compared with the near-stock Android running on the Moto G.

Related Story See How We Test Cell Phones

The G Vista runs Android 4.4 with the aforementioned Optimus UI skin. It has the same flat, modern look that debuted with the G3 and also benefits from some of the same useful software tweaks. QSlide and dual window multitasking really help take advantage of the added screen real estate. I had no issue watching YouTube videos while browsing the Web, and I love having the ability to reply to texts and emails without having to leave the app I'm in. KnockOn and KnockCode let you tap on the display to wake and unlock the G Vista, and if you have an LG tablet, QPair lets you sync your notifications between your smartphone and tablet.

For easier one-handed operation, you can set the keyboard or dialpad to appear shrunken down on the left or right edges and shrink the entire screen down so you can reach every corner with one thumb. LG also lets you switch around the Android navigation button order and program the rear volume keys to launch straight into any app from sleep.

Of the 8GB of total internal storage, 3.7GB is available to users out of the box. Our 64GB microSD card worked fine, but moving apps to the SD card isn't always an option in Android 4.4 and that low storage will fill up quickly with titles like Asphalt 8 passing the 1GB mark. The usual Amazon and Verizon preloads are here and, frustratingly, Verizon is still pushing its Messages+ app as the default for SMS and MMS. You can change it by digging into the settings menu, but I wish you didn't have to.

Camera and Conclusions
The 8-megapixel, rear-facing camera features the same laser autofocus system that debuted with the G3. Focus was speedy in my tests, but not appreciably quicker than a Galaxy S5 or HTC One (M8). Image quality isn't nearly as good as what you get with the G3's 16-megapixel camera, but it should suffice for Web uploads. Outdoors and in bright light, images look sharp and true to life. Dynamic range isn't great, though, and the G Vista struggled with more challenging lighting in my tests. Indoors and in low light, details start to look smudged, but colors remain accurate and the image noise isn't a huge issue in reasonable lighting. Video tops out at 1080p resolution and footage looks full of detail with steady frame rates, even in low light.

Though it doesn't quite rehabilitate the tainted Vista name, the LG G Vista has a lot to offer for big-screen fans on a budget. The 720p display is on par with phones in this price range, like the Huawei Ascend Mate2 or HTC Desire 816. You're not getting a ton of power, especially compared with phablets like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, but for most tasks you probably won't notice a difference. Spending that extra $50 for the Note 3 is definitely worth considering, as that phablet has a sharper 1080p AMOLED display and unbeatable built-in stylus. It's also worth noting that at the time of this writing, Verizon lists the G3 at $100 with a two-year contract—it's only slightly smaller with a 5.5-inch display, but blows the G Vista out of the water in every other way.

View the original article here


Pros Basic plan can host up to six domains. Low cost of entry. Lengthy 60-day money back guarantee window. Free domain transfer. Capable website building tools. Unlimited email accounts.

Cons Phone support could use some improvement. Bottom Line Arvixe's pricing, flexible website-building tools, and domain-hosting chops makes it a Web hosting service that should not be overlooked.

By Jeffrey L. Wilson

Creating a website isn't easy, and neither is picking a good Web hosting service. Fortunately, Arvixe (starting at $7 per month, or $4 per month with a two-year commitment) stands out from the very crowded pack with a number of user- and wallet-friendly Web hosting plans that let you create multiple domains, quickly set up e-commerce, and, if necessary, get a refund within a rather lengthy 60-day money back guarantee window. Arvixe could use some improvements to its telephone tech support, but overall it's a great Web hosting service and PCMag's Editors' Choice. I tested Arvixe's basic Linux Web hosting (Windows hosting is also available) and e-commerce plans, which cost a total of $7 per month and didn't include a set-up fee.

Compare Selected

PersonalClass and BusinessClass Hosting Packages
Arvixe, like competing Web hosting services 1&1 and GoDaddy, offers a standard monthly Web hosting charge, but kicks savings your way if you commit to a multi-month or annual package. Unlike GoDaddy, Arvixe lets you choose a one-month plan with any package tier; GoDaddy requires you to sign up for its pricier Deluxe or Ultimate plans (starting at $8.99 and $14.99, respectively) to receive a one-month option. If you're looking to pay for Web hosting on a month-to-month basis, Arvixe is an attractive solution.

The service's PersonalClass shared hosting package (in which your website shares servers with many other websites) includes a free domain name that you can keep as long as you use Arvixe, a free domain transfer, unlimited storage, and the ability to host a whopping six domains—1&1 and GoDaddy limit you to just one domain with their most basic services. If you plan on building multiple websites, Arvixe is the way to go.

Arvixe also offers BusinessClass hosting (starting at $30 per month, or $22 per month with a two-year commitment) that increases your website's reliability and uptime by decreasing the number of sites with which you share your server. It also gives you a dedicated IP address, a free SSL certificate, and the ability to host six domains. BusinessClass Pro (starting at $42 per month, or $35 per month with a two-year commitment) adds unlimited domain hosting.

VPSClass and DedicatedClass Servers
Arvixe's VPSClass virtual private servers plan starts at $30 per month, or $20 per month with a two-year commitment. The DedicatedClass dedicated server plan starts at $130 per month, or $1,296 per year with a one-year commitment. Both offer more server power than the shared hosting servers. If you expect high traffic volumes, these are the Web hosting packages that you should check out.

If you decide to go the Arvixe dedicated server route, you should know that they come in a variety of CPU, RAM, RAID, and storage configurations. Arvixe's high-end dedicated servers start at $719 per month (dual 2GHz Intel Xeon CPUs, 32GB of RAM, four 240GB SSDs, Raid 10 alignment). The highest-end 1&1 dedicated server starts at $599 per month (dual 2.1 GHz, six-core AMD Opteron 6272 CPUs, 64GB of RAM, 2,400GB HDD, RAID 6 alignment). GoDaddy's most-powerful dedicated server starts at a relatively low $299 (four-core Intel i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, two 2TB hard drives), but as you add RAID, Control Panel, and other features, the total cost quickly rises.

Arvixe has an impressive 60-day money back guarantee that bests 1&1's 30-day money back guarantee. Read Arvixe's terms of service for full details.


Setting Up an Arvixe Hosted Site
RVSiteBuilder, a website-construction tool included with Arvixe's hosting packages, is what I used to build a test site: superfuntechax.com. RVSiteBuilder prompted me to key in my site's name, an optional slogan, and essential page categories (such as About Us, Contact, Home, and so on). After saving my selections, I clicked the Edit icon to begin shaping my site.

RVSitebuilder offers far more site construction options than 1&1's WebsiteBuilder, but it wasn't overwhelming; it was easy to drag-and-drop text, add images, and change the template and color scheme. Unlike 1&1's WebsiteBuilder, RVSiteBuilder lets you add your own code to the prefabricated elements, which opens the door to a more custom look. In fact, 1&1 requires you to subscribe to WebsiteBuilder Plus ($9.99 per month) to add code.

That said, I preferred GoDaddy's flexible Website Builder ($1 per month) even more. Its creation process made it super-simple to add forms, social media links, Google Maps, slideshows, and other items by dragging them around the template. It contained the most-attractive site elements, too.

Arvixe's Softaculous library has dozens of apps that can be used to improve your website, including ClipBucket, Podcast Generator, and WordPress. Arvixe also offers WordPress hosting (starting at $7 per month, or $4 per month with a two-year commitment) that's "finely tuned" for WordPress installations. Arvixe keeps the WordPress software up to date, and it has security measures in place to ward off hackers and malware.

Setting Up a WordPress Blog
Arvixe makes it incredibly simple to setup a WordPress blog. I did so by visiting the Softaculous app library, installing WordPress, selecting the superfuntechax.com URL from a drop-down menu, entering my WordPress username and password, and clicking the Install icon. That's it!

Setting up WordPress on an Avrixe server was a bit easier than doing so on a GoDaddy server. For some unexplained reason, GoDaddy required that I first delete a database before installing WordPress. It was simple to do, but I could imagine less-skilled users being intimidated to execute such a drastic-sounding action.

View the original article here


HostMonster Starts at $6.95 per month with a one-year contract.By Jeffrey L. Wilson

Web hosting is the foundation of building a website and, fortunately, HostMonster (starting at $6.95 per month with a one-year contract) offers many shared and dedicated options for constructing your pages. HostMonster's most basic package offers a free URL, unlimited bandwidth, and knowledgeable customer service representatives. Still, it has a few issues that prevent it from toppling Arvixe, PCMag's Editors' Choice for Web hosting services. I tested HostMonster's basic Starter Web hosting plan, as well as its ecommerce and site-building options. I spent a total of $83.40, which is one of the highest costs of entry I've seen in the Web hosting space.

Compare Selected

Shared Web Hosting Packages
HostMonster doesn't offer month-to-month Web hosting options. Instead, it requires you to sign up for an annual plan. HostMonster throws a few savings bones your way, should you sign up for a two- or three-year plan, but those who don't want lengthy commitments should invest in Arvixe if they want to pay on a monthly basis.

The Starter shared hosting package (starting at $6.95 per month with a one-year contract) includes a free domain name that you can keep as long as you use HostMonster, free domain transfer, 100GB of storage, unlimited bandwidth, and the ability to host a single website—Arvixe lets you host six domains with its basic plan. The HostMonster Plus package (starting at $14.95 per month with a one-year contract) adds unlimited storage, unlimited domain hosting, and spam prevention. The Business Plus package (starting at $19.95 per month with a one-year contract) tops all of HostMonster's shared hosting plans with a dedicated IP address, an SSL certificate, and two anti-spam apps.


Virtual and Dedicated Web Hosting Packages
HostMonster also offers virtual private server (starting at $29.99 per month) and dedicated server (starting at $149 per month) plans. These servers have more power than shared servers, and should be considered must-have investments if you're expecting high traffic volumes.

HostMonster's dedicated servers are available in a variety of CPU, RAM, RAID, and storage configurations. The highest-end dedicated server starts at $249 per month (quad-core 3.3GHz Intel Xenon CPU, 16GB of RAM, 1TB Raid 1 storage, 15 TB of bandwidth). Arvixe's high-end dedicated servers start at $719 (dual 2GHz Intel Xeon CPUs, 32GB of RAM, four 240GB SSDs, RAID 10 alignment).

HostMonster hosting packages come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, but Arvixe one-ups it with an impressive 60-day money back guarantee. Read HostMonster's terms of service for full details.

Setting Up a HostMonster Hosted Site
HostMonster gives you several tools for building a website, including Weebly, our Editors' Choice for Web-based site-builders. Weeby's drag-and-drop functionality let me quickly build an attractive page complete with slideshows, contact forms, social media links, and more.

Weebly's free version gives you basic Weebly functionality (you can create six pages and add custom HTML), but upgrading to the $8.95 per month Professional tier offers even more flexibility (custom themes, password protected pages, and more). Check out our Weebly review for a deeper dive into its offerings.

View the original article here

Gateway DX4885-UR2D

Pros Lots of of internal expansion space. 10GB of memory. Lots of I/O ports. Nice price.

Cons No Wi-Fi. Lots of bloatware. 300-watt power supply. Bottom Line Talk about bang for your buck. With a powerful CPU and 10GB of memory, the Gateway DX4885-UR2D budget desktop offers stellar performance without taking a huge bite out of your wallet.

By Joel Santo Domingo

The Gateway DX4885-UR2D ($599) is a budget desktop PC with stellar performance for the price, thanks to a powerful Intel Core i5 processor and a whopping 10GB of memory. In fact, the DX4885-UR2D has enough power and expandability to last at least four to six years before it will start to feel slow. It has all the features that a general user will need, plus extra memory that will keep the system relevant for far longer than a bargain-basement system with 4GB. For all these reasons, it's our latest Editors' Choice for budget desktop PCs.

Compare Selected

Design and Features
The DX4885-UR2D uses the basic, black chassis we've seen time and again, most recently in the Gateway DX4870-UB2B, the former Editors' Choice for budget desktops. It has some flourishes, like the flying-bridge-style extension on the top that contains the headphone and microphone jacks, an SD card slot, and two USB 3.0 ports. This midsize tower measures 17.25 by 7 by 17 inches (HWD), so you may want to keep it under your desk.

The rear panel houses an HDMI port, audio jacks, a DisplayPort, a gigabit Ethernet port, two PS/2 ports (for older keyboards and mice) and a VGA port. There are also two USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 ports. This arrangement will give you more flexibility in terms of where you can plug in peripherals, moreso than compact PCs like the Asus Chromebox M004U and the Zotac Zbox Sphere OI520 Plus (aside from the fact that the Asus system doesn't run Windows).

The 10GB of memory—almost unheard of in budget systems, which typically come with 4GB—means you can open a few dozen browser tabs with impunity, or multitask to your heart's content. Hard drive space is also plentiful, with a 1TB, 7,200rpm SATA hard drive on board. There's a DVD burner, so you can install programs from CD or DVDs. You can add another hard drive, another optical drive, and a single DIMM memory stick to the system's interior. Other expansion options include a single PCIe x16 graphics card slot, and two PCIe x1 slots. There's also a short Mini-PCIe card slot for a WLAN card and a longer one for an mSATA solid-state drive (SSD). Neither is included in this configuration, but you can add one later if you're handy.

This is a lot of potential expansion, but Gateway DX4885-UR2D
it's tempered by the 300-watt power supply unit (PSU), which limits what kind of upgrades can be installed. For example, the included PSU won't support high-end graphics cards like the Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 Ti. We do wish that Gateway had included a Wi-Fi adapter to supplement the Gigabit Ethernet port. Wi-Fi offers you more options in term of the placement of your new PC, since you won't have to run a wire from the router to the desktop.

The system comes with Microsoft Windows 8.1, which has some enhancements (like new close boxes in the Metro interface) that make it a more tolerable choice for users without a touch screen. Folks who really miss the old Windows 7 interface should enable "Boot into Desktop" mode to avoid using the Start interface entirely.

The system comes with a lot of bloatware. This is unfortunate, since the Start menu looks a lot like a Times Square billboard when you see the plethora of tiles for Amazon, Booking.com, Chacha, eBay, Hulu Plus, Wild Tangent Games, Zinio, and another dozen software packages and websites. Plan on at least an hour or two to get rid of all the programs you plan to use. The system comes with a one-year warranty.

Gateway DX4885-UR2D The DX4885-UR2D comes with a fourth-generation Intel Core i5-4440 processor with Intel HD 4600 graphics, as well as the aforementioned 10GB of system memory and the 1TB hard drive. All of these components translate into very good benchmark scores for this system, compared with other budget PCs. It scored 3,027 points on the PCMark 8 Work Conventional test, which measures performance on day-to-day tasks. Compact budget systems with ultrabook-class processors, like the Zotac Zotac Zbox Sphere OI520 Plus and the Polywell i2304-i5, were several hundred points behind. The DX4885-UR2D also excelled at the 3DMark Cloud Gate test (6,209 points), handily beating all the systems we compared it to, like the Acer Aspire AZ3-615-UR15 and the Lenovo C260 Touch all-in-one PC. It also topped the multimedia tests like Handbrake (1 minute 30 seconds), CineBench R15 (467 points), and Adobe Photoshop CS6 (3:54) among budget PCs. This system is set up to do light content-creation duties, like making graphics for a tri-fold poster at a science fair, or even photo editing at a hobbyist level.

Aside from relatively minor nits, like the bloatware and lack of Wi-Fi, the Gateway DX4885-UR2D is exactly what we'd recommend if you want value for the money in your new, general-purpose PC. It has enough performance to handle basic productivity tasks, and it's a traditional form factor that will be reassuringly familiar to people who are used to the look of tower PCs. It's a powerful replacement for the Gateway DX4870-UB2B, with more memory, a faster processor, and a faster hard drive. Thus, the Gateway DX4885-UR2D earns our latest Editors' Choice for budget desktop PCs.

View the original article here

Motorola Moto X (2014, AT&T)

Pros Vastly improved display and processor over its predecessor. Beautiful design. Wide variety of hardware customizations available. Solid voice command implementation. Stellar call quality. Clean, near-stock Android 4.4 UI. Will be upgradable immediately to Android L once available. Low entry price.

Cons Inconsistent camera performance. Tons of carrier bloatware. No memory card slot. Battery isn't removable. Bottom Line The second-generation Motorola Moto X smartphone is a welcome return to form, thanks to its excellent performance and smooth, unadulterated Android 4.4 interface.

By Jamie Lendino

The market has spoken. And by and large, the masses don't care about stock Android. That doesn't mean there are no fans. Many crave unadulterated Android, and are often forced to pay extra up front to get an unlocked phone—albeit with more flexibility and a better deal down the road as a result. That need comes to an end with the new, second-generation Moto X ($99 with two-year contract; 16GB), a highly appealing slab that should siphon off more than a few buyers otherwise headed to Samsung, HTC, or LG waters. Motorola still has some work to do with the rear camera. But the new Moto X is a stunning phone with beautiful build quality, excellent performance, and a tempting up-front price, making it our latest Editors' Choice for Android phones on AT&T.

Compare Selected

Design and Display
This time around, Motorola went right for the high end of the market, instead of settling for distinctly midrange the way it did with the first Moto X. The new model measures 5.54 by 2.85 by 0.39 inches (HWD), tapering to just 0.15 inches deep at the edges, and weighs 5.08 ounces. Honestly, it's gorgeous. The aluminum frame is nicely tapered and looks slick, with the now-trademark curved back panel. That said, it's no longer sized for single-handed use, which may disappoint existing Moto X fans.

The 5.2-inch Corning Gorilla Glass AMOLED display is up half an inch over the previous model, and is now full HD (1080p) with a tight 423 pixels per inch (ppi). It's not the insane 538ppi you get with the LG G3, but no one short of a superhero can see the difference in most cases, and it's a marked jump from the older model's 4.7-inch, 720p, 316ppi screen. More important is the panel's actual quality, and in this case the Moto X shines. It's super-bright, and colors are vivid and truly pop. Many will buy this phone just for the display and materials quality alone.

Thanks to the second generation of Moto Maker, you can customize your new phone to a pretty insane extent. Our first test unit came with a premium leather back cover, which certainly looks and feels nice, but it's easily scratched (as is to be expected); you can also get the leather in Natural, Cognac, and Navy. Our other test handset has a stunning and unique-looking wood-grained back panel. You can get the Moto X in Teak, Walnut, and Ebony wood finishes, and there's a wide variety of plastic colors and accents too numerous to cover here available as well.

If you don't opt for customization, you can choose either a white front panel with a silver metal frame, or a black panel with a dark metal frame—along with matching white or black charger. The entire housing and glass panel have a water-repellent nano-coating for resisting spills and rain.

For controls, the right edge holds a metal Power button and a Volume rocker. The top edge has a center-mounted 3.5mm headphone jack and a covered micro SIM card slot with a pinhole cover opening. The bottom edge contains a standard micro USB port, while the back panel holds the camera sensor and ring-shaped flash (more on this later) and a prominent, indented Motorola logo. On the front panel, the top edge has an oversize earpiece speaker and a pinhole front camera sensor, while the bottom edge holds the main microphone. Unfortunately, there's no microSD card slot, just like with the prior Moto X. A 32GB model is available through Moto Maker, but pricing hasn't yet been announced. If you need expandable storage, take a look at the Samsung Galaxy S5, the LG G3, or the HTC One (M8)

Connectivity, Voice Quality, and Battery Life
The Moto X on AT&T supports EDGE (850/900/1800/1900 MHz), HSPA+ (850/900/1800/1900/2100 MHz), and 4G LTE (01/03/07/08/20), and 802.11a/g/b/n/ac Wi-Fi on both the 2.4 and 5GHz bands. There are also NFC and Bluetooth 4.0LE radios. Motorola says the new Moto X will be available on AT&T and Verizon. But judging from the reviewer's guide we received, there will also be models compatible with both Sprint and T-Mobile's networks, so I wouldn't rule those out. In a series of tests just outside of Manhattan, my AT&T test unit averaged a brisk 20Mbps down and 9Mbps up, reflecting a less congested network more than anything else.

Motorola phones have had excellent voice quality for years, thanks to their proprietary CrystalTalk system, a wideband noise cancellation and voice isolation algorithm. Voices sound clear and crisp through the earpiece, with plenty of gain. Transmissions through the microphone were clear in my tests, with a slightly hollow sound to my voice compared with an iPhone 5s. Reception was solid. There are now four mics in this phone instead of three, making it the most sophisticated implementation I've seen yet; the Moto X made quick work of silencing an air conditioner I was sitting right next to while speaking through the mic, without damaging the sound of my voice.

I had no trouble pairing a Jawbone Era Bluetooth headset—although for voice dialing you'll want to set up Motorola's voice activation, as the stock voice dialer is poor. The Moto X's speakerphone sounds clear and is easily loud enough to use outdoors. The 2,300mAh battery is just a slight bump over the prior Moto X's 2,200mAh pack. Motorola says if you buy the optional Turbo Charger, you can get eight hours of juice with just 15 minutes of charge. Unfortunately, the battery isn't removable; another consequence of the seamless hardware design. It lasted a stellar 17 hours, 46 minutes on our talk time rundown test.

View the original article here

Dynasty Warriors: Gundam Reborn (for PlayStation 3)

Pros Decent hack-and-slash action. More than 100 mobile suits and pilots to unlock. Loads of Gundam fan service.

Cons Repetitive action. Simplistic presentation. No original Gundam music. Unlocking content takes too much grinding. Bottom Line It's Dynasty Warriors with a Mobile Suit Gundam paint job. In other words, it's fun for fans of the legendary anime, but everyone else who wants to battle thousand-men armies may want to look at Dynasty Warriors 8 instead.

By Timothy Torres

The combination of Dynasty Warriors and Gundam, two of the most popular properties in Japan, is the kind of synergistic opportunity that would make Jack Donaghy blush. One casts you as a single warrior who turns the tide of battle by running about, capturing land, and defeating hundreds of foes. The other is a long-running anime franchise known for multiple timelines of intricate plots, a diverse range of characters, and a penchant for antiwar sermonizing. Crossbreed the two and you get Dynasty Warriors: Gundam Reborn, a beat-em-up that retells the events of five Gundam shows and unites over 100 of the eponymous robots into one decent, if shallow, digital package.

Compare Selected

That's right, digital, as in download only. Dynasty Warriors: Gundam Reborn, due to its niche appeal, can only be found on PlayStation 3's PlayStation Network service. Gundam fans with the hard drive space to spare should jump on it. Otherwise, you may just want to rewatch your Gundam DVDs and spring for Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends Complete Edition.

It's a Gundam!
While Mobile Suit Gundam is one of the most successful TV shows in Japan—so much so that there's a museum and a 60-foot statue dedicated to the titular mech in Tokyo—it barely made a dent in the United States' popular culture. Unless you remember it from when it was on Cartoon Network 15 years ago, you may be unfamiliar with characters like Amuro Ray, Char Aznable, and Kamille Bidan.

That's okay, because this game is strictly for the fans. Specifically, fans of Mobile Suit Gundam, Zeta Gundam, Char's Counterattack, Gundam SEED, Gundam SEED Destiny, and the recent Gundam Unicorn. Those are the shows whose storylines Dynasty Warriors: Gundam Reborn retells in its Official Mode.

Official Mode consists of short battle missions punctuated by static, 2D story interludes complete with Japanese voice acting and subtitles. These scenes are serviceable and purists will appreciate the original voiceovers, but they're too brief and leave out far too many details. Newcomers will not understand the motivations of the characters or the conflicts they're in. Major characters from the shows pop in and out, and entire ideas like Newtypes and battle plans aren't properly explained. If you want to experience these stories for real, I recommend watching the original shows or movies. Otherwise, these segments amount to Cliff's Notes that set up the playable missions.

Mission Accomplished?
The missions play out like your standard Dynasty Warriors game. As one of many Gundam characters (for example, Amuro Ray in his original RX-78 Gundam or Heero Yuy in Wing Gundam) piloting a mobile suit—the in-universe term for "mech"—you shift the flow of war by defeating enemies and capturing land. There are light strategy and RPG elements, but for the most part Gundam Reborn is a mindless beat-'em-up.

The game's light strategy involves rushing all over the map to defend certain areas, save characters who are in danger, protect friendly ships, and sometimes shoot down specific enemy ships or defeat specific enemy units. A handy objective box in the corner notifies you of all possible changes to the mission. There is a slight thrill to zipping around to help friends, but the solution is always to mash buttons. There are combos, but they all amount to the same basic action: slash, slash, slash, with the occasional laser shot thrown in. Deep, this isn't.

There are over 100 Gundams and partner characters (who aid you during special attacks) to unlock. That means grinding through mission after mission to achieve random objectives like attaining arbitrary amounts of money or completing missions on different difficulties.

Some CG cut scenes interrupt the action to recreate famous scenes from the show. They look great, but the rest of the game's graphics would look more at home on the PlayStation 2. The soundtrack, which lacks many of the iconic Gundam themes and songs, is similarly drab.

The light RPG elements mainly revolved around combining mobile suit plans. These plans, which you find on the battlefield as reward pick-ups, affect your mobile suit's parameters for such things as defense, energy, and special attack gauges. You can also swap out some parts for your mobile suits. The plans and part-swapping provide a modicum of depth, but the only way to deal with them is between missions via unwieldy menus. I wish Tecmo Kei had streamlined this process.

Is Gundam Worth it?
That's the extent of Dynasty Warrior: Gundam Reborn, collecting and playing with your favorite Gundam action figures through a best-of catalog of Gundam stories. There's nothing wrong with that, and there's definitely some satisfaction in destroying entire mobile-suit armies, but all that effort becomes a repetitious blur pretty quickly.

Pull the trigger if you're a Gundam superfan. Otherwise, there are better Dynasty Warriors games out there, such as the recent Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends Complete Edition. That game contains deeper combat, more interesting play modes, and looks marginally better (though the PC version has quite a few problems). Better still, wait and see how the Tecmo Koei/Nintendo case of synergy turns out when Hyrule Warriors hits store shelves later this year.

View the original article here

Asus RT-AC87 Dual-band Wireless-AC2400 Gigabit Router

Pros Excellent 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11n throughput. Next-generation 4x4 wireless technology. Automatic notification of new firmware. New security and QoS features.

Cons Worse throughput and range in 802.11ac mode than recent, less-expensive Asus routers. Enabling QoS did not reduce time to buffer and stream video. Pricey. Bottom Line The Asus RT-AC87 Dual-band Wireless-AC2400 Gigabit Router is the first 4x4 wireless router on the market. It's an exciting excellent device, but until there are compatible adapters, there's not much to set it apart from Asus's last 802.11ac router.

By Samara Lynn

The next generation of wireless routers is here. These routers, which the industry refers to as "Wave 2," have new internal hardware that can provide theoretical Wi-Fi speeds of over 2Gbps. The first to market is the Asus RT-AC87 Dual-band Wireless-AC2400 Gigabit Router ($269.99). It's a big, bad, fast router, but frankly it's not more impressive than the last Asus router I tested, the less-expensive Editors' Choice-winning RT-AC68U Dual-band Wireless-AC1900 Gigabit Router, at least a far as speeds and range go. Where the RT-AC87 shines is with several new features and an enhanced user interface.

Compare Selected

Part of what makes the RT-AC87 a next-gen router is Quantenna's 4x4 MIMO chipset. This means that instead of the triple transmit/receive signal stream of dual-band routers, next-gen routers send and receive four streams. The component is also designed with enhanced, multiuser Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO), which allows for the multiple data streams. This is engineering with the goal of delivering faster throughput and better range at the 5GHz band.

Asus's newest router also has a 1GHz, two-core Broadcom BCM4709 processor. It supports up to 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz band, 600Mbps at 5GHz in 802.11N mode, and up to 1,734Mbps at 5GHz in 802.11ac mode.

This is the largest Asus router I've ever tested. Its dimensions are 2.0 by 11.5 by 5.5 inches (HWD), and it weighs 1.97 pounds. The RT-AC68U Dual-band Wireless-AC1900 Gigabit Router is representative of previous Asus routers that have crossed my bench, measuring 6.0 by 8.0 by 6.3 inches (HWD) and weighing 1.4 pounds. Another difference is that the RT-AC87 has four external antennas, whereas previous ASUS models have had three.

This new, larger router, unlike prior Asus routers, is meant to operate exclusively horizontally. Cooling vents run along the sides and bottom. The housing has the same sharp design of other Asus routers, with the company's signature diamond pattern. One difference from prior models: the Asus logo is silver rather than gold. Overall, it's a large, stately looking device—at least as far as routers go!

Setting up the 'Next-Gen' Router
Asus has adopted the current setup method of other router manufacturers—shipping the device with the wireless network and admin credentials already established. The information for connecting to the network and the admin account credentials are printed on the bottom of the device.

After I wirelessly connected to the RT-AC87 from my Windows laptop, I fired up a browser and was redirected to the router's browser-based setup wizard. I love the fact that any Asus router I've tested forces you to change the default admin password—other companies, take note!

The wizard breezes you through basic setup, making it a snap to make a WAN connection, set a wireless name, and creating a passphrase. It even rates the strength of the password you create. After finishing these settings, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the interface automatically notified me that a new firmware update was available. This auto-notification of new software was a part of any of the previous Asus routers I tested, but it should have been.

View the original article here

Tiranium Premium Security 2014

Pros 100-percent detection in our hands-on malware blocking test. Decent detection of malicious downloads.

Cons No results from independent antivirus testing labs. Firewall did nothing in our tests. No blocking of malicious or phishing URLs. Red Alert feature easy to invoke by accident, hard to shut off. Website, documentation, and user interface riddled with spelling and grammar errors. Bottom Line Tiranium Premium Security 2014 did well in my hands-on malware blocking test, but the independent labs haven't weighed in. The bonus firewall didn't do anything in our tests, though, and the quality of other features varied. It's a good first effort.

By Neil J. Rubenking

The vast majority of my antivirus reviews cover new versions of old, familiar products. Getting hold of a brand-new product like Tiranium Premium Security 2014 ($25.94 per year) is like a breath of fresh air. Tiranium does some things really well, but like many version 1.0 products, it needs a little work.

Compare Selected

That $25.94 price may seem a little odd, but in its homeland of France, Tiranium costs a sensible €19.95 per year. There's also a free edition, but it's seriously limited feature-wise. In particular, it lacks the premium version's Real-Time Intelligent Suspicious Activities Scans, Intelligent Privacy Protection, and Real-Time Behavioral Cloud Scans. Support isn't available 24/7 with the free version, and it lacks the premium edition's More Faster Boot.

That phrase brings up another issue. Throughout the product and the company's website, you'll discover odd quirks of spelling and language. It's clear that the developers aren't native English speakers. An ad touts the premium edition as "more stronger," the installer warns, "The first time, this take a time to launch," and the welcome screen thanks you for "purshashing" the product, promising help if needed after "the manually scan of your computer."

These little errors don't prove anything about the quality of the code, but they show a certain sloppiness, as does the fact that the installer is not digitally signed. In addition, the Action Center in Windows doesn't recognize the product, so it warns that you have no antivirus or firewall protection. That level of carelessness is harder to ignore than the poor English.

Simple Settings
The slightly busy main window emphasizes that help is available and reports in detail on your system status. It provides simple statistics about protection and updates. Three switches let you toggle real-time protection, firewall services, and Web protection (this last feature is not yet implemented).

A single, non-scrolling page of settings controls things like auto-update, quick scan at startup, and notification sounds. It also lets you view and change three hotkeys. One is designed to wrest control away from screen-hogging ransomware. Another replaces explorer.exe with a backup made at the time you installed Tiranium. And a third activates Tiranium's Red Alert mode (more about that later).

The hotkey combinations are all simple Alt+letter combos. You can change the letter, but you can't force, for example, Ctrl+Alt+Shift. Users are bound to invoke these by accident sooner or later, with potentially alarming results. I'd like to see full flexibility to define any key combination as a hotkey, with defaults that aren't likely to be triggered accidentally.


Too New to Know
My Tiranium contact says the company plans to submit Tiranium for testing by Virus Bulletin soon. Right now, though, none of the labs have put the product through their tests. That's a shame, because the independent labs have enough resources to very thoroughly evaluate antivirus effectiveness in a variety of ways. I consider their results more important than my own hands-on tests, but sometimes my own tests are all that's available.

In addition, I consider the dynamic testing performed by AV-Test Institute, AV-Comparatives, and Dennis Technology Labs superior to the simple static detection testing performed by Virus Bulletin. If Tiranium takes off, the company will need it to undergo some of these tests.

View the original article here