Review: Updated: Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Update: We've updated our Surface Pro 3 review with (brief) impressions of Microsoft's new Surface Hub app. Head on over to Page 3 of this article to see what we think of the new app so far.

Knock it for the Windows 8 launch. Lay into it for how it debuted the Xbox One. But, when it comes to its latest product, the Surface Pro 3, don't pull out the torches and pitchforks just yet – Microsoft is onto something here.

Over the past few years, the Redmond, Wash. Windows maker has proved to be one of the bolder technology companies, for better or worse. Microsoft clearly isn't afraid to fall on its face in the hope of landing on what in the world tech users want next in this turbulent market, and the Surface Pro 3 is – well, it just might be an exception.

The company has been hammering away at what it considers is a problem with tablets for years. Since the launch of the Surface Pro, Microsoft has sought after the ultimate mobile computing device, one that could replace the laptop with a tablet-first approach.

All five versions of the Surface Pro are available now in the US, UK and Australia. They are: 64GB / Intel Core-i3 ($799), 128GB / Core-i5 ($999), 256GB / Core-i5 ($1,299), 256GB / Core-i7 ($1,549) and 512GB / Core-i7 ($1,949).

It's also available in many more countries, including 25 new markets for the first time. According to Microsoft, the device has proved such a popular debutant in those markets that it's struggled to meet demand. "For those of you waiting for Surface Pro 3 (or for the specific version that is just right for you): hang tight, we are shipping in new products as fast as we can," Microsoft wrote in a blog post on September 12. "We should be in a much better position in the next week or two."

The Surface Pro 3 is closer than Microsoft has ever been to making good on its mobile computing vision. After over a week with the slate, I'd go so far as to say that the Pro 3 is closer than any laptop-tablet hybrid released yet.

Microsoft was so sure of itself that not only did it directly compare the Pro 3 to Apple's iPad Air and 13-inch MacBook Air, it gave members of the press pre-release Surface Pro 3 units during an announcement event in New York. Sure, the units have bugs as of this review, but who cares?

Wi-Fi was the most niggling issue, but it looks like Microsoft's fixed it since the device was released on June 20, according to various reports. The most recent update released to fix Wi-Fi related issues was made available to Surface Pro 3 owners on November 19, and it was a big one. Called Wireless Network Controller and Bluetooth driver update, it focused on improving performance when waking from sleep and connecting to a 802.11ac Wi-Fi network. That update also brought improvements around behaviour of the device when waking up from sleep mode using the Home Button or the Surface Pen.

"I forced the giving away of the device, just so you're aware," Surface team lead Panos Panay told me just after the reveal. "I said, 'You know what? I want the product in people's hands.' 'But the bugs are still there. They're not all done until June 20, until it's on market.' I don't care. The purity of the device is still true, and on June 20 there will be more drops."

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 review

One look at the thing might explain Panay's eagerness to get the Surface Pro 3. It's no iPad Air, that's for sure, but the iPad Air isn't packing a 12-inch display.

Yes, Microsoft bumped the Surface Pro touchscreen from a tiny 10.6 inches to a far roomier 12 inches. In the process, the pixel count has been upped from 1920 x 1080 to 2160 x 1440 The result is a modest boost in pixels per inch – 207 ppi to 216 ppi – given the increase in screen real estate.

More important is Microsoft's interesting choice in aspect ratio. Rather than sticking with the Pro 2's 16:9 or glomming onto the iPad's 4:3, the firm went with a 3:2 aspect ratio. The company claims that, with this aspect ratio, this 12-inch screen can actually display more content than the MacBook Air's 13.3-inch panel at 16:10. The move was also made to make the tablet feel more like your average notepad when held in portrait orientation.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 review

Wrapped in a bright, silver-colored magnesium shell that's cool and smooth to the touch, the Surface Pro 3 feels premium in every regard. The tablet keeps the trapezoidal shape of its predecessors, but manages to come in both thinner and lighter than before. Plus, the tablet's upper half is beset by vents on its edges to better dissipate heat pushed out by its fan.

Microsoft also moved the Windows home button to the device's left side of its silky smooth – though, rather thick – glass bezel. This way, it appears on the bottom of the slate while held upright, calling out, 'Hey, hold it this way now.' While it's no doubt the lightest Surface Pro yet, I'm not sure whether I could hold onto it for an entire subway ride home.

Adorning both sides of the Pro 3 are 5MP cameras capable of 1080p video recording. While stills on either shooter won't blow you away, the front-facing lens should do just fine for Skype and the weekly video meeting over VPN.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 review

A tablet wouldn't be much of a laptop replacement without a keyboard, and the Surface Pro keyboard was in desperate need of a boost. Luckily, Microsoft sent the Type Cover back to the drawing board, and what came back is the best version yet. From keys with deeper travel and stronger feedback to a wider glass trackpad that actually clicks, nothing was off the table.

But the most important improvement is the brand new double hinge. Equipped with a strong magnet that latches onto the Pro 3's lower bezel, the Type Cover can now rest with just a portion of it touching your lap or desk. This proved to make writing on my lap much more stable than with previous Surface devices. (Plus, the plush cover comes in five colors: red, blue, cyan, black and purple.)

Tucked beside the Type Cover is also the newly improved Surface Pen. Microsoft made a point of calling its stylus that, because the firm wants it to be seen as and feel like the writing instrument we've all grown up with. With an aluminum finish and a useful clicker up top, the Surface Pen is weighted to better feel like a pen. Using Bluetooth and powered by N-trig, the stylus tracks closer to its physical position than ever before, thanks to some major improvements to the Surface screen.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 review

The new Surface Pro 3 unarguably has the look and feel of a premium product, so it only deserves to be stacked up against the most luxuriously built tablet and laptop around.


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Microsoft Docking Station for Surface Pro 3

Pros Adds connectivity to the Surface Pro 3 with five USB ports, Gigabit Ethernet, and Mini DisplayPort. Easy-latch mechanism. Magnetic stylus holder. Can be used with TypeCover keyboard.

Cons Pricey. No angle adjustment. Limited options for display and sound. Plastic construction. Security doesn't secure tablet. Bottom Line The Docking Station for Surface Pro 3 lets you use your latest-generation Microsoft tablet as a desktop PC, adding plenty of functionality. But it's expensive, and comes with some limitations.

By Brian Westover

When your tablet is your laptop, and your laptop is your desktop, it may not be enough to have one mobile device with limited features. Microsoft's Docking Station for Surface Pro 3 ($199.99) adds both features and functionality to the  Surface Pro 3, giving the latest-gen tablet an array of ports and connections to add USB devices, Ethernet, and external displays, letting you make the most of the Intel-Core-equipped PC as a desktop, as well as your mobile computing device.

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Design and Features
The Docking Station for Surface Pro 3 is an updated version of the design we saw on the original Microsoft Docking Station for Surface Pro, which was made for use with the older 11-inch Surface tablets. With the Surface Pro 3 expanding to 13 inches, the docking station gets an upgrade as well, with a larger, refined design.

The dock itself adds several ports: three USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, an audio jack, a Mini DisplayPort monitor output, and a Gigabit Ethernet port. Those who need a wired network connection now have that available, while most any user can benefit from an assortment of peripherals that can be used, from keyboards and mice to monitors and external storage. The dock also has a security lock slot, but because there's no way to physically lock the Surface tablet into the dock, it only manages to keep the dock itself from walking away and not the $1,300 tablet.

Microsoft Docking Station for Surface Pro 3

The dock has three main parts: a center portion that houses the various ports and connectors; and two extending side brackets that slide inward to lock the tablet in place. The bracket on the right connects the tablet for power and port replication through the fin-shaped power connector, while the left bracket has a magnetized panel to hold the Surface stylus conveniently at the ready. Unlike the magnesium-alloy used on the Surface itself, the docking station is made of black plastic.

Measuring 3.8 by 13 by 4.4 inches (HWD), the dock only comes about halfway up the sides of the tablet, so you'll still have access to the volume control buttons and Mini DisplayPort when the Surface is docked. The dock has a channel running along the bottom of the tablet bay, which holds your Surface in the correct position when opening and closing the dock.

The entire dock stands at an angle, Microsoft Docking Station for Surface Pro 3
leaning back 25 degrees, which puts the tablet at the same angle on your desk. While that will offer good visibility and touch-screen accessibility for most, it removes one of the most versatile features of the Surface Pro 3, the built-in adjustable kickstand. Instead of allowing you the full 22- to 150-degree adjustability offered by the tablet alone, you're stuck with the one position the dock has.

While many users will opt for a second keyboard for use in desktop mode, the Surface Type Cover ($129.99) can still be used when the tablet is docked, in either flat-to-the-table or folded-and-angled modes.

When connected to an external display through the Mini DisplayPort, the dock display output mirrors the tablet screen by default, but it can also be used as a second extended display. The Surface outputs up to 3,840-by-2,600 resolution, so you can use it to enjoy 4K content. Through the Mini DisplayPort, you can daisy-chain more than one monitor, giving you a multi-monitor setup for greater productivity. Unfortunately, the Mini DisplayPort is your only display output, and if your monitor relies on HDMI or DVI, you're out of luck unless you buy additional adapters. Microsoft sells a Surface-branded Mini DisplayPort HD AV (HDMI) Adapter for $39.99, but it doesn't support 4K, and there is no official adapter for DVI.

When docked, the audio from the tablet is silenced, shifting to either the speakers built into a connected display or external speakers connected through the audio jack. While that's great when you have those options, if your monitor has no built-in sound, or you don't have any external speakers, you'll find yourself without any sound at all.

Microsoft covers the Docking Station for Surface Pro 3 with a one-year warranty.

Conclusion
Obviously, the market for Surface docks is just a small subset of the people who own or may purchase a Surface, so this is a niche product. But if you own a Surface, is it worth the extra $200? With the option for 4K output and multiple displays, the addition of wired networking and an array of ports for storage and peripherals, the dock is definitely recommended for business users, letting you easily use the Surface as your primary PC while still being able to grab it and go for mobile use. For the average user who uses the Surface as a tablet first and a laptop replacement second, desktop use is quite a ways down the list of priorities, and the dock may not add a lot to the experience.


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Turtle Beach Earforce Stealth 500X Review | GB

"To paraphrase an old adage, “You don’t miss something till it’s gone” – and that’s exactly how I felt when reviewing the new Stealth 500X headset. You see, this premium headset from Turtle Beach is completely and utterly wireless – and it’s surprising just how liberating it is to be cable-free." (Tech, Turtle Beach) 9.5/10


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Lenovo Erazer X315

Pros Great 3D performance for the price. Expandable. Hybrid hard drive. 12GB of memory. 802.11ac Wi-Fi. Comes with code for three AAA games.

Cons Multimedia performance is little slower than that of the competition. Bottom Line The Lenovo Razer X315 is an entry-level gaming desktop with some room to grow. It's a great choice for the novice player or the veteran gamer who want to play older games.

By Joel Santo Domingo The Lenovo Erazer X315 ($799.99 as tested) is an entry-level desktop PC for budding hardcore gamers. It has the performance to play strenuous gaming titles today, with features that are usually lacking in even midrange gaming rigs, like a gaming–oriented power supply, extra memory, and a discrete graphics card. The system's mix of features, performance, future-proofing, and a nice price earns the Erazer X315 our Editors' Choice for budget gaming desktop PCs. Compare Selected

Design and Features
The black-colored, angled front panel of the Erazer X315 and matching mouse instantly communicate that this isn't a utilitarian midtower for the masses. The top, angled door covers a DVD burner, while the second pops open to give you access to a headphone jack, a microphone jack, an SD card reader, and two USB 3.0 ports (one with sleep-and-charge capability). The back panel holds surround-sound audio connectors, a DisplayPort, a DVI port, an Ethernet port, an HDMI port, two USB 2.0 ports, two more USB 3.0 ports, a VGA port, and the system's external Wi-Fi antenna. The faceted and blue-backlit Power button is shaped like the start button on a sports car.

Inside the chassis, you'll find a single 2TB+8GB solid-state hybrid drive (SSHD) (the 8GB SSD cache speeds operations like wake-from-sleep and reboots), along with an empty drive bay with a tool-less drive sled for another. There are three free SATA ports to service that drive, as well as a single DIMM slot to supplement the included 12GB of system memory. There's one PCIe x1 slot free, but since the system already comes with Bluetooth 4.0, Gigabit Ethernet, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi, we're not sure what you'd need it for. This is still a much more expandable chassis than the one on the Alienware X51-R2, the Maingear Spark, or the former Editors' Choice entry-level gaming desktop, the iBuypower Revolt A960 (AMD A10-6800K).

Lenovo Erazer X315

The system has a 450-watt power supply with two 6-pin power connectors. The included 2GB AMD Radeon R9 260 graphics card only uses one of the power connectors, which begs the question: Can you put a more powerful GPU in later down the line? The answer is yes, with caveats. Nvidia's GeForce GTX 980, for instance, requires two 6-pin power connectors, and a 500-watt power supply. I have a feeling that the Nvidia GTX 980 card will boot fine, but may run into power problems and clock itself down if you tax it.

The chassis is vented on both sides, but you'd hardly be able to hear the fan noise from the system, particularly after you've booted it up. The fans are much quieter than the banshee-like Maingear Spark, for example.

The SSHD has plenty of free space out of the box, but there are a few pre-loaded apps, including Daily Motion, Evernote, Google Play Music, High Tail, McAfee Security Center, Power DVD, TripAdvisor, The Weather Channel, and Zinio. Thanks to AMD, the system comes with a download code for three AAA titles like Just Cause 2, Sleeping Dogs, and Tomb Raider. Though these are aging titles, it still means you're all set to start playing pretty serious games, as long as you have an Internet connection. The system comes with a one-year warranty.

Performance
Lenovo Erazer X315 The Erazer X315 comes with a 3.7GHz AMD A10-7850K quad-core processor and the aforementioned AMD Radeon R9 260 graphics card. With this combination, the system excels at playing 3D games. It ran the Heaven test at a rock-steady 60 frames per second (fps) and the Valley test at an adequate 38fps, both at medium quality. That's smoother than the Maingear Spark (42fps on Heaven; 31fps on Valley), and splits the wins with the Alienware X51-R2 (40fps Heaven; 50fps Valley). The system also did well on the 3DMark Cloud Gate (9,332 points) and Fire Strike Extreme (1,752) compared with the competition. It's certainly faster overall on the 3D and gaming tests than the multimedia-oriented Asus A70AD-US003S.

Multimedia tests were a little slower than the competition: 3 minutes 8 seconds on the Handbrake test and 6:35 on the Photoshop CS6 test. In contrast, the Intel-powered Alienware X51-R2 was about twice as quick (1:27 on Handbrake; 3:25 on CS6), although the AMD A8-powered Maingear Spark brought up the rear by a wide margin (6:37 on Handbrake; 9:54 on CS6). The Erazer X315 was left behind on the PCMark 8 Work Conventional test (2,500 points), but keep in mind that you're not buying a gaming PC to do day-to-day work. The system is sufficient for the Web surfing and file downloading that you're going to be doing before and during your game sessions.

The Lenovo Erazer X315 is a very good entry-level gaming rig with the power to run today's AAA games at moderate-quality levels. It's like a set of training wheels on a bike or the tutorial levels on a game: It's powerful enough to get you started and allows you to gauge your interest in hardcore gaming. The things that put it ahead of the competition are its nice price, extra features, and expansion room. Its list price is only $100 more than the Maingear Spark, and soundly trumps that rig on gaming performance and expandability. It's $100 less expensive than the iBuypower Revolt A960 (AMD A10-6800K), has a newer, more efficient A10 processor, twice the hard drive space, 50 percent more memory, and ultimately more space for future upgrades. With all those in its favor, the Lenovo Erazer X315 is our Editors' Choice for budget gaming desktop PCs.


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Canon PowerShot G7 X

Pros 1-inch image sensor. Wide aperture zoom lens. Tilting touch-screen display. Speedy focus system. Wi-Fi with NFC. Raw support.

Cons Pricey. Lacks hot shoe and EVF option. Burst rate slows when shooting Raw. Bottom Line The Canon PowerShot G7 X has a bright zoom lens that covers a lot of range and a large 1-inch image sensor, but just misses earning our Editors' Choice nod for top premium compact camera.

By Jim Fisher It took more than three years for another company to bring out a camera that went toe-to-toe with Sony's excellent RX100 series of compacts in terms of specifications and features. The Canon PowerShot G7 X ($699.99) is the first pocketable compact with a 1-inch sensor not to bear the Sony brand name. Like our current Editors' Choice Cyber-shot RX100 III, the G7 X uses a 1-inch 20-megapixel image sensor with a BSI CMOS design. The G7 X is $100 less expensive than the RX100 III, and its 24-100mm f/1.8-2.8 zoom range is just a bit longer, but it omits the integrated EVF Sony puts in its camera. The G7 X isn't quite good enough to oust the RX100 III from its perch as our favorite premium compact, but it's an attractive alternative for shooters who prefer a longer zoom range over an integrated EVF.

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The pocket-friendly G7 X measures just 2.4 by 4.1 by 1.6 inches (HWD) and weighs 10.7 ounces. It's about the same size as the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II (2.3 by 4 by 1.5 inches, 9.9 ounces). The G7 X is available in black; its body is mostly free of flair, with the exception of two red rings around the base of the shutter release and mode dial.

Canon PowerShot G7 X : Sample ImageThe lens is a 24-100mm (35mm equivalent) zoom with a variable f/1.8-2.8 aperture. It covers a wider range than the 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 zoom used by the RX100 III, and is brighter at the long end than the 28-100mm f/1.8-4.9 zoom that Sony used on both the original RX100 and the RX100 II. The G7 X can focus as close as 2 inches as its widest angle, and the lens has a built-in three-stop neutral density filter. That makes it possible to shoot in very bight conditions at a wide aperture, but you have to manually turn it on or off. Some other cameras with integrated ND filters, like the Ricoh GR, toggle it automatically under bright light, but you need to manually enable or disable the ND filter with the G7 X.

The top plate houses a pop-up flash, the On/Off button, the zoom rocker and shutter release, a standard mode dial, and an exposure compensation adjustment dial. The two dials are stacked, with the mode dial on top, but both can be adjusted comfortably. The EV compensation dial can be set from -3 to +3 in third-stop increments, which is typical, but it deviates from the norm in its orientation. The negative values are located toward the front of the camera, with positive values located toward the rear. Most other cameras with this dial, including the Nikon Coolpix P7800, orient it in the opposite configuration.

Canon PowerShot G7 X : Sample ImageThere's a control ring around the lens; it has detents, so it clicks as you turn it. By default its function changes depending on your shooting mode. If you're in a traditional control mode like Av or Tv, the ring adjusts aperture or shutter speed, but when you switch to some of the camera's more unique modes its function changes. The G7 X includes Creative Shot, which captures five filtered shots in addition to an unfiltered original; the ring adjusts which set of filters will be applied. In Scene mode it changes the active scene, and when set to full auto it becomes a zoom control. The ring's function can be changed via the Ring Func. button, located just under the thumb rest on the rear.

Other rear controls include a dedicated record button to start and stop video capture, playback and menu controls, and a rear control ring. The ring has a center Func./Set button, and four directional buttons that adjust the focus mode, drive mode, flash output, and amount of information shown on the rear display.

Canon PowerShot G7 X : Sample ImagePhysical controls are extended in two ways. Canon's typical overlay menu, which allows you to adjust additional camera settings without obscuring the Live View feed, is accessible via the Func./Set button. The display itself is sensitive to touch, so you can tap an area of the frame to choose a focus point. There's also a control surface at the right side of the LCD that allows you to expand the function of the front control ring on the fly. Tapping that area of the screen shows some additional options that can be adjusted; you'll need to keep your finger on the screen as you adjust the additional highlighted setting option with the front ring, but it can come in handy when wanting to make a quick adjustment. It brings up the ISO in modes where it's available, and also allows for shutter speed or aperture adjustment if you've assigned the front ring to a custom function.

The rear display itself is 3 inches in size with a 1,040k-dot resolution. It's very sharp and bright. I had no issues using it on a sunny day, even when light hit it directly. It's mounted on a hinge and can face all the way forward for selfies. The Fujifilm X30 ($599) also uses a tilting 3-inch display that's sharp at 920k-dots, but it wasn't able to cut through the glare of the sun under the same conditions. The X30 has an integrated electronic viewfinder and a hot shoe, however, both of which are missing from the G7 X.

Canon PowerShot G7 X : RemoteWi-Fi is built in. You can launch the Wi-Fi menu during image playback via the up direction of the rear control dial, or connect directly to a smartphone using a button on the right side. If your phone has NFC, tapping to connect is also an option. You can transfer images and video clips directly from the camera to your iOS or Android device via the free Canon CameraWindow app. Remote control is also supported via the app, but functionality is limited. You can adjust the zoom, set the self-timer, and fire the shutter, but you can't select a focus point or adjust exposure settings. CameraWindow has a location log option; if you enable it, you can use it to add location data to photos on the camera, assuming that the clocks are set the same on the two devices.


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Paramore: Self-Titled Deluxe - Paramore

Opening the iTunes Store.If iTunes doesn't open, click the iTunes application icon in your Dock or on your Windows desktop.Progress IndicatorOpening the iBooks Store.If iBooks doesn't open, click the iBooks app in your Dock.Progress IndicatorParamore: Self-Titled Deluxe by Paramore, get iTunes now.">We are unable to find iTunes on your computer. To preview and buy music from Paramore: Self-Titled Deluxe by Paramore, download iTunes now.

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I Have iTunes Free Download iTunes for Mac + PC Open iTunes to preview, buy, and download music.

Formed: 2004 in Franklin, TN

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Although their blend of emo-pop and slick, anthemic rock & roll eventually made them stars on both sides of the Atlantic, Paramore began humbly enough in Franklin, Tennessee, where Hayley Williams met brothers Josh and Zac Farro after moving to town from Mississippi. Already a powerhouse vocalist at the age of 13, Williams joined a band that the Farro siblings had formed with local guitarist Taylor York. She left the group soon after, signing with Atlantic Records as a solo artist instead, but... Full BioParamore: Self-Titled Deluxe, ParamoreView In iTunes $19.99Genres: Alternative, Music, RockReleased: Apr 09, 2013? 2014 Atlantic Recording Corporation For the United States and WEA International Inc. for the world outside of the United States. A Warner Music Group Company

Canon imageFormula DR-C225

The imageFormula DR-C225 ($449) is exactly the sort of highly capable document scanner Canon is known for. It delivers fast speed for the price, scans to searchable PDF format almost as quickly as to image format, offers impressively accurate optical character recognition (OCR), and comes with world-class programs for document management, for OCR, and for creating and working with PDF files. It's a little weak on business card scanning, but even so, it delivers enough to make it our new Editors' Choice for moderately priced desktop document scanners for personal or micro-office use.

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The DR-C225 is closely matched for speed with the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 that it replaces as our preferred pick. The rated scan speed for both is 25 pages per minute (ppm) and 50 images per minute (ipm)—with one image on each side of the page. More important, both essentially hit their rated speeds on our tests, and both also scan nearly as quickly to searchable PDF files as to image PDF format, adding very little extra time for the OCR step.

In areas where the two differ, each has advantages over the other. The Fujitsu iX500 did a better job in our tests with business cards, for example. Also, the iX500 is the only one of the two that offers Wi-Fi as a connection choice or can scan to an iOS or Android device.

The DR-C225's advantages include more accurate text recognition and a more capable set of bundled programs, with Nuance PaperPort 14 (for document management) and Nuance OmniPage 18 (for OCR) in particular delivering more capability than the equivalent programs that come with the Fujitsu iX500. Although the DR-C225's lack of Wi-Fi means you can't connect directly to a mobile device to send it a scan, you can send one just as easily, if not more easily, with the Attach to Email option in Canon's scan utility.

Setup and Software
One welcome touch is that the DR-C225 takes up less space on your desktop than most scanners designed for personal use. Like the Canon imageFormula DR-C125 that it replaces in Canon's line, it measures only 8.7 by 11.8 by 6.1 inches (HWD), and it doesn't need extra room for the output tray.

Paper normally follows a U-shaped path, starting in the 30-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF) in back, moving under the scanner, and continuing up to the output tray, which is parallel to the scanner front. For heavier-weight paper or business cards, you flip a small lever on the side of the scanner so that the paper will follow a nearly straight path, going under the scanner and then forward through a slot near the bottom of the output tray.

Setup is standard fare for a USB-connected scanner. Additional software besides PaperPort and OmniPage includes: Presto! BizCard 6 for business cards; Twain, WIA, and ISIS drivers, which between them will let you scan from almost any program with a scan command; and Nuance eCopy PDF Pro Office 6, which comes with PDF Converter Assistant and PDF Create Assistant, to give you a full suite of PDF utilities. There's also a version of Canon's CaptureOnTouch scan utility included, which is even easier to use than other versions I've tested.

The main screen in CaptureOnTouch lets you scan by choosing one of three predefined profiles, including Scan to Folder, for example. Alternatively, you can choose a type of document to scan, a destination to send it to, and then the Scan button.

By default, the Document types are Business Card, Text, and Full Auto. The choices for destination include each of the application programs the scanner comes with, plus Email, Print, Microsoft SharePoint, and several websites: OneDrive, SugarSync, Dropbox, and Google Drive. These choices may well handle all your scanning needs. If not, you can edit any of the definitions—to change the resolution for scanning, for example—and add more document types, destinations, and profiles as needed.

Scan Speed and Document Management
The DR-C225's 600 pixel-per-inch (ppi) optical resolution is typical for document scanners, and more than you usually need for scanning text. For my tests, I used the default 200ppi and black-and-white mode.

Related Story See How We Test Scanners

I clocked the scanner at 24.2ppm for simplex (one-sided) scans and 48.4ipm for duplex (two-sided) scans. That makes it tied, within the error range of the test, with both the Canon DR-C125 and the Fujitsu iX500.

More importantly, the scanner doesn't take much longer for scanning directly to a searchable PDF file, which is generally the most useful format for document management. With the added text recognition step, it took a total of 1 minute 9 seconds. Here again, that's effectively a tie with the Fujitsu iX500, at 1:05, although it is just a tad slower than the Canon DR-C125, at 1 minute flat.

Being able to recognize text without slowing down significantly can easily make up for the speed advantage of a faster scanner that adds time for recognizing the text. The much-more-expensive Kodak i3200 Scanner, for example, with a 50ppm and 100ipm rating, managed 74ppm on our tests scanning to an image PDF file. However it basically tied the DR-C225 for scanning to a searchable PDF file, at only 1:06.

OCR Performance
The DR-C225 did extraordinarily well on OCR accuracy. The combination of scanner and OmniPage read our Times New Roman and Arial test pages at sizes as small as 6 points without a mistake. It also did as well or better with several fonts that we include in our tests, but don't usually report on because most scanners do so poorly with them that there's little difference from one scanner to the next. The DR-C225 managed to read three of the five additional fonts, including two highly stylized fonts with thick strokes, at 6 points without a mistake and another at 5 points without a mistake. This is the highest level of accuracy we've seen on any scanner.

The only test the DR-C225 didn't shine on was for business cards. The scanner did an excellent job feeding stacks of cards, but the best that can be said for the combination of the DR-C255 and BizCard is that it will save you time over entering information by hand. I saw at least one mistake on every card, and three or more on just over half of them.

If scanning and managing business cards is a key task, or you need the ability to scan to a mobile device using Wi-Fi, the Fujitsu iX500 will be the best fit for your needs. But in most offices, the lack of Wi-Fi won't matter, and the Canon imageFormula DR-C225's higher level of OCR accuracy plus the more capable OCR and document management software will trump any shortcomings for business cards. That gives the DR-C225 a slim, but real, advantage overall and makes it our new Editors' Choice low-to-moderate price personal or small-office desktop document scanner.


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Cloud gaming could reach a turning point in 2015, analyst says

Streaming of high-end games could become available to nearly 150 million people, a five-fold increase, in 2015 thanks to the growth of so-called cloud-gaming services.

Of course, a lot will depend on pricing and quality, as to whether players will actually use and pay for those services. Still, 2015 could be a big year for cloud-based games, which have wandered in a wilderness as providers improve both the quality and infrastructure behind services. (Android, Dev, Industry, NVIDIA, OnLive, PC, PlayStation Now, PS3, PS4, Tech, Xbox 360, Xbox One)


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AMD Radeon R9 295X2 Receive Surprise Price Cut, Now Street Below $800

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Is the best offense a good defense, or is the best defense a good offense? We're not sure, though it looks like AMD has decided to run with the latter -- dual-GPU Radeon R9 295X2 graphics cards can now be found on Newegg for around $770, seemingly indicating that AMD has gone on the offensive and slashed the price of its flagship card by about another $200. Bear in mind that when these cards launched earlier this year, they were selling for nearly twice as much at $1,500.

There has been chatter that AMD will release new Hawaii cards next year, though heading into the holiday shopping season, the company doesn't have any GPUs on tap, at least none that we're aware of. That could be one reason for the sizable price cut.

The least expensive 295X2 on Newegg is the HIS Radeon R9 295X2. It's listed at $770 with free shipping, no rebate or coupon code required, and it comes with Civilization: Beyond Earth. The card also qualifies for AMD's Gold tier Never Settle Space Edition, which lets you choose three additional games from a selection of titles that include Thief, Watchdog, PayDay 2, Tomb Raider, Hitman Absolution, and more.

VisionTek, XFX, Sapphire, and Diamond also offer models on Newegg for at least a penny below $800.

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Sigma dp1 Quattro

Pros Wide-angle field of view. Foveon APS-C image sensor. Superb image quality at low ISO. Bright, sharp rear LCD. Dual control dials. Quick set menu system.

Cons Slow. Lens lacks image stabilization. Outdated Raw conversion software. Funky design. Lacks built-in EVF or add-on option. No video support. No built-in flash. Bottom Line The Sigma dp1 Quattro is the wide-angle sibling to the dp2 Quattro. Like the dp2, its image quality is outstanding, but it's slow to use and Raw processing requires some patience.

By Jim Fisher

The Sigma dp1 Quattro ($999) is the second compact camera in the company's lineup to receive an update to the new body style and sensor that go along with the Quattro moniker. It's priced the same as the first camera to undergo the makeover, the dp2 Quattro, and it uses the same three-layer Foveon image sensor, so its performance is in line. If you're a Foveon devotee, it's worth a close look, but we think most photographers that want a compact camera with a large image sensor and prime lens should go for our Editors' Choice, the Fujifilm X100T. It handles better, delivers stronger image quality at high ISO, and incorporates a unique optical/electronic hybrid viewfinder into its design.

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Design and Features
The dp1 Quattro's body design is identical to the dp2, but its wide-angle lens adds just a little depth, about two tenths of an inch. The dp1 measures 2.6 by 6.4 by 3.4 inches (HWD) and weighs about 15 ounces. For more on handling, features, and Raw workflow, take a look at our review of the dp2 Quattro; the cameras are identical in that regard.

Sigma dp1 Quattro : Sample Image

Where the cameras differ is the lens. The dp2 Quattro has a fixed 30mm f/2.8 lens that covers a standard-angle field of view when paired with its APS-C image sensor—roughly equivalent to a 45mm lens mounted to a full-frame camera. The dp1 covers a wider field of view. Its lens—which has been newly redesigned when compared with the one used by the previous-generation DP1 Merrill—is a 19mm f/2.8. Its field of view is roughly equivalent to a 28mm prime on a full-frame system, a classic wide-angle field of view.

The lens has a pretty decent 7.9-inch (20cm) close-focus capability. I did notice one instance of lens flare when shooting directly into the sun, which gave my photo a bit of a green hotspot. It was easy enough to slide down the green channel saturation in Lightroom to make this less of an issue. But it was an extremely challenging scene with the subject in shadow and a strong backlight. The final image (below) still shows some green on the left side of the cross, but some additional spot work with the saturation tool would make short work of that.

Sigma dp1 Quattro : Sample Image

Sigma eschews the middle ground with the lens choices in its lineup. Most premium compacts, including APS-C models like the Leica X (Typ 113) and Fujifilm X100T, and the full-frame Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1, have lenses that cover a 35mm-equivalent field of view. With Sigma you have the option of going wide with the dp1, standard with the dp2, or telephoto with the upcoming dp3 Quattro or older DP3 Merrill. There are a couple of models that match the dp1's field of view—the Ricoh GR and Nikon Coolpix A.

Performance and ConclusionsSigma dp1 Quattro : Benchmark Tests
The dp1 Quattro isn't a camera that's going to do well shooting fast action. It's slow to start up and capture an in-focus image, requiring about 4.6 seconds. The camera turns on a bit quicker than that, in about 3 seconds, but there's a delay for focus, and I had to press the shutter button a few times in order for it to shoot right after booting up. That wasn't an issue when capturing images once the camera been on for a little bit, but in bright light the camera still requires about 0.35-second to locks focus and fire. In dim conditions that slows to 1.3 seconds.

Sigma dp1 Quattro : Sample Image

The dp1 is capable of short burst shooting at a reasonable 3.7 frames per second. It can capture 7 images in a burst at that rate, but even with a fast SanDisk 95MBps memory card, it takes a good long while to commit all of those to memory. If you're shooting in Raw+JPG you'll need to wait about 42 seconds, Raw format only requires 52.6 seconds, 19.6-megapixel JPGs take 50.1 seconds, and 39-megapixel JPGs require 46.6 seconds. You can capture another image after one of the seven has been cleared from the buffer.

I used Imatest to check the sharpness of the dp1's newly designed lens. When shooting JPG images at 19.6-megapixel resolution it scores 3,628 lines per picture height on a center-weighted sharpness test. That's much better than the 1,800 lines we require to call a photo sharp, but edge performance (2,178 lines) does significantly lag behind the center (4,261 lines). Peak performance is at f/4 where the lens manages an outstanding 4,003 on average thanks to a sharper center (4,576 lines) and improved edges (2,680 lines). There's a drop off in resolution at f/5.6 (3,941 lines) due to diffraction, but photos still show an incredible amount of detail at f/8 (3,640 lines) and f/11 (3,002 lines). Images don't show quite as much detail as the dp2—it manages 4,699 lines at f/2.8—but still go toe-to-toe with the output from Nikon's 36-megapixel D810 in terms of detail.

Sigma dp1 Quattro : Sample Image

Related Story See How We Test Digital Cameras

The dp1 can also be set to record JPG images at 39-megapixel resolution. Raw recording isn't possible when shooting at this interpolated setting. There's actually a drop in resolution when pushing the files that big—at f/2.8 the camera manages 3,409 lines, and at f/4 it shows 3,745 lines. But the option is there if you intend to make huge prints from your images.

Imatest also checks photos for noise. The dp1 uses the same image sensor and processor as the dp2, so it's no surprise that noise results are just about the same. At ISO 100 the camera shows about 1.4 percent, which is just under our 1.5 percent cutoff. Noise increases to 2 percent at ISO 200, 2.4 percent at ISO 400, and 3 percent at ISO 800. Image quality is solid at through ISO 400, but at ISO 800 there's a moderate loss of color saturation. At ISO 1600 some aggressive noise reduction kicks in, lowering the score to 1.4 percent again, but image detail suffers immensely. Things just get worse at ISO 3200 and 6400.

Sigma dp1 Quattro : Sample Image

The same issues are there if you shoot in the 39-megapixel JPG mode. If you opt to shoot in the Raw file format, details are just a little bit sharper at ISO 400, but there are still issues with color saturation and contrast at ISO 800 and above. If you do shoot in Raw, you'll need to use Sigma Photo Pro 6 to process the images. The software is rather disappointing—it's slow, doesn't provide tools for cropping or perspective control to fine-tune images, and I dealt with somewhat frequent crashes when using version 6.1.0 on an iMac running Yosemite.

The dp1 is a still camera only—it doesn't record video. It does include a proprietary USB cable to connect to a PC, and standard SD, SDHC, and SDXC memory cards are supported. Sigma includes an external wall charger and two batteries in the box; the dp1 is rated for 200 shots per charge by CIPA.

Sigma dp1 Quattro : Sample Image

The Sigma dp1 Quattro is a camera with niche appeal, and with some issues. Its wide-angle lens is appealing to landscape shooters, and the amount of detail that the camera is capable of capturing is simply outstanding. At low ISOs it's on par with high-end full-frame and medium format systems in that regard. But it's not a camera that's well-suited for shooting at high ISO—we don't recommend pushing it beyond ISO 400—and it's slow to use. Its JPG output is excellent at lower ISOs, so you may be able to skip Raw processing, but if you do prefer to work with uncompressed images, you're going to have to deal with a Raw workflow that's hobbled by very clunky software.

If you're willing to work within its limits, the dp1 will reward you with stunning images. But there are just too many caveats for us to wholeheartedly recommend it. If you love the 28mm field of view, give consideration to the Ricoh GR as an alternative. It's less expensive, small enough to slide into your pocket, quicker to use, and it also features an APS-C image sensor; you won't be able to squeeze the same level of detail out of it as you can with the dp1, but its images are still very printable. Our current Editors' Choice for premium compacts is the Fujifilm X100T; its low-ISO image output doesn't match the Quattro series in terms of detail, but its 35mm f/2 lens, excellent low-light performance, and integrated hybrid viewfinder make it a more versatile camera.


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Hands-on review: Pinć

A few years ago, I was sure that I saw the pinnacle of smartphone case innovations: a smartphone case with a bottle opener embedded in it. Fast forward to 2014 and Pinc, an iPhone 6 case that doubles as a VR headset, is now on its way.

From its outer shell, Pinc (pronounced "pinch") is an unassuming iPhone 6 case. The current prototype, the first piece of hardware ever designed and assembled by interface software firm Cordon Media, is the size of two iPhones stacked together.

Pinc review

The headset's boxy design looks to protests pockets, though the team hopes to trim it down significantly before launch. The eye lenses inside the case pressed uncomfortably against my eyes while it was strapped to my head. I couldn't see anything clearly until I held the unit away from my eyelashes. Setting the lenses deeper into the case, as well as providing an alternative place on the face to rest the goggles will help to solve this.

As a standalone case, there's not much to Pinc. But of course, this is no standalone case. Opened up, the ingredients of VR, a head strap and goggles, take stage.

So, they're making the iOS experience completely VR-friendly? Nope. Rather, the Pinc team has a better solution to bring virtual reality to the small screen. Through their Unity-powered app, it operates in a fashion similar to HTC's Blinkfeed, bringing a smartphone user's most beloved content front and center, albeit in a new, fully-interactive way.

Pinc review

But why bring VR to mobile users at all? To the Pinc team, the platform was ripe for innovation. Project Morpheus and Oculus Rift each require additional (and expensive) hardware to do the heavy lifting of the VR software, but powerful smartphones, already in the hands of millions, are more than capable to provide a good experience to users. Samsung has made waves in this space with their Samsung Gear VR for the Samsung Galaxy Note 4.

Visually, the Pinc app puts you in control of panoramic, interactive cockpit (think Minority Report). You can move your head freely, with the accelerometer inside the iPhone 6 tracking its movement for sensitive, 360-degree head-tracking.

The best claim for touch control on modern smartphones is that it's so simple, that even a baby can learn to use it. The team recognizes that simplicity and almost universal understanding and thus, makes the new-age "pinch to zoom" a cinch.

Pinc review

To do this, Pinc includes two bands that you wrap around a finger on each hand. Holding your hands in front of you, the iPhone 6 camera tracks the LED and infrared-equipped finger bands. When the camera sees the bands, two dots appear on screen. These are your fingers, which look like mouse pointers.

See an item that you want to get a closer look at? Move your arms to hover the two cursors over it and "click" by pressing the finger bands to your thumbs. With that, the rest of the controls mimic familiar touch gestures.

Pinc will be releasing the SDK to developers soon, but they developed some fun mock-ups of what's possible. One was a shoe retailer page and I was able to get a closer look at some boots. With a click, the shoe model popped out of the page into closer focus, making it bigger with a outward pinch. A more unique demo allowed me to go apartment hunting by checking out detailed panoramic images of a space. It'll be interesting to see what Pinc offers closer to launch.

Cordon Media made clear that there's a time and place for Pinc. It's much more appropriate while waiting in the airport terminal than if you're late for a meeting. It's a new way to experience your content, not a replacement. And with the prototype draining an iPhone 6 battery in 2 hours, you'll definitely want to plan your use of Pinc accordingly.

The rough edges of Pinc prototype won't appeal to tech fashionistas, but with Cordon Media's aim for a $99 CAD launch, which is about $88 (£70, AU$102), it's hard to deny the appeal of such a cheap entry-point into virtual reality. With a tentative 2015 release, a bit of polish on its already impressive software will round out the offering.

Now, let's just hope that get that hardware in order before launch. If it manages to produce a more comfortable headset, Pinc has the potential to become a formidable opponent in the mobile VR space.

Yahoo Mail Outage Lingers into Day Four Due to Severed Undersea Cable

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Some Yahoo Mail users are suffering through a fourth consecutive day of service interruptions, the result of an underwater fiber cable cut. Yahoo says the cable was damaged by an unnamed third party that was attempting to fix a different cable and that it knows the exact location of the cut, which it is now in the process of repairing and testing. Users are hoping a fix comes soon, as they've been contending with slow or nonexistent service since November 20.

"We are aware that Yahoo Mail is slow or inaccessible for some of our users. The issues were a result of an underwater fiber cable cut, caused by a third party while fixing a separate cable," Yahoo stated in a blog post. "The engineering team has rerouted email traffic to mitigate accessibility issues. A cable repair ship has been mobilized and will be at the site this weekend. We apologize for the inconvenience as we certainly understand email is a critical service for our customers."

You can catch a visual of where outages are most prominent on DownDetector.com's map; it appears the eastern U.S. and western Europe are the two areas that have been hit the hardest by this incident.

To Yahoo's credit, it's been providing a steady stream of updates over the past few days regarding the incident, though that comes as little consolation to those anxious to access their email. In any event, you can follow @YahooCare on Twitter for the latest information.

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Keep track of Steam sales using this handy Android app

Steam is known for vanquishing your wallet’s contents with it’s irresistable discounts but you can’t always keep track of the current sales all the time. As much as we want to just stay in our batcaves, there are times where we have to go out and face the bright sun. Curse you family reunions!

Now you can’t miss those steam sales because you can keep track of them using this Android app. It was made by reddit user roobre and his friend. (Android, Mobile, PC, Tech)


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Kickstarter Suspends Gaming Project that Draws Human Blood for Donation

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Crowdfunding site Kickstarter has put the kibosh on Blood Sport, an immersive gaming experience in which in-game damage results in the player losing real blood. On the surface, that sounds like a horrendously bad idea -- imagine if a hacker infected your system with malware to disengage any safety measures that make sure you don't lose so much blood you become unconscious. However, this isn't a technology meant for homes.

The creators came up with the idea as a fun way of promoting blood donations. What they've done is take a pre-existing blood collection machine and integrate into gaming -- the bigger goal is to develop a refined multi-player experience across the country for blood donation events.

"We are not a charity and we are not a game manufacturer. We are simply creating the gaming hardware that will allow us to get gamers thinking about more important issues while still doing what they love. From there, we’ll partner with the appropriate organizations in both the gaming and medical communities to bring it all to life," the creators explain.

How it works is rather simple. Using just a pair of wires, they connect your gamepad controller to the blood collection machine via an Arduino board. When it rumbles, the blood collection machine draws blood from your arm into a bag. The Arduino board both keeps the signal going to the blood collection system and also keeps track of how much blood you've spilled so that you end up like a Walker -- the amount it's allowed to draw is based on your age, weight, and any pre-existing medical conditions.

The project was initially timed to release on March 17th with the Battlefield Hardline launch, provided it reached its goal of $250,000 CAD. That doesn't seem likely now that Kickstarter has pulled the plug.

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Facebook Groups (for iPhone)

Pros Clean, intuitive interface. Great way to discover new groups. Photo uploading and emoticons. Notifications.

Cons Lacks member search. No file uploads. Admins can't see who has viewed a post. Can't edit posts. Bottom Line The Facebook Groups iPhone app offers a convenient way to join, create, and interact with your work, family, and interest groups, but it lacks some basic capabilities found in the standard Facebook app.

By Michael Muchmore

When Facebook's Paper app launched as an alternative and innovative way to consume shared social news items, it represented the birth of Facebook's Creative Labs team, which has a mission to continually release mobile apps relating to various aspects of Facebook. The social network has since released Slingshot, Mentions (only celebs need apply), and Rooms, with varying degrees of success. The team's latest offering is Groups (free), which offers mobile users a way to interact with Facebook's existing Groups feature. Yes, you could already do that in the main Facebook mobile app, but a standalone app means you're more likely to take advantage of both private and public Groups. It gives you a more convenient way to get right to interacting in a smaller, well, group.

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Getting Started With Facebook Groups
At 54MB in the iTunes App Store, Facebook Groups is a bit heavier than I'd expect for a single-purpose, media-light app. It's available for both iPhone and Android, but there's no good news for Windows Phone Facebook users yet. It has just about the easiest sign-in possible, if you've already associated your Facebook account with your iPhone (which makes sharing from other apps and built-in features easier). I just had to tap "Continue as Michael Muchmore" to get started. 

After a few seconds watching a throbber, a Welcome screen invited me to get started. I then had to choose whether I wanted the app to deliver Instant Updates, i.e., push notifications. These notifications can be enabled per group, so that every group you belong to isn't constantly popping down notifications and ringing.

Interface
The Facebook Groups app has a more familiar design than those of previous Creative Labs apps like Paper and Slingshot. It does, however, follow those apps in using a pull-down gesture to refresh group activity and to take you back to the home page when you're inside a group. Circular buttons for each of the Facebook Groups I'd already subscribed to appeared, each showing the number of unread posts. Four icons along the bottom switch you between Groups view, Notifications, Discover, and Settings. The Notifications page is similar to what you get when you tap the globe icon in the Facebook app.

Facebook Groups

Discover is the most interesting choice, and possibly the one that justifies having a standalone app, since it lets you find and engage with groups you didn't know existed. Discover suggests new groups based on ones you've already joined, those your friends belong to, and your Facebook Page likes. For example, since I liked The New York Times, it proposed the News, Media & Publishing group. My interest in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology prompted a suggestion to follow the ABA Rare Bird Alert group. Joining is a simple matter of a button press, and a Not Interested button will prevent similar suggestions. Another way to find groups of interest is through Search. When you find a group this way, you get more info than on the Discover page's results.

As a refresher, Facebook Groups can be of three kinds: Public, Closed, and Secret. The first two are obvious, but Secret groups are hidden from any public view, so unless people are invited, they won't even know the group exists. When you hit Join for any group type, your status will be Requested, until the group owner approves you.

You can also create the three types of groups from within the app, and it's actually a cuter experience in the app than on the website, with colorful clip art along the way. You first see suggestions for group categories such as teams, family, and travel planning. Then you decide on the group's privacy level. Next you choose members to invite, but unfortunately, you can't search for them.

New Facebook Group in App

In the actual group view, you see the cover photo on top, with a row of users' buttons; tapping the latter shows the entire list of members, and again, you can't search within that list. You can add your own friends as members if the group is public, though.

In group view, you can write a post or add a photo, and even tag specific group members and include emoticons, but not Facebook Messenger-style stickers. What you get in the Web version of Facebook, but is missing here, is the ability to upload and download files such as Microsoft Word docs.

After you post something in a group, you get options for copying either its link or text, stopping notifications about activity on it, or deleting it. But you can't edit it, and if you're the admin, you can't see how many people have viewed it, as you can on the website. Post editing is even possible in the standard Facebook app, so it's an odd omission here. Another thing you lose in the app is the ability to pin a post to the top of the group feed, which can be useful for mission statements and the like. Again, the Web and main Facebook app interfaces both allow this action.

An overflow menu, indicated by an ellipsis, on the group page lets you edit group settings, such as name, cover photo, privacy, and so forth. It also lets you add the group to your iPhone's home screen—a nice addition for groups you frequently visit.

A Better Way to Your Groups?
The Facebook Groups app for iPhone offers a convenient way to discover, create, and interact with organizations and interest groups on Facebook from a mobile device. Moreover, its design is familiar, clean, and intuitive, while still adding some new-style gestures. But I'm disappointed that it's missing some capabilities already found in the standard Facebook app and the desktop version of the social network.


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Review: Lenovo Z40

Going with a budget laptop will save you bit more cash at the bank, but it often also means putting up with a lot of trade offs. Whether it's an unattractive chassis, poor performance, color washed screen or a truncated battery life, computer manufacturers have to cut corners somewhere to break even on an affordably-priced machine. For the most part, it's an unavoidable process.

However, with the Lenovo Z40 I don't think its maker simply cut too many corners getting to its target price point. Starting at $599 (£399, AU$799), this dirt cheap 14-inch multimedia machine is seriously hampered by a short 3 hour battery life and low quality LCD screen.

I'm sad to say that this is a laptop you'll want to steer clear of. Let's get into what led me to be terribly disappointed with the Lenovo Z40.

Once you've seen one budget laptop, you've seen them all – this couldn't be truer of the Lenovo Z40. For starters, the display lid is made of a plain, semi-glossy plastic that bends easily while catching an assortment of fingerprints and smudges with a single touch. You'll also leave plenty of fingerprints just opening up this machine, thanks to the Lenovo Z40's glossy plastic bezel.

Lenovo Z40 review

Luckily, things look a little better with the laptop's underside, which features a slightly textured plastic and large rubber feet. Overall, the Z40 is one of Lenovo's least uniform designs yet, as the frame is comprised of five different pieces of material (six counting the keyboard deck).

The only slightly higher-end piece of material you'll find on the Z40 is an aluminum plate used for the laptop's interior. It comes as a single piece for the palm rests and surrounding the keyboard deck. Unfortunately, even this small bit of metal still flexes easily and does not add anything at all to the overall rigidity of the machine.

Lenovo Z40 review

As ever, you'll find Lenovo's excellent AccuType keyboard but you'll feel tiny vibrations with every keystroke. The trackpad is also surprisingly small considering the large 14-inch chassis, so you'll spend a lot of time repeatedly swiping across its surface to move the cursor around.

Patriot Memory Expands Capacity Ceiling of LX Series SDXC and microSDXC Cards

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Not only are we taking more photos and videos than ever before with our plethora of digital devices, but thanks to increases in resolution and quality, we're also consuming more space on our media. To keep pace with these growing needs, Patriot today upgraded its LX Series of SDXC and microSDXC cards to new capacities -- 256GB for the former and 128GB for the latter, the company announced.

Patriot's LX Series 256GB UHS-I Class 10 SDXC flash card joins existing 128GB and 64GB models. It's fast enough to record Full HD 1080p (1920x1080) video with read and write speeds of up to 80MB/s and 20MB/s, respectively. There's also a write protection switch to prevent users from accidentally deleting videos or images.

The 128GB microSDXC variant doubles the storage of Patriot's existing 64GB model, and like the SDXC card, it's compliant with the latest SD Association 3.0 specification. It's read time is a little slower at 70MB/s, while writes are the same at up to 20MB/s.

Both cards retail for $130 MSRP and are available now.

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How Far Mobile Gaming Has Come

Trevin's opinion on just how far the mobile gaming platform has come. (3DS, Android, Casual games, iPad, iPhone, PS Vita, Tech)


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Canon PowerShot SX60 HS

Pros 65x zoom lens. 21mm wide-angle coverage. Sharp vari-angle LCD. Integrated EVF and hot shoe. 6.3fps continuous shooting. Great control layout. Framing assist function. Raw shooting support. Wi-Fi. 1080p60 video. Mic input.

Cons Pricey. Lacks EVF eye sensor. Bottom Line The Canon PowerShot SX60 HS has a lens that covers an extreme zoom range, and even though it's on the pricey side, it earns our Editors' Choice award.

By Jim Fisher

The Canon PowerShot SX60 HS ($549.99) is one of the more expensive superzoom cameras on the market, but it manages to put all of the pieces together to earn Editors' Choice accolades for superzooms that crack the 50x barrier. Its 65x lens covers an incredible zoom range, the 16-megapixel sensor is capable of capturing images in Raw format as well as 1080p60 video, and it's got integrated Wi-Fi. At $550 the SX60 HS is priced on the high side, but if you're set on a lens that enters uberzoom territory, it's the one to get.

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Design and Features
Like all cameras in this class, the SX60 HS looks a lot like an SLR. It's only available in black, there's a hot shoe and viewfinder, and when its zoom lens is retracted, it isn't that much smaller than the kit lens included with entry-level SLRs. The SX60 measures 3.6 by 4.5 by 5 inches (HWD) and weighs 1.4 pounds. It's a little heavier than the Nikon Coolpix P600 (3.4 by 5 by 4.2 inches, 1.2 pounds), a similar long zoom camera with a 60x zoom lens.

Canon PowerShot SX60 HS : Wide Angle Sample Image

The SX60's lens boasts a 65x zoom ratio, the biggest ratio we've seen in this class. The 21-1,365mm (equivalent) f/3.4-6.5 zoom covers one of the widest angles of any fixed lens camera, and it can zoom in to capture distant objects thanks to its extreme telephoto reach. You can see the breadth of the zoom for yourself; the image of Madison Square Garden above was captured at the widest angle and the shot of the goalie below is zoomed all the way in. Of current models, only the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70 is wider, and its 20-1,200mm lens is just barely wider at that.

Saying that it's difficult to keep track of a moving subject when zoomed to a 1,365mm angle of view is an understatement. Canon includes a framing assist function, activated via The Framing Assist Seek button on the lens barrel, to alleviate this issue. If you're trying to focus on a bird or other object that's moving about you can hold the button down, which backs the lens out and displays a box on the Live View feed that indicates the zoomed in frame. Releasing the button returns the lens to its zoomed in position. There's another button below this one on the lens barrel, Framing Assist Lock; holding that down when tracking a subject leverages the optical stabilization system to help keep the object in frame, even if your camera movement isn't quite perfect. Using these two functions together makes framing and tracking distant subjects a bit of an easier task than it is with other superzoom cameras.

Canon PowerShot SX60 HS : Telephoto Sample Image

The Framing Assist Seek button has a secondary function that can be configured via the menu. It works with face detection to automatically zoom in for portraits. It can be set to frame just the face, the upper body, the whole body, or a custom size which you define. The function works well; it had no issues tracking the face of my test subject. The practical applications of this function may not be vast, but if you're a parent attempting to take photos of your offspring in the school play, it could make your job a bit easier.

Canon places additional physical controls on the top and rear. The top plate houses the zoom rocker and shutter release, the programmable Shortcut button, the power button, and a mode dial. The rear houses the standard playback, Wi-Fi, and delete controls, a Record button, a button that allows you to adjust the active focus point, and physical controls to adjust exposure compensation, the drive mode, the flash output, and the macro focusing mode. It's a strong control layout, and I especially liked the placement of the focus point adjustment button, right next to the rear thumb rest.

Canon PowerShot SX60 HS : Sample Image

Additional shooting adjustments can be made via an on-screen overlay menu, accessible via the rear Func./Set button. A column of control options runs along the left of the screen, with options for each displayed as a row on the bottom. Various setting can be adjusted from this menu, including the ISO, white balance, metering pattern, self-timer, dynamic range and shadow correction, and image quality and video resolution.

The rear display is mounted on a hinge, so it can tilt out to be viewed from the side, front, above, or below, and can sit flush against the rear facing either in or out. The 3-inch LCD is very bright and quite sharp thanks to a 922k-dot resolution, so there are no complaints there. The eye-level EVF, which can be activated via the Display button or simply by closing the rear display so that the LCD isn't visible, is also quite sharp. It's a little bit bigger than the 202k-dot EVF that Panasonic uses in the FZ70, and sharper at 922k-dots. You'll need to move up to a premium bridge camera with a shorter zoom lens like the Panasonic FZ1000 or Sony RX10 to get a significantly better EVF.

Canon PowerShot SX60 HS : Sample Image

As you'd expect from a camera at this price point, Wi-Fi is built in. You can use Canon's free CameraWindow app for iOS or Android to transfer JPG images and video clips to your smartphone or tablet; Raw transfer is not supported. Setting up the connection between an iPhone and the camera is pretty simple. There's a button with the outline of a phone on the rear of the SX60, after you press that, it's a simple matter of connecting the phone to a network broadcast by the camera. If you have an Android phone that supports NFC, you can connect by tapping the two devices together; the NFC sensor is on the left side.

You can also upload images directly to popular Web services, including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube. You'll need to connect the SX60 HS to a network and set up a Canon Image Gateway account to do so, but once that's done you can post directly from the camera whenever it's connected to a network. There's no in-camera GPS, but if you enable the CameraWindow location logger, you can add location metadata to photos over Wi-Fi—just be sure that the time on your phone and camera are synchronized.

Canon PowerShot SX60 HS : Remote Control

Finally, remote control from your phone or tablet is possible. Controls are limited—you can zoom the lens, set the self-timer, control the flash ouput, and fire the shutter, but that's it. There's no way to select a focus point, or to control other settings. For a camera that has full manual control available, that's a disappointment.


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