Brian Fagioli

POCO X3 NFC Android smartphone is super affordable and loaded with killer features

POCO -- a sub-brand of?Xiaomi Inc. -- is not a well-known name in the USA, but in China and other parts of the world, it is quite popular with Android enthusiasts. The young Chinese brand is synonymous with affordable smartphones that have impressive features. This is important, as it allows regular people to buy respectable Android devices without breaking the bank. Sadly, companies such as Samsung, are pricing their devices well out of reach of the common man. Quite frankly, even if you can afford it, spending more than $1,000 for a smartphone is rather foolish.

With all of that said, today,?POCO unveils its latest affordable Android smartphone. Called "X3 NFC," it comes loaded with killer features such as a massive 5,160mAh battery with 33W fast charging. It is optimized for gaming with a special GPU and advanced cooling. Despite being a "mid-range" phone, it has a very impressive display with 120Hz refresh and a 240Hz touch sampling. The?POCO X3 NFC even has a quad-camera array (with flash), so it should take impressive photos. And yes, it has a 3.5mm headphone port too! Sadly, all is not perfect -- it does not support 5G.

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Lenovo launches ThinkPad X1 Carbon with Fedora Linux, and it's on sale for Labor Day!

There are many Linux distributions nowadays, but sometimes it feels like Ubuntu gets all the attention. Don't get me wrong, Ubuntu is worthy of its praise -- it is a great operating system. Still, why can't other distros shine sometimes? Companies that sell Linux-based computers, like Dell and System76, offer Ubuntu on their Linux computers, but what about Fedora?

Well, if you are a big Fedora fan like me, I have some seriously amazing news. Popular computer-maker Lenovo has started selling a Fedora variant of its ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 8 laptop (Windows 10 is an option too). The 14-inch notebook is thin, light, and gorgeous. A ThinkPad running Fedora? It looks like Christmas came early this year...

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HyperX launches Labor Day Sale on Amazon

This upcoming Monday is Labor Day in the USA. It is a national holiday designed to celebrate the hard work of America's laborers. Many will have off from work on this day, but sadly, not everyone will.

Besides getting off from work, another big aspect of Labor Day is sales. Yes, many retailers offer discounts on products as a Labor Day promotion. This year, popular gaming company HyperX is offering some nice deals on several of its products.

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Western Digital launches G-Technology ArmorLock encrypted NVMe SSD

Encrypting your data can be very important -- particularly for businesses that deal with sensitive information and trade secrets. However, working with encrypted media isn't always a walk in the park. Quite frankly, the concept of encrypting and decrypting a drive can be very confusing for some end users. And so, out of convenience, encryption is sometimes skipped -- tragic but understandable.

Thankfully, thanks to things like biometrics, working with encrypted drives can be easier, although that isn't always ideal for an IT department looking to work with many users and drives. Hell, with remote work exploding, it may not be possible to set up an employee's fingerprint. To simplify things,?Western Digital has developed a new platform called "ArmorLock" that allows users to lock and unlock a drive using their smartphone (Bluetooth and an app). IT departments can easily set up the drive and authorize users before shipping it out to them. Today, under its "G-Technology" brand, Western Digital launches its first-ever drive to use the platform -- the ArmorLock encrypted NVMe SSD

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TEAMGROUP QX is a 15.3TB SSD that costs nearly $4,000

When it comes to storage, consumers typically need to choose between a solid state drive for speed and a mechanical hard disk drive for large capacity. Over the years, however, SSDs have gotten bigger capacities, but for the most part, they still trail HDDs in that regard -- particularly in the consumer market..

Today,?TEAMGROUP launches a new consumer solid state drive that offers the best of both worlds. Simply called "QX," this?3D QLC SATA 2.5-inch SSD offers an insane?15.3TB capacity. Before you get too excited, you should know the price -- it costs nearly $4,000.

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Dynabook Portégé X30W-J and X30L-J are lightweight Intel Tiger Lake laptops

AMD has owned 2020 with its excellent Ryzen mobile processors, but you didn't expect Intel to remain quiet, did you? With its new 11th gen Core processors (also known as Tiger Lake), Intel is looking to battle back quite strongly -- especially with the new Iris Xe graphics.

Today, Dynabook announces two new durable (MIL-STD-810G) Portégé laptops that are powered by these new Intel chips. Called "X30W-J" and "X30L-J," the former is a traditional clam shell, while the latter is a 2-in-1. Both lightweight laptops have 13.3-inch screens and can be configured with either a Core i5-1135G7 or i7-11-65G7 processor. The?X30W-J can be had with up to 48GB RAM (wow), while the?X30L-J is limited to 32GB. They both have high-end features like Thunderbolt 4 and Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) too.

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Ubuntu Linux 20.10 Groovy Gorilla Beta is coming soon

The popular Ubuntu Linux gets two new versions a year, with one coming in April, and the other in October. Its version numbering scheme is based on year (YY), a period, and the month (MM). For instance, the most recent stable version was released this past April and it is numbered as 20.04. In addition, Canonical (the operating system's owner) assigns names -- sequentially and alphabetically. The alphanumeric code name is always based on two words starting with the same sequential letter -- an adjective followed by an animal name. The aforementioned 20.04 is named "Focal Fossa."

Obviously, the next version of Ubuntu will be numbered 20.10, and it will be given a two-word code name based on the letter "G." This time, the operating system will be called "Groovy Gorilla." Thankfully, development of the operating system seems to be on schedule, as it recently received a feature freeze. What does this mean? Essentially, moving forward, Ubuntu 20.10 should only receive bug fixes -- no more features will be introduced unless by exception. It also signals that the upcoming Beta release should be released on schedule as expected.

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PinePhone Manjaro Community Edition Linux smartphone is on the way

Linux owns the smartphone market thanks to Android. While some think Apple's iOS is superior, and maybe it is, that is merely opinion. The fact is, Android has a much larger market share -- it is undeniably more popular. And yet, some Linux enthusiasts are not satisfied with that. Some of these people feel Android is not "true" Linux, but that is just stupidity. The truth is, Android uses the open source kernel, so it is Linux -- end of discussion.

But OK, if you are a Linux fan but an Android detractor, there are some other options, such as the Purism Librem 5 and Pine64 PinePhone. Speaking of the latter, that phone is offered in "Community Edition" variants, and very soon, there will be an official Manjaro version! Yes, you will be able to buy a?PinePhone with Manjaro Linux pre-installed on it. There are two variants -- one has 2GB RAM and 16GB of storage for $149, and the other has 3GB memory and double the storage for only $50 more. Other specs can be found here.

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Open source Mario Kart clone SuperTuxKart 1.2 is FREE on Windows, Mac, and Linux

Some people think you need expensive hardware to have fun playing video games, but the truth is, you don't. Believe it or not, there are plenty of free games that can run well on a fairly meager PC. No, I am not just talking about emulating classic video games (piracy is bad, mmkay). Actually, there are some really fun PC games that you can legally download at no charge.

One such popular game is SuperTuxKart. This open source Mario Kart clone is totally FREE on Windows, Mac, and Linux. It can even be had on Android too. Rather than use Nintendo mascots, the racers in SuperTuxKart are based on open source projects -- it is quite cute. The game even has network support these days, so you can have a multiplayer experience over the internet. SuperTuxKart recently reached version 1.2, and the new version is chock full of improvements. The developers are also sharing their plans for the future of the game.

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TEAMGROUP releases affordable MP33 PRO NVMe PCIe Gen3x4 M.2 SSD

Solid state storage technology is constantly improving. The truth, however, is while PCIe Gen 4 SSDs are now available, they are total overkill for most consumers. Hell, most people would be more than fine with a meager SATA drive. With that said, the previous-generation PCIe Gen 3 SSDs are now very inexpensive (and quite fast) making them a smart buy whether you truly need the extra speed or not. In other words, a SATA SSD should probably be avoided nowadays unless your PC simply isn't compatible with anything else.

Today,?TEAMGROUP releases its latest NVMe PCIe M.2 SSD, and it is very affordable. Called "MP33 PRO," it isn't the fastest such drive, but it is certainly speedier than any SATA drive. While it lacks a fancy heatsink or flashy sticker, it will be offered in two PCB colors -- blue and black. While both colors are nice, the black is certainly the better looking of the two.

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Google is putting Nest Hub smart displays in some hotel rooms, and that's totally fine

I consider myself to be rather privacy conscious, but I am not overly paranoid. Do I want Google having microphones in my home? Not really, but the convenience of being able to summon the Google Assistant with my voice outweighs my concerns. And so, I have a few Google Nest devices in my home -- including a Nest Hub smart display in my bedroom. Ultimately, consumers need to weigh the pros and cons before putting, say, an Amazon Echo or Nest Mini in their homes.

Now, Google is partnering with some hotels to put?Nest Hub smart displays in their rooms. In other words, when guests enter their room, they will be confronted by the smart device. While some privacy pundits will decry this partnership, I welcome it. First of all, the functionality does not require the guest to login -- it will work without that. While the?Nest Hub smart display has a microphone, it can be totally disabled via a?hardware switch. Best of all, Nest Hub has no camera, so there is no risk of it recording video of your... adult activities. The search giant promises no audio recordings are stored either. Seems all good to me!

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Plugable launches elegant ?USB-C? ?7-in-1? ?Hub? for Windows,? ?macOS,? ?and? ?Chromebooks

If you buy a new laptop nowadays, there is a good chance it will only have USB-C ports. If you still have older USB-A devices, what are you to do? Yeah, you can buy a USB-C to USB-A dongle, but with multi-port hubs being so affordable, you are better getting one of those. After all, they often have much more value, by offering things like video output and card readers too.

Today, popular company Plugable launches its latest portable USB-C hub (it can also be used at home too, of course). The 7-in-1 hub provides all the things you would expect, like USB-A ports, 4K HDMI, SD card readers, and pass through charging. While it lacks Ethernet, that won't really matter to those that only use Wi-Fi anyway. Best of all, it is extremely affordable -- you can get it right now for less than $25...

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Apple donating money to National Park Foundation

President Theodore Roosevelt is largely responsible for kick-starting the national parks movement in America, and we should all be thankful for his thoughtfulness and focus on conservationism. Sadly, these parks are often under attack, most recently by the Trump Administration. Of course, it shouldn't be surprising that a real estate mogul would be a threat to protected land. Hell, if Trump had his way, the?national parks would probably be filled with tacky condominiums!

If you want to help protect these parks, all you have to do is buy an Apple product! You see, starting on 8/24 (today) and running through 8/30, the iPhone-maker will donate $10?to the National Park Foundation for every purchase made using Apple Pay at a physical Apple Store, on Apple.com, or with the official Apple Store app. Yeah, depending on how you look at it, they are essentially donating your money and taking the credit. This is to celebrate the 104th birthday of the USA's national parks, which occurs on 8/25. Money aside, the company is also helping people learn more about?these national treasures.

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Synology launches DiskStation DS1520+

How to handle storage is a very tricky business. Some people prefer storing files locally, while others like the convenience of the cloud. Thankfully, you don't necessarily have to choose between the two -- you can sort of get both simultaneously. In other words, you can set up a network attached storage (NAS) device to store your files locally but also access them on the go -- a self-hosted cloud, if you will.

Synology is one of the most trusted names in network storage, and for good reason. Its storage/server devices are very robust -- high-quality and chock full of features. I have personally been testing one recently, and find it a great way to backup files and access media files (Plex server FTW). Today, Synology launches its latest such product. Called "DiskStation DS1520+," it has an impressive five bays. It also has two NVMe PCIe SSD slots for cache.

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WD My Passport SSD is a fast, beautiful, and durable USB-C NVMe solid state drive

I still remember getting my first-ever solid state drive -- a SATA model with a small capacity by today's standards. It was mind-blowing to see how fast Windows could boot from it. Also great? No longer being forced to hear the sound of a mechanical hard drive seeking for data. All things considered, the transition from HDD to SSD was one of the most significant upgrades of my entire computing life. And you know what? I am sure many consumers would say the same.

With all of that said, solid state drives aren't just great inside computers -- they work wonderfully outside of them too. What do I mean by that? I am referring to portable storage. Thanks to NVMe drives, external storage devices can be faster and tinier than ever. Not to mention, with USB-C, you never have to worry about plugging in the connector the wrong way either. Today, Western Digital launches such a drive and it is absolutely gorgeous. Called "WD My Passport SSD," it features an internal NVMe drive, USB-C connectivity, and a beautiful metal exterior that oozes elegance.

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