Tag Archives: ELECTRONIC

Could Microsoft kill off the Surface in 2019?

Microsoft will stop making Surface hardware when 2019 rolls around, at least according to the head of one analyst firm, and a big cheese exec at Lenovo.

This claim emerged at the Canalys Channels Forum, where the chief executive of analyst company Canalys, Steve Brazier, noted that Microsoft had a lot of cost-cutting to do when it came to balancing the books, and that the “Surface will be the first target”.

As the Register reports, Brazier noted that Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella is a ‘cloud and software guy’, and that Microsoft’s convertible notebooks would go the same way as its smartphones.

Brazier observed: “The Surface performance is choppy; there are good quarters and bad quarters, overall they are not making money. It doesn’t make sense for them to be in this business.”

He further added that bean counters and the denizens of Wall Street will question why Nadella has forged a path into a low-margin business here.

Gianfranco Lanci, corporate president and COO at Lenovo, not only agreed with Brazier’s assessment, but felt Microsoft could shutter the Surface business even earlier than the year after next.

Lanci commented on the alleged impending shutdown: “It might be earlier [than 2019]. Microsoft is making a lot of money on cloud, making a lot of money on Windows and Office, but losing a lot of money on devices. And frankly speaking, it is difficult to see why they should keep losing money.”

Looking beneath the Surface

So, what to make of this? Surface hybrids have always had their ups and downs – ever since Microsoft launched the first device back in 2012, which was hampered by its high price and operating system (Windows RT) – and the premium price tag is something which has never gone away.

In recent times, we’ve seen a dip in Surface revenue, which was down 2% in Microsoft’s last reported fiscal quarter, and dropped a far more worrying 26% year-on-year in the previous quarter.

Although that contrasts markedly with last year when sales became stronger, and indeed Microsoft was claiming its ‘best sales to consumers ever‘ at the close of 2016.

It’s a variable sales picture, that much is clear, although part of the reason for the drop certainly throughout the earlier part of this year might simply be the fact that a refresh had been due for so long (and it finally went on sale in June).

But even if Surface isn’t making any money overall as Brazier claims, the line of hybrids isn’t just about filling the coffers. Indeed breaking even could be just fine, because the Surface products can be viewed not as a financial investment, but rather an investment in reputation.

The idea has always been that Surface is there to show hardware partners what can be done with Windows devices, and to blaze a trail for the hybrid concept with Microsoft’s OS. Something it has done very ably – just look at our review of the latest Surface Pro, which is a very slickly designed piece of kit.

Admitting defeat?

Also consider that to do away with the Surface line would be an admission of defeat when it comes to Windows hardware, and that’s certainly not a step Microsoft would want to take – a failure in the laptop arena, following a disaster with smartphone hardware in missing the mobile boat?

Microsoft also appears to be trying to follow the Apple model with its retail stores, and is expanding on this front, with plans just revealed to open the first UK bricks-and-mortar outlet in London (next door to Apple, in fact). And of course, Microsoft needs some hardware to showcase in these shops.

So you can talk about the cost of Surface hardware, but if the hybrids were canned, that’s a lot of reputational fallout to be dealing with – an equally damaging cost which might not hurt the coffers, but will potentially put a big dent in the Microsoft brand.

These are all reasons why it seems a little unlikely to be talking about the demise of Surface devices as soon as the year after next, even if Microsoft’s clear focus is on cloud and software, where the real money is generated.

Maybe we’re missing something in the big fiscal picture at Microsoft, which Brazier has his finger on the pulse of, but only time will tell.

The Surface Book being killed off in the near-ish future, on the other hand, is something that we can envision, given that this is a highly niche part of the hybrid range. And we seem to have waited forever for the Surface Book 2

  • One of Microsoft’s Surface devices is on our best laptops list

      

The best free anti-ransomware software 2017

If you’re unlucky enough to fall victim to ransomware attack, your first instinct might be to reach for your wallet to save your files, but it’s better to stay calm and look for an alternative solution. Many of the big names in PC security provides tools that will release your PC from ransomware and don’t charge for the privilege. There are also dedicated tools to prevent programs that behaves like known ransomware from running on your PC at all.

Before you get started, it’s useful to recognize that there are two main types of ransomware: the kind that encrypts your files and threatens to delete them unless you pay a fee (like WannaCry), and the kind that locks you out completely by preventing you reaching your desktop. Thankfully, there are free tools to combat both types.

If you haven’t yet fallen victim to a ransomware attack and want to protect your PC proactively, consider a dedicated prevention tool like ZoneAlarm Anti-Ransomware, which uses behavioral analysis to identify processes that act like ransomware – even if it’s not yet a specific known threat – and automatically backs up your files if it detects anything. It carries a subscription fee, so we haven’t included it in our main roundup, but $1.99 per month for one PC is a modest fee compared to the ransoms charged by criminals.

Not all ransomware encrypts data in the same way, so security software providers have to create specific solutions as new threats emerge. At the time of writing, the security experts at Avast have developed Free Ransomware Decryption Tools to tackle 21 different strains of file-locking ransomware.

To help you work out which one you need, Avast has provided a detailed description of how each form of ransomware works, what extension you’ll see on the encrypted files, and an example of the type of message the virus creators have prepared for their victims.

Once you’ve downloaded the appropriate tool, it will guide you through the process of wiping out the ransomware without paying the criminals. You’ll need to provide two versions of the same file – an encrypted one, and the original.

This will be easiest if you made a backup before the infection, but Avast also suggests locations where you might be able to find unaffected original files. The tool will then compare the two and use the results to determine the password.

Download here: Avast Free Ransomware Decryption Tools

Trend Micro Ransomware File Decryptor is updated regularly with new ransomware definitions, and at the time of writing it can release files locked by 27 different types of ransomware and their variants.

Unlike Avast, Trend Micro bundles all its decryption tools into one bundle, but you still need to tell it what form of ransomware it’s dealing with. Trend Micro’s site provides information to help you identify your particular infection, plus contact details for its technical support department if you’re not sure.

Once that’s done, provide a sample file for the Decryptor to analyze, and it will get to work. Decryption can take anything from a couple of minutes to several hours, depending on the type of encryption used.

The File Decryptor Tool isn’t perfect – some forms of ransomware are particularly tricky, and can only be partially decrypted – but the company is constantly working to improve it, and it’s an excellent tool for use in an emergency.

Download here: Trend Micro Ransomware File Decryptor Tool

There are two Trend Micro Ransomware Screen Unlocker Tools – one for PCs that are locked so you can’t log into Normal Mode, but you can access Safe Mode with Networking via the BIOS menu, and another for situations where both mode are blocked.

The first of these can be downloaded directly on the affected PC in Safe Mode with Networking. Once it’s installed, reboot the PC into Normal Mode (with the locked screen) and tap [Ctrl]+[Alt]+[T]+[I] to scan for ransomware and remove it,

The other version of the tool has to be downloaded using an uninfected computer and saved to a USB stick. You can then use to boot the locked machine. Once initiated, the unlocker will perform a scan, then remove any ransomware it detects, releasing your PC.

Like Trend Micro’s File Decryptor, the two versions of Screen Unlocker benefit from regular updates to combat new forms of ransomware.

Download here: Trend Micro Ransomware Screen Unlocker Tools

There are lots of superb free antivirus programs around, but not all offer dedicated protection against ransomware. If your you’re concerned about the risk, Bitdefender Anti-Ransomware is a handy supplemental security tool that runs alongside your usual security software to protect against some of the most common forms of ransomware and their offshoots.

Bitdefender Anti-Ransomware currently protects against VTB-Locker, Locky, Petya and TeslaCrypt, and starts defending your PC from these threats immediately. However, it’s only a preventative measure; if your computer has already been infected with one of these malicious programs, you’ll need to use one of the tools mentioned above instead.

If you currently use Bitdefender Antivirus, the Anti-Ransomware module is already installed.

Download here: Bitdefender Anti-Ransomware

Ransomware on your home computer is bad enough, but an infection that locks you out of your business PCs could be an absolute disaster. Your accounts, customer data, client information and work could all be encrypted – and it could affect multiple machines on the same network.

Kaspersky Anti-Ransomware Tool for Business is designed to help small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) protect their data from such a catastrophe. Like Bitdefender Anti-Ransomware, it’s a preventative tool designed to prevent infection in the first place rather than decrypt files or unlock your desktop.

Kaspersky Anti-Ransomware Tool runs happily alongside your regular security suite, monitoring network activity for anything that matches known ransomware behavior. Its threat database is stored on Kaspersky’s cloud servers, so updates are pushed out to all users immediately

Download here: Kaspersky Anti-Ransomware Tool for Business

      

Here’s why having an Amazon Prime subscription is a good idea

As most of you know, Amazon Great Indian Festival sale is live from today on wards. There are tons of deals and offers on wide range of product categories for all the customers, but being an Amazon Prime member has its own perks, which turns out to be really effective in sales like these.

Amazon Prime is a subscription based membership from Amazon that offers numerous benefits to its users. Currently, the service is being offered in eight countries and the benefits include free one-day delivery, access to Prime Videos and Prime Music among other benefits.

Amazon Prime was launched in India in July 2016. The company had launched the service with a annual fee of Rs. 999, however, as an introductory offer, the subscription is being offered at Rs. 499. If you are looking to buy Prime Subscription, you need to hurry as recent reports indicate that Amazon is going to increase the annual fee to Rs. 999 within a few days.

In India, Amazon Prime users enjoy free one-day delivery and two-day delivery on eligible items, access to Prime Videos and early access to deals during various sales and 30-minute early access to Lightning deals. Amazon is also expected to launch Amazon Music in India very soon. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of Amazon Prime subscription.

Benefits of Amazon Prime

  • Unlimited free one-day, two-day and standard delivery on over 11 Million items in 100+ Indian cities.
  • Save Rs. 100 on One-day delivery, Rs. 80 on two-day delivery and Rs. 50 on standard delivery.
  • No minimum order value for free delivery on Amazon Prime products.
  • Enjoy unlimited access to Amazon Prime Videos on your smartphone, tablet, computer and smart TVs.
  • Get early access to deals during sales and a 30-minute early access to top deals everyday.
  • Browse upcoming deals and get notifications by clicking on ‘Watch this deal’
  • Get a discount of 15% on diaper subscriptions and members with a Baby Wish List get a one-time discount of 15%.
  • Prime users also get discounted delivery on Amazon Pantry orders and access to Special Prime promotions on Wednesdays.

Current Offers

Here are some of the offers that are currently available for Amazon Prime users:

  • 20% cashback up to Rs. 300 on loading Amazon Pay balance (New users only)
  • Rs. 300 cashback on selected mobiles and laptops (New users only)
  • Watch 5 movies or TV episodes on Prime Video in October and stand a chance to win a Fire TV Stick.

Apart from this, there are certain offers that will be available to Prime users during the Great Indian Festival sale. They are,

  • Buy BPL 55-inches full HD LED TV and get free BPL 32-inches HD Ready LED TV
  • Rs. 499 cashback on Fire TV Stick
  • Rs.300 off on Kindle Paperwhite
  • 30% off on Fitbit Charge 2 Activity Tracker
  • 59% off on Sennheiser HD 598 SR
  • 50% off on Prestige PIC 15.0+ 1900-Watt Induction Cooktop

Click here to become an Amazon Prime member.

      

The best free word processor 2017

A good word processor is one of the few pieces of software you simply can’t live without. You might be able to manage without a spreadsheet tool or something for making slideshows, but text documents are unavoidable. Thankfully, you don’t need to splash out on a full Microsoft Office subscription; there are some superb word processors available to download and use completely free.

Here we’re looking at the very best word processors that can be used offline (particularly useful for distraction-free writing), but there are also several excellent browser-based tools to consider if you’d rather do your writing online.

Google Docs is the most obvious choice, and has the advantage of saving your work automatically so you don’t have to worry if your connection fails. It’s also a good choice for collaborative working, and means you don’t have to upload work to a separate cloud storage service. However, it has a limited selection of templates, there’s no way to import content from other Google applications, and any online tool is going to be surrounded by distractions like social media.

If you’d prefer an offline word processor, read on – the perfect one is only a click away.

If you’ve used a modern version of Microsoft Word, there’ll be no learning curve at all when you switch to Writer – the word processing component of WPS Office Free.

This free word processor looks and behaves almost exactly like its premium counterpart, and even has its own equivalent of OneDrive, offering 1GB free cloud storage.

Its selection of pre-installed templates gives you everything you need for common document types, and you can easily create your own for bespoke tasks. It’s compatible with every text file format you can think of, including current and legacy versions of Microsoft Word dating back to Office 97.

WPS Office Writer is supported by discrete ads, which can be removed by upgrading to the premium version, but they’re barely noticeable and no features are locked behind a paywall. Overall, WPS Writer is very impressive, and in our opinion it’s the best free word processor available to download today.

WPS recently launched a free PDF to Word converter as well, which is a great companion to its word processor.

Review and where to download: WPS Office Free WPS Office Free

LibreOffice is a fork of Apache OpenOffice, and although there are some differences between the two suites (LibreOffice receives more frequent updates, for example, and has a more lively userbase), their word processing components are so similar, we’re listing them together.

Both versions of Writer are feature-packed analogs of Microsoft Word, packed with all the features you could possibly need for any text-based work.

The two versions of Writer include wizards and templates for common document types, such as invoices and letters, and it’s easy to create your own templates for future use as well. The word processors also work together with the other office software in their respective suites – so you can use Base to create a bibliography, for example.

Both word processors support all the most popular file formats, and can export documents to PDF without the need for additional software. If you’re looking for a word processor that can stand in for Microsoft Word, either of these two will be a perfect candidate.

Review and where to download: LibreOffice

Review and where to download: Apache OpenOffice

If you simply want to hammer out some words without worrying about formatting, you could just use Windows’ built-in Notepad app, but FocusWriter is full of clever tools that will help you maximize productivity without ever getting in the way.

As the name implies, FocusWriter blocks out all distractions so you can give that all-important first draft your full attention. In normal use, all you see is a blank page – toolbars are only visible if you move your mouse pointer to the edge of the screen – but there’s a killer feature in Focused Text, which fades everything into the background except the current paragraph or sentence.

FocusWriter also features alerts that are triggered at certain times, or when you’ve reached a predefined word count, so you don’t need to worry about watching a counter (as you would in Microsoft Word). This also makes FocusWriter a good tool to use in tandem with the Pomodoro Technique, which involves working hard for a period of time that’s long enough for you to work productively, but not so long that you become fatigued.

It’s not suitable for editing, but for productivity, FocusWriter is hard to beat.

Review and where to download: FocusWriter

TextMaker – the word processing element of SoftMaker FreeOffice – is good looking, and comes with several handy templates for creating letters and other everyday documents. The selection isn’t as extensive as some of its rivals’, but you can also make new designs for future use and save them in TMV format.

All the features you’d expect from a modern word processor are present and correct, including advanced formatting options, the ability to create databases for managing bibliographies and footnotes, and a function for tracking changes to collaborative projects.

The only real drawback of TextMaker is its inability to save your work in DOCX format (though you can open and edit these files with no difficulty). This feature is limited to the premium version of SoftMaker Office, which retails for £48.20 (about US$60, AU$75).

Download here: SoftMaker FreeOffice

WriteMonkey is another no-frills word processor designed to help you maximize your output without fussing with editing and formatting. It’s not intended for documents like letters or CVs, but is great for committing early ideas to paper (or screen) so you have the raw material to develop later.

Unlike FocusWriter, which is compatible with all the most common text formats (including Microsoft’s DOC and DOCX), WriteMonkey only works with TXT files, so you’ll have to convert any works in progress before opening them. WriteMonkey’s hidden controls are tricker to navigate, too – everything is accessed via a large right-click menu, or a vast collection of keyboard shortcuts.

That said, if you’re happy to commit those shortcuts to memory, you’ll find WriteMonkey faster to use than toolbar-based alternatives.

We also like the ability to look words up in Wikipedia, Google Images, Poetry.com, Answers.com, and many others without opening a browser winder manually and leaving yourself open to the temptations of Twitter and Facebook.

WriteMonkey is a portable app, so there’s no need to install it – just extract all the downloaded files to a removable drive or cloud storage service and fire it up by running the file WriteMonkey.exe.

Review and where to download: WriteMonkey

      

Surface Laptop banishes storage woes as 1TB SSD model goes on sale

There’s some good news for folks who have been thinking of buying a Surface Laptop but wanted to max out the storage, as you can now specify a 1TB SSD with the notebook.

Previously, this option was unavailable, and the maximum capacity SSD which could be chosen was 512GB.

However, note that the 1TB drive is only available in one certain configuration at the moment.

You’ll need to be purchasing the platinum color Surface Laptop, and you’ll also have to max the rest of the spec out – meaning you must choose the Core i7 processor along with 16GB of system memory.

Shades of gray

Any other configuration means the option for a 1TB SSD will still be grayed out, although presumably this will change in the future, and maximum storage will also become available in different color models. Although Microsoft hasn’t said anything on the matter right now.

So, how much will the platinum Surface Laptop Core i7, 16GB with 1TB SSD set you back? The asking price on Microsoft’s web store is a rather eye-watering £2,699, or $2,699 in the US (AU$3,999 over in Australia).

The same model with a 512GB SSD is priced at £2,149 in the UK ($2,199 in the US), so you’re paying an extra £550 (or $500) to double the size of the drive – ouch indeed.

Still, for those who really need the storage space in their notebook, it’s certainly good to have the option to step things up.

Via: Windows Central

  • At least one of Microsoft’s Surface devices made it onto our list of best laptops

      

Yahoo now claims all 3 billion accounts were affected in 2013 data breach

Remember the news about the big Yahoo data breach last year? More importantly, remember wondering if your data was affected? As it turns out, yes, merely having an account back then meant your information ended up in the hands of the perpetrators.

Back then, Yahoo thought “only” 1 billion people were affected (up from initial reports of 500 million). But today the beleaguered company released a disclosure notice to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reporting the discovery of new evidence proving that the breach extended to every one of the 3 billion accounts registered at the time.

The SEC is a federal agency that protects investors and helps ensure fair business practices.

Yahoo discovered the new evidence during the ongoing process of merging with AOL to create the new company, Oath, following its full acquisition by Verizon earlier this year.

Revelations, revelations

After relaying the bad news, the notice immediately launches into defensive mode, asserting that Yahoo “took action to protect all accounts.”

This “action” included informing the known affected users about the breach, requiring password changes, and removing any encrypted security questions and answers that might be used to access an account.

Remember, though, that the data breaches actually took place in 2013, so all this notifying took place three years after the fact. The news is also problematic as this means roughly 2 billion users didn’t get direct notifications. Yahoo points out, though, that it also notified all users of the breach on its website.

Verizon is almost certainly less than thrilled with the news as the breach was the primary reason for the $350 million discount it received off the price of Yahoo. As we reported almost exactly a year ago, the breach almost cost Yahoo the entire deal.

      

Windows 10 Fall Creators Update is now set in stone ahead of release

Microsoft has pushed out a new preview build for Windows 10, which marks the transition of the Fall Creators Update to being set in stone, ahead of its rollout in two weeks.

The company has released Windows Insider build 16299.15 to the Fast Ring last night, which is, as Winsupersite reports, essentially the same as version 16299. Very minor changes, like removing the watermark on the desktop, and the lack of a build expiration date, are about its only differentiators.

Going forward, Dona Sarkar (head of the Windows Insider Program at Microsoft) noted that this build will be serviced via cumulative updates delivered by Windows Update, and there won’t be any more new builds delivered (just tweaks to this one).

Ready then, Microsoft?

As everything is now finished, this is, effectively, what’s known as the RTM (release to manufacturing – the final build vendors can preinstall on hardware) version of the Fall Creators Update, all but for the fact that Microsoft hasn’t officially announced that just yet.

With the Fall Creators Update now finalized, all that’ll be coming down the cumulative update pipeline will be bug fixes – and hopefully not too many of them at this point.

As mentioned, the Fall Creators Update is unleashed on October 17, and testers will be shifted over to Redstone 4, the next major upgrade in the pipeline due to release next year.

      

Best Android tablets of 2017: which should you buy?

Google Pixel C

Finding the best Android tablet isn’t an easy buying decision, as they come in all shapes, sizes and prices. But there’s hope.

We’ve tested and sorted through the latest Android tablets in order to come up with a top 10 list, all ranked below. Our recommendations are a combination of performance for your dollar, design, features, build quality and value.

This comprehensive Android tablet list will be updated frequently throughout 2017, as Samsung, Google and many other companies continue to release new tablets and upgrade the software with Android Nougat and Android O.

Here are the best tablets that you can buy this year.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is easily the best Android tablet to date, headlined by an HDR-ready display, four powerful speakers and an upgraded S Pen that’s included inside the box. The keyboard folio is a worthwhile extra.

It shocks us to say this, but it’s actually a bit too future-proofed in some ways. Its HDR screen looks great, but the trove of promised content from Netflix and Amazon isn’t here yet – at least not on tablets. But that shouldn’t stop you from considering Samsung’s latest and greatest if what you’re after is a top-tier Android tablet.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

Google Pixel C

The Asus ZenPad 3S 10 might look like an iPad in design, but given its roots in Android, it’s obviously a much different beast.

For your money, it’s a hard ask to find another Android tablet that puts classy design at the forefront like the ZenPad 3S 10. Paired with its gorgeous 2K display and strong audio performance, it makes quite the impression from a multimedia perspective.

Our review points out that there are a few low points in the presentation, like the average battery life, but issues aside, the amount of features and performance level you get here is well worth the low asking price.

Read the full review: Asus ZenPad 3S 10

Google Pixel C

Google’s first foray into crafting its very own tablets started couldn’t have gone much better. While it was once the best Android tablet out there, the Pixel C is still recommended for a few reasons.

Its design borrows from the gorgeous Chromebook Pixel, then builds upon it with versatility to allow easy switching between a standalone tablet or a laptop. Android power-users will also appreciate that it runs stock OS and thus, like Nexus and Pixel products, the Pixel C is now running the latest software, Android Nougat, with support for Android O coming soon.

The Pixel C certainly isn’t cheap, but you won’t find another Android tablet packed with this slick combination of power, style and the latest software updates.

Read the full review: Google Pixel C

Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro

Most tablets are very similar to one another, but not the Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro. It sits in its own sub-category of Android tablets that try and succeed at being weird, yet awesome.

This tablet has all of the usual amenities that one desires in a 2017 tablet, including some extras, such as 2,560 x 1600 display and a huge 10,200mAh battery. But this tablet also houses a hidden projector that can splash the screen onto a wall for night-time viewing. Cool, right? It’s novel and useful.

Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro

The Amazon Fire HD 8 (2017) is among the best of the retail giant’s tablets, as while it’s in many ways lower end than the similar HD 10, the smaller screen is sharper as a result, and the price is lower.

It also delivers surprisingly strong gaming performance, with a decent amount of power for the money. The speakers aren’t great and the cameras are awful, but tablets aren’t for taking photos and you can always use headphones.

What you do get is solid if not spectacular performance, and tight integration with Amazon’s other services through Fire OS, all at a price that’s well below most of the non-Amazon branded competition. You should also note that if you already own the 2016 version of this tablet, it won’t be worth upgrading to the 2017 version as the differences are very minimal.

Read the full review: Amazon Fire HD 8 (2017)

The Amazon Fire HD 10 is the company’s flagship tablet, but to call it a flagship is misleading, as while it’s top of the range it sports middling specs at best. But that’s okay because it’s very, very affordable.

Its 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 screen doesn’t provide a very sharp picture, but audio fares much better thanks to loud and clear stereo speakers, and with up to 64GB of built in storage plus a microSD card slot there’s plenty of room for apps, games and other media.

Which is all good, because this being an Amazon product you’re faced with things to buy, download, rent and stream at every turn.

Read the full review: Amazon Fire HD 10

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

Samsung is firing straight at the iPad’s greatest weakness with the Galaxy Tab S2: storage capacity. The latest from the popular smartphone and tablet maker offers 32GB of internal storage as the standard out of the box, with support for up to 128GB via the microSD slot.

It also stands out amongst the greater tablet competition with a stellar 2,048 x 1,536 Super AMOLED display and Samsung’s own zippy Exynos 7 5433 octa-core chipset, which consists of a 1.9GHz quad-core processor working in tandem with a 1.3GHz quad-core processor.

Given that the Tab S3 sits at the top of our list, the S2 still comes recommended given that it is now an even better deal.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

Tablets don’t get any cheaper than this – well, functional ones don’t anyway. The incredibly low price and sturdy design make the Amazon Fire a great choice to give to a kid – in fact, Amazon’s even built a (pricier) version specifically for children.

But even for a grown audience the Amazon Fire far exceeds expectations, with a fairly bright 7.0-inch screen, acceptable speakers, solid battery life and even reasonable performance, with a snappy interface and the ability to run most games.

Fire OS won’t suit everyone and this isn’t a tablet that impresses once you take the price out of the equation, but for what the Amazon Fire costs it would almost be rude not to consider it.

Read the full review: Amazon Fire 7 (2017)

Samsung Galaxy Tab S

There’s no shame in buying last-gen tech products. The best-case scenario sees you saving a bunch of cash, while still having access to fairly modern specifications. And with the Galaxy Tab S, that’s exactly what you’ll get, plus some.

The Galaxy Tab S3 is the latest and greatest in Samsung’s line of tablets. But the Tab S is still a respectable purchase, packing in impressive specs like a Super AMOLED display pushing 2560 x 1600.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S

      

The best free presentation software 2017

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You know what it’s like to sit through a bad presentation – slides packed with dense text and cheesy transitions leaving you confused, bored, or both.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. A presentation with engaging visuals and creative use of animation can really grab an audience’s attention, get them engaged, and make sure they actually remember the information.

Although Microsoft Powerpoint has become almost synonymous with presentations, it isn’t the only way to get your slides on screen. If you don’t fancy paying for a Microsoft Office subscription, there are lots of free tools that will help you create attention-grabbing slideshows, and are quick and easy to use.

Once known as Kingsoft Office, WPS Office Free is, in interface terms, about as close to Microsoft’s office software as you’re likely to find. WPS Presentation (its PowerPoint-alike) has enough muscle to perform just about every task you’d expect of a slideshow app.

WPS Presentation is fully compatible with PPT and PPTX files, and incredibly stable – as you might expect from commercial software that’s been around for this long. The range of templates on offer is particularly impressive, and there’s also a stack of animations, transitions and effects to choose from. There’s even support for embedding numerous different file types including Flash SWF files and most video formats.

This flexibility makes WPS Office the best free presentation software. Read on for four more of the best tools for bringing your slideshows to life.

Review and where to download: WPS Office Free

Download LibreOffice Impress free

LibreOffice‘s free presentation software, Impress, has an, er, impressive pedigree. It also has a raft of features and templates at its disposal, but don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s an exact PowerPoint analog.

Certain features of more modern PowerPoint versions aren’t included (internet broadcast, collaboration, animated diagrams) though LibreOffice Impress adds some pretty cool features of its own, like various export formats including SWF, import compatibility with Keynote files, and full support for embedding fonts in your presentations. Plus, of course, it’s completely free open source software.

There’s another benefit, too: you’ll need to do some heavy work to get Office 365 running on anything earlier than Windows 7, but LibreOffice Impress maintains compatibility right back to Windows XP.

Review and where to download: LibreOffice

Try iCloud Keynote free

Apple’s flagship presentation software is, in our opinion, the best part of the suite formerly known as iWork, and it’s free to anyone who owns a post-2013 Mac. However, we think Keynote’s best incarnation is the one that comes as part of its iCloud online app suite, mainly because anyone with an Apple ID – whether they’re using macOS, Windows or Linux – gets free access through a web browser.

iCloud Keynote a pretty good translation of the package, though it’s a little closer to the iOS version than the desktop one. This means there are a few caveats you’ll have to live with. Documents created with the full version sometimes include elements which aren’t supported by the online version, and while you’ll have no problem creating some very flashy presentations with the numerous 4:3 and 16:9 templates, the simplistic tools mean they won’t match the complexity of those created by its desktop counterpart.

Anything you do create can be shared online by sending simple link to any recipient, or you can take your pick of Keynote, PDF or Powerpoint downloads.

Try it online: iCloud Keynote

Try Powtoon free

If you’ve seen animated infographics online, you might already have an idea of what Powtoon can offer; it’s perfect for creating video presentations slightly more lively and charming than the standard PowerPoint fare, with royalty-free music and eye-catching looks. Whether its blend of cartoony assets and sprightly animations is the right thing for you is another question.

Such frivolity may help you stand out, but it might single you out as a presenter who isn’t taking things seriously. That said, Powtoon’s dedicated Slides section provides a more traditional editor for making more straightforward slide decks, and anything you create there can be prettied up in the Studio section.

Try it online: Powtoon

Try Prezi free

Prezi‘s take on presentations is very different, since it does away with slide decks altogether in favour of a massive canvas. Cram it full of all your pertinent info, lock off views representing the most important areas, then zoom, twist, reveal and jump between them for a truly dynamic presentation.

It’s all very special and next-generation, and it’s certainly easy enough to get some brilliant looks out of Prezi’s online presentation tools, but there are some big downsides too. Primarily, the free edition makes all of your presentations public by default, presumably to discourage business users from exploiting the tool without paying for it.

There’s a secondary negative too: many people, faced with Prezi’s sometimes unpredictable movements, find themselves becoming somewhat seasick when watching particularly active presentations. Be careful with your movements, and watch a few of the advice videos on Prezi’s site so you’re sure you’re doing it right.

Try it online: Prezi

      

The 5 best 2-in-1 laptops of 2017: the best hybrid laptops ranked

Best 2-in-1 laptop

Now that Google’s leaked Pixelbook is shaping up to be much more than another premium Chromebook attempt, there’s yet another reason to be excited for the future of 2-in-1 laptops. But what about the present? While it’s true that Fuschia OS could shake up hybrid notebooks as we know them, let’s not undermine what Windows 10 has already accomplished.

That goes without mentioning Chrome OS, which has notably made its own contribution to our round-up of the best 2-in-1 laptops, namely in the form of the Asus Chromebook Flip. The rest of our list, however, is comprised of devices stacked with Microsoft’s latest operating system, thereby optimized for its Windows Ink functionality given their hybrid form factors.

So, whether you plan on purchasing one of the best 2-in-1 laptops now or in the future, we aim to keep this article consistently up to date with all of the latest and greatest devices we’ve reviewed. Below you’ll find full rundowns on a wide range of hybrids, each of which has been thoroughly vetted by our staff prior to its inclusion.

With Kaby Lake now ruling the roost in terms of CPUs, HP decided it’s high time to flip the switch on its Spectre 2-in-1. With an overhauled keyboard and suave new logo, the HP Spectre x360 holds its own against anything Apple can show. At the same time, none of this stifles the battery life, which exceeds 8 hours of straight use. What’s more, the HP Spectre x360 can now be configured with a 4K screen and 1TB of SSD storage, too.

Read the full review: HP Spectre x360

Toting the same design as the original Surface Book, the Surface Book i7 hasn’t done away with the controversial fulcrum hinge, but it does boast 131% better graphics and a 20% improved battery life. For creative professionals with an artistic side, this is tempting. So long as it’s necessary for your workflow, it may be worth the lofty price of admission, too, even if you’re getting the short end of the stick in memory and SSD space.

Read the full review: Surface Book i7

If the 13-inch Lenovo Yoga 720 is a caterpillar, the 15-inch model is a majestic butterfly, freshly hatched from its snug cocoon. Outfitted with the choice between only the best HQ series Core i5 and i7 processors, this 2-in-1 is competitive spec-wise with the 15-inch MacBook Pro while remaining but a fraction of the cost of Apple’s flagship machine. What’s more, it even has the ports you know and love in addition to the still-blossoming USB Type-C interface.

Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga 720 (15-inch)

Unlike the Asus ZenBook Flip UX305 before it, the ZenBook Flip UX360 ditches the MacBook Air doppelgänger approach in favor of a hybrid design with a vast array of ports. Everything from USB-A to USB-C is present, along with micro HDMI and a microSD card reader. At the same time, it doesn’t neglect the wholly aluminum chassis of yesteryear, ultimately making the ZenBook Flip UX360 an excellent value.

Read the full review: Asus ZenBook Flip UX360

As homely as a laptop as it is a tablet, the Lenovo Yoga 720’s screen may be tethered by a hinge to its cushy keyboard, but its modest pricing and formidable design choices make it come easily recommended. Although you’ll be in search of the proper adapters if you need a second standard USB port, an SD card slot or HDMI, this laptop’s crystal clear display and hearty build quality make it a winner in our eyes.

Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga 720

Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article