Tag Archives: TECHNOLOGY

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite is $30 off right now on Amazon Prime Day Eve

There’s been a significant Amazon Kindle Paperwhite price drop today, just hours before the Amazon Prime Day deals kick off for a 30-hour stretch.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite is $30 off today only, which means you’re paying $79.99 for the most popular Amazon e-reader, as opposed to the usual $109.99.

Bear in mind that this is a Certified Refurbished Kindle Paperwhite e-reader, according to Amazon, which means it’s likely an open box scenario in which someone bought it and returned it within 30 days, not wanting it.

This is the best-selling Kindle, but you won’t be able to see today’s deal unless you’re a Prime member in the US or Prime Student subscriber.

More Amazon Prime Day news to come

Amazon Prime Day is now shaping up to be a massive sales day for the online retailer, on the scale of its Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.

Almost every Amazon device seems to be on sale, including Amazon Echo, and we expect the company to be hawking more of its goods.

Amazon Prime Day is technically tomorrow, starting at 6PM ET / 9PM PT, dipping into July 10. The official ‘Prime Day’ date is all day on July 11.

With deep discounts like this one for the Kindle Paperwhite 3rd Generation, we expect to see more refurbished items with price drops percentages in the double digits.

It’s a good sign. We’ll have more early deals, leaks and a rundown of the discounts at the link below.

      

Download of the day – Ryse: Son of Rome

GameSessions is a service that lets you try PC games free before deciding whether to buy them. Today, it launched GameSessions Giveaways – a new service that gives away games to download, play and keep for free.

The first freebie is third-person action adventure title Ryse: Son of Rome. The game is available to download for 30 days, and will be activated once you’ve played for about five minutes.

Are you not entertained?

Ryse follows the story of young Roman legionary Marius Titus, seeking refuge in the haunted, misty isles of Britannia after witnessing the slaughter of his family by barbarian marauders.

Once you’ve battled through the single-player campaign, Gladiator mode lets you team up with a friend to fights off waves of enemies and traps in the Colosseum. Are you ready to do your duty for Rome?

Download here: Ryse: Son of Rome

Download of the Day is our pick of the best free software around – whether it’s useful, fun, or just plain silly. If you have any recommendations, please send them to downloads@techradar.com.

      

Chromebooks are testing a touchscreen-friendly redesign

With more Chromebooks sporting touchscreens and even stylus support, like Samsung’s latest Chromebook Pro, it’s not surprising to see a touch-friendly launcher arrive for Chrome OS.

Note that this refreshed launcher is still in the experimental playing-around-with-it stage at this point and only present in the Canary channel (which is the test bed for new Chrome OS features).

As the YouTube video below shows, the launcher nestles at the bottom of the screen, showing just a small collection of suggested apps and a search bar. Users can swipe up to reveal the full bank of app icons. You also get the ability to trigger a voice search with a simple tap of the finger.

A touch early

Some of the commenting developers aren’t too impressed with the aesthetics of the launcher as it stands, but it’s still very early days – plus bear in mind that it will doubtless be pretty rough around the edges and glitch-filled, given that the feature is just making its debut in Canary.

Still, even if you’ve no intention of using it yet, it’s very definitely an interesting insight into the direction Google is heading here, and owners of touchscreen Chromebooks can only hope that progress down this particular avenue turns out to be swift.

Of course, Google is also busy implementing support for Android apps across Chromebooks, and all of the Chrome OS-toting laptops that launch this year will have this facility built in right out of the box.

Google has to keep its Chromebooks more competitive now that Microsoft has unleashed Windows 10 S, which aims to be a big hit in the education market – the cheap-and-cheerful territory where Google dominates.

Via: Engadget

      

Head back to school with $150 off the Microsoft Surface Book

Microsoft has made some major strides in education between Windows 10 S and its latest Surface Laptop, and now the company is kicking off its back to school sale.

A few notable items include a specially priced $899 Surface Pro 4 with a black type cover – one of the very few ways of getting Microsoft’s flagship tablet bundled with its essential keyboard. And in case you’re not a student, you can get the same package for $999.

Alternatively, the Surface Book sees an $150 discount that drops the price of the base model with an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and 128GB SSD to $1,349.

Sadly, the latest Surface Pro or Surface Laptop isn’t included in this back to school sale, but the latter can be picked up with an $100 discount if you’re a student. Purchasing any Surface device during this sale comes with a free three-month trial of Groove’s streaming music service.

Users can pick up Intel’s $429 Software Starter Pack, which includes seven creativity-center programs, when purchasing an Dell XPS 15, Dell XPS 13, HP Spectre x360, and Lenovo Yoga 910. Although, there isn’t a free Xbox One like last year, Microsoft is selling Xbox One S bundles with a $20 discount.

      

10 best Android tablets of 2017: which should you buy?

Google Pixel C

Find the best Android tablet in the US has increasingly become a difficult 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 Android software with Android Nougat and Android O.

Here are the best tablets 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’s actually a bit too future-proofed in some ways. Its HDR screen looks great, but 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 you want 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 chips, it makes quite the impression.

Our review points out that there are a few low points in the presentation, but issues aside, the amount of features and performance level you get here is well worth the rather 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. The Pixel C is the best Android tablet out there, and for a few reasons.

Its design borrows from the gorgeous Chromebook Pixel and 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.

The Pixel C certainly isn’t cheap, but you won’t find another Android tablet packed with as much power, style, and the latest software updates for years to come.

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, 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, but actually useful.

Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro

Nvidia Shield Tablet K1

One of the best things about the Huawei MediaPad M3 is its build quality. The slim, light aluminum frame looks and feels good in the hand.

The screen and speakers are great, too. These attributes make the MediaPad M3 a competent entertainment tablet. And despite a few instances of lousy gaming performance, the Kirin 950 does an admirable job of keeping things smooth.

You can find a cheaper tablet further down on the list, but you might be giving up a compact, premium design of the MediaPad M3.

Read the full review: Huawei MediaPad M3 8.0

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 still sports middling specs at best, but that’s okay, because it’s also 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 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 larger 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 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 buy 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

      

Sky and TalkTalk broadband hit by massive ongoing outage

Sky broadband (and phone) users have been hit by a major outage in the Sussex area, and the problem may not be fixed for some folks until this evening, with TalkTalk subscribers also affected.

The cause? Apparently extensive damage was caused to fibre optic cables by digging works carried out by a third party, who apparently speared some key cables with a fence post.

Sky says there are seven separate breaks in fibre cables which need to be repaired.

At the time of writing, the most recent tweet from the firm notes that several exchanges are back online now, although ‘stability may be [an] issue’ with connections.

A previous tweet stated that service should be restored for everyone by this evening.

So that means some Sky subscribers could still have a fair bit of downtime on their hands, for both broadband and phone service.

According to Sky, the affected areas include the following:

Baldslow, Battle, Beckley, Bexhill, Brede, Brightling, Brookland, Castleham, Cooden, Crowhurst, Guestling, Hastings, Iden, Lydd, Ninfield, Northiam, New Romney, Peasmarsh, Rye, Sedlescombe, Staplecross, Wittersham, Eastbourne, Hampden Park, Alfriston, Newhaven, Peacehaven, Polegate, Pevensey Marina, Pevensey, Seaford, East Dean.

TalkTalk downdown

As mentioned, this issue has also affected TalkTalk broadband, phone and TV services, with the ISP stating that customers connected to the Seaford, Newhaven, Herstmonceux, Ninfield and Polegate exchanges have been hit by downtime.

On its service status dashboard, TalkTalk says that Openreach currently has a team of engineers repairing the cables, and the situation is the same as with Sky when it comes to an estimated timeframe for resolution.

TalkTalk noted: “We have been advised that repairs are due to be completed early evening, and continue to keep in contact with Openreach for further updates.”

Via: Trusted Reviews

      

Download of the day: Splashy

Splashy, created by Tomislav Čukelj, is a brilliant little tool for Windows, Mac and Linux that automatically using beautiful pictures from Unsplash – our favorite public domain stock photography site.

Unsplash is a cut above most public domain stock image sites, and all the pictures in its archive have been released into the public domain by skilled photographers with a real passion for their craft.

Splashy lets you take your pick from the site’s various carefully curated categories, and change how often the photo changes.

It’s a simple idea neatly executed, and brings a touch of the unexpected to your day. The download is tiny too, so there’s no reason not to try it.

Download here: Splashy

Download of the Day is our pick of the best free software around – whether it’s useful, fun, or just plain silly. If you have any recommendations, please send them to downloads@techradar.com.

      

Banish the glue blues with iFixit’s new MacBook Pro repair kit

iFixit has long complained about the MacBook Pro being difficult to repair, and in an interesting move the teardown experts have decided to take action, producing a purpose-built kit to replace the laptop’s battery.

The battery is one of the trickiest components to switch out when it gives up the ghost, thanks to Apple’s excessive use of glue to secure the power pack in modern MacBook Pros.

So the new kit, which comes in different flavors targeted at Retina MacBook Pro models from 2012 through to 2015, uses a specially concocted solution – a safe blend of household chemicals, apparently – to dissolve the adhesive and free the battery from the gluey grasp of the notebook’s chassis.

Of course, it’s not just a simple matter of applying some solution and you’re done. The kit comes with a number of other tools you’ll need such as tweezers and the appropriate screwdrivers (Torx, Pentalobe etc), along with a full guide to making the repair (plus you get a replacement battery, naturally).

Also note that easing the existing battery out requires “a lot of caution and patience” to quote iFixit.

DIY ETA

The exact difficulty level and time it’ll take varies depending on the precise model of MacBook Pro – and doubtless the tech DIY skills of the person making the repair, too – but iFixit’s estimated times for the process range from 20 minutes up to two hours.

But still, it’ll be time well spent considering the kits cost from $90 to $110 (£70 to £85, or AU$120 to AU$145), and Apple charges $199 (£155, AU$260) to replace the MacBook Pro’s battery.

Apple isn’t the only company to come under fire for manufacturing non-upgradable and difficult to repair laptops, with Microsoft also copping flak for its Surface hybrids. Indeed, at the end of last month, Greenpeace blasted both MacBooks and Surface devices for being an environmental nightmare.

Maybe we’ll see more of these sort of kits from iFixit in the future, perhaps also aimed at the likes of the Surface Book or Surface Laptop. Because not only is it cheaper to make your own repairs like so, but it’s also satisfying to be self-sufficient enough in tech terms to do some DIY repairs at home.

Via: Apple Insider

      

Broadband deal of the week: Plusnet 76Mb superfast broadband for less than £30pm

It’s been a big week for fibre broadband. First came Virgin Media’s announcement that it was introducing a new, cheaper superfast broadband tariff called VIVID 50. And now Plusnet has just removed the activation fee from its rapid 76Mb Unlimited Fibre Extra broadband.

That may not sound like a big deal, but when you consider that the monthly tariff is a shade less than £30 you’ve got the recipe for a fantastic deal. And you’ve only got until midnight next Tuesday to grab it…

When you compare it to the competition, you can really see what a cracking internet deal this is from the BT-owned Plusnet. Take BT’s own Infinity 1 fibre broadband for example. The monthly tariff is exactly the same at £29.95, but you have to pay a £59.99 upfront fee for delivery of the router and set-up. it is currently throwing in a £125 pre-paid Mastercard to soften the blow, but the 52Mb speeds are almost a third less than Plusnet Extra.

Virgin Media on the other hand can top Plusnet’s speeds, but will set you back more every month. Go for Virgin VIVID 100 broadband for a lightning-fast 100Mb cable connection, but be prepared to pay £32 a month on top of a £20 activation fee. Plus, you may struggle to get Virgin broadband – its UK coverage is currently at around 60%.

Deal of the week: Plusnet Unlimited Fibre Extra broadband

Plusnet Unlimited Fibre Extra | 12 months | Up to 76Mb | Line rental inc. | No TV | FREE activation | £29.99pm
If you’re hunting around for the best broadband deals on the market, you may scoff at paying almost £30 a month – there are certainly cheaper plans out there. But this one’s all about the speed. 76Mb is equivalent to around 9.5MB per second. Rapid! Total cost of 12 months £359.88

View this Plusnet broadband deal of the week

Do I need 76Mb superfast fibre broadband?

Not everybody will – if you’re not a heavy home internet user and just need it to keep on top of your emails and browse the web, then go for one of our cheap broadband deal picks instead.

But if you’re on anything less than 76Mb now and you’re constantly dogged by interrupted video streaming or slow downloads, then this Plusnet offer is the perfect opportunity to upgrade. We think it’s well worth considering 76Mb broadband or faster if you fall in to one or more of these categories:

  • More than 5 people in your household who all use the internet at once
  • You stream 4K Ultra HD content to your TV
  • You’re an avid online gamer who needs to avoid lagging
  • You download a lot of music and films and want them as fast as possible

Existing Plusnet customers

It’s worth noting that this deal is only open to new Plusnet customers. So if you’re already with the provider or have been before, you won’t be eligible for our deal of the week.

Luckily if you’re broadband contract is up for renewal, we’ve made it dead simple to find another great deal. Head to our best broadband deals page and use our price comparison chart to fish out the cheapest internet packages available right now.

      

20 of the best free Windows 7 apps

It might be eight years old, but almost half of the world’s desktop devices are still running Windows 7 – and for good reason. It’s an excellent operating system that’s still supported by Microsoft and receives regular security updates (unlike Windows Vista), doesn’t pester you with popups like Windows 10, is much more open than macOS, and is easier for beginners to master than Linux.

Here, we’ve picked 20 of the best programs you can download free to give your Windows 7 PC a new lease of life.

Windows 7’s version of Microsoft Paint is a big step up from the edition provided with Windows Vista, but it’s still not much use for editing photos or creating your own graphics from scratch.

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a brilliant open source photo editor that’s amazingly powerful, and is available to download and use completely free. It’s not quite as feature-packed as Adobe Photoshop, but it has everything hobbyist photographers need to make their shots look amazing before printing them or sharing them online.

You can even add more tools and filters by installing plugins – including ones designed for use with Photoshop.

Review and where to download: GIMP

If you’re still using Windows Media Center to play music in Windows 7, you’re doing your tunes a disservice. MusicBee is designed to organize songs and podcasts in a logical way, add accurate metadata, and give you the best sound quality your PC can provide – whether you have a high-end soundcard or not.

MusicBee supports every music file format you can name without the need to download additional codecs, as well as streaming services and online radio.

Review and where to download: MusicBee

MusicBee is the best free music player for Windows 7, but for video you need VLC Media Player. Again, it supports a huge range of file formats (far more than Windows Media Center), and can be expanded with user-created plugins and skins.

VLC Media Player is also an excellent way to enjoy DVDs and Blu-rays on your PC (provided you have the necessary optical drive), and you can optimize playback to suit your system.

Review and where to download: VLC Media Player

If you poke around in the Accessories section of Windows 7’s Start Menu, you’ll find the Sound Recorder. ‘Basic’ hardly describes it – all it does is take input from a microphone and save it in WAV format.

If you want to make your own podcasts, record music, or edit existing sound files, you need something far more powerful. That something is Audacity.

This open source audio editor lets you record in stereo, remove noise, apply various effects, edit channels individually, cut and combine files, remove vocals from songs and much more. Like GIMP and VLC Media Player, Audacity also supports plugins so you can tailor it to suit your exact needs.

Review and where to download: Audacity

Windows Movie Maker was a great video editor when it was first released, but its inelegant interface and cheesy effects now look very dated. After many long years of service, it’s time for Windows 7 users to wave goodbye and upgrade to Shotcut instead.

Shotcut isn’t the most powerful free video editor around (that would be Lightworks), but it strikes a perfect balance between features and usability. You don’t need to study a manual to start making a great-looking video, and there’s a a huge set of tools and filters to experiment with.

Review and where to download: Shotcut

You might be happy sticking with Internet Explorer in Windows 7, but Microsoft has moved its attention to Edge – a new browser that’s exclusive to Windows 10.

If you haven’t experimented with many other browsers before, Google Chrome is a great place to start. It’s hugely customizable via plugins, fast, and integrates with your Google account so you can sync bookmarks and preferences between different devices – including phones and tablets.

Review and where to download: Google Chrome

If you don’t like the idea of Google getting its roots into all your online activity, or you just want an alternative for occasions when privacy is particularly important, take a look at Tor Browser.

Tor (the Onion Router) works by encrypting your data and redirecting it through a series of remote servers around the world, making it all but impossible to trace.

Be careful if your Windows 7 PC is on a work or college network though – some organizations take a dim view of Tor because it’s often used for nefarious purposes like pirating movies and music.

Review and where to download: Tor Browser

Another way to protect your privacy online is to use a VPN (virtual private network) service, which disguises your identity and location using remote servers. Take care, though – there are lots of dodgy free VPNs around that are actually malware in disguise.

WindScribe is the real deal – a free VPN with a very generous data allowance of 10GB per month. That’s not enough for streaming movies (for that, you’ll need to upgrade to the premium version), but it’s ideal for online shopping and banking.

Review and where to download: WindScribe

Windows 7 can open PDFs without any trouble, but it doesn’t let you annotate them, make text changes, or perform security checks.

That’s why you need Foxit Reader – a free PDF reader that’s full of useful extra tools you didn’t realise you needed, but can’t live without. The scan-to-PDF tool is particularly handy if you have a paper worksheet or handout to convert, and the Microsoft Office Plugins are a brilliant touch.

Review and where to download: Foxit Reader

That said, Microsoft Office isn’t your only option when you’re using Windows 7 at work. LibreOffice is a totally free suite of programs that almost perfectly replicate all the features of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and more.

Like many of the programs in this list, LibreOffice is open source, which means anyone with the skills and time is free to develop their own plugins for fellow users. It also has a huge team of dedicated volunteers who keep it updated with new features and squish bugs as soon as they’re identified.

Review and where to download: LibreOffice

LibreOffice is excellent, but if you just need to get your head down and do some serious writing, FocusWriter is the tool for you. It’s far superior to Windows 7’s Notepad tool, with a full-screen mode that completely blocks out all distractions, including the clock, Start menu and notification area.

You can set yourself writing goals and configure alerts for specific times to keep you on track. There’s also an excellent Focus feature that highlights the paragraph or sentence you’re currently working on, while everything else fades into the background. No more procrastinating.

Review and where to download: FocusWriter

If you cast your mind back (keep going… further… there), you might remember once tracking your finances using a program called Microsoft Money. It was discontinued a long time ago, but Money Manager Ex does essentially the same job, making it easy to monitor your accounts and credit cards, record spending, schedule payments, and make sure you’re sticking to your budget.

It can’t link directly to your online banking service, but this might be a good thing as far as security’s concerned and entering the figures manually isn’t too time-consuming.

Review and where to download: Money Manager Ex

FileZilla is an FTP (file transfer protocol) client – a handy tool designed for moving files between PCs or remote servers. It’s not as flashy as a cloud storage service like Dropbox or OneDrive, but it means you’re in total control and aren’t trusting your data to a third party.

FileZilla can store login data for up to 10 remote servers, letting you connect and start shifting your data with just a couple of clicks.

Review and where to download: FileZilla

Torrents have a bad reputation thanks to their popularity with copyright-infringing pirates, but they have lots of legitimate uses too. They’re simply a way of sharing particularly large files, and many artists and producers are now choosing to release material this way. They’re also handy for downloading copyright-free media, games and other content.

To use torrent files, you need a dedicated client software, and qBittorrent is the best for Windows 7. It’s not cluttered with ads, has a clear interface, and is easy to get to grips with.

Review and where to download: qBittorrent

If you’re unlucky, you might know the horror of emptying your Windows 7 Recycle Bin, then realising too late that it contained a file you accidentally needed. Or you might have been unfortunate enough to lose data due to physical damage to a drive, or corruption.

There’s no guarantee that free file recovery tool Recuva will be able to bring your documents and photos back, but it can be an absolute lifesaver in an emergency. Install it now and be prepared.

Review and where to download: Piriform Recuva

Piriform – the delightfully-named developer of Recuva – also makes an excellent PC optimization tool called CCleaner. It performs much the same job as the various system-sweeping tools you’ll find under Accessories in Windows 7’s Start Menu, but is much faster and easier to use.

CCleaner can also clear our your web browser’s cookies and stored passwords for added security. Just make sure you read the description of each item carefully before erasing it, so you don’t accidentally purge anything useful.

Review and where to download: Piriform CCleaner

When it comes to gaming, Minesweeper and Solitaire just won’t cut it. If you want something more entertaining than watching paint dry, you need Steam – Valve’s huge PC gaming platform and store, where you can find almost every title you could wish for, often with deep discounts.

Download here: Steam

If games aren’t your thing, you might be more interested in Any Video Converter Free – a video downloading and converting tool that can grab clips from all the biggest sites and save them in any format you like. You can even rip the audio from videos and save it for listening later.

Just make sure you have permission from the copyright holder before you start downloading videos from YouTube and Vimeo.

Review and where to download: Any Video Converter Free

Continuing the theme of entertainment, let’s move to ebooks.

We’ve tried lots of e-readers for Windows 7, but Amazon’s official Kindle app is easily the best. It makes organizing your ebooks a breeze, with an excellent search tool, and reading is a thoroughly pleasant experience thanks to the carefully designed pages and customizable colors and fonts.

There are links to the Kindle store, naturally, but they’re surprisingly unobtrusive and you won’t be harassed by prompts to buy more books.

Download here: Kindle for PC

Hopefully you now have a good idea of which programs you need to get the most from your Windows 7 PC, but there’s just one more we recommend.

Windows 7 comes with a tool for extracting compressed file archives, but there are dozens, if not hundreds of different types around and it only supports a small handful. 7-Zip is far more capable, and integrates into Windows Explorer and the context menu so it’s there whenever you need it.

Review and where to download: 7-Zip