My Kingdom for an Android Tablet That Doubles As a Portable Monitor

It’s-a Lenovo tablet playing Mario Kart from a Nintendo Switch.

It’s-a Lenovo tablet playing Mario Kart from a Nintendo Switch.
Image: Lenovo via Weibo

Last week, Lenovo shared a photo on its Weibo social media page showing a tablet propped up on the company’s signature built-in kickstand. Behind it, a Nintendo Switch is shown plugged in to the tablet and using it as a monitor. Rumor has it Lenovo is working on such an Android tablet with a dedicated HDMI input, which is curious, especially with the Google I/O developers conference on the horizon.

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An Android tablet that doubles as a portable entertainment hub with a second-screen experience may sound underwhelming, but with all this tablet talk lately and the iPad Pro with brand new M1 chip arriving in people’s hands, it’s time to start thinking about where Android tablets can go from here. They’ve been unsuccessful in competing at the high-end level with Apple, and it’s becoming more apparent that maybe a premium Android tablet is not what people really want.

It’s OK to Be Cheap

As it stands, Android tablets are an incredibly polarizing device category. Few manufacturers make high-end Android tablets that can compete with Apple’s iPad Pro or the Microsoft Surface, choosing instead to target the low- to mid-range price point. Amazon showed that this strategy works with its vast lineup of Fire tablets, which run a reskinned, forked version of Android. Those tablets continue to sell because they’re accessible to anyone, and they’re also portals into Amazon’s content library, which many people default to with their Prime account.

Walmart tried to piggyback off this with its house tablet brand, called Onn. But the company stuck bloatware on there to push its Walmart+ content, which didn’t help its sales numbers. So Google stepped in. If you’ve been using Google devices, you may have noticed the company’s renewed focus on its content engine. Google’s revamped Entertainment Space interface for Walmart’s tablets helps shift the focus to these Android devices as vessels into the Play Store’s content ecosystem. Entertainment Space keeps the experience familiar across Google devices, too, since it shares a layout similar to Google TV. Once the Walmart Onn tablets receive the new update, they’ll become little content portals, akin to the Fire tablets.

On most affordable Android tablets, the screens are the marquee on the spec sheet, with other hardware hovering in the “just barely capable” zone. I’m speaking from experience here, as I’m currently using a Lenovo SmartTab M10 HD, which you can find at Walmart for about $130. I turned the tablet into a device for my toddler to tap around, but with 2GB of RAM, it’s so slow that all I ever really use it for is PBS Kids to keep her entertained, as well as the occasional reading of an ebook. That’s what these sub-$150 tablets are made to do.

It’s Still About Choice

Lenovo teased its social media following with photos depicting uses for an announced Yoga tablet.

Lenovo teased its social media following with photos depicting uses for an announced Yoga tablet.
Screenshot: Lenovo via Weibo

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Whereas Apple’s play has been to deliver a premium tablet experience across its lineup, Google’s has been to guide its users towards what available and what works for them. In the past, that’s felt a little like navigating the Wild West. But as Google reigned in Android’s source code, there’s been much more parity across the board.

That’s one reason why there are so many Android tablets and even new form factors coming to the category. In particular, a Google I/O 2021 session is scheduled to teach developers how to scale apps for various screen sizes beyond smartphones, including “the growing number of foldables, tablets, and desktop environments that exist today.” This means Android apps that look and work how they’re supposed to, whether you’re on a discount tablet, a foldout device like the Galaxy Z Fold 2, or even a 15-inch Chromebook with Android app capability.

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This brings us back to the Lenovo images circulating on Weibo, as it’s an example of the many kinds of form factors available in Android land. The company shared other images of the Mario Kart-playing, Switch-connected tablet. One teaser photo shows the Lenovo device hanging in the kitchen with video instructions on how to cook, while another shows it lying on a desk with a stylus nearby.

A screenshot of Lenovo’s translated Weibo post showing the Yoga Tablet with a Switch connected to it.

A screenshot of Lenovo’s translated Weibo post showing the Yoga Tablet with a Switch connected to it.
Screenshot: Weibo

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My translated understanding of the leak suggests this is the Yoga Pad Pro and Pad Plus, marketed as devices that can hang anywhere with the flexible kickstand, play games with its HDMI-in support, and take notes with its pressure-sensitive stylus. Lenovo followed up by teasing a May 24 launch date for the devices.

Unfortunately, we probably won’t see them outside of China, but I’m intrigued—and a little jealous. The idea of an Android tablet with HDMI is especially befitting of the platform. It’s a full-functioning tablet that’s handy as a second screen and can perform double duty across all sorts of situations. Imagine traveling again and having one of these Lenovo Yoga tablets with a kickstand in the bag ready to entertain.

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Look, the iPad is still the bestselling tablet, but as different Android form factors emerge, the success of Android tablets as a whole may no longer be contingent on a manufacturer launching an “iPad killer.” Instead, Android could eat away at the iPad’s market share with a massive pile of variety—some devices so niche that you can’t help but laugh at the thought.

I also personally love the idea of an Android tablet with an HDMI port because it’s an absolute wild card—and that’s fine, because the whole point of all this is that you can buy what you want.

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This Thin and Light Asus Laptop Checks Every Box and Then Some

Asus ZenBook 13 OLED

Photo: Joanna Nelius/Gizmodo

Every time a new thin, light laptop comes across my desk, I become more resigned to the fact that it’s time to move on from my now 5-year-old gaming laptop. I’m careening toward middle age, and I need a practical, portable machine to keep my hips in their sockets. (I feel old, OK?) My desktop will always have a dedicated spot in my home, but for traveling, typing away on my couch, or sitting at a tiny metal table on a café patio, it would be nice to have a machine with a battery that doesn’t die after four hours. The new Asus ZenBook 13 OLED I’ve been testing is one of the laptops to get for all those needs.

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At 2.51 pounds and 0.54 inches thick, Asus’ newest thin and light laptop is configured with either an 11th-gen Intel or Ryzen 5000U-series AMD processor. The one reviewed here has a Ryzen 7 5800U with Vega graphics, along with 16GB of memory and a 1TB SSD. It runs cool, it’s super quiet, and it’s a well-rounded machine that only has some minor issues.

Incredible Battery Life, Solid Performance

First thing’s first: I have to give a round of applause to this ZenBook’s battery life. It’s fantastic. Clocking in at 14.5 hours, it lasts about 30 minutes longer than the M1 MacBook Air and two hours longer than the Microsoft Surface Laptop 4. Out of all the laptops we’ve tested so far, the longest battery life award goes to the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 for a ridiculous 17.5 hours of power on a charge, but the ZenBook is no slouch.

Compared to the Intel Core i7-1185G7, AMD’s Ryzen 7 5800U does a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to processing speed. Rendering a 3D image of a car in Blender is roughly 45 seconds faster with the Ryzen 7 5800U (5:18 compared to 6 minutes), and GPU compute is nearly an identical 8:12. Transcoding a 4K video to 1080p at 30 frames per second takes 9 minutes and 30 seconds in Handbrake, compared to 11-12 minutes with Intel’s chip.

Where the AMD Ryzen 7 5800U falls behind is in integrated graphics. The ZenBook is not in any way, shape, or form a gaming laptop, but Intel’s Iris Xe graphics is a major leap as far as integrated GPU performance goes. Playing some games at 1080p on low or 720p on high can yield close to or over 60 fps, but AMD’s integrated graphics don’t have that kind of oomph. Does that matter for most people who will likely only use the ZenBook for word-processing, emails, and other productivity-focused tasks? Nope.

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I should note that if you want a “true-true” Ryzen 5000U-series processor with this laptop, make sure you’re getting either the Ryzen 7 5800U or that Ryzen 5 5600U. That’s not to say the 5700U and 5500U aren’t part of AMD’s 5000 mobile processor family, but the latter two chips are on AMD’s older Zen 2 architecture, which is what the chipmaker’s previous generation of CPUs were built on. Their frequencies are clocked slightly lower, but most of the performance gap between the 5800U/5600U and 5700U/5500U will be from the architectural changes.

ZenBook vs. the Competition

It’ll be the Asus ZenBooks with a 5800U or 5600U that will be on similar footing performance-wise with its own Intel 11th-gen versions—and other brands with the same Tiger Lake processors, too, like MSI’s Prestige 14 Evo. Performance isn’t often the deciding factor with small laptops like these, but price and special features are. For instance, any Evo-certified laptop like the Prestige 14 as a split-second wake up time from sleep mode. This ZenBook with AMD? Yep, it can do that too.

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Both have the nearly the same sized display, and a similar chassis design as well. A lip on the back of the clamshell lifts the bottom up to allow for more airflow—the further you tilt the screen back, the bigger the gap. The touchpad stretches across a sizable part of the wrist rest on both laptops, so like the Prestige 14 I kept accidentally hitting the pad when I didn’t mean to. I also prefer the keyboard on the Prestige; the keys on the ZenBook are too small for my taste, and typing on it makes my fingers feel cramped. I don’t have the same amount of room to move my fingers around like to do with the Prestige.

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Also, unlike the Prestige, the ZenBook doesn’t have any Thunderbolt ports, and its screen is a tad smaller too. But it has a number pad integrated with the touchpad that’s super responsive to gentle taps.

Amazing OLED Screen

The pièce de résistance of Asus’s ZenBook is its display. It’s miles better than the Prestige. Like MSI’s laptop, the ZenBook has a 1080p FHD display, but instead of an IPS screen it’s a Pantone-validated, VESA-certified HDR OLED display. In other words, the colors pop and the blacks are nice and dark. The display maxes out at 400 nits, which is 100 nits brighter than the Prestige 14.

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The stock background that came with our review unit shows off those OLEDs with lovely, soft swirls of colors that are practically neon because the screen is so vibrant. Even though it’s a 13-inch screen, movies look fantastic on it—especially Our Planet. Looking at Earth from space, frogs in the Amazon…it’s beautiful enough to make you want to cry. The speakers are surprisingly good for a tiny laptop, too, so it’s wins all around for the ZenBook in visuals and sound.

And that’s the main differentiating factor between the ZenBook and other tiny laptops like the Prestige 14. The ZenBook is more for video editors and photographers who need something portable and lightweight, but with a lot of processing power and lengthy battery life. And if they need to hook it up to an external monitor or a TV, there’s an HDMI 2.1 port for that.

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Should You Buy This Thing?

The ZenBook is also cheaper than other laptops in its class. (That tends to be the case with AMD-powered laptops of all shapes and sizes, too.) Comparatively, an Intel-outfitted device like the Prestige starts at more than $1,000, but Asus’ ZenBook starts at $900. Double the memory to 16GB but leave the 512GB storage, and you’re looking at just over a grand.

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Like I said, there’s not much to dislike about the Asus ZenBook 13 OLED. If you’re particular about your keyboard like I am, this laptop could be hit or miss based on that alone. But if you’re lucky enough get to do some test typing in a store and decide you like the keys, this ZenBook is a solid investment.

Microsoft Is Cutting the Adobe Flash Cord in July

Illustration for article titled Microsoft Is Cutting the Adobe Flash Cord in July

Image: Sam Rutherford

Adobe Flash officially reached end of life at the end of 2020, and now Microsoft is removing Flash from Windows 10 this summer.

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While Microsoft had already started to remove support for Flash from a number of its apps, including its Edge browser, there is still some native support for Adobe’s Flash Player built into Windows 10 itself, which Microsoft is now planning to remove via Windows Update KB4577586: “Update for Removal of Adobe Flash Player.”

In a recent update to a previous blog post on the matter, Microsoft said it will begin sending out the patch to remove Adobe Flash from Windows 10 starting in June, first to users who are part of Microsoft’s Preview program before the patch becomes a mandatory update in July. Microsoft says that going forward, all systems running Windows 10 version 21H1 or later will have Flash removed by default.

In addition to removing native Flash support from Windows 10, Microsoft is also planning on removing Flash from older versions of Windows as well, including Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Embedded 8 Standard. And in case you don’t want to wait for June, you can also remove Flash from Windows 10 manually by downloading and installing the KB4577586 update from the Microsoft Update Catalog here.

Adobe Flash has been on its way out for the past several years, so it makes sense for Microsoft to do a final pass and remove native support for Flash from Windows 10, thereby eliminating all the security issues often associated with Adobe’s outdated multimedia format.

However, for those feeling nostalgic about Flash games from days gone by, you can still play a number of titles using the Internet Archive. And if you don’t find the specific game you’re looking for, you can also try apps like BlueMaxima’s Flashpoint, which is essentially a multi-platform Flash emulator for Windows, macOS, and Linux PCs.

Depending on which install you choose and what OS you’re on, Flashpoint even comes with a library of more than 38,000 old Flash games (the total file size for Flashpoint Ultimate 9.0 is a whopping 532GB), providing you with a wealth of content from a previous generation of the internet.

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Flash is dead; long live Flash.

The Evercade VS Console Puts Hundreds of Retro Games on the Big Screen Without the Hassle of Emulation

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Image: Evercade

Most nostalgic gamers don’t realize that a big part of the fun of classic consoles was playing against friends on the same screen, not across the world over the internet. So the creators of the Evercade handheld are back with a new home console called the Evercade VS that facilitates four-player gaming on a big screen.

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Released last year, the original Evercade was a handheld gaming console that, like many others as of late, gave gamers access to hundreds of retro titles without requiring them to carry around hundreds of cartridges, but with an approach that made it incredibly easy to use.

Most of the handheld systems available today rely on emulators to play classic games and often require endless tweaking of settings to achieve optimal gameplay performance without frame rate issues or problems with audio sync. These systems also usually require gamers to source and provide their own video game ROM files, which is a legal gray area. The team behind the Evercade took a different approach. The company instead licensed classic games from the original publishers and created a series of themed cartridges (reasonably priced at around $20) that each included a small collection of titles. The approach also meant the Evercade itself played every retro game flawlessly and was incredibly easy to use.

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Image: Evercade

The handheld Evercade even included an HDMI port for playing retro games on a big screen, but it was limited to a resolution of just 720p, and gaming was always just a single-player affair. But that’s where the new Evercade VS enters the picture. It’s a home console designed to nest alongside all your home entertainment center gear and make the current run of 20 Evercade cartridge collections playable on the big screen at 1080p, or slightly smaller depending on how you set your screen scaling options. Remember, most of the available games were released at a time when TVs boasted a little over 350,000 pixels, not more than 2 million, and weren’t widescreen.

The Evercade VS actually features two cartridge slots, increasing its roster of games available at any one time, but its most appealing upgrade is the inclusion of multiple USB ports that revive single-screen multiplayer for up to four participants—assuming the game you’ve chosen actually supports that many competitors.

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Image: Evercade

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For the complete Evercade experience, the console works with a custom gamepad that’s styled after the original Evercade handheld, but we weren’t the biggest fans of that circular directional pad. Thankfully, because it uses USB ports, the Evercade VS will work with almost any wired controller (including the Microsoft Adaptive Controller) or 8BitDo’s wireless lineup when paired with one of the company’s USB wireless adapters. Owners of the Evercade handheld can even plug it into the Evercade VS and use it as a controller, although the screen offers no competitive advantage.

The Evercade VS will be available for preorder starting May 28 and will start at $100 for a starter pack that includes the console itself, one game cartridge, and a single controller. Other packs that increase the number of included games and controllers will also be available, but pricing for those options hasn’t been announced yet. The actual release date for the hardware is expected to be closer to November later this year, but don’t be surprised if the ongoing pandemic throws a wrench in those plans.

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The Microsoft Store for Windows 10 Is Reportedly Getting a Major Overhaul

Illustration for article titled The Microsoft Store for Windows 10 Is Reportedly Getting a Major Overhaul

Screenshot: Microsoft

Microsoft is reportedly reworking its entire Store app in Windows 10, including policy changes for developers and making the UI easier to navigate. Windows Central reports the changes are a sweeping rejuvenation of the Microsoft Store, changes that will hopefully encourage Windows 10 users to use the app more often and encourage more developers to make their apps and games available through the store.

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The rumor is sort of unsurprising, considering Microsoft is chugging right along with its codenamed “Sun Valley” initiative, or its major UI code overhaul expected to debut with Windows 10 21H2 sometime in during the second half of this year. Microsoft has already made a number of changes for its Windows Insider users, like new Documents, Music, and Video folder icons, but it has yet to comment publicly on Sun Valley.

The Microsoft Store was first introduced with Windows 8 as a way to “link” apps across PCs and Windows phones, tablets, and Xbox consoles. It was a very “Apple ecosystem” approach, but given how poorly Windows 8 and the Windows phone were received, the initiative fell apart and the Microsoft Store was neglected.

In its current state, the app is clunky, slow, and unintuitive. Many of the featured games are also available on the Xbox app, Steam, or elsewhere. The same goes for desktop apps, movies, and other programs like Microsoft Office. Everything can be downloaded directly from another source that is, by comparison, better designed, so there isn’t much incentive for a lot of Windows 10 users to use the Microsoft Store at the moment.

There are tons of apps available through Windows Package Manager, including many that are missing from the Microsoft Store. Windows Package Manager isn’t necessarily for your average Windows 10 user, since it involves installing apps from a command prompt, but it’s not hard to use either. It’s not too different than typing a search term into your browser to find the download page for a certain program.

Other than redesigning the UI, the policy changes that Microsoft is reportedly implementing will open up the submission process to a greater number of developers. This in turn could open up the Microsoft Store to finally include apps like internet browsers, Adobe Creative Suite software, or other third-party paid or free apps. Currently, developers have to package their apps in a specific file format and use Microsoft’s update mechanisms and commerce platforms. But it’s possible that developers will be able to use different file formats and manage their own content through their own delivery network rather than only through Microsoft’s.

If that’s the case, then Microsoft won’t be able to take a cut from developers who elect to use their own in-app purchase systems. (Unlike Apple, which locks developers into putting their apps on its App Store if they want their program on iOS.)

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These alleged changes to the Microsoft store seem like they could be a positive thing, but we’ll believe it when we see it.

Health Official in Papua New Guinea Explains How Facebook Spreads Misinformation

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister James Marape (R) preparing to receive a dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in Port Moresby on March 30, 2021.

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister James Marape (R) preparing to receive a dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in Port Moresby on March 30, 2021.
Photo: Gorethy Kenneth/AFP (Getty Images)

Papua New Guinea’s health minister, Jelta Wong, spoke with an Australian think tank over videochat on Thursday about challenges PNG faces in combatting the covid-19 pandemic. PNG is seeing a resurgence of the disease along with a growing wave of misinformation being spread online about vaccines, and the talk is an interesting look at how Facebook has harmed public health in a relatively small country of just 9 million people.

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“When Facebook hit Papua New Guinea, everybody became an expert. Everybody became a PhD, ” Wong explained sarcastically to a member of the Lowy Institute in a video that’s available on YouTube.

Wong, who says he uses Facebook to connect with family, went on to explain that while some people might be skeptical when they encounter misinformation on Facebook, there’s always a handful who will believe the weirdest conspiracy theories.

“There’s always one person or two or three or four people that will believe what they say. And that is our biggest challenge when people tell us that Bill Gates is behind all this. How could we say Bill Gates is behind it?” Wong said, referring to conspiracy theories that the Microsoft cofounder is implanting microchips through coronavirus vaccinations, among other things.

“One of the biggest philanthropists in the world…” Wong continued about Gates. “And then some nutcase turns around and puts it on Facebook that he’s the guy that started the collecting [illicit information] and then it just generates through Facebook. I think Facebook is is our biggest conspiracy theorist platform.”

“This is dangerous, very dangerous,” Wong said. “And this is the type of thing… like, we have a million more people in our country that just sit on Facebook because it’s cheap, it’s easy, and they can get their opinion out. That’s all it is for.”

Papua New Guinea struggled with Facebook long before the pandemic hit, with government officials even floating the idea in 2018 of banning the site and launching its own state-run alternative. And while a minority of people in Papua New Guinea are on the platform it’s still clearly contributing to headaches for health officials who want to see people vaccinated.

Facebook’s moderation policies receive a lot of attention in the U.S. and Europe, but many parts of the globe don’t get the same resources, especially in places that don’t speak English. PNG has a large English-speaking population, thanks in large part to colonialism, but it also has over 830 languages currently in use, a high number for a relatively small population. Facebook has moderators working in roughly 50 languages, according to its own statistics.

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“I think Facebook has a lot of influence here and they need to be held responsible for some of the information that they [distribute],” Wong said.

“Most of it, if I take you through Facebook now… some of the stuff that is unbelievably not true. And they still push it out and they’re […] supposed to have a program to stop these type of things.”

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RIP, Xbox Live (2002-2021)

xbox live xbox network

Image: Microsoft / Kotaku

The name “Xbox Live” is dead. You’ll still be able to play Xbox games online, but the suite of Xbox’s online services will now be known as “Xbox network,” Microsoft confirmed today to The Verge.

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This morning, many Xbox users noticed a small change on the the Xbox dashboard. While uploading a screenshot to Xbox Live, some players noticed a reference to “Xbox network” where “Xbox Live” used to be.

“‘Xbox network’ refers to the underlying Xbox online service, which was updated in the Microsoft Services Agreement,” a Microsoft spokesperson told The Verge. “The update from ‘Xbox Live’ to ‘Xbox network’ is intended to distinguish the underlying service from Xbox Live Gold memberships.”

First launched in 2002, Xbox Live allowed players to play Xbox games online for a fee. The nine original Live-compatible games included MechAssault and NFL Fever 2003. As of last year, the service is no longer available for the original 2001 Xbox, but a third-party project is trying to restore functionality.

Xbox Live Gold, which costs $10 a month and is necessary to play games online, comes bundled with subscriptions to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, Microsoft’s $15-monthly games-on-demand service. Members of Xbox Live Gold also get “free” games every month through a program known as “Games with Gold.” In an investor call this year, Microsoft confirmed that Game Pass has 18 million subscribers, a 20-percent jump from the fall.

In January, Microsoft announced an intention to increase the price of Xbox Live Gold, making it so the minimum (official) annual cost would leap from $60 to $120. Following widespread backlash, Microsoft reversed course and further announced that Xbox Live Gold would no longer be necessary to play free-to-play games. That change will happen at some point in the coming months, with no firm date yet.

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In the meantime, let’s take a walk down memory lane and relive some of the best Xbox Live memories:

  • Fishing around the internet for discounted one-year cards of Xbox Live Gold, so you didn’t have to pay $60 for a year-long subscription.
  • Digging out your dusty Xbox 360 to increase the length of your gamertag.
  • Long days spent playing Halo 2 over the internet.
  • Not being able to officially play Halo: Combat Evolved online.

Long live Xbox Live.

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Hackers Now Ruining Your Ability to Get Drunk, Too

Illustration for article titled Hackers Now Ruining Your Ability to Get Drunk, Too

Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)

Hackers, those pilfering rogues, are now threatening something much more valuable than our money or our data: our goddamn alcohol.

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A cyberattack has reportedly brought production at one of the nation’s largest breweries, Molson Coors, to a standstill. On Thursday, the beer giant revealed in a regulatory filing that an attack had “caused and may continue to cause a delay or disruption to parts of the Company’s business, including its brewery operations, production, and shipments.” Coors, which operates seven breweries and packaging plants in the U.S., 10 in Europe, and three in Canada, hasn’t said how many of its facilities have been impacted. A source reportedly told a local news outlet in Milwaukee, where one of its facilities is located, that the “hack is crippling – that the company can’t produce beer until it’s fixed.”

It isn’t totally clear when the attack took place or what kind it was, either. In an email to Gizmodo, a company representative only confirmed that “Molson Coors experienced a systems outage that was caused by a cybersecurity incident. We have engaged a leading forensic IT firm to assist our investigation into the incident and are working around the clock to get our systems back up as quickly as possible.”

While there have been scant details provided about the nature of the attack, the most obvious explanation here would be ransomware: Coors is a high-value target with a lot riding on the effective functioning of its systems. That gives a lot of leverage to whoever is (hypothetically) trying to extort the company. Given the timing, there has also been some speculation as to whether this attack is in any way connected to the Microsoft Exchange vulnerabilities that have seen such aggressive targeting. At this point, there is simply no way to know.

It seems clear the hack has the potential to disrupt beer-drinkers worldwide. If you’ve been in a bar at any point in your life, you’ve likely been exposed to Molson Coors products: The maker of Keystone, Coors Light, Blue Moon, and other college party classics, it has also diversified lately, churning out a lot of hard seltzers, ciders, and kombucha. Between SolarWinds and Microsoft, hackers have already messed up enough stuff this year. Let’s not let them screw up Friday nights, too.

How to Use Your Samsung Phone As a Desktop

Samsung DeX works on computers, monitors, and TVs.

Samsung DeX works on computers, monitors, and TVs.
Image: Samsung

Many folks don’t know that you can use your Samsung Galaxy phone or tablet as a desktop experience using Samsung DeX. If you’re completely new to the idea of DeX, the “Desktop eXperience” runs from your Galaxy device and lets you use your phone or tablet with a monitor, mouse, and keyboard. Samsung’s OneUI Android software adapts to become something more akin to Windows or macOS, so you can access your files and apps on a bigger screen.

Samsung has added a bunch of features to DeX since it launched in 2017. Here’s everything that you can now do with Samsung DeX, and how to get started.

Setting up DeX connections

When DeX was introduced with the Samsung Galaxy S8 phones, it required a special DeX Pad or Dex Station to handle the connection between the phone or tablet and the monitor or TV. While these accessories are no longer required, they do make it easier to connect all of your devices, and also let you plug in a wired mouse or keyboard rather than trying to use them over a Bluetooth connection.

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You can also pick up a DeX Cable for the Note 8, Tab S4, and newer devices, which plugs into your device’s USB-C port to connect to an HDMI port on a TV or monitor. (There’s nothing actually particularly special about this cable, and any USB-C-to-HDMI cable will do.) As soon as you plug in your monitor, your Samsung device should detect it and start displaying DeX on the second screen.

The Samsung DeX Station.

The Samsung DeX Station.
Image: Samsung

In 2019, Samsung introduced DeX for PC (and Mac). This brings the DeX experience to your laptop or desktop computer. After you’ve downloaded and installed the software, you connect your phone or tablet to Windows or macOS with any standard USB cable. Any flagship Samsung Galaxy phone released since 2018 is compatible, from the Galaxy S9 series and the Galaxy Note 9 onwards.

The DeX desktop software adds a few extras to the mix, like the ability to quickly transfer files from mobile device to computer, and a utility for texting contacts from Windows or macOS. You have keyboard and mouse (or trackpad) control built in right away, because they come with your computer. Note that some of the newest Samsung devices can now use DeX for PC without a cable over the local wifi network.

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DeX for PC is available for Windows and macOS.

DeX for PC is available for Windows and macOS.
Screenshot: Samsung

There are a couple of other DeX modes to talk about. Recent Samsung Galaxy tablets can also run DeX mode right on the device itself: Just tap the DeX button on the Quick Settings panel (swipe down with two fingers from the top of the display to see it) to switch to a desktop-like, windowed experience. If you’ve bought the official Samsung keyboard cover, it has its own dedicated DeX mode button as well.

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Then there’s wireless mirroring to a TV, which is available via the Miracast protocol on the Note 20 and Galaxy S21 devices. Swipe down with two fingers from the top of your device’s screen to open up Quick Settings, then tap DeX and DeX on TV or monitor: If there’s a TV or a streaming stick that supports Miracast (such as the Amazon Fire TV), it’ll appear under the Connect wirelessly heading.

Using the DeX experience

Once you’ve made your DeX connection, you can start using the software. If you see a notification on your phone or tablet asking if you want to start DeX mode, confirm that you do. You might also see an alert on screen that lets you enable touchpad mode for your phone or tablet, which means you can control the cursor on the monitor or TV’s large screen by swiping on your phone or tablet’s display.

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The DeX Settings panel is a good place to start. You’ll see a shortcut to Settings on the desktop, or you can click the notification tray (bottom right) and the cog icon to get to the same place. Pick Samsung DeX from the list and you can configure a whole host of different options, from the desktop wallpaper that’s used by the software and the font size to whether or not the taskbar automatically hides itself when not in use.

DeX gives you a full windowed desktop experience.

DeX gives you a full windowed desktop experience.
Image: Samsung

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The Samsung DeX Labs entry in the list of settings is worth a visit, too. Here you can configure more experimental features, including the option to automatically open the last app you were using when you start DeX, and controls for how app resizing is handled. If you’re using DeX on PC, meanwhile, then you can get to the settings client for the desktop software program by clicking on the cog icon up in the top right-hand corner.

Click the little apps grid button down in the lower left-hand corner to bring up your list of apps and to launch apps that aren’t already open. Apps can be moved using the window title bar, resized using the edges of the windows, and maximized and minimized using the buttons in the corners—it’s all very straightforward if you’re familiar with the way that Windows and macOS operate. You can even snap windows to the side of the screen (just drag them to the left or right edge) and pin apps to the taskbar with a right-click.

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Use DeX for PC to drag and drop files between phone and computer.

Use DeX for PC to drag and drop files between phone and computer.
Image: Samsung

You can see an overview of every open app by clicking the Recents button, which is the one showing three horizontal lines down in the lower left corner. Bear in mind that not all of the Android apps that you use are going to run perfectly, though the majority should be able to adapt to the bigger interface just fine (especially productivity apps like the Microsoft Office apps that already work seamlessly on tablets).

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As you’ll realize, you’re essentially just operating your phone, but through a different interface and with different input methods (if you’ve set up a mouse and a keyboard). You’ll still be signed into all your apps, your history and bookmarks will still come up in the mobile browser, and so on. Samsung itself warns that your phone might get hot while running DeX, and it can be a bit of a drain on battery life, but if you just need to get some quick work done, the option of turning your phone into a desktop is a useful one.

Samsung’s ‘Buy and Try’ Program Lets You Take Its Foldable Phones for a 100-Day Test Drive

Galaxy Z Fold 2 | $1,450 | Samsung
Galaxy Z Flip | $650 | Samsung

Sure, plain slabs of glass are perfectly fine for scrolling your feeds, playing a few games, and keeping in touch with friends, but maybe if you absolutely must have the latest tech, you’ve probably had your eye on folding phones. Though still in their infancy, there’s a range of options to choose from, including the Microsoft Surface Duo, as well as Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 2 and flip phone-style Galaxy Z Flip. They’re all pretty nifty in their own ways, but they’re also expensive, and the uncertain future of folding phones doesn’t instill much confidence that your investment will pay off down the road.

But if you’ve got your mind made up and your eyes set on a folding phone—high prices and uncertain futures be damned—a longer return window can help. Through April 1, Samsung is extending its return window for Galaxy Z Fold 2 and Galaxy Z Flip devices from 15 days to 100 days. You can also trade in another device for up to $550 in credit towards your new phone, which may take a good chunk out of your payment depending on what you’re trading in.

There are some things you should know, though. If you do trade in a device but end up not sticking with your Galaxy Z Fold or Flip, you won’t be able to get your phone back. Instead, Samsung will issue you a credit for the value of the traded-in device. That credit only works on Samsung’s site, though, so be certain you’ll be getting a Samsung for your next phone before making the leap.

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Caveats aside, this offer does alleviate a bit of the risk if you’re tempted to try out a foldable smartphone without putting down an exorbitant amount of cash for the privilege.