The best fax machines 2019: 5 top picks for sending faxes

Welcome to our pick of the best fax machines money can buy. Now, many of you may be thinking “who needs a fax machine in 2019?”, but you may be surprised to know that many businesses still rely on fax machines to quickly and dependably send documents and correspondence between offices.

Welcome to our pick of the best fax machines money can buy. Now, many of you may be thinking “who needs a fax machine in 2019?”, but you may be surprised to know that many businesses still rely on fax machines to quickly and dependably send documents and correspondence between offices.

If you own or work in a business that still uses faxes, then this guide to the best fax machines in 2019 will be for you. Don’t think just because faxes are becoming less common it means you need to stick with an old fax machine. In 2019 there are plenty of modern fax machines that come with a host of other features.

In fact, some of the best fax machines are actually all-in-one printers, which not only send faxes, but can print, scan and photocopy documents. Not only can these devices save you money, but also space, which makes them ideal for small offices.

Image credit: Epson

If you want the best fax machine that also doubles up as a printer, photocopier and scanner and you want it for a low price, then the Epson WorkForce WF-2750DWF is the one to go for. Sure, it looks a bit boring, and when in use it can get quite noisy, but the amount of features the Epson WorkForce WF-2750DWF offers, plus the quality of its scanning, printing and faxing, makes it a brilliant choice for home and office use on a budget.

Image credit: Samsung

With wired (Ethernet/USB) and wireless (Wi-Fi/NFC) connectivity, duplex printing, decent eco settings and support for a wide range of media, the Samsung M2885FW is an excellent all-rounder, and one of the best fax machines you can buy in 2019. As it’s a 4-in-1 device, it can handle printing, scanning and photocopying as well, so if you don’t need those, then this is a bit overkill. However, if you’re looking for a fast laser printer and fax machine for a busy office, it’s a brilliant choice.

Image credit: Brother

If you’re looking for the best fax machine for a busy and large office, then the Brother MFC-L6800DWT is definitely worth investing in. As a laser printer, it’s incredibly fast, but maintains a high print quality, and it comes with a large range of connectivity options to work as a fax, including USB and network. As a fax machine, it offers 33.6Kbps speeds, as well as fax forwarding, automatic redialling and group dialling features.

Image credit: Brother

If you’re only looking for a fax machine, then you don’t want to spend extra money on an all-in-one printer that will offer you features you’ll not use. If you just want a fax machine, then the Brother FAX-2940 is the best dedicated fax machine money can buy. As primarily a fax machine, it offers plenty of great features including 200 speed dials and up to 500 pages of transmit/receive memory, which means you won’t miss out on any faxes if the Brother FAX-2940 runs out of paper. You can also download a free printer and scanner software update that turns it into a multi-function device.

Image credit: Samsung

If you’re looking for a dedicated fax machine and don’t mind (or even prefer) a rather old school design, then the Samsung SF-760P could be the best fax machine for you. It’s got a no-nonsense design that sums up what we like about this fax machine so much. It’s dedicated to sending and receiving faxes, and that focus means it excels at its job, offering plenty of features and a decent 33.6kbps fax transmission speed. It can also be used as a printer and scanner, but we’d recommend only using this for faxes.

Here’s our pick of the best small business printers of 2019

Schlage Encode Smart Wi-Fi Deadbolt review: This Wi-Fi deadbolt delivers simple smarts – CNET

Less is more. It’s an age-old design concept and one that I’m happy to see reflected in a few new Wi-Fi smart locks on the market. Ditching hubs and adapters feels like the way forward with smart locks connected via Wi-Fi.

Less is more. It’s an age-old design concept and one that I’m happy to see reflected in a few new Wi-Fi smart locks on the market. Ditching hubs and adapters feels like the way forward with smart locks connected via Wi-Fi. With no Wi-Fi adapter, Z-Wave or Zigbee hub needed, the Schlage Encode Wi-Fi Smart Deadbolt is a simple answer to smartening your door.

You’ll get Google Assistant and AmazonAlexa smarts, and while there isn’t any HomeKit compatibility, and you can’t use voice unlock with Google Assistant, the lock performs well otherwise. At $249, it isn’t the best value for money, but it’s a solid piece of hardware with enough smarts to satisfy most homeowners. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a stylish, simple smart lock. (It’s not yet available in the UK or Australia, but the price converts to about £190 or AU$350.)

Installation is straightforward. Schlage includes a nice feature that snaps the face of the lock onto the deadbolt, freeing up your hands to attach the back half of the lock without worrying about the front falling out. A small but smart feature I appreciated. You’ll only need a Phillips head screwdriver and about 15 minutes to replace your entire deadbolt.

The lock is powered by four AA batteries, set in the back of the lock. The team at Schlage estimates you’ll need to replace the batteries every six months. That’s a disadvantage over low-energy options like Bluetooth and one of the reasons why companies such as August have kept the Wi-Fi module on a separate piece of hardware that plugs directly into the wall.

This isn’t the first smart lock with a wireless adapter built directly into the lock itself, but it is the first from a major lock manufacturer. Tolerance for swapping out batteries will vary from person to person, and there might be some cases where a smart lock with integrated wireless is the perfect solution, regardless of battery life. Still, it’s worth asking how accurate Schlage’s six-month estimate really is. To that end, I’ll leave this lock installed and conduct a long-term test to see how long it lasts on four AAs. I’ll update this review as soon as I have to change them.

To pair your lock with Google or Alexa, you’ll need the Schlage Home app for iOS or Android. That’s where you’ll create a Schlage account and connect your lock to your home’s 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network. Once you’ve created that Schlage Home account, you can link it in Google’s Home app for Google Assistant integration.

Using the Schlage Encode with Google Assistant means your can lock or check the status of your door via voice commands. Google doesn’t support voice unlocking at this time, but the locking and status commands worked well in my testing. I added the lock to a routine and it promptly locked the door when I said, “Hey Google, I’m leaving.”

Best universal remotes 2019: From entry-level clickers to pro zappers

If you have a number of devices in your house, universal remotes bring efficiency, simplicity, and peace to your setup – they can take control of all the gadgetry you’ve got installed without breaking sweat and can be upgraded via their firmware to be compatible with anything you buy down the road.

If you have a number of devices in your house, universal remotes bring efficiency, simplicity, and peace to your setup – they can take control of all the gadgetry you’ve got installed without breaking sweat and can be upgraded via their firmware to be compatible with anything you buy down the road.

Of course, like so many other things in life, there’s more than one way up the mountain and you might not need a $300 hunk of plastic when a simple $35 remote would do the trick.

To help you from overspending on the best universal remotes for you, we’ve put together a complete guide for the gadget – what you need to know, how much you should spend, and which models we really like.

Even in this era of voice-activated speakers, the remote has a part to play, and the universal remote even more so: the only question is which one you should spend your hard-earned cash on? At the end of this you’ll understand how they can make your life that little bit easier.

Best universal remotes FAQ: quick questions answered

Can universal remotes work on all TVs? Most of the time, yes. But it’ll depend on the make and model of your remote and your TV. On the whole, your universal remote should work with all TVs made in the past ten years or so. But it’s worth checking out the specific requirements of each before you buy one.

How do I set up a universal remote control? That depends on the make and model of your universal remote. But on the whole, you’ll need to ensure that your remote is fitted with the correct batteries and that you can point your remote at the TV, or other device, you’re trying to control.

From there, there are a couple of different ways to search for and add new devices, there’s direct code entry, auto code search, brand code search and manual code search. It’ll all depend on which remote you have, so be sure to follow the set-up instructions that come with it.

What are the best universal remotes? That depends on your budget. We think the One For All Essence (check it out below) is a good low cost option, but for the best of the best, take a look at Logitech’s Harmony devices.

Are universal remotes worth it? There are two key scenarios where universal remotes are ideal: either you’ve lost your original remote and are looking at a pricey replacement, or you’re wanting to have fewer remote controls because your AV experience needs streamlining. If you fall into one of those two camps, then yes, they’re worth it.

Best universal remotes

What is a universal remote?

To put it simply, universal remotes are just remote controls – exactly like the ones that come with your TV – but these devices are able to imitate the signals sent by your TV’s original remote, AV receiver or other device.

If you’re wondering why you should buy one, there are two key scenarios where they’re ideal: either you’ve lost your original remote and are looking at a pricey replacement, or you’re wanting to have fewer remote controls because your AV experience needs streamlining.

The best universal remotes are the perfect answer in both cases, and almost every universal remote uses infrared (or IR): the same signal protocol used by remote manufacturers as well.

The best universal remotes: cheap vs expensive

If you’re wanting to save money when shopping for the best universal remote you’ll want something like the One For All Essence (which is only available in the UK by the way). These remotes work by utilizing a pattern of button presses to program the remote, selecting the right set of instructions for your hardware.

Manufacturers like Panasonic and Sony have only ever used a couple different patterns of instructions over the last decade or so for most of their TVs, and that means you can just cycle through them until you find the set of instructions that lets you operate the television you’re trying to use.

The low-cost One for All Essence can replace two remotes

Take a step up in price, and many mid-tier universal remotes boast companion apps and large databases that let you just select the TV or receiver you have on your mobile device: it’s quicker, easier and less of a hassle to add new devices, in case your AV setup ever changes.

Generally speaking, the more devices you’re looking for your universal remote to support, the more money you’ll be spending. Logitech’s Harmony Elite is compatible with up to 15 devices with just the one remote for example, while low-end models, like the One for All Simple, only support one.

Just like most things in the tech world, it just comes down to that classic use-case question – are you replacing a lost remote or do you just want to use just one remote instead of a half dozen unique ones?

The Logitech Harmony Elite is one of the top-end universal remotes

When you start getting up to the more premium rungs of the universal remote ladder, you’ll start seeing remotes that allow you to set up custom macros, or ‘activities’. These so-called activities let you make a single button or touchscreen press set off several commands at once.

One remote activity, which you might call Watch TV, could turn on your cable box, audio receiver and TV, change the receiver to the right channel and switch your TV to the right HDMI input, for example.

Another popular option is to turn all of your equipment off with a single press of a button, but it’s really up to you how you configure these macros (or whatever you want to call them).

The best universal remotes: who makes them?

There are two main players in the universal remote control game, and they’re the ones we’ve listed out thus far. Logitech makes all the best high-end universal remotes, in the shape of its Harmony models, while One for All is the best brand for more inexpensive alternatives.

The Doro HandleEasy is as basic as universal remotes get

In the US, you’ll also see a plethora of low-price remote controls from RCA. And if you’re buying for an elderly relative, or want a super-simple remote that only covers the TV basics, then the Doro HandleEasy lets you change volume and channels – it’s been around for years, but is a great lo-fi gadget.

The best universal remotes: phone options

If all of that preamble sounds too overwhelming, consider this: you might be holding the answer to your home entertainment solution in your hand right now.

That’s because some phones will also function as universal remotes, although perhaps not the models you may think. They need to have a feature called an IR blaster, which enables them to transmit the same signals as a normal remote control.

These used to be somewhat common, but are now much rarer: current phones with an IR blaster include the Honor 9 and Huawei P20 Plus, and some Xiaomi phones have one too. The common thread is of course that these are Chinese companies.

The Honor 9 is one of the few new phones to have an IR blaster

The most recent mainstream phones to feature IR blasters were the LG G5 and LG V20, while the last flagship Samsungs with IR were the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, and those came out several years ago. These phones have apps that let you configure your own setup, with on-screen buttons for (almost) all your remotes’ functions.

We know people who owned phones with IR blasters a few years ago, but who ended up spending a significant amount of cash on a universal remote, oblivious to their phone’s abilities.

Have a phone with an IR blaster? You might want to check out a third-party remote control app like Peel or Sure, as these have a smarter interface than most of the built-in apps you’ll come across.

The best universal remotes: consoles and smart homes

A weakness that the vast majority of universal remotes share is that they can’t control most smart home devices, or indeed the Sony PlayStation 4. This is because they use either Bluetooth, RF or Wi-Fi instead of our old friend infrared.

With that in mind you might not need a universal remote at all: instead, the answer might be to invest in a hub that supports these other standards, and right now you have two major options.

Logitech offers the best, and the most popular one – the Logitech Home Hub is compatible with Microsoft and Sony game consoles, and a wide range of smart home gadgets including Philips Hue lights. It connects to your home Wi-Fi network, and can be controlled either by a mobile app or one of Logitech’s higher-end remotes if you prefer.

Logitech’s Harmony Hub levels-up the abilities of universal remotes

Using one of the Harmony series’ tasty macro activities, you could therefore set the lighting level for movie night, as well as turning on your AV setup, with a single press on a button… welcome to the future.

Elsewhere, the Broadlink RM and RM Pro are hubs that can control IR and RF (Pro model) devices through a mobile phone app. They’re significantly cheaper than the Logitech Home Hub, although as they don’t use Bluetooth you can’t use them to control a Sony PS4 console.

That gives you another low-cost way to make up for the lack of an IR blaster.

Best universal remotes: voice control

One additional benefit of the Logitech Home Hub system is that you can already control it through Amazon’s digital voice assistant Alexa.

If you have an Amazon Echo, or an Echo Dot, or any other product with Alexa built-in, you can add a Harmony skill to it: using this you can say something like “Alexa, tell Harmony to turn on the TV”, and it’ll do exactly that (we’ve tried it out as part of our research for this guide, and it works rather well).

You can now use your voice as a universal remote, with the right hardware

One day we’ll be able to control everything over Wi-Fi, but until that day arrives, it’s reassuring to see that universal remotes aren’t content to become ‘retro’ gadgets – they’re actually keeping up with the times.

Logitech Harmony at a glance

As the Logitech Harmony series is easily the most important range of universal remotes for people looking for an experience to suit a high-end setup, let’s take a quick look at what’s on offer.

The Harmony family has two main lines – there are newer remotes that work with the Harmony Hub, and older pure IR remotes that don’t.

The Harmony Ultimate is one of Logitech’s full-fat universal remotes

The newer kind includes the Elite, Ultimate, Touch, Ultimate One and 950 models, all of which have screens. Logitech’s Companion remote supports the hub but doesn’t have a display, making it a little more affordable.

Those after something even less pocket-draining for their universal remote should check out the Harmony 650, which has a display but no Hub support, and the Harmony 350, a basic £35/$38 remote that’s a classic universal remote but can still combine the functions of eight remotes.

So, what is the best universal remote?

The best universal remotes

At $250 (£99, AU$449), the Logitech Harmony Elite obviously no small investment – and if you’re not absolutely serious about the form and function of your home entertainment setup, then you needn’t bother. But for anyone who wants one remote to control just about everything, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything that is both this functional and relatively easy to use out of the box.

If your setup is complex and you’re seeking some automation in your routine, or you just can’t stand the sight of a handful of differently-shaped remotes laying on your couch, then the Logitech Harmony Elite might be a luxury worth splashing out for. Despite the occasional hitch, it’s a powerful universal remote that can wrangle your audio/visual madness, plus it looks and feels pretty good doing so.

Got your ultimate remote? Good. Now check out the best TVs of 2019

Google Stadia puts Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC gaming on notice – CNET

For years, we played video games in arcades. Then we huddled in front of specialized consoles hooked up to our living room televisions. The most dedicated of us built our own expensive PCs for the best experience.

For years, we played video games in arcades. Then we huddled in front of specialized consoles hooked up to our living room televisions. The most dedicated of us built our own expensive PCs for the best experience.

Google is hoping to push another big change in gaming.

On Tuesday, Google announced Stadia, a service that lets you play games by way of a wide variety of devices and an internet connection, similar to how you watch shows and movies on Netflix.

Now playing:Watch this: Google Stadia is a play-anywhere streaming game platform…
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The selling point for Stadia is convenience: You don’t need a chunky game console or expensive PC. Just a TV, set-top box, browser, phone or low-end PC that can surf the web using Google’s Chrome browser. You can use your own keyboard, mouse and a controller you have lying around, or you can use a specialized controller from Google that connects to its service over Wi-Fi.

“Our ambition is far beyond a single game,” said Google’s Phil Harrison. Instead, the company sees the opportunity to give players “instant access” to a game by clicking a link. “The power of instant access is magical, and it’s already transformed the music and movie industries.”

The project will launch in the US, Canada, the UK and Europe in 2019. Google didn’t say how much games will cost to play, though it plans to say more in the summer.

Google sees gaming as a new way to seep into your life — as if email, search, YouTube and its Android software aren’t enough — through the promise of massive convenience. Who needs to spend hundreds of dollars on Microsoft’s Xbox One, Sony’s PlayStation 4, Nintendo’s Switch or a PC when you can just play a game over the internet on a scrawny laptop?

Though Google isn’t the first company to offer game streaming, its entry into the space could make waves within the video game world. Google has lots of money, and it’s made its name by offering reliable services like Gmail, Google Maps and Google Photos for free or on the cheap.

With Google’s streaming service you’ll no longer have to go to a retailer like Amazon, Best Buy or GameStop to get the latest title. Nor will you have to potentially wait hours to download it from online stores like Valve’s Steam. Instead, Google says, all you’ll need is a fast internet connection and a controller, and you’re set.

“Google has a lot going for it,” wrote IHS analyst Piers Harding-Rolls. He noted that between all of Google’s various services, it has a strong brand with consumers. The question, he said, is whether that can translate to the game world.

“Cloud is the new platform dynamic for the games sector and will be where the future competitive landscape resides,” he added. Google just needs to offer the right games to make it work.


Google, your next gaming destination?
13 Photos

A decade coming

I played my first streamed game about a decade ago, through a service run by a now-defunct startup called OnLive. Back then, the company offered to sell me access to hit games like the sci-fi shooting title Borderlands, playable through a PC, Mac or a little set-top box and a controller.

Just like with Netflix, all I had to do was log in, choose what I wanted to play and start. Sometimes the visuals would garble, just like they did back then with movie streaming too. But it worked. It felt like the future.

I’ve been waiting for that future ever since.

OnLive shut down in 2015, but other contenders have popped up. Sony launched its PlayStation Now streaming game service in 2014, as a complement to its popular PlayStation 4 game console. Microsoft and Electronic Arts, meanwhile, have said they’re developing competing services as well, though they haven’t offered firm launch dates. Even Comcast, the TV and internet provider, has dabbled in game streaming, most recently considering a purchase of the Korean game company Nexon, rumors say.

All these companies are betting that the streaming approach will eventually upend the way we play video games, much in the same way Netflix did our movie watching a decade ago. The question is when.

“What’s good is, in this industry you can play on mobile or PC, and now it’s starting to be the same game,” said Yves Guillemot, CEO of Ubisoft, who’s been working with Google for six years on streaming game technology. “It’s one more possibility to experience the worlds we create, and it gives opportunities to creators to take full advantage of mobile.”

A new promise

Google pitched its service as a way to bring together different people in the game industry, including players, streamers and coders.

The company said it’s developed ways for people to start playing a game after clicking a link in YouTube, for example. The ease of sharing and starting a game with just a link could change the way we think of playing, Google’s Harrison said in an interview.

“We just gave the development community a vision of the future of what it means when your data center is a platform, and you are no longer bound by the device you’re playing, and that you are now screen agnostic,” Harrison said. “That’s really exciting.”

Google has also partnered with game developers like Epic Games and Unity. As a result, Google’s high-performance servers will stream games at up to 4K ultrahigh-definition video at 60 frames per second, meaning animations should move smoothly.

Already, Google said, Stadia is able to deliver games with more performance than Microsoft’s Xbox One X and Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro combined. And Google said it eventually expects to double that performance as game developers create even more complex games.

Google won’t rely just on other game makers though. The company said it’ll follow Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo in building its own specialized games for its service, through a studio called Stadia Games and Entertainment.

“We are on the brink of a huge revolution in gaming,” said Jade Raymond, head of Google’s game making group and an industry veteran.

For its part, Microsoft said in a statement that it’s “a great time to be a gamer,” and noted that it’s devoted to offering choice as well through its upcoming Project xCloud service. Sony and Nintendo didn’t respond to requests for comment.

In the meantime, Google said it plans to closely knit its game service with YouTube, offering new ways for people to compete and play with one another. That’s particularly exciting to Matthew Patrick, a popular YouTube gaming personality known as MatPat.

“It unites technology and entertainment in ways we’ve never seen before,” he said.

Now playing:Watch this: Google rolls out Stadia gaming service and controller
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Originally published March 19, 11:05 a.m. PT.
Updates, 12:20 p.m.: Adds analyst comment; 2:20 p.m.: Includes additional industry comments; March 20: Adds more technical details; March 21: Includes details about game design ideas from Phil Harrison interview.

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Everything we know about the Pixel 4 and 4 XL: Keep tabs on the rumors about Google’s upcoming marquee phones.

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C Spire to offer new 10.5-inch iPad Air and new 7.9-inch iPad mini on its 4G LTE network

The all-new iPad Air features an ultra-thin 10.5-inch design, offering the latest innovations and high-end performance at a breakthrough price. With the A12 Bionic chip with Apple’s Neural Engine, the new iPad Air delivers a 70 percent boost in performance and twice the graphics capability, and the advanced Retina display with True Tone technology is nearly 20 percent larger with over half a million more pixels3.

The all-new iPad Air features an ultra-thin 10.5-inch design, offering the latest innovations and high-end performance at a breakthrough price. With the A12 Bionic chip with Apple’s Neural Engine, the new iPad Air delivers a 70 percent boost in performance and twice the graphics capability, and the advanced Retina display with True Tone technology is nearly 20 percent larger with over half a million more pixels3.

The new 7.9-inch iPad mini is a major upgrade for iPad mini fans who love a compact, ultra-portable design packed with the latest technology. With the A12 Bionic chip, the new iPad mini is powerful multi-tasking machine, delivering three times the performance and nine times faster graphics4. The advanced Retina display with True Tone technology and wide color support is 25 percent brighter (4) and has the highest pixel density of any iPad, delivering an immersive visual experience in any setting.

The powerful and smart A12 Bionic chip brings a new level of performance and speed to handle demanding computing tasks and power the next generation of apps for engaging AR experiences, photo-realistic effects in 3D games and stunning graphics performance within apps. With advanced front- and back-facing cameras, iPad mini and iPad Air take gorgeous photos and capture clear and stable 1080p HD videos. Apple Pencil opens up new creativity and productivity possibilities, from drawing and writing down thoughts to marking up documents and retouching photos.

Staying connected is now easier and faster with the same great Wi-Fi performance and Gigabit-class LTE connectivity5, as well as eSIM technology that lets users connect to wireless data plans when traveling in more than 180 countries around the world.6

For more details and pricing information on C Spire products and services, please visit www.cspire.com and click on the wireless tab. For more information on the iPad, go to www.apple.com/ipad.

About C Spire
C Spire is a leading technology company and telecommunications provider committed to transforming its service areas through the C Spire Tech Movement initiative, which includes broadband deployment, technology innovation and workforce development. The company provides world-class, customer-inspired wireless communications, 1 Gigabit consumer Internet access, streaming TV, digital home phone service as well as a full suite of dedicated Internet, wireless, IP Voice, data, cloud and managed IT services for businesses. This news release and other announcements are available at www.cspire.com/news. For more information about C Spire, visit www.cspire.com or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cspire or Twitter at www.twitter.com/cspire.

1 1st generation Apple Pencil sold separately.
2 Battery life depends on device settings, usage and other factors. Actual results may vary.
3 When compared to the 9.7-inch iPad.
4 When compared to the previous generation iPad mini.
5 Network speeds are dependent on carrier networks.
6 Not all carriers support Apple SIM. Not available in China.

SOURCE C Spire

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Google Stadia may drastically change the cloud-gaming landscape – CNET

Playing your favorite game from anywhere and on any device is 2019’s holy grail of entertainment, and based on Google’s big Stadia reveal at the Game Developer’s Conference this week — that’s the platform which has emerged from its Project Stream and Project Yeti work — it’s possibly well on the way to winning the chalice.

Playing your favorite game from anywhere and on any device is 2019’s holy grail of entertainment, and based on Google’s big Stadia reveal at the Game Developer’s Conference this week — that’s the platform which has emerged from its Project Stream and Project Yeti work — it’s possibly well on the way to winning the chalice. Or, at the very least, conceptualizing what it looks like.

What do we mean when we talk about cloud gaming or game streaming? In cloud gaming, processing occurs on a remote server that “streams” the rendered frames to your local device, which sends back commands based on your in-game activity. People have taken to calling it “game streaming.”

Now playing:Watch this: Google Stadia is a play-anywhere streaming game platform…
1:56

But gaming’s active, bidirectional nature makes it different from traditional movie and music streaming. It’s also different from Twitch-like game broadcasts, which is why I prefer “cloud gaming.”

That term also differentiates it from in-home streaming — served up by the original Steam Link, HP’s Omen Game Stream, AMD Link mobile and a lot of others — where you run games off a local system to play on less powerful devices but those devices are still on the same network. They’re also different from online multiplayer games such as Fortnite, which run entirely in the cloud but still perform most of the processing on your device.

Many of the problems from a couple of years ago remain. Here are the current players and where they stand.


Google, your next gaming destination?
13 Photos

Google Stadia

Google’s use of the plural of “stadium” for its new gaming platform hits the mark, even if its logo doesn’t quite resonate; the company’s ambitions extend into every aspect of game play, game development and game streaming (via YouTube) across every device. On its face, the scope subsumes almost every type of offering available or in development today, with one exception: Blade Shadow-like virtual machines for consumers. But if Google succeeds, that niche may shrink even smaller.

I won’t go into a lengthy description of what it encompasses — here’s the overview — but If anyone can pull it off, it’s Google. The company has several distinct advantages over any competitor, except maybe Microsoft. It owns a huge network of data centers and the fiber that connects them; the software layers and programming expertise it needs to run; the video-streaming infrastructure streamer base on YouTube to popularize it; a client (Chrome) with a a ready-made installed base; the deep pockets to capitalize it and to create its own games; and the industry clout across mobile and desktops to persuade a critical mass of publishers to develop for it.

Its partnership with AMD for the graphics processors powering the service adds a new wrinkle as well. During the presentation, Google emphasized the powerful physics acceleration of the AMD-based platform; that’s a stark contrast to Nvidia’s concentration on its RTX ray-tracing-optimized GPUs which will be driving GeForce Now and its need for network scalability highlighted in its keynote.

The biggest drawback is that games need to be coded specifically for the platform. Google’s using the popular Unity engine, so games already using that have the least friction for porting; Epic has also pushed out the necessary tools for its Unreal Engine. Between the two, that covers a ton of games.

There are still unanswered questions, such as how you buy games or transfer games you own into the platform (in the absence of that info, analogies to Netflix are misleading and inaccurate) and how everything will be priced, how well non-Google controllers work with it, network factors that are out of Google’s control, and more. Those may determine whether it will turn out to be a world-dominating Gmail or a quietly killed Google Plus.

Now that it’s public, more details should trickle out over time. Google said publicly that the next big information dump should be in August.

Blade Shadow

The most advanced cloud gaming option — and by that I mean a good balance of features and performance — comes from the smallest company. Blade uses cloud-based virtual machines called Shadows. Once you’re logged in, most of the time you can’t really tell you’re not using a local desktop.

That means it can run any Windows game from anyone, with any launcher — it’s not limited to specific partners. And Blade’s ahead of almost all its competitors when it comes to device support. It offers a small $140 box (Shadow Ghost) with Bluetooth and USB ports for keyboards, mice and controllers, and hooks up a TV or monitor to your Shadow; it also has Android, MacOS and Linux apps, while iOS is in beta. It recently rolled out Hive, a community chat and co-op interface lets you view and control other gamers’ screens as well as your own.

Unlike all the other platforms, Shadow can run at 4K and 60fps. There’s no guarantee your games will run that fast, though. Last time I tested it, the performance was roughly equivalent to an Intel Core i7/GTX GeForce 1070 system — which isn’t nearly powerful enough to run a lot of games at 4K.

The downside is it’s not for people who don’t want to manage their own computers — who just want to get in, play, and get out or deal with device connection and latency issues. And at $35 a month it’s expensive if all you want to do is play a few games.

Nvidia Shield and GeForce Now

Nvidia’sGeForce Now is probably the slickest and least troublesome cloud-gaming option I’ve used, in part because it’s been around for a while in different forms and in part because it’s somewhat limited. The Shield, Nvidia’s box for handling connections to peripherals, can connect to a TV or monitor for a console-like gaming experience. The Shield lets you play Android games on the big screen or cloud games via Nvidia’s GeForce Now (GFN) service. GFN lets you play games you own from the cloud.

The notable development for GFN is the ability to play on a Mac or PC. Nvidia’s client for doing so has been in free beta for over a year and it works quite well, provided your network lives up to its requirements from minute to minute: Greater than 25Mbps bandwidth, less than 2 percent frame loss and less than 80ms latency.

And on the plus side, Nividia announced its new RTX-based, more highly scalable blade servers at GDC 2019, which it intends to use for upgrading GeForce Now.

But full support is limited to games in your Steam library, on Battle.net or on Uplay, and not all games on those platforms. GFN also runs as a VM, but a locked-down one that launches when choose to run a game (or run the Steam client) and evaporates when you exit.

Though the beta is public, it’s still invitation only. We haven’t had any hints of iOS or Android support. Nvidia has yet to say when it will go into public release or reveal any pricing.

Sony PlayStation Now and PS4 Remote Play

If there’s an old timer in cloud gaming, it’s probably five-year-old PSN. The service, which is fundamentally an all-you-can-eat subscription (charging $20 per month to $100 per year) for PlayStation owners, has lets you stream PS games to a PC for the last three years.

While it’s robust with a big library of games, those games rotate so you’re not always guaranteed to be able to play the ones you’re looking forward to. Also, Windows is the only platform it supports for cloud gaming, it’s only designed to work with a DualShock controller and it (unsurprisingly) doesn’t support keyboard and mouse.

With the PS4, Sony introduced a feature called “Remote Play,” which lets your PS4 stream games to a PC, Mac, Android, and as of March 2019, iOS. Like Stream Link Anywhere, Remote Play uses the console as a host that you can access via other devices without having to be on the same network.

Sony’s also rumored to have a new console in the works, and it’s possible that with the next rev the company will introduce the ability to stream games you own — and to more devices — directly via the PSN infrastructure. So you wouldn’t need a console but you’d be able to access hot new exclusives.

Steam Link Anywhere

Steam Link started out as a box (like the Shield) which connects to a TV or monitor via Steam’s in-home streaming service. So there’s still a powerful system running the game, but you didn’t have to be in front of it. Parent company Valve discontinued the Steam Link and replaced it with an app to let you stream to your Android device, which is still in beta. There was initially an iOS app but after some problems with Apple’s App Store it just disappeared and we haven’t heard anything since.

Steam announced an update, Steam Link Anywhere, just prior to GDC 2019. The update untethers Steam Link from having to be on the same network as the computer hosting the stream. It’s still new and a little rough. For instance, when I try to connect from home, it asks me to enter a PIN on the host computer at the office. And when I try to leave the host on Wi-Fi instead of Ethernet, it’s always offline when I try to connect from home. Then I get to the office and find Steam has logged me out.

Steam Link Anywhere is very much a work in progress. It’s free, which is a plus. But you need a pretty meaty system to serve as the host, with a fast, robust and preferably wired network connection.

Microsoft Project xCloud

We also know that Microsoft’s working on its own Xbox-based cloud-gaming platform, currently called “Project xCloud.” The goal of xCloud is to get Xbox games — including its own exclusives — running on more devices. The company recently showed off a demo of Forza Horizon 4 running on a phone, and has said that it will go into wider testing later in 2019. But we know few details about what xCloud will look like, or how it fits in with the company’s console strategy.


The 22 most anticipated video games of 2019
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Update, March 21, 4 a.m. PT: Added information on Google’s announcement at GDC.

Apple’s Showtime event: What to expect and how to watch: What we know so far about Apple’s TV series, subscription news service and everything else it could announce at its next launch event on Monday, March 25.

Galaxy S10 Plus review: No doubt about it, the Galaxy S10 Plus is going to be one of the best Android phones of 2019.

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The current-generation iPad hits its lowest price ever: $239 – CNET

For the last few weeks, the current-generation iPad (not to be confused with the brand-new iPad Air and iPad Mini announced a couple days ago) has been on sale at Amazon for $249.

For the last few weeks, the current-generation iPad (not to be confused with the brand-new iPad Air and iPad Mini announced a couple days ago) has been on sale at Amazon for $249.

That was already a pretty good deal, but here’s a better one: For a limited time, and while supplies last, MassGenie has the iPad 9.7 (Wi-Fi, 32GB) for $238.99 shipped. Be sure to click the orange Power Deal button to get that price.

See it at MassGenie

Although I just recently stated that the new $399 iPad Mini was a definite no-sale for me, this larger iPad — especially at this price — deserves a look.

Indeed, when you compare it with the $150 Fire HD 10, you’re getting faster performance, much better cameras, more apps to choose from, an ad-free user experience and other benefits.

What do you think? Is $239 a decent price for a current-gen iPad?

Read more:6 new uses for your old iPad

Originally published on Feb. 25, 2019.
Update, March 21: Changed source store and price.

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CNET’s Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on PCs, phones, gadgets and much more. Note that CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and follow the Cheapskate on Facebook and Twitter!

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Opera for Android adds free unlimited VPN so you can browse safer – CNET

Opera has added a free, built-in VPN service to its mobile browser for Android users in version 51, which launched Wednesday. This means you won’t need to sign in, download additional apps or pay extra for protection while browsing public Wi-Fi.

Opera has added a free, built-in VPN service to its mobile browser for Android users in version 51, which launched Wednesday. This means you won’t need to sign in, download additional apps or pay extra for protection while browsing public Wi-Fi. Opera says this gives you even more control over your online privacy.

The built-in VPN creates a private, encrypted connection between your phone and the server with a 256-bit encryption algorithm. The encryption hides your physical location, and because you don’t have to log in, the VPN server doesn’t retain any activity data.

Using Opera’s built-in VPN can also protect you from third parties stealing your data.

“The fact is that users are exposed when they connect to public Wi-Fi without a VPN,” Opera’s Peter Wallman said in a statement. “By enabling Opera’s browser VPN service, users make it very difficult for third parties to steal pieces of their information and can avoid being tracked. Users no longer need to question if or how they can protect their personal information in these situations.”

The new version of Opera for Android 51 is rolling out gradually. Once it’s live in your area, you can enable Opera’s VPN by tapping the browser settings, tapping VPN and turning on the feature according to your preference. You can also customize the region you’re in.

Opera’s built-in VPN arrives after its original standalone app. The Opera VPN app was originally provided by Surfeasy until it was acquired. Opera then developed its own service, which first debuted on the desktop browser in 2016.

Originally published March 20, 8:22 a.m. PT.
Update, 9:55 a.m.: Adds more details about original Opera VPN app.

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Six ways to stay safe when buying smart tech

Fledgling regulation has yet to really make itself felt in the Internet of Things (IoT).

We’ve seen the Code of Practice for consumer IoT security issued by the Dept for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DDCM) and also the EU’s ENISA Cybersecurity Act last year, while ETSI specification TS 103 645 was released in February but compliance with these and other regulations around the world aren’t yet mandatory, making it vital consumers protect themselves.

Fledgling regulation has yet to really make itself felt in the Internet of Things (IoT).

We’ve seen the Code of Practice for consumer IoT security issued by the Dept for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DDCM) and also the EU’s ENISA Cybersecurity Act last year, while ETSI specification TS 103 645 was released in February but compliance with these and other regulations around the world aren’t yet mandatory, making it vital consumers protect themselves.

We advise the following steps before you buy that smart device.

Smart home security: 10 hacks to protect your home from hackersSmart homes at greater security risk than everProtecting your data in the age of smart homes1. Do your research

Pop the name of the smart gadget or toy in to a search engine and add the word ‘hack’, ‘security’ or ‘vulnerability’. It’ll take you moments to find out if there are discussions about serious security issues.

Image Credit: Google

2. Get the app before you buy

Download the app from the App Store or Play Store to your phone. If you buy it, you’re going to need the app anyway. Click on the ‘create account’ or ‘login’ section. What we want to know is whether they’re playing safe with the password you’re going to create.

Create an account – add a temporary or throwaway email address then try to set the password of ‘password’. See what happens. Was it rejected for being too weak? If so, try ‘Password1’ and see if that works. If it works, the manufacturer is showing that they really don’t care.

3. Read the manual before buying

Go to the manufacturers web site and find the manual.

Find the pages that deal with connecting to the smart thing for the first time. If it uses Wi-Fi, how do you connect your phone to the device for the first time? Does one have to press a button on the ‘thing’ first or is the Wi-fi wide open without any passwords, or with the same password for all devices?

If it uses Bluetooth, again, do you have to press a button on the smart device to put it in to ‘pairing’ mode or can anyone connect to it at any time? Having a button press or similar before anyone can connect for the first time is a good thing. It means that you can decide when someone can connect to your smart thing.

4. Does the manufacturer take security seriously?

What does the vendor say about security on their web site? Do they use words like ‘military grade’ or ‘bank grade encryption’ or jargon like ‘AES 256’ or do they say nothing at all about security?

A responsible manufacturer will talk about how their security has been independently reviewed and the processes they follow to keep your data safe.

Do they have a ‘bug bounty’ programme to encourage hackers/researchers to report flaws. Search online for ‘bug bounty’ and the name of the product or the manufacturer. Big names in bug bounty programme management include ‘HackerOne’ and ‘bugcrowd’ among many, so you can click through to their sites to check.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

5. Implement a strong password

A weak password is often the easiest way to hack an IoT product. Set a strong, complicated and UNIQUE password that you haven’t used elsewhere.

Use a free password manager to make your life easier. Check if your IoT app allows two step verification (a one time SMS code to your phone) or allows you to use an authenticator app.

6. How will you care for your thing post purchase?

Does the device support patches and security fixes?

Check the instructions to see how yours is updated. Ensure your phone allows the IoT app to check for updates and apply them as soon as you’re alerted. Update your mobile app and check to see if there are security fixes for the product too.

Sometimes these will be ‘pushed’ from the phone to the IoT device. However, some updates are pushed ‘over the air’ direct to the IoT device.

Ken Munro, Partner at Pen Test Partners

We’ve also highlighted the best smart home devices

Microtel by Wyndham Elevates Brand with New Prototype Optimizing Operational Efficiencies

“Microtel is the epitome of efficiency: it outperforms the segment, offers streamlined operations and leads its peers in guest satisfaction,” said Keri Putera, vice president, Brand Operations, Microtel by Wyndham.

“Microtel is the epitome of efficiency: it outperforms the segment, offers streamlined operations and leads its peers in guest satisfaction,” said Keri Putera, vice president, Brand Operations, Microtel by Wyndham. “As we build on the brand’s existing model, we’ve identified small, purposeful details which can drive large, incremental savings for developers and create a significant impact on the experience for our guests. Moda – a term symbolizing both style and precision – simplifies operations through design while tapping into the growing trend of minimalism, addressing the changing needs of today’s travelers and owners.”

The first hotels leveraging the new prototype are set to break ground in 2019.

Development Disruptor
Microtel’s transformative next step is the first of a multi-pronged growth strategy for Wyndham Hotels & Resorts as it builds the foundation for future expansion just over nine months into its tenure as a pure-play hotel company.

Wyndham’s new development strategy prioritizes quality and longevity in the economy and midscale segments via smart investment and partnering with growing entrepreneurs. Taking a page from the industry-leading practices of its newly acquired La Quinta® by Wyndham brand, the company’s strategy underscores new construction growth, design-driven conversions and a redesigned franchisee journey emphasizing added value over the lifetime of the investment.

“Microtel is already a category-killer in the economy segment and is poised to disrupt in the midscale segment where it often competes, making it the perfect first step as we set out to transform the new construction landscape in both these segments,” said David Wilner, senior vice president, New Construction Development, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. “With a focus on streamlined new construction models like Moda, we are paving the way for continued expansion across our economy and midscale brands and creating a foundation of long-term support for entrepreneurial hoteliers growing their businesses.”

A More Efficient Microtel by Wyndham
Developed in collaboration with seasoned Microtel owners and award-winning architect firm, Hoefer Wysocki, Moda incorporates modern architecture, smart interior staples like wall-hung furniture and minimalist interior design trends to appeal to millennials and today’s business and leisure travelers.

According to Mayflower, millennials are leading the way when it comes to streamlined living spaces with the bare essentials, with 23 percent significantly more likely to say they’re minimalists when it comes to purging things or belongings. The Moda prototype delivers a sleek, minimalist look and feel contributing to an elevated guest experience while also streamlining costs to develop.

Exterior Highlights

The new design includes a four-story exterior facade option and features a new, flat-roof design, elevating Microtel’s visibility, signage and status from its previous pitched-roof design. The building itself is sleeker, reducing the total number of cut-outs in the foundation by modeling a Bauhaus architectural style – at 34,700 to 35,700 square feet, it’s saving developers significant square footage material costs. The design changes minimize the brand’s land requirements by 11 percent, affording developers more freedom and flexibility to build.

Interior Highlights

The interior design delivers layout and maintenance efficiencies inspired by conversations with owners and operators across the industry. Leaner and more modular, Moda uniformly positions guestrooms by unit type – suites, doubles and singles – allowing for natural building breaks and flow. Wall-mounted headboards, desks and televisions help housekeepers turn guestrooms faster, maximize open guest space and appeal to the personal aesthetic of today’s millennial travelers.

Incorporating the Franchisee’s Fingerprint
Helping to ensure Moda fits the owner and guest bill at each stage of the design process – from first conceptualization to final prototype – is a team of Microtel owners and industry vets, including a 15-person Microtel Developer Advisory Council offering feedback and expertise. The brand tapped owners, operators and general managers from various brands, markets and segments to work hand-in-glove with designers integrating additional operational feedback into the design.

Microtel owner and Franchise Advisory Board member Chad Moore is one of the first to sign executed agreements to build two new Moda prototypes in Milford and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware in 2019.

“I like to keep things simple, especially in business, and Microtel lets me do this,” said Moore, seasoned owner of the Microtel by Wyndham Georgetown in Delaware. “Moda streamlines the development and operations of the hotel – while strongly upholding the defining design and service principles that have made Microtel the economy champion it is today – making the new Microtel an even more attractive, lucrative and valuable long-term investment.”

As of December 2018, Microtel has 82 hotels in the development pipeline – 59 in the United States and 23 internationally. Interested developers can visit www.buildmicrotel.com, or contact the Microtel Franchise Development team by email at development@wyndham.com and by phone at (800)889-9710, for more information.

About Microtel by Wyndham
Microtel® by Wyndham is an award-winning chain of more than 340 economy hotels located throughout North America, Mexico and the Philippines. Consistently over-delivering on both guest and owner expectations, Microtel is the only all new-construction hotel in the economy segment. Ranked best-in-class by organizations like The Harris Poll®, Microtel’s rich award-recognized heritage is backed by 15 J.D. Power honors – the most of any hotel brand in the economy segment. Microtel prides itself on being an innovator, offering a midscale experience at an economy price with an array of complimentary amenities including free Wi-Fi and continental breakfast. Other amenities available at most hotels include meeting and fitness centers, swimming pools and the opportunity to earn and redeem points through Wyndham Rewards®, the brand’s guest loyalty program. Travelers can join the program for free at www.wyndhamrewards.com.

About Wyndham Hotels & Resorts
Wyndham Hotels & Resorts (NYSE: WH) is the world’s largest hotel franchising company, with approximately 9,200 hotels across more than 80 countries on six continents. Through its network of approximately 810,000 rooms appealing to the everyday traveler, Wyndham commands a leading presence in both the economy and midscale segments of the lodging industry. The Company operates a portfolio of 20 hotel brands, including Super 8®, Days Inn®, Ramada®, Microtel®, La Quinta®, Wingate®, AmericInn®, Hawthorn Suites®, The Trademark Collection®, and Wyndham®. Wyndham Hotels & Resorts is also a leading provider of hotel management services, with more than 400 properties under management. The Company’s award-winning Wyndham Rewards® loyalty program offers approximately 61 million enrolled members the opportunity to redeem points at tens of thousands of hotels, vacation club resorts and vacation rentals globally. For more information, visit www.wyndhamhotels.com.

SOURCE Wyndham Hotels & Resorts

Related Links

http://www.buildmicrotel.com