Microsoft, which once ruled the browser market with Internet Explorer, has lost ground over the years to rivals Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. The Edge browser, available on the Windows 10 operating system, is the company’s attempt to regain its technological footing in the browser market.At its developer conference earlier this year, Microsoft outlined a number of improvements that are in the works for Edge. High on the list: technology that will let you customize the browser’s behavior by, for example, installing ad-blocking extensions.CNET is unable to verify the claims of either company since we haven’t recently tested the effects of browser use on battery life. But in a hands-on evaluation last year, CNET’s Sarah Mitroff preferred Edge to Internet Explorer, Microsoft’s other browser. She still liked Chrome and Firefox better though.It was my big question as soon as I learned that the Nintendo Switch isn’t just the Japanese gaming giant’s new home console. Thanks to some modular wizardry with the Joy-Con controllers and a built-in screen, you can also take it with you and keep playing on the go.
But since the late ’80s, the original Game Boy has spelled dominance in handheld gaming for Nintendo. Hundreds of millions of DS devices have been sold. Nintendo’s even moving into the mobile space with the explosive Super Mario Run.But when its shiny new console can also be played away from the couch at home, is that going to cut the legs out from under the other handhelds? My money’s on no.The Switch is going to cost $300 (£280, AU$470) at launch. Even the top of the 3DS range isn’t clocking in that high, and as you move down to the 2DS, you can pick one up for $79. Extra Switch Joy-Con controllers start at that price.Even with all the Switch’s gimmicks shaved off — and why would you want to shave them off? — it’s incredibly doubtful Nintendo would be able to sell one at anything close to that price, and handheld gaming tends to scream affordable.Depending on how you’re using the Switch, you’ll get between 2.5 and 6 hours of battery life. The top-tier, must-have games (cough cough, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild) are rated for around three hours of playtime. In comparison, you’ll get six to 10 hours on your Nintendo DS (assuming you’re not using the 3D functionality). I’m looking at the Switch more like a laptop. You sure can play games on the go, but you won’t want to travel too far from an outlet.Yeah, the games are going to be far more technically impressive. You get to play Skyrim on the train, after all. But if rumors of the dock boosting graphical performance are true, you’ll still be getting the best Switch experience at home in front of the TV.
To follow on from that, I’m not sure I want Skyrim on the go. This might just be personal preference, but I’m a fan of playing different kinds of games on my handhelds. Give me my turn-based Pokemon, my puzzle-solving Professor Layton, my objection-happy attorney Phoenix Wright. I got to play around with the portable screen on my Wii U, and it felt lacking.Those visually arresting AAA titles warrant a big screen. Breath of the Wild looks spectacular, but I doubt those dizzying landscapes will have the same impact on a 6-inch screen. Give me games designed for the small screen. Give me games designed for the big screen. Just don’t shrink something down and tell me it’s as good.Here’s the big one from Nintendo’s perspective. Across the full Nintendo DS range, over 154 million devices [PDF] have been sold. That’s second only to the PlayStation 2. To compare, the original Wii sold 100 million units and 2012’s Wii U sold 13 million units. Based on that alone, it’s a fair bet that the DS gets a successor in the next couple of years.Of course, I could just be clutching at straws. Nintendo has made a habit of porting its old home console games to handhelds, and for the most part those adaptations have been fantastic. But based on its track record, based on Sony and Microsoft still working very hard at keeping console gamers happy, based on the stellar library of handheld games, I expect I’ll buy the new DS. And the one after that.
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Mid-size screen, but with a big battery: That’s what Acer is offering with the newest in its long line of Chromebooks, the Chromebook 14.The promise of the Chromebook and Google’s Chrome OS has always been a low-cost, simple computing system that covers the basics. Traditionally that’s meant smaller screens and low-end processors. Acer has bucked that trend over the years, putting out Chromebooks with Intel Core processors and even one with a 15.6-inch screen.The Chromebook 14 slides back on the screen size and processing power, but compensates with a 14-hour battery life. Well, that’s what Acer is promising — we’ll wait until we’ve had a Chromebook 14 in the lab and done some testing before we get too excited.Still, it’s the longest battery life that Acer has even claimed for one of its Chromebooks. The company does warn that the battery life is based on the HD screen, which presumably means the full-HD model won’t have quite as much staying power.
It’s also Acer’s first Chromebook with an aluminium frame. Previously Chromebooks have gone with a plastic construction to keep costs down. There are a couple of configurations available:The Chromebook 14 is available to preorder in the US now and will be released in April. No information for the rest of the world just yet. Pricing starts at $299, which is around AU$395 or £210 converted, but there’s no official pricing for those regions. That price will definitely reflect the lowest of the possible configurations but we’ll update with more detailed specs and pricing when that becomes available.My aging MacBook Pro doesn’t hold a charge like it once did. That’s not surprising, since it’s nearly five years old and batteries tend to lose their capacity over time.And the less time my MacBook’s battery lasts, the more I fear I’ll wake up one morning to a dead laptop. Luckily, gauging exactly when that will happen is easy. Your MacBook has a built-in utility that tells you when you can expect your battery to go kaput.After reading these descriptions, I feel better about the Replace Soon status for my MacBook Pro’s battery and feel confident I’ll make it to the fall when I can check out the new models when they are expected to be released.
For most modern MacBooks, Apple estimates the battery can last through 1,000 cycles. A cycle count means using all of your battery’s power and then fully recharging it, whether you drained your battery in one sitting or off and on over the course of a few days or weeks.According to Apple, “your battery is designed to retain up to 80 percent of its original capacity at 1,000 complete charge cycles.” So, you can expect to continue past 1,000 cycle counts, just with diminishing returns in terms of battery life. If you want to find out where, exactly, your battery stands, use the System Report tool.To check your current cycle count: Hold down the Alt key and click the Apple icon in the upper-left corner and then choose System Report. Next, click Power from the left panel and look for the number for Cycle Count under Health Information. My MacBook Pro has been through 1,190 cycle counts, so I’m comfortably over the limit but still not in Replace Now or Service Battery territory.If the battery needs to be replaced, Apple recommends you take or ship your MacBook to an Apple Store or authorized service provider to service or replace your battery. Apple charges between $129 and $199 for battery service.
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If you’re considering this route, determine if your MacBook is still under warranty (one year from purchase) or an AppleCare protection plan if you purchased one, after which point you can decide whether it makes more sense to replace your MacBook’s battery or your MacBook entirely.No, CES still hasn’t officially begun, but I don’t blame you for thinking so given the torrent of news we’ve seen so far. And today, or CES press day as it’s called, was even busier with a long schedule of press conferences from big name companies battling to one-up each other.It’s exciting and a bit confusing given the volume, but CNET is here to bring you the coolest and weirdest tech we saw today. So buckle your seat belt, we’re going for a ride.It’s a CES tradition that LG opens press day with an early morning press conference. It’s also appropriate given the Korean conglomerate’s huge product range. And what a range it showed this morning.First up, naturally, is a new TV (LG wouldn’t be LG without one). Then again, you might call the W7 OLED “wall art” instead. It doesn’t sit on a stand or pedestal, but instead sticks to the wall through a special plate that uses both screws and magnets to stay put.
So what, you say? Well, I’ll tell you. The W7 is just 0.15-inches thick (about the size of a key), it’s extremely light (the 65-inch model weighs 18 pounds and the 77-incher, 27 pounds) and it’s flexible enough for you to peel it away from the wall. I think we can agree that’s pretty cool. There are a ton of other features so read our full preview for more. Of course, the W7 will be expensive (at least $10,000) so if you’re looking for a cheaper television, the B7, C7, E7 and G7 deliver more conventional pricing and features.For the kitchen, LG formally launched the InstaView refrigerator that we first saw at IFA last year. We still don’t have a price, but the giant touchscreen in the door now runs on WebOS and works with Amazon’s digital assistant Alexa instead of Microsoft Windows and Cortana. The new Quad Wash dishwashers aren’t quite as interactive, but four spray arms are supposed to cut cycle times by 15 percent.But, wait, LG isn’t finished. The company also unveiled a lawn mowing robot, a Hub Robot that works with Alexa and connects to other LG appliances and a Leka smart toy for children with learning disabilities. We also got our first chance to touch the 5.7-inch Stylus 3 phone.
Cross-Seoul rival Samsung showed its new series of QLED televisions, which are said to improve light output and color performance. They also come armed with edge-lit local dimming and a “No Gap” wall mount. But unlike its TVs from last year, the Q9 is flat instead of curved. (Here’s a bit more on Samsung’s quantum dot technology if you’re interested.)For your lap, check out Samsung’s new Chromebooks and its first dedicated gaming laptops, the Odyssey 16 and 17. They both have sleek designs with multicolored keyboard lights and cooling vents in a crosshatch pattern. Remember that Family Hub fridge from CES 2016? Well, it has new features.No, Samsung didn’t announce a new phone, but it did start its event by mentioning its disastrous Galaxy Note 7 launch from last year. Tim Baxter, president and chief operating officer of Samsung Electronics America, said the company will share findings from its investigation into the exploding phone “soon.”Sony ended the day, which was just as well given how underwhelming its announcements were. The company entered the OLED fray with the new A1E series. They come in 55-, 65- and 77-inch sizes, run on Android and work with Google Home.
To go with that TV, Sony also has a new 4K Blu-ray player you might even be able to buy. The UBP-X800 supports playback digital music and streaming Bluetooth to headphones for private listening. Sony also had headphones, cameras and a projector, some of which were old. Check out Katie Collins’s full report on the presser for details.If you are like me, then you are more concerned with the battery life of your laptop than the battery life of your cell phone. My aging MacBook Pro barely makes it to lunch on a single charge, while my iPhone lasts all day.I have tweaked a few settings to extend the life of my laptop’s battery, but I still can’t stray too far from an outlet for too long. I spend most of my day inside Chrome, a browser notorious for its power consumption, and while Google continues to turn a blind eye toward my MacBook’s meager battery life, there is one browser that is paying attention. Opera recently introduced Power Saver, which it claims can help your laptop’s battery run 50-percent longer.To get the new Power Saver feature, you must use the experimental version of Opera in the developer channel. With this version, a battery button appears to the right of the URL bar when you unplug your laptop and are using battery power. Click the button and then click the toggle switch to turn on Power Saver. According to Opera, Power Saver helps extend battery life by reducing activity in background tabs, waking CPU less often, pausing unused plug-ins, capping video playback at 30 frames per second, tweaking some video codecs and pausing browser-theme animations.