Guidemaster: Ars tests and picks the best e-readers for every budget


This post is by Valentina Palladino from Ars Technica


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The 2018 Kindle Paperwhite leaning against a shelf of books.

Enlarge / The new Kindle Paperwhite. (credit: Valentina Palladino)

If you want to not only read more, but read better, an e-reader may be for you. Yes, it has become easy to find material to read and to get it on any of the numerous devices we have in our electronic arsenals—smartphones, tablets, computers, and the like. But even in a world full of versatile devices, e-readers are still favorites among dedicated readers open to getting their hands on e-books and digital publications in many ways. Ultimately, it may be freedom through limitation: E-readers help you focus on the reading rather than the distractions that are oh-so easily accessible through other electronics.

But that’s just one perk to having a dedicated reading device that either replaces or supplements your physical library. While e-reader technology hasn’t radically changed much in the past few years, companies have updated to their

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An exhaustive look at Oculus Quest’s first day of great, wireless VR software


This post is by Sam Machkovech from Ars Technica


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An exhaustive look at Oculus Quest’s first day of great, wireless VR software

Enlarge (credit: Oculus / Aurich Lawson)

Three weeks ago, I had many positive things to say in my Oculus Quest VR system review. It’s wireless, it’s simple to use, and it runs on the bleeding edge of just powerful enough for engrossing “six degrees of freedom” (6DOF) virtual reality.

Thankfully, that review was driven by a variety of pre-release software—which means we didn’t have to guess how the hardware’s strengths and weaknesses bore out for retail games and apps. But in the time since that article went live, Oculus has dumped even more software into our devices.

So much software, in fact, that we decided to do something we haven’t done in a while: a launch-day software guide for a game platform’s launch. The last platform to get such an Ars treatment, coincidentally, was Sony’s PlayStation VR in 2016but that was a “buy, try, avoid” breakdown of its

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War Stories: Lucas Pope and what almost sunk Return of the Obra Dinn


This post is by Lee Hutchinson from Ars Technica


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Video shot and edited by Justin Wolfson. Click here for transcript.

Lucas Pope is an important name in modern gaming—not only did he help bring us Uncharted and Uncharted 2, but he’s also responsible for the indie smash hit Papers, Please, which managed to pack a surprising amount of storytelling and emotion into what is effectively a document stamping simulator.

But we’re particularly fond of Pope’s 2018 murder mystery Return of the Obra Dinn, where players must figure out what happened to all 60 souls aboard a ship that has turned up in port bereft of life (think sort of a mash-up of Clue and Event Horizon). The game’s low-fi monochrome graphical style is meant to evoke 80s- and 90s-era Macintosh adventure games, and it works stunningly well—the stark polygonal shapes and 1-bit stipple-shading are instantly evocative of the era. (For me, firing up Obra Dinn

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Opera Reborn 3: No modern browser is perfect, but this may be as close as it gets


This post is by Ars Staff from Ars Technica


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When Opera Software unveiled a new look and feel for its browser earlier this year, the company made a big deal of the impending changes. “We put Web content at center stage,” the Opera team declared on its blog. And early previews of the design appeared to be quite pared down, allowing users to browse “unhindered by unnecessary distractions” as the Opera team put it.

Well Opera recently released what the company refers to as Reborn 3, the latest version of its flagship desktop browser, and it’s tempting to dismiss the name as little more than marketing hype. But given the relentless and utterly unspectacular updates that the Chromium project releases every six weeks, it can also be hard to denote actual big releases of browsers based on Chromium—hence the “Reborn” moniker. After spending some time with Reborn 3, however, the name seems accurate. For Opera, this is a significant update

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Guidemaster: Ars picks the best wireless keyboards you can buy in 2019


This post is by Valentina Palladino from Ars Technica


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Guidemaster: Ars picks the best wireless keyboards you can buy in 2019

Enlarge (credit: Valentina Palladino)

Sometimes the default just doesn’t cut it, and that’s often true when it comes to keyboards. Whether you’re working on a desktop or a laptop, the keyboard you were given or the keyboard built into the machine may not be the best for your working style. If that’s the case, you may benefit from re-organizing your workspace to fit a wireless keyboard that connects to your machine via Bluetooth or a USB receiver.

But there are scores of wireless keyboards to choose from these days. Big PC companies as well as big accessory manufacturers all make wireless keyboards for various kinds of uses from stationary desk typing to on-the-go working. Luckily, we recently dove into the vast world of wireless keyboards head first. Maybe a modern wireless keyboard will never be as beloved as your old Model M, but there are good options out there—and

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The radio-navigation planes use to land safely is insecure and can be hacked


This post is by Dan Goodin from Ars Technica


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A plane in the researchers' demonstration attack as spoofed ILS signals induce a pilot to land to the right of the runway.

Enlarge / A plane in the researchers’ demonstration attack as spoofed ILS signals induce a pilot to land to the right of the runway. (credit: Sathaye et al.)

Just about every aircraft that has flown over the past 50 years—whether a single-engine Cessna or a 600-seat jumbo jet—relies on radios to safely land at airports. These instrument landing systems are considered precision approach systems, because unlike GPS and other navigation systems, they provide crucial real-time guidance about both the plane’s horizontal alignment with a runway and its vertical rate of descent. In many settings—particularly during foggy or rainy nighttime landings—this radio-based navigation is the primary means for ensuring planes touch down at the start of a runway and on its centerline.

Like many technologies built in earlier decades, the ILS was never designed to be secure from hacking. Radio signals, for instance, aren’t encrypted or authenticated. Instead, pilots simply

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Ubuntu 19.04: The Disco Dingo arrives and will really make your IT dept. happy


This post is by Ars Staff from Ars Technica


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Behold, the default desktop for the latest Canonical release: Ubuntu 19.04, gloriously nicknamed "Disco Dingo."

Enlarge / Behold, the default desktop for the latest Canonical release: Ubuntu 19.04, gloriously nicknamed “Disco Dingo.” (credit: Scott Gilbertson)

Canonical recently released Ubuntu 19.04, the latest version of its flagship GNOME-based Linux desktop. But if you’re a desktop user, you might be feeling a little left out.

The big points of emphasis in this latest release are on Ubuntu as a tool for infrastructure development, server deployment, and the good old Internet of Things. For the server version of Ubuntu, the OS ships with all the latest cloud computing tools. In fact, that’s already available in optimized builds on the major cloud services.

Elsewhere, the latest version of the venerable Ubuntu desktop packs quite a few additional, tempting reasons to upgrade for Linux gamers. Ubuntu 19.04 makes the leap to the Linux kernel 5.x series, for instance, which offers much improved graphics support.

Read

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HP Spectre 15 x360 2019 review: Carving a niche in a crowded space


This post is by Samuel Axon from Ars Technica


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The unusual, gemstone-inspired edges are designed to make this laptop stand out.

Enlarge / The unusual, gemstone-inspired edges are designed to make this laptop stand out. (credit: Samuel Axon)

The HP Spectre 15 x360 is a good laptop, but it seemed we always found one or two things to quibble with.

With the 2017 model, we liked some key design decisions but felt let down by the performance and battery life. We were bigger fans of the 2018 update, which amped up performance while also improving battery life and making the 4K display standard. But we felt the trackpad was awfully small and didn’t like that the fingerprint reader and power button were separate.

Now we’re working with the 2019 model, and it brings a whole new design along with some faster internals and extras like clever port placement and a hardware webcam kill switch. At its heart, the 2019 HP Spectre 15 x360 still seeks to accomplish the same

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VW’s record-breaking electric car takes on world’s scariest racetrack, Nürburgring


This post is by Jonathan M. Gitlin from Ars Technica


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Romain Dumas at the wheel of the VW ID R electric car on the Nürburgring Nordschleife.

Enlarge / Romain Dumas at the wheel of the VW ID R electric car on the Nürburgring Nordschleife. (credit: Volkswagen Motorsport)

Although we make every effort to cover our own travel costs, in this case Volkswagen flew me to Germany and provided two nights in a hotel.

NÜRBURG, Germany—What do the race cars of Formula 1, the World Endurance Championship, NASCAR, and IndyCar all have in common? The answer is that each is built to comply with a specific set of rules. That’s understandable: rules in each series exist (ideally) to create a level playing field and to prevent cars from getting too fast and too powerful for the tracks upon which they race. But what if there were no rules? What if you could throw as much power and downforce onto a car as you could to make it go around a track faster than anything else?

This ethos

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Guidemaster: High-tech gift ideas for Mother’s Day


This post is by Ars Staff from Ars Technica


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The Apple Watch Series 4 on a wrist.

Enlarge / The Apple Watch Series 4. (credit: Valentina Palladino)

No physical item can repay your mother for all the love she’s sent your way, but Mother’s Day is still a good time to give Mom some token of your affection. So, as we’ve done in the past, we’ve rounded up a handful of Ars-y items that might make her life a little more pleasant.

Now, not all the gadgets, services, and books we’ve recommended will be great choices for your mom. Some people might enjoy a new fitness tracker, while others would prefer a trip to the spa. You know your mother better than we do. But we’re all about gear and practicality here at Ars, and any of the gift ideas below should serve Mom longer than flowers and chocolates.

Note: Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.

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What to expect from Google I/O 2019


This post is by Ron Amadeo from Ars Technica


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Shoreline Amphitheatre, as seen at Google I/O 2017.

Enlarge / Shoreline Amphitheatre, as seen at Google I/O 2017. (credit: Ron Amadeo)

Google I/O kicks off May 7 in Mountain View, California, where Google will be hosting a keynote and a million other sessions at the Shoreline Amphitheater. The keynote starts at 10am PT, and we’ll be there to cover everything announced at the show. But before we hop on a plane and fly down to Google HQ, we’ve prepared a likely list of things we anticipate Google will announce. If you want to know where the larger Google-verse is about to go, here are the rumors, expected updates on previously announced things, and notable schedule tidbits to keep an eye on at I/O 2019.

Table of Contents

Mortal Kombat 11 review: Great gameplay, excessively packaged


This post is by Aurich Lawson from Ars Technica


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Classic characters (klassic karacters?) Raiden and Johnny Cage face off in a nostalgic-themed arcade level.

Enlarge / Classic characters (klassic karacters?) Raiden and Johnny Cage face off in a nostalgic-themed arcade level. (credit: NetherRealm Studios)

The original Mortal Kombat arcade experience quite literally shaped my life in gaming—I’ve been a dedicated fighting game community member ever since. Looking back, the entire original trilogy of games feels special, and the early-year hype for Mortal Kombat 11 recently stirred up some of that nostalgia. After a long time of mostly ignoring the franchise’s releases, I was genuinely looking forward to trying a new Mortal Kombat game.

As a somewhat serious fighting game player, I’m good enough to know I’m not particularly good. Fighting games are a pretty deep rabbit hole, and there is always more to dig. I’m registered to compete this August in Street Fighter V and the new (and still unreleased) Samurai Shodown at Evo, the annual global fighting game event in Vegas.

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