Do your kids need an early night? Netflix has your back this New Year’s Eve

Instead of partying until the early hours, many of us will be spending New Year’s Eve curled up in front of the TV this year, and this is especially true if you have young children at home.

If you’re spending the evening with the kids, you might be worried about letting them stay up until midnight in case they are overtired the next day – or maybe you just want some time to yourself.  

Well, thanks to Netflix, you could get them to bed early after all. The streaming giant has released a number of kid-friendly New Year’s Eve countdowns, which can be played at any time you want, fooling your children into thinking it’s midnight. 

Netflix and chill (literally)

With 12 titles to choose from, you should be able to find a countdown that your kids will love this year. These include The Boss Baby: Back in Business, All Hail King JulienTales of Arcadia, Spirit Riding Free, Fuller House, Beat Bugs, Pinky Malinky, Super Monsters, Motown Magic, True and the Rainbow Kingdom, Larva Island, Skylanders AcademyPrince of Peoria, and Alexa & Katie.

Netflix released its first fake countdown for kids way back in 2014, with Madagascar’s King Julien leading the festivities. Since then, they have taken off in popularity, with around five million members tuning in each year, according to the streaming platform.

So, if you’re hoping for a tranquil end to the year, Netflix may just be exactly you need to see in the New Year with well-rested kids (and a bit of peace and quiet.)

  • Check out our roundup of the best free games for kids


13 weird and wonderful niche Linux distros of 2018

Note: Our weird and wonderful niche Linux distros roundup has been fully updated. This feature was first published in December 2011.

Fed up with the bog-standard Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora and so on? Looking for a distro that reflects your individuality? In this roundup we’ve discovered no less than 13 of the quirkiest and most useful distributions that Linux has to offer.

They include one distro which is the official, sanctioned OS of North Korea, no less, and an OS which is so light it will run on a PC from the mid-80s.

Read on to find out more about each of these interesting distros. Before we begin, however, do note that not all of these operating systems are suitable for everyday use without extensive modification – so consider running them from a Live CD/USB or within a virtual machine, rather than installing them on a computer. 

  • 10 of the best Linux distros for privacy fiends and security buffs
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  • Linux Format is the number one magazine to boost your knowledge on Linux, open source developments, distro releases and much more. Subscribe to the print or digital version of Linux Format here

Image credit: DistroWatch

The ‘hermit kingdom’ that is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is one of the most isolated countries in the world. The internet is strictly censored (indeed, most North Koreans have never even heard of it) and access to computers is patchy. 

Unwilling to rely solely on operating systems developed by the imperialist US, supreme leader Kim Jong-Il sanctioned the development of an official OS of North Korea named Red Star, which is based on Linux and uses North Korean terminology and spelling. 

Red Star fully lives up to the Orwellian reputation of the DPRK. It is closed source and has a feature which watermarks any media files copied to external drives with the hard drive’s serial number. This is most likely because North Korean dissidents often swap banned films using a ‘sneakernet’ of USB sticks. Red Star also has a supposed ‘virus scanner’ which can automatically delete censored files. The root user is disabled by default, meaning you don’t have full control over your system. 

For this reason, you should only run Red Star inside a virtual machine. See our guide on how to do this here. 

Development of Red Star has continued under the auspices of supreme commander Kim Jong Un. Version 3.0 was released back in 2014 and uses the KDE desktop environment, bearing a strong resemblance to macOS. It works quite well but is preconfigured to only use North Korea’s intranet by default, so can’t access the web at large, except for a few pages on the Mozilla website. 

As the OS is based on Linux, skilled users can tinker with the language and DNS settings to use it in English with internet access. There’s also a server-only version (4.0) used by the DPRK’s official airline Air Koryo which can connect directly to the internet, but it’s not available for general download.  

The default web browser Naenara (meaning ‘My Country’) is a modified version of Firefox 3.5. We searched for ‘democracy’ in the default search engine, but nothing came up.

As a final reminder: if you want to give this a whirl, don’t install the OS on actual hardware, but rather inside a virtual machine.

  • Download Red Star OS here

The classically educated reader might be able to guess that MuLinux is a small distro – the Greek letter ‘mu’ is the SI designation for one millionth. 

Mu was designed to be a minimal distro along the lines of Puppy or Damn Small Linux, but it’s considerably more miniscule. The OS was developed to run from floppy disks, so only requires 20MB of hard disk space and 4MB of RAM. It will run on any machine with an Intel 80386 processor or later. This particular processor was released in 1985 so it’s safe to say that MuLinux can breathe life into ancient hardware.

Development of MuLinux was frozen in 2004. As mentioned, it was originally designed in such a way to allow the user to install and run a basic Unix-like shell from a single floppy disk, then install additional packages such as server tools from separate disks.

  • Download the base floppy disk and packages for MuLinux here

CAINE (which stands for Computer Aided INvestigative Environment) is aimed at users with an interest in crime scene investigation. It’s an Italian flavor of Linux designed for forensic analysis and other types of police work.

CAINE includes a variety of CSI tools such as the Autopsy Forensic Browser, stenography tools and The Sleuth Kit. UFO (Ultimate Forensic Outflow) supports full, detailed recovery analysis such as browser history, password recovery, malware, log viewers and network analysis tools.

CAINE Linux is built around four objectives which include an interoperable environment that supports digital investigation, a user-friendly interface, and a semi-automated compilation of the final report. The ISO file weighs in at 3.6GB.

  • Download CAINE Linux here

This is one that will appeal to the techies out there – the thing that marks GoboLinux out from the rest is its filesystem layout. Most Linux distributions use an archaic non-arrangement wherein an application’s files are scattered around your hard drive in several different folders.

GoboLinux adopts a macOS-like approach (which Apple in turn took from RISC OS), and stores all files associated with an application in a single folder in ‘/Programs’. For instance, if you have a program named ‘foo’ all files pertaining to it would be stored in ‘/Programs/foo’. You can still install multiple versions of the same application if you wish, for example, for separate users on the system. This is managed by GoboLinux’s file virtualization tool Runner.

The most current version of GoboLinux is 016.01, released in April 2017, but the project’s Github page shows Gobo is in active development. The latest version includes a copy of one of the very first web browsers, NCSA Mosaic, for a bit of old-school net surfing. GoboLinux also now includes GoboNet, a lightweight and daemon-free network manager.

  • Download GoboLinux here

If you like software freedom, you’ll love GNewSense. The OS has had all non-free software removed, including binary ‘blob’ files in the kernel, so-named as they use proprietary code. Unfortunately, many of these blobs are drivers for wireless networking cards, so GNewSense may not work well with laptops. 

On the plus side, it has removed or renamed software that doesn’t fit the Free Software Foundation’s definition of freedom. The OS uses a modified version of Debian’s IceWeasel browser, for instance, to avoid using the Firefox trademark. GNewSense doesn’t provide any links to non-free repositories, making it even more free than Debian.

After a three year hiatus, the latest version of GNewSense, codenamed Ucclia, was released in May 2016 and is based on Debian 7. It can be booted as a Live CD to help you check whether it supports your hardware.

  • Download GNewSense here

Do you love Linux? Do you really love it? Because you’re going to need to if you want to follow the Linux from Scratch program. Not (technically) a formal distro, LFS is more a set of tutorials and packages designed to help you set up your own completely bespoke Linux system. From scratch.

That means first creating a temporary system with which to compile the real thing, building your own partitions and file system, and installing every element of a functioning Linux system painstakingly by hand. Oh, and figuring out exactly why it isn’t working.

The documentation comes in freely downloadable volumes, charmingly entitled ‘Stable’ for the latest release and ‘Development’ if you want to check out the version that creator Gerard Beekmans and his team are working on at this very moment. There’s also a systemd version, which uses the latest in system initialisation techniques.

One of the easiest ways to get started is to read the freely downloadable LFS Book, which takes you through all the steps for constructing your own system. As of LFS version 8.0, the book has undergone a major rewrite with hundreds of new packages now available.

  • Download Linux from Scratch here

NixOS has grown from a simple research project in 2014 to a fully-fledged independent operating system, optimised for cutting-edge system configuration management. It qualifies as weird and wonderful due to the fact that the OS, kernel, and other system files are created using the integrated Nix package manager.

While Linux traditionally lumps packages together in various system folders such as /bin, Nix stores them in a single location (/nix/store).

The advantage of this is that all upgrades are ‘atomic’. With traditional Linux distros, upgrading one package can cause others to break if they have shared dependency. Nix’s crafty package segregation means that all updates and upgrades can be reversed. This makes for a very stable system.

  • Download NixOS here

Moebuntu is an upgrade for existing Ubuntu installations designed especially for fans of Manga and Anime, and it shows how the OS can be tweaked or fine-tuned to the extreme. There’s an automated setup tool which will apply the colourful desktop and icon themes – prepare yourself for some alarming hues of pink if you do so. There’s also a suitably rosy dash icon as well as an array of wallpapers and Manga-style fonts.

As gaudy as this may appear, the advantage of Moebuntu is that it has kept pace with the times. The latest release supports Ubuntu 17.04 so unlike some of the other distros we’ve highlighted, you can enjoy a taste of the weird and wonderful while having an up-to-date OS.

  • You can install the Moebuntu desktop theme, icon packs, wallpaper and Dash icon by following the steps on the Moebuntu website

Having given the devil his due with Ubuntu Satanic Edition earlier in this article, it’s only fair that we let Christians rejoice about the version of Linux crafted just for them.

Ubuntu CE offers a non-denominational version of Linux for Christians, based on the standard Ubuntu builds. The latest version is built on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (long term support). 

The stated aim of the project is to try to encourage more people within the Christian community to realise the power of Linux and switch to Ubuntu.

The latest release incorporates Xiphos, a bible study tool, as well as worship presentation software OpenLP and Quelea, which can be used to project bible verses, hymns and so on.

Ubuntu CE also includes the powerful ‘Dansguardian’ content filter providing advanced parental controls. The wallpaper has been thoughtfully chosen with Biblical quotes.

  • Download Ubuntu Christian Edition here

There still exists among our Windows-using cousins the risible idea that Linux isn’t good enough to take over on the desktop – that the continued dominance of Microsoft on the desktop is inevitable, because Linux is not up to the job technically.

This can easily be refuted. All of the top 500 supercomputers in the world now run Linux. Also, the cleverest people on the planet – scientists searching for clues about the beginning of the universe – also use Scientific Linux at the CERN laboratories. 

This distro is a rebuild of Red Hat Enterprise Linux and is actively developed by people within CERN, Fermilab and ETHZ. Anyone can download and install it on their machine – you don’t even need a PhD in theoretical physics.

  • Download Scientific Linux here

Parted Magic is a Live distro that comes with all the tools you need to fix broken partitions. If something won’t boot, this is what you use to fix it, and that goes for both Linux and Windows machines. It is most often used as a tool, although technically it is a Linux distribution in its own right. 

Parted Magic also allows for secure disk erasing (making sure that data is really nuked), benchmarking, and disk cloning among other features. As a troubleshooting aid, it’s indispensable, but it will cost you $11 (around £8.70, AU$15.60) to download direct from the author’s site. For an additional fee you can order it preinstalled on USB or DVD.

  • Download Parted Magic here

This distro is drastically out-of-date and about as niche as they come, but HML – or Hannah Montana Linux – is the perfect desktop for fans of Miley Cyrus’ heady Nickelodeon days. Enjoy a pink Hannah Montana-themed KDE desktop, featuring Tux with the double-life teenage singer’s logo emblazoned on his belly. 

It also includes a custom Hannah Montana boot screen, theme, icon set and wallpapers. The website helpfully adds that it is not vulnerable to Windows viruses.

There’s no reason to use HML unless you’re a diehard Hannah fan, but since it’s based on Kubuntu using KDE 4.2, there are plenty of packages to install. You could even upgrade it to the latest version of Kubuntu by running the command ‘sudo apt-get dist-upgrade’ from the Linux Terminal. Alternatively, diehard Montana-fans can download the icons and/or theme pack and install it on top of their existing KDE install.

  • Download HML here

Zeroshell comes from Italy, and it’s a small Linux distro designed to run as a Live CD for servers or embedded devices such as routers. You can even install it onto a Raspberry Pi. 

It has no GUI but you can access and configure it from your web browser. Zeroshell is a lot more powerful than the average router’s web interface allowing you to perform activities such as assigning IP addresses, DHCP provision and changing DNS settings. It can function as a proxy, VPN access point or a firewall, and can interface with any network appliance. 

Zeroshell is in active development: the latest version (3.8.2) was released in December 2017.

  • Download Zeroshell Linux here

Samsung reportedly working on Galaxy A50 and Galaxy M20 smartphones

Although the Samsung Galaxy A8s has yet to hit Indian markets, we can safely expect it to do so soon, given that the company brings all its offerings to the country, and moreover, its closest competitor, the Honor View20, is set to come to India in a short while. Meanwhile, the South Korean company is busy working on the launch of its upcoming flagship phones, the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+, which are expected to launch at or around the Mobile World Congress on Feb 25, 2019. And it appears that the company is also working on two other mid-tier phones, the Galaxy M20 and Galaxy A50.

The M20 is expected to launch before the S10, but it seems that the A50 will only go official after the Mobile World Congress 2019. Previous rumours that the A50 would pack a 5000mAh battery have now been denied; it seems it will pack a 4000mAh one instead.

Additionally, the Samsung Galaxy A50 will support more than one rear camera, and the primary one will have a 24MP sensor. The device will be powered by Samsung’s Exynos 7 9610 chipset, an octa-core processor with four Cortex-A73 cores and four A53s. There will reportedly be two storage variants of the A50- a 4GB/64GB version, and 4GB/128GB.

The A50 is expected to run Android 9 Pie out of the box, based on its own One UI. Judging by this information, the A50 will probably launch after the Galaxy S10 and S10+, since the yearly flagship phones are usually the first to launch with the latest software, and the Galaxy S10 series is said to run Android 9 Pie out of the box as well.

Further reports place an in-display fingerprint sensor on the A50, but it is said to be an optical sensor rather than the ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor expected in the S10.

  • Honor View 20 to be sold exclusively on Amazon India

The best monitor 2019: the top 10 monitors and displays we’ve reviewed

While they’re not going to make your PC faster, the best monitors improve your computing experience by making everything look a lot better – and can even boost your productivity. The best monitors are also cost-effective, and anyone can get in on the action these days. With high resolutions, speedy refresh rates and a wide range of screen sizes, you can make your work smoother and less of a strain on your eyes.

Whether you’re looking for a gaming monitor to keep up with the gaming PCs, or if you just bought a MacBook Air and you need one of the best USB-C monitors, you’ve come to the right place. And, you can trust our picks – we’ve tested and reviewed them all ourselves. 

Now that computers are equipped with better graphics tech than ever before, 4K monitors are in increasingly high demand. This explains why BenQ has added the PD3200U, a massive 32-inch Ultra HD display, to its Designer Monitor range. Intended for creatives and professionals, BenQ has crafted, seemingly by mistake, a panel that gamers can enjoy as well, so long as they can fit it on their desks. Then again, given the comparatively sluggish 4ms response time, the PD3200U is best suited for artist. For example, 3D designers will love the inclusion of a CAD/CAM mode, while everyone else revels in the factory-calibrated color accuracy and Rec. 709 adherence.

Read the full review: BenQ PD3200U

The AOC Agon AG352UCG6 Black Edition is marketed as a gaming monitor, but if you need an ultra-wide monitor, you really can’t do much better. With its sublime color support, strong contrast ratio and lightning-fast 120Hz refresh rate – everything you do on your PC is going to feel quick, snappy and it’ll look good while doing it. It’s kind of expensive, but this ultra-wide monitor can significantly boost productivity, so it’s totally worth it – it’s one of the best monitors you can buy today, as long as you have the hardware to drive it. 

Read the full review: AOC Agon AG352UCG6 Black Edition 

When it comes to the best monitors, sometimes we’ll come across something that manages to combine so many high-end features that it seems almost alien – the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ is one such display. Not only does this gorgeous display feature an Ultra-HD 4K display, but it tops that off with HDR and Nvidia G-Sync tech – a trifecta of high-end features that makes this the best monitor you can buy today, if you have the cash. If you’re doing any kind of photo or video editing work, you really can’t go wrong with this display.

Read the full review: Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ 


When you start to grow weary of the same old 16:9 aspect ratio, nothing hits the spot like a cinematic 21:9 display. It’s probably not the best for watching Netflix or YouTube, but the Acer Predator X34 is a great example of what an ultra-wide monitor can do. Boasting an attractive aluminum bezel and polygonal stand that resembles a bird’s foot, this massive 34-inch monitor is a wonder to look at. More importantly, armed with Nvidia’s G-Sync tech, you won’t need V-Sync stressing out your graphics card. The Acer Predator X34 does all the heavy lifting for you. This is about as immersive as a gaming monitor gets. 

Read the full review: Acer Predator X34

We don’t often run into technology that’s so far ahead of the curve that we’re left dumbfounded. The Dell UltraSharp UP3218K is the most recent example. Finding a monitor that can reach the raw beauty this one does should be impossible. It’s not just the resolution, either – Dell went a long way to make sure that the build quality and color reproduction are the best in the business, and well, it is. The Dell UltraSharp UP3218K is aimed at professionals, obviously, so if that sounds like it’s up your alley, it’s probably the best monitor for you. 

Read the full review: Dell UltraSharp UP3218K 

  • This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the BenQ PD3200U 

If you’re looking for a great 1440p monitor with HDR for multimedia and gaming, the BenQ EX3203R might be the best monitor for you. This monitor is notable because it manages to bring in a ton of high-end features into a monitor that is extremely affordable. And, while 32 inches might sound like a bit much for a monitor, the 1800R curvature on this BenQ panel means that it’s easy to use, both for productivity and for immersion in your games and media. 

Read the full review: BenQ EX203R 

  • This product is only available in the US at the time of writing. UK and Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Acer S277HK  

Depending on your budget, it might break the bank in classic Alienware style, but Dell’s 25-inch gaming monitor won’t let your screen tear. Whether you’re siding with Team Red or Team Green for your graphics needs, there’s a configuration designed with specifically you in mind. Taking away some of the heavy lifting away from the GPU that would otherwise be spent on VSync, the Alienware 25’s 120Hz refresh rate might actually be viable. So, as long as your graphics card can handle it, you can expect to reach 120 frames per second. The 1ms response time is just gravy.  

Read the full review: Alienware 25 

You might not believe it at first glance, but the BenQ Zowie XL2540 is every bit the gaming monitor that the Asus Predator X34 is. And though it may not seem it from the outside looking in, it does its job remarkably well too, sacrificing dazzling lighting effects for a zippy 240Hz refresh rate and nigh-instantaneous 1ms response time. There’s no G-Sync or FreeSync, as this monitor assumes you already have a rig that’s plenty capable of eliminating screen tears on its own. Instead, this monitor keeps it simple by supplying you with lots of visual presets, an “S Switch” control pod for managing those presets and even a pair of adjustable light screens.

Read the full review: BenQ Zowie XL2540

If you’re running games using a weaker GPU and you’re looking to get into ultra-wide displays without spending a fortune, you might want to check the LG 34UC79G-B out. This monitor, measuring in at 34-inches diagonally, is equipped with AMD FreeSync for screen tear elimination and a 21:9 aspect ratio best suited for games and cinema. Despite its resolution being lower than other ultrawide displays out there, this LG monitor pulls off a crisp image nonetheless – and with stunning color accuracy at that. Plus, you can change the height, which is more than can be said for even some of the more expensive 4K monitors out there. 

Read the full review: LG 34UC79G-B

If you’re planning on picking up a new Nvidia Turing graphics card on launch (we can’t blame you), you’re going to want a monitor that can take advantage of that powerful graphics card. The HP Omen X 35, then, might just be the best gaming monitor for you. Rocking a WQHD panel with 98.7% sRGB coverage, the best PC games are going to just pop on this display. And, it’s G-sync enabled, so you don’t even need to worry about screen tearing or artifacting. 

Read the full review: HP Omen X 35 

Gabe Carey and Bill Thomas have also contributed to this article

  • Get one of the best monitors on sale this Black Friday

Best computer 2019: the best PCs we’ve tested

In 2019, the best PCs keep getting more and more advanced with processors that start with at least four-cores and graphics cards evolve to render realistic ray traced lighting. If you’re looking to stay current, you’ll need one of the best computers even if all you do is browse the internet. It’s all to easy for your PC to get slowed down by loading too many ads or ever increasingly high-res video.

Good news is buying a PC has never been cheaper. You can easily spend 500 bucks and get a capable PC or even an all-in-one desktop that comes with its own built in screen. PCs are easily upgradable, allowing you to keep the best PCs up to date with one of the best graphics cards, a bigger or faster best SSD and more of the best memory.

Still, shopping for the best PC isn’t quite as easy as it may sound. When we decided to put this list together, we had to acknowledge that the best PCs strike a balance between price and performance. So, after comprehensively testing, reviewing and ranking all the PCs on this list, we’ll help you find which PC is right for you.

Dell Inspiron 3000

For lack of a better word, the Dell XPS Tower Edition is stealthy. Looking quite similar to that old computer that your parents had hidden beneath the desk, this boring exterior belies an exciting array of components. Inside you’ll find your choice of the latest in GPU tech, in addition to a blazing-fast 7th generation Intel CPU and a spacious hard drive and/or SSD. Now, the Special Edition is only available in the US, but our readers in the UK and Australia will still be able to buy the regular Dell XPS Tower and beef it up to the same level through Dell’s configuration page. 

Read the full review: Dell XPS Tower Special Edition

The Microsoft Surface Studio is one of the most bougie PCs on the market. It shakes up the all-in-one formula of putting all the components behind the screen, and instead moves everything to the base. The resulting device has one of the thinnest 28-inch PixelSense displays that puts even most 4K screens to shame. What’s more, the fully articulating stand makes it an extremely flexible tool for work and play with Surface Pen support. All in all, the Surface Studio is an exceptional work of, and for, art. 

Read the full review: Surface Studio

See more like this: The best all-in-one PCs

If you’re looking for a great desktop experience, but don’t have a lot of space, look no further than the Intel Hades Canyon NUC. In this tiny bare-bones PC, you have an insanely powerful 8th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, and discrete-class Radeon graphics – once you throw in some RAM and storage, you’ll be able to conquer the best PC games without a care in the world. Sure, it can’t really stand up against a full-sized desktop, but when space is short, or you’d rather just have a PC that looks like a set-top box – it’s totally worth it. 

Read the full review: Intel Hades Canyon NUC 

The Alienware Aurora R7 isn’t just a great gaming PC, but it’s one of the best PCs you can buy today. Not only does it feature fantastic performance with its 8th-generation Intel Core processor and GTX 10 series graphics, but this power is conveniently stored away in its compact chassis. It’s even surprisingly affordable, considering the power on offer, and it’s even easily upgradeable, despite its unique build. With the Aurora R7, Alienware continues its journey back to the top of the best PCs.

Read the full review: Alienware Aurora R7 

See more like this: The best gaming PCs

Positioned as a “console killer,” the MSI Trident 3 looks a lot like an Xbox One X and PS4 Pro, but it’s a far more powerful PC that feels just right in your living room. Complete with all the ports you could ever dream of, the MSI Trident 3’s advantages are clear. Still, in trying to be as thin and light as possible, the MSI Trident 3 comes equipped with a 330W external power supply brick, resembling some of the least attractive console designs.

Read the full review: MSI Trident 3

Apple iMac

Apple has a reputation for crafting computers that are a bit overpriced for what they have on offer, but the Mac mini takes that reputation and throws it in the garbage. The 2018 Mac mini isn’t just an attractive small-form-factor PC, but it also has high end desktop parts built in, making it a great purchase for anyone that already has a slew of Mac-ready peripherals. Plus, opposed to Apple’s recent output, you can actually upgrade the memory – or you can just kit it out with 64GB at checkout. 

Read the full review: Apple Mac Mini

See more like this: The best Macs

HP Pavilion Mini

Though at first you might confuse it for a fabric-woven Mac Pro refresh, the HP Pavilion Wave is anything but. This compact Windows machine packs in 6th-generation Intel Core processors and optional discrete AMD graphics with a uniquely integrated Bang & Olufsen speaker. Wrapped in a handsome fabric exterior, this is the perfect PC to have on the desk, as it radiates crisp sound while you browse the web or watch movies.

Read the first look: HP Pavilion Wave

HP 260 G1

It may look like a thumb drive at first glance, but the Intel Core Compute Stick has more than meets the eye. It’s actually a palm-sized PC that can plug into any screen with an HDMI input. It starts out with a lowly 1.33GHz Intel Atom cpu running Linux, but it is configurable up to an Intel Core m5 processor – which makes this one of the best PCs if you need to get some work done on the go, without having to haul around a laptop.  

Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article

  • While you’re at it, we’ve also found the best gaming desktop PC you can buy

The best gaming PC 2019: 10 of the top gaming desktops you can buy

2019 is going to absolutely packed to the brim with the best PC games with upcoming titles like Anthem and Doom Eternal. There’s no better way to prepare than arming yoru self best gaming PCs today, so you can enjoy all that the medium has to offer. From best-in-class stealth-em-ups like Hitman 2 to intense first person shooters like Battlefield V, having the best gaming PC for your budget can make a ton of difference.

It doesn’t matter whether you prefer Intel, AMD or Nvidia – most PC makers will let you choose the best processors and best graphics card for your needs anyway. And, now there are Nvidia Turing graphics cards, the best gaming PCs are about to get even better looking. 

We went ahead and collected our top-rated gaming PCs, both from popular companies like Alienware and Dell to those you might not know, like Zotac. We put these PCs through rigorous testing to find out which ones will provide the best bang for your buck. These are currently the 10 best gaming PCs you can buy today, so you can start playing your favorite PC games.

This isn’t your everyday pre-built gaming PC. The Alienware Aurora R7 feat of engineering in that it packs full-sized PC parts into chassis much smaller than your traditional mid-tower rig. At the same time it’s easily upgradeable and attractive to look at. All of which we would expect considering its extremely high price tag. Luckily, the Alienware Aurora R7 is both of these things and will impress those not ready or willing to build their own gaming PC.

Read the full review: Alienware Aurora R7

  • This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the MSI Aegis 3 

It’s not uncommon anymore for PC makers to brandish their pre-built desktop rigs as VR-ready. What is unusual is to do so with a computer that’s also ready to conquer any game you throw at it at well over 60 frames per second and for under two grand. That’s exactly what MSI has accomplished with the Infinite A, a tower whose graphical efforts aren’t thwarted by its preparedness for VR, nor is it so expensive that it would see your head turn the other way.

Read the full review: MSI Infinite A

  • This product is only available in the US at the time of this writing. Australian and UK readers: check out a fine alternative in the Overclockers 8Pack Asteroid 

If you’re looking for a gaming PC that doesn’t take up a lot of space, you’ll love the Intel Hades Canyon Nuc. This is one of the best gaming PCs, and it’s a lot smaller than other entries on this list – in fact, it looks more like a set-top box than a high-end gaming. Don’t think this is a weak PC, though – it packs all the power that the best gaming laptops do with an 8th-generation Core i7 processor and discrete Radeon graphics. Just consider that you’ll have to supply your own RAM, storage and OS.  

Read the full review: Intel Hades Canyon NUC 

Positioned as a ’console killer,’ the MSI Trident 3 looks a lot like an Xbox One S and is more powerful than a PS4 Pro, but at the end of the day, it’s a PC that feels just right in your living room. Complete with all the ports you could ever dream of, the MSI Trident 3’s advantages are clear. Still, in trying to be as thin and light as possible, the MSI Trident 3 comes equipped with a 330W external power supply brick, resembling some of the most less attractive console designs.

Read the full review: MSI Trident 3

best gaming pc

If you’re buying a pre-built PC, upgrades should be simple, right? That’s the philosophy behind the Lenovo IdeaCentre Y900. Embellished with red lights all over, the front of its chassis is bespeckled with textured patterns that’ll no doubt make your friends jealous. On top of offering support for a VR-ready GTX 1080, the Lenovo IdeaCentre boasts SLI support and room for up to 64GB of RAM, which are thankfully complemented by a convenient tool-less design.

Read the full review: Lenovo IdeaCentre Y900

  • This product is only available in the US and UK as of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Corsair One.

Much like the sublime Dell XPS 13, the Dell XPS Tower is a lesson in packing beefy specs into a svelte chassis. This inconspicuous gaming machine looks a lot like the computer that’s been collecting dust in your dad’s office, rather than something powering the latest PC games. But, beneath that quiet exterior, the Dell XPS Tower is one of the best gaming PCs on the market, with 8th-generation Intel Coffee Lake processors and Nvidia GTX 10-series graphics cards. With the Dell XPS Tower Special Edition,you’re getting one of the best gaming PCs money can buy, without any of the off-putting ‘gamer aesthetic’.

Read the full review: Dell XPS Tower Special Edition 

  • This product is only available in the US and UK as of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Corsair One.

When you buy a computer from Origin, it’s almost like you’re building it on your own. You have to be familiar enough with PC components to decide for yourself what goes into the rig and how much money you’re going to spend on it. So, of course, our only real criticism of the Origin Millennium is that you can build a similar model for cheaper. However, because of its subtle design and flexible specs, we’re willing to bet you won’t want to.

Read the full review: Origin Millennium 

  • This product is only available in the US as of this writing. UK and Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Overclockers 8Pack Asteroid.

In classic Alienware fashion, the Area 51 Threadripper Edition pushes the limits of both technology and your wallet. It’s wildly powerful, markedly featuring the latest AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X across all of its configurations. The Area 51’s triad-design hasn’t changed much since its introduction back in 2014, but on the inside this machine is essentially tool-less to upgrade, not that you would even need to.

Read the full review: Alienware Area 51 Threadripper Edition 

  • This product is only available in the US at the time of this writing. UK and Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Corsair One  

We knew that it was only a matter of time before the best gaming PCs started rolling out with the latest Coffee Lake Refresh and Nvidia Turing parts, and the MSI Trident X is here to lead the charge. This small-form factor PC pulls no punches, and will absolutely demolish any game you throw at it, at any resolution. Just keep in mind that the thin metal build might be a bit flimsy for travel, and its price tag is kind of steep. But, if you’re looking for no-holds-barred power that won’t look out of place in your living room, you can’t do much better.

Read the full review: MSI Trident X

Corsair has made a name for itself in pretty much every category of PC components, so it’s only natural that it would eventually create one of the best gaming PCs you can buy today. Enter the Corsair One Elite, a high-spec PC in a compact and quiet case that, while expensive, blows the competition out of the water. The Elite is a huge improvement over the original Corsair One, packed with an 8th-generation Core i7 processor, a Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti and more water cooling than you can shake a stick at. If you can afford its high price tag, the Corsair One Elite is one of the best gaming PCs you can buy today. 

Read the full review: Corsair One Elite 

Joe Osborne and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article

Check out our Linux vs Windows vs Mac – OS comparison video below.

Louis Vuitton Tambour Horizon smartwatch getting big chip upgrade

You’re a rich dude. You want the finer things in life. Not content with a Fitbit or even an Apple Watch, if it isn’t designer and full of top spec tech, it just wont cut it. Money is no object and Louis Vuitton is here to serve again with another pricey smartwatch.

The new LV Tambour Horizon, the follow up to the 2017 wearable of the same name, is again a Wear OS device aimed at the premium end of the market.

Its headline new feature? The inclusion of the Snapdragon Wear 3100 chip. Designed in collaboration between Qualcomm and Google, it promises far superior battery life than that which has graced wrists before, with the Tambour Horizon boasting not only a full day’s worth of power with its screen on, but an additional five in a low-power mode displaying simply just the time.

Style counts

Elsewhere, the Tambour Horizon has a higher definition screen than its predecessor and comes in a new white ceramic style to go with your LV handbag.

In a tweak to the original design, the smartwatch also includes a 24 hour time ring that features a day and night indicator around its rim. You’ll be able to use this even in ambient mode – the Wear 3100 new feature that keeps heart rate and step count on screen during the low-power state along with time.

We’re still waiting on pricing and availability for the Louis Vuitton Tambour Horizon, but with the original costing $2,490 / £1,960, don’t expect this to come cheaply.

  • Best smartwatch: stretch your money a bit further with these alternatives

Samsung might have another Galaxy Home smart speaker on the way

Remember the Galaxy Home, the smart speaker unveiled by Samsung back in August? It hasn’t yet gone on sale, but reports suggest Samsung is working on a companion speaker for it – quite possibly a mini Galaxy Home designed to compete directly with the likes of the Google Home Mini and the Amazon Echo Dot.

The news comes courtesy of some digging by SamMobile, which has discovered Samsung is working on a speaker product with the model number SM-V310. We know it comes in black, but that’s just about all we know for the time being.

Considering the Samsung Galaxy Home we saw earlier this year (model number SM-V510) has a relatively large form factor, eight microphones, directional audio and high-end AKG tech inside it, it’s a reasonable assumption that Samsung might also try and fit in something that’s a bit less capable and a bit cheaper.

All eyes on CES

We don’t know how much the main Galaxy Home is going to cost yet, or when it’s going to actually go on sale, but we might see both speakers break cover at the CES 2019 tech expo happening in January. Samsung usually has a strong showing at the event, and it’s the perfect place to show off all the gear arriving over the next 12 months.

No doubt Samsung will have taken note of another busy Christmas in the smart speaker market – so many people were unwrapping and setting up Amazon Echo speakers in the UK this year that the Alexa system was briefly overwhelmed by the demand.

With the Echo, Google Home, Apple HomePod and Sonos speakers already well established, it’s not going to be easy for Samsung to get a slice of the market with its own Bixby-powered devices – however it seems that it will be taking on the competition with more than one speaker when the time comes.

  • The best smart speakers 2018: which one should you buy?

7 wearables to look out for in 2019

The world of wearables continues to grow and improve as smartwatches get smarter, fitness trackers track even more and augmented and virtual reality headsets blur the lines between fantasy and real life even further. 

So what can we expect for 2019? Predictions suggest over 245 million wearables will be sold next year.

Judging by the trends of 2018 there should be a continued push by companies to create the best possible smartwatch experience that crams more onto your wrist. That means more wearables that let you go out for a run without your phone but while keeping GPS and heart rate tracking along with music onboard. But expect deeper tracking too as ECG monitors become more prevalent.

As smartphones become more powerful and Google keeps making software smarter, both virtual and augmented reality are due to get even more awesome headsets. The price should start to drop too. Here are some of the exciting wearable tech innovations we may see appear in 2019.

Apple Watch 5

Apple Watch 4

The new Apple Watch 5 could be the ultimate wearable as the company continues to refine its smartwatch. But with the Apple Watch Series 4 already offering ECG and GPS, plus locally stored music already onboard, what more can be added?

One of the most sought after features would be a longer battery life. While wireless charging makes keeping it topped up effortless, more juice can’t hurt. That combined with a thinner form factor would be ideal, making it more comfortable for running and slipping under sleeves. 

Apple also needs to add deeper music streaming integration for offline music storage on the watch for Spotify, Tidal and more. Finally a game changer would be great, something like a blood sugar measure for people with diabetes. We can but hope. Expect the Apple Watch 5 to be  launched by Apple around the usual September reveal time.

  • Everything we know about the Apple Watch 5

Google Pixel Watch

The officially branded Google Pixel Watch didn’t appear alongside the Pixel 3 in 2018 so we’re pinning our hopes on a 2019 release with the Pixel 4. This could take the Wear OS to a new level with hardware integration offering a faster performance and more battery efficiency. 

This is thanks to a power management system rumored to be called Blackghost, which is able to offer longer battery life while listening out for voice commands without impacting on how much charge is left. This should offer a great way to use Google Assistant without draining smartphone battery life too.

Other features we’re hoping to see include an in-display fingerprint reader, rotating crown, swim-proofing, NFC payments, a three day battery and Garmin level fitness tracking.

  • Everything we know about the Google Pixel Watch

Apple AirPods 2

Apple AirPods with an iPhone

According to ever reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, we can expect Apple to launch a new pair of AirPods in 2019. These may come packing wireless charging, meaning they could be thrown down on a charging pad to get back up to full power without the need for any wires at all. 

This makes sense since the battery is small and charging times should be short. Apple AirPods 2 could also come with a newer version of Bluetooth for better connectivity and greater efficiency that may translate into better battery life. All this should mean that the addition of “hey Siri” integration works well for wider voice controls without needing to remove the phone from a pocket or bag. 

While these 2019 AirPods should be an improvement, the source says that 2020 will see a major redesign of the AirPods. But one step at a time, ey?

  • Everything we know about Apple AirPods 2

New Microsoft HoloLens Sydney

One of the  major jumps forward in augmented reality hardware could be due to happen in 2019 thanks to Microsoft’s new version of its HoloLens headset, which is rumored to have the codename Sydney. 

The headset is also rumored to be lighter and more comfortable than its two predecessors, and it may also be more affordable. All that and it should come with a significantly improved holographic display too.

This version of the headset is finally expected to be one that’s aimed at consumers. That should mean the price is lower, around the price of a flagship smartphone, so that’s the £1,000 mark. The Magic Leap competition is expected to offer a similar product and price so expect 2019 to be the year augmented reality goes to a new level.

  • What you need to know about Microsoft HoloLens Sydney

Garmin Fenix 6

Garmin Fenix 5X Plus

The Garmin Fenix 5X Plus is one of the best GPS watches ever made as it combines super-accurate location and heart rate tracking with smart notifications, mapping, contactless payments and music storage. Plus it has really long battery life. How can Garmin top that with the Fenix 6 that’s rumored for a 2019 reveal?

The Fenix 6 is rumored to appear towards the back end of 2019. One way this could bring an improvement is to offer a smaller form factor. While the current Fenix options pack in lots of features, they’re far too big and heavy to wear day to day, let alone for sleep tracking. Wireless charging would also be a nice addition to save digging out that proprietary cable. 

A high resolution touchscreen could also help make the Fenix 6 more smartwatch than simply GPS device. New sensors for glucose, blood pressure and sweat could all also appear to help make this even better than the Fenix 5X Plus.

Bose Frames

Bose is due to unveil a new type of wearable in 2019 which combines sunglasses and augmented reality. But, of course, these focus on audio rather than visual augmentation of reality. The company describes them saying the headset: “knows where you are and what you’re facing using a 9-axis head motion sensor and the GPS from your iOS or Android device — and automatically adds a layer of audio, connecting that place and time to endless possibilities for travel, learning, entertainment, gaming, and more.” 

This sounds like a really cool idea and if they look good too, as Bose products generally do, this could be a really interesting way to stay connected without the need for a heavy, battery-robbing headset. Presumably they will also have microphones for voice integration allowing you to use a virtual assistant without the need to reach for a wearable or smartphone. These should get revealed at SXSW 2019.

  • Everything we know about Bose Frames

WT2 real-time in-ear translator

WT2 real-time in-ear translator

This kickstarted product is finally due to become a reality in January 2019. This takes the Star Trek universal translator dream and makes it a reality. This should be able to offer real-time conversation translation all from the in-ear system. That should mean as a person talks, you hear it in your native language so you can respond in your own tongue and, presuming they’re wearing a headset too, they’ll hear it back in their native tongue.

If the WT2 works as well as it is claimed this could be the end to language barriers worldwide, at last. Will this be everything the Google Pixel Buds claimed to offer but fell short on? The company says that by launch time the translator will offer real-time translation via a smartphone with a decent internet connection. With 5G due in 2019 too this should help make for a genuinely useful translation device. 

  • Best smartwatch 2018: the top choices you can buy

The big three in 2019: Apple, Google and Microsoft’s upcoming hardware year

While 2018 was a year of iterative updates, Apple, Google and Microsoft all released some of their best products yet, even if they weren’t as innovative as some would like. While many flagships went without any upgrades – we didn’t even see a new MacBook or Surface Book – devices like the MacBook Air and Surface Laptop 2 saw significant upgrades which impacted the user experience.

However, 2019 should see the big three push their hardware further than before – especially as 7nm and 10nm AMD and Intel processors become mainstream. So, what can we expect to see from Apple, Google and Microsoft throughout the next year? 

Apple in 2019

Apple’s release schedule in 2018 was all over the place. After the insanely powerful iMac Pro dropped in December 2017, we got an iPad aimed at students in March, followed by a lot of nothing. 

We were left waiting for WWDC 2018 for new MacBooks, but that show came and went without any new hardware. It wasn’t until the new MacBook Pro launched, totally under the radar in July, that we started seeing new hardware. 

We’re not sure Apple is going to follow the same kind of release schedule in 2019, but now that it became the world’s first trillion-dollar valuation company this past year, we figure Apple can basically do whatever it wants.

New Mac Pro. We’ve been anticipating the new Mac Pro for a while now, but we know its coming, and we know it’s coming in 2019. The only thing we don’t know is when in 2019 we’ll see the new Mac Pro. Apple has come out and said that the computer will be modular and upgradeable, and if the iMac Pro was any indication, we might be seeing an extremely powerful Mac – we just want to know whether it’ll look like a trash can again. 

New MacBooks. When it comes to Apple’s 2019 lineup of MacBooks, we’re not quite sure what’s going to happen. We’ll see a new MacBook Pro, that’s a given – Apple hasn’t missed an annual upgrade for its flagship professional laptop to date. However, beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess. Apple skipped the 12-inch MacBook for the new MacBook Air this year, though that laptop has more in common with the now-defunct MacBook Pro without Touch Bar. Regardless, expect to see new Intel silicon inside these laptops – Apple’s in-house computer processors are still years away. 

iPhone XI. Another year, another iPhone. Apple releasing a new iPhone is inevitable, and the rumors are already starting to roll out. It might be thinner and lighter than ever before, thanks to a new touch-integrated OLED display, and Apple might even include its own modem, making it an almost all-Apple device. Also, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Apple take another three-pronged strategy with its iPhone models this year, with two high-end models and an entry-level version alongside them. Finally, don’t expect to see a 5G iPhone in 2019: Apple will surely sit on that for a while longer.

New iPads. Apple knocked it out of the park with the iPad Pro – it can outpower many full-blown laptops, on top of the fantastic new design. With the next non-pro iPad, we can see Apple bringing over the same bezel-less design as well as FaceID, like it did with the iPhone XR. We’ve also seen rumors of a new iPad Mini arriving in 2019. We fully expect to see more drastic software improvements than hardware, as iOS needs some serious work to both remain competitive in the phones space and improve productivity for its ‘Pro’ tablets.

Google in 2019

Even if we didn’t get the Pixelbook 2, Google still had an exciting year, with products like the Pixel 3 and the Google Pixel Slate.

Google also doubled down on its Home line of smart speakers and smart-home technology – something we’re sure we’ll see more of in 2019.

However, with an arguably poor outing this year, we wonder whether Google will continue making tablets – or at the very least go back to the drawing board. Also, we’ve seen very little from Google in the home entertainment department in 2018, so perhaps we’ll revisit that in 2019.

Pixelbook 2. We wanted to see the next Pixelbook in 2018 – the original is by far one of the best Chromebooks we’ve ever used. However, Google had other plans, instead releasing the Google Pixel Slate: a sort of half-tablet half-Chromebook hybrid. 

While we’re sure the Google Pixel Slate will have its niche, we hope Google will launch a true Pixelbook 2 with 8th-generation Core processors. The Pixel Slate doesn’t set as strong of a standard for other Chrome devices as Pixelbook did, simply put.

Google Pixel 4. The Google Pixel 3 and Google Pixel 3 XL are awesome – everything from the camera to the hardware makes either two of the best phones you can buy today. Of course, we’re sure that Google is brewing the follow-ups as we speak. What’s to come in that? Rumors are nowhere to be found yet, but we’d anticipate Google doubling down on its incredibly useful camera and machine learning software, because that’s what’s selling the Pixel 3 phones more than anything.

Mid-range Pixel phones. Google has made plenty of flagship phones in its time, but we’ve seen new Pixel devices hinted at in the latest ARCore update. These rumored devices are code-named Bonito and Sargo, and just like all other Pixel phones, are named after fish. We’d love to see new Pixel phones that almost anyone can afford – especially if Google keeps that camera software intact. All in all, this would be an incredibly smart move for Google.

Microsoft in 2019

When it comes to hardware, it’s hard to predict what Microsoft is going to do in 2019, as its release schedule is all over the place.

However, you can bet that you’ll see new Surface devices along with Windows 10 updates. We might even see the next Xbox creep out of the woodwork 

Surface Book 3. The Surface Book 2 is still one of the best laptops on the market, even if it launched way back in October 2017. This year, however, we should see the Surface Book 3 launch, packed with Intel 9th-generation processors and Nvidia Turing graphics. If Microsoft could provide the Surface Book 3 with a 4K display and a black color option, that’d just be gravy.

Surface Pro 7. We’re putting our money on another Surface Pro launching next year, but hopefully with more drastic improvements. Microsoft followed the Surface Pro 2017 with the Surface Pro 6 this year, packing 8th-generation processors and some snazzy new color options … but that’s it, really. We’d love to see a Surface Pro 7 with even smaller bezels and USB-C connectivity for 2019.

Surface Phone. It seems like we’ve been waiting for the Surface Phone for ages, but we feel like 2019 might be the year we finally see it. The latest rumors about the Surface Phone, code-named Andromeda, point to it being a foldable smartphone, which would make it prime competition for Samsung’s similar device, also likely launching in 2019. 

  • These are the best laptops of 2018 – no contest