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Razer Basilisk Ultimate Review & Rating

I’m a big fan of Razer’s Basilisk mouse line. This family of right-handed gaming mice, designed in the first-person-shooter (FPS) style, is known for having a button where the tip of your thumb rests. It’s one of the most comfortable fits in PC gaming. When Razer made a cheaper model, the Basilisk Essential, I sung its praises, too, for bringing the form factor to a larger audience. Now, for the power-gamer set, Razer has made a $169.99-MSRP wireless version, the Basilisk Ultimate, that updates the Basilisk design inside and out, cuts its cord, and adds wireless charging through an optional dock. In other words, one of the best gaming mice just got a bunch better.


Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Wing

The Basilisk Ultimate’s core look and feel remain mostly unchanged from the original. It’s technically an 11-button, right-handed model, though it has only nine customizable buttons.

On top, you have the usual two main clickers, a scroll wheel that clicks, and two resolution-swapping buttons. On the side, you have two macro/shortcut buttons and a detachable FPS-minded “sniper” paddle that, by default, drops your tracking resolution to low sensitivity for precise clicking.

Razer Basilisk Ultimate Wireless Gaming Mouse Angle

Last, underneath the mouse is a button that cycles quickly among the Basilisk’s five onboard profiles without making you open Synapse, Razer’s configuration software. Also, as on the other Basilisks, a dial on the underside lets you tune the scroll wheel’s sensitivity, which keeps you out of system settings if you like to tweak that parameter often.

So where do the last two “buttons” come from? The scroll wheel on the Basilisk got a little hop-up: In addition to the usual scroll-wheel down-click, you can now tilt the scroll wheel to the left or right. The tilt function feels great in action, both for everyday use and in gaming. While browsing the web and looking at documents, I found myself tilting the wheel to scroll up and down pages instead of rolling it. (The default function is repeat scroll.) In games, it pays to reconfigure these tilt actions to your key commands, as it’s faster to tilt the wheel, where you already have a finger resting, than to reach a side button by repositioning your thumb. The Basilisk Ultimate isn’t the only mouse adding these inputs here in late ’19, but it’s the first I’ve reviewed, and I hope more companies embrace it.

Razer Basilisk Ultimate Wireless Gaming Mouse Wheel

As I suggested up top, my favorite thing about the Basilisk is its shape, which remains mostly unchanged. With a footprint of 5.1 by 2.8 inches (including the thumb wing) and at 1.65 inches tall, the 3.8-ounce Basilisk Ultimate is nearly identical to the original. Your hand still falls perfectly into place and rests naturally on the mouse in a way that you never feel the need to grip or maneuver your hand to get comfortable. Plus, you need to make only small movements to hit any of its essential inputs.

Part of the comfort is the thumb wing, which returns and continues to stand apart, despite the fact that so many mice employ some kind of extended thumb support. This one isn’t too large or too small, and the curve is just the right shape to let you rest your thumb for long play sessions, or to support it while you grip the side of the mouse.

I did note a couple of small differences. The Basilisk Ultimate has a pair of extra lighting elements, comprising a pair of thin accent lines high on the mouse’s sides. On the thumb side, the line sits right above the macro buttons. It’s subtle, but the added lights, along with the lighting in the palm and scroll wheel, make the lighting a strong element, especially since you can actually see the side lights while you’re playing. (They won’t be covered by your hand, as mouse RGB bling tends to be.)

Razer Basilisk Ultimate Wireless Gaming Mouse Thumb Side Close Up

The detachable sniper paddle on the Ultimate is slightly shorter than what I remember on the original Basilisk and the Basilisk Essential, so for some players (myself included), you may need to reach a bit to tap it. If you don’t use the paddle often, this may be a blessing, as you’ll be less likely to tap it by mistake when gripping the mouse in a tense moment. If you use the paddle often, that could be a slight but noticeable quibble.

Internally, the Basilisk Ultimate has had a few technical upgrades. First and foremost, the click panels in the Basilisk Ultimate now use Razer’s new optical mouse switches, which it introduced earlier this year in the esports-focused Razer Viper. Razer claims the switches cut out microseconds worth of delay on each click, allowing for faster, more accurate clicking. Having used multiple mice with these switches (and many without) the difference was not perceptible to me, but I can attest that the panels deliver a good, quick click.

Razer Basilisk Ultimate Wireless Gaming Mouse Top Buttons

The Basilisk Ultimate also features Razer’s new Focus+ sensor, which is also in Razer’s other new high-end mouse, the Viper Ultimate. The new sensor bumps the highest tracking settings up to a whopping 20,000 dots per inch (dpi) and 650 inches per second. In more practical terms, it’s more than capable of keeping track of your movements even when you’re whipping your cursor across multiple monitors like a player possessed.

That accuracy wouldn’t mean much if the Basilisk Ultimate didn’t also have strong wireless connectivity to maintain the connection. Using Razer’s radio-frequency (RF) wireless tech (which the company dubs “Hyperspeed”) over a USB dongle, the Basilisk Ultimate achieves a stable connection with 1,000Hz polling, bringing lag down to an imperceptible level. Gaming-mouse makers have figured that dongle-based wireless connections are the way to go, so this isn’t quite as grand an achievement as it sounds, but it’s noteworthy as many serious gamers still swear they need a wired connection. It may also explain why Razer decided to forgo Bluetooth support.

Razer Basilisk Ultimate Wireless Gaming Mouse Dock with Mouse side

Like the Viper Ultimate, the Basilisk Ultimate supports wireless charging through its proprietary, USB-connected mouse dock. The dock comes with the $169.99 version of the mouse reviewed here, but it is also sold separately. Having a wireless charging solution really makes using the Basilisk Ultimate feel like a true wireless experience. Plus, the Basilisk gets decent battery life. Razer claims “up to” 100 hours, and I found the mouse needed a recharge every four or five days, but that feels near-inconsequential if you have the charging dock. When you need to charge, you simply park it on the dock, then remove it when you need the mouse again. It requires no cables to connect or disconnect, so charging is not a hassle at all.

It helps that the dock is very well-designed. It holds the mouse in place on top of the dock magnetically at a jaunty angle, showing off the mouse. (To my eyes, it looks great.) The dock itself is also quite stylish, with a lighting element around its base that you can customize with Razer’s Chroma lighting software and incorporate into your PC’s lighting look. (It also shows the battery’s power level when you dock it.) The dock, thoughtfully, also has a USB port into which you can plug in the mouse’s USB RF dongle, so the dock and dongle together occupy just one USB port on your computer.


From Synapse to Chroma

Like all Razer mice, the Basilisk Ultimate supports the company’s suite of configuration software—namely, Razer Synapse for button-mapping, and Razer Chroma for creating custom lighting. These apps haven’t changed, which is fine, because I find them visually appealing and easy to use in most respects.

Razer Basilisk Ultimate Wireless Gaming Mouse buttons settings

Razer Basilisk Ultimate Wireless Gaming Mouse more settings

As I mentioned earlier, the Basilisk Ultimate can store up to five profiles in its internal, on-mouse memory, including a default profile. You can also make additional per-game profiles on your PC, which you can tie to specific games and apps or swap in for other onboard profiles. Having the ability to swap among the onboard profiles on the fly without accessing Synapse is a nice touch. While Synapse is easy to use, it’s much quicker to press a button than open an app.


Measuring a Mouse’s Worth

The Basilisk Ultimate completes the wireless fantasy, looks great, and feels comfortable. It does everything I want a gaming mouse to do. There is, of course, a catch. And that’s the price: that whopping $169.99 MSRP.

Razer Basilisk Ultimate Wireless Gaming Mouse Dock and Mouse

Even if the mouse sees some modest discounting shortly after release, that’s a lot of dough, and I certainly wouldn’t begrudge anyone for saying it’s simply too much for any mouse. You can find cheaper wireless mice out there, as well as several cheaper Razer Basilisks. At the same time, in light of my other favorite wireless mouse this year, the price may not be completely out of line, when you factor in that many wireless charging mice, including the Logitech G502 Lightspeed, require you to spend extra money on a proprietary charging pad to use wireless charging. If you’re looking at the Basilisk Ultimate at or close to its list price, bear in mind that it should include the dock.

Dock or no dock, the Ultimate will be a splurge for most gamers, no doubt. But it’s worth the cash for any hardcore gamer (especially a Razer-gear loyalist) who prizes quality software and shortcut-making, lots of programmable buttons, smooth wireless operation, and a slick look.



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Razer Viper Ultimate Review & Rating

It’s been just a few months since Razer announced its light-and-fast ambidextrous mouse, the Razer Viper, but the company already pushing a high-end wireless version to match. The Viper Ultimate ($149.99 with its wireless charging dock, $129.99 without) takes all the esports trappings and design choices of the original and affixes them to a wireless gaming mouse that, like all of Razer’s wireless models, injects high-end features to justify a high-end price. The Viper Ultimate manages to cut the cord without any major compromises in its design, making it the best wireless esports mouse I’ve used yet. It’s pricey for the full experience, but if you’re resolute about both wireless connectivity and performance, it’s worth it. It earns our Editors’ Choice for wireless gaming mice.


The Serpent by the…Wait, Where’s the Tail?

Like the original Viper, the Viper Ultimate is a high-end take on the seemingly standardized esports mouse. It, technically, has eight buttons—two main left/right clickers, the scroll wheel, two macro buttons on each side, and a resolution-switching button on the underside of the mouse—but the placement still shakes out to a simple five-button mouse scheme. That’s because you only use the macro buttons on your appropriate thumb side of the mouse. (And, obviously, putting the DPI switch underneath the mouse ensures you’ll never use it for anything else.)

Razer Viper Ultimate Wireless Gaming Mouse Base

As a righty, I tend to avoid ambidextrous mice because most are designed with a low profile and less support for your hand. The Viper line is a rare exception. Though it doesn’t have a hump or a sweet spot that lets your hand fall into place, the Viper is comfortable to use, even over long stretches. At 1.5 by 2.6 by 5 inches, it can feel a little skinny compared to other mice, especially if you’re switching from one not made for competition. But it’s easy to adjust and find a comfortable grip.

Common wisdom would suggest that a wireless mouse might be heavier, thanks to the additional radio-frequency (RF) components and battery hardware. As it happens, it’s a scant five grams heavier than the original wired Viper: 74 grams (that’s 2.61 ounces) versus 69 grams (2.43 ounces). Many argue that weight is everything when it comes to competitive mice. The Viper Ultimate isn’t the lightest mouse on the market, but it is exceptionally well-balanced, and light enough that you barely notice you’re pushing it around when you move your cursor.

Razer Viper Ultimate Wireless Gaming Mouse Top Buttons

The Viper Ultimate also shares the Viper’s signature mechanical component: optical switches under the click panels. By Razer’s estimation, the optical mouse switch eliminates some of the mechanical parts that wear out over time, making it more durable. It also theoretically improves performance by eliminating “debounce delay,” a trait of mechanical contacts that allows the circuit to record when physical contact within a switch is made and ensures your mouse doesn’t make misclicks. That performance difference, if it exists, is negligible, so take that claim with a grain of salt. That said, the Viper Ultimate’s switches are as comfortable to click as any high-end mechanical switch I’ve tried, so it isn’t a loss, either.

That said, there is a major, albeit somewhat impractical, mechanical improvement under the hood. The Viper Ultimate uses Razer’s new Focus+ optical sensor, which bumps the maximum sensor setting to whopping 20,000 dots per inch (dpi) and increases the top tracking speed from 450 inches per second (ips) to 650ips. To me, the swap is more about the spec sheet than perceptible performance. On top of that, very few serious esports players are going to use settings that will tax these mice at peak performance. (Many pros actually drop their DPI setting very low and move their arms more to gain extra control.) That isn’t a problem, per se; both the Viper and Viper Ultimate are highly accurate mice worthy of the best players. Just don’t get pulled in by the DPI-numbers arms race.

Razer Viper Ultimate Wireless Gaming Mouse Underside

Okay, so let’s get to the good stuff—the wireless stuff. The Viper Ultimate connects to your PC using a 2.4GHz RF dongle. As we’ve seen throughout the year on mice like the Logitech G502 Lightspeed and the Corsair Ironclaw Wireless RGB, these connections generally work better than Bluetooth, providing a stable, nearly lag-free experience. Will you have to give up a USB port for your trouble? Sure. But you’d have to do the same thing for the cable on a wired mouse.

Razer Viper Ultimate Wireless Gaming Mouse Docked Side

Both the Viper Ultimate and Razer’s other new high-end wireless mouse, the Basilisk Ultimate, are sold both with and without a wireless charging dock. I have to say, if you’re able to spend the extra $20 for it, the dock really completes the wireless experience. The four-sided footer plugs into your PC via USB, and it connects to the mouse via a pair of nubby copper contacts. The dock magnetically holds the mouse in place in a tilted, holstered position.

Combined with the Chroma-enabled RGB rim around the base, it presents a pretty picture for parking your mouse. It feels like every aspect of the dock has been well-considered, from the way that the dock and the mouse temporarily sync and flash the Viper Ultimate’s color-coded battery status when you dock it, to the fact that it has a USB port to hold the Viper Ultimate’s RF dongle so it doesn’t take up an extra port on your PC. If you buy the mouse without the dock, you can charge the Viper Ultimate via a micro-USB port in front, or you can shell out to buy the dock a la carte later on, though it is more expensive on its own ($50, versus the extra $20 when included with the mouse).

Either way, the Viper Ultimate gets a reported 70 hours of battery life. I found that it lasts five to six days on a charge with the RGBs on and blazing. That said, if you have the dock, you’ll never have to worry about that, since it feels natural to dock and top off the mouse when you power down for the evening.


Controls for Your Lizard Brain

The Viper Ultimate relies on Razer’s software suite for all its customization, including Razer Synapse to change its settings and Razer Chroma to customize its lighting. If you’ve used any Razer products before, the systems are as easy to use as ever. If you haven’t, it’s generally snap-simple to reset DPI presets and remap buttons across your profiles.

Razer Viper Ultimate Wireless Gaming Mouse Software 1

The Viper Ultimate can store up to five profiles in the mouse’s internal, onboard memory, which is about standard for a high-end product. You can customize and save as many profiles as you want in the Synapse software PC-side, though, and swap them out as you move games in and out of rotation.

Razer Viper Ultimate Wireless Gaming Mouse Software 3

Programming the on-mouse lighting, thanks to Razer’s Chroma Studio, can be as easy or as complicated as you’d like it to be, depending on what pattern you’d design and how many Razer products you’d like to sync. The Viper Ultimate itself only has one RGB lighting element on it, a logo on the palm of the mouse. If you purchase the version of the mouse with the dock, there’s a second lighting element on the base. You can customize mouse and dock lighting individually, as a pair, or together with other Chroma-supporting gear (such as a keyboard).


The Viper Let Loose

The Viper Ultimate takes one of my favorite competitive mice and removes the wire without compromise. By the transitive property, in my mind, that makes it one of the best gaming mice you can get. Plus, the fact that the wireless is paired with a quick, elegant wireless charging solution makes it a lot easier to stomach that top-of-the-line price.

Razer Viper Ultimate Wireless Gaming Mouse Docked Base

Normally, at $149.99 for a mouse, I’d call for something more feature-rich. But the fact of the matter is the Razer Viper Ultimate achieves everything it puts its mind to. How many of us can say that?



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Learn How to Build Databases From Scratch With the Ultimate MySQL Bootcamp

When your job involves analyzing data, being able to build databases is pretty useful. Recruiters in marketing, sales, finance, and many other sectors are actively looking for people with these skills. If you want to stand out from the crowd, the Ultimate MySQL Bootcamp can help. This learning library includes 34 video tutorials and five hours of content, transforming you from a coding virgin to a database expert. You can get the bundle now for $11.99 via MakeUseOf Deals — and use code 20LEARN20 for 20% off.

Data Bootcamp

For data sets under a certain size, it’s easy enough to crunch the numbers in a spreadsheet. But to make good decisions in business, you need as much data as possible. This is where MySQL skills come to the fore.

This course shows you how to build advanced databases from scratch. The video tutorials start with the basics, helping you learn SQL syntax and write your first lines of code. You then discover how to work with large data sets, run analysis using aggregate functions, and create complex queries.

Along with the videos, the Bootcamp includes loads of exercises, challenges and projects to help you hone your new skills. You can also claim a certificate when you complete the course.

The Ultimate Bootcamp for $11.99

Order now for $11.99 to get lifetime access to the Bootcamp, worth $200.



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Get an Xbox and Game Pass Ultimate for as Low as $19.99/Mo – Review Geek

Xbox Consoles Side by Side
Microsoft

Can’t afford an Xbox? Microsoft’s latest Xbox All Access bundles get you a console of your choosing and two years of Game Pass Ultimate for 24 monthly payments that cost less than if you bought everything upfront.

Starting October 29 in Australia, November 5 in the UK and November 18 in the US, select partners and retailers including Amazon in the US will begin offering Xbox All Access bundles that include an Xbox console and two years of Microsoft’s online services for a monthly payment that varies depending on the console chosen.

For $19.99 a month over a period of two years, you can purchase the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition (note: this model doesn’t have a disc drive and instead relies on downloading games from Microsoft’s platform). Jumping up to $22.99 per month for 24 months gets you the regular Xbox One S. This one does have a disc drive but isn’t as powerful as the Xbox One X, which is going for $30.99 per month for two years via Xbox All Access.

Xbox One consoles compared
Microsoft

Xbox All Access also includes two years of Game Pass Ultimate, which typically costs $14.99 and grants access to Xbox Gold Live as well as Xbox Game Pass on console and PC, providing a library of more than 100 games that can be downloaded and played for no additional cost. Titles include the newly released The Outer Worlds.

Instead of costing more, opting for one of those monthly payment plans is cheaper than if you were to buy everything upfront. The amount saved depends on which package you buy. In the case of the Xbox One X, it currently costs $399 at the Microsoft Store while Game Pass Ultimate costs $14.99 a month. After paying for the console up front and then subscribing to Game Pass Ultimate, you’d spend $758.76 versus $743.76 if you paid Microsoft $30.99 per month over two years for the same hardware and service.

If you want to save the most you can on Microsoft’s current-gen console, the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition package yields a savings of more like $130 over two years. Buying the All Digital Edition console outright would currently cost $249. Add two years of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to that and you’re looking at $608.76 versus $479.76 if you paid Microsoft $19.99 per month for two years for All Access.

Xbox All Access
Microsoft

Beyond saving some cash on the current-generation Xbox consoles, note that Microsoft has a special offer where folks in the US and UK who make 12 to 18 payments on their All Access bundle will be eligible for an upgrade to the next-generation Xbox, tentatively known as Project Scarlett and due in the holiday season of 2020. Australians who pay for an All Access bundle can buyout their hardware at any time and upgrade to Project Scarlett when it’s available.

When the time comes to upgrade to Microsoft’s next-gen Xbox console, you’ll have to reset your All Access contract for another 24 months. Furthermore, if you opted for the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition, the upgrade process will involve a $20 fee, though this doesn’t currently apply to the standard Xbox One S or the Xbox One X.

“Special Holiday Upgrade Offer: Upgrading to Project Scarlett is subject to its release and availability at the time you upgrade. Upgrade requires at least 12 payments on your original Xbox All Access contract, and purchase of a new 24-month Xbox All Access contract for Project Scarlett, expected Holiday 2020. Offer valid for original purchase of Xbox One X with Xbox All Access through Dec 31, 2019; not available with Xbox One S. New contract, terms, and pricing apply. Requires return of console in good condition. Project Scarlett is subject to FCC rules and will comply with the appropriate FCC rules when available. See product and upgrade terms at Xbox.com/XboxAllAccessTerms.

In order to participate in the upgrade program when Project Scarlett launches in Holiday 2020, players in the U.S. and U.K. will need to be in good standing with the respective financing partner in their market, purchase Project Scarlett with a new Xbox All Access purchase from the same retail partner where they joined the program, and trade-in the console originally purchased with Xbox All Access. Terms and conditions apply, including an upgrade fee for players upgrading from the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition to Project Scarlett.

You may upgrade from Xbox One X, Xbox One S, and Xbox One S All-Digital Edition to the next Xbox console (coming late 2020) only. Upgrading from Xbox One S All-Digital Edition will require payment of an upgrade fee (currently USD$20, subject to change); upgrading from Xbox One X and Xbox One S do not require payment of an upgrade fee.”

Source: Microsoft via The Verge





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Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2: A Bombproof Bluetooth Speaker

Portable Bluetooth speakers have become ubiquitous, and none are more recognizable than the popular Ultimate Ears (UE) Boom range.

The UE Wonderboom 2 is an upgrade on the original Wonderboom we thoroughly reviewed in 2018


Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Review: The Toughest Speaker Around




Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Review: The Toughest Speaker Around


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. The older version has excellent sound, battery life, and is nigh on indestructible.

This ruggedness seems to be front and center on the upgraded model. It retains its IP67 dustproof/waterproof rating even when the flap protecting the charging port is left open.

UE Wonderboom 2 Waterproof Speaker

The Wonderboom 2 might seem like a great case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The $99.99 price hasn’t changed and it looks very similar to the original Wonderboom.

Despite this, there are a few notable upgrades. The Wonderboom 2 is slightly larger than the original measuring 10.4 cm high with a 9.5 cm diameter. This is to house an upgraded battery claiming up to 13 hours playtime—30% more than it’s predecessor.

Another reason given for the larger frame was an upgrade to the speaker for better bass response. The punchy 360 sound of the original remains, with no distortion until you reach close to max volume.

A new addition is the Outdoor Boost mode, triggered using a button on the bottom. More than just a volume boost, it also equalizes the sound to take into account the lack of reflections from indoor walls.

UE Wonderboom 2 Outdoor Boost

UE Wonderboom 2 speakers can be paired to give true stereo. If you have an original Wonderboom, they can chain together—though you won’t get an actual stereo experience.

A notable omission for some might be the charging port. The Wonderboom 2 retains its microUSB port, and in the age where USB-C is king, this might be a mild annoyance.

In use, the Wonderboom 2 sounds excellent and feels as rugged as it looks. The IFA 2019 show floor had several models, along with a tank of water to dunk them in, and a dust tank to bury them in. We were also encouraged to drop them on the show floor while in use—in short, they were confident!

This speaker isn’t going toe-to-toe with any piece of home hi-fi gear, but then again it’s not designed for that. In our review of the original Wonderboom it survived being parked on by a car. The upgraded model looks every bit as tough.

If you are looking for a near unbreakable portable speaker under $100, the UE Wonderboom 2 is going to be tough to beat.



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The Ultimate Laptop for Creatives

Acer’s ConceptD range targets all forms of content creators. Whether you are an artist, vlogger, professional media creator, or video editor, these laptops are for you.

The ConceptD 9 Pro is the latest addition to this range and sits comfortably at the top.

The 17.3 inch 4k UHD display uses a unique Ezel Aero Hinge, allowing a full range of movement. It also boasts 100% Adobe RBG color gamut and is Pantone validated.

Driving the show is a 9th-gen Intel Core i9 CPU, along with an Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000 for the highest spec model. The trackpad doubles as a number pad and customizable media shortcut menu. A Wacom EMR digital pen is included for use with the touchscreen.

Acer ConceptD 9 Pro

We saw the ConceptD 9 Pro at their press conference at IFA 2019, where they also unveiled pro versions of the ConceptD 7, 5, and 3.

The main draw of the ConceptD 9 Pro is its screen. The display is stunning, but the ease with which it can be moved, along with an incredibly responsive digital pen gives a great user experience. It does look a little odd at first glance, but this isn’t the first laptop to use a swinging hinge design. In use, it feels natural to move the screen between a regular laptop and tablet.

The experience of using the ConceptD 9 Pro in tablet mode is reminiscent of devices like the Wacom Cintiq, but this is a 2 in 1, and one of the best I’ve ever used.

Acer ConceptD 9 Pro folded

In my short time with the ConcepD 9 Pro, I didn’t have the chance to put it through its paces, but the specs under the hood are impressive.

Many might notice the omission of a 10th gen processor. Nevertheless, the combination of 9th gen i9 (no exact model specified), an Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000 GPU with 16GB of VRAM, and 32GB of DDR4 RAM make this thing fly. People who use intensive software suites will likely find this machine more than capable of multitasking.

Like many high-performance laptops, whether aimed at creatives or gamers, this computer is large. Despite this, the ConceptD 9 Pro is surprisingly thin when folded.

Unsurprisingly, a laptop like this comes at a price. The ConceptD 9 Pro will be available in North America and Europe in November, starting at $5800. While this eye-watering price will be a barrier to some, there isn’t anything out there that quite matches all this laptop seems to offer.



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The Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 Is the Speaker I’d Make If I Made Speakers – Review Geek

Rating:
9/10
?

  • 1 – Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 – Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 – Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 – Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 – Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 – Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 – Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 – Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 – Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Price: $99

The Wonderboom 2 next to the OnePlus 7 Pro.
Cameron Summerson

The new Wonderboom 2 ($100) from Ultimate Ears is a killer little Bluetooth speaker that packs a lot of punch for its tiny size. It sounds great, lasts forever, and is probably bombproof. It’s a winner all around.

Here’s What We Like

  • Excellent size
  • Waterproof and robust
  • Battery lasts forever
  • Great sound for its size

And What We Don’t

  • Charges over microUSB instead of USB-C

Ultimate Ears and JBL have long been my favorite brands on the Bluetooth speaker scene, with the JBL Charge 2+ being my go-to option for the last several years. But the new Wonderboom 2 from UE finally unseated my trusty Charge as my new favorite little speaker. It’s the best balance of portability, sound quality, battery life, and robustness I’ve ever seen (and heard). It’s the speaker I’d design if I designed speakers.

Right out of the box, I was admittedly skeptical of the Wonderboom 2’s tiny stature. But those concerns were quickly put to rest as I fired it up and started jamming to the same test playlist I’ve been using on speakers and headphones for years. For being so small, this speaker packs a surprisingly big punch.

Despite its short, tubby build, the Wonderboom 2 provides rich sound quality—more bass than one normally expects from a speaker of this size, along with equally as impressive high- and mid-response. The overall clarity and range of this speaker can’t be overstated—it sounds shockingly big for being so small. It also gets quite loud, although, maybe not loud enough for big, open spaces. But UE has a solution for that: Outdoor Mode.

The button to activate Outdoor Mode on the Wonderboom 2.
The Outdoor Mode button—it’s a little tree. Cameron Summerson

There’s a button on the bottom of the speaker with a little tree on it. Once activated, it increases the speaker’s overall volume and frequency response. This mode reduces bass, while upper mids and highs become more present; this allows the speaker to push more sound without distorting (read: it’s a lot louder). It’s a super cool feature—especially because it’s easily toggled at the touch of a button.

Speaking of buttons, let’s talk about the others found across the top and front of the device. The front houses two huge volume buttons (up and down, heh) that also serve as a battery life indicator when pressed together. The top has three buttons: a Bluetooth button for pairing, a power button, and a multifunction Play/Pause/Skip Track button in the center. I’m always happy to see media controls present on speakers, as I might not always be able to use my phone to control playback. Good on UE for throwing this little button the Wonderboom 2.

The top of the Wonderboom 2.
The Wonderboom 2’s top buttons. Cameron Summerson

Since I brought it up, let’s talk about the Wonderboom 2’s battery life, which can only be summed up as insane. I charged the speaker when I first got it, and it hasn’t hit the charger since. I initially tried to keep track of how many hours of use I got out of it (as I do with most reviews), but I lost track around hour 20 or so. It’s probably sitting at around 24-26 hours of playback at a consistent 1/3-1/2 volume, which is next-level impressive. Of course, you can expect less time the higher the volume gets (and even less with Outdoor Mode enabled), but even then, you’re probably looking at a minimum of 10 hours. The thing just never stops. The worst thing about the battery? It charges over micro USB. It’s time for manufacturers to stop doing this—USB-C is the future.

The Wonderboom 2's microUSB port
The Wonderboom 2 uses a micro USB port for charging, which is a shame. Cameron Summerson

Finally, I love the overall size of the Wonderboom 2, which stands at just over 4 inches in height, with a circumference of around 3.75 inches. This might be the weirdest thing I’ve ever said in a review, but I really enjoy holding the Wonderboom 2—it fits perfectly in my hand. It’s a strange sensation to enjoy holding a speaker, but here we are.

The speaker’s weight comes in right at 425 grams according to my scale, which is just a bit heavier than an unopened can of soda (around 370 grams). In other words, tossing it in your bag is no big deal, because it’s not very heavy.

Holding the Wonderboom.
I like to hold it, okay? Cameron Summerson

Overall, the Wonderboom 2 from Ultimate Ears is one of the best Bluetooth speakers you can buy right now—especially, at this size. It’s a great buy at the $100 retail price, but you can pick one up right now for $80, which is a bargain for such a great little speaker.

Here’s What We Like

  • Excellent size
  • Waterproof and robust
  • Battery lasts forever
  • Great sound for its size

And What We Don’t

  • Charges over microUSB instead of USB-C





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The Ultimate Guide to Git—Claim Your Free Ebook!

Simply put, Git is a powerful, open source version control software, which allows multiple people to work on a project, and different versions of that project, without interfering with each other.

Yes, there are other version control systems out there, but Git is by far the most popular for developers (and for good reason) and with this free ebook, you’ll learn about everything Git can do.

With Git (among other things), you can:

  • Work on multiple versions of the same project
  • Backtrack through, and compare, different versions of your projects
  • Have multiple developers working on a single project
  • Track which developers made which changes

And, as Git is a distributed version control system, each developer working on the project has a complete copy of everything. This means that you’re not completely reliant on a central server. Therefore, if the central server goes down, the developers still have access to everything they need to continue working.

As you can imagine, there’s much more to Git than this. We’ve written our own guide to file versioning with Git. But if you want something even more in-depth, then go ahead and download this ebook.

Download Git Tutorial

This free guide covers everything you need to know in order to use Git properly, from explaining what it is and how it differs from other tools, to its usage, including advanced topics and practices that will add value to the process of version controlling.

The Ultimate Guide to Git---Claim Your Free Ebook! GiT Tutorial

Interested? Simply click here to download Git Tutorial from TradePub. You will be required to complete a short form to access the templates, but it’s well worth it!



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A $263 Nintendo Switch, a $675 iPhone X, an $80 Ultimate Ears Alexa-Enabled – Review Geek

An iPhone X, a Nintendo Switch Console, and a Ultimate Ears BLAST Bluetooth Speaker
Apple, Nintendo, Ultimate Ears

Right now, the internet’s full of crazy deals and discounts. These deals range from a $42 Alexa-Enabled car charger to a $250 50″ 4K smart TV, but as always, we’ve picked out a few favorites.

If you’ve been holding out on the Nintendo Switch, now’s the time to bite the bullet. Rakuten is selling the Nintendo Switch console for just $263 (with coupon code SAVE15). If you aren’t into gaming, then you should check out Best Buy’s $675 iPhone X deal, or the $80 Ultimate Ears BLAST Alexa-Enabled Bluetooth Speaker deal.

Laptops

Is your computer on its last leg? Maybe it’s time for a discounted upgrade.

  • Apple MacBook Pro 8GB RAM 256 SSD, $1,100 ($400 off) [Best Buy]
  • Apple MacBook Air 128GB Latest Model, $1,000 ($200 off) [Amazon]
  • Microsoft Surface Pro 6 8GB RAM 256 SSD, $1,300 ($200 off) [Amazon]
  • Microsoft Surface Laptop 8GB RAM 256 SSD, $837 ($400 off) [Amazon]
  • Huawei Matebook 8GB RAM 512 SSD, $1,200 ($100 off) [Amazon]
  • Asus 2-in-1 Laptop 12GB RAM 256 SSD, $765 ($135 off) [Best Buy]
  • Lenovo IdeaPad 8GB RAM 256 SSD, $520 ($150 off) [Staples]
  • Acer Chromebook 4GB RAM 32 SSD, $190 ($140 off) [Office Depot]

Keyboards, Routers, and Other Computer Accessories

Upgrade your workspace with these computer accessory deals.

  • LG 32″ FreeSync Gaming Monitor, $300 ($100 off) [Micro Center]
  • Anker 7 Port USB-C Hub, $40 ($30 off  with coupon clip) [Amazon]
  • Acer Predator 27″ FHD G-Sync Monitor, $350 ($250 off) [Best Buy]
  • Brother All-in-One Laser Printer, $100 ($50 off) [Amazon]
  • NETGEAR 16-Port 10G Ethernet Smart Plus Switch, $900 ($200 off) [Amazon]
  • Linksys Velop Mesh Wi-Fi System 2-Pack, $130 ($70 off) [Amazon]

Phones, Tablets, and Mobile Accessories

In the market for a new phone, tablet, or car charger? We’ve got the deals for you.

  • Apple iPhone X 64GB Unlocked, $675 ($225 off) [Best Buy]
  • Apple iPad Pro 11″  64GB Newest Model, $675 ($125 off) [Best Buy]
  • Apple iPad Pro 11″ 512GB Newest Model, $950 ($200 off) [Amazon]
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7″ Open-Box, $180 ($320 off) [eBay]
  • Apple iPhone Official Lightning Charging Dock, $19 ($31 off) [Amazon]
  • Anker Car Charger USB-C and Micro-USB, $16 ($6 off) [Amazon]
  • Roav Viva Alexa-Enabled Car Charger and Mount, $42 ($33 off)) [Amazon]
  • Fitbit Versa Smart Fitness Watch, $180 ($20 off) [Amazon]

Smart Home Gadgets

Need a new smarthome device? Today’s a great day to buy a discounted Portal Plus, a Google Home Hub, or an Echo Connect.

  • Google Home Hub, $70 ($30 off) [Massgenie]
  • Amazon Echo Connect, $13 ($22 off) [Woot]
  • Portal Plus from Facebook with Alexa Built-In, $250 ($100 off) [Amazon]
  • Ultimate Ears BLAST Bluetooth Speaker with Alexa, $80 ($100 off) [Best Buy]
  • Roav Viva Alexa-Enabled Car Charger and Mount, $42 ($33 off)) [Amazon]

Video Games

Now’s the time to grab that Nintendo Switch you’ve wanted.

  • Nintendo Switch Console, $263 ($47 off with coupon code SAVE15) [Rakuten]
  • STEINS;GATE ELITE Nintendo Switch, $40 ($20 off) [Amazon]
  • Dark Souls: Remastered Nintendo Switch, $28 ($11 off) [Nintendo]
  • Xbox Live Gold: 12-Month Membership, $40 ($20 off) [Massgenie]
  • Xbox One Wireless Controller, $40 ($20 off) [Massgenie]
  • STEINS;GATE ELITE PlayStation 4, $40 ($20 off) [Amazon]
  • PlayStation Plus: 12-Month Membership, $40 ($20 off) [Massgenie]
  • RiME Steam Download, $3 ($27 off) [Fanatical]

Everything Else

Grab a cheap 4K TV or some new Samsonite luggage.

  • Ultimate Ears BLAST Bluetooth Speaker with Alexa, $80 ($100 off) [Best Buy]
  • JBL Reflect Fit Bluetooth Wireless Heartrate Headphones, $40 ($110 off) [Woot]
  • Sharp 50″ 4K Roku Smart TV, $250 ($130 off) [Best Buy]
  • Save up to 70% on Closeout Styles [Levi’s]
  • Up to 50% off Select Styles [Crocs]
  • Roav by Anker 2K Dash Cam, $75 ($55 off) [Amazon]
  • Samsonite Bartlett 29″ Luggage, $85 ($155 off) [Samsonite]
  • Samsonite Pivot 29″ Luggage, $95 ($105 off) [Samsonite]

Good deals disappear quickly, so be sure to grab your favorite deals before it’s too late.





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5 Reasons Why unRAID Is the Ultimate Home NAS Solution

unRAID is one of the operating systems that is used by some of the biggest names in the tech YouTube industry such as MKBHD and LinusTechTips. But what makes it so special?

In this article, we’ll cover unRAID’s unique way of storing data and why it’s so efficient. We’ll also cover some of the other core features that make it the best home NAS and media server.

1. unRAID Keeps Your Data Safe

RAID-5

unRAID is unlike traditional RAID for a few reasons. In most RAID cases when you write a file to a RAID array more than one disk will spin up, and data is striped across several drives. So even a single file could exist on more than one drive.

Because RAID uses more than one drive in the reading and writing of data, there is a performance benefit. RAID also offers a degree of safety. RAID5 can sustain the loss of a single drive, with RAID6 being able to cope with the loss of two drives.

RAID is still susceptible to catastrophic failure. If you were to lose two drives in a RAID5 array, you might not be able to get any of your data back. This is because the entirety of the data is dependent on the other disks. If you took out a single drive from a RAID5 array and plugged it into a computer, you won’t be able to see anything meaningful because the data is striped.

Another consideration with RAID is that the smallest drive limits the size of the array. This can limit how you can upgrade the size of a RAID array. Additionally, it may not be possible to add a single drive and increase the size of the array.

unRAID’s Storage Method

A network share in unRAID can span multiple disks, but it manages the data quite differently compared to traditional RAID. unRAID can be configured to have up to two parity drives. Similar to traditional RAID this will prevent data loss if up to two drives die keeping your data safe.

unraid-storage

When you write a file to a share in unRAID, only a single disk spins up along with the parity disks to write the data. So a single file will always only exist on a single drive. Because the data isn’t striped across multiple drives, you can take a single drive that was in an unRAID array, plug it into a computer and see what was on that drive.

There is a trade-off with storing the data in this method in that the performance for reading and writing data is limited to the speed of a single drive. However, unRAID mitigates against this by allowing you to use an SSD as a cache drive.

In unRAID if one of your disks had to die, you could plug in another drive, and it will rebuild the data that was on that drive. However, if you were to lose more than one drive, you could still plug the remaining drives into a computer to retrieve what’s there.

This gives unRAID the edge for keeping your data safe.

2. unRAID Is Efficient

unraid-usage

unRAID may not be as performant as traditional RAID, but it’s far more efficient. There is a huge reduction in power consumption because all the drives aren’t spinning to read and write data.

unRAID is also efficient in how you can expand the size of the array. You can add a drive of any size, and it will increase the size of the array by that size, even if it doesn’t match the size of the other disks. As long as you make sure that your parity drive is equal to or larger than the biggest drive in your array, your data will be safe.

unRAID’s base configuration requires only 2GB of RAM and a 1GHz processor. At idle, barely any RAM or CPU are used. The above image shows resource usage on a server with an Intel i7-4770 processor and 16GB of RAM.

Under regular usage, like a video playing and a file being written simultaneously, unRAID still barely bats an eye. This shows how efficient unRAID is at managing its resources.

3. Virtual Machine Support

You may have found yourself in a situation where you need a PC and a NAS but just have the budget for one of them. Well, unRAID allows you to have your cake and eat it!

Fortunately, unRAID has native support for virtualization so any remaining resources your computer has can be used to run a virtual machine


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. unRAID also has native support for IOMMU groups.

These allow you to give a virtual machine direct access to a device connected to unRAID such as a GPU. This means you could create a virtual machine used for hardcore gaming and have near bare-metal performance as if it were running directly on your hardware. unRAID makes it possible to start your home lab or get into gaming using a single machine.

4. unRAID Has Excellent Application Support

unraid-apps

unRAID has been built from the group up with Docker support. In a nutshell, Docker is a container platform which allows applications to run in a secure environment of their own. It’s currently the most widely adopted container platform by millions of developers globally, and it provides unRAID with access to thousands of apps.

Fortunately, many vendors provide Docker versions for their apps. This is important because it means you won’t have to rely on an independent developer to provide updates to future versions of the software as the companies themselves will maintain them.

Having Docker support also means you’re not locked into any proprietary applications. Many popular apps are already available such as:

  • Plex
  • Emby
  • OpenVPN
  • Owncloud

You’re able to turn your NAS into a powerful media server


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, private cloud-based storage, or file sharing downloader with just a few clicks. Docker on unRAID works seamlessly and provides an unparalleled level of versatility.

5. Your Hardware, Your Budget

unraid-vms

One of the most significant advantages with unRAID is that it runs on regular PC hardware. This means that there’s no limit to how powerful you’d like to make your build as long as you’ve got the budget to match. If you require a NAS without virtualization or resource intensive apps, you may even be able to repurpose an older computer that you own.

Off the shelf NAS systems like QNAP and Synology can be difficult to upgrade or source replacement parts for. This is another advantage of using regular PC parts, as they’re more widely available.

You can even build a custom machine with used parts to squeeze a more powerful NAS out of your budget. Just be sure to check unRAID’s hardware requirements and compatibility before making your purchases.

Not Sold on unRAID? Check Out FreeNAS

There is one aspect that puts people off unRAID; there is a cost attached to it. But it is excellent value for money, and there is a 30-day trial you can use to try it for yourself. unRAID has an excellent community forum that you can use for both support and advice for your build.

If you’re still not sold on unRAID but still require NAS capabilities, you can create a RAID array natively on Linux


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Got spare hard disk drives that you want to use more efficiently with your Linux computer? You can with RAID, a system that can provide a performance boost, or add redundancy.
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. If you’re looking for a more business-oriented NAS solution, you should also check out FreeNAS


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.

Explore more about: Docker, NAS, RAID, unRAID.



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