Simply defined, customer engagement is when a customer interacts with a brand through social media, mobile devices, or even direct communication. What makes customer engagement so important and necessary when it comes to marketing a clients’ business? Keeping in touch with your customers is critical and gives you insight on who your brand caters to and it’s a great tool for increasing your conversion rates.
What’s a good way to have good customer engagement? First things first, you’d need to make them pay attention.
Attention spans are dropping as time goes by. Although social media is one of the culprits for this, we can’t fully blame it on Instagram or Facebook. What we can do is accept that attention spans are growing smaller and find a way to adapt to the change.
Videos are great at grabbing attention for many reasons. First of all, our eyes are attracted to movement, so videos naturally draw peoples’ attention. According to research, video ads interest people more than a static ad. People are 27 times more likely to click on a video ad than a static one.
Secondly, videos do a great job of engaging viewers. So, not only do they attract attention, but they also retain it. Videos get 1200% more shares than text and images combined.
Most of the time we’ve read an entire page and totally forgot what we just read. We end up going back to re-read it. This is called regression, and happens mostly when we read written text. Studies show that viewers are able to retain 95% of a message in a video compared to the 10% when reading written text.
Videos make people want to share them on social media because they’re highly shareable and contain a lot of information minus the bulk. Also, our brains process visuals much quicker than text. Around 90% of the information transmitted to your brain is visual.
Here are 5 ways video marketing can help you increase customer engagement:
1. Keeps Your Audience Entertained
Whether you want to admit it or not, video is an entertaining medium to convey information with. We talked about how our brains are attracted to movement than static images.
It’s easier to follow a video than to read a whole book on a subject. When your audience is entertained, it means that customer engagement is in place.
A good example would be this ad by Melbourne’s Transportation System, Metro. They wanted to raise awareness about train safety and this video was entertaining, retained people’s attention and was catchy as well:
2. Keeps it Simple
There are some concepts and ideas that are too complicated to explain so they require both visuals and written text to convey the message. With a video, a brand can use both moving images and text to communicate with their customers.
It keeps the customers engaged and converts the complex message into something simple, digestible, and more interesting.
Michael Dublin from Dollar Shave Club created this commercial with a minimal budget and a simple idea— to save people from wasting so much money on razors. The video was simple but extremely engaging:
3. A Broader Reach
With video, you can reach out to different kinds of audiences on different platforms. This works really well, especially if you use free video hosting sites such as Youtube of Vimeo.
Youtube and Vimeo allow you to copy the embed code and share your video on a variety of platforms. You don’t have to worry about lagging or technical issues since these platforms are very reliable.
By posting your video on different platforms, you can reach out to audiences that aren’t on certain platforms. For example, people on Instagram might not have Facebook and vice versa. So posting your video on these platforms allows maximum reach.
Flossy Carter is an excellent example for this. He’s active on Instagram and shares snippets of his videos on his Instagram stories. He links them to his Youtube videos so his audience on Instagram also gets to see his newest videos:
4. Has Better Retention
We mentioned before that videos are great at keeping information retained. According to Hubspot, 80% of customers remember a video they viewed in the past month. Instead of a long textbook that’s boring and hard to remember, a video is a short narrative loaded with information.
The narrative engages viewers and leaves a memorable impression, making video an excellent storyteller. People are more likely to remember a story than a long list of facts.
Videos are also great learning aids for most people. Many people require visual aids to learn and 65% of people consider themselves visual learners. Videos accommodate this kind of learning style and help people retain information.
Shane Dawson has transformed his Youtube channel with long-form videos. His videos run for at least 20 minutes to 40 minutes. Despite the long durations, his videos rake in 20 million views on average:
5. Increases Buyer Intent
A marketing campaign’s success depends on its conversions. This is when people have expressed their interest in your product or service. Videos are good at pushing customers to purchase.
When customers watch a video of a product they are considering buying, it increases their buying intent by 97%. Also, 64% of customers are more likely to buy a product after watching a video about it.
Although, this doesn’t mean any video will do the job. You would need to create a video that meets the needs of your buyers. You can make videos that plug into the buyer’s pain points, answer their questions, or provide valuable information for them.
Apple has been really good at displaying their products’ features by using the actual product to make videos. For example, they recently made Selena Gomez’s new music video with an iPhone:
Many people watch videos on their iPhone or iPad. But while the default player might be sufficient for viewing your personal videos, if you’re planning to watch locally saved movies and TV shows, you’ll need something with a few more features.
Thankfully, you’re not short of options—the App Store is packed with iOS video players. But which one should you use? What is the best video player for iPhone and iPad?
No matter which platform you’re discussing, VLC always pops up as one of the best video players available. iOS is no different.
The app supports a vast number of video formats, including all the most common file types and codecs. Importantly for Mac and iOS users, VLC also supports AirPlay video and audio streaming.
VLC’s most notable features include support for network streams (including HLS, MMS, and RTSP), integration with Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud Drive, OneDrive, and Box, and support for file servers (SMB, FTP, UPnP, and DLNA).
Other important playback features, such as subtitle support, multi-track audio, and speed control, are also available.
PlayerXtreme Media Player is a widely-used video player for iPhone and iPad. It has one of the most extensive feature lists of any video player in the App Store.
All the major file formats are supported, including 3GP, ASF, DIVX, M2P, M4V, MOV, MP4, MPEG, MPG, OGV, PS, QT, VOB, WEBM, and VIDEO_TS. You can also stream content from NAS drives, Windows and Mac computers, DLNA devices, and even Kodi.
KMPlayer is a great iPhone video app for anyone who wants to play high-resolution content. You can use it to watch 4K, UHD, and FHD videos (as long as your iPhone model supports it). In theory, the app can also play 8K content, but Apple does not yet sell any products that support 8K video.
The video player works with more than 60 video formats, including MP4, MOV, REC, TOD, VRO, WTV, AVI, GVI, M4V, WMV, VOB, MT2S, MPEG, NSV, and MKS. It also supports more subtitle formats than almost every other video player for iPhone and iPad. The formats include SSA, ASS, SMI, TXT, MPL, PJA, VTT, and SRT.
Some of KMPlayer’s other significant features are network playback from Google Drive, FTP servers, and Dropbox, a mirror mode, and extensive gesture support. KMPlayer is free to download and use.
Infuse is another app for the job that you should consider. It’s been around for several years and is widely considered as one of the best video players for iPhone and iPad. Thus, it’s a direct rival of PlayerXtreme Media Player.
Before we look at the features, it’s worth mentioning Infuse’s aesthetics. It’s probably the slickest-looking app here. So if beautiful design is important to you, Infuse should be near the top of your list.
Supported filetypes include MP4, M4V, MOV, MKV, AVI, WMV, MTS, ISO, VIDEO_TS, FLV, OGM, OGV, ASF, 3GP, DVR-MS, WEBM, and WTV. You can watch locally saved iOS videos, but can also use Infuse to stream videos from external sources such as your Mac, PC, NAS drive, Wi-Fi hard drive, DLNA device, or even Plex and Kodi.
Infuse has AirPlay and Google Cast integration, free subtitles courtesy of OpenSubtitles.com, and support for video chapters, multiple audio tracks, and continuous playback.
If Infuse is considered a rival of PlayerXtreme Media Player, GPlayer is the closest challenger to VLC. Because it gained much of its popularity before the VLC port finally arrived on iOS, it thus mimics many of VLC’s best features.
For example, like VLC, GPlayer has a Wi-Fi upload feature. It lets you transfer video files between your PC and your device via Wi-Fi so you can watch them when you’re away from an internet connection. For Windows users especially, it’s one of the best ways to transfer video files from a computer to an iPhone or iPad.
The app also rivals VLC when it comes to network streaming. You can play RTSP and MMS streams and videos from HTTP and FTP sources.
Other important features include AirPlay support, gesture support, and integration with iTunes. File types such as AVI, WMV, RMVB, ASF, H264, MKV, TS, and M2TS can all be played on the app. There’s also support for multiple subtitle formats, including SMI, ASS, SUB, SRT, and TXT.
GPlayer is the only non-free app on the list, so try it if you’ve found the others lacking.
You can use It’s Playing to play local files on your device or stream videos from cloud storage and local networks.
The app offers playback resolution of up to 1080p, can play videos over AirPlay, and has Dolby Digital audio output. It supports several video file formats, including MP4, MOV, MKV, AVI, WMV, VOB, and RMVB.
Where It’s Playing really shines, however, is the list of Pro features. If you pay the $10 fee, you can use the app to watch your friends’ liked, shared, and posted videos on Facebook, watch YouTube videos, and play videos from HTTP sources.
If your primary reason for downloading a video player on your iPhone or iPad is to watch movies and TV shows, you might be better served using Plex instead. You can use it to manage your media collection, cast to all the screens around your home, and watch your videos remotely when you’re on-the-go.
Video Doorbells are among the best smarthome devices you can own. And these days, there are more choices than ever, each with different benefits and shortcomings. Whether it’s a locally-recording doorbell or one that can identify grandma, there’s a video doorbell for you.
What to Look for in a Video Doorbell
It seems like every company in the smarthome game has a video doorbell for your consideration. But video doorbells call for more than slapping a camera and a button together and calling it a day. You’ll want to make sure the doorbell is compatible with your home and works well for your particular needs.
Power Source: There are two ways to power a video doorbell: your home’s existing doorbell wiring or battery power. Battery-powered video doorbells are easier to install, but require charging. Some (but not all) doorbells that run off existing wiring can make use of your home’s chime. If your wiring doesn’t work, then you’ll either want to choose a battery-powered doorbell or run a plug-in transformer from inside your home.
Resolution: Like any other camera, resolution matters. Most video bells offer 720p, 1080p, or 2K resolutions when recording video. While the higher resolution does provide better quality, it also requires more bandwidth and storage space. It’s best to aim for at least 1080p for a good quality video.
Chime Options: Most (but not all) wired doorbells can ring your home’s chime. But if it can’t (or you chose a battery-powered doorbell), you’ll need an external plug-in chime. Some doorbells include them, but for others, it’s an extra cost to factor in.
Cloud Subscriptions: Nearly every doorbell offers a cloud subscription. For many, like Ring and Nest, it’s a requirement for advanced features like facial recognition and motion zones. You may also need a cloud subscription to review past videos—and the more history you want, the more it will cost. If you don’t want to pay monthly fees, look for a local capture doorbell.
The Best Overall Doorbell: Eufy Video Doorbell
You might be surprised to see a doorbell other than Nest Hello listed here, but Eufy earns the top spot thanks to a few smart design decisions. To start, unlike Nest Hello or Ring, you don’t need a cloud subscription.
The Eufy doorbell records videos locally and provides advanced features like motion zones and facial recognition without cloud processing. The wired doorbell records 2K video (like the Nest Hello), and while it can’t ring your home’s chime, it comes with a plug-in chime (unlike Ring). All-in-all it provides 90% of Nest Hello’s features for about 65% of the cost, and that’s before cloud subscriptions.
You won’t get tight integration with Google or Alexa, but the company is working on implementing those APIs. The other main feature missing is Nest Hello’s ability to recognize identities. Eufy’s notifications will show a person’s face specifically, but not identify who they are (like your brother or spouse). And unfortunately, if your doorbell wiring doesn’t work, you’ll need to buy a plug-in transformer. Otherwise, you’ll have to pick one of the battery-powered options we recommend instead of the Eufy Doorbell.
The Premium Pick: Nest Hello
If you don’t mind cloud subscriptions, Nest Hello is the absolute best video doorbell you can buy. Thanks to cloud processing, it does a better job of correctly identifying human movement (as opposed to a cat or sunlight) than the Eufy doorbell does.
It also records continuously, works with your home’s existing chime, and remembers who people are so it can identify them by name. Because Google makes it, Nest Hello has better integration with Google Home than any other doorbell. If you have a Nest Hub or Nest Hub Max, the video will appear nearly instantly on those devices when someone rings the doorbell.
Just keep in mind that Google locked Nest Hello’s best features behind the Nest Aware subscription. You can only get facial recognition, video history, and motion zones when you subscribe. If you don’t, it’s the equivalent of a digital peephole—only useful when you’re looking at it.
Best Battery Powered Doorbell: Ring Video Doorbell 2
If your home’s doorbell wiring doesn’t work or you don’t want to mess with electricity, then a battery-powered option might be the way to go. While Ring 2 can use your home’s wiring, you can skip that and use the included battery pack instead. You’ll just need to recharge it once in a while.
The Ring 2 records 1080p video and much like the Nest requires a subscription to view previous footage. If you don’t wire the doorbell into your home, you’ll need to buy a separate chime to hear when someone rings the doorbell. Ring does have Alexa integration, which includes doorbell announcements. That could negate the need for the separate chime purchase.
Best for Battery Power
Best for Renters: Ring Peephole Camera
If you’re not allowed to make changes to your doorbell or other hardware, the Ring Peephole Camera is your best pick. Instead of replacing your existing doorbell, the Ring Peephole goes on your door. As the name suggests, it replaces the door’s peephole.
You can still use your peephole as you usually would, but it also doubles as a camera that can notify you of visitors. As a bonus, if someone knocks on the door, the camera will detect that and notify you.
Like the Ring 2, the Peephole camera records in 1080p resolution, uses a rechargeable battery, and features close integration with Alexa. Best of all, it comes with the necessary tools to install it. Since it doesn’t have a wiring option, you’ll have to buy a plug-in chime if you don’t want to rely on Alexa or phone notifications.
For this guide, we’ll be installing a Nest Hello. Every video doorbell is different, but they share most of the same basic similarities. You’ll need a screwdriver, a drill, pliers, and to shut power off if you are installing a wired doorbell. Some video doorbells can ring your home’s chime, so you may need to find your chime box too.
You can pay a professional to install the doorbell for you, of course—but we’ll show you how to do it yourself.
Turn off Power
If your video doorbell works with your home’s wiring, the absolute first thing you should do is turn off the power in your circuit breaker box. If you aren’t sure which breaker switch controls your doorbell, you can try switches that are close to your doorbell and close to the chime box. After you flip a breaker, try to ring your doorbell. When it’s not working, you go the right one.
Find the Chimebox
If your video doorbell can ring your home’s chime box, it typically comes with a box that wires to your chime to achieve that. First, find the chime box and remove it. Then look for two wires leading to screws marked “trans” (for transformer) and “front” (or “back” if this is a second doorbell).
Depending on your hardware, you’ll do one of two things. With Nest Hello, you should remove the existing wires, attach them to the chime accessories cable slots, then wire in the two bare wires at the screws.
With other chime hardware, you’ll remove the two wires from their chime terminals and twist them together with the video doorbell hardware’s wires, then reconnect them back to the terminals.
Once you have the wires connected, tuck the hardware into any empty cavity space you can find. But make sure you don’t interfere with the strikes that hit the metal bars to chime.
Replace your chime box cover and move to your doorbell.
Installing the Doorbell
To install your new video doorbell, you’ll first need to remove the existing doorbell button. Typically, two screws hold a standard doorbell in place. Remove those, pull the button off the wall gently, then detach your home’s wiring from the doorbell.
Gently pull on the wiring. If you can feel that it’s possible to pull some additional wire out of the wall, carefully do so. Extra slack can be helpful in the upcoming steps.
The next step is to attach a mounting bracket to your home over the doorbell wiring. If your wiring is a corner, your doorbell may have come with an angle bracket to account for that. Attach it to the mounting bracket.
Next, the mounting bracket against the wall with the exposed doorbell wires running through it. Find the screw holes in the mounting bracket and mark them with a pencil. Remove the bracket and drill pilot holes in the spots you marked. Then put the mounting bracket back and screw it to your wall. If your doorbell is battery-powered and won’t use the wiring, but wiring does exist, you should tape and cap them off to protect them from the elements. Then tuck them into the wall as tightly as you can.
Now that your bracket is in place, you’ll need to attach your home’s wiring to the video doorbell. Every manufacturer approaches this differently, but typically it involves some sort of bridge wiring that goes between your home’s wires and the doorbell. In the case of Nest Hello, these are clamps similar to the Chime box. Those slip onto the home’s wires until you feel a click. Then tuck the extra wire into the space behind the mounting bracket. If they won’t fit, you may need to remove the mounting bracket and use a drill to create additional space.
Next, attach the bridge wiring to the video doorbell. For most doorbells, that’s two terminals on the back. You may need to loop the wiring around them, or, as with the Nest Hello, it may be clamps that you slide under the screws.
Once you have everything connected, it’s time to mount the doorbell into the mounting bracket. With the Nest Hello, you’ll slide the top into place first and then push the bottom until you hear it snap into place. Other doorbells may require screws to connect them to the bracket. That will typically call for a security screw, and your doorbell likely came with the necessary screw.
Now turn the power back on and check on the doorbell. Typically it should light up right away to signify that it’s ready to pair with the associated app. You may also want to test the button to see if it correctly rings your home’s chime (if it can).
All that’s left to do is download the app, such as Nest for Android or iOS, and walk through the setup process.
If the doorbell isn’t working, then you should turn the power back off and check your wires on both the back doorbell and at the chime box for a good connection. If that doesn’t help, contact your doorbell manufacturer for additional troubleshooting steps.
Once everything is working, you may want to consider setting up activity zones, so you aren’t barraged with notifications when a car drives by. If you have a smart display like the Nest Hub or Echo Show, you may want to consider activating any skills that allow them to work with your doorbell.
After installing KB4517389 on these Windows systems, when opening 16-bit applications an error message is displayed “unexpected error; quitting.” … After removing the update the application works fine once more.
After installing the windows update KB4517389 any programs that were coded in Microsoft Visual Basic 3 no longer run and give the message ‘unexpected error; quitting.’ This message appears to be part of VBRUN300.DLL. If I uninstall the update the programs work ok again.
I have tried running these programs as administrator but this makes no difference.
Although the replies from Microsoft on the Answers Forum weren’t much help, it now seems that 32-bit versions of Windows won’t run older Visual Basic 3.0 programs — at least, programs that require the 1990s-era VBRUN300.DLL runtime.
The only solution appears to be uninstalling the latest patch. Microsoft hasn’t acknowledged the bug on its Release Status Information page, so it isn’t clear if Microsoft is even aware of the problem — and it’s anybody’s guess if it’ll ever get fixed.
The second problem — a driver incompatibility problem, apparently with an Intel driver — was the subject of a post by Mayank Parmar at Windows Latest. Parmar cites dozens of complaints online that boil down to this:
If you install Windows 10 KB4517389 (Build 18362.418) on a PC that has Intel display driver version 18.104.22.16857 or possibly other versions, basic features like Start menu, Windows Search or Google Chrome will render incorrectly. … At the time of writing this story, more than 60 users have confirmed display issues on Microsoft’s community forum. Users have documented the following bugs:
Windows Search and Internet Explorer with ‘X’ across dialog and links
Triangled images in Microsoft Word.
Chrome rendering a black screen.
The solution is to manually update Intel video the driver. DHC driver 22.214.171.12457 was the most recent driver available until August, 2019 — and apparently it’s installed on many machines. @EP recommends:
Try updating the Intel Graphics drivers to version 126.96.36.19912 or higher
Video game remakes allow developers to remake classic titles with the power of modern hardware. They’re an excellent way for first-time players to experience these games, while also providing a revamped experience for fans of the originals.
In this article we take a look at the best video game remakes that surpass their original releases. While remakes have have been around for some time, we focus here on games you can play on current systems.
Terminology: Remakes vs. Remasters
Before we begin, we should clarify what remakes are compared to remasters.
A video game remake is a new title built from the ground up. These may change the graphical style, gameplay elements, music, and similar from the original game. At its core, whether the changes are drastic or not, a remake serves as a totally reworked version of an older game.
On the other hand, a remaster refers to a touch-up of an existing game. Remasters typically enhance the graphics to take advantage of a more powerful console, and might bundle in existing DLC. But they aren’t complete rebuilds.
The orange marsupial Crash Bandicoot starred in three beloved platformers and an acclaimed racing game on the PS1. After them, the games unfortunately took a huge dive in quality. Despite this, Crash is still fondly remembered as one of the best franchises on the PlayStation.
The N. Sane Trilogy gives you the chance to relive the classic Crash titles in a much-improved form. They’re mostly faithful to the originals, with some welcome tweaks here and there. These include adjusting the difficulty and saving in the first game, adding time trials to Crash 1 and 2, and two all-new levels to check out.
If you’re a fan of platformers and never experienced Crash Bandicoot, you owe it to yourself to try these games. The collection is a fantastic value, and we hope it spurs enough interest in the bandicoot for an all-new game soon.
Link’s Awakening initially released on the Game Boy in 1993 and saw an enhanced re-release on Game Boy Color in 1998. 2019’s Switch remake replaces the 8-bit graphics with an adorable diorama aesthetic and toy-like characters.
One common complaint with the original was having to constantly swap items, since the Game Boy only had A and B buttons. The Link’s Awakening remaster streamlines this, as it binds certain items to dedicated controller buttons.
Aside from a new dungeon creation feature, a rearranged soundtrack, and some additional collectibles, Link’s Awakening is a faithful remake of the original. The adventure is one of the strangest in the series, as it doesn’t mention Zelda or the Triforce at all.
Get it now: The Legend Of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for Switch
3. Metroid: Samus Returns
While Metroid II: Return of Samus isn’t the most well-known Metroid game, Nintendo decided to resurrect it in 2017 as Metroid: Samus Returns. It’s certainly the definitive way to play the title, trading in the murky graphics and primitive soundtrack of the Game Boy for a modern look and soundtrack.
The remake also includes a new counter-attack option, freeform aiming, and Aeion abilities not seen before in the Metroid series. You’ll need these on your quest to destroy every last Metroid on the planet.
It’s somewhat linear compared to other Metroid games, but definitely worth playing for any fan of the genre.
Over 20 years after Resident Evil 2’s 1998 release, Capcom released a remaster with the same name. It drops the static camera angles and pre-rendered backgrounds of the original in favor of a third-person camera. This will be familiar if you’ve played Resident Evil 4 or other games in the series.
The core of the game is the same, but it contains more detailed sound design, smarter enemies, and many other changes for the better. It’s a good starting point for those new to Resident Evil, and makes for a great time if you haven’t played the original in a while.
Along with Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon stood as one of the most popular icons on the PlayStation. And like Crash, reception of Spyro’s games took a significant blow after the PlayStation 1 era. Thus, one year after Crash got his original trilogy remastered, Spyro received the same treatment.
Compared to Crash, this trilogy received few gameplay changes. It packs gorgeously reimagined visuals and an updated soundtrack supervised by Stewart Copeland, the original composer.
Star Fox 64 is regarded as the best game in the franchise and one of the best titles the Nintendo 64 had to offer. The 3DS remake, Star Fox 64 3D, preserves and enhances this masterpiece.
The 3DS remake lets you save between missions, instead of having to complete the entire game in one sitting like on N64. It features enhanced visuals, with optional 3D if you like. You can use the 3DS’s gyroscope to control your vehicle. And the new Score Attack mode lets you beat your best score on a single level.
For those who enjoy arcade-based shooters, Star Fox 64 3D is one of the best ever made. Each run of the game consists of seven stages from 15 total planets. You’ll need to complete hidden objectives in certain levels to change the path you take, making every run unique. Its scoring system will have you coming back over and over to get a high score.
Several Pokémon titles have received the remake treatment, but 2018’s remakes of Pokémon Yellow got a heavier revamping than others. They take aspects from the mobile smash hit Pokémon Go and morph them into a traditional Pokémon title.
In particular, Let’s Go removes the random encounters with wild Pokémon. Instead, you’ll see the monsters walking around in the wild and can choose whether to confront them. And in place of battling those wild Pokémon, the game only allows you to catch them. Battles are reserved for trainers only.
It’s a refreshing take on the classic Pokémon formula, making it a great entry point for younger players or newcomers to the series. Either Pikachu or Eevee will follow your character around in the world, which is adorable.
Get it now: Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! for Switch | Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! for Switch
8. Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled
Hot on the heels of the N. Sane Trilogy, Crash Bandicoot’s beloved kart racer also received the remake treatment in 2019. It’s primarily a remake of 1999’s Crash Team Racing, but features a bevy of additional content from Crash’s later racing games.
In addition to everything from Crash Team Racing, it includes tracks, characters, karts, and skins from Crash Nitro Kart and Crash Tag Team Racing. It’s a deep and challenging kart racer, so fans of the genre have a lot to love here between single-player and multiplayer modes.
Unfortunately, Activision added microtransactions into this game shortly after release, despite claiming that this wouldn’t happen. While the microtransaction currency is only for cosmetic items, the fact that the company introduced these after many people had already bought the game is a bad look.
If you can overlook this, you’ll have a lot of fun racing.
If you’re new to PC gaming, you might not have ever explored video game graphics settings. Most people know that higher settings are better, but what do all those game settings actually do?
We’re here to explain the most common video game graphics settings. We’ll see how they work and how they affect your system and games.
1. Display Resolution
Resolution is the amount of pixels present on your screen, which dictates the overall quality of the image. You’ll see this expressed as two numbers, such as 1920×1080 (1080p) or 2560×1440 (1440p). The first number indicates the width of the screen in pixels, while the second is its height in pixels.
All monitors come with default resolution settings, which you can change. If you have a 1080p monitor, you can display in resolutions lower than 1920×1080, but not higher.
Independent of this, you can change a game’s display resolution. Setting a game to display higher than your monitor can handle is pointless, as you’ll lose the extra detail.
Higher resolutions bring a noticeable bump in image quality because there is more graphical information per frame. Of course, increasing the resolution will put more stress on your GPU. Increasing resolution is one of the simplest and largest quality upgrades you can make, so make sure you have a GPU that can handle high resolutions before cranking it up.
Below are two images, zoomed in 200x. One image was taken at 1440×900 resolution (roughly 720p); the other was taken at 1920×1200 (roughly 1080p). Note the added detail to the hair and lines around the eyes.
Some games and software tricks use special methods to render output at a higher resolution than is normally possible. For example, the image below shows the Nintendo DS game, Animal Crossing: Wild World.
The left side below displays the regular 256×192 resolution, while the right has the same game using 1024×768 resolution downsampled to the original 256×192 screen. You could achieve this effect using an emulator.
Most standard monitors have a refresh rate of 60Hz, which means that they can draw a new image on the screen 60 times per second. Your graphics card (and game) may be capable of sending a higher FPS than your monitor can display. However, your monitor’s refresh rate effectively acts as a cap on your game FPS, as a 60Hz monitor can’t display 144 frames per second.
Texture quality is just what it sounds like: how good elements of the in-game environment look. Textures are skins that sit on top of the basic blocks of the three-dimensional environment.
Increasing the texture quality will enhance the quality of the game’s graphics. Doing this is often rather intensive, as a texture quality change will usually adjust all the textures in-game. The results are sharper and less blurry images at the cost of a heavier load on your video card.
For example, a photograph on the wall might look blurry and indistinguishable on Low texture settings, but have enough detail to study clearly on High. See the below comparison of a shot in BioShock Infinite for an example:
All quality settings work in a similar fashion, so we won’t go over them individually. This includes shader quality, which adjusts how clear light and dark balance in the game.
The particular enhancements made through quality bumps are difficult to pinpoint, since they vary from game to game. You can typically adjust a single slider on levels like Low, Medium, and Ultra, or dive into advanced settings and tweak everything individually if you prefer.
For general use, medium settings are often a good idea, as they balance an immersive landscape with playable performance.
Before explaining anti-aliasing (AA), it’s helpful to understand what aliasing is in the first place. Aliasing occurs when low-resolution images produce pixelated (rather than smooth) lines and curves. This is a result of using square pixels to represent rounded real-life objects.
Anti-aliasing injects blocks of the same or similar color around the lines of an image, creating a smoother effect. This reduces the blocky look around the edges of items in your game. There are different kinds of anti-aliasing techniques; your GPU’s drivers decide which to use. However, you can often change the quality of anti-aliasing you want in your game options.
Depending on the AA methods used, it may tax the GPU a small or large amount. Try turning up the AA effect if you notice jagged edges all over the place, especially on elements like foliage and grass.
Anti-aliasing is more effective at lower resolutions. At higher resolutions, like 4K, the pixels are so small that any aliasing effect is negligible.
) occurs when your GPU outputs more frames per second than your monitor can handle. Thus, the card sends a new frame before your monitor has finished showing you the previous one.
You can see an example of screen tearing below. Notice how the image is split into three pieces that don’t line up. Although screen-tearing isn’t always obvious while playing a game, you’ll likely notice it if you watch slowed-down playback of recorded games.
Enabling VSync removes virtually all screen-tearing from your gameplay. However, it has two downsides. The first is that it can introduce input lag, which is when your button inputs don’t immediately take effect in the game.
The other problem is that if the game’s FPS falls below your monitor’s refresh rate, it locks the frame rate to a lower synchronized value, like 30FPS. This can lead to games stuttering unnecessarily—jumping between 30 and 60FPS is much more jarring than just staying at 59FPS.
To deal with this issue, GPU manufacturers have created separate modules for monitors which sync refresh rates dynamically with frame rates. These alternative syncing options, such as Nvidia’s G-Sync and AMD’s FreeSync remove any stuttering associated with VSync.
However, these alternative syncing methods do require a compatible monitor and GPU, which limits the exposure of this innovative technology. In most cases, unless screen tearing really bothers you, you’re better off disabling VSync and enjoying higher frame rates.
In-game textures are comprised of quads—polygonal shapes made of triangles—which form over the shape of objects. Tessellation allows graphics cards to repeat quads multiple times over any given surface. The repeated patterning allows for texture displacement, which creates bumps in landscapes.
You’ll notice this most clearly when looking at surfaces like brick walls. With high tessellation, these will have realistic bumps and curvatures. Without it, they’ll look smooth and less believable.
In most games, tessellation is not that taxing on your GPU. It’s worth a try to enable it and see if it improves your game without impacting performance, but it’s not the most vital graphical game setting.
7. Ambient Occlusion
Ambient Occlusion creates realistic shadow transitions between different physical objects. Ambient occlusion in-game, while noticeable, will not dictate the shadow quality. This is why ambient occlusion is usually a separate option from shadow quality.
Instead, ambient occlusion will lighten or darken shadows in relation to other objects. In the example below, ambient occlusion darkens the shadow underneath the table to create a more realistic lighting effect in the room.
In a lot of cases, you probably won’t notice the effect too much. It makes light more realistic, but won’t blow you away with additional detail.
8. Anisotropic Filtering
Filtering allows games to smoothly transition between high-quality textures near the player, and low-quality textures farther away, where you can’t see them as clearly. A sudden change from clear to blurry looks terrible, so filtering is important.
Anisotropic filtering reduces the amount of texture blurring at far distances. These anisotropic filtering effects are best seen at oblique angles (angles that indicate far distances) rather than directly in front of your character.
Before anisotropic filtering, bi or tri-linear filtering was common. This type of filtering slowly degrades texture quality over distances. Anisotropic filtering, on the other hand, replicates similar texture quality at close and far distances alike.
You can see a sample below. Using it is not too demanding on your hardware, and many games nowadays even enable it by default so you don’t have to adjust it.
It may appear as though anisotropic filtering lowers shading effects at far-off distances. That is due to reduced blurring, which reduces the dark spots created with smoke and texture effects.
9. High Dynamic Range (HDR)
While it isn’t typically a setting you can change, HDR is an important graphical term you should know. Essentially, HDR improves the contrast between light and dark portions of your display. This makes the dark parts look darker, and the bright parts look brighter.
You’ll need an HDR-capable display to take advantage of it, so you might want to shop for an HDR monitor when it’s time to replace yours.
Bloom is an effect that attempts to make light in games “feel” brighter. Of course, your display can only get so bright, so bloom uses other visual methods to increase the effect. You’ll notice bloom when you see light spilling over the edges of objects, like characters and walls.
It’s supposed to replicate the feel of extremely bright light overwhelming your eye or a camera. Used in moderation it can be effective, but some games go overboard with it.
11. Motion Blur
This is a straightforward graphical effect. Motion blur introduces fuzziness to the image when rotating the in-game camera. Like bloom, it’s typically used for cinematic effect, as it mimics similar properties seen in movies.
Many people prefer to turn motion blur off, as it reduces the quality and adds to natural blurriness.
12. Field of View
Field of view, often abbreviated to FOV, defines how wide of an angle your character sees in a first-person game. Increasing this lets you see more of the world at once (essentially enhancing your peripheral vision), but can make aiming more difficult as it squishes more information into the same screen size.
Generally, you should increase the FOV to a level where you can see as much as possible, without it affecting the rest of your gameplay.
Using AMD Radeon Settings and Nvidia Settings
We’ve generally looked at settings you can adjust in individual games. However, you can also change many of these in your graphic card settings menu. Open the Nvidia or AMD app on your computer, and you can adjust some of them on a global level.
Whether you change them in-game or through your video card app, all of these (and more) graphical settings can be difficult to manage. If you don’t want to play around with them on your own, both Nvidia and AMD provide tools to optimize games for your available hardware.
Inside AMD’s Radeon software, you’ll find three AMD Radeon Advisor tools. You can run Game Advisor inside any game to get suggestions for better performance. Settings Advisor scans your system and provides recommendations based on your setup. Finally, the Upgrade Advisor will help you determine if you can play a particular game.
If you have an Nvidia GPU, Nvidia GeForce Experience provides similar functionality. You can use it to automatically apply the best balance of quality and performance for many games.
How to Get the Right Gaming PC Setup for You
Now you have a basic grasp on what PC graphics options mean and how they affect your game. In general, the more powerful hardware you have, the further you can afford to crank up these settings for a prettier game.
If you’re lost, try using the assist tools we mentioned above. Otherwise, a little experimentation can help you strike the best balance between performance and visuals. You definitely want your game to look pretty, but you shouldn’t sacrifice a smooth experience for looks. This is especially important in fast-paced multiplayer games.
GoPro has announced its Hero 8 Black action camera with a host of new improvements including next-level image stabilization, an integrated frame mounting system, and new accessories such as a directional mic for enhanced capture quality.
Starting from the outside, GoPro has gotten rid of the previous frame mounting system that was required to mount the camera, instead opting for built-in “folding fingers” on the bottom of the camera. The fingers can be collapsed into the camera when not being used, and when opened they provide a bracket that lets the device be attached to a mount. Now users won’t have to remember to grab the mounting accessory required by previous models, while the built-in fingers make it possible to access the battery and microSD card slot, which used to be blocked by the frame housing.
GoPro has also scrapped the removable lens cover—the Hero 8’s lens is made with Gorilla Glass that is twice as impact-resistant as the glass on past Hero models (2mm thick versus 1.3mm thick). Eliminating the removable lens cover has resulted in a slightly smaller footprint and the slimmer design makes the camera easier to fit in a pocket. This also means the camera loses the ability to ad filters to the lens, which is a huge bummer. If you’re worried about the durability, GoPro is selling a $20 kit that includes protective covers for both the lens and display.
The Hero 8 has even more improvements on the inside, not least of which being HyperSmooth 2.0, the latest version of GoPro’s electronic stabilization tech. Preliminary reports claim that the stabilization is so smooth that it can noticeably reduce the realism of your video. Fortunately, the feature can be enabled at varying levels, so you can let a little shake into the shot if it somehow improves the quality.
Folks who purchase the GoPro Hero 8 can also look forward to:
LiveBurst: Shoot three seconds of video—1.5 seconds before and after you hit the shutter–with 90 individual frames that you can check through to find single frames for photos. Similarly, raw photos can be captured in single images, bursts and time-lapses.
Time Warp 2.0: Adjust the capture speed settings from real-time to time-lapse. Now includes automatic speed selection instead of asking you what speed to capture at, as well as the ability to tap on the GoPro’s screen to speed it up or slow it down.
Improved SuperPhoto and HDR: SuperPhoto is essentially the GoPro’s intelligent auto mode and it can now take photos with greatly reduced motion blur. It also results in shots with better contrast and overall quality in varying light conditions.
Full HD livestreaming: Previously supported in 720p, the Hero 8 can livestream at 1080p.
New setting presets and digital lenses: Presets include Standard, Action, Cinematic, and Slo-Mo (as well as the ability to define your own), while the lenses include Narrow, Distortion-Free Linear, Wide, and SuperView. Narrow is described as your typical smartphone lens while SuperView stretches the shot from 4:3 to 16:9 through digital processing.
Other improvements include the ability to shoot video at up to 100 megabits per second, up from 78 megabits per second on the previous model; the ability to process night-lapse videos from within the camera; and a new horizon-leveling feature in the GoPro Quik app that lets you correct instances where you mistakenly shoot video that isn’t straight.
While the built-in mic is said to be improved when it comes to wind-noise reduction, GoPro will be offering an $80 Media Mod with a directional mic for noisy environments. The company has also announced a 200-lumen LED light Light Mod for $50, and an $80 Display Mod that provides a flip-up screen, each of which has its own power source so they don’t drain the main battery in your camera.
GoPro Hero 8 Black is available for pre-order today at $399.99 which includes a free 32GB SanDisk Extreme SD card. Units will ship on October 15, while worldwide retail availability will begin October 20. The Media Mod, Light Mod, and Display Mod will be available for pre-order in December.
Along with the GoPro Hero 8, the company has announced its GoPro Max, 360-degree camera comprised of dual 180-degree lenses, one on the front and one on the back. The Max features many of the features mentioned on the Hero 8 along with a Power Panorama mode that captures super-wide-angle shots and processes them into a flat wide-screen image. Pricing is set at $499.99 and units will ship on October 24, with retailers receiving their stock on the 25th.
Although born Joseph Kucan and sporting a long list of acting accomplishments, millions of gamers across the world simply know him as Kane—the messianic prophet and uber-villain from the long-running Command & Conquer video game series.
Kucan was hired by Westwood Studios in 1992 and served as their Director of Dramatic Assets for the next ten years. In addition to directing countless game cut scenes, including all the cut scenes for the Command & Conquer games, Kucan appeared as Kane in every Command & Conquer game except Red Alert 2 and Yuri’s Revenge (his absence in both was a result of the absence of Kane, not another actor playing the role).
In addition to his role as Kane, Joseph Kucan has also appeared in other games including The Legend of Kyrandia – Book One, Blade Runner, and A Few Best Men.
One of the newest smarthome devices I installed in my house is a video doorbell. And now I wish I had installed it much sooner. Video doorbells are fantastic, and now I can’t live without one. Here’s why.
Video Doorbells vary in shape, size, and positioning, but they all have a few things in common. Just as the name suggests, they act as doorbells that someone can ring. And they serve as a security camera, recording video of anyone who approaches the door. And as a bonus, typically you can speak to a person who rang your doorbell without opening your door—or better yet, even when you aren’t home. The rest of the details change from doorbell to doorbell.
You can power some video doorbells—like Ring—with batteries, which is helpful if you don’t have doorbell wiring or the wiring doesn’t work. In other cases, you have to connect some video doorbells, like the Nest Hello and Eufy Video Doorbell, to your doorbell wires for electricity. Without it, they won’t work.
All video doorbells use an app to let you view a video stream, and most have optional subscriptions with extra features. In most cases, a subscription is required to view previously recorded video. Without it, you can only see live video.
Why I Love My Video Doorbell
Video doorbells are a game-changer for your house. And I adore mine. I work from home and spend most of my day in the office. I don’t have a clear view of my front door, and I’m far enough from the street that I can’t hear when cars pull up.
My Packages Are Safe
As a reviewer, I’m sent packages frequently, often without a tracking number. Before I got a video doorbell, deliveries often sat out on my porch all day—even though I was home. Because for some reason, four out of five delivery people wouldn’t ring my doorbell or knock. They drop the delivery on the porch (or worse yet, I suspect occasionally threw the box to my porch), and leave. I have a covered porch, and on occasion, I’ve found packages left in my driveway (which is infuriating). Sometimes that left me with rain-soaked boxes. Other times, I was unaware that a shipment I desperately needed was on my porch hours ago.
Now my doorbell notifies me when someone approaches the door. I take a quick look, see it’s a delivery person, and get my package right away. And the delivery people ring my doorbell more frequently now, though not every time.
One thing I watch for is how they put the box down. I haven’t spotted anyone tossing a package yet, but at the same time, I haven’t found any damaged boxes either. I suspect they notice my video doorbell and think better of it.
I Can Easily Ignore Solicitors
Working from home means needing an uninterrupted environment. Sadly, working from home means nobody respects that fact. While I can control what happens in my house, I can’t stop other people from ringing the doorbell or knocking on the door. Sometimes it’s an important message from a neighbor that I need to answer, but most of the time it’s a solicitor.
With the Nest Hello, when someone rings the doorbell, my Google Home announces any familiar faces I’ve taught it. Sometimes I know who is at the door before I’ve even looked at the video. I can also let them know I’m on the way to the door.
Without a video doorbell, I wouldn’t know who it is until I walked to my door and looked through the peephole. And I had to hope they didn’t hear me. Now, when someone rings the doorbell, I can see who it is, and inevitably when it’s a solicitor, I can close the video and go back to work. I don’t answer the door; I don’t even leave my office. They think I’m not home and move on to the next house, and I get my work done.
I Control My Doorbell (And My Door)
Thanks to my video doorbell’s chime controls, I can turn off the doorbell chime entirely. As a parent, I sincerely wish I had that feature when my children were babies. I could have avoided the pain of finally getting them to sleep only to have the doorbell ring.
And on one occasion, I had an extended family member check on my dog while I was out of town. I programmed a smart lock code so she could enter the house, but for some reason, that didn’t work. She texted me, and thanks to my video doorbell, I was able to confirm it was her and grant access to my home. My dog was thankful for the video doorbell and smart lock that day.
Video Doorbells Aren’t Just for Smarthomes
If you’re thinking to yourself, “that sounds great, but I don’t want a smarthome” I have good news for you: video doorbells aren’t just for smarthomes. Even if you don’t install any other smarthome item in your house, a video doorbell will still work great for you.
The only other device you need is a smartphone or tablet, and chances are you already have one (maybe even both). You’ll benefit even more from a video doorbell if you have a voice assistant display, like Nest Hub or Echo Show, and a smart lock. But they’re not necessary.
Even without other smarthome tech, you’ll benefit from a video doorbell. You still get notifications when someone approaches your door, and you can see and talk with those people. All the essential benefits of video doorbells don’t require a smarthome. Instead, smarthome technology enhances video doorbell features.
If the idea of knowing when packages arrive or knowing when the person at your door is a solicitor or the pizza you ordered sounds like something you’d enjoy, then you should get a video doorbell. If answering the door without opening the door sounds like a safety feature you could use, you should get a video doorbell.
And if you have small children who take naps and dread the doorbell ringing, you should get a video doorbell that connects to your chime. Yes, you can manually silence your chime, but that’s more effort than tapping a button in an app.
The Best Video Doorbells
If you’re wondering what doorbell to get, here are some recommendations based on various needs. When you’re deciding on a doorbell, you should ask yourself a few questions. Will it fit in the space you have? Does it require wiring, and if so do you have working doorbell wiring? And are you willing to subscribe for extra features? That should help narrow down which doorbell is best for you.
The Best Wired Video Doorbell: Hello Nest
If your doorbell wiring works, we highly recommend the Nest Hello. It’s the only doorbell we’re aware of that offers 24/7 continuous recording. Other doorbells only record when triggered by people or motion.
It provides high-quality video, control of your chime, and paired with a Nest Hub you’ll get nearly instant video when someone rings the doorbell. If you have facial recognition turned on, your Nest Hub will even announce who the visitor is. Nest Hello is also one of the smallest video doorbells, so if your space is tight Nest is a good option. The main downside is, some of the best features, like previous recordings, require a Nest Aware subscription, but we think those features are worth the cost.
The Best Battery-Powered Video Doorbell: Ring 2
If you don’t have doorbell wiring (or you do, but it doesn’t work), then the Ring 2 video doorbell is a great option. This doorbell is battery powered and integrates with Alexa products. The doorbell only records when motion or people are detected, but that may be all you need.
You can wire the Ring 2 into your home, and if you do it will control your home’s chime. Otherwise, you’ll either need to buy battery-powered chime or settle for smartphone and tablet notifications.
The Best Battery-Powered Doorbell
The Best Cloud-less Video Doorbell: eufy Security Wi-Fi Video Doorbell
Most video doorbells require a cloud subscription if you want to view previously recorded video and enable other features. The Eufy video doorbell bucks that trend by recording your video locally. And all of its features are present without a subscription. Like Ring, it only records when triggered events occur, but even without the cloud events include motion and human detection. Which means it won’t trigger from a cat. You also get Alexa and Google Assistant integration.
eufy does offer an optional cloud storage subscription for $3.99 a month with unlimited storage if you need it, but the local storage provides enough for most people. It can hold approximately a month of videos if your doorbell records 30 videos, each 30 seconds long, every day. That’s more than most people need. And as a bonus, the eufy doorbell comes with a wireless chime; you have to buy that separately with the battery-powered Ring doorbells.