DC's full comics catalog is available through DC Universe


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DC Universe is acting on its promise to deliver DC’s full comic book library — more or less. As of now, subscribers to the service have access to 21,000 issues stretching over 80 years, so long as a given issue was released at least one year before a given date. You can’t use this to catch up on the latest story lines, but this should help you find a beloved issue of Batman or Wonder Woman without having to buy it or subscribe to a separate comics-only offering.

The price of the service hasn’t changed at $8 per month, or $75 per year. This is only likely to matter if you’re a comics book aficionado, of course. That said, it still makes DC Universe a considerably more compelling service in those moments you aren’t watching something from its video library — and that could be important when you might not have as much to watch as first thought.

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Acer updates select laptops with the latest from Intel and NVIDIA


Acer

This morning, Intel debuted its 9th-generation mobile core processor, the i9-9980HK, and revealed a slew of other 9th-gen chips. In the hours following, a wave of gaming laptop makers announced that they’re adding the new chips and the latest NVIDIA graphic cards to their machines. Now, you can add Acer to the list of companies offering laptops with the latest internals.

Acer’s Predator Helios 300, Nitro 7, Nitro 5 and Aspire 7 notebooks — announced earlier this month — will ship with NVIDIA’s latest GeForce GTX 1660Ti or 1650 GPU. They’ll be powered by up to the newest 9th-gen Intel Core i7-9750H processors. According to NVIDIA, the new GPUs offer up to 50 percent more gaming performance than last-generation GTX 1060 laptops and up to four times the performance of GTX 960M. And the Intel Core i7-9750H processors will reach up to 4.5 GHz.

Acer’s announcement is similar to those made today by ASUS, Lenovo, Dell, Razer and MSI. All of the companies are hoping their supercharged laptops will appeal to gamers and content creators alike.

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MSI is also upgrading its gaming laptops with Intel's new CPUs


MSI

MSI is joining a slew of other hardware makers in refreshing its gaming laptops with 9th-gen Core CPUs. It says these processors will allow its machines to deliver up to 45 percent better performance than previous versions.

The company’s full suite of gaming laptops (including the GT, GS, GE, GP, GL and GF series) also got a graphics boost. They’re equipped with GeForce RTX 20 series and GTX 16 series GPUs, which will provide the systems with up to 50 percent better performance than older machines, MSI claims. The GT Titan and GS Stealth, along with the GE75 and GE63 Raiders, are compatible with up to RTX 2080. Other machines can include up to RTX 2060 or GTX 1660 Ti.

There are some other updates across the lineup. The GP75 Leopard, GL73 and GL63 all now come with per-key RGB lighting keyboards. The GF Thin, meanwhile, is thinner and lighter, down to 1.86 kg and 21.7 mm thickness for the 15-inch GF63, and 2.2 kg and 23 mm on the GF75.

Additionally, MSI announced a 17-inch version of its P65 Creator laptop for creatives, which also gets the CPU boost. Like its 15-inch sibling, the P75 Creative has GPU options up to RTX 2070 though it has one more SSD Combo slot. MSI didn’t reveal pricing or availability for its refreshed laptops.

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Our readers review the Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Our review of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 was largely positive; reviewer Cherlynn Low found the handset impressive, calling it “one of the best phones of the year.” With a “brilliant display,” hearty battery life and speedy performance, the Note 9 did plenty to earn its lofty score of 92. Our December call for readers to submit their own reviews of the Note 9 also produced impressive results: We saw nearly 120 new scores and reviews for the flagship phone, most of them agreeing with Cherlynn. But they also tended to be harsher about the phone’s shortcomings, resulting in an average user score of 87.

Let’s start with the good stuff: Readers and reviewers alike were impressed by the upgrades to the S-Pen. Cherlynn liked both the addition of Bluetooth Low Energy and a supercapacitor that turned the pen into a functional and essential remote control. Many readers like Hariz agreed that it “adds so much to the user experience.” More than a few even declared they loved the stylus (looking at you, Brandi, Matt and John). Adam said it was handy for taking notes during meetings or sketching, while Joshua said the shutter control from the S-Pen was “a real treat!”

Galaxy Note 9

Another distinct trend in these reviews were the compliments on the Note 9’s performance and battery life. Featuring a Snapdragon 845 chipset and 6GB of RAM, the Note 9 performed like “an absolute multitasking beast” for Cherlynn, and impressed user Christopher, who also said the handset’s “speed is unbelievable, and the battery life is finally what all smartphones should have had for years now.” David found the Note 9 to be “noticeably faster with every task,” while users John and sachinbahal were impressed by its storage capacity and processing power. None of the user reviews complained about the amount of internal storage or the speed it was capable of.

The two best things about the Note 9 are the battery life and the screen/image quality. I can honestly go 48 hours before charging my phone.” -TN

While a few users like Dapo and William had battery issues, many others mentioned outstanding longevity in their reviews. Multiple users praised the battery life as incredible, great or game-changing; Joshua said it “is the best I’ve experienced on any smartphone”; TN said it was one of the two best things about the Note 9; and Jim declared it “the best of any Samsung device I’ve ever owned.” In our battery tests, Cherlynn’s Note 9 handset lasted about two days with average use and endured more than 15 hours in our video rundown test. Power user Matt had a similar experience when he “took the phone off the charger at about 4:30AM and went hunting in the cold, watched a few hours of Netflix when it was raining, used Google maps a lot and some other hunting apps, sent quite a few text messages and snaps and by 9:30PM there was still 20% left.”

When it came to the phone’s design, readers reported that the 6.4-inch device feels very large in use. Jim felt that if there were a downside to the Note 9, “it would be the size. This bad boy is almost impossible to carry in a pants pocket.” But Ed said he was “willing to lug it around because of the huge screen and battery.”

More than a few users had favorable things to say about the 18:9 Super AMOLED screen. TN said the Note 9’s screen is “the best I have seen on a phone. The image quality is incredible. Colors are vibrant. Blacks are dark and crisp.” Jim agreed that “it is actually an enjoyable experience to take in a movie or Netflix on this device,” while William was more succinct, exclaiming: “The screen is OMG!”

Samsung Galaxy Note 9

The Note 9 touts two 12-megapixel sensors (one telephoto, one wide-angle) and has Scene Optimizer software to enhance your images. In practice, multiple users like sachinbahal reported “great low-light performance,” while 2Clever was pleased by the “more vivid” images. Erica said it “was a learning curve to get used to the beauty correction built in,” and Christopher said “I know that the phone is processing images a bit” but insisted that “this thing takes better sunset pics than my DSLRs!”

Not everyone was a fan, however, with William calling the camera setup “hot garbage.” Both Joshua and Joe reported issues with the camera functioning smoothly. William and Christopher both felt the camera “maybe doesn’t have a fast-enough shutter speed when it comes to taking sports photos.”

On the software side, the Note 9 ships with Android Oreo — a “con” on our review card, but most users disagreed with us. Jyve reacted with a shrug and countered that “it works, and works well, and for once I don’t feel the need to flash it.” Ed was content to wait, saying Pie will “get here soon enough” and he doesn’t “really mind that it shipped with Oreo.” The Samsung suite of apps was less favored, with Muhammadhu calling them “less useful,” GudieveNing reporting some glitching, and Matt saying he “disabled and uninstalled what I could.”

“The keys to my acceptance and eventual real joy of this device was customization, killing Bixby, and secure folder.” –Adam

An exception to the users’ general dislike of Samsung’s included software was DeX, which is easier to access on the Note 9 because of the handset’s ability to connect to an external display using an HDMI to USB-C converter. Users largely liked DeX; David called it “amazing,” while Dapo said “this iteration is a brilliant plug-and-play setup without the need for a separate clumsy workstation.” rtimi is using DeX mode to set up a blog, while Lee, a developer, uses “Linux on DeX quite a lot” as it’s “a quantum leap forward and means I can carry a PC in my pocket.” However, Joshua felt DeX was “peculiar,” and Joe was disappointed to “never see any [accessory] advertised for DeX.”

Even so, that goodwill did not extend to the dedicated Bixby button, which Cherlynn called “wack” and “still kind of a mess.” Users didn’t go any easier on the assistant, with Keith saying it was “too late to the party,” Liam proclaiming it “still raw and with a lot of mistakes,” and Kevin declaring it “the worst hardware decision of any major phone manufacturer this year.” Bixby “sucks,” is “useless,” “awful” and “annoying,” according to Matt, Roy, Praneeth and Jyve. Kevin at least thought that Bixby “has some incredible use cases” and advised “don’t make this your deal breaker on such an incredible device,” while rtimi said they “love the Bixby button for what I can currently use it for: I have quick commands like using it to control my smart devices.”

Bixby on Samsung Galaxy Note 9

As for using this smartphone as an actual, you know, phone, a few owners had issues. Patrick mentioned frequent dropped calls, and Logan experienced poor reception inside a steel structure. The speakers garnered a few mentions, though, with Erica experiencing “amazing” audio quality, Rovi saying it was “very good,” and Kevin mentioning that the dual speaker setup gives a “louder and better audio experience.” Ed felt the speakers were “pretty good for such a small device.”

Overall, those who had upgraded to the Galaxy Note 9 were enthusiastic about their choice. Vincent009 was “very happy to upgrade from the Note 5. I love the expandable SD memory card, headphone plug and pen stylus.” Daniel, who has owned several Note handsets, said the 9 is “without a doubt the best yet.” And while Joshua said he’s never been a big Samsung fan, “this device has somewhat changed my mind.” Chris was also effusive, stating he “had to get it, and I have absolutely no regrets. In the four months since I unboxed this juggernaut of technology, I have found the Note 9 to be a pocket computer that is the perfect blend of fun and functionality… Hats off to Samsung.”

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Wing receives the first FAA certification for drone deliveries


Wing

Today, Alphabet’s Wing division became the first drone delivery company to receive its Air Carrier Certification from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The certification means Wing can begin a commercial drone delivery service, and the company hopes to launch its first delivery trial later this year. Over the next several months, Wing will work with the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Pilot Program (UAS IPP) in Southwest Virginia. It will soon begin reaching out to residents and businesses in the Blacksburg and Christiansburg, Virginia, areas to demonstrate its technology and to gather feedback.

This has been years in the making. Alphabet debuted Wing in 2014, and the FAA first granted Wing permission to test its drones in 2016. In Australia, the company has flown over 70,000 test flights and made more than 3,000 deliveries. Wing is also scheduled to begin trials in Finland this spring.

Drones have the potential to transport goods and supplies, like medicine and food, and the company seems to have a special interest in the latter. In its blog post, it shared photos of a Viriginia family receiving breakfast via air delivery as part of its validation testing with the FAA. In previous tests, it brought airborne burritos to a Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg. And it toyed with, but ultimately canceled, plans to airdrop Starbucks. Regardless of what Wing delivers, earning the FAA’s first Air Carrier Certification is a crucial step in the race to bring drone deliveries to the US.

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