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How to Open File Explorer Using Command Prompt on Windows 10

While there are quicker ways to open File Explorer, such as using a keyboard shortcut, you can use Command Prompt to open the file manager in the current directory (or any other directory) in Windows 10. Here’s how.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Marshall Gunnell

How to Enable or Disable Windows 10’s Full-Screen Start Menu

While in desktop mode, Windows 10 allows you to use the Start menu in a full-screen mode (like the Start menu in tablet mode) or in a more traditional way that only covers part of the screen. Here’s how to change how it works.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Benj Edwards

Microsoft’s AI is now better at image captioning than humans

433d7370-0e2d-11eb-bbcd-ab2a0273c3f2Describing an image accurately, and not just like a clueless robot, has long been the goal of AI. In 2016, Google said its artificial intelligence could caption images almost as well as humans, with 94 percent accuracy. Now Microsoft says it’s gone e…

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How to Hide the App List in Windows 10’s Start Menu

When you open the Start menu in Windows 10, you normally see an alphabetical list of apps installed on your system. If you’d like to have a smaller sleeker Start Menu, it’s possible to hide the app list on the left. Here’s how.

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Surface Duo Review: A Desktop in My Pocket

A Surface Duo on a wood bench.Josh Hendrickson

When I ordered my Surface Duo, I knew I was in for some disappointment. After all, it doesn’t have near-field communication (NFC), or wireless charging, or even a decent camera. When I finally got it, it gave a bad first impression. But weeks later, I’ve come to one inescapable conclusion. The Surface Duo just isn’t a phone. It’s a desktop in my pocket, and that’s why I love it.

If you saw my first look at the device, you already know that things didn’t start well with the Surface Duo. For the few hours or so, apps wouldn’t load correctly, and some of the biggest Surface Duo features just didn’t work right. Thankfully, everything settled down and the phone became more stable.

Not perfectly stable, mind you, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Besides the software making a bad first impression, the hardware itself makes a great first impression, at least, on the outside. That’s because despite slapping two displays to a hinge, the Surface Duo is super thin, even when closed. It feels great in the hand and looks gorgeous on the outside. Unfortunately, the innards aren’t as appealing. Let’s cover those real quick:

  • Displays when open: 8.1” AMOLED, 2700×1800 (3:2), 401 PPI
  • Each individual display: 5.6” AMOLED, 1800×1350 (4:3), 401 PPI
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Mobile Platform
  • RAM: 6 GB
  • Storage: 128 GB or 256 GB 
  • Camera: Singular 11 MP camera
  • Ports: Type-C USB port (no headphone jack)
  • Fingerprint Sensor: Side, beneath power button
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi a/b/g/b/ac, 2.4GHz/5GHz; MIMO; Bluetooth 5.1; NFC; AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile support
  • IP Rating: None
  • Color: Glacier
  • Dimensions when open: 145.2 mm (H) x 186.9 mm (W) x 4.8 mm (T)
  • Dimensions when closed: 145.2 mm (H) x 93.3 mm (W) x 9.9 mm (T at hinge)
  • Weight: 250 grams
  • Price: $1,399, or $1,499, respectively

If you follow smartphones at all, there’s a few standout specs of the back. The processor is from last year, though that might be a good thing. But the RAM is on the light side for multitasking device, there’s no IP rating at all, no NFC, no wireless charging, and the camera is a far cry from what you usually see on $1,400 phones. So long as you think of this device as a phone, it’s going to be disappointing. However, you can mitigate some of that.

It’s a Bad Smartphone, but You Can Fix That

Ok, let’s start with the elephant in the room. The Surface Duo is, by all means, an Android smartphone. After all, it makes phone calls, handles text messages, and even video calls. But it’s not a very good smartphone.

A Surface Duo, smartwatch, handheld camera, and true wireless earbuds on a checkered blanket.Everything you need for a full flagship experience. Watch, camera, and earbuds not included. Josh Hendrickson

These days we expect our smartphones to do more than make phone calls and send text messages, like take amazing pictures or replace our credit cards with digital payments. But the Surface Duo doesn’t do any of that.

It has a camera that serves as both the front-facing and rear shooter, but it’s not a great camera. At best, it’s competent under optimal conditions. Are you in a well-lit room? You’ll get some decent shots that could use more details, good enough for Facebook and Twitter. 

But if you are in anything less than perfect conditions, the camera will struggle. Forget Night Sight and similar features found in Pixels and iPhones. Forget taking any photos at night. Night shots you get out of the Surface Duo are practically unusable.

Likewise, you can’t make contactless payments, and you can’t even tell the time or see your notifications without at least partially opening the thing to get to Peek Mode. And that’s after I found a buried setting to turn on notification badges for Peek Mode. And, as for actual phone calls? Well, it works, but the quality isn’t great.

On a couple of occasions, I’ve been told I sound like I’m underwater when talking on my Surface Duo. That’s down to using just one speaker and microphone on one display, so you have to get it positioned just right and make sure you have the correct display towards your face.

But honestly, none of that is a big deal. If I know I’m going somewhere I’m want to take great photos, I can bring my camera. Thanks to a smartwatch, I have access to time, notifications, and contactless payments. And, I use true wireless earbuds when making phone calls.

Do I love that I need all that extra stuff to make my smartphone work like a decent smartphone? No, no, I don’t. But think about this for a moment: Do you judge an LTE tablet or smartwatch for their smartphone capabilities? No, they just happen to have the chops to make phone calls. But that’s not the point of them.

And the same goes for the Surface Duo; the moment I stopped thinking about it as a phone, I fell in love with what it actually is.

It’s a Dual-Screen Desktop in My Pocket

Pick up the Surface Duo, and it feels unlike any phone you’ve ever held. When it’s closed, it feels wide in my hand yet super thin. One side is incredibly straight and ends in sharp corners, but the other has curved corners.

A Surface Duo with the Feedly app open on one display, and Slack on the other.Josh Hendrickson

Picture a thin UltraBook, like the Dell XPS 13. Now, shrink it down to palm-size. That’s what the Surface Duo feels like when you hold it. And, I’m starting to think that’s not an accident. The hinge is just perfect, the Duo moves to any position with ease but sticks where I want without budging. I don’t use my Surface Duo like a phone anymore. I use it like a Windows desktop with two monitors.

On the Surface Duo, you can create app groups and place them on your desktop. They look a bit like folders, but instead of a grouping of several apps, it’s just two. When you tap on an app group, both of the apps open, one on each screen. That sounds minor, but it’s incredibly powerful and useful. You see, the problem with most phones and tablets is, you’re limited to one thing at a time.

Think about when you need to copy a sentence from a text to another chat app, like Messenger. You’ll need to minimize Messenger, open your Text messages, find the message, copy it, minimize the text message app, find Messenger in your multitask list, then paste.

It’s so much easier on the Surface Duo; just open both at the same time. Copy from one and paste to the other. In some apps, like Edge and To Do, you don’t need to use the copy command. Just highlight the text and drag it straight to the second app.

A Surface Duo next to a phone in a case, each about the same width.I still can’t believe how thin this thing is. Josh Hendrickson

That’s the kind of stuff I do in Windows all the time. As Review Geek’s News Lead, I help determine what news we cover every day. Now, in the morning, I cook breakfast and keep my phone open. On the left screen, I have Feedly and on the right Slack. When I see interesting news, I can drag it straight to the appropriate Slack channel. That process was a pain with my single-display smartphone.

I have an app group for Facebook and Twitter, for the Bible and OneNote, for Slack and my work email. All these groups let me get more done from my phone with fewer steps. And, you don’t have to create groups to benefit from the dual-screen functionality. I open 1Password and any other app or browser on each display all the time. Or I open remote desktop to control my PC when I’m away from it on my left display and touch-friendly apps, like my email on the right.

On Sundays, I direct my church’s online worship service. We broadcast to YouTube and Facebook, and that means paying attention to two feeds. Now, I open both on Surface Duo at the same time. I can’t play two videos at once, but I can monitor the comment feeds of both, which is what I need most.

It’s just like connecting two monitors to a PC or Mac. The extra space means more real estate for more programs, so you can see what’s going on in more places and even more from one to the other. Two apps on the Surface Duo simultaneous is the multitasker’s dream. Or, at least mine.

The more I’ve used my Surface Duo, the less I’ve used one of the other devices in my life—my iPad. Even my wife noticed and asked if we can just give it to our son, because I “don’t need it anymore.” The fact that I can get more done has me reaching for my iPad less, but I’m not ready to give my tablet up yet.

The Tablet with Too Much Gap

The Surface Duo has several “postures,” and the main four you’re likely to use are “Book Mode,” “Compose Mode,” “Single Screen Mode,” and “Dual Landscape Mode.” I use Book Mode about 90% of the time, and it’s just what you’d imagine. The Surface Duo is most of the way open, almost like you’re holding a book, and you have an app open on each display.

A kindle app, showing a page of a book on each display.The Kindle app is one of the best examples of spanning across the screen. Josh Hendrickson

Compose mode puts a messaging app on one screen and a keyboard on the other, which is handy when you have a surface to … well, hold your Surface. It feels a lot like using a laptop. In Single Screen Mode, you flip the displays all the way around and use just a single screen at a time. Mostly, I use that for taking pictures or playing games.

An episode of 'The Good Place' spanned across two displays of a Surface Duo, an unsightly gap breaking the image in the middle.If you like to watch a show like this, you’re probably going to The Bad Place. Josh Hendrickson

If you want to take pictures easily, just move to Single Screen Mode, face your camera towards your subject (you or elsewhere), and make sure the screen you want to be the viewfinder is activated. Then double-tap the “Power” button, that’ll open the camera and put the viewfinder on the active display.

But the last mode is probably the least useful of the top four. In Dual Landscape mode, you move an app to the middle of the two screens and it spans across both displays. Together the Surface Duo’s displays measure 8.1 inches diagonally, which is about a small tablet’s size.

But it’s not a small tablet, thanks in part to the gap in between the two displays. Open up a media app like Netflix or a game in this mode, the gap becomes painfully obvious and ruins the experience. Microsoft adjusted its apps to work around the gap, and a few other apps followed suit. But the vast majority don’t work well in Dual Landscape mode.

I Love It, but You Shouldn’t Buy It

In some ways, the Surface Duo’s strength is that Microsoft treats each display almost like a separate phone. Most apps just work, whether you’re in Book Mode, Compose Mode, or Single Screen mode.

But right now, there are still too many problems for the average person to consider buying this $1,400 “portable desktop.”

First, there’s that price, which is enough to buy a good phone and a decent laptop. Then there’s the fact that if you want to replace your smartphone with a Surface Duo, you also need some true wireless earbuds, a smartwatch, and a decent camera to get the full experience any other flagship offers. Now, we’re talking something closer to $2,000. You could buy a Galaxy Z Fold 2 for that price.

The Surface Duo with a gaming system on it, game on one screen and controls on the other.RetroArch is pretty sweet for playing games you legally own. Josh Hendrickson

Dual Landscape mode is another disappointment. At this point, I only use it for two apps: Kindle and RetroArch. With Kindle, each display shows a page, making it a literal “Book Mode,” and the experience is fantastic. When you turn a page, the animation actually looks like turning a page.

In RetroArch, if you turn the Surface Duo sideways, the game goes on one screen, and the controls go on the other. It looks like an old-school Nintendo DS, and I love it. Beyond that, and a couple of web games designed for dual-screen displays, Dual Landscape Mode won’t do much until app developers embrace the Surface Duo. Yeah, don’t hold your breath.

A Surface Duo with just a single screen showing, and Alto's Oddessey playing.When you need, it works in Single Screen Mode, and every app behaves normally. Josh Hendrickson

And after spending all that money, it should be a perfect experience, but it isn’t. The Surface Duo felt very buggy out of the box, and while it that toned down after an hour, it remained somewhat laggy at times. For the first week or two, I found myself restarting the device every so often because apps wouldn’t open. That choice to go with just 6 GBs of RAM hurt things, I think. The good news is a recent update to the Surface Duo really helped on that front.

But I’m a Microsoft Fan, willing to look past issues like those found on the Surface Duo. I don’t use my smartphone for calls all that often. It does the thing I’ve always wanted—make me more productive and more capable.

The camera is still disappointing. I guess I’ll carry something else. But the truth is, you shouldn’t have to settle for less when you spend $1,500. Microsoft is onto a great idea here, and someday the Surface Duo 2 or 3 will likely be a fantastic smartphone that anyone should buy. But for now, unless you’re a hardcore Microsoft fan or you absolutely need all the multitasking capabilities possible, you should probably pass.

But for me? I have no regrets but the Surface Duo. Well, none I can’t live with, anyway.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Josh Hendrickson

How to Remove Recently Added Apps in Windows 10’s Start Menu

By default, when you open your Windows 10 Start menu, you’ll see recently added apps at the top of the app list. This section shows some of the apps you have installed most recently. If you’d like to remove that, it’s easy to change. Here’s how.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Benj Edwards

How to Stop Spotify’s Automatic Startup on Windows 10

By default, Spotify automatically starts every time you sign into your Windows 10 PC. If you don’t want it running in the background and slowing down your boot process, you can disable Spotify’s autostart feature.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Chris Hoffman

Console vs. PC: How Should You Spend the Next Generation of Gaming?

A man daydreaming about the next generation of gaming.Rido/Shutterstock

With the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 launch around the corner, gamers are asking whether they should buy yet another home console or make the leap to PC. But Microsoft and Sony are throwing a wrench in the usual console vs. PC dynamic with low prices and monthly service plans like Xbox Game Pass. So, how should you spend the next generation of gaming?

Consoles Are Affordable, Simple, and Reliable

A photo of the PS5.Sony

Tech outlets and gamers like to compare the newest PlayStation and Xbox to gaming PCs, thanks in part to the consoles’ fantastic capabilities and familiar-sounding GPUs. But next-gen consoles offer an experience that’s decidedly more straightforward and affordable than PC gaming. And thanks to fundamental changes to the gaming landscape, there’s even less reason to make the leap to a PC this year.

Some of this year’s PlayStation and Xbox perks are well-advertised and hard to overlook. Both consoles support 4K 120Hz gaming, yet cost less than the cheapest 4K-capable PC graphics cards. They’re both backward compatible, and they come with hundreds of games through the Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Now programs. Sony is also offering a 15-game PlayStation Plus Collection to PlayStation Plus customers with a PS5, and that’s on top of the two titles that Plus subscribers get for free each month.

And then there’s the small quality of life stuff. New games like Rocket LeagueFortnite, and Call of Duty support cross-platform multiplayer, so you can buy the cheap Xbox Series S and still enjoy games with your PC or PlayStation friends. The new consoles also have 4K Blu-Ray drives and double as streaming machines, and of course, they don’t require the same assembly and troubleshooting as a PC.

But while consoles make it easy to hit the ground running, they lack the power, upgradability, customization, and flexibility of gaming PCs. For many, now is the time to build a gaming PC and leave behind the limitations of living room consoles.

PCs Are Multipurpose, Upgradable, and Powerful

A photo of the Cooler Master Masterbox MB311L ARGB case.Cooler Master

Spend enough money on a gaming PC, and it’ll blow the new Xbox and PlayStation out of the water. That’s a good enough reason for most people to go for a gaming PC, although it certainly isn’t the only reason. PCs are much more modular, customizable, and multipurpose than game consoles, and in the long run, they’re often a cheaper investment than the constantly rotating box in your living room.

Wait, aren’t game consoles cheaper than PCs? Console manufacturers often meet their low prices by selling hardware at a loss and making up the difference through software sales and subscriptions. That’s why Microsoft can sell the Xbox Series X for $500, while a comparable gaming PC would easily exceed the $1,000 mark. The problem is that, over time, the average console gamer pays for hundreds of dollars in subscription services and may even shell out an extra $500 for the “pro” or “slim” version of their console.

PC gamers don’t have to pay to $10 a month (or $120 a year) to play multiplayer with their friends. And while PC hardware is absolutely overpriced, it’s not like you have to replace your entire rig to make incremental upgrades. You just replace your GPU and sell the old one to a friend, or add on RAM and storage as you see fit.

Once you put together that gaming PC, everything else falls into place. You can tweak and customize things to your heart’s content, or tack on a bunch of RGB stuff to impress your friends. And because PCs are multipurpose, you can use that big fancy system as a reliable work, school, or hobby machine. Yeah, PCs are a bit temperamental and require some troubleshooting, but it’s a lot less work than you’d expect, especially if you build something with popular compatible components.

If you want to assemble a gaming PC today but don’t have $1,000 lying around (or don’t care about all the 4K stuff), then follow one of the modest gaming builds on PCPartPicker and worry about upgrades later. A $700 build is a good place to start (especially if you can find parts on sale), and there are plenty of resources on YouTube and How-To Geek to help you assemble everything properly.

A New Option: The Xbox Game Pass Lifestyle

A screenshot of the Xbox Game Pass website.Microsoft

Everyone likes to argue about console gaming and PC gaming. Thing is, both platforms kick ass. They both have their perks, and ideally, you could use both a console and PC without worrying about which platform you should buy the newest games on.

Well, maybe this is the generation that you play for both teams. The Xbox Game Pass Ultimate program lets you play hundreds of games, including brand-new blockbusters, on your console or PC for no extra charge. You could start building a decent gaming PC today while there aren’t many next-gen games, and wait to buy the $300 Xbox Series S a few months or a year from now (saving the money that you would usually spend on new games). Before you know it, you’ll have the console and PC gaming experience together in your home.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate also lets you stream games to your Android phone or tablet, giving you just one more reason to live the Game Pass lifestyle. Sure, Microsoft may ruin the party one day by hiking up the Game Pass monthly fee to an exorbitant amount, but it’s inarguably the best gaming deal coming into 2021.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Andrew Heinzman

How to Remove Windows Activation Watermark

hevc-windows-feature.jpg If you’ve recently changed your PC’s hardware, there’s a good chance there is now a watermark in the bottom-right corner of your screen saying you need to activate Windows. While it doesn’t impact your PC’s performance or prevent you from doing anything you would normally do with your PC, it is annoying. Fortunately, there is a way to remove the activation watermark permanently from your machine. Related: What You Need to Know About Windows 10 Activation Procedure What Is Windows Activation? Microsoft Product Activation is a DRM (digital right management) technology. Essentially, product activation acts somewhat… Read more13937786.gif

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Ryan Lynch

How to Open Mozilla Firefox Using Command Prompt on Windows 10

You can launch applications and programs using the Command Prompt—and Mozilla Firefox is no exception. You can also use Command Prompt to launch Firefox in Private Browsing mode or open a specific website on launch. Here’s how.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Marshall Gunnell

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