Solid alternatives to the Surface Pen and Surface Slim Pen

We’re fans of the Surface Pen and the newer Surface Slim Pen. Still, there are plenty of alternative styli out there if you don’t fancy Microsoft’s official offerings, whether it’s because you don’t have a Surface or just have your own preferences. Here are some excellent examples.

Hybrid

Wacom Bamboo Ink Plus

Staff favorite

Wacom is a big name in the land of the stylus. The company has been responsible for some of the best pens and drawing pads out there, and there’s even a Surface-compatible pen available should the official one from Microsoft not quite do it for you. This pen is a unique option since it supports Wacom’s Universal Pen Framework (UPF). This allows it to seamlessly shift between Microsoft Surface devices and Wacom Active ES (electrostatic) hardware.

$100 at Amazon

Premium

Dell Premium Active Pen

The Premium Active Pen is Dell’s best digital stylus, offering incredible quality and versatility for a high, but fair, price. This thing supports 4,096 different levels of pressure sensitivity, which is excellent for devices that support styli.

$96 at Amazon

Budget

Tesha Surface Pen

Tesha’s Surface Pen is an all-aluminum pen that works with Microsoft’s latest Surface products, as well as other OEM portable devices. Sporting 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity it allows you to write, draw, and erase without issue. The pen itself takes a battery, with one included to get you started. Much like other pens on the market, there are two buttons on the side. There is one for erasing and the other for a right-click.

$35 at Amazon

Stylish

Adonit Ink

For something a little more stylish, the Adonit Ink is a well-rated stylus that works with Microsoft Surface devices (as well as other compatible hardware). It’s USB-rechargeable with a battery life of around 80 hours, and it has a carrying clip for taking it with you on travels. Lastly, there are shortcut buttons for erasing and right-clicking. It’s inexpensive, too, making it an enticing option for anyone looking for something a little cheaper than the Surface Pen.

$35 at Amazon

Functional

HP Pen

HP’s own Pen is quite the stunner. It’ll look the part alongside any Surface PC. Not only does it work with Surface devices thanks to N-trig tech, but it also allows for additional functionality with two buttons on the side. This pen does precisely what it says on the tin, as the saying goes.

$60 at Amazon

If we’re to make a suggestion

There are numerous alternatives to Microsoft’s own stylus, should you wish to try something a little different or need a cheaper replacement. If I had to recommend a single listing in this guide, it would be the Wacom Bamboo Ink because it’s one of the better styli out there. It’s a unique option thanks to the support for Wacom’s own Universal Pen Framework (UPF). This allows it to seamlessly shift between Microsoft Surface devices and Wacom Active ES (electrostatic) hardware.

If you’re looking to save some money, however, the Tesha Surface Stylus will let you draw and use a tablet more efficiently when not accompanied by a mouse and keyboard, don’t expect to create incredible works of art with it unless you have patience.

Solid alternatives to the Surface Pen and Surface Slim Pen

Rainbow Six Quarantine artwork confirms New York, San Francisco setting

The Rainbow Six Siege zombie outbreak seemingly spreads nationwide in Ubisoft’s upcoming cooperative shooter.

What you need to know

Rainbow Six Quarantine promotional artwork suggests New York and San Francisco as planned locations for the upcoming shooter.
The artwork, as showcased on ArtStation via 3D artist Eric Clark, aligns an earlier alleged leak of Rainbow Six Quarantine promotional material.
Rainbow Six Quarantine is scheduled for release later in 2020.

While Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege exhibits continued success into its fifth year, Ubisoft has set the stage for its cooperative spinoff, Rainbow Six Quarantine. Inspired by the multiplayer shooter’s limited-time Outbreak event from 2018, Quarantine translates those tactical foundations into a zombie outbreak. It sets the stage for up to three-player squad-based combat, assembling teams of the series’ iconic Rainbow Six Operators, tackling a global biohazard threat.

Ubisoft remains tight on Rainbow Six Quarantine details following its cryptic E3 debut, and since delayed beyond its scheduled early 2020 release. We expect a similar setup to Outbreak, where a USSR space capsule crashes with an onboard alien parasite, as players attempt to contain its spread. But Quarantine could see that epidemic spread nationwide, with newly-surfaced promotional art alluding to New York and San Francisco as potential settings.

The behind-the-scenes glimpse comes via 3D artist Eric Clark on ArtStation, a contributor on Rainbow Six Quarantine assets used for the reveal. The promotional materials featured lightsticks and patches branded with an emblem, setting the tone for Ubisoft’s latest project. Clark’s portfolio now includes an insight into the creation of the renders, including fabric patches and a lightstick design comprised of several components.

The portfolio also includes renders of both sticks removed from the housing, branded with “NY” and “SF” detailing, and coordinates within the cities. 40.7128°N 74.0060°W lands on the New York City Hall, while 37.7749°N 122.4194°W points toward San Francisco’s Van Ness Avenue, also host to various city department buildings. Both models also reference the “Rainbow Epidemic Advance Confinement Team,” potentially the counterterrorism unit assembled for the title.

While the models are far from a confirmation, with the use of placeholder details commonplace in work-in-progress designs, both align with a promotional leak earlier this year. Images of an alleged pamphlet breaks down planned Operators, enemies, and locations, including New York and San Francisco, as two of three planned cities. It appears increasingly likely Ubisoft has sights set on two coastline cities for Quarantine, providing a small glimpse into plans at the studio.

While Rainbow Six Quarantine has been delayed beyond its scheduled early 2020 release, we still expect availability on Xbox and PlayStation consoles, alongside PC, later this year.

Eyes On Target

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege

Addictive, challenging shooter action

Ubisoft’s hit shooter is hotter than ever, touting tense tactical gameplay, and regular free updates. Entering 2020 with millions of players, Rainbow Six isn’t slowing down.

$21 at Amazon

Rainbow Six Quarantine artwork confirms New York, San Francisco setting

The best FreeSync monitors for your Xbox One

Microsoft supports FreeSync on Xbox One consoles, adjusting refresh rates on the fly to reduce screen tearing and stuttering in gaming. While hundreds of special FreeSync-compatible displays are on the market, Xbox One consoles are limited to a subset with HDMI support. We’ve rounded up our top FreeSync monitors compatible with Xbox One across all price tiers.

Best overall

Staff favorite

Samsung C27HG70

The Samsung C27HG70 leads the pack with a strong roster of features complementing the Xbox One. FreeSync 2 support is the standout, improving colors with HDR support. It also boasts a curved panel, 1440p resolution, and 48-100Hz FreeSync HDMI frequency for clear, fluid gameplay.

$430 at Amazon

Budget FreeSync

Acer KG271

Value pick

The Acer KG271 is another strong 1080p pick, scaling to 27 inches. It hits a 75Hz FreeSync frequency for smooth Xbox One gameplay, paired with a solid image. It’s a great entry-point for console FreeSync without breaking the bank.

$176 at Amazon

Affordable 4K

LG 32UK550

LG steps it up to 4K 60Hz, touting Xbox-compatible FreeSync with a 4ms response time. If the lack of FreeSync-backed HDR isn’t a deal-breaker, the 32UK550 offers a crisp and smooth 32-inch panel, all at a reasonable price.

$347 at Amazon

1440p immersion

AOC CQ27G1

The latest CQ27G1 is part of AOC’s latest generation of gaming displays, securing 1440p resolution, 144Hz refresh rate, and a response time of just 1ms to elevate your game.

$250 at Amazon

Full HD gaming

Asus VG245H

With Xbox One S gameplay bound to 1080p, leading displays can be wasted. Dropping to full HD, the 24-inch Asus VG245H compiles a variety of premium features for a budget price. With a 1ms response time and FreeSync frequency topping out at 75Hz, you’ll be getting a responsive and striking image.

$167 at Amazon

Bending immersion

ViewSonic VX2758-C-MH

The ViewSonic VX2758-C-MH throws a curve into the mix, assembling a 27-inch 1080p panel primed for immersive gameplay. While its 144 Hz refresh rate won’t be fully utilized, it’s still an affordable curved display for FreeSync.

$230 at Amazon

We have our favorites

The Samsung C27HG70 remains the best overall pick for FreeSync on Xbox One, packing an unrivaled balanced of the best monitor features for gaming. Its curved 1440p image and 48-100Hz FreeSync ensure sharp gameplay without compromising performance, pairing with native 1440p support added last year. And among the early FreeSync 2 HDMI monitors on the market, this monitor is the best way to experience variable refresh rates (VRR) with high dynamic range (HDR). The result is impactful colors that really pop across supported games.

The Acer KG271 is another high-performance alternative, dropping to 27-inch 1080p for hefty savings. It’s best suited for Xbox One S owners limited to 1080p or budget-conscious Xbox One X owners leveraging supersampling. While it’s missing HDR under FreeSync 2, the KG271 otherwise nails the essentials.

The best FreeSync monitors for your Xbox One

GDC 2020 is officially postponed following coronavirus concerns

Multiple companies dropped out of the conference in the past couple of weeks.

What you need to know

The Game Developers Conference (GDC) announced it was postponing its event in San Francisco in March.
Multiple large companies pulled out this week, including Microsoft and Epic Games.
Another GDC event will be held in the summer.

After weeks of speculation, the Game Developers Conference (GDC) announced Friday that it’ll be postponing this year’s event in San Francisco.

The move comes after multiple large companies pulled out this week, citing fears surrounding the coronavirus. Sony and Facebook were two of the first to announce they weren’t attending. Just today, Activision Blizzard, Amazon, and Gearbox announced they were pulling out.

“After close consultation with our partners in the game development industry and community around the world, we’ve made the difficult decision to postpone the Game Developers Conference this March,” the organization posted in a statement. “We’re genuinely upset and disappointed not to be able to host you at this time.”

GDC did add, however, that it plans to hold a “GDC event” in the summer. It’ll have more details in the future, but it’s unclear at this point if it’ll be a full event.

An FAQ sent to press and on the official website, it says that current paid attendees will get an email about refunds and registration status. In a separate email, the GDC Event Team said that “paid registrants will be receiving a full refund within 4-6 weeks.” It also says it plans to make many of the talks that would’ve been given at the event free online as part of the GDC YouTube channel or in the Vault. Speakers can submit their talks.

Additional info: pic.twitter.com/GgUTL0dUc3— Official_GDC (@Official_GDC) February 29, 2020

It’s worth noting that a lot of companies will be holding online events of their own for their speakers.

GDC, while a huge place for companies and developers to network, is also an outlet for indies, specifically with the Independent Games Festival (IGF). It also hosts the Game Developers Choice Awards (GDC Awards) during the week. The FAQ also said that the company intends to stream the IGF and GDC Awards via Twitch during the week of the now-postponed event.

The event was supposed to take place on March 16-20 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Originally, the only people affected by the coronavirus outbreak were companies and attendees from China, but the spread of the disease greatly impacted more organizations.

Many groups are now helping to raise funds to help those who can’t get refunds on travel, visa, and hotel costs. GameDev.World, a global game conference held online, announced the GDC Relief Fund. It’ll also feature a pay-what-you-want games bundle and game jam to help raise money. The International Game Developers Association (IDGA) also announced it was pairing up with GameDev.World.

“With the effect of COVID-19 on conferences and international travel, many companies and developers have not only lost business opportunities and access to valuable talks, but their critical funds invested in travel, booth space, and passes to pursue these opportunities,” IGDA executive director Renee Gittins said in a statement.

This is also not the first tech event that’s been canceled on account of coronavirus anxieties. Mobile World Congress was canceled back in February. Just this week, Facebook’s annual F8 conference and EVE Fanfest were also canceled.

GDC 2020 is officially postponed following coronavirus concerns

Is ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo available with LTE?

Best answer: No, the ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo does not come with LTE. However, that may be for the best.

Get yours: ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo ($3,250 at Amazon)

Why the absence of LTE isn’t a big deal

While the lack of LTE connectivity on the ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo may seem disappointing at first, it’s arguably a good thing for a laptop of this power level. LTE causes batteries to drain faster, and the ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo is already equipped with a lot of power drawing hardware as is. Between the double 4K touch displays (yes, you read that right), the beefy NVIDIA RTX 2060 GPU, the top-notch Intel Core i9-9980HK processor, and 32GB of RAM, this laptop is a beast. If LTE was included, it’s pretty likely that it wouldn’t be able to be used for very long due to how much power it would need to run efficiently with LTE connectivity.

Why you should get the ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo

The ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo is a serious piece of kit, and any laptop fan who’s looking for a high-end, stellar device should consider picking one up. The aforementioned specs of the device give it an immense amount of power, making anything from modern gaming to intensive media editing a breeze. The dual displays also are incredible for productivity, allowing you to keep two tabs and/or programs open at once for multitasking convenience.

The device is excellent when it comes to physical design too. It’s a little on the heavy side at 6.4 lb (2.9kg), but that’s to be expected with how much high-tech hardware is packed under its hood. Impressively, the laptop is just under an inch thick, making it easy to slip into a bag for traveling. The bezels on both the primary and secondary displays are pretty thin as well, which is always a big win for laptop users. Lastly, the ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo sports plenty of ports, including one USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port and two USB-A 3.1 ports for excellent peripheral connectivity.

Cutting-edge power

ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo

$3,250 at Amazon

All the hardware you could ever want

The ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo sports an incredible amount of hardware power as well as a unique dual 4K display design, making it a stellar laptop for users looking for something luxurious.

Is ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo available with LTE?

Snakebyte Game:Mouse Ultra review — Custom branding can't save this mouse

Snakebyte is known for decent budget gaming accessories, but the Game:Mouse Ultra is a little pricier. Is the firm ready for the big leagues?

Snakebyte makes some great accessories. The Twin:Charge X for example, is a personal favorite, making it easy to charge multiple Xbox controllers on the go.

The firm has been steadily branching out into various accessory markets over time, producing everything from headsets to stands and beyond, but this is the first accessory I’ve used from Snakebyte with a near-€100 asking price (€79.99 to be exact). And yes, that is in Euros, as this mouse doesn’t seem to be available to buy outside of the EU as of writing. And honestly, maybe that’s not a particularly bad thing. You can get far better mice at this asking price.

One overpriced mouse

Snakebyte Game:Mouse Ultra

€80

Bottom line: This is a budget mouse with a not-so-budget price, that should probably be avoided.

Pros:

Accurate pointer
Good software with lots of features
Option for custom branding

Cons:

Childish design meets hefty adult bulk
Unimpressive construction and materials at this price point
Low ground clearance makes it awkward to maneuver

See at Snakebyte

What I liked about the Game:Mouse Ultra

On paper, the Game:Mouse Ultra has some solid specs. The laser Snakebyte used is impressive enough, going up to 16,000 DPI with a 4-stage DPI changer button, below the scroll wheel as standard.

Category
Spec

Sensor
16000 DPI

Features
12g customizable weight, braided cable, RGB lights

Buttons
Five programmable buttons, including DPI changer and two side buttons

Size
13cm x 8cm x 4cm

Warranty
Five years (EU)

The buttons all have good action, including the two side buttons and the scroll wheel. This a firmly right-handed mouse affair, though, with DPI indicator lights mounted solely on the left side of the mouse, and rubberized grips that favor right-handed users.

Perhaps the coolest aspect of this mouse is the fact Snakebyte will provide you with a “free” custom cover with personal branding of your choice, although part of me wonders if this isn’t just factored into the retail price. The logo is also backlit by RGB, which is a really nice touch. I can see this being of particular interest to businesses who want to buy gaming mice in bulk for specific events, for example.

The software for customizing the mouse is solid too, and it also uploads the settings to the mouse’s memory, so you don’t have to keep the software open 24/7. You can change all of the buttons, as well as add spectrum cycling and other lighting effects to the mouse for that added pro-gamer touch.

As someone with average-sized hands, I found the mouse to be reasonably comfortable, if perhaps on the large side. Coming in from a Razer Lancehead, I wondered why the Game:Mouse Ultra was so heavy. It turns out that it has an adjustable weight system on the inside, with three removable 4-gram blocks, for some added customizability.

Snakebyte nails a lot of the basics with this mouse, but there are a couple of things I didn’t like about it.

What I disliked about the Game:Mouse Ultra

Snakebyte’s asking price for this mouse is 80 euros, which is around 87 dollars USD at the time of writing. That puts it firmly in league with some of the most popular gaming mice out there, like the Razer DeathAdder and Microsoft IntelliMouse Pro. That sort of asking price comes with a range of expectations Snakebyte simply doesn’t meet here.

Designs are subjective, but the angularity and plastics grade gives the Game:Mouse Ultra a toy-like finish that sort of betrays its price point. There’s nothing about the construction that makes me feel like it will break any time soon (and in the EU, it comes with a generous 5-year warranty to boot), but the style is something I might have used on a cheaper mouse aimed at youngsters.

The fact the cable is branded yellow to match Snakebyte’s branding also clashes with the RGB, which, again, feels a little unpolished.

Also, initially, I was frustrated with the runners, which felt overly grippy. It turns out there’s a film of protective plastic on them, but it’s so flush that it’s almost impossible to see, and frustratingly difficult to remove. If you pick up this mouse, it’s just something worth being aware of.

Should you buy the Game:Mouse Ultra?

At this price point, there are a multitude of better mice out there that not only look nicer, but also feel nicer to use, often with better software features. If a mouse company wants to go up directly against Razer and other big-name brands on price, they had better match on features and quality, and sadly this mouse just doesn’t cut it.

2.5
out of 5

It’s not a terrible mouse by any means, and if you’re a business looking to get branded mice for a show, this could be an excellent option for you. Everybody else should probably just grab a Razer DeathAdder, though.

A bit pricey

Snakebyte Game:Mouse Ultra

Not good enough.

While there are a few cool features on offer, Snakebyte prices itself out of the mouse market with the Game:Mouse Ultra.

See at Snakebyte

Snakebyte Game:Mouse Ultra review — Custom branding can't save this mouse

Lies Beneath from Oculus Studios looks to scare the pants off players

An exclusive game inspired by Japanese macabre horror comics.

What you need to know

Lies Beneath is a horror game inspired by Japanese horror comics and graphic novels.
This Oculus-exclusive game is coming to Quest on March 31 and Rift on April 14.
Players can expect a frightening landscape inspired by Silent Hill and Resident Evil.

From the developers of Robo Recall: Unplugged comes a brand new horror game slated exclusively for Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift headsets. Lies Beneath features an art style inspired by Japanese horror comics, with onomatopoeia flying every which way as you shoot, stab, flip, and click through a terrifying hidden world. The Quest version will debut on March 31 for Quest and April 14 for both Oculus Rift and Rift S.

While the fictional tourism page from the developer makes the town of Slumber, Alaska look like a welcoming and inviting mid-20th century town, the truth is anything but that. The game eschews realistic visuals for a more threatening Junji Ito-style of Japanese horror comic weirdness, where the acceptance of reality is thrown entirely out the window for truly terrifying concepts. If you haven’t read the absolutely terrifying The Enigma of Amigara Fault or one of Junji Ito’s other classics, you owe it to yourself to do so before experiencing Lies Beneath.

Oculus Quest: Everything you need to know!

Drifter Entertainment says the gameplay from Silent Hill and Resident Evil games were huge influences in how the development of Lies Beneath progressed, and Drifter is looking to put a significantly larger focus on narrative than it has with its past titles, Gunheart and Robo Recall: Unplugged. Development has taken place over the past two years and includes both Rift and Quest platforms and was actually developed as a “Quest-first” title, meaning the Quest experience will feel just as whole as the Rift one, despite the extra rendering power a PC brings to the table. It also continues to strengthen the first-party Oculus Studios portfolio.

While there are many interesting tidbits about the development process of the game in the Oculus blog post about the game, one of the most interesting facts is that the characters were all designed using Oculus’ own Medium sculpting tool. That means the developers were able to create these characters entirely in VR which, the developers say, was a way to better create characters that absolutely mess up your psyche. Drifter has also heavily leaned on audio design with enemies that are more vocal than many other horror games, adding yet another unique aspect to the game’s already scintillating style. Check out the trailer below.

Lies Beneath from Oculus Studios looks to scare the pants off players

Amazon is latest company to pull out of GDC 2020

News is happening fast. Here’s a rundown of all the companies that have decided not to attend.

It seems like every day now, a new company announces it’s pulling out of the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco due to health concerns surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19). It makes sense since the outbreak is hitting the tech industry at large and gaming has seen delays and esports league cancelations.

While we await more news on GDC, one of the biggest events for gaming each year, here’s what we know and which companies have dropped out:

Amazon announced Friday that it was withdrawing from the event and is planning to host a global online event to showcase what it had planned.
Sony was the first high-profile company to pull out of GDC, which happened just a day after it announced it also wasn’t attending PAX East.
Facebook and Oculus Gaming announced on the same day as Sony that it also won’t be attending the conference and would be encouraging its employees to not attend. Later this week, Facebook also canceled the annual F8 software developer conference due to the outbreak.
Kojima Productions, which was set to have some talks this year about Death Stranding, the company’s first big release, announced that it won’t be attending. Studio head Hideo Kojima and AI programmer Eric Johnson were set to speak.
Unity Technologies, the company behind the game engine, announced on its blog Thursday that it wouldn’t be attending and won’t have a physical presence. It added it’ll be showcasing what it had in store in the coming weeks.
Electronic Arts said it was canceling its “official participation” at GDC and would be “limiting attendance to other events.” It didn’t specify whether it was encouraging employees to not attend.
Microsoft announced Thursday via the Game Stack blog that it won’t be attending GDC. Instead, it’ll be streaming a lot of its sessions and game developer “experiences” online.
Later on Thursday, Epic Games and Unreal Engine said it wouldn’t be attending via Twitter.

Related: Coronavirus: How COVID-19 shut down the tech industry

This means a lot of the big booths on the show floor won’t be attending, although a lot of smaller companies and indies are still set to attend. There is no word yet whether Informa, the company that owns GDC, has plans to cancel the event (Mobile World Congress was also canceled this year due to coronavirus concerns, so there’s precedent). It did state on its blog that it wasn’t canceling this year’s event and released a set of guidelines for attendees shortly after MWC was canceled. The conference is still set to take place from March 16-20 in San Francisco.

The team notes that it is working to provide a safe environment for attendees and will be following guidelines from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

In the meantime, San Fransisco Mayor London Breed declared a state of emergency in the city amid outbreak concerns, even though there are no confirmed coronavirus cases in the city. This basically meant that city officials could start assembling the resources for rapid response and pull staff away from nonessential duties to focus on preparation. Later that week, a confirmed case from an “unknown” source (meaning the patient hadn’t traveled to affected areas and didn’t come into contact with somebody who was known to have the virus) was reported in Northern California.

The San Francisco Travel Association sent a letter to GDC attendees on Tuesday following the state of emergency news to reiterate that “the risk to the general public is low” and that people who are sick to stay home. It’s also worth noting that it’s also working with several federal organizations and the Moscone Center on providing updated information.

The U.S. said on Tuesday that an outbreak is “inevitable.”

“Ultimately, we expect we will see community spread in the United States. It’s not a question of if this will happen, but when this will happen,” Nancy Messonnier, a director at the CDC, said. At the time of this writing, 47 countries have reported cases.

Update Feb. 28: Added that Amazon also pulled out of GDC.

Amazon is latest company to pull out of GDC 2020

Make your LG gram 17 even better with these top accessories

The LG gram 17 is the hottest 17-inch laptop around. Despite its form factor, it manages to be relatively light, making it perfect for use on the go. It’s truly excellent by itself, but once you own one, the next step is making your experience even better with some great accessories.

Top mouse

Logitech MX Master 3

Staff favorite

Logitech’s MX Master 3 connects via Bluetooth or the included nano receiver, and supports up to three machines at once. Tracking is accurate, and thanks to its design, this is about the most comfortable mouse you can ever put your hands-on, and it’ll charge up over USB-C using the same cable as your smartphone.

$100 at Amazon

Bag of holding

Peak Design Everyday Backpack 20L V2

Even though the gram 17 is compact and light for its massive screen size, it’s still in need of a bag large enough to accommodate it. This backpack will not only keep it safe, but it also looks amazing, is water-resistant and has incredibly clever internal storage to pack your laptop, tablet, camera, drone and a whole bunch of other devices.

$220 at Amazon

Portable docking

StarTech Thunderbolt 3 mini dock

Making use of the Thunderbolt 3 port is smart, especially with this portable dock. It offers up one USB-A 3.0, RJ45 Ethernet, and two DisplayPorts that can be easily carried around in your laptop bag. It can handle two 4K displays at 60Hz, and it’s backed up by a solid warranty for added peace of mind.

$117 at Amazon

Expanded storage

Samsung EVO Select 256GB memory card

Even with 1TB inside, you may still find yourself needing some additional storage. Samsung’s EVO Select microSD cards boast fast read and write speeds of up to 100MB/s and 90MB/s, respectively, and can handle 4K video and hi-res photos with ease. You get a 10-year warranty, which is fantastic, and you can always pop it out and use it elsewhere when you need to.

$35 at Amazon

Bigger display

LG 34WN80C Curved Ultrawide monitor

If the 17-inch display isn’t enough, LG has some incredible ultrawide monitors, such as this 34-inch, 21:9 QHD IPS goliath with a curved display and USB-C connectivity. It supports HDMI 2.0, boasts a 99% sRGB rating for color accuracy, supports HDR 10, and has a VESA mount if you want to attach it to a stand or a wall bracket.

$550 at Amazon

Portable storage

Samsung T7 Touch SSD

Samsung’s T7 Touch is fast and tiny and the best way to add storage to your gram 17. It supports USB 3.2 over USB-C for fast data transfer. Not only this, but this palm-sized SSD supports 256-bit hardware encryption and comes with a 3-year warranty, as well as a built-in fingerprint scanner to keep your data safe. .

From $137 at Amazon

Desktop graphics

Razer Core X

The gram 17 only has integrated Intel graphics, which is fine for most purposes, but if you need a little more power then you’ll want to look towards an eGPU. The Razer Core X is an enclosure for a desktop graphics card that hooks up to the laptop over Thunderbolt 3 and works in tandem with the processor in the laptop to deliver power for professional use or even gaming.

$300 at Amazon

Sleeved up

NIDOO 17-inch laptop sleeve

A 17-inch laptop sleeve? Such a thing does exist and it’s an affordable alternative to a new bag in order to keep your laptop safe when you’re on the road. This one is water-resistant, has a soft foam interior and an external pocket for your phone or tablet as well.

$20 at Amazon

Making a great laptop even better

The LG gram 17 is a really fantastic 17-inch laptop and is easily capable of being your only computer. It’s well suited then to some great accessories, and while it has an excellent trackpad already, many still prefer to use a mouse. The Logitech MX Master 3 is probably the best wireless mouse you can get right now, carrying the legendary name proudly and remaining one of the most ergonomic mice on sale today.

You’ll want to protect it, too, and even though it’s tough, you can’t go wrong by popping it inside a sleeve when you travel, even if it’s going inside another bag. The affordable NIDOO Sleeve is water-resistant and packed with soft foam to keep your gram 17 safe from the world when you leave home or the office.

It’s also worth making use of Thunderbolt 3 since you have it, and even a small dock like the one from StarTech can expand your laptop’s capabilities greatly. Add a couple of external monitors and Ethernet to transform the gram 17 into a full desktop workstation.

Make your LG gram 17 even better with these top accessories

Cortana gets the ax in Microsoft Launcher for Android

Chalk this up as another casualty in Cortana’s continued evolution.

What you need to know

Microsoft is set to drop Cortana support in Microsoft Launcher for Android.
The company says support will go away “by the end of April.”
This is part of a larger set of changes coming to Cortana across all platforms.

Microsoft announced today that Cortana services will soon be dropped from Microsoft Launcher for Android. Microsoft plans to discontinue Cortana services in Microsoft Launcher by the end of April. The company outline the move in a blog post about some larger changes coming to Cortana.

This move is part of a larger shift in Microsoft’s Cortana strategy. Rather than being an assistant across devices, Microsoft is focusing the AI backbone of Cortana towards making people more productive. “This next step in Cortana’s evolution will bring enhanced, seamless personal productivity assistance as a free update to the latest version of Windows 10 coming this spring,” Microsoft said in today’s blog post.

There are further casualties as part of this process, beyond Cortana in Microsoft Launcher. Microsoft also announced that it is dropping Cortana support in versions of Windows 10 that have reached their end-of-service dates, including Windows 10 Mobile. Further, Cortana skills are being dropped entirely.

Cortana gets the ax in Microsoft Launcher for Android