Windows 8 is coming soon, bringing with it a snazzy new look with lots of animation and visual effects. For a preview of some of what it will bring to your desktop, try Aero QLaunch. As a program, it's prosaic: just another freeware quick-launch toolbar for the desktop. As a desktop enhancement, it's anything but subtle, adding some dazzling 3D fireworks to an updated theme based on the new look of Windows 8. Aero QLaunch is available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions. As part of the setup process, Aero QLaunch downloaded and installed the latest applicable version of … Read more
Need an extra reminder for tasks or events? Desktop Alarm Clock from UT Bay is a free Windows utility that instructs your PC to sound an alert at a user-specified time, just like, well, an alarm clock.
The lightweight app needs no installation. Just run it after download and you're ready to go. Setting the alarm couldn't be easier. Pick the alarm sound from any audio file already in your computer or leave a note to yourself regarding the alarm. The small interface can be located anywhere you want it on your screen. You may even opt to … Read more
You know the TV ads for prescription drugs that warn of side effects "including blindness or death?" Something similar can happen when you forget the wrong birthday. That's why Google Calendar is one of the most popular Google Apps: People all over the world rely on it to remind them of those birthdays and events it's unwise and even unhealthy to space out on. Google Calendar Windows Client is a free tool that lets you use Google Calendar without opening Chrome or any other Google application. You still need a Google Account to use it, though.… Read more
It wasn't that long ago that Sony, Panasonic, Samsung, and Onkyo were locked in a fierce competition in the home theater in a box (HTIB) market. Every year I'd report about the latest advances in their systems in my CNET reviews. These days, fewer people want to deal with all of the wires and setup requirements of a five-speaker, subwoofer, receiver, and Blu-ray player based system. Skinny sound bars that sit under a TV are now more popular than HTIB systems. Most sound bars are 2.0- or 2.1-channel stereo systems, though some promise a "virtual&… Read more
Are you a fan of Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Shazam? Nike+?
Would you be interested in a service that essentially combines the functionality of all these mobile apps into one sleek and simple-to-use program? Then perhaps you should give Path a try.
After its most recent update (see my colleague, Paul Sloan's take here), Path could become a major player in the social networking game, expanding its existing 2 million user base. All these enhancements take the brain-child of former Facebook platform manager, angel investor Dave Morin, to a whole new level.
Anyone who's used a computer for any length of time--especially anyone who installs and uninstalls software with any frequency--knows that it doesn't take long for your machine to become cluttered with invalid registry entries, broken shortcuts, and other junk that takes up space and slows system performance. Eusing Cleaner is a simple program that provides a variety of tools for tidying up your computer. As with any program that accesses the registry, proceed with caution, but used judiciously Eusing Cleaner can definitely take out the trash.
Eusing Cleaner has a straightforward interface that looks a little dated but … Read more
The Windows Desktop Background tool will change your wallpaper at regular intervals up to once a day. If you want to change your wallpaper daily, weekly, or monthly, you can do it manually or download a tool that adds the capability. Wallpaper Updater is just such a tool. This free utility runs in the background, changing your wallpaper at regular intervals of one day or longer (or at startup) from a system folder or a Picasa Web Album.
We installed Wallpaper Updater and opened it from its Start Menu folder, which also includes a Help file and uninstaller. The program'… Read more
There are photo-editing programs available to match every skill set, whether you just need to rotate and resize your images or you have some serious correcting to do. PixBuilder Studio falls somewhere in the middle, with an uncomplicated interface that holds a surprisingly comprehensive set of features. Although PixBuilder Studio isn't going to replace any of the big-name photo-editing programs, it might be just the thing for serious amateurs and even some professionals.
The program's interface is familiar and intuitive, with menus across the top, a toolbar down the left side, and a set of panels down the … Read more
Energy's Power EM-2.1 plug-and-play desktop speaker system is remarkably compact.
How tiny is it? The EM-2.1's gloss-black 4.25-inch-by-2.25-inch-by-2.75-inch satellite speakers come mated with a satin black 4.5-inch-by-5.25-inch-by-5.75 inch subwoofer. Connectivity is as basic as it gets, there's just one 3.5mm input jack, and the sub has stereo RCA outputs that drive the satellites. Build quality is inline with my expectations for a $100 package.
The EM-2.1 system promises 80-Hertz-to-20-kHz frequency response, but those numbers sound a little optimistic as far as the bass goes. A power-house system, … Read more
I admit it. I enjoy a good firmware upgrade.
There's nothing like a software fix to make you feel better about your device, especially if it adds new features while eliminating bugs. But not every firmware upgrade is good. Sometimes things go horribly wrong. Which is what happened recently when I updated Jawbone's little Jambox Bluetooth speaker to version 2.0.
The update gave me something called LiveAudio, a "technological breakthrough" that would let me experience my music, games, video "like never before"--as if I was, "on stage, in the action, hearing it live." Furthermore, this immersive, three-dimensional listening experience brought "incredible depth, detail, and unprecedented spatial realism to everything from mp3s to special binaural recordings."
Based on the promo material, I expected a lot; I wanted in on the 2.0 LiveAudio action. Wanted it bad. … Read more