Julian van der Merwe (List Writer)
My interest in tech started in high school, rooting and flashing my Motorola Defy, but I really fell down the rabbit hole when I realised I could overclock the i7 930 in my Gigabyte pre-built PC. This tinkering addiction eventually lead me to study product design in university. I think tech should improve the lives of the people using it, no matter the field. I like to read and write about laptops, smartphones, software and trends in technology.
4 upcoming Steam survival games that will ring nostalgia bells for gamers of all ages
If you ask some people, nostalgia is the sole reason for the success of shows like Stranger Things. No matter what we tell ourselves, there are some things that will always have a soft spot in our memories. The developers of these titles hope to tap into some of that nostalgia factor to deliver memorable gaming experiences.
Free CAD software packages: 4 excellent options for makers and hobbyists to get started without spending a cent
It seems unfair that CAD packages are all prohibitively expensive. After all, how are you to know if it's worth spending money on learning the skill without knowing whether or not you're any good at it? Fortunately, there are are a few free CAD packages you can try your hand at before you spend.
Steam Summer Sale 2022: 3 essential open world survival games to explore
It's no wonder open world games are consistently some of the most popular ones out there—the genre has a lot of variety to offer. If done well, there is almost endless replay value in an open world game, making bargains like those you'll find in the Steam Summer Sale even more tantalising.
4 Steam Summer Sale multiplayer games under US$10 to enjoy with friends
There are few things better than a good game, however, two things that are better than a good game are a good game at a great price and a good game you can share with friends. That being said, let's have a look at some great co-op games that you can get for a great price during the 2022 Summer Steam Sale.
Hangouts needed to face the chop but Nexus is one of 4 Google projects that was axed way too soon
It must be difficult to be a Google project, never knowing when the technicolour tech giant will inevitably pull the plug on you like it has for so many of your compatriots. Google's latest victim is the much-maligned Hangouts—which will merge into Google Chat—but let's have a look at some of the more interesting projects Google axed before Hangouts.
4 superb M2 MacBook Pro alternatives for Windows users that can't stand macOS
Between bright OLED displays and powerful processor platforms, Apple's refreshed M2 MacBook Pro 13 doesn't bring all that much to the table in terms of upgrades. Is the stale design worth living with for the convenience of macOS? If not, which Windows laptops should you spring for instead?
3 Steam indie games that lost the plot but kept the insanity
Let's face it, we've all just about had it with the same cookie-cutter games featuring the serious, grizzled men with big guns and muscles in place of personality. Fortunately, game developers have caught on to this and there are some incredible gems out there that don't take themselves too seriously. Let's have a look at some of the most outlandish premises in PC gaming.
3 Google Pixel 7 leaks including a 2nd-generation Tensor SoC and a camera snoozefest
The next entry in Google's flagship lineup is bound to make waves in the tech community in late 2022. Between Google's own I/O 2022 tease and the pretty consistent stream of leaks about the Pixel 7, we get the idea feelings about the 2022 flagships will not all be positive.
3 inspirational DIY tech projects like the USB-C iPhone that warrant greater recognition
DIY people are the best of us—they persevere and succeed, regardless of how many profanities it takes to earn their success and how many tiring days or even weeks it takes to build their next wonderfully creative project. As an ode to the DIY folk, let's have a look at some of the best DIY projects that deserve to be on store shelves.
May 2022 Steam Survey offers up 3 takeaways including Nvidia RTX indifference and continued AMD popularity
While obviously not representative of the overall PC market, the Steam Survey is a great indicator of the state of mainstream PC gaming and where the industry is heading. With the market finally starting to recover from component shortages and insane pricing, let's have a look at the prognosis.
4 sneaky ways Apple's Self Service Repair is undermining the right to repair movement
Apple's Self Service Repair program gives a good idea of what Apple thinks DIY repair should look like, and the prognosis is not good. It's so convoluted that it seems as though Apple only launched the program out of spite, or perhaps some sort of malicious compliance. We all already know the effect Apple has on the tech industry — RIP headphone jack — so we can only hope that the industry doesn't follow suit.
Gigapixel AI and 3 other ways artificial intelligence is shaping the future
We've all heard of deepfakes, search algorithms, and the AI-powered computational photography systems that enhance our cat photos, but those applications are just the tip of the iceberg. AI is becoming more and more present in industry nowadays, so let's have a look at some interesting applications of AI that we might not have seen coming.
Epic MEGA Sale: 3 absorbing RPGs you can get into for a great discount
The best things in life aren't necessarily always free — sometimes they're heavily discounted. Epic Games is running its 2022 MEGA Sale until June 16 — let's have a look at some of the best RPG titles on offer.
Budget photography: 4 free Photoshop alternatives for beginners
While a US$9.99 monthly Photoshop subscription is almost nothing for a professional studio spending thousands on expensive camera gear, a lot of people only do photography as a hobby and don't want to pay a monthly fee for editing software they may use every few weeks. Fortunately, there are free options out there that are very capable of editing both the shots you took on your morning walk and your landscape shots from your most recent camping trip.
Warframe and 3 other banging free-to-play games with cross-platform multiplayer support for universal dominance
We all have that one friend that vehemently insists consoles are better, and that no, it's not because of aim-assist. Next time you hear this, invite them to play one of these games and then show them what it means to be part of the PC Master Race.
Mediocre Pixel 6a: 3 older flagship phones that pummel Google's newest midranger
Google's latest stab at a midrange phone is lackluster at best — sure, it has Google's custom SoC, but the camera system is a rehash of last year's Pixel 5 and 5a, it only has a 60 Hz display, and now it's arguably less durable than the Pixel 5 and 5a — especially considering the price. So what can be had used or refurbished for around the same or less?
May Steam sales: 3 cracking action-RPG games to be had on the cheap
PC gaming is expensive, so it's a good thing marketplaces like Steam always have some sort of sale going on. It's not easy to pick when the sales are so short, so instead of buying a game on a whim, have a look at these three great choices you can get for little more than a fancy coffee.
LineageOS 19: Google's Pixel 2 and 3 other iconic old phones getting Android 12
LineageOS 19.1 recently dropped, bringing Android 12 support to a whole host of devices, with many more on the way. Whether you have a moral objection to upgrading phones more than once a decade, or you simply can't afford it, with LineageOS you can still have Android's latest and greatest on these older devices.
Windows 11 22H2: 4 indispensible features coming (back) in the August 2022 Sun Valley 2 update
Between missing features, bugs, and draconian hardware requirements, Windows 11 has had quite a mixed reception, to say the least. It is not surprising to see that less than 2% of PCs are running the OS. Will the 22H2 Sun Valley 2 update convince more users to jump over to the dark side?
Ditch Office 365: 3 free Microsoft office alternatives for Windows, Linux and macOS
Microsoft offers two flavours of its infamous Office software: Microsoft 365 for US$69.99 per year or US$149.99 for a perpetual licence. If neither of those options sound ideal, you're not alone in thinking that. Fortunately, there is a whole host of free, open-source alternatives to choose from.
Windows 11 taskbar downgrade and 3 other ways Microsoft is making its ubiquitous OS worse
Microsoft poised Windows 11 as a huge upgrade to Windows 10, claiming increased performance and improved security. This is partially true, especially if you are using an Intel Alder Lake CPU, but the launch of Windows 11 was marred by substantial amounts of negative user feedback and concerns about some decisions that Microsoft implemented in the update.
iPhone 13 mini and 3 other tragic smartphone fails that deserved better
Some smartphone innovations are great ideas and make a lasting impact on the market. Others are also great ideas but either fail to launch completely or somehow go the way of the dodo, never to be seen again. Let's look at some recent would-be home runs that just didn't pan out for some reason.
Samsung Galaxy A53 5G and 3 other sub-US$450 phones that deliver in the photography department
Most people may not realise that you can get great quality photos and videos for a fraction of the price of the top-dog iPhone 13 Pro Max or Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. While they may not feature 10x optical zoom lenses or ProRes video support, these sub-US$450 powerhouses will certainly get the job done.
Xperia headphone jack loyalty and 3 other ways Sony's premium phones out-flagship the rest
Sony's Xperia 1 III, Xperia 5 III, and Xperia Pro-I phones offer a complete flagship package and worthy competition for even the best that Samsung and Apple have to offer. While Sony eschews unnecessary trends like a 108 MP camera, it maintains support for legacy connectors and sticks to a tried-and-true design.
Easter eggcess: Amazfit T-Rex and 4 other sub-$200 wearables to help burn those extra calories
Already thinking about how to burn off some calories from those devilishly delightful Easter treats? A wearable may help quantify your workouts and keep up motivation. Brands like Amazfit, Motorola, and Redmi have some great fitness and health tracking smartwatches and bands that won't break the bank.
Apple iPhone 13 mini killers: 3 compact Androids that will blow you away
It's hard to believe that the 5.4-inch iPhone 13 mini is the smallest flagship smartphone available. That being said, there are some attractive and compact Android alternatives available. Let's have a look at some of the best options if you hate iOS.
3 great Apple Studio Display killers that cost under US$1,000
Apple's Studio Display, which currently costs from US$1,599, is a weird mix of professional and consumer features that kind of put it in a class entirely on its own - too consumer-grade for professionals and too professional for most consumers. There is little direct competition, but knowing your needs can help you find a better solution.
Bonkers 3600 W Zero 10x e-scooter and 3 other premium e-mobility rides
If you're looking for a way to beat the traffic, cut down that last 5 km after your bus commute, or even just have a weekend recreational ride in the woods, these electric masterpieces, such as the Zero 10x 1200 W dual motor scooter, may pique your interest.
Maximise Windows PC worktime with these 4 free must-have utilities
Windows 10 and 11 have a host of built-in tools to boost your productivity, but sometimes it takes a little bit more than what's on offer to really get going. There are many aftermarket options available online and in the Microsoft store. Let's have a look at some of the best third-party options out there to make your PC work for you.
M1 iMac pressure: 3 great Windows AIOs that barely compete
The Apple iMac with M1 is a phenomenal desktop computer. Between its bright, 4.5k display, lightning-fast M1 SoC and great built-in speakers and webcam, Apple seems to be going for the killing blow against Windows all-in-ones. Some of the best Windows options prove that competing will be an uphill battle.
Stale smartphones: 4 moribund mobile trends that need to go
Before the epoch of the smartphone, things like innovation were used to describe more than just a spec bump. While some complaints about the current market may be nitpicky, others are genuinely concerning and need attention.
Ryzen 7000 vs Alder Lake: 3 reasons why AMD's Zen 4 will smash Intel's 12th Gen
AMD made great progress in reigniting the CPU wars with its impressive and ongoing Ryzen series of processors. Intel finally caught back up with the release of its 12th Gen Alder Lake parts; however, recent leaks suggest that AMD's Zen 4 Raphael processors could give Alder Lake more than a serious run for the money.
M1 MacBook Air portable power: 3 ways Apple is setting a new standard
Apple may not be known for being first, but the impact of its innovations is felt industry-wide. This has often drawn the ire of PC and Android fans, especially when it results in a decrease in the port-to-laptop ratio. That being said, some positive changes may come to pass from these recent changes.
3 future tech developments to actually be excited about
From foldable phones to floppy CPUs, the future of tech is bright and ever-changing. Some of the technologies of the future are obviously still in their infancy but let's have a look at some of the most exciting upcoming developments anyway.
3 nitpicky complaints about Apple's Peek Performance event
Apple products are known for giving off an air of sophistication that no other tech company has really managed to match. That being said, nothing is immune to criticism - and there is plenty of it to go around following the March 2022 Peek Performance event.
3 pricey handheld PCs the Steam Deck has to fight for supremacy
There are many things that set the Steam Deck apart from its competition: its unique SteamOS, its custom AMD APU and an unbeatable starting price. That being said, there are still devices around that will give it a good run for its money, depending on your use case and budget. Here are some of the contenders.
4 reasons to ditch your old MacBook for a Windows laptop
We all know that the Apple M1 MacBook Pro is a fantastic piece of hardware - it is fast, thin, light and efficient - but Apple's performance in the few years leading up to the M1 launch was not great. If you're using a MacBook in need of an upgrade, there are reasons to go visit Windows-land - some of them petty, others less so.
4 reasons why the Valve Steam Deck is an entirely different beast of a console
Valve finally shipped its Steam Deck handheld console to users in early 2022. While handheld gaming PCs have existed for quite some time, the Steam Deck is in a class of its own and is setting the example for what a mobile gaming computer can look like.
4 reasons Microsoft PowerToys should be on every Windows 10 or 11 device
Microsoft PowerToys is an open-source, free utility developed by Microsoft that allows users the ability to greatly alter their Windows experience and truly make the most out of their machine. Let's have a look at some of the best features that can be found in the v0.55.2 release.
3 laptops that perfectly complement a working holiday
Going on a trip and need a laptop to get some work done while you're on the road? Whether you're on the hunt for a Windows or MacOS device, your leisurely productivity needs are sure to be covered by at least one of the devices on this list.
4 Lenovo Vantage software features that make it better than bloatware
Lenovo's Vantage software is included from the factory in most of the OEM's laptops nowadays. While it provides the usual warranty and diagnostic information, here are some extra-neat features that may prevent you from uninstalling it immediately.
5 unexpected changes Samsung made with the Galaxy S22 series
The Samsung Galaxy S22 series launched on February 9, 2022 to both cheers and groans. As usual, there are some iterative upgrades and there are some more drastic changes. Let's have a look at some of the more unexpected and controversial changes Samsung made upgrading from the Galaxy S21 series to the S22 lineup.
4 controversial laptop trends that should never have made it mainstream
Laptop hardware has come so far since its inception. We have gone from having hideous, slow, thick monstrosities to thin, beautiful designs that come dangerously close to rivalling desktop performance. So where did these next wacky ideas come from?
4 laptops to consider if you're not a fan of MacOS but want something like a MacBook Pro
Love it or hate it, Apple has turned its MacBook line into a tech icon. In 2021, the tech giant launched an all-new line-up of MacBooks with the impressively powerful M1 series of processors. But what if you're not a fan of MacOS or you don't like Apple's stance on right to repair? Let's have a look at some alternatives.
Top 4 features that make the Google Pixel 6 stand out
The Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro have proven to be some of Google's most successful releases to date, having broken sales records despite a less-than-perfect launch season. Why have the devices been so popular? Let's have a look at some of the standout features of the Pixel pairing that might entice you.
3 tech trends that took off during the pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we all live our lives. Everything from work to hobbies and habits have all had to adapt and change. Let's take a look at how tech trends have changed as our lives have changed during the pandemic.
3 phones that would have made better Pixel 6 devices than the Pixel 6
Google's Pixel devices are known for being some of the best Android phones on the market. They offer solid performance, great camera chops, and a fantastic user interface with regular Android updates and promised long term support - all at a reasonable price. This is, however, no longer unique to the Pixel line-up. Let's have a look at some of the Pixel 6's stiffest competition.
4 things that are great in MIUI 12
If you've been into mobile tech for any length of time, you have noticed that Android device updates no longer include grand feature dumps. Nowadays, it's all about incremental feature updates, security and consistency. MIUI is no different, so while Xiaomi is busy rolling out MIUI 13, let's see what MIUI 12 has in store for you.
3 best laptop features that never made it mainstream
From displays to chassis designs, we take a look at 3 of our top picks for laptop features that should be in our laps right now, but just haven't quite made it. Are these features truly innovations or just cheap gimmicks OEMs will use to sell you a laptop for one or two years?