Monday, November 18, 2013

Add Depth to Your Desktop with These Isometric Wallpapers

Wallpapers generally come flat. While we don't expect (or want) anyone to pop on a pair of 3D glasses to change that, you can add some attractive depth to your desktop with isometric renderings.

Add Depth to Your Desktop with These Isometric Wallpapers

Download this wallpaper | mister-meh on deviantART 2000x1306

Add Depth to Your Desktop with These Isometric Wallpapers

Download this wallpaper | NASC 1920x1357

Add Depth to Your Desktop with These Isometric Wallpapers

Download this wallpaper | PC Gamer 1920x1080

Add Depth to Your Desktop with These Isometric Wallpapers

Download this wallpaper | Passy's World of Mathematics 2560x1440

Add Depth to Your Desktop with These Isometric Wallpapers

Download this wallpaper | ATSkill on deviantART 1920x1200

Add Depth to Your Desktop with These Isometric Wallpapers

Download this wallpaper | Rick Acosta 1600x995

Add Depth to Your Desktop with These Isometric Wallpapers

Download this wallpaper | BreAuna on deviantART 2600x2472

For more great wallpapers, check out our previous Wallpaper Wednesdays. Got any great wallpapers you'd like to share? Email me a link with "Wallpaper Wednesday" in the subject line. Submitting your own work is highly encouraged!

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What the Next Generation of Consoles Means for Your Home Theater

Video game consoles aren’t just for gaming. They also make great set-top boxes that stream video and music into our living rooms, and the upcoming Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are no different. Each console brings a little something different to the table, so let's take a look at how those new consoles will bring entertainment other than video games to your living room.

While many of the announcements thus far have focused on games, hardware, development, and all the stuff that video game enthusiasts love, they haven't focused on how well each console would perform as a media center. Let's see what the PlayStation 4, the Xbox One, and—even though it's already available—the Wii U offer in the home theater department.

What the Next Generation of Consoles Means for Your Home Theater

When Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One back in May, most of the announcement event was spent discussing the console's entertainment features. The word "television" was thrown around a lot, which was understandably aggravating to gamers, but to anyone who uses the Xbox 360 as a set-top box and is thinking about an upgrade, it was all useful data. Here's some of the big talking points we got from that event (and from E3):

The Xbox One is designed to be a media center, not just a game console. There’s no question about this. Whether it'll be any good at its new responsibilities remains to be seen, but it's clear that Microsoft wants this device to be a complete home entertainment system, from interactive games to streaming movies and music to your physical media collection. Hence the catchphrase "all in one."It'll be a region-free Blu-ray player. Your music, DVD, and Blu-ray collection will work just fine in the Xbox One. While the console was originally going to be region-locked, Microsoft's about-face on the Xbox One's DRM removed its region-restrictions, so you'll be able to play Blu-rays and DVDs from anywhere in the world on it without hassle. (We know there's a difference between game and movie region restrictions - our understanding from current press materials is that the console will be region unlocked for movies as well. Again, this is subject to change, and depends on the MPAA's approval as well.)The new Kinect brings voice and gesture control to your home theater. Whether you actually want this is up to you. Waving your hands to switch channels or telling your Xbox to increase the volume can come off cool and futuristic, or it could be a colossal waste of time. For an example of voice or gesture control already in action, AllThingsD points to Samsung's Smart TV line—which are great sets, but the futuristic control options have suffered from poor adoption.The Xbox One plays up SmartGlass (and second screening) in a big way. If you don't already use your phone when you watch TV as a second screen, Microsoft is hoping you will with the Xbox One. They're pushing Xbox SmartGlass with the new console, which lets you use your phone or tablet as a remote, looks up maps and character bios for the show you're watching, and connects you with other fans.It'll feature HDMI pass-through for a seamless TV-watching experience. Ideally, you'll connect your cable or satellite TV source to your Xbox One, and then connect the Xbox One to your TV (or your receiver). At the May 21st event, we saw some of the features that'll be enabled using HDMI pass-through, like the option to pause live TV, custom channel guides, and the option to build a personal guide of pinned shows that you enjoy....But it's only seamless if you have cable or satellite, don't need a DVR, or don't need on-demand programs. Cable cutters, DVR owners, and more advanced TV watchers should take note that the Xbox One's TV features really only come to life if you're paying for cable or satellite. Plus, you'll still need your regular DVR or cable box for on-demand programming or recording. Long story short: The Xbox One is not a cable cutter's device.If you do have cable, you can leverage some great apps and other features. NFL on the Xbox, ESPN, HBO Go, and other premium apps will be a huge benefit if you are looking for some on-demand programming. Of course, access to all of those services requires that you prove that you're currently a paying subscriber with a package that already includes those channels, but if you are, you'll be able to enjoy them anytime.Even if you don't have cable, you can still enjoy plenty of streaming video and music. Hulu Plus, Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand, VUDU, Pandora, Xbox Music—there are apps for all of them available already for the Xbox, and there's no reason to think they won't be available for the Xbox One. You'll need accounts for those services, of course, but they're there for you to use, and if you already use an Xbox 360 as part of your home theater, you'll be able to continue with the Xbox One as if nothing happened. As long as you have XBox Live Gold, which we'll get to in a moment.You’ll Need Xbox Live Gold for All Streaming Features. There's still the nitpick that in order to use any streaming service, you'll need an Xbox Gold subscription, and that's a bitter pill to swallow if all you're looking for is streaming media and home theater capabilities. Granted, Microsoft has updated the program to include some free games, but from a home theater angle, it's not a big help. To make the most of everything, you'll wind up paying a monthly cable bill and a annual Gold subscription to get all of these great features—and that's by design. The Xbox One is designed to either replace your Xbox 360 or fit snugly into your home theater—despite its promises of being "all in one," it's not really going to replace anything you already own.So the story on the Xbox One is a mixed bag. If you have basic cable—no On Demand, no bells and whistles—the TV overlay and pinning features could be really cool for you. If you do use On Demand or have a DVR, you'll still find yourself switching inputs and using a remote control over the Xbox One's new Kinect voice and gesture controls. If you're a cable cutter, there's not much here to cheer about—nothing you can't get in an Xbox 360, anyway. Still, points to Microsoft for trying something new.

Still, there are some elements that aren't clear yet. For example, we don’t know how the Xbox One will handle Windows Media Center devices, or whether it will function as a media extender. It's almost certain that the Xbox One will be a DLNA-compatible device, so our favorite streaming media servers and apps like Skifta or Twonky should work with it. We haven't heard anything about media sharing or streaming across devices on your home network yet, or whether the Xbox One will play nicely with downloaded media on a networked computer or NAS, but it would be unusual for Microsoft to take features available in the Xbox 360 and remove them from the Xbox One.

What the Next Generation of Consoles Means for Your Home Theater

Sony didn't put as much focus on television and movies when it unveiled the PlayStation 4. What they did say, however, was that you're not going to get much more for your home theater out of the PlayStation 4 than you may already have in a PlayStation 3. That's not necessarily a bad thing.

While there's something to be said for going out on a limb and trying something different, Sony's approach is to give you more powerful hardware that does more of what you know and love. It's true from a gaming perspective, but it's also true from a home entertainment standpoint. Here are some of the new features Sony did announce:

The PlayStation 4 is a game console, through and through. It's not trying to be something it's not. "Gamer focused," is the way Sony put it in their presser. While you shouldn't throw up your hands and assume it'll be useless as part of your home theater, be ready: this list is going to be much shorter than Microsoft's. Sony's focus is on getting great video games to you, and that interactive gaming experience is their first priority. However, they did dedicate a few moments to television and movies.It'll be a region unlocked Blu-ray player. The PS4 will be region free, meaning you'll be able to play Blu-rays and DVDs from anywhere in the world on the device without issue. (We know there's a difference between game and movie region restrictions - our understanding from current press materials is that the console will be region unlocked for movies as well. Again, this is subject to change, and depends on the MPAA's approval as well.)The PS4 will launch with Sony's Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited services built-in. This isn't much of a surprise, but Sony Music Unlimited a subscription music service with over 20 million songs and access via iOS, Android, web, PS3, and now the PS4, will be available to subscribers on day one. Sony's Video Unlimited will also launch with the PS4, offering over 150,000 Sony Entertainment TV shows and movies available to rent or purchase in SD or HD.Sony's "original programming plan" will bring music, movies, and TV shows to your PS4...catered to gamers. This includes movies like Gamer and Doom to the PS4 in the form of special programming packages. Yo dawg, I heard you're a gamer so I put games in your TV and movies so you can watch stuff about games on your gaming console while you're not gaming.If you're used to streaming on the PS3, you'll be able to do everything you're used to on the PS4.. Hulu Plus, Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand—all of the big names are available for the PlayStation 3 already, and they'll be there when the PS4 launches as well. Sony also mentioned that a new partnership with Verizon will bring Redbox Instant to the PS4, the PS3, and the PS Vita. However, even though Sony will now require PlayStation Plus for online multiplayer games, you won't need to pay for PlayStation Plus to use services like Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon VOD the way you would have to pay for an XBox Live Gold account. Essentially, no paying to use the services you already pay for.The PS4 will support 4K video output. Sony's making a play for 4K television, the next super-resolution video format beyond 1080p. Sony already has 4K TV sets on the market, and sells 4K cameras to movie and TV producers, so it makes sense they'd put it in devices like the PlayStation 4.That's about all we heard during the presser. That's not the end of the story though. As with the Xbox One, it's a safe assumption that Sony will make the PS4 at least as media friendly as the PS3 already is. That means ideally it'll be DLNA compliant, you'll be able to stream from external sources (and with luck, the PS3 Media Server will be updated to support the PS4), and external media servers that play nicely with DLNA devices will play nicely with the PS4 as well. Granted, none of this is specifically new or awesome, and if you already have a PS3 as the heart of your home theater, it might be a tough sell to upgrade if you don't use your console for gaming. Even so, it would be unusual for Sony—especially given their pro-user, "consumer trust" stance at E3—to take away features that you can already get in the PS3.

What the Next Generation of Consoles Means for Your Home Theater

The Wii U has been out since the holidays last year, but it still counts as a "next gen console" for the purposes of our roundup. The Wii U is very definitely a gaming device. It—like the Wii before it—isn't really a home theater system, and Nintendo never angled it as a replacement for or a compliment for a cable subscription or set-top box. The Wii U packs full 1080p HD video, which is great, and you can stream Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video on Demand (as long as you have accounts with those services) for no extra cost. However, the Wii U can't play DVDs, it can't play Blu-Ray discs, and it can't play audio CDs. Nintendo doesn't really offer streaming video content of its own, or any streaming video channels or services that roll into the Wii U aside from the external ones that we've mentioned, either.

That's the bottom line: If you get your streaming content from Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon, you'll be able to enjoy it on the Wii U, but don't expect to replace your DVD or Blu-ray player with it by any means. The Wii U is a game console, and doesn't even try to be a multimedia device.

What the Next Generation of Consoles Means for Your Home Theater

At the end of the day, if you're the type who already has an HTPC that you love, will any of the next generation of consoles replace it? Probably not. The Xbox One is probably the only console of the three that takes a stab at trying to edge in on the media center space, but it does it in such a half-in/half-out manner that it's only going to be really useful to a specific group of people. The PS4 will bring some streaming content that, if you're interested, may make for an additional service to sign up for. The Wii U really doesn't even count here. None of those things are bad—it just means that even as game consoles are adding features that make them more like media centers, it's definitely not their focus yet.

There's still a wide open place in your home theater setup for a small PC running XBMC, Plex, Windows Media Center, or whatever front-end you choose, mostly because you can tweak and customize it, and pack in as many features as you want. Want to record live TV as it airs? Install a TV tuner card and a nice big hard drive, and you're good to go. Want to stream your media to your phone, or to another room, or even to an Xbox or PS3 or an AppleTV? Sure, there are ways to do that. Want to play DVDs, Blu-rays, Hulu, Netflix, and other streaming services while you download TV shows to watch later? An HTPC is your best option, and none of the current generation of consoles—or the coming generation—looks to change that.

If you're using a set-top box as your media center, you probably don't have much to worry about either. Set-top boxes are generally much more affordable than consoles, and while consoles are focused on gaming, set-top boxes are firmly focused on delivering TV shows, movies, and music to your home theater in the easiest possible way. Simple remotes, super-fast search, streaming HD, support for networked devices, and tons of channels and video options are par for the course. Don't toss out your Roku or WD TV because the Xbox One looks good to you—they're completely different beasts, and will more likely live side-by-side in harmony.

However, there's something to be said for the services those consoles do provide. I cut the cable a long time ago, and my TV viewing is almost entirely Netflix and Hulu, with some over-the-air HDTV thrown in for good measure. In my case, I don't need the horsepower and features that an HTPC offers, and any of the current or future crop of consoles will suit my needs perfectly (although I still prefer an HTPC, personally)—if you're like me, you may not need to incur the cost (and the spike in your electric bill) that an HTPC represents. Examine your needs, and buy your next console accordingly.

Photos by Nebulous81 and Simon W├╝llhorst.

Interchangeable Utility Belt Bags/Pouches

beltbag-9287.jpgThese removable, interchangeable bags can be worn with any belt (especially these load-bearing fabric belts:

I'll be showing you the general process, but of course you should make these whatever size or shape you require.

You will need:

Fabric for your shell
Fabric for your lining
Fabric for your interlining, if your other fabrics are very lightweight
Cardstock or construction paper
Snaps (the pound-in kind, not the sew-in kind; I used Dritz 3/8" Snap Fasteners)
A mallet
A closure of your choosing, or two buttons and some thin elastic cord

And miscellaneous sewing stuff, like thread, scissors, pen/pencil/chalk, ruler, etc.

beltbag1-8892.jpgDecide on the length, width, and depth of your bag.  Sketch the shape of the front of the bag (which is the same as the back without the lid) onto cardstock, remembering to add 1/2" seam allowances all around.  For example, I want my bag to be 8" wide and 6" tall, so I sketched it 9" by 7".  Then I rounded the bottom corner, but you don't have to.  Don't worry about symmetry right now.

Next, sketch the lid.  Start with a rectangle as tall as the depth (or thickness) of your bag, and add 1/2".  This is the minimum needed to cover the top of the bag.  I forgot to add 1/2" to mine, so my bag is a little wonky.  Above the rectangle, sketch the shape of the lid that will overlap onto the front of the bag.  Again, don't worry about symmetry.

Fold your templates in half, with the fold running from top to bottom.  Cut out your templates.  Place your front template with the fold on the fold of your fabric.  Trace and cut one from the shell and one from the lining fabric.  In this case, my shell is purple and my lining is green.

Lay the fold of your front template and your lid template on the fold of your shell fabric, with the templates lined up to make one contiguous back piece.  Trace and cut, then repeat with lining fabric.

Measure around your front piece: down one side, across the bottom, and up the other side, but not across the top.  Add one inch to that measurement for wiggle room.  This is the length of the rectangular piece that will give your bag depth.  The width can be whatever width you like, plus one inch for the seam allowances.  Cut one piece each from the shell and the lining.

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Galaxy S4 and HTC One Google Edition Hands-On: The Best Got Better

For years, one of Android's biggest problems has been Android skins that weigh down the best hardware the platform has to offer. But now the two best Android phones in the world—the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4—come in pure, stock Google Editions. And after spending some time with both, we can confirm that ditching the skins has made them better than ever.

Since you can buy them as of today, we've broken down how the two compare with each other, and with the skinned versions of themselves.

The One with Sense enabled was already pretty much the snappiest phone we've ever used. With stock Android, it's even faster. Apps open just a little bit quicker and swiping around the UI is just a little bit smoother. The biggest difference you'll notice, though, is that it's just cleaner. Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) is a very minimal OS. Apps like the calendar, the clock, and even the apps drawer are more pared-back and easier to use. Desktop customization, for example, is much simpler.

You still get the same great phone on the hardware side. From a design standpoint it's still our favorite phone ever, and it's by far the most satisfying to hold. The screen is incredibly sharp and looks just as good as it did on the skinned version. The dual, front-facing speakers still sound incredible (best sounding phone ever), and when you have headphones in you have that same Beats by Dre EQ, which focuses on the bass a little more and sounds very good (the HTC One has a dedicated pre-amp to help with this). Unfortunately, it's not all good news.

The only significant drawback in the Google Edition unit we tested is that the camera doesn't work nearly as well anymore. You might recall how the HTC One's "ultrapixel" sensor took the win in our smartphone camera battle. Clearly, HTC's camera software had something to do with balancing that rather unique sensor, because the stock Android camera app doesn't do nearly as good of a job. Photos tend to be washed out, over-exposed, and under-saturated. Even in low light, it isn't as good.

The new camera app itself is very cleanly laid-out and easy to use, but you lose a lot of the advanced shooting features found in the Sense camera app (though many of these reappear in the editing menu in stock Android's Gallery app), in addition to the specialty modes, though you do gain Google's mega-panoramic PhotoSphere, which is fun but is ultimately a small consolation.

There's a chance, though, that the fault may lie in our unit. A Google spokesperson responded to our inquiries about it as follows:

"The camera hardware and underlying software (image processing, etc.) are the exact same between the Stock and Sense UX versions of HTC One, so there should not be any differences. Our camera tests show that the quality is consistent between the two."

That said, the Google engineers saw what we were talking about in our photos, and they are doing more testing, but they believe we have a faulty device. So who knows! Hopefully it's just a glitch with our One. We'll be getting a new one shortly and will update.

There are a few other quibbles, too, some small things you may have taken for granted with Sense that you don't get with stock. In HTC Sense's dialer app, you can start punching a friend's name into the number pad (using the superscript letters) and it will quickly pull up contacts. The stock dialer doesn't do this, so you have to scroll through your long list of contacts.

HTC Sense also offers built-in profiles—an easy way to switch between Normal, Vibrate, and Silent modes. Not so in stock. Also, the HTC One has a built-in IR blaster for using your phone as a remote control. Not only does the stock version not come with a preinstalled app that lets you use it, but as of right now there are no apps in the Play Store that can take advantage of it, either. We were told that capability would be coming in the next software build, though APIs will still have to be released, and someone will still have to make an app that uses them.

There's also the rather steep sticker price of $600, but that sounds like a bigger number than it actually is. For an unlocked, unsubsidized phone it's pretty standard. If you're used to paying $200 for a high-end phone and have your wireless carrier subsidize the rest (as a part of a two-year contract, typically) may experience some sticker-shock.

That might sound like it all adds up to a lot of negative, but it's really negligible, especially assuming we were dealing with an abnormal camera. And we haven't even mentioned the biggest advantage of a Google Edition phone yet: Updates. The stock version of the HTC One will all but certainly be upgraded to the newest version of Android right along with (or at least close to) the Nexus program. The One with Sense, by contrast, is still running Android version 4.1.2, which is now more than a year old. For people who want the latest and greatest coming out of Google HQ, this is huge. And trust us, you want the latest and greatest.

The stock HTC One runs on AT&T, T-Mobile, and other GSM carriers (i.e. not Verizon or Sprint), and yes, LTE works. We tested it on AT&T's network in NYC, and when we had four bars of LTE we averaged download speeds of over 20Mbps and upload speeds of over 12Mbps. We did have some problems with our radio, initially, but after talking with Google it appears that was unique to our particular test unit. And once we worked out the bug (it chose the wrong APN, for you geeks out there), it performed flawlessly. So, really, our only major gripe here is the camera. We've reached out to Google about it, and will update if we hear anything back.

In our initial review of the Galaxy S4, almost all of our complaints about it were software-related. So you would think that replacing TouchWiz with stock Android would fix almost all of its problems, right?

Yep. That's pretty much true.

Samsung's TouchWiz is such a heavy skin that it slows things down despite the super-fast 1.9GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor in its belly. But while stock Android makes the HTC One a little faster, it's a serious change in the Galaxy S4. Scrolling through menus and across screens is faster and smoother. Apps generally open more quickly, and most importantly, there is now almost zero shutter lag on the camera, whereas the TouchWiz version can lag behind by as much as a second.

TouchWiz is also just a clusterfrak of settings and bells and whistles, most of which sit there unused, clogging up menus. Stock Android is starkly minimalist by comparison. The stock apps look better and are more intuitive to use almost without exception. Desktop customization is way simpler. We were also able to install and use Google Wallet on it (not so on the HTC One Google Edition), which is typically blocked by AT&T. Why it worked on the S4 and not the One despite using the same SIM card for both, we do not know.

On the hardware side, thankfully, photos the 13MP camera took look almost identical to those on the TouchWiz version. Again, the camera app is much simplified, and though you gain PhotoSphere and easier access to HDR, you do lose a lot of the fun camera modes that Samsung came up with, like Drama Shot (which superimposes several images of a subject in motion into a single shot) and animated GIFs. As you know, the Galaxy S4 features a micro SD card slot, and while you can read files off of it (photos, etc.) you can't take full advantage of it. For example, there is no native way to move apps over to your SD card, as there is in the skinned versions of Android.

There are, of course, things you lose that you will miss. Again, TouchWiz's dialer lets you punch in numbers to get to your contacts quickly, stock Android's dialer doesn't (please fix this, guys!), and you lose TouchWiz's profiles feature as well. TouchWiz has some handy shortcuts to settings within the notification screen and some people may miss those, but for our money, the way stock Android handles it is better, and keeps your notification panel looking cleaner and easier to read. Also, while the IR blaster is technically ready to be used, the API hasn't been released yet, and so there are no downloadable apps that can take advantage of it yet. And, the S4 too, will only work on GSM carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile (not Verizon or Sprint).

And as with the HTC One, the sticker price might be tough to swallow. At $650, it ain't exactly cheap, but again, that's not bad for a high-end, unlocked, unsubsidized phone. As we suspected, putting stock Android on the Galaxy S4 made one of the very best smartphones even better.

So, you've decided you're going to go with one of these stock phones. Now that the software is essentially identical, here's how the two phones compare.

The HTC One is still arguably the best-designed phone we've ever used, and its build quality is unmatched. It was cut from a solid block of aluminum and it feels amazing. The Galaxy S4 is by no means bad, but with its slippery plastic back, there's no comparison. The One is slightly narrower and is a bit easier to handle, too. Winner: HTC One

The screens are definitely two different looks, as you can see in the video above. They're both 1080p. The S4 is a full 5 inches which gives you a little more real estate, whereas the One's 4.7-inch screen means the pixel density is every so slightly higher, making it look very slightly sharper.
In the whites HTC One skew a bit on the rosy side, whereas the whites on the Galaxy S4 skew blueish-green. Which is "better" is more a matter of personal preference, though we slightly prefer the One.In the blacks, there's no contest. The Galaxy S4 is like looking into the cold, black vacuum of space, even at full brightness. At full brightness, the HTC One's blacks are very slightly gray. It's still very good, but it's definitely not as good as the S4. Winner: Tie

As you can see in the video above, the stock HTC One locks focus and snaps shots faster than stock Galaxy S4. But, as we mentioned above, the camera on the stock HTC One was under-performing compared to the original. As a result, the camera on the Galaxy S4 is much sharper, has better color, and better contrast. The One does, however, still stomp the S4 in low light. Hopefully we just got a bum HTC unit, but for now the Galaxy S4's camera is better. Click here for a gallery of comparison shots. Winner: Galaxy S4 (pending)

The HTC One is the hands down winner here. It's not even close. The stereo front-facing speakers are loud and clear. The S4's external speaker (on the back) is quiet and terrible by comparison. Also, the pre-amp in the HTC One makes listening to music through headphones noticeably better. Winner: HTC One

Unlike full on Nexus phones, the One and the S4 both have hardware navigation buttons. The One has two capacitive buttons: One for Home, and one for Back. You double-tap home to bring up the task-switcher, and you long-press it to bring up Google Now. The Galaxy S4 on the other hand has three navigation buttons: Back and Menu are both capitative and there's a home button in the center which is press-able. You press it once to go home, twice quickly for multitasking, and long press for Google Now.The capacitive buttons on the HTC (for home and task switching) are simply faster and easier to use. Also, because there is no physical menu button, that puts the menu options on screen in apps, which we find to be more intuitive. Winner: HTC One

Navigating around the OS, the HTC One is just a hair quicker. Considering it has the same software and the same processor but it's clocked 0.2 GHz slower than the S4, that shouldn't be the case. But it is. Go figure. We're talking about a very small difference, though. Even in benchmarks, the two were dead even, with one or the other coming out a hundred or two hundred points ahead of the other in both Quadrant and Geekbench 2 tests, but the One came out ahead two out of three times. Go figure. Winner: HTC One

Too soon to tell. More testing required.

Winner: TBD


You want expandable storage? The S4's got it, the HTC One doesn't. Want a removable battery? Ditto. If you like to tinker, you're going to get frustrated fast with the HTC One's lack of fungibility. Similarly, while there are some accessories available for the One, Samsung has built itself a much more robust third-party ecosystem. If you want your phone with a side of stuff, the S4 is the way to go.Winner: Galaxy S4

Last but not least, the price. The HTC One is $600, and the Galaxy S4 is $650.Winner: HTC One

Honestly, these are both terrific phones, and you'd be happy with either. If an SD card slot and removable battery are a big deal for you, go ahead and get the Galaxy S4. Otherwise, the HTC One is our favorite by a nose. Most of all, though, just be glad that you can finally get the best possible versions of the best possible phones on Android. It's about time.

You can get the stock Android HTC One here and you can get the stock Android Samsung Galaxy S4 here. They should ship out by July 9th.

Download the Windows 8.1 Preview Now

Download the Windows 8.1 Preview Now

Microsoft is showing off all the new features of Windows 8.1 today, but curious users can download the 8.1 Preview right now. Here's what you need to know.

The preview is currently only available as an update installer, but Microsoft says that an ISO version will be available within the next day. Once you install the update, you'll have to head to the Windows Store and download the actual preview (so yes, you'll need to download two things).

Note that if you upgrade to the preview now, you'll have to reinstall all your apps—both Modern apps and desktop apps—when you upgrade from the preview to the final version. So, we recommend downloading the ISO and installing it in a virtual machine or a separate partition to try it out. Hit the link below to check it out.

Download Windows 8.1 Preview | Microsoft

MacGyver Challenge: Hack Something Using PVC Pipe

Hello, fellow life hackers. Time for another MacGyver Challenge. What's a MacGyver Challenge, you ask? Simple. We give you an object and you show us what cool things you can do with it. Our editors pick the best submissions and our favorite will be featured here on Lifehacker!

Ready? Then let's get started.

This week, we're asking you to make something using PVC. It's cheap, sturdy, and fairly easy to work with, making it a great DIY material. We've shown you all kinds of fun hacks with PVC pipe. You can create a bike rack, a trash bag dispenser, stackable drawer organizers, or even build your own bodyweight home gym.

Now, it's your turn. Share your best hack using PVC pipes. Your hack can use other materials, of course, but the PVC pipes should be the defining element. Send us pictures and a description of your hack and feel free to annotate your photos if you need to. And don't be afraid to get creative!

Make sure to follow these instructions when you submit your entry:

Post your entry below or send it to with the subject MacGyver Challenge: PVC. If you post your entry below and need to include more than one image, just reply to your own comment or host your extra pics on a free, quick image-hosting site like imgur and link out to your gallery.We will accept entries up through Sunday night, June 30 at 11:59pm Pacific Standard TimeWe will showcase the best submissions and announce our favorite on Tuesday, July 2.So grab that leather flight jacket, comb your mullet, and start channeling those MacGyver vibes. Here's a little theme music to put you in the mood. And don't forget to check back every week for a new challenge. We'll be alternating between Hacker Challenges and MacGyver Challenges.

Standard Gawker contest rules apply, so be sure to check them out before submitting your entry.

Image by Jag_cz (Shutterstock) and withGod (Shutterstock).