The growing need for telecommuting has put the limelight on technology. Business laptops like the Asus ExpertBook B9450, for instance, are topping the charts for worthwhile investments. Aside from hardware, software and apps, too, have started stepping up their game. That said, these are the best virtual collaboration tools that modern professionals seriously need to consider getting:
1. Google Meet
Zoom may have become an overnight phenomenon among casual users, like friends wanting to stay in touch. But for those who need a video conferencing program for professional use, Google Meet is arguably a better option. The new and improved version of Google Hangouts is a platform for real-time virtual meetings available to anyone with a Gmail account. You can host 60-minute long meetings on the free version for up to 100 participants, which can be upgraded to unlimited calls for premium users.
Some of its features include recording, screen sharing, and real-time captioning. It also comes with a noise filter that can mute disruptive sounds in the background. This ensures that meetings remain brief and productive. You can also integrate it with G Suite easily if your company is using Google’s various business programs. More importantly, Google Meet offers a more robust security infrastructure compared to others, with its encryption and anti-hijacking measures. Zoom meetings, in particular, have had trouble with ‘Zoombombers’ or hackers who disrupt video conferences. Meet requires invites for people to join, which helps prevent unwanted participants from interrupting private meetings.
Meetings are essential for any organization, but not every update requires hour-long assemblies. That’s where the communication tool Slack comes in. Rather than video calls, Slack relies on direct messaging and channels to facilitate constant communication.
On the desktop and mobile app, you can send direct messages to your employees and colleagues. It’s easy to search for keywords and pin important messages. You can also categorize conversations into different channels for all or select participants. For instance, you can create a messaging thread for daily announcements and for monthly targets. This keeps communications more organized and remote collaboration more effective.
One of the biggest challenges for remote teams is file sharing. That’s what Box, the cloud content management service, aims to change. There’s no need to compress or separate files to fit various file sharing platforms. With Box, you can securely send large files — be it PDFs, videos, images, or documents — over the cloud with a few taps on your keyboard. It has a drag and drop feature for a simpler uploading process, which then creates a link you can share with your coworkers, partners, and clients.
To ensure content security, you can customize each link’s privacy features. Add different permission levels, expiration dates, and passwords so as not to compromise your precious data.
Remote work is not foolproof. Even with constant communication, Digiday reports that workers still struggle with productivity. This is especially true for people who are used to being managed or who thrive better under pressure.
What can help is project management software like Toggl. Time tracking is its main feature, which then collates and simplifies the data into a report. However, it also comes with a project dashboard that shows the real-time progress of everyone in the team. From this, you can implement changes based on how much or how little work is getting done by each person. This way, you can maximize productivity and work in sync with the rest of your team.
There are many tools made with virtual collaboration in mind. As of now, these four pieces of software show the most promise for remote workers.
Acer Nitro XV340CK Review- A Greatly Competitive Ultrawide Gaming Monitor Under $500
Ultrawide monitors used to be a niche display in that the only people who work on productivity tasks and creative workloads usually buy them.
Fortunately, the display technology has evolved and gamers, too, can enjoy a much wider screen.
Today, I am going to review the Acer Nitro XV340CK which is a 34-inch ultrawide gaming monitor that is priced competitively.
Even though this is marketed as a gaming monitor, the Acer Nitro XV340CK actually doesn’t look like it. It looks simple and I love the aesthetics, especially if you want to place this in your office.
The only thing that might make you think that this is a gaming display is that red accent that you can find on the base of the monitor but that’s about it.
Anyway, let’s start with the stand. Aside from the aforementioned red accent, the stand provides good ergonomics.
It gives you the ability to swivel the monitor a complete 360 degrees, you can tilt it to 35 degrees back and you can adjust the height up to 5.9 inches. Because this is an ultrawide monitor, you cannot put this thing in portrait mode.
I love the fact that this monitor has slim bezels. At only 0.4 inches, you can place another monitor right beside it and it wouldn’t really take a lot of screen real estate at all.
The overall build quality is good. Despite the fact that it doesn’t feel premium, at least when compared to the best gaming monitors out there, it still feels sturdy nevertheless.
For the ports, you get two Displayport 1.4 ports, two HDMI 2.0 ports, and two USB 3.0 ports. Due to the wealth of ports on offer, you can use this for your PC or your game console.
The only thing that might be cumbersome for some users is that the OSD controls are situated at the back of the monitor- particularly on the bottom right side. The buttons are also a bit smaller than usual, so you may have a hard time pressing the right ones.
The Acer Nitro XV340CK has a 34-inch IPS display with a resolution of 3440 x 1440 and an aspect ratio of 21:9. It is the same as other ultrawide gaming monitors that you can find on the market so there is no problem with that.
You do have the option to enable the picture-in-picture mode so that you can divide the display in two if you wish to fire up two different programs at the same time. This is why it is not only a handy gaming monitor, but it can also be used for office work as well.
Its contrast and brightness leave much to be desired. With a native contrast ratio of 1048:1 and peak SDR brightness of only 247 nits, it is not the best display when it comes to these things.
However, its redeeming quality is that its colors are accurate. After calibration, I got 95% sRGB, 82% AdobeRGB, and 81% DCI-P3. It is relatively color accurate and it would have been nice for creative workloads, but its peak brightness just falls short of making it an ideal display for such use-cases.
It is also worth noting that if you are in a well-lit room that the brightness could be a huge issue. The good thing is that the display’s matte finish can help reduce glare significantly, though you will still find that it is not bright enough in some situations.
I am surprised by the fact that there is literally no color bleed on the Acer Nitro XV340CK. This is unheard of, especially since ultrawide monitors are notorious for this.
Sure, its peak brightness and contrast could have improved, but gamers are not especially focused on those things. If anything, it is the performance of the display that usually takes the cake and I am happy to report that you won’t be disappointed with the Nitro XV340CK.
Normally, with IPS panels, they tend to not have a good response time, but that is actually not the case here. At just 5.3ms, it is definitely one of the best out there even when compared to other, more premium models.
How about input lag? This is a speed monitor and as expected, input lag is minimal. At just 4.2ms, I am really blown away by the performance of this thing. Every keypress on your gaming keyboard will register almost immediately and that is really great from a competitive standpoint.
It is also worth noting that its 144Hz refresh rate is ideal, especially since most gamers are clamoring for high refresh rate displays anyway.
This is a FreeSync gaming monitor and you can enable this variable refresh rate feature in both AMD and Nvidia graphics cards.
To get a hold of the said features, it is important for you to know that you should use the DisplayPort cable that is included in the box. There is also an included HDMI cable if you want to use this display for your Xbox or Playstation consoles.
With all of those things being said, if I were to ask you how much this thing costs, what will be your guess? If you’ve guessed around $700, you’re wrong.
The Acer Nitro XV340CK is priced at just $450! At that price, you are getting a relatively color-accurate monitor, a really fast display with minimal input lag, and a vast number of ports that you can use for your PC or game consoles.
Sure, its contrast and peak brightness could have been improved, but if you are talking about raw gaming performance, the Acer Nitro XV340CK blows other ultrawide gaming monitors out of the way.
Just make sure that you have a nice gaming PC for this thing to work nicely. Other than that, I highly recommend the Acer Nitro XV340CK for its price and performance.
HyperX Cloud Stinger S- A Comfortable 7.1 Surround Sound Gaming Headset
As an audiophile, I’ve always loved HyperX’s gaming audio solution. They are inexpensive and for the price, you are actually getting sound quality that you normally would only hear from expensive products.
In today’s article, I am going to review the HyperX Cloud Stinger S. This is a budget offering that aims to improve upon the original Cloud Stinger with the inclusion of a 7.1 surround sound option.
Do I recommend this headset? Find out later on in the article.
The HyperX Cloud Stinger S is actually quite similar to the original version. It has the same pleather ear cups that envelope your ears quite nicely and the clamping force of the headset itself is actually quite okay.
I’ve been receiving reports that there are some people that have problems with the tightness or, shall I say, how loose this thing can be. But that will probably be a result of the size of your head and not the actual product itself. For me, the fit was okay, but your mileage may vary.
Although this thing is predominantly made in plastic, the overall build quality is good, though I would advise you not to throw this headset when you lose a round in a MOBA game or first-person shooter.
There is a microphone on this headset and just like the original, it is not removable. It would have been nice if you could remove it when you are not using it because even if you fold the microphone (which also acts as a way of muting it), you will still see it which can be annoying at times.
This thing is quite simple and all you have for the controls is the volume slider that is located on the right ear cup.
While other HyperX gaming headsets come with a carrying pouch, I am sad to say that the HyperX Cloud Stinger S doesn’t have one.
All you get in the box aside from the headset is a USB dongle that is attached to a relatively long cable and some documentation. And, since you use this thing completely wired, it can also be used in your Playstation or other game consoles as well.
The 3.5mm analog cable should be inserted in the USB dongle if you wish to use its 7.1 surround sound implementation, but if you are just going to watch movies or play non-competitive games, I suggest that you do not use it.
There are two modes that you can utilize if you are going to use the HyperX Cloud Stinger S. You can use its 3.5mm headphone jack and enjoy stereo sound or you could insert that into the included USB dongle and use the 7.1 surround sound feature.
Keep in mind that if you are going to use the 7.1 output that it is only supported on the PC since you will need the NGENUITY software to enable it.
That being said, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S’ sound signature leans more toward being bright and with a little emphasis on the bass. This seems to be the preference of the majority of gamers since lower frequencies can make those in-game sounds pop-out more.
I also love the mid frequencies as it is quite balanced as well. I’ve had no problems listening to in-game dialog and when I am using the microphone, it just works really well.
Although the high frequencies are okay, I would say that it is the weakest of the bunch, though not so much as to diminish the overall sound quality. You will still hear the sibilance of the cymbals and lead guitars, but it is not as pronounced as the lower and mid frequencies.
As for the 7.1 surround sound, you should enable it in the companion software and it is only available when you are on the PC.
Anyway, its surround sound is okay but I say this because it is a budget gaming headset. If you compare it to the more premium ones, this is subpar at best. Still, you could enable it in your favorite games but I will advise against it if you are just listening to music or watching movies.
Despite a relatively good clamping force, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S doesn’t do so well in terms of sound isolation. People around me can still hear what I was listening to, so this might not be ideal if you are playing at night and there are people sleeping.
There is usually this notion that budget headsets have horrible microphones but not the HyperX Cloud Stinger S. In fact, I would go on to say that it has one of the better ones on the market.
Instead of sounding tinny, the microphone quality of the Cloud Stinger S is full-bodied and my teammates can hear every word I said without any problems.
The volume of the microphone is also quite good as well. Normally, with budget offerings, you tend to sound a bit ‘too far’ but that is not the case here.
Overall, I am quite pleased with the microphone. The only thing that I do not like is that the flippable microphone may impede your vision sometimes, but I think that you can adjust to this.
For a budget headset, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S is definitely one of the better sounding ones. I also love the fact that the microphone’s quality is top-notch and it can even go head-to-head against its more premium counterparts.
I am just a bit disappointed that you do not get a carrying pouch with this one because other HyperX gaming headsets have them. But, this is a minor inconvenience.
I did not feel the need to talk about the NGENUITY software mainly because it is pretty barebones and all you can do with it is to enable the 7.1 surround sound, adjust the volume and microphone, and that’s about it. There is no equalizer present which is quite odd.
Still, for what it is giving you, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S is highly recommended. This thing costs $60.
Best VR Headsets in 2020- Experience the Thrill of Virtual Reality Gaming
A lot of people have said that the interest in virtual reality gaming has waned and although there is some truth to that, I think that the interest in this industry is just going to get better for the years to come.
Today, I am going to go over some of the best VR headsets in 2020. So, if you’re interested to feel the thrill of virtual reality gaming, then read ahead to find out my recommendations.
Back then, there was a huge interest in VR. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be immersed in the games that you play?
Unfortunately, it was quite challenging to make virtual reality work, at least, for the hardware that was available at the time.
The good thing is that the components that you can get today are so powerful that I think the interest in virtual reality, as a whole, will just increase further and further.
Keep in mind that not all VR headsets are created equal. There are standalone VR headsets that do not require any cables to be plugged into a game console or a computer, while there are those that would need to be tethered to a machine to get things started.
It is also worth noting that while there are so many inexpensive options out there, if you want the best possible experience, you will need to prepare yourself to spend quite a lot of money as those that are considered worthwhile investments are, well, investments.
They may not be cheap but rest assured that the headsets that I am going to be recommending to you are all worth it.
Best VR Headsets in 2020
If you want the best of the best without taking into consideration the cost, the Valve Index is one VR headset that is considered a worthwhile investment.
It has got everything that you can ask for in a virtual reality headset. It has a pretty nice AMOLED display with a resolution of 2880 x 1600. It has a refresh rate of 120Hz for a smooth and immersive gaming experience. And, it can be connected using a Displayport to your gaming PC as well.
The headset is also quite comfortable thanks to the choice of materials that are used in the construction of this product. I have to say that the weight distribution is also superb since you will never feel that the VR headset is on your noggin even if you are using it for hours and hours.
This thing has excellent per-finger tracking and its audio output is definitely something that is worth noting as well.
Seriously, the only issue here is that the price is over $1,500. If you are willing to spend this much, I can guarantee that you won’t be disappointed with the Valve Index.
2.HTC Vive Cosmos Elite
The second iteration of products usually fix the issues that were present in the first version and that is what the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite is trying to achieve.
In this new version, you are getting a much higher resolution display at 2880 x 1700 and the screen has a refresh rate of 90Hz as well.
You could say that it is nearly identical to the original version except that the different faceplate means that you are sacrificing inside-out tracking for a much-improved accuracy across the board.
This headset was introduced mainly as a means for people to enjoy Half-Life: Alyx, but with the free annual subscription to the HTC Viveport, the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite is one that you should consider getting, especially now since the price has dropped considerably.
3.Oculus Rift S
The Oculus Rift S is certainly one of the best VR headsets on the market mainly because it is one of the most comfortable out there and its vast library of games (via the Oculus Store) makes it even more appealing to the average consumer.
I love the fact that its touch controllers provide an even more immersive experience thanks to its touch response and haptic feedback.
Its display resolution is 1280 x 1440 and while it is lower than the previous VR headsets, it is quite okay in most of the games that you can play in Oculus’ portfolio. And oh, the screen also has an 80Hz refresh rate as well.
One of the things that will really entice people to get this one is its impressive library of games. Some of the most popular titles include Job Simulator, Beat Saber, and a whole host of others.
The only thing that you need to take note of here is that you will need to have a pretty powerful PC for this one to work flawlessly. I suggest that you start investing in a powerful processor, as well as a high-end graphics card that can handle the graphical load.
To me, this is the one to get for most people, especially considering that its price won’t break the bank.
Considered as one of Windows’ Mixed Reality headsets, do not be fooled as this is still a bonafide VR headset at the end of the day. The only reason why it is included in the product stack is that Microsoft originally wanted to incorporate the HoloLens into this thing, but the project was canceled at the last minute.
Anyway, this headset has an AMOLED display with a rich pixel density and a resolution of 2880 x 1600 and a screen refresh rate of 90Hz.
If you do not want to experience the dreaded ‘screen-door’ effect that is usually present in most VR headsets, then this is the one that you should get. The reason why it can prevent such a thing is that Samsung makes use of a proprietary technology that will make the screen-door effect virtually non-existent.
It should also go without saying that the Samsung Odyssey+ also has excellent inside-out tracking as well.
If you just want to experience virtual reality gaming and you do not want to spend hundreds of dollars just to get a really good headset, then the Oculus Go is for you.
Unlike other VR headsets that require you to have them connected either to the PC or on game consoles, the Oculus Go is actually a standalone product, which means that it can handle things on its own.
It is equipped with a Snapdragon 821 chipset and its 2560 x 1440 resolution LCD display is quite good enough in most cases.
Since Facebook has bought the rights to Oculus, that means that you can virtually use the headset in any VR application that you can find. Perhaps getting immersed inside the Oculus Rooms app is a good start?
If you own a Playstation console and you want to use that as a means of experiencing virtual reality gaming, then I highly recommend that you check the Playstation VR headset out.
It currently supports the Playstation 4 and Playstation 4 Pro, but according to Sony’s representatives, this particular headset will also support the new Playstation 5 as well.
Anyway, you have a fairly massive library of games to choose from. Some of the most notable ones are Batman: Arkham VR, Star Wars Battlefront: Rogue One X-Wing Mission, and so much more.
It doesn’t quite deliver the experience much the same as the Valve Index or Oculus Rift S mentioned above, but in most cases, it should be more than adequate for most users.
The good thing is that you not only have the ability to use this thing in games but if you want to get an immersive experience while watching some Blu-ray content, then you are okay to do that too.
I think that Sony will be releasing the second version of this headset a few months after the release of its upcoming game console, but if you cannot wait, then the Playstation VR headset is really good, especially for the price.
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