Computers

Dell launches SafeShutter webcam for convenience, privacy

No more sticky notes for webcam privacy

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With video conferencing becoming a staple in everyday work lives, Dell has announced SafeShutter — an automatic webcam shutter that knows when to open or close by syncing with users’ video conferencing applications, enabling them to work securely and confidently from anywhere.

Many remote workers today have resorted to permanently affixing a sticky note to computer cameras to ensure webcam privacy while working. It doesn’t need to be this way.

SafeShutter was created with remote working scenarios in mind — to strike the right balance between the convenience of seamlessly joining video calls and the privacy and the safety of knowing the camera is secure.

Human error is inevitable when it comes to video conferencing, be it speaking while still on mute or thinking the camera is turned off when it isn’t. SafeShutter creates an audible “click” that lets users know the camera has closed. The webcam also comes with a privacy LED light that turns on when the camera is in use. Paired with the keyboard indicator lights that denote if the camera and audio are on or off, users can rest assured they are in full control of their audio and video settings. No sticky note needed!

SafeShutter also factors in the need for added security aimed at limiting malicious surveillance and hacking. The security-hardened, hardware-controlled circuit allows users to control their privacy with camera disable (F9) and mic mute (F4) keys to override software settings. This provides extra assurance at the hardware level and ensures users can regain control with just a simple touch of a key, should the unexpected occur.

SafeShutter is available on the industry’s most secure commercial PCs and the new Latitude 9420 and 9520 devices. Combined with AI-based features that provide intelligent background noise-cancelling, auto-mute and smart connectivity features (like ExpressConnect, that prioritises bandwidth to your conferencing apps to prevent dropped calls), the Latitude 9420 and 9520 devices offer one of the best video conferencing experiences on a PC.

Pricing and availability

  • Dell Latitude 9420 — April 2021 — Pricing TBD
  • Dell Latitude 9520 — Available now — SG$ 2,629

All products are available for purchase online at dell.com.sg and the Dell exclusive stores in Funan Mall, NEX and Plaza Singapura.


This is a press release from Dell Singapore.

Accessories

Why owning a mechanical keyboard is worth it

Even for non-gamers

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The first time I came across a mechanical keyboard, I thought I didn’t need it. A gamer friend made me try it once, and although I was impressed with how smooth my typing was, I thought: spending more than a thousand bucks for a typing device is too expensive.

Back then, I was actually eyeing a flat, minimalist wireless keyboard to add to my ~aesthetic~ work-from-home set-up.

It was not until my Discord friends–who even sent me video links of ASMR typing sounds and did live typing demos during our video calls–that I actually gave in and considered buying one.

After days of researching to find the perfect fit for me, I finally decided to get the Royal Kludge 71 with blue switches. The brand is popular among enthusiasts because it’s beginner-friendly, and has good specifications for a budget–friendly price.

I even bought a Gateron sampler (a keyboard sampler where you can try different switches) online to help me decide between blue and brown.

It can increase your productivity

As a writer who literally types words for a living, there’s added pleasure in typing when I started using a mechanical keyboard. There’s this illusion that you are using a modern typewriter, and I admit it somehow increased my productivity.

Of course, the typing feel can be subjective for everyone, but the click-y sound suited my preference well that it gave me added motivation whenever I type.

Another thing I love about these keyboards is the programmable RGB lighting feature. When I bought my personal laptop, the only thing that was missing for me was the backlit keyboard, since I have tendencies to write in the dark.

Owning a mechanical keyboard with an RGB feature has become very helpful, since it keeps me up when I do my work at night. Not to mention, the different RGB modes are actually entertaining–I tend to watch the lights dance whenever I’m bored.

It’s kind of therapeutic

Apart from the satisfying beauty of RGB lighting and click-y sound, another thing I love about mechanical keyboards is the therapeutic feeling whenever I clean the keycaps.

Since I bought the white version, my keyboard is a magnet for dirt and can be easily stained so it needs consistent cleaning. Removing the keycaps one by one is oddly satisfying that it has become one of my therapeutic hobbies every weekend.

Definitely worth the investment

As of this writing, I have only tried three keyboard brands and I can say that the Royal Kludge has a higher actuation force compared to the others, so it can be tiring after long periods of time.

The RK71 white variant looks very clean and minimalist, especially in photos. I haven’t bought any keycaps to customize my keyboard (I am very tempted, though), but maybe that’s for another time. I am willing to save up for another keyboard with new switches, since the blue ones can be annoying especially if you don’t work alone.

Is mechanical keyboard a match for you?

If you’re like me who spends lots of time typing in front of the computer, then it’s a resounding yes.

There are lots of mechanical keyboard variants–there are ones with and without number pads, and there’s the click-y and silent switches. There are also cheaper ones compared to the one I got, so make sure to read and watch reviews. For those with higher budget, aim for the big guns like Anne Pro and Keychron–these are highly recommended by most enthusiasts.

Looking for “the one” can be overwhelming at first, but trust me, it’s fun and interesting. It can be addictive, too. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

 

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Apps

Private browsing doesn’t hide your browsing activity – research

Always browse with caution

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Many people think that private browsing modes guarantee extra safety and privacy from potential snoopers and other malicious actors. However, this is far from the truth. If you’re not careful, third parties can still know your browsing activity even when you are using your browser’s private browsing mode.

Private browsing, with an asterisk

Researchers at VPNOverview checked some of the popular browsers and analyzed how much browsing data leaks when using private browsing modes. These popular browsers include the Google Chrome with its “Incognito Mode”; the Apple device-exclusive Safari with “Private Mode”; the up-and-coming Microsoft Edge with “InPrivate”; and of course, the reliable Mozilla Firefox with “Private Mode”.

For each of these browsers, the researchers analyzed what browsing data does their private browsing modes hide. They also analyzed what browsing data can still be looked up by others on each browser’s respective modes.

The biggest takeaway from the research is that all private browsing modes are good enough for hiding your browsing history and files that you downloaded. Some browsers go the extra mile to keep you protected as you browse the web. Firefox, Edge, and Safari all have tracking protection that blocks intrusive trackers as you browse the web.

Cookies are one area of concern when browsing privately. Most websites use these to provide sign-in functionality and more, but they can also track you as you browse other sites on the internet. Fortunately, browsers don’t keep these cookies as you exit your private browsing session.

However, private browsing isn’t foolproof. The same researchers found that all private browsing modes fall short of hiding browsing activity from third parties. Internet service providers or whoever runs the network that you’re connected to can still see what you are browsing online. The same goes for the websites that you visit and sign in to, which can even know your exact location if you’re not careful enough.

What’s saved: IP address, bookmarked websites, and more

The reason why these third parties can still see your browsing activity is due to IP addresses. Remember, each device connected to the internet all have their own unique IP addresses. Devices have these addresses so they can send and get content from web servers. Relying on private browsing will not stop your computer from giving away your IP address to third parties such as the website you visit.

Then, there are also other browsing activities that get saved even in private browsing. Websites bookmarked during a private browsing session are saved even after browsing. While your browser won’t keep track of the files you downloaded, the actual downloaded files will remain on your PC. Not to mention, many browsers today offer extra features that will save any relevant data even when you use those features in private browsing.

As always, reading a browser’s fine print doesn’t hurt. However, users usually don’t have the luxury to scrutinize the privacy policy of each browser. There are things that you can do, however, to keep your browsing activity safe from the hands of third parties.

Use a VPN and an ad blocker

The best solution for most users is to download and use a virtual private network (VPN). VPNs work by creating a proxy between your device and the servers that serve web content. Instead of your device directly connecting to different servers on the internet, your device connects to another server that does the job of connecting you to other servers. This has the effect of hiding your IP address from any third parties including your internet service provider.

VPNs are more popular than ever since they also let you access geo-restricted websites. For example, a VPN may let you browse films and shows on Netflix that aren’t available in your country yet.

There are many VPNs out there, so you can easily pick one to suit your needs. Examples of popular VPNs include NordVPN, SurfShark, TunnelBear, Private Internet Access, and ProtonVPN.  However, you also need to be mindful of the VPN service that you may want to use. Not all VPNs are created equal, and there have been multiple examples of providers leaking sensitive data.

Using ad blockers can go a long way too in making sure that your browsing activity is safe from third parties. Ad blockers do more than just remove ads from most websites nowadays. They also block trackers that profiles and collects information such as device information and more as you browse different websites.

As mentioned above, Safari, Firefox, and Edge have built-in tracking protection so you can rely on these instead for blocking trackers. For those not satisfied with their browsers’ tracking protection, they can rely on established ad blockers such as uBlock Origin, AdGuard, AdBlock Plus, and the likes.

Private browsing doesn’t simply cut it

For many, private browsing is their go-to for doing sensitive work on the internet. As the researchers from VPNOverview have pointed out, however, your browsing activity can still be inferred even as you use your browser’s private browsing mode. To make sure this doesn’t happen, you can rely on VPNs and ad blockers for total peace of mind.

As always, be mindful of what and how you browse online. Remember, your browsing habits reveal a lot about you. Companies who buy and sell data for profit will always want to get a hold of your browsing data so it is better if you exercise caution online.

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Computers

Huawei MateStation S review: One smart workstation

Bringing the entire master race together in one suite

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MateStation S

Desktop workstations work the same way the moment you get them: boot it up, and start working on your reports or presentations. The moment you press the button, you come prepared with every piece of hardware you need to get going. From your smartphone and storage devices to wireless headsets, this is how an ideal workstation practically looks like.

However, the integration of all of these technologies into one workstation requires a ton of things to consider. From compatible hardware to required software, you can’t fully optimize everything in, supposedly, one sitting. Well, Huawei thought you probably could. You just need the proper hardware to bring everything together.

Enter the Huawei MateStation S and the suite of peripherals it can come with. The entire system comes with features that ultimately enhance the workstation experience, while integrating smart features here and there. For a company’s latest attempt in expanding their portfolio, I feel this is their way of creating an entire ecosystem.

But, is this workstation even worth looking at? Well, here’s what you’re getting with the MateStation S:

It comes in a compact form factor with a Star Trail design

MateStation S

Inside, it is powered by a 4th generation AMD Ryzen CPU

MateStation S

It only comes in the Space Gray colorway

MateStation S

Well-thought out design, but be careful

The main star of the show is this compact prebuilt system in Space Gray. Honestly, I was surprised that a workstation like this comes in a relatively small package. Like I mentioned before, its compact form factor makes it relatively easy to move around and place anywhere. I felt that this would be a good thing for people who have cramped work spaces.

Huawei also didn’t mind putting in a little flare in there with the Star Light design at the front panel. To be honest, I was looking for some way this could be useful to the system in terms of ventilation. Upon my usage of it, it’s mostly just for pure aesthetics since there’s no air coming out of it.

An extra slot for mobile RAM and another M.2 SSD

Now, this system isn’t actually totally complete in terms of a full upgrade. I’ll run down the spec sheet later on, but I found out there’s room for upgradability inside the system. From additional RAM to even installing a dedicated GPU, this is a workstation that you can turn into a beast. Of course, you have to willingly void your warranty early if you choose to open this up.

Workstation performance fit for WFH

Inside the Huawei MateStation S is an AMD Ryzen 5 4600G processor, which offers great performance and power efficiency. This hexa-core processor is great for even most basic workstations you either plan to buy or build. Along with the Ryzen 5 4600G, the MateStation S comes only with integrated Radeon graphics and 8GB of RAM.

MateStation S

For the most part, I had a pleasant experience using this machine for some of my business-centric tasks on my day job. From creating process documents and data reports to online video conferences, the system handled all of these quite well. When using this for social media browsing and HD video playback, it still remains fast and responsive.

Although, I don’t recommend using this workstation in its current configuration for graphic-intensive work. Sure, basic photo editing and older games work on this system but the integrated graphics option simply can’t afford going higher than that. The good thing is you can pry the system open and upgrade your RAM and GPU, but at your own risk.

Comes with a great, optional display option

Obviously, the MateStation S isn’t the only thing the entire suite contains but from here on out, these are purely optional stuff. First up is the Huawei Display, which comes in at PhP 7,999. It’s a 23.8-inch FHD display which is designed like any other monitor for offices. Apart from the gold Huawei branding and the sleek black color, there’s really nothing else fancy about it.

MateStation S

In my time using it, it’s a decent workstation monitor and secondary display. The display is quite bright and is relatively color accurate when watching HD videos. Although, it does suffer from a little bit of glare against sunlight so I’d rather place this far from the window, if ever. Also, it comes with the standard HDMI and VGA ports at the back — again, it’s stuff you expect from most monitors.

However, the first few times I used the monitor, I noticed a bit of a backlight issue by the right side. When it happened, it only shows up on either darker backgrounds or when I boot up the machine. Fortunately, it didn’t happen for the majority of the time I was using it, so I guess it pretty much solved itself out.

An optional, ultra-slim, smart keyboard

Another optional peripheral for the entire suite is Huawei’s Ultra-Slim Keyboard. It’s a full-sized keyboard, complete with the usual function keys catered for media and business. At first, you would think that there’s really nothing special about it. However, this is where Huawei put their smart service integration to the fullest of its extent, in my opinion.

See, this slim keyboard comes with two important features: Windows Hello and Huawei Share. At the top right of the keyboard, you will find a fingerprint sensor/button that unlocks your PC through Windows Hello. It’s fairly easy to set up, and it was quite fast in recognizing your fingerprint, as long as it’s relatively clean.

When it comes to Huawei Share, you will find this on the right Shift key and contains a built-in NFC sensor. In essence, you can use your compatible Huawei smartphones to transfer files for work or do Multi-Screen collaboration. It’s something that even their own MateBook lineup hasn’t fully integrated yet, so this is a big step up for a smarter experience. 

Is this your WorkstationMatch?

At PhP 30,999, the Huawei MateStation S provides quality performance for any business-centric workstation. Its compact form factor allows for any flexible arrangements for your workspace, and it comes with powerful hardware for all your tasks. If you just need a prebuilt system for some school work, this is one great option too.

MateStation S

If you’d like, you can opt to bundle this with the optional peripherals Huawei has to offer for a smarter experience. Specifically, the Huawei Ultra-Slim Keyboard would be the ideal peripheral to buy for Windows Hello and Huawei Share integration. Also, you can upgrade certain hardware inside the system at the expense of your warranty.

Overall, the Huawei MateStation S serves as a riveting workstation PC for any and all professionals, and even for the young ones in school. If you’re knee-deep in Huawei’s growing ecosystem, this expansion into the desktop PC space is something worth investing in.

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