The Huawei Matebook X – A Solid Laptop With Few Compromises

When the Huawei Matebook X was introduced earlier this year, it caught a lot of eyes.  The ultra-slim design and nearly bezel-less display were the immediate wow factors but so too was the overall construction of the Windows 10 laptop.  The question, of course, was if the form factor was overshadowed by a lack of performance.  In this case, the answer is no.

The Matebook X is a powerful laptop with few compromises.  Aimed at taking full advantage of Windows 10, it is designed to be a great laptop for those on the road as well as those in their home or work offices.  Speed and battery life are exceptional, making it easily through most of the day before you have to start finding a power outlet to recharge.

Recently Huawei Devices USA sent me a Matebook X to review and having used it for the last couple of weeks, it is an impressive ultra-compact laptop.  The display is stunning and the overall performance is great.  It should be one on your short list to consider.

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Chrome OS Dev Channel Updated With its First Chrome 69 Build

Google Pixelbook Chrome OS Interface

As expected, the Chrome OS Dev Channel has now been updated to its first Chrome 69 based build today.  The update was expected given that Chrome 67 is now in the Stable Channel and the Beta Channel was updated yesterday to Chrome 68.  The new build in the Dev Channel is 69.0.3464.0 (Platform version: 10798.0.0).

As a reminder to those who are new to Chrome OS, the Chrome OS Dev Channel is considered the alpha build channel for the platform.  Builds here often contain many bugs and odd performance issues and it is recommended only for developers to use to get a preview of what is coming in the platform.

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Google Home Now Available in Austria, Ireland, and Spain

Google Home

A few weeks ago Spanish support for Google Assistant was added in what at the time looked like a precursor to Google Home being available in the country.  Today that has proven to be the case.  Now on the Spanish Google Store site, you can order a Google Home for €149 (roughly $172) and a Google Home Mini for €59 (roughly $68).

While Spain was expected due to the the Assistant support, the fact that Austria and Ireland also now has Home available came as a bit of a surprise.  Google had not previously announced these two countries, but given the rate of expansion that the Mountain View company has aimed for in 2018 both with Assistant and Home, it isn’t too big of a surprise.

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YouTube TV Brings Starz Lineup Add-On for $9 Per Month

YouTube TV for Android

The available movies on YouTube TV just got bigger – a lot bigger.  The cord cutting streaming service has announced that Starz is now available on the service for $9 per month.  As usual, it comes with a 7-day trial so you can check it out prior to your first billing.

What’s cool about this is that it isn’t just one Starz channel.  In all, you get the entire 16 channel lineup from Starz with all of the benefits that you have with YouTube TV such as a cloud-based DVR.

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Google Podcasts Officially Launched for Android

Google Podcasts

After several leaks and some speculation, Google pulled back the covers on their latest app, Google Podcasts.  The app has an index of some 2 million podcasts for you to listen to on your Android device – and it works great on a Chromebook too.

The app is fully supported by Google Assistant, allowing you to begin listening to a podcast on your phone then finish it up at home on your Google Home.  Further, thanks to Google’s AI, recommendations are given to you based on your listening habits.

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Chrome OS Beta Channel Updated to First Chrome 68 Build

Google Pixelbook Chrome OS Interface

After being delayed following the update of the Chrome OS Stable Channel to Chrome 67, The Chrome OS Beta Channel has now received its first Chrome 68-based build.  The channel is now running build 68.0.3440.25 (Platform version: 10718.22.0) and it is available for the majority of devices in the channel starting today.

For those that may be new to Chrome OS, the Beta Channel is the last channel prior to a build being released to the general public in the Stable Channel.  You can always change your channel on your Chromebook by typing Chrome://help and then clicking on the Build Information section of the page.  Keep in mind that the hint is in the name:  The Beta Channel is still not ready for prime time so you could run into bugs or other issues that impact your daily workflow.

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How To Enable The New Look Wallpaper Picker in Chrome OS

New Wallpaper Picker in Chrome OS

If you are running Chrome 67 on your Chromebook, there is now a flag available to you that will allow you to enable the still under construction new wallpaper picker.  The new picker replaces the old style picker which has been in the platform since, well, forever.  It brings a refreshed, Material Design look to the picker and eventually will marry up with the backdrop wallpaper changer that is found in Chromecast.

That’s where the under construction part comes into the equation.  Right now there is a commit in the Chrome OS Gerrit that points to a new wallpaper that is enabled by default and that it will marry up with Chromecast.  The idea is that your Chromecast and your Chromebook will have the same look and feel and will be drawing from the same service in the background to give you your wallpaper options.

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YouTube Music and YouTube Premium Now Available

YouTube Music

After being announced last month, literally in the middle of the night, Google has now pulled back the covers on the rebooted YouTube Music subscription service as well as the YouTube Red rebranded YouTube Premium.  The two services combined are $11.99 per month and bring you a wealth of music and video content on your Android phone, tablets, PCs, and Chromebooks.

The updated services bring ad-free music and videos to your devices with both original content and official music channels for artists that you can subscribe to and follow.

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