Fortnite Easter Egg is a clue about what happened in Chapter 2

Players have been speculating about what happened to usher in Fortnite Chapter 2. The most popular theory is that the island suffered some sort of dimensional break in which a worm hole sent players into an alternative dimension, one with similar locations and names, but that is ultimately different in major ways. A newly discovered Easter Egg seems to indicate … Continue reading

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This smart notebook lets you write freehand while still saving your notes to the cloud

No matter how much you love your tablet or laptop, some things demand a detour to the old school. When it comes to notes, brainstorming or creative scribbling, there’s still no substitute for a good old analog notebook.

Or is there? The Rocketbook Wave Executive Smart Notebook aims to find out by offering a solution that allows you to write freehand while still saving paper — and your work.


The pages in this innovative book are made of a special material that you can write on with the particular Pilot FriXion pen (included). Once you’ve completed your notes / masterpiece / whatever, you can simply scan it with your smartphone and send the work to your favorite cloud service. You can even flag it with special “tiles” that route it to easy-to-find folders.

Best of all, once you’ve filled up the pages you can start again with a clean slate. Just pop the entire notebook in the microwave and the print disappears.

The Rocketbook Wave Executive Smart Notebook and pen station is already more than 20% off the MSRP, but you can take an extra 20% off that final price by using the coupon code 20SAVE20.

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The 5 Best Smart Home Hubs

A Hubitat Hub, USB stick, and Box in a living room.Hubitat

Every smart home needs a brain—a single unit that can tie all the smart devices together and provide a single source of control. Choosing a smart home hub can be difficult. Whatever you choose opens up some possibilities, and closes others. Knowing what kind of smart home features you need will help narrow down your choices. Here are five great options.

What to Look For in a Smart Home Hub

The main benefit of a smart home hub is centralization. With a hub, you can buy smart devices from several different manufacturers and link them all into one cohesive whole. Of course, you may not even need a true smart home hub—Google and Alexa have done more to unify smart home devices than most hubs have in the past few years.

But hubs may also provide additional benefits like advanced automation, local processing without the cloud, and in some cases, less congestion for your network. However, smart home hubs are often more challenging to learn and use than a voice assistant’s app.

If those benefits sound worth the extra effort, then you’ll want to keep in mind a few things when purchasing a smart hub:

  • Connection Type: Some smart home hubs only allow wired connections, some only allow Wi-Fi connections, and some offer both. You’ll want to pay attention to which the hub you’re looking at supports. Wired connections are faster, but you’ll need space and an open spot on your router to connect your hub.
  • Protocol Support: Most smart home gadgets support a small number of protocols: typically Z-Wave, Zigbee, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. If your smart hub only supports ZigBee, then you can’t use Z-Wave gadgets. Keep that in mind as you choose a path. Other hubs only support a proprietary protocol, which means you’re limited to devices that specifically support that hub.
  • Local or Cloud Processing: Some hubs are barely more than a basic circuit board with no real intelligence at all. Instead, the hub offloads all the work to the cloud. But that’s slower, and if your internet goes down, so does the hub. Some hubs handle everything locally, but they typically have a higher learning curve.
  • App or Dashboard Support: You’ll need some way to interact with your smart home. Most hubs provide an app you can use on your phone or tablet. Others support a dashboard concept you can access through a web browser. And a few offer both. Pick what’s more comfortable for you.

Recently, Amazon, Google, and ZigBee announced a new working group called Project Connected Home over IP, with the goal of simplifying some of the choices above. The idea is to create a unifying standard that manufacturers can rely on to make smart devices work nearly anywhere and with any hub (that support the standard).

But right now, it’s a concept and promise at best, and if they do pull it off, the companies say your existing smart stuff will continue to work as-is. You shouldn’t worry too much about the changes that may or may not come because of this, but it’s still something worth considering when looking at smart home hubs.

There’s something for nearly every preference below. Your hub pick will inform your smart gadget options heavily, so pick the one that suits your needs and supports the devices you want the most.

Best Overall: Samsung SmartThings

A white Samsung SmartThings hubSamsung

Samsung’s SmartThings platform is a good entry point for anyone new to smart homes. It has an approachable interface, apps for both Android and iOS, and supports relatively complex routines for automation. It’s a cloud-based smart hub, with some support for local controls.

You can connect the hub over Wi-Fi or through ethernet, which is helpful for flexible placement options. The hub supports Z-Wave, ZigBee, and several third-party solutions like Philips Hue and Schlage, Alexa, and Google Assistant.

Best Overall

Samsung SmartThings Hub 3rd Generation [GP-U999SJVLGDA] Smart Home Automation Hub Home Monitoring Smart Devices – Alexa Google Home Compatible – Zigbee, Z-Wave, Cloud to Cloud Protocols – White

Samsung’s SmartThings has one of the easiest to learn interfaces on the market currently, It supports ZigBee, Z-Wave, and Wi-Fi devices, along with routines and some local controls.

Advanced Automations: Hubitat Elevation

A Hubitat Elevation hub, with a green house logo on top.Hubitat

If you’re willing to put in a little more time and effort into the learning process, the Hubitat smart hub is a rewarding choice. While not as approachable as SmartThings, Hubitat’s automation is much more advanced and capable. You can specify scenarios like “Because you walked into the bedroom, and it’s after 9 pm, and it’s cold tonight, and the heat isn’t on, the lights should be activated and dimmed, and the electric blanket should be turned on.”

If you prefer to skip the cloud, the Hubitat is also a good choice, as it’s locally controlled. It supports ZigBee, Z-Wave, Lutron, and even defunct Iris devices. You can create dashboards that then show up in the Hubitat app available for iOS and Android or on a local web page. You are limited to ethernet connections, though, so keep that in mind before purchasing.

Advanced Automations

Hubitat Elevation Home Automation Hub – Compatible with Alexa, Google Home, Iris, Zigbee, Z-Wave, Lutron

If you want to automate your home to anticipate your needs you should take a look at Hubitat and its intricate routines. A locally run hub, this smart home system will work with Z-Wave, ZigBee, and more.

Smart And Security: Abode iota

An Abode iota hub with keyfob, and contact sensor.Abode

Sometimes it’s nice to cover two things at once and have less to connect and set up. That’s where Abode iota comes in—it’s a smart hub, a security hub, and a camera all in one package.

Abode’s iota supports several security products from door sensors to motions sensors and is compatible with ZigBee, Z-Wave, and Homekit. You need to set it up over ethernet, but once you do, you can move anywhere and connect over Wi-Fi.

Smart and Security

iota All-in-One Home Security Kit | DIY Security System & Smart Home Hub | Works with HomeKit, Alexa, Google Home

If you’re looking for smart home tech and security tech, you can take care of both at once with Abode’s iota. It works with Z-Wave, ZigBee, and HomeKit.

For DIY: HomeSeer HomeTroller

A HomeSeer custom case enclosing a Raspberry Pi.HomeSeer

Do you want total control of your smart home? Then you’ll want to build your hub from scratch. Or at least very nearly. With HomeSeer, you could whip up your own Raspberry Pi, case, and go through the effort of licensing and installing the software (and if you have a Raspberry Pi already, it might be cheaper), or you could buy this kit with that bit of the hard work already done.

HomeSeer supports Z-wave and ethernet connections and features a rules engine that’s easier to learn than some other DIY options. You won’t need to know how to code to get going, and everything runs locally for faster response times. It offers a HomeSeer app for iOS and Android and custom dashboard support.


HomeSeer HomeTroller Zee S2 Home Controller

If you’d rather take total control and build your smart home from nearly scratch, the HomeSeer Hometroller is for you. It’s a cloudless, Ethernet-connected solution for quick response times, yet still offers apps for easy controls.

One Simple System: Insteon

A white Insteon hub with a single LED indicator.Insteon

Most of the smart hubs on this list support Z-Wave, ZigBee, or both. But Insteon is different: it runs off a proprietary protocol instead. It’s easy to think of that as a downside or limiting, but it comes with the distinct advantage of easy choices. Instead of trying to delve through half a dozen Z-Wave and ZigBee smart switches, you’ll pick the Insteon switch. Since that device is geared specifically for your Insteon hub, set up is generally easier as well. The Insteon selection is more limited than Z-Wave or ZigBee, though. You’ll find switches, fan controls, and a thermostat, but not light bulbs, for instance. Insteon does support third-party integrations like Alexa, Google Assistant, and Yonomi, though, which can help expand that compatibility.

Insteon uses a dual-mesh system over wireless and wired connections to increase uptime and provides both app and void control. Both the dual-mesh system and the nature of the proprietary wireless protocol generally lead to faster response times than Z-Wave products.

One Simple System

Insteon Central Controller Hub, Compatible with Alexa, 2245-222

Insteon uses a proprietary protocol to connect to smart devices. That means finding your next smart gadget is as simple as searching for Insteon Switch or Insteon Plug. The hub supports some local control and requires an Ethernet connection.

Professionally Installed: Control4

A white Control4 hub with two antennae pointing up from the back.Control4

Most of the smart home realm is of a DIY nature. You choose the hub and then pick what smart locks, lights, sensors, and more to buy. Then you have to install them one by one and integrate them into your system. If your hub supports a dashboard, you create it.

Control4, on the other hand, is just the opposite: professional dealers work with you to figure out the best devices to suit your home. Then they install it, set up the gadgets, and pull together the dashboard. Control4 goes beyond the smart home, too, as it can control entertainment systems, intercoms, and more.

Control4’s CA-1 hub works with ZigBee, Wi-Fi, and you can add an optional Z-Wave module. But you won’t need to worry about that; someone else will do the worrying. Just expect to pay a premium for all the help.

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The Most Underrated Games Of 2019


2019 was a pretty great year for games, but it seems like every year is a great year for games now. There are just so many titles coming out for so many platforms, and many of them take so long to finish, that it’s only natural that great titles just sort of fall by the wayside. If you feel like you missed out on some high-quality games this year, you’re probably right – that’s why we put together a list of 11 of the most underrated games of 2019 for you to enjoy.



The Metroidvania genre is growing year over year, and it’s hard to keep tabs on them all. So when a new game by a studio that excels in them hits consoles and PC, it’s a shame when it doesn’t find an audience. Minoria released in September from Brazilian studio Bombservice, best known for Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight. It’s a really clever and interesting game that fuses the exploration and platforming that the genre is known for with intense, almost fighting game-esque combat. In Minoria, you can parry, dodge and slice your way through tough foes while learning new abilities. It’s a little rough around the edges but definitely worth a playthrough.

Hypnospace Outlaw

Hypnospace Outlaw

Funded on Kickstarter, the new adventure game from the team behind Dropsy was a love letter to the old World Wide Web, before five platforms hoovered up all of our attention. In the game, which bills itself as an “Internet Simulator,” you’re cast as an Enforcer for the massive company that owns the network, making sure users abide by the code of conduct and deleting and banning offenders. The entire experience is delivered through pixel-perfect browser windows overflowing with the kind of cruft that made the late 90s net so hilarious – animated GIFs, embedded MIDI, bad minigames and more. But beyond the aesthetic, this is a genuinely challenging and engaging detective story with some very difficult puzzles.

Metro: Exodus

Metro: Exodus

The third installment in 4A’s Metro series didn’t seem to make too much of an impact when it released in February. You can chalk part of that up to the fact that it didn’t push the familiar post-apocalyptic shooting and scavenging mechanics of the last one that much farther. Throw in launching as an Epic Games Store exclusive, which alienated many fans, and it makes sense. But iterating on a winning formula can still be satisfying, and this was far and away the most immersive, tense and ambitious title yet. Traveling on a train throughout Russia gave 4A’s designers a chance to create new and unique levels, and using the train as a hub area added vital downtime.


If you’re looking for a classic BioWare-style CRPG after the disappointment of Anthem, Greedfall might scratch that itch. Developed by French team Spiders, who have been knocking out action role-playing for a decade, it’s a rich and engaging adventure with some cool features. When a mysterious island is discovered, it could hold the cure for a plague that is scouring the rest of the world. However, numerous parties are contending to exploit the place, and the natives aren’t terribly happy about it either. It’s a little messy and a little buggy, but the ambition on display more than carries it through.

Void Bastards

Void Bastards

From creators of the original BioShock, this cel-shaded roguelike shooter is an addictive game where you’re always surfing on a razor’s edge of failure. Tasked with exploring randomly-generated space stations in search of vital parts. The fuel you gather there is always barely enough to get you to the next outpost, and you’ll often find yourself making the best of a set of poor choices and crossing your fingers and hoping for a miracle. Every death lets you keep skills you learned and weapon upgrades, so you always feel like you’re making progress no matter how many times you get whipped by alien hordes.



Blending survival elements and role-playing seems like a logical choice, and 2019’s Outward was one of the better takes on the concept we’ve seen in a while. You’re cast as a poor chump who needs to buy back his repossessed home, but things just get more and more complicated from there. A super dense web of systems made this one both very satisfying and a little frustrating – the game’s constant auto-saving removes the ability to take back bad decisions, but no permadeath means that you’re forced to learn from your mistakes and keep going. Every decision you make matters in Outward – there’s no way to smurf your character to godhood, so you really need to think things through if you want to survive.

Blood & Truth

Blood & Truth

VR gaming is still in a developmental period, and it’s hard to claim that we’ve seen a true must-have system seller. Sony’s Blood & Truth, though, got us pretty close. Initially intended to be an installment in the Getaway series, the PS4 first-person shooter puts you inside a Michael Bay movie, playing a former Special Forces soldier who, in the wake of a death in the family, becomes the target of the London mob in a series of violent, exciting set pieces. Although PlayStation VR isn’t the top of the heap hardware-wise, this is one of the first games that really sells VR as what we’ve been promised for years, making you feel like you’re deep in the thick of the action.

Rage 2

Rage 2

iD Software and Avalanche’s shooter sequel was embroiled in the discourse about whether its portrayal of the villainous mutant cannon fodder was ableist or not. There were a lot of poor aesthetic and narrative choices in Rage 2‘s single-player campaign, and the “open world” is remarkably confined, but the shooting action was whip-tight and engaging, with tons of interesting weapons and abilities that combine in fun ways. You definitely get out of Rage 2 what you put into it – if you want to take the time to experiment and play around with the extensive toolset the game gives you, you’ll have a good time mashing mutants into bloody pulp.

Pathologic 2

Pathologic 2

Originally intending to make a modern version of 2005 cult horror hit Pathologic, developers Ice-Pick Lodge instead wound up crafting a totally new experience. The first of three installments dropped this year, and although initiates bought in immediately, the mass market didn’t bite, which is a shame. Few games can fill you with dread quite like Pathologic 2. As a Russian surgeon, you return to your home town at your father’s request only to be thrown into an abusive, brutal nightmare for survival where death hides around every corner. It’s atmospheric, wildly challenging, and unlike anything else you played in 2019.

My Friend Pedro

My Friend Pedro

Based on a Flash game, this stylish and hyper-violent 2D shooter won raves from speedrunners but didn’t make a huge impact, which is too bad. Games live and die on the way they feel, and this was one of the best-feeling titles of the year. Every level is a ballet of chaos teeming with objects you can use to dispatch your foes, and the way it keeps you feeling in control even as the world explodes around you is really remarkable. It’s a pretty short game – five hours will let you see everything My Friend Pedro has to offer – but we’d prefer a short, focused experience that lands perfectly over a bloated, unfocused one.

Remnant: From The Ashes

Remnant: From The Ashes

We saw a lot of games try to crib from the Soulsborne franchise this year, which on the whole we’re happy about – it’s nice to feel challenged again by action gaming. One title that didn’t make much of a splash but is well worth trying is Remnant: From The Ashes, by Austin-based Gunfire. This will be their last game as an independent studio, as THQ Nordic snatched them up right after it was released, and it’s a solid one. With more of a focus on ranged combat, as well as traditional co-op play, it’s a little more accessible than many other games in the genre, but these tweaks make for a rock-solid experience that was seriously slept on.

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Pros and Cons of Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Active-Pros-Cons-Featured.jpgOn paper, active noise-cancelling headphones seem outright better than regular ones. They also seem better than passive noise-cancellation headphones, which depend on headphone material and design instead of using active-cancellation methods. There are some disadvantages to active noise cancellation, however, so it’s worth weighing the pros and cons when buying a new pair of headphones. Let’s explore the pros and cons of active noise-cancelling headphones and how they compare to other headphones. Advantages of Active Noise Cancellation Personalized Cancellation of Environment As we covered in our article on how noise cancellation works, using active headphones will attempt to deafen the sounds around you at… Read more

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Intel 10th-gen desktop chips may pack better multitasking across the board

dims?crop=2954%2C1969%2C0%2C0&quality=85Intel’s 10th-generation Core desktop processors appear to be right around the corner, and the biggest improvements may come to those who don’t splurge on the most expensive models. Leaks at Informatica Cero and VideoCardz have detailed a Comet Lake-…

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10 video games we can’t wait to play in 2020

10 video games we can't wait to play in 2020

It’s time to stop living in the past, folks. The year is almost over and that means your backlog is about to be filled with “last year’s” favorites. Set aside the old news in favor of the new hotness.

A new year means a whole new slate of games to get excited about. Some of your most-hyped faves will be great. Others will disappoint. But in this specific moment, with the fresh, undisturbed landscape of a full year’s worth of releases ahead, your gaming life is filled with possibility.

Here at Mashable Entertainment HQ, we’ve looked through the lists and pored over release news. While this is by no means a complete list of the 2020 games we’re excited to play, they’re the ones we find ourselves thinking about the most based on everything revealed so far. Read more…

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