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Even though Apple’s OS X Photos app focuses on making small prints, photo books, and calendars, there are some great third-party photo-to-wall art services out there. Previously, I looked at how to turn your photos into large-sized metal, acrylic, and canvas wall art. This brand new part 4 explores three additional services, looking for the first time at photo prints on wood, as well as spotlighting several nice variations on prior themes…Bay Photo offers two different ways to submit photos and order products. Its free Bay ROES app (shown below, and recently updated for El Capitan) handles everything, while a web-based interface can be used for basic prints, including the Maple Wood Prints ($22 for 5″ x 5″ to $875 for 48″ x 96″) tested here. The web app is extremely straightforward, and I was able to upload my photo, choose mounting/hanging options, and place an order very rapidly.
Bay offers the choice between either a “natural” or a “white” finish. Just to see what it was like, I went with the white finish, which reduces the amount of visible wood grain to make colors pop more. The result — using a photo I post-processed with MacPhun’s Intensify CK — was impressively color-accurate to the deliberately dreamy image I uploaded, and looked like a painting on wood, which I really liked. As suggested, the choice of a white front finish did noticeably reduce the amount of obvious wood grain in the print, which will suit some images (like the one above) better than others. And while the nail/screwholes-in-planks mounting solution isn’t fancy, it works.As a contrast, Shutterfly’s Upload Your Own Design Wood Wall Art ($90 for 8″ x 10″, $400 for 24″ x 36″) comes only in a natural grain option that really lets the wood texture shine through. Shutterfly uses a very straightforward web-based interface for uploading and previewing photos, which really turns out to be important with a natural grain wood print: without a white initial layer, color saturation is going to be muted, so Shutterfly lets you tweak the image against a grain preview so you’ll know what to expect.
I started with a countryside castle photo, and based on Shutterfly’s previewing tool, felt that a little extra color saturation would be necessary to create contrast with the wood texture. While there are obvious differences between the original image and the finished print, the web preview gave me a very good idea of what to expect. The finished wood print had the natural wood look I’d wanted to see, plenty of detail, and a faded, rustic look that was only a little less color-intense than the web preview. It’s worth noting that while Shutterfly’s wood art prices look higher than Bay Photos, they’re offset by substantial coupon codes such as BUYMORE, which knock them down by up to 50%.I’ve tested a bunch of compelling metal photo printing alternatives this year, and have generally been blown away by the results: particularly with a nice front finish, aluminum prints can look really stunning, rich in both color and detail. From a framing perspective, the most distinctive option I’ve seen is Bay Photo’s Double Float ($33.60 for 6″ x 8″ to $582 for 28″ x 40″). Standard metal printing is done on a single sheet of aluminum, but Double Float actually joins two layers of metal together to create a three-dimensional picture frame.
Because of the complexity of the layout process for a Double Float print, Bay requires you to use the Bay ROES app, which was recently updated for the latest version of OS X. While the app could use a little additional streamlining, it works very well to let you set up the top and bottom layers of your print, choosing crops and alignment. You can select from five different surface treatments (High Gloss, Mid-Gloss, Satin, Sheer Glossy or Sheer Matte), and either use the same image and treatment for both layers, or go with two images and treatments.The sample Double Float print I made had deep blacks, excellent detail, and substantially accurate colors. Some of the dark shading nuances were lost in the bottom of the photo, but made up for by the rich, inky blacks, which really made the image compelling in person. Technically, I was very pleased by how this print’s alignment turned out — it was hard to be sure it would be perfect in 3D even after setting everything up the Bay ROES app — and the foam float mount between the surfaces provided a gentle but noticeable separation between the layers. If you’re looking for a way to add extra impact to a metal print, Double Float is a great choice.
As its name suggests, CanvasPop specializes in printing photos on canvas — a process commonly known in the art world as giclée — and does a very good job, very quickly. The uploading and layout process is entirely web-based, and designed to be ultra-simple, so anyone can submit a print. Interestingly, CanvasPop keeps a chat window on screen to offer help instantly with the setup process, and prominently offers coupons that chop a significant percentage off of the official prices. (Before coupons, pricing starts at $37 for a 10″ by 10″ canvas, climbing to $422 for a gigantic 76″ by 38″ canvas with a wood frame.)We're fans of MSI's gaming laptops. They're top notch and are highly rated. Right now our favorite is the 17-inch MSI GE72VR Apache Pro. It's got a GTX 1060, a Core i7 6700HQ, a 256GB SSD and a 1TB HDD. If you want a great gaming laptop, get it while it's hot at $1329 on Newegg.We also found this Asus GL752VW-DH71 17.3-inch ROG laptop with a GTX 980M on sale for a whopping 41 percent off, bringing the price to just shy of $1000 on Newegg. It's a killer deal, but only available today. Grab it while you can.There's basically no better time to score an awesome gaming laptop than Cyber Monday. Here are all the laptop deals we could find that are worth considering. If you can find a deal on one of our best gaming laptop picks, even better!
We're fans of MSI's gaming laptops. They're top notch and are highly rated. Right now our favorite is the 17-inch MSI GE72VR Apache Pro. It's got a GTX 1060, a Core i7 6700HQ, a 256GB SSD and a 1TB HDD. If you want a great gaming laptop, get it while it's hot at $1329 on Newegg.We also found this Asus GL752VW-DH71 17.3-inch ROG laptop with a GTX 980M on sale for a whopping 41 percent off, bringing the price to just shy of $1000 on Newegg. It's a killer deal, but only available today. Grab it while you can.If Razer's Project Valerie looks like it's something out of a futuristic sci-fi movie, that's because it's supposed to. It's a concept laptop based on Razer's existing Razer Blade Pro, but it's got three (yes, three) monitors built-in. Razer isn't skimping on these displays either, as the three monitors are all 17-inch 4K with Nvidia's G-Sync anti-screen tearing technology enabled, which add up to a resolution of 11520 x 2160 with Nvidia's Surround View. To make things more impressive, you won't have to fiddle about with hinges or clips. The monitors are deployed automatically and lock into place in just a few seconds.
As for the specs, you'll find a GTX 1080 inside, of course, 32GB of RAM, and the fancy vapor-chamber cooling solution found inside the Razer Blade Pro which stops heat building up too high. It's got the same mechanical keyboard as the Blade Pro as well.Of course, with all that extra bulk that means that Project Valerie is about twice as thick as the Razer Blade Pro at 1.5-inches when it's all folded up, but this really only puts it line with other similar gaming laptops since the Blade is so thin to start with. Like we said, this is merely a concept laptop, but one does actually exist. Just don't expect to be able to buy one any time soon, and even if it does go on sale, it's not exactly going to be cheap. The Razer Blade Pro alone costs $3,700, so add another couple of 4K displays on top of that at least. Cast your mind back to 2014 and Razer's announcement of Project Christine, an insanely modular gaming PC. It looked awesome, but never saw the light of day. Still, seeing the crazy stuff hardware companies come up with behind the scenes is always fun, and the announcement video which might be mistaken for a Pacific Rim 2 trailer is almost worth it by itself.
Asus is quick to point out that it is the leader in gaming laptop sales with a 29 percent share of the market, according to data by market research firms GfK and the NPD Group. Whether it can retain pole position in 2017 remains to be seen, but if not, it won't be from a lack of new laptops. The company today announced several new gaming notebooks, all refreshed with 7th generation Intel Core processors (Kaby Lake).
There are more than half a dozen new Kaby Lake laptops in Asus' stable. Sitting at the top is its ROG GX800VH, a massive 18-inch system powered by an overclockable Core i7-7820HK processor and two GeForce GTX 1080 GPUs in SLI.The ROG GX800VH is also unique in that it is liquid cooled using the Hydro Overclocking System, an external dock that connects to select Asus laptops using a patented connector. Inside the dock are liquid cooling components, including radiators, tubing, and a pump.Sitting just below the ROG GX800VH is the ROG G701VI. It also sports a Core i7-7820HK processor, along with up to 64GB of DDR4 memory now clocked at 2800MHz (the previous generation used DDR4-2400MHz RAM), GeForce GTX 1080 GPU, two M.2 PCIe x4 NVMe SSDs, and a 17.3-inch Full HD display with a 120Hz refresh rate and Nvidia G-Sync support. There is also a 4K IPS option.Another 17.3-inch laptop that is getting dipped in Kaby Lake is the ROG 752VS. This one is powered by a Core i7-7700HQ processor, up to 64GB of DDR4-2400 RAM, and a GeForce GTX 1070 GPU. Like the G701VI, the ROG 752VS sports a Full HD panel with G-Sync and a 120Hz refresh rate, which can also be upgraded to a 4K display.
Finally, Asus refreshed its ROG Strix laptops, including its GL502, GL702, GL553, and GL753 offerings. While no pricing information has been shared yet, these will be less expensive offerings with more pedestrian (though still fast) parts such as Core i5-7300HQ and Core i7-7700HQ processor options and GPUs from the GTX 1050 on up. Asus brought quite a bit of gear to CES this year, including new motherboards, peripherals, and other items. We took some pics of what it had on display—be sure to check them out!
HP is expanding the recall of several laptop models over concerns that the lithium-ion batteries used can overheat and catch fire. The recall covers an additional 101,000 laptops to the 41,000 units that were deemed potentially defective in June 2016, bringing the total number to 142,000 notebooks.The recall affects a wide range of laptops using lithium-ion batteries containing Panasonic cells, everything from gaming and professional notebooks on down to general purpose machines. Potentially defective models include HP, Compaq, HP ProBook, HP Envy, Compaq Presario, and HP Pavilion models.
"HP has expanded the number of recalled batteries, which were shipped with notebook computers sold between March 2013 and October 2016. The black batteries measure about 8 to 10.5 inches long, 2 inches wide, and about 1 inch high," the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) states in its recall notice.Users can locate the battery code on the back of the battery. Those that are part of the expanded recall have bar codes starting with 6BZLU, 6CGFK, 6CGFQ, 6CZMB, 6DEMA, 6DEMH, 6DGAL and 6EBVA. These could have been pre-installed with the affected laptop models or sold separately.So far HP has received a single report of an additional battery overheating and causing around $1,000 in property damage due to charring.HP has set up a battery recall site where you can download a utility to determine if your notebook is affected, and request a free replacement.
CyberPowerPC is currently selling a 15.6-inch laptop (MLK Vector 15 VR) with a GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB) GPU inside for $877 with free shipping. That's one of the lowest prices we've seen for a notebook with a GTX 1060.
The caveat here is that it ships without an operating system. Even so it's still a good deal, as you can have CyberPowerPC install a copy of Windows 10 Home 64-bit for $60 (or the Pro version for $91). It just so happens to be an even better deal for anyone who already has a valid Windows license waiting to be used (or is able to transfer an existing one). Not all laptop vendors allow you to strip out the OS and pay for just the hardware.Gigabyte had a range of new laptops to show off at CES this year, each featuring Intel's new Kaby Lake generation of processors, and pretty powerful graphics cards too.The P56 is a 15.6-inch laptop which comes with an optional 4K display if you want it. The processor is the new Core i7-7700HQ, and to run that high resolution it has a GTX 1080 graphics card. The laptop has a Thunderbolt 3 port, and a fancy keyboard with per-key RGB lighting. The Sabre 15 will also have a 7th generation Intel processor, and but isn't quite as beefy as the P56 as you only get a choice of a GTX 1050 Ti or a GTX 1050. Still, these cards will run games at 1080p medium/high just fine, and you get the same RGB backlit keyboard. (You can get a good estimate of 1050/1050 Ti performance from our desktop GPU reviews.)
There's also the Aero 14, which comes with a GTX 1060 running a decent 2560x1440 IPS screen. Gigabyte also showed off what it calls the "world's lightest 14-inch GTX 1050 Ti laptop" in the P34, which weighs just 3.73lbs. Plus, the company is boasting the "world's slimmest 15.6-inch GTX 1070 laptop," which is 20.9mm and has a rather tasty 3840x2160 IPS display. It also houses a swappable bay that allows you to swap between a Blu-ray drive or 2TB of extra HDD storage.Gigabyte hasn't announced the prices of these laptops yet, nor do we know when exactly they'll be released, so keep an eye on PC Gamer for more information soon.
Gaming laptops finally have the power to deliver great gaming experiences, and recent hardware advances like Intel's Skylake and Nvidia's GTX 980 (a desktop GPU now capable of running on notebooks) make this a good time to buy. But the endless variety of gaming laptop models makes shopping tough. We've spent months researching and testing them to sort out the best. Here they are.We've completely overhauled our best gaming laptops guide with three new models for 2016. Our new favorite is the descendant of last year's best gaming laptop.
If you’re accustomed to seeing the most expensive product finishing in first place, our top choice is going to be a shocker. Asus’ G752VT-DH72 isn’t the quickest notebook in our round-up. Frankly, it’s not even the best-built. But it demonstrates a genius in component balance that’d be easy to overlook, if not for the seven other machines we’re comparing it to.