136 episodes

Hosted by Avram Piltch, Editor-in-Chief of Tom's Hardware, and moderated by Scott Ertz, The Piltch Point is a livecast covering news, reviews, and previews of devices and components. Avram showcases new technology, gadgets, and concepts, as they are announced or released. Review products include smartphones, smartwatches, wearables, laptops, and tablets.

Piltch Point (Audio‪)‬ PLUGHITZ Live

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Hosted by Avram Piltch, Editor-in-Chief of Tom's Hardware, and moderated by Scott Ertz, The Piltch Point is a livecast covering news, reviews, and previews of devices and components. Avram showcases new technology, gadgets, and concepts, as they are announced or released. Review products include smartphones, smartwatches, wearables, laptops, and tablets.

    Mouse Jigglers: What are they and how to use them - Episode 304

    Mouse Jigglers: What are they and how to use them - Episode 304

    DescriptionOver the past few years, many people have begun working from home who hadn't previously done so. Because of this, IT departments and management are looking for ways to keep track of people's activity on their computers. One way that some companies do this is by checking to see if the computer has gone idle. But, an idle computer does not mean that the person is inactive. They might be on a call. They might be taking notes from a meeting. They might simply have had to use the bathroom. To combat this, people have become interested in mouse jigglers.
    What are mouse jigglers?Mouse jigglers are generally devices that plug into a computer's USB port and produce small, random movements - enough to keep the cursor moving. This prevents computers from registering as idle and keeps people's activity trackable.
    Using a mouse jiggler ensures that your computer never goes idle, so you can make sure that your activity is recorded accurately throughout the day. It's an ideal tool for remote workers, freelancers, and anyone who needs to make sure they meet their daily activity goals. With a mouse jiggler, you can be confident that your productivity levels won't suffer because of an idle computer.
    However, there are other reasons why you might need one of these tools. For example, if you are running a benchmark test or a better test, you need to keep the computer on and in a particular state. On some systems it is easy to make these changes, but on others ig can be more of a challenge. As such, this would be a guaranteed way to keep the system on.
    This can also be helpful if you are using dual computers and you need to keep the one you're not actively working on awake without changing power settings. For example, developers working on cross-platform technologies like Xamarin or MAUI might need to trick the build Mac into staying awake.
    Types of mouse jigglersThere are three distinct types of mouse jigglers. The first type is software-based. Simply run a small application on your computer and it will automate the process of moving the mouse pointer. This is a simple and inexpensive way to go. The most common application is which requires no installation. However, if you are unable to run external software on your computer, this one is not going to work for you.
    The second type is a hardware jiggler. This type come in wired and wireless models, and some have an adjustable sensitivity setting so you can customize the amount of random movement it produces. They are also relatively small and portable, making them easy to transport in a briefcase or backpack. Because they register with the computer as a mouse, it is unlikely that your computer will block it, so it is likely a solid option for most. However, because it is a hardware product drawing power from the computer, it can affect battery life.
    The third type is a hardware plate. This looks like a raised mousepad and will physically move your existing mouse. This one is a little over the top for purchasing, but can easily be made at home using a Raspberry Pi and some simple hardware. So, for the makers out there, this one might be your go-to.
    ParticipantsScott ErtzHostScott is a developer who has worked on projects of varying sizes, including all of the PLUGHITZ Corporation properties. He is also known in the gaming world for his time supporting the rhythm game community, through DDRLover and hosting tournaments throughout the Tampa Bay Area. Currently, when he is not working on software projects or hosting F5 Live: Refreshing Technology, Scott can often be found returning to his high school days working with the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), mentoring teams and helping with ROBOTICON Tampa Bay. He has also helped found a student software learning group, the ASCII Warriors, currently housed at AMRoC Fab Lab.
    Avram PiltchHostAvram's been in love with PCs since he played original Castle Wolfenstein on an Apple II+. Before joining To

    • 22 min
    The Dangers of Generative AI Technology - Episode 303

    The Dangers of Generative AI Technology - Episode 303

    DescriptionIn the last few months, we've seen a significant improvement in generative AI. This technology allows a user to enter a prompt to create media. The output has generally been text and images, but audio and other forms of media can also be created. There have been a lot of platforms in this field as of late, but none have been quite as successful as ChatGPT.
    The rise of ChatGPTThe platform that's become most popular is called ChatGPT. Essentially, the platform allows you to ask it questions in plain language and it will answer in kind. You can ask it many types of questions, as well as give it a lot of types of commands. Similar to WolframAlpha, you can ask science, math, and engineering questions and get answers. But the generative features are the most interesting, as well as the most frightening, to people.
    You can also ask ChatGPT to write content for you and it will. For example, Avram asked it to write a how to on building a PC. The article that was created looked good at an initial glance. The words were all in a recognizable order. The sentence structure was accurate, for the most part. However, the instructions that were given would have broken the processor.
    During the segment, he tried again. Rather than building a PC, Avram asked the AI to write a how to on setting up a Rasperyy Pi. The result was similar. The writing seemed normal enough at first, but some cracks began to emerge with further investigation. The content was vague, sometimes inaccurate or outdated, and not always complete.
    For example, it gives a list of requirements, but later asks you to use something that it didn't ask you to get. It also confused SD and microSD cards. Plus, the operating system name was wrong. If you've done it a lot, you might not notice, or will correct the mistakes in your head. But, first timers are not who how to content is for, so it makes the mistakes embarrassing at best and dangerous at worst.
    Generative AI in the wildRecently it was revealed that CNET was using an AI to create some of its content. The company was not open about its use of the technology, and really only came clean when issues were discovered. In particular, it was a piece including some confusing information about interest, mixing up the total account balance with the interest earned. Basic interest on a $10,000 account will not be $10,300 within a year, no matter how great of a bank you have.
    In addition to content errors, it was also discovered that the CNET AI had been plagiarizing content. In fact, the output appeared to be written by a middle schooler, taking a sentence written by someone else and changing just a word or two, pretending to make it their own. The publication Futurism has been tracking the issues, which seem to be extensive.
    Despite the backlash from the industry, and the discontinuation by CNET, other publications have said that they are also planning to implement AI writers. BuzzFeed, for example, is planning to use the technology. The good news there is no one expects BuzzFeed to have accurate information, so they're pretty safe.
    The near futureObviously, the technology is not ready for primetime. But, more importantly, it's never going to be good. AI cannot have human experiences. AI cannot interview someone. AI cannot get a scoop. AI cannot break news. All of these things require human intervention. AI can only build upon the existing work of people.
    ParticipantsScott ErtzHostScott is a developer who has worked on projects of varying sizes, including all of the PLUGHITZ Corporation properties. He is also known in the gaming world for his time supporting the rhythm game community, through DDRLover and hosting tournaments throughout the Tampa Bay Area. Currently, when he is not working on software projects or hosting F5 Live: Refreshing Technology, Scott can often be found returning to his high school days working with the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), mentoring teams and

    • 36 min
    What to Look for When Setting Up Multiple Monitors - Episode 302

    What to Look for When Setting Up Multiple Monitors - Episode 302

    DescriptionThe most important and often most underrated aspect of your computer setup is your monitor or ideally monitors. That's the aspect that you're looking at all day long, so if you can get a better monitor with better picture quality, that's a major improvement to your life. If you can improve your screen real estate with more monitors or better resolution screens, you can make your productivity better. For gaming, if you can improve your refresh rate, you'll be able to play better.
    For his home office setup, Avram has been working with 2 4K UHD monitors on the bottom and 2 HD monitors on the top. When the holidays rolled around, that meant time for some new monitors at a potentially great price. He decided to get some additional 4K screens to replace the HD screens initially but decided to look for some really quality monitors to go on the bottom and move the current screens up to the top. He was looking for screens with great color and brightness - ideal for the image work he does all day. But it has not been the easy task he had hoped for.
    What to look forIf you're looking for a really high-end monitor, such as a high refresh rate or high color replication, there are some ways to get a monitor cheaper. One way to do this is to look for a used monitor coming off of a corporate lease. You can find a few quality resellers on eBay that deal with used monitors coming out of offices when the company's lease expires and the hardware goes back to the leasing company.
    Now, you might be skeptical to purchase a used monitor because, in general, used computer equipment is a sketchy prospect. Video cards and SSDs, for example, are a scary product category to get involved with used, unless you know the seller personally. However, with monitors, the risk is fairly low. LED backlighting is the component with a perishable lifespan, and those arrays can run from 80k to 100k hours. At 8 hours per day, that's over 30 years of performance before an issue. Of course, other components can go bad - like power supplies and capacitors - but a used monitor won't be any more or less likely than a new one.
    However, you don't want to purchase just any monitor used. The price difference between a used monitor and a new monitor should be significant enough to be without the manufacturer's warranty. If you're saving $20, go with the new unit. But, in some cases, we've seen savings of over $300 or more, making it a great deal for high-end art and gaming monitors.
    If you're building a monitor array, one feature to look at closely is the placement of the mounting plate on the monitor. Not all models place them in the center - some put them lower on the panel. If you're mixing and matching models, you'll be unable to create a proper array if the mounts are in different locations.
    ParticipantsScott ErtzHostScott is a developer who has worked on projects of varying sizes, including all of the PLUGHITZ Corporation properties. He is also known in the gaming world for his time supporting the rhythm game community, through DDRLover and hosting tournaments throughout the Tampa Bay Area. Currently, when he is not working on software projects or hosting F5 Live: Refreshing Technology, Scott can often be found returning to his high school days working with the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), mentoring teams and helping with ROBOTICON Tampa Bay. He has also helped found a student software learning group, the ASCII Warriors, currently housed at AMRoC Fab Lab.
    Avram PiltchHostAvram's been in love with PCs since he played original Castle Wolfenstein on an Apple II+. Before joining Tom's Hardware, for 10 years, he served as Online Editorial Director for sister sites Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag, where he programmed the CMS and many of the benchmarks. When he's not editing, writing or stumbling around trade show halls, you'll find him building Arduino robots with his son and watching every single superhero show on the CW.

    • 25 min
    Best USB Hubs for Desktops, Laptops, and Tablets - Episode 301

    Best USB Hubs for Desktops, Laptops, and Tablets - Episode 301

    DescriptionDo you need more USB ports? Are your devices constantly running out of power? If so, you need a USB hub! There are many different types of USB hubs available, but not all of them are created equal. Avram Piltch discusses the best USB hubs for desktops, laptops, and tablets. He will also provide tips for choosing the right USB hub for your needs. Stay tuned!
    What is a USB Hub?A USB hub is a device that allows you to connect multiple peripheral devices (like mice, keyboards, and external hard drives) to your computer using only one USB port. It's like a splitter for USB ports; instead of having just one USB port on your laptop or tablet, you can add more with a USB hub.
    Types of HubsThere are two main types of USB hubs: powered USB hubs and unpowered USB hubs. A powered USB hub has an external power source that provides additional power to the devices connected to it. An unpowered USB hub does not have an external power source, so it relies on the limited power provided by the connected host device. Some USB hubs are designed with specific port configurations, such as hubs that have only 4 ports or hubs with additional features like USB charging ports.
    Tips for Choosing the Right HubWhen shopping for a USB hub, make sure to consider how many devices you will be connecting and the total amount of power they need. If your devices draw a lot of power, you'll want to look for a powered USB hub. Also, pay attention to the number of USB ports available; if you need more than four ports then look for a USB hub with 6 or more ports. Finally, consider any extra features that might be useful, such as USB charging ports or wireless connectivity options.
    Some of Our FavoritesWe've tested many USB hubs to find the best ones for desktops, laptops, and tablets. Topping our list is the Sabrent HB-B7C3. This hub offers a total of 10 ports: 3 dedicated to power and 7 for power and data. This hub is powered, meaning that it takes a separate connection to provide additional power. All in, this hub is able to provide a total of 60 watts of power to its ports. In addition, each port also offers a switch for each port, making it easier to enable and disable devices.
    Next up is the poorly named Anker PowerExpand 4-in-1 USB-C Hub. Truly, this hub is closer to a small docking station than it is a traditional hub. It connects to a PC via USB-C and provides 2 USB-A ports. That is where this device's standard features end. It also provides power throughput, meaning that you can provide power to a laptop through the hub. It also provides an HDMI port for extended displays and a memory card reader. But, the feature that really sets this hub apart is the built-in 256 GB SSD.
    To learn about the rest of the list, check out the full article on Tom's Hardware.
    ParticipantsScott ErtzHostScott is a developer who has worked on projects of varying sizes, including all of the PLUGHITZ Corporation properties. He is also known in the gaming world for his time supporting the rhythm game community, through DDRLover and hosting tournaments throughout the Tampa Bay Area. Currently, when he is not working on software projects or hosting F5 Live: Refreshing Technology, Scott can often be found returning to his high school days working with the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), mentoring teams and helping with ROBOTICON Tampa Bay. He has also helped found a student software learning group, the ASCII Warriors, currently housed at AMRoC Fab Lab.
    Avram PiltchHostAvram's been in love with PCs since he played original Castle Wolfenstein on an Apple II+. Before joining Tom's Hardware, for 10 years, he served as Online Editorial Director for sister sites Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag, where he programmed the CMS and many of the benchmarks. When he's not editing, writing or stumbling around trade show halls, you'll find him building Arduino robots with his son and watching every single superhero show on the CW.
    Live DiscussionPowe

    • 21 min
    What to Look for on Black Friday 2022 - Episode 300

    What to Look for on Black Friday 2022 - Episode 300

    DescriptionYou can have an interesting week based entirely on finding good deals. We've been in "Black Friday" season for a while, but Wednesday and Thursday are going to be the real beginning of the process.
    So, what can everyone do to get the best out of the holiday, and how to save a bunch of money? There are deals on everything from mattresses to clothing, but let's get into the deals on tech. We've got some of the best deals available here, but for the full list, check out all of Tom's Hardware's Black Friday Deals!
    ComponentsThis is a really great time to buy a CPU, motherboard, SSD, RAM, and power supplies. If you are looking to upgrade or do a new build, this is the time to get those components. However, modern GPUs appear to be off the table, though that could change. GPUs have been in short supply for years, so it's not surprising that the most modern of the video cards would be missing from holiday deals.
    In addition to modern GPUs being missing, you also won't see a great discount on the new Intel processors. There are some small discounts, in the $10 range, but nothing to write home about. On the other hand, you can get deals on the new AMD Ryzen chips. AntOnline on eBay has up to $120 off the new Ryzen chips, though those deals seem to come and go. Currently, Amazon is also running some pretty great deals on Ryzen processors. The Ryzen 9 7950X, which is a 16-Core processor, is currently running $575, when the regular retail is around $699.
    MonitorsBlack Friday 2022, as well as most years, is a great time to grab a new monitor. We're seeing the Dell 3222DGM, which is a 32 inch 2K 165 Hz monitor for $289 (down from $399). It's important to note that the 32 inch version is only $20 more than the 27" model, making it a significantly better deal. Also from Dell, the G3223Q 4K gaming monitor is down to $599 from $799. This monitor is also 32 inches, but upgrades from 2K to 4K. It also features a refresh rate of 144 Hz.
    Another great monitor choice is the Samsung Odyssey G7. This monitor is also 32 inches, as is becoming the normal, and features 1440 resolution in a curved screen. One of the biggest selling points is the 1ms delay which makes it perfect for gaming. The price is is $549 on Amazon, down from its usual $799.
    On the productivity monitor side, the Dell is selling the U2720QM, a 27 inch 4K display for $349. This is a huge discount from the MSRP of $740. This is a popular productivity display with great color.
    LaptopsAlso, in the laptop space, Dell Deals has a lot of deals on Alienware laptops. Normally, you need to spend at least $1500 for an Alienware, however the current deals how three models below $1000. You can also new some great deals on gaming laptops with modern and powerful video cards from Newegg. Also, the Gigabyte G5MD is on sale at Best Buy for $549, down from $999. This laptop features an Intel Core i5 11400H processor, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti video card, a 512 GB SSD, a 15.6 inch FHD display with 144 Hz refresh rate, and 8 GB of RAM. Obviously, the first thing you'll want to do is upgrade the RAM, but everything else is incredibly solid for the price.
    ParticipantsScott ErtzHostScott is a developer who has worked on projects of varying sizes, including all of the PLUGHITZ Corporation properties. He is also known in the gaming world for his time supporting the rhythm game community, through DDRLover and hosting tournaments throughout the Tampa Bay Area. Currently, when he is not working on software projects or hosting F5 Live: Refreshing Technology, Scott can often be found returning to his high school days working with the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), mentoring teams and helping with ROBOTICON Tampa Bay. He has also helped found a student software learning group, the ASCII Warriors, currently housed at AMRoC Fab Lab.
    Avram PiltchHostAvram's been in love with PCs since he played original Castle Wolfenstein on an Apple II+. Before joining To

    • 29 min
    The Best External SSD Enclosures - Episode 299

    The Best External SSD Enclosures - Episode 299

    DescriptionOne of the most significant issues that computer users encounter is a lack of storage. Whether that be because you're using a laptop that only came with a 256 GB drive, or you're a content creator that produces over 100 GB of content per day, storage shows up as a problem for nearly everyone at some point. For years, the best solution has been an external hard drive, though that has been quickly changing to an external SSD, and Avram has some of the best ways to get there.
    Why an external SSD enclosure?Sure, you can go out right now and purchase an external SSD at Walmart and bring it home and start using it immediately. However, as the price of SSDs drops and the performance increases, it might actually become less expensive to build your own.
    Also, an enclosure gives you the ability to swap drives out, giving you the ability to use a single enclosure for myriad drives. This can be useful for content creators who store their active raw footage and then archive it after a project is completed (this is what we do for CES coverage). A single enclosure would make it easy to swap out the drive and keep using the single enclosure, reducing cost.
    The differences in enclosuresObviously, there are going to be a lot of feature differences between available models. Some support a larger variety of drives. Some provide faster drive access, either through interface or bus enhancements. Some provide screens to monitor the health and status of the drive inside. Some even provide battery backup.
    The enclosures to considerSo, which enclosures are out there, and which should you consider?
    SSK SHE-C325This enclosure runs on USB 3.1 Gen 2, giving up to 10 Gbps access speeds. It fits NVMe PCIe 2242, 2260, and 2280 sized drives. All of the required cables are in the box, including USB a to C and USB C to C, making it easy to get started. The body has a slide out tray to place the drive into and you're good to go. The best part is the enclosure runs about $20 on Amazon.
    This one is not great for reuse, however. There's a screw hole to secure the case and drive, and has a thermal pad that kind of conforms to the drive that is in it over time. Plus, it is a pretty tight fit, so you won't want to use this over and over for swapping drives in and out unless you've got a lot of patience.
    Plugable USBC-NVMEIf you're looking for an enclosure to swap drives in and out, this one from Plugable is one to look into. It is designed to be tool-free, making the swap easy. It also includes all of the cables you need to take advantage of the USB 3.1 Gen 2 speeds and connections. The body fits the same NVMe PCIe 2242, 2260, and 2280 sized drives as the previous case, and it runs about $35 on Amazon.
    DOCKCASE Visual 10sThis is the creme de la creme of fancy SSD enclosures. In addition to USB 3.2 Gen 2 speeds and connections, this one also includes an LCD screen that gives you information about the drive. It shows when the drive is in use, but also can predict the lifespan of the drive to prevent data loss as a drive nears the end of its writable life. The 5 second and 10 seconds models can be had for around $50 and around $60 respectively.
    There's another feature included that we don't quite understand, and hope we can grasp. It includes a battery inside to provide an additional 10 seconds of power in order to complete an operation in progress. Essentially, it gives enough power to complete a cache flush before powering down. Now, the question is, why would you need this? Unless you're in the last few bytes of a write operation, the overall data is still corrupted.
    The reality is, if an SSD loses power abnormally during a write operation, it can damage the drive. In fact, each instance increases the likelihood of a full SSD failure, meaning you'd lose all data on the drive. That extra few seconds to flush the drive cache can extend the life of the drive significantly.
    ASUS ROG STRIX ArionHere's an enclosure for all of you RGB fans out there. It's the sa

    • 32 min

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