essential

Comcast extends 'Internet Essentials' program indefinitely

Cable giant Comcast announced Tuesday that it is voluntarily extending its Internet Essentials program, which provides subsidized broadband Internet service to low-income families in its service area, beyond its three-year commitment.

The company also announced that it's making more than $1 million in grants to 15 communities that have done the most to help close the digital divide. Comcast is also recognizing another five communities for being most improved. In these 20 recognized communities, eligible families that have not yet signed up for Internet Essentials, but qualify for the program, will be able to do so before March 18 … Read more

A Neato robot vaccum for less

We were quite taken with the $449 Neato XV Signature Pro that we reviewed last year. Then, Neato announced a new robot vacuum at CES earlier this month and our enthusiasm was renewed. Not only is the $379 XV Essential another Neato for the CNET Appliances team to review, but it's also very similar to the highly rated Signature Pro (just $70 cheaper).

Unfortunately, I can't recommend it. While it performed well, the standard filter it comes with is very flimsy. That makes it nearly impossible to empty the dust bin without spilling gross stuff all over yourself. … Read more

Review: Avira Free Antivirus

The latest update to Avira Antivirus adds Online Essentials, Avira's Web dashboard, a more approachable, more modern, and more encompassing way to manage security across your devices. While Avira Free Antivirus looks and runs the same as prior versions, the integration of Online Essentials redefines how you scan and protect your computers.

Pros

Basic UI: The old tweaks and settings are still there, but you probably messed with them just once a year, and then by accident. Now, Avira directs all management functions to the Online Essentials Web dashboard, greatly simplifying the primary user flow of running scans and … Read more

Avira Online Essentials gets it right

Avira Online Essentials attempts to give users a more approachable, more modern, more encompassing way to manage security across devices. Online Essentials has been in the works for a long time, as have many other security apps tackling multidevice management, but so far none stands above the rest.

So what exactly is Avira Online Essentials? It's not a piece of downloadable software but a polished security dashboard and download portal. Avira wanted to streamline the security experience by making an online dashboard that lets you download and monitor any Avira software for any device you own, whether it be … Read more

Review: Create and edit PDFs without the acrobatics with deskPDF Studio X

Billed as "the ultimate paperless solution," Docudesk's deskPDF Studio X is aimed squarely at Adobe Acrobat. Studio X can create PDFs from any application, edit the text and images in any PDF, and convert PDFs to Word, Excel, HTML, and other document types. It can sign, stamp, and add freehand and freetext markup as well as letterheads, watermarks, and other custom touches to your documents. Features like PDFzen integration allows one-click Cloud storage and easy publishing and sharing of documents online via social media, e-mail, and fax, while 256-bit encryption, digital IDs, and other strong security measures … Read more

Windows Live Mesh users must switch by Wednesday

Still using Windows Live Mesh? You won't be much longer.

Come Wednesday, the online storage and syncing service will draw its final breath, leaving Mesh users without a home. So, where can you go if you're currently using Mesh to back up, store, and synchronize your files?

A variety of online storage sites are available. Microsoft's SkyDrive is one obvious choice since it already offers some, but not all, of the features of Live Mesh.

How do you switch from Live Mesh to SkyDrive? And what are the potential pitfalls? Let's go through the process.

First, … Read more

Microsoft challenges poor grade for Security Essentials

Microsoft isn't too happy with the results of a recent test that found fault with its antivirus software.

For the second time in a row, the company's Security Essentials failed to win certification from AV-Test, a German-based testing lab that evaluates the efficacy of antivirus products. Out of 25 programs tested, only three failed to gain AV-Test's thumb's up for certification.

Microsoft's Forefront Endpoint Protection, which is geared toward corporate customers, also failed to gain certification.

Microsoft responded to the test via a blog posted yesterday, challenging its findings.

"Our review showed that 0.… Read more

Microsoft bombs another security test

Updated Thursday, January 17, 2012, at 4:50 p.m. PDT with comment from AV-Test.org.

For the second time in a row, Microsoft Security Essentials has failed to be certified as effective by AV-Test.org, an independent testing lab based in Germany.

The lab publishes test results every two months, and the test from November and December 2012 looked at 25 consumer antivirus security programs. Three failed certification: PC Tools Internet Security 2012, AhnLab Internet Security 8.0, and Microsoft Security Essentials 4.1.

This was the second test in a row in which MSE failed to earn certification. … Read more

Double-barreled bread maker for perpetual bread

What could be better than the smell of a loaf of bread baking? The answer is as simple as it is obvious: the smell of two loaves of bread baking. Yet, in home kitchens everywhere, there is a major stumbling block hindering this wonderful and enticing experience. Alas, the bread machine can only handle one loaf at a time. The answer, again, is as simple as it is obvious: use two bread-making machines. Or just double down on one.

The Cooks Essentials Dual 1 lb. Bread Maker w/12 Programmed Settings ($99) is a double-barreled bread maker that can bake … Read more

Microsoft gobbles up AV ground

Microsoft Security Essentials may not have done well in recent independent tests, but it's now the global leader in security suite market share for the first time since it debuted in 2009, says Opswat's latest study.

Opswat gauges usage by looking at the software installed on computers running their AppRemover program. The data came from more than 150,000 computers.

When asked about the differences between Opswat's numbers and research and analysis firm NPD, Opswat marketing manager Elisse Lockhart wrote in an e-mail, "Our data looks at all applications installed on machines and aggregates various versions … Read more