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Best Gaming Laptops Under $1500

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Pretty much everyone in this day and age owns a laptop. Maybe, they’ve just gone into university and need it for course work. Or possibly they’re of the older generation and need to keep up with online banking. Regardless of what your individual needs are, there is likely a laptop for the job. Including gamers.

As the demand for laptops rises, so does the market. With the number of companies competing for business, the cost of owning a laptop has dramatically dropped. For gaming-specific laptops, it used to be pricey to get one with decent specs. Nowadays, you can get a basic but functioning model for under $1000. Laptops of this price can run most games without noticeable lagging issues. If you’ve got $1500 to spend on your gaming laptop, then you can get something decent quality, with additional features on top of the basic model.

There is a lot to consider when purchasing a laptop, especially one for gaming. You want to make sure the processor can keep up. Also, it should have a high performing graphics card that runs the game at its highest intended potential. You need ample storage to store all your game data, and you’ll want a screen that has high-resolution.

It might sound like a lot, but with a $1500 budget, you can tick all your boxes. Let’s dive deeper into all these features and break down exactly what you should look out for when choosing a gaming laptop.

Reliable Gaming Laptop

Asus ROG Strix GL531GT

Asus ROG Strix GL531GT

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The Absolute Best Gaming Laptop

Alienware m17 17″

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Best Smallest Gaming Laptop

Razer Blade 15″

Razer Blade 15″

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1. Razer Blade 15″

Razer Blade 15″

Best Smallest Gaming Laptop

“Razer holds the claim to the world’s smallest gaming laptop with its Razer Blade 15″.”

Razer holds the claim to the world’s smallest gaming laptop with its Razer Blade 15″. Razer is a well-known and trusted brand in the gaming community and produce lightweight and slick gaming laptops. This one is the lightest, with the chassis weighing in under 4.5lbs! If it’s so thin, then where can you plug in external devices? Well, it doesn’t lose any of its connection options with a full range of ports on the body, including multiple USBs and even a full-size HDMI port.

It’s got the latest 8th generation processor and top of line GeForce graphics card from Nvidia. It’s the newest and highest performing GPU on the market. When you look at the laptop size, it’s incredible that it even fits in there. The screen is small, but still gives you more than enough to see what you’re doing while keeping it compact. Sound quality isn’t bad either with its dual speakers, rounding off the experience.

This gaming laptop is ticking every single box in terms of specs and comes in just under the $1500 mark. For that reason, it tops our list.

Specifications

  • CPU: Intel i7-8750H 2.2 GHz Hexa Core Processor
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 Max GPU
  • Screen: 15.6″ full HD with sRGB coverage
  • Storage: 1TB HDD + 128GB SSD
  • Battery: 6hrs


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2. HP OMEN 15″

Good High End Gaming Laptop

“The OMEN is HPs first significant start in the high-end gaming world.”

We bring you another 15″ gaming laptop option, this time from HP. HP is another household name in laptops for all different purposes. They’ve got a large mid-range selection of gaming laptops and have now introduced the OMEN, which is their highest end.

The OMEN has the latest 8th generation processor, which delivers superior power regulation and an RTX GPU for graphics, which couples with its full HD IPS display.

It echoes the storage capacity of the Razer, with 1TB of HDD and 128GB of SSD. It weighs in a tad bit more at 5.2lbs, still decently lightweight. Where it differs, though, is in the price.

The OMEN is HPs first significant start in the high-end gaming world. Therefore, it comes at a lower cost than the previous and can save you two hundred dollars to spend on some cool accessories to complement its slick backlit keyboard.

Specifications

  • CPU: Intel i7-8750H 2.2 GHz 8th Generation Processor
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 2070 8GB
  • Screen: 15.6″ Full HD
  • Storage: 1TB 7200RPM HDD + 128GB SSD
  • Battery: 5hrs


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3. MSI GL73 9SDK-219 17″

Best Compact Gaming Laptop

“The last two gaming laptops on our list have been compact and lightweight.”

Let’s head to the other side of the spectrum. The last two gaming laptops on our list have been compact and lightweight, Maybe, you don’t care about that, and you want something that makes a statement. For just under $1500, you can get yourself the MSI GL73 9SDK-219.

MSI are veterans on the laptop scene. They’re known for being the big guys, and their gaming-specific design allows for the most immersive experience possible with a laptop. The large, full-HD screen is 17.3″ and refreshes at a 144Hz rate, so even fast-paced gaming will display seamlessly.

Inside, it has a whopping 16GB of memory and 512GB SSD and has the latest Nvidia GeForce graphics card. This laptop has a solid chassis with an aluminum and red color motif to match the brand. It also has a red backlight on the keyboard. It’s just a beast.

Specifications

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-9750H 2.6GHz Processor
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660Ti 6GB DDR5
  • Screen: 17.3″ Full HD
  • Storage: 512GB NVMe SSD
  • Battery: 5hrs


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4. Alienware m17 17″

The Absoulte Best Gaming Laptop

“If you want to stay ahead of the tech curve, then this is the best option.”

For another beast of a gaming laptop, we have the Alienware m17. This laptop is part of the gaming series from Dell and features the newest 9th generation technology. See, we told you you could get a 9th generation for under $1500. It comes in a few dollars over budget, but if you’re looking for a top of the line, then it’s worth the extra.

If you want to stay ahead of the tech curve, then this is the best option. Its CPU clocks in at 4.5GHz, and it’s got a ton of memory, making multitasking a breeze. It comes with 16GB of DDR4 RAM, which is more than enough. If you want more, it’s got the potential to upgrade to 32GB.

The storage also comes with upgrade options. It already features ample hybrid storage with 1TB of HDD and 256GB of SSD. If you want more than you can upgrade the storage drives.

Another thing to note is that while it already delivers good graphics, its Nvidia Geforce CPU is overclockable, which may be a huge draw for some.

So, with all these incredible features, where does it fall short? The only real issue is the size. Its screen size, coupled with its weight of almost 6lbs, means it’s not conveniently portable. It’s great if you plan to use it at home and keep it at your desk. If the intention is to travel with the laptop, then you may struggle.

Specifications

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-9750H 2.6 GHz
  • GPU: Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060 6GB DDR5
  • Screen: 17.3″ Full HD IPS
  • Storage: 1TB HDD + 256GB SSD
  • Battery: 6hrs


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5. Acer Predator Helios 300

Good Budget Gaming Laptop

“The Acer Predator Helios is one of the most inexpensive on our list.”

We know you have a $1500 budget, but it never hurts to save a few dollars. The Acer Predator Helios is one of the most inexpensive on our list, coming in just over $1000. It still delivering some amazing features.

The design itself is super cool with its bold blue accents and unique body shape. It looks futuristic, and it’s lightweight weighing in at 5lbs. The screen is on the smaller spectrum at 15.6″ and is a Full-HD IPS.

The only place this laptop has a struggle is with 4K. If you’re after a higher resolution than 1080p, then it may not live up to your expectations. Inside, its CPU is an Intel i7 2.6GHz and has the latest high-performance GPU. For RAM, it’s more than adequate with 16BG for juggling multiple programs simultaneously.

The cooling system is top-notch, with its super thin AeroBlade fans. With this addition of quad-exhaust, it provides efficient cooling yet is quiet.

Where it excels above others of similar spec, is with battery life. The battery can last up to 6 hours, which beats many others on the market.

Specifications

  • CPU: Intel i7-9750H 2.6 GHz Processor
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB DDR5 VRAM
  • Screen: 15.6″ Full HD
  • Storage: 256GB SSD
  • Battery: 6hrs


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6. Asus TUF

Most Durable Gaming Laptop

“It finds a place on our list as the most durable and reliable gaming laptop.”

The name says it all; this gaming laptop is TUF. It finds a place on our list as the most durable and reliable gaming laptop you can get under $1500. The sophisticated red and black design makes it look like you spent a lot more on it than you did.

It’s the first one on our list without an Intel processor, as it’s fitted with an AMD Ryzen 7. There is not much difference in performance between the two processors. The AMD CPU runs at a lower price point. Some say that i7 will deliver better clock speeds, but AMD has a higher number of threads. Either way, the AMD Ryzen works just fine on the Asus TUF laptop.

The screen is 15.6″ Full HD, and with its Nvidia GeForce GPU, it has excellent visual performance. The memory and storage offer everything you need with 16GB of RAM, 1TB of HDD and 256GB SSD.

For the price, you get a long-lasting and well-performing gaming laptop. The only issues it seems to have it can sometimes run hot and you can hear the fans working to keep up.

Specifications

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 3750H Processor
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660Ti
  • Screen: 15.6″ Full HD Widescreen LED IPS
  • Storage: 1TB 5400RPM HDD + 256GB PCIe SSD
  • Battery: 6hrs


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7. MSI GL65 9SEK-065

Best Lightweight Gaming Laptop

“If you’re a fan of the MSI features but want something smaller and more lightweight than this 15″ laptop may tick all your boxes.”

The little brother to the MSI GL73 9SDK-219, this gaming laptop from delivers the same trusted performance, in a smaller package. If you’re a fan of the MSI features but want something smaller and more lightweight than this 15″ laptop may tick all your boxes.

Typically, the larger-bodied computers can support higher performing components, but this one keeps up with some larger models. The 15.6″ screen is 144Hz, which provides smooth and defined graphics. Its Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 GPU produces the graphics.

Battery life is about standard for the size and can last around 5 hours on a full charge. It only weighs 5lbs, so it’s easy to carry around with you for gaming on the go. Where it falls behind is in storage, with only a 512GB SSD.

Specifications

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-9750H Hexa Core 2.6 GHz Processor
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 6GB DDR6
  • Screen: 15.6-Inch Full HD 144Hz 3ms Display with 72% NTSC (100% sRGB) Color Gamut
  • Storage: 512GB Solid State Drive
  • Battery: 5hrs


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8. Lenovo Legion Y540

Lenovo Legion Y540

Best Designer Gaming Laptop

“Its metallic build is super sleek, with the statement logo making it look like the designer bag of gaming laptops.”

Gaming experience and functionality are important, but some people are all about the looks. If that sounds like you, then for under $1500 you can score yourself a snazzy Lenovo Legion Y540. Its metallic build is super sleek, with the statement logo making it look like the designer bag of gaming laptops.

Luckily, it doesn’t come with the designer price tag and is about $1400. It also features a backlit keyboard for some extra flair.

But how does it function? The good news is that it doesn’t just boast good looks. It stacks up to others in terms of performance with the latest i7, 9th generation processor. It’s got 16GB of RAM and decent storage, delivering some good speed ratings. In the graphics department, it’s top of the line for the cost. All this in a 15.6″ package that weighs just over 5lbs.

Specifications

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-9750H 2.6 GHz 9th Gen
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060
  • Screen: 15.6″ Full HD
  • Storage: 1TB HDD + 512GB PCIe SSD
  • Battery: 5hrs


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9. Asus ROG Strix Hero II

Asus ROG Strix Hero II

Beautiful Design Gaming Laptop

“The ASUS ROG Strix Hero II is built with a mesmerizing design, keeping the needs of gamers in mind.”

The ASUS ROG Strix Hero II is built with a mesmerizing design, keeping the needs of gamers in mind.

It has decent hardware specs for its size and price. It has a 15.6″ full HD screen but weighs more than others of its size. The CPU is the 8th generation, which clocks up to 4.1GHz and has 16GB of RAM preloaded. It’s got decent storage with 512GB SSD, but you may want to upgrade at some point if you’re a hardcore gamer. The graphics card, however, is top of the line.

For features, its black chassis has a backlit keyboard that can is lit with the full spectrum of colors. It also has some additional gamer specific features like its extra-wide space bar and four other hotkeys. It comes in at the top end of the $1500 budget.

Specifications

  • CPU: Intel i7-8750H 2.2 GHz Hexa-Core Coffee Lake Processor
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 6GB DDR5
  • Screen: 15.6-Inch Full HD 144Hz 3ms refresh-rate IPS Display
  • Storage: 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD
  • Battery: 5hrs


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10. Asus ROG Strix GL531GT

Asus ROG Strix GL531GT

Reliable Gaming Laptop

“Many commend the series for reliability, and this model fits that description.”

The last gaming laptop on our list is another part of the Asus ROG Strix series, but with a few differences. Many commend the series for reliability, and this model fits that description. However, while many of the laptops in the series have attractive looks and high-performance specs, this model is more basic. It delivers function over style.

The reason this model enters our list is for the price. Since the features are more muted, it comes in at a better price point. It’s just over $1000, so you’ve got $500 still in your pocket.

The screen is 15.6″ and full HD IPS, but the refresh rate is lower than the other laptops in the series. It will still be able to run most games at reasonable frame rates with its Nvidia Geforce GTX 1650 GPU. Although, it doesn’t have ray tracing. Where storage is concerned, there’s enough to satisfy most gamers with 1TB of SSD.

Specifications

  • CPU: Intel i7-9750H 2.6 GHz (12MB Cache) Coffee Lake Processor
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 4GB DDR5 VRAM
  • Screen: 15.6″ Full HD IPS Display
  • Storage: 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD
  • Battery: 5hrs


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CPU/Processor

Where processors are concerned, you will want something with at least a 7th generation, Kaby Lake CPU. They are an older model, so you could save some money in this department. Ideally, the CPU will be the newest 8th generation or Coffee Lake. It’s got more power than the 7th and delivers a higher level of performance all around. You don’t need the 8th generation, but it’s a good idea to get the latest model.

With the advance in technology, the 9th generation processors are already entering the market. Since it’s still new, we recommend a cautionary approach when purchasing a laptop with a 9th gen chip to make sure it hasn’t had any technical issues. If it has good reviews and is within your budget, then definitely purchase. You will find out information about individual laptop speeds in our reviews down below.

Graphics Card

Some may say that the graphics card is the most crucial part of your gaming laptop. For gaming on a PC, they can upgrade individual components within the body of their computers. They will purchase a computer with stock components. Then they can upgrade each part individually to the one of their choosing, making the whole build customizable. With laptops, you rarely have that luxury, so you will have to choose one with the GPU you want already installed.

If you’re looking at the specs, any laptop with Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti, 1080, 1070, 1060, or 1050 graphics cards is the older of the models. Though they still perform pretty well. If you want the most up to date and current graphics card, then keep an eye for the GeForce RTX. These cards come at a higher cost but have additional features compared to the older ones, and you can find them within the $1500 budget.

Laptop Screen

Laptop screens have gotten much better quality over the last few years, hitting full-HD resolutions at 1920×1080. The main things you want to keep an eye for are higher contrast ratio, more extensive color range, and IPS panels, which provide a more comprehensive range of view that maintains quality at all angles.

Many laptops will try to sell you on 300cd screen brightness, but it’s unnecessary. What’s more important is the contrast ratio. Another buzz phrase companies will use is ‘resolution that is better than high def.’ While this sounds great, most graphics cards can’t keep up the extreme resolution anyway and will result in low frame rates. You’re better off with a standard high-resolution screen that still provides fantastic quality and detailing with seamless frame rates.

Screens with glare can be frustrating while you’re playing games. Always moving your screen, so it doesn’t reflect light gets old quick. Luckily, it’s becoming a lot easier and more affordable to find anti-glare screens on the market, so keep an eye for that.

If you can find a screen with a high refresh rate, then go for it, as it will offer you a slicker overall visual experience.

Storage

While a decent storage drive won’t make your games operate any faster, it can shorten the loading time between levels. Storage will improve your overall experience for booting up, opening/saving files, and launching programs. We advise a solid-state hard drive, and it never hurts to have a new spacious hard drive just for gaming. Games can take up a ton of space on your drive, so the more storage, the better.

The two components that contribute to high performance are RAM and HDD or SSD storage. Where RAM is concerned, you’ll want to find a computer that has at least 8GBs of RAM minimum. SSD storage is your best bet, but a hybrid SSD / HDD is also a decent option.

Audio

As a laptop gamer, you may play all your games wearing headsets or at least headphones. This trend began to block out the noisy sound of the laptop running sound. Now that technology has improved, and laptops are quiet, you might get some use out of the laptop’s speakers. It will not be as good as an external speaker, but the quality is improving.

Battery Life

If you’re using a gaming laptop in place of a PC, then battery life may not be a huge concern for you. Likely you will have it stationary on your desk, and it can be plugged in at all times. However, if you use this as a portable gaming center, then battery life is essential. A laptop’s standard battery life with drain much quicker when you’re running high-def gaming software. However, many of the laptops on our list have shown some incredible battery life potential.

Do You Need to Spend $1500?

The more budget you have, the more features you can get on your gaming laptop. You can get a basic model that will run perfectly well for under $1000. But a pricier model will deliver a higher performance graphics system and overall faster speeds. If you plan to use any additional large applications, like video editing programs, then you will need the highest rate possible. It will probably set you back closer to $1500.

With $1500 you can get yourself a top-tier gaming laptop. For that price, it will fulfill your requirements for the most immersive gaming experience possible on a laptop. But $1500 is still a lot of cash to throw around on any old gaming laptop. You want to make sure you’re investing in one that is the best your money can buy.

That’s where we come in. We’ve done our research, so you don’t have to, and chosen the top 10 best gaming laptops you can get for under $1500. We’ve reviewed them all so you can decide for yourself which one is worth purchasing.

Conclusion

As a gamer in the market for a laptop, you want the best you can get within your $1500 budget. You now know what specs and features to look for and have ten laptop options to get you started.

With prices getting more affordable, it’s an exciting time for the gaming community. With $1500 you can get a high-quality laptop that will deliver an immersive and more enjoyable gaming experience.

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Google to auto-delete the location history of abortion clinic visits

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Google’s decision follows concerns that law enforcement could use personal data from certain apps against people who have sought abortions illegally.

Tech giant Google has said it will soon auto-delete the data of users’ visits to abortion clinics and other medical sites from their location history.

This followed the US Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe v Wade, eliminating the constitutional right to an abortion in the country.

Other medical facilities that Google mentioned in its planned location changes include counselling centres, domestic violence shelters, fertility centres, addiction treatment facilities, weight loss clinics and cosmetic surgery clinics.

The tech giant also said location history is off by default and that there are tools such as auto-delete so users can easily get rid of parts or all of their location data.

Google said the location data changes will take effect “in the coming weeks”. The tech giant also shared planned data changes around its fitness apps to protect the privacy of users.

“Fitbit users who have chosen to track their menstrual cycles in the app can currently delete menstruation logs one at a time, and we will be rolling out updates that let users delete multiple logs at once,” said Google senior VP of core systems and experiences Jen Fitzpatrick in a blog post.

Fitzpatrick said the tech giant considers the “privacy and security expectations” of people using its products and that it notifies users when it complies with legal demands for information.

“We remain committed to protecting our users against improper government demands for data, and we will continue to oppose demands that are overly broad or otherwise legally objectionable,” Fitzpatrick said.

Following the decision to overturn Roe v Wade, there have been concerns that law enforcement could use personal data from certain apps against people who have sought abortions illegally.

One type of app where this has been a concern has been period tracking apps. The Stardust app saw a recent surge in popularity in after it claimed to implement end-to-end encryption.

However, the app’s privacy-focused claims appear to be at odds with its practices, while its encryption claims were recently removed from its privacy policy.

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Is your smartphone ruining your memory? A special report on the rise of ‘digital amnesia’ | Memory

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Last week, I missed a real-life meeting because I hadn’t set a reminder on my smartphone, leaving someone I’d never met before alone in a café. But on the same day, I remembered the name of the actor who played Will Smith’s aunt in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in 1991 (Janet Hubert). Memory is weird, unpredictable and, neuroscientifically, not yet entirely understood. When memory lapses like mine happen (which they do, a lot), it feels both easy and logical to blame the technology we’ve so recently adopted. Does having more memory in our pockets mean there’s less in our heads? Am I losing my ability to remember things – from appointments to what I was about to do next – because I expect my phone to do it for me? Before smartphones, our heads would have held a cache of phone numbers and our memories would contain a cognitive map, built up over time, which would allow us to navigate – for smartphone users, that is no longer true.

Our brains and our smartphones form a complex web of interactions: the smartphonification of life has been rising since the mid 2000s, but was accelerated by the pandemic, as was internet use in general. Prolonged periods of stress, isolation and exhaustion – common themes since March 2020 – are well known for their impact on memory. Of those surveyed by memory researcher Catherine Loveday in 2021, 80% felt that their memories were worse than before the pandemic. We are – still – shattered, not just by Covid-19, but also by the miserable national and global news cycle. Many of us self-soothe with distractions like social media. Meanwhile, endless scrolling can, at times, create its own distress, and phone notifications and self interrupting to check for them, also seem to affect what, how and if we remember.

So what happens when we outsource part of our memory to an external device? Does it enable us to squeeze more and more out of life, because we aren’t as reliant on our fallible brains to cue things up for us? Are we so reliant on smartphones that they will ultimately change how our memories work (sometimes called digital amnesia)? Or do we just occasionally miss stuff when we don’t remember the reminders?

Neuroscientists are divided. Chris Bird is professor of cognitive neuroscience in the School of Psychology at the University of Sussex and runs research by the Episodic Memory Group. “We have always offloaded things into external devices, like writing down notes, and that’s enabled us to have more complex lives,” he says. “I don’t have a problem with using external devices to augment our thought processes or memory processes. We’re doing it more, but that frees up time to concentrate, focus on and remember other things.” He thinks that the kind of things we use our phones to remember are, for most human brains, difficult to remember. “I take a photo of my parking ticket so I know when it runs out, because it’s an arbitrary thing to remember. Our brains aren’t evolved to remember highly specific, one-off things. Before we had devices, you would have to make a quite an effort to remember the time you needed to be back at your car.”

Professor Oliver Hardt, who studies the neurobiology of memory and forgetting at McGill University in Montreal, is much more cautious. “Once you stop using your memory it will get worse, which makes you use your devices even more,” he says. “We use them for everything. If you go to a website for a recipe, you press a button and it sends the ingredient list to your smartphone. It’s very convenient, but convenience has a price. It’s good for you to do certain things in your head.”

Hardt is not keen on our reliance on GPS. “We can predict that prolonged use of GPS likely will reduce grey matter density in the hippocampus. Reduced grey matter density in this brain area goes along with a variety of symptoms, such as increased risk for depression and other psychopathologies, but also certain forms of dementia. GPS-based navigational systems don’t require you to form a complex geographic map. Instead, they just tell you orientations, like ‘Turn left at next light.’ These are very simple behavioural responses (here: turn left) at a certain stimulus (here: traffic light). These kinds of spatial behaviours do not engage the hippocampus very much, unlike those spatial strategies that require the knowledge of a geographic map, in which you can locate any point, coming from any direction and which requires [cognitively] complex computations. When exploring the spatial capacities of people who have been using GPS for a very long time, they show impairments in spatial memory abilities that require the hippocampus. Map reading is hard and that’s why we give it away to devices so easily. But hard things are good for you, because they engage cognitive processes and brain structures that have other effects on your general cognitive functioning.”

Hardt doesn’t have data yet, but believes, “the cost of this might be an enormous increase in dementia. The less you use that mind of yours, the less you use the systems that are responsible for complicated things like episodic memories, or cognitive flexibility, the more likely it is to develop dementia. There are studies showing that, for example, it is really hard to get dementia when you are a university professor, and the reason is not that these people are smarter – it’s that until old age, they are habitually engaged in tasks that are very mentally demanding.” (Other scientists disagree – Daniel Schacter, a Harvard psychologist who wrote the seminal Seven Sins Of Memory: How The Mind Forgets and Remembers, thinks effects from things like GPS are “task specific”, only.)

While smartphones can obviously open up whole new vistas of knowledge, they can also drag us away from the present moment, like it’s a beautiful day, unexperienced because you’re head down, WhatsApping a meal or a conversation. When we’re not attending to an experience, we are less likely to recall it properly, and fewer recalled experiences could even limit our capacity to have new ideas and being creative. As the renowned neuroscientist and memory researcher Wendy Suzuki recently put it on the Huberman Lab neuroscience podcast, “If we can’t remember what we’ve done, the information we’ve learned and the events of our lives, it changes us… [The part of the brain which remembers] really defines our personal histories. It defines who we are.”

Catherine Price, science writer and author of How to Break Up With Your Phone, concurs. “What we pay attention to in the moment adds up to our life,” she says. “Our brains cannot multitask. We think we can. But any moment where multitasking seems successful, it’s because one of those tasks was not cognitively demanding, like you can fold laundry and listen to the radio. If you’re paying attention to your phone, you’re not paying attention to anything else. That might seem like a throwaway observation, but it’s actually deeply profound. Because you will only remember the things you pay attention to. If you’re not paying attention, you’re literally not going to have a memory of it to remember.”

The Cambridge neuroscientist Barbara Sahakian has evidence of this, too. “In an experiment in 2010, three different groups had to complete a reading task,” she says. “One group got instant messaging before it started, one got instant messaging during the task, and one got no instant messaging, and then there was a comprehension test. What they found was that the people getting instant messages couldn’t remember what they just read.”

Price is much more worried about what being perpetually distracted by our phones – termed “continual partial attention” by the tech expert Linda Stone – does to our memories than using their simpler functions. “I’m not getting distracted by my address book,” she says. And she doesn’t believe smartphones free us up to do more. “Let’s be real with ourselves: how many of us are using the time afforded us by our banking app to write poetry? We just passively consume crap on Instagram.” Price is from Philadelphia. “What would have happened if Benjamin Franklin had had Twitter? Would he have been on Twitter all the time? Would he have made his inventions and breakthroughs?

“I became really interested in whether the constant distractions caused by our devices might be impacting our ability to actually not just accumulate memories to begin with, but transfer them into long-term storage in a way that might impede our ability to think deep and interesting thoughts,” she says. “One of the things that impedes our brain’s ability to transfer memories from short- to long-term storage is distraction. If you get distracted in the middle of it” – by a notification, or by the overwhelming urge to pick up your phone – “you’re not actually going to have the physical changes take place that are required to store that memory.”

It’s impossible to know for sure, because no one measured our level of intellectual creativity before smartphones took off, but Price thinks smartphone over-use could be harming our ability to be insightful. “An insight is being able to connect two disparate things in your mind. But in order to have an insight and be creative, you have to have a lot of raw material in your brain, like you couldn’t cook a recipe if you didn’t have any ingredients: you can’t have an insight if you don’t have the material in your brain, which really is long term memories.” (Her theory was backed by the 92-year-old Nobel prize-winning neuroscientist and biochemist Eric Kandel, who has studied how distraction affects memory – Price bumped into him on a train and grilled him about her idea. “I’ve got a selfie of me with a giant grin and Eric looking a bit confused.”) Psychologist professor Larry Rosen, co-author (with neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley) of The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World, also agrees: “Constant distractions make it difficult to encode information in memory.”

Smartphones are, of course, made to hijack our attention. “The apps that make money by taking our attention are designed to interrupt us,” says Price. “I think of notifications as interruptions because that’s what they’re doing.”

For Oliver Hardt, phones exploit our biology. “A human is a very vulnerable animal and the only reason we are not extinct is that we have a superior brain: to avoid predation and find food, we have had to be really good at being attentive to our environment. Our attention can shift rapidly around and when it does, everything else that was being attended to stops, which is why we can’t multitask. When we focus on something, it’s a survival mechanism: you’re in the savannah or the jungle and you hear a branch cracking, you give your total attention to that – which is useful, it causes a short stress reaction, a slight arousal, and activates the sympathetic nervous system. It optimises your cognitive abilities and sets the body up for fighting or flighting.” But it’s much less useful now. “Now, 30,000 years later, we’re here with that exact brain” and every phone notification we hear is a twig snapping in the forest, “simulating what was important to what we were: a frightened little animal.”

Smartphone use can even change the brain, according to the ongoing ABCD study which is tracking over 10,000 American children through to adulthood. “It started by examining 10-year-olds both with paper and pencil measures and an MRI, and one of their most interesting early results was that there was a relationship between tech use and cortical thinning,” says Larry Rosen, who studies social media, technology and the brain. “Young children who use more tech had a thinner cortex, which is supposed to happen at an older age.” Cortical thinning is a normal part of growing up and then ageing, and in much later life can be associated with degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, as well as migraines.

Obviously, the smartphone genie is out of the bottle and has run over the hills and far away. We need our smartphones to access offices, attend events, pay for travel and to function as tickets, passes and credit cards, as well as for emails, calls and messages. It’s very hard not to have one. If we’re worried about what they – or the apps on them – might be doing to our memories, what should we do?

Rosen discusses a number of tactics in his book. “My favourites are tech breaks,” he says, “where you start by doing whatever on your devices for one minute and then set an alarm for 15 minutes time. Silence your phone and place it upside down, but within your view as a stimulus to tell your brain that you will have another one-minute tech break after the 15-minute alarm. Continue until you adapt to 15 minutes focus time and then increase to 20. If you can get to 60 minutes of focus time with short tech breaks before and after, that’s a success.”

“If you think your memory and focus have got worse and you’re blaming things like your age, your job, or your kids, that might be true, but it’s also very likely due to the way you’re interacting with your devices,” says Price, who founded Screen/Life Balance to help people manage their phone use. As a science writer, she’s “very much into randomly controlled trials, but with phones, it’s actually more of a qualitative question about personally how it’s impacting you. And it’s really easy to do your own experiment and see if it makes a difference. It’s great to have scientific evidence. But we can also intuitively know: if you practice keeping your phone away more and you notice that you feel calmer and you’re remembering more, then you’ve answered your own question.”

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China rallies support for Kylin Linux in war on Windows • The Register

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China’s efforts to end its reliance on Microsoft Windows got a boost with the launch of the openKylin project.

The initiative aims to accelerate development of the country’s home-grown Kylin Linux distro by opening the project up to a broader community of developers, colleges, and universities to contribute code.

Launched in 2001, Kylin was based on a FreeBSD kernel and was intended for use in government and military offices, where Chinese authorities have repeatedly attempted to eliminate foreign operating systems.

In 2010, the operating system made the switch to the Linux kernel, and in 2014 an Ubuntu-based version of the OS was introduced after Canonical reached an agreement with Chinese authorities to develop the software.

The openKylin project appears to be the latest phase of that project, and is focused on version planning, platform development, and establishing a community charter. To date, the project has garnered support from nearly two dozen Chinese firms and institutions, including China’s Advanced Operating System Innovation Center.

These industry partners will contribute to several special interest groups to improve various aspects of the operating system over time. Examples include optimizations for the latest generation of Intel and AMD processors, where available; support for emerging RISC-V CPUs; development of an x86-to-RISC-V translation layer; and improvements to the Ubuntu Kylin User Interface (UKUI) window manager for tablet and convertible devices.

China’s love-hate relationship with Microsoft

China’s efforts to rid itself of Redmond are by no means new. As far back as 2000, Chinese authorities ordered government offices to remove Windows in favor of Red Flag Linux.

However, in the case of Red Flag Linux, those efforts ultimately went nowhere after the project failed to catch on. The org was ultimately dissolved, and the team terminated in 2014. Despite its collapse, the project appears to have been rebooted, with a release slated to launch later this year.

This is a story that would repeat on a regular cadence, fueled by periodic spats between Uncle Sam and software vendors.

It’s safe to say the Chinese government has something of a love-hate relationship with Redmond. In 2013, Chinese authorities urged Microsoft to extend support for Windows XP, on which the country still relied heavily.

However, a year later, the Chinese government banned Windows 8 in much of the public sector, just months after Microsoft ended support for Windows XP.

Today, Microsoft controls roughly 85 percent of the desktop operating system market as of June 2022, according to Statcounter.

Some of this can be attributed to the launch of Windows 10 China Government Edition in 2017, which was developed in collaboration with the China Electronics Technology Group.

It doesn’t appear those efforts bought Microsoft’s American partners much in terms of goodwill, with Chinese authorities directing government agencies to throw out all foreign-made personal computers this spring. ®

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