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Alienware Alpha Steam Machine

Eager to get a truly TV-oriented gaming PC without waiting until the official Steam Machine launch in 2015? Alienware is more than happy to oblige: at long last, it's shipping the Alpha console. You can now shell out $549 or more to get a living room-friendly Windows PC with a custom interface designed to work with an included Xbox 360 gamepad. Don't expect an ideal Far Cry 4 machine out of the box, however. Every system can play some modern titles thanks to GeForce GTX 860M graphics, but that base system comes with a modest Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive; you'll have to pay $699 if you want more memory and storage, and at least $799 if you want a faster CPU. This doesn't include a mouse and keyboard, either. Nonetheless, the Alpha could be a solid pick if a PS4 or Xbox One just won't cut it.

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So, why are certain celebrities suing video game companies? Well, it has a little somethin' to do with right of publicity law. This week, we broke down Lindsey Lohan's battle with Rockstar games, reviewed the Fire HD 6, toured the world's most tech-infused cruise ship, and more. The best part? It's all just a click away. Oh, and be sure to subscribe to our Flipboard magazine!

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Hypersonic fins on SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket

SpaceX's reusable rockets already have a few tricks up their metal sleeves, but it looks like they're getting at least a couple more. Elon Musk has revealed that his company is testing new technologies that will assist future Falcon 9 launches, including "X-wing style" control fins and a drone ship. The fins deploy on reentry and give the rocket better maneuvering than it would have through engine power alone. The robot boat, meanwhile, amounts to an "autonomous spaceport" -- it uses thrusters from oil rigs to provide a safe, stable landing pad (and eventually, refueling station) in situations where a ground facility isn't an option. Musk hasn't said when this vessel will go into use, but you can expect to see the Falcon 9's new controls in action on its next flight.

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3D Robotics is not about to let DJI hog all the press with its wild Inspire 1 Drone, so it just revealed its own semi-pro model: the X8+. The 8-prop UAV is designed to carry GoPro or lightweight mirrorless cameras, while offering a fully automated flight control system starting at $1,350 (without a gimbal or camera). That price may tempt pro or semi-pro users away from DJI's (admittedly cool), retractable gear model, which runs $2,900 with a built-in gimbal and 4K camera. But unlike DJI's turnkey drone, 3DR is positioning the X8+ as a customizable ship aimed not only at cinematographers, but surveyors or miners too.

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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 graphics cards

The patent war between NVIDIA and Samsung isn't going to wind down any time soon. Samsung has backed up its countering lawsuit against NVIDIA with a US International Trade Commission complaint asking the agency to block imports of NVIDIA's GeForce graphics chips and Tegra mobile processors. While it's not clear just which parts are under scrutiny, the dispute names a slew of third-party device makers who'd have to stop selling hardware in the US. Most of them are video card designers, such as Biostar and EVGA, but the action would also affect Tegra-based gadgets like OUYA's mini console and the Wikipad gaming tablet.

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Since the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One launched in North America last year, our readers have had plenty of time to get to know both systems. Last week, we took a look at what you had to say about the PlayStation 4 one year in. Now, we're shining a light on what you think of the Xbox One on its first anniversary. What works and what doesn't? And what still needs improvement?

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Philae's fate remains unknown as it snoozes underneath a cliff on comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. But in the last few days, its ground crew has released a handful of updates that give us a better idea of what it's gone through since it left Rosetta for the comet, as well as of its current state. To start with, the team has released a 3D image of the comet's surface (seen after the break) from two miles above the ground, captured one hour before the intrepid lander was supposed touch down. Philae took the two photos of the original landing site two minutes apart using the Rosetta Lander Imaging System (ROLIS).

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Recommended Reading highlights the best long-form writing on technology and more in print and on the web. Some weeks, you'll also find short reviews of books that we think are worth your time. We hope you enjoy the read.

The National Security Agency (NSA) headq

@War: The Rise of the Military-Internet Complex
by Shane Harris

The NSA's surveillance tactics have been discussed at length, and will continue to be as new information comes to light. In a recent book, author Shane Harris details Silicon Valley's involvement with the government's watch, including how some companies are disclosing security flaws to US agencies before they're alerting customers. Harris also covers details like how network traffic is shared and how backdoors are intentionally left open for the authorities' prying eyes. Want to read on? You can dive in with an excerpt from the title over at Salon.

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Even with the amount of electric vehicles we've seen lately, it's likely going to be a long time until they completely replace traditional combustion engines on the road. So how are we going to get away from pricey fossil fuels until then? Well, water could be a possibility. German company Sunfire GmbH thinks it has the solution for turning H20 and carbon dioxide into liquid hyrdrocarbons like synthetic diesel, kerosene and petrol, according to CNET. It does this in part by using a combination of the Fischer-Tropsch process (a chemical reaction that performs the aforementioned transformation) and solid electrolyzer cells (fuel cells that produce gas forms of hydrogen and oxygen).

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After a few months of testing, the feature that allows Chrome OS users to stream videos from Google Drive storage -- like the free 1TB allotted to new owners -- to a Chromecast is now available to (almost) everyone. An update on the stable channel this week pushed it to most people, with the exception of a few devices: the Dell Chromebook 11, HP Chromebook 14, Acer C720 and the Toshiba Chromebook. One thing everyone with the Chromecast dongle can appreciate are additional backgrounds, this time provided by NASA. To access them, pop open the Chromecast app on your mobile device, select "Backdrop", go to settings and choose NASA.

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