Qi doesn't come free on the Note 4 — get ready for a couple of compromises
Samsung put a big 'ol battery in the Note 4, and didn't even cover up the USB port with a flap like the Galaxy S5 — but that doesn't mean many of us aren't still wishing that the phone came with wireless charging capabilities out of the box. Just as it's done for the past few flagships, Samsung instead sells replacement back covers for the Note 4 that add Qi charging capabilities.
Both a standard back and S-View Flip Cover style are available — coming in at $30 and $60, respectively — that each add a little extra bulk but get your Note 4 charged up without any wires involved. There's a trade-off to be had here in either case, but for most folks it'll be worth it to forego plugging in every night — read along for a review of these two replacement charging backs.
VR experiences are making a big splash at the Sundance Film Festival this year, and Google is among the names showing up to deliver a visual thrill to attendees. Rather than leave those of us who aren't attending in suspense, you can install and watch two of the experiences being shown off inside of Google Cardboard right now. Kaiju Fury is a cinematic short that Oculus Rift users may already be familiar with, which lets you sit in the middle of a city being ravaged by giant monsters, while VRSE should be new for just about everyone. The VRSE app is actually a collection of VR experiences, with the all new Evolution of Verse headlining. Both are well worth checking out if you've got your Cardboard handy, but Evolution of Verse in particular will leave your jaw on the floor.
A durable case option that lets you decide when you need a screen protector
Sometimes you just need a thin case that protects your phone from occasional bumps, and sometimes you need a more serious case like the Seidio Capsa TouchView instead. This three-piece full-coverage case takes protection to the extreme, but honestly doesn't add as much bulk as you'd expect considering how much you get out of it. Read along and see if it could be the right case choice for you and your Galaxy S5.
LG's wraparound Bluetooth headset, the Tone Infinim (HBS-900), is now available in a white gold color variant. Boasting Harman-Kardon sound, retractable earbuds (with the wires housed in the plastic body) and the ability to read notifications out loud from a connected device, the Tone Infinim stands out from the sea of Bluetooth headsets currently available, as we've noted in our review.
We're no strangers to smartphone-controlled flying machines around these parts, especially those of us who have wandered the halls of CES, but the folks at Zano are promising something wildly different form the current experience with their mini quadcopter. While most flying experiences with smartphones happen at a 1:1 ration, Zano wants to give smartphone owners the ability to control a swarm of autonomous drones just by waving the phone in your hand around. To accomplish this, the tiny drone is packing GPS, sonar, IR, and an HD camera to capture your adventures from above. The collision detection smarts in this little casing, combined with additional instructions from the user, is apparently enough to allow some magic to happen.
We didn't get to experience this setup in person just yet due to some technical difficulties, but check out Marketing Director Reece Crowther as he walks through the details with Cali.
We've jokingly referred to the robotic toys made by Orbotix as the world's best cat toys, but the truth is there's a ton that can be done with these little rolling robots. Sphero has a huge third party following with dozens of apps that let you do everything from roll your ball in an augmented reality maze through the camera on your phone to picking the ball up and using it as a controller for games on your phone. Ollie, their brand new robot, is a little more focused on fun by offering more speed and some fun optimizations. If driving these robots around and chasing your cat aren't enough to get your attention, the Orbotix SPRK (that's Schools Parents Robots Kids) program should be all the push you need. It's a program Orbotix started to help kids learn the basics of robotics and programming, and so far it has been a huge success in the classroom.
Allen Richardson from Orbotic gives Cali and Rene the breakdown on what SPRK has been up to so far, as well as repeatedly shooting the robots off the desk during the video. Either way, it's worth a watch.
Unable to decide whether to go for over-ear or on-ear headphones? Xiaomi may have an ideal solution for you in the product that is a new pair of headphones. The company today announced the new accessory, which comes with both over-ear and on-ear covers.
Something a bit more stylish that keeps your Galaxy S5 protected
Not everyone wants a basic plastic or rubber case that just provides protection without any real appealing looks or features. While they are a bit cheaper and perhaps more rugged, plastic cases have nothing on the look and feel of a real leather case that surrounds your phone for protection while also looking great when not in use. The Krusell Kalmar FlipWallet case does just that for the Galaxy S5, and it doesn't set you back a bunch of cash to get it — read along and see our quick review.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 is still a monster hit among Android fans, and that means we can't forget to look at some great cases. Today we'll have a look at the Amzer CRUSTA Rugged case and holster combo. Complete with a tempered glass screen protector in the box, it's a great solution for complete protection for people who value a little extra padding over a slim phone.
There are a lot of parts to deal with, but the assembly isn't difficult at all once you get started.
At $35 the Google Chromecast is a hell of a deal, but Best Buy's sweetening an already sweet pot. Right now if you buy a Chromecast it comes with 2 months of Hulu Plus and 90 days of Google Play Music All Access, which is $46 worth of content — but if you buy a Chromecast from Best Buy they're throwing in $20 worth of Google Play Credit so you can stream a movie or two to get comfortable with your new little dongle. Add it all together and you get $66 worth of free subscription and download content and a Chromecast for just the $35 cost of the Chromecast.
Toshiba has announced full-sized 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB SD memory cards that can shoot thumbnails over to your Android device for a quick preview simply by tapping your device to your camera. 16 thumbnails and available remaining space are shown through the dedicated Memory Card Preview App, though you'll still need to pop the SD card into a computer to get full access to the pictures. As neat as the mash-up of SD and NFC may be, Toshiba announced a Wi-Fi-enabled SD card that sounds decidedly more useful.
The folks at Orbotix have made quite the name for themselves in the smartphone controlled toy world. Their first creation, Sphero, offers a uniquely entertaining experience with a technically impressive robot that has developed a fascinating third party software library. To follow up the curious little robot ball, Orbotix released Ollie. This robot is a little more like an RC car in how you drive it around, but with only a pair of treads and a contained pill shape it's still got a unique look to it. To make things more interesting, Orbotix has released a special edition "Darkside" version of Ollie, and after rolling this little guy around CES for a few days, and so far there's a lot to like.
Move files easily to and from your phone and computer
At CES 2015SanDisk came out with an updated version of their Dual USB Drive which now has the power of USB 3.0 technology. SanDisk has made the drive physically smaller with the added capability of storing the full size USB and microUSB sides of the drive inside itself until you want to plug it into your computer or your Android device.
For those that take their gaming really seriously, Mad Catz has unveiled the new L.Y.N.X. 9. This $299.99 controller can fold up to fit in your pocket, and expand to accommodate a 7-inch tablet or dock a phone above. It connects over Bluetooth and has a keyboard add-on, a built-in trackpad, and a microphone to help you navigate.
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