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1 week ago

Best Universal Car Mounts

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Best universal car mounts

Keep your phone safely in sight and secure with a car mount.

When you're on the go, your phone is more than just a tool for keeping in touch. It's your road trip playlist and your GPS, too. For safety's sake, mounting your phone to your dashboard, windshield, or air vents is the best way to keep it in view while keeping your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. We've gathered up a list of some excellent options for universal car mounts, and trust us, there's no shortage of choices out there.

iDoo Qi Car Charger Mount

iDoo Qi car charger mount

The car mount from iDoo is one fantastic multitasker. It offers wireless charging for your Qi-enabled phone, or space for a charging cable if you need to plug in.

You have three installation options: dashboard mount, air vent clips, or windshield mount. Take the time to experiment a little with the best sight lines for your phone when you're ready to get set up so you'll know which variation works for you. The cradle arm is completely adjustable, so you can avoid glare, and the frame rotates 360 degrees. No matter where you put it, the mount will be an essential part of your commute.

See at Amazon

Affordable Universal Car Mount

Affordable universal car mount

This offering from Affordable is as minimalist as they come, and you know what that means: no obstructed view. It's ideal for dashboard or windshield installation.

It's simple to install and remove when you're switching vehicles. Bonus points are also awarded to this mount for living up to the name Affordable. It's also been favorably reviewed for some time now; it won't drop your phone when you're travelling bumpy roads, and potholes won't shake it's grip.

See at Amazon

Koomus CD-Eco Car Mount

Koomus CD dash mount

Remember when you kept stacks of CDs in the backseat so that you'd always have your favorite tunes close by? Well, your phone takes care of the songs these days, but your CD player can still be put to good use. The Koomus mount uses it to hold your phone in a very convenient place.

The low-profile mount is easy to install, and your CD player won't be damaged or even recognize that it's in use. The flexible clamps hold your phone securely with or without its case. You can also rotate your phone 360 degrees for easier viewing.

See at Amazon

iOttie Easy One Touch XL Car Mount

iOttie One Touch XL car mount

iOttie's car mount is available in a few different versions, but we're going to spotlight the XL. The suction cup is tough, and won't budge from your dashboard or windshield. If you favor dashboard mounts, you can choose to add their Sticky Gel Pad for some extra grip, although most users say they don't need it. The windshield mount won't obstruct your view, either.

The XL is an especially solid choice if your phone case adds a little extra bulk, since the cradle is designed to hold larger phones to begin with. Your phone can rotate 360 degrees, and if you need to remove the mount and put it in a different vehicle, a quick rinse and dry of the suction cup makes it good as new again.

See at Amazon

New Trent Arcadia Magnetic Mount

New Trent Arcadia car mount

For something completely different, check out the mount from New Trent. It holds your phone with a strong magnet, and installs onto your air vents. You don't have to worry about snapping your phone into a cradle, just stick it to the magnetic pad and you're on your way.

The base mount is available in black or blue, and comes with two magnetic plates you can stick to the back of two devices, especially handy if you share your car with other family members. The magnetic plates are thin enough to fit into your phone's case, and strong enough to adhere to the base without having to constantly removing the case every time you get in the car.

See at Amazon

WizGear Universal Air Vent Magnetic Mount

WizGear universal car mount

Wizgear produces another magnetic car mount we're a fan of.. The magnet is strong on this one, and if you take the mount out of the car, it doubles as a kickstand for your phone. The magnet can be concealed inside most phone cases, so you won't have to constantly remove the case before sticking your phone to the mount.

The air vent clips keep your phone highly visible without obstructing your view. The base swivels your phone into your preferred position and promises to keep it there until you move it, even when going over rougher terrain. It's perfect if you just need to jump in the car and go with your phone at the ready.

See at Amazon

Spigen Style Ring

Spigen Style Ring

An inexpensive alternative for car mounts is the Style Ring. The mount is a tiny black hook that sticks to your dashboard, and the ring sticks to the back of your phone. If you're not wild about sticking things to your car or device, this may not be the right choice for you, but it's convenient.

The ring that attaches to your phone doubles as a kickstand in both portrait or landscape. It hooks to just about anything, so you might find yourself hanging your phone from a variety of places. Positioning the car mount might take some patience to get it just where you'd like it to stay, but it works well for hands-free calling and accessing music. Your phone snaps into place and swivels 360 degrees. It's the smallest car mount you can find, so if space on your dashboard is at a premium, the Style Ring is a solid option.

See at Amazon

The bottom line

First and foremost, you need to know the details of your local laws, in terms of whether or not you are allowed to mount anything on your windshield. Next, you need consider how often you'll use a car mount and where in your vehicle it's going to be. Each of these car mounts have distinct advantages all their own, but we think that versatility and durability are the most important qualities to look for.

Which universal car mount are you using these days? Tell us about it in the comments!

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1 week ago

Jaybird X3 may be the perfect sport buds for Android

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Wherein ye olde Modern Dad discovers the Jaybird X3 are a great companion for the gym, a quick jog, or really for whatever ...

There are three kinds of people at the gym: Those wearing huge over-the-air headphones, folks with wired earbuds — and then there are those with proper wireless buds. I've long been one of those people who don't mind plugging in at the gym. But it's 2017, and time for some proper wireless headphones while I'm working out.

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The Jaybird X3 aren't the least expensive headphones I've ever used. But for as much as I've been enjoying them day after day, the $129 price tag seems just about right. The fit is just fine (with plenty of options for customizing that.) The sound is really good considering they're in-ears. And the wireless connection has been excellent for me. Battery life has been good, charging just about once a week or so. (YMMV depending on how often you use them, of course — I'm getting a good 7 or 8 hours or more every week.)

There's a companion Android app, too, that allows for a bunch of EQ customizations. You can choose from any of the branded ones, or make your own — and save your presets. (I've just been sticking with stock, though.)

What don't I like about 'em? Only real thing I can think of is the charging dongle. But that's not a huge deal by any stretch of the imagination. For me these wireless buds have been excellent for the gym, or while I'm out walking. Highly recommend.

See at Amazon

Modern Dad

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1 week ago

Updated Amazon Fire TV Stick brings Alexa to TVs in the UK

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Amazon's Alexa-powered Fire TV Stick is coming to the UK in April.

The updated variant of Amazon's Fire TV Stick with Alexa integration has made its way to the UK for £39.99. The device is currently up for pre-order on Amazon UK, and will be releasing on April 6. The new Fire TV Stick comes with a redesigned user interface, a faster processor, and a remote powered by Alexa.

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1 week ago

Verizon celebrates Presidents' Day with $30 off Daydream View, UE Roll 2 for $49 and more

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Verizon currently has a variety of its accessories on sale in celebration of Presidents Day. From wearables to Bluetooth accessories, portable batteries to VR viewers, there are lots of great deals here that you'll want to check out. Whether you are looking for something to go with your new phone, or need a gift for someone else, now may be the perfect time to make your purchase.

Some of the deals include:

Verizon is also running a number of other deals right now that are worth checking out. When switching to Verizon's new unlimited plan and trading in your old phone you can grab a Galaxy S7, Google Pixel, LG V20, or other select phones for free, and if you spend $200 on accessories Verizon will give you a $50 Visa prepaid card. You'll need to use code STOCKUP50 when checking out to get it.

See at Verizon

For more great deals on tech, gadgets, home goods and more, be sure to check out our friends at Thrifter now!

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1 week ago

Our favorite anti-slip car mats for your phone

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All the convenience of a car mounts without the hassle.

There's no arguing that car mounts are a sound investment for anyone who drives a lot and wants to keep an eye on their phone, but they have some drawbacks.

They can be tricky to install in the proper place for optimal operation, they can block some sight lines to the road, and not all car mounts can accommodate different-sized phones, making them hard to share between family members.

If you've encountered some of these problems with car mounts in the past, you should take a look at an alternative option. Maybe your problems will be solved with an anti-slip car mat.

What's an anti-slip car mat?

A small pad — usually made out of a gel — that you can put on your dash to hold small items in place by using minimal adhesive. It mostly uses the power of static electricity to hold things in place.

They can be installed on any dash, and you can slap your phone on them to keep it in place while you drive. Unlike a car mount, they won't block any vision through your windshield, meaning you can drive with the full confidence that you're as safe as possible.

Without further ado, here are some of our favorite anti-slip car mats for your phone.

SlipToGrip Cell Pad

For about $6, you can get two anti-slip car mats, so you have double the sticky space.

Each pad is 5 3/4 inches by 3 1/2 inches, and it comes with an alcohol swab to clean your dash before you install the mats, ensuring they stick to the dash properly.

See at Amazon


Easy Life Care silicone pad

For people who need a larger mat, Easy Life Care offers a 7-inch by 5-inch silicone pad, meaning even the largest phones can hang on.

You can clean the pad use warm water without losing any of its adhesive power, which means you can keep the pad as clean as you keep your car.

See at Amazon


Cautionary tales

If you look at the Amazon review for any of these car mats, you'll notice some horror stories that usually involve melted gel all over an angry customer's dash. It's probably best to avoid leaving a gel pad on your dash in hot sunlight for hours on end.

Needless to say, the reviews are pretty polarizing, and if you'd rather stick with a universal car mount, you can check out our top picks!

Do you have any personal experience with car mats?

Horror stories or enthusiastic praise I want to hear it all! Let me know if you've used a car mat before in the comments down below.

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1 week ago

Grab Aukey's folding travel charger for just $5 right now!

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Update: This popular deal is back again with a new coupon code. Use code MPO8UHUK for the savings this time!

Right now you can pick up Aukey's compact folding charger for just $5 with coupon code MPO8UHUK, a savings of $3. Once folded this charger isn't much taller or wider than an SD card, and has two USB ports to allow easy charging of your favorite gadgets. It has a 2.4A output for making sure you are getting the best charging speed that you can, and thanks to its AiPower Adaptive Charging Technology it can ensure that the charge going to each device is safe and won't cause overheating, overcharging or anything else.

This time around the savings is only on the white version of the charger, and don't forget to use coupon code MPO8UHUK for the full savings. This deal is good for a few days, so be sure to grab one (or even two) if you are interested before they run out!

See at Amazon

For more great deals on tech, gadgets, home goods and more, be sure to check out our friends at Thrifter now!

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1 week ago

How to stream music from your phone in an older car

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Upgrading your car stereo capabilities on the cheap.

Story time: I've got an older car, a 2001 VW Jetta, that still runs great but lacks some of the modern amenities that I would prefer to have in my car. Most notably, my car stereo still prominently features a cassette deck along with FM/AM radio.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure this setup was out of date back in 2001.

I'm well past using physical media for my music, so I needed to find a way to transmit the music from my phone to my car stereo. Ideally, I'd want a car stereo with a touchscreen and support for Android Auto — though I would easily settle for Bluetooth connectivity, or at the very least an AUX input in a pinch — but that would typically require either buying a new car or investing in a new car stereo that is also compatible with my 16-year-old Volkswagen. Neither of those options sound cheap or easy, so I turned to car accessories to help me out.

As a quick fix, I picked up a classic cassette to AUX adapter, which served its purpose well and wasn't too cumbersome despite dealing with the red wire. Unfortunately, the harsh nature of Canada's winter was none too kind to that wire, and it's now time to upgrade… but again, I'm still in no position to buy a new car or get a new car stereo.

Instead, here's my guide to connecting your phone to your car stereo on the cheap.

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1 week ago

Best Battery Packs For The Galaxy S6

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The Galaxy S6 is still a great phone, but you might find its battery life to be lacking.

Still loving your Samsung Galaxy S6? That's fantastic. But what might not be so fantastic is your phone's battery life. Its 2,550mAh battery was never a strength so you might be struggling to make it through your day without relying on your charger. That's really inconvenient, as you can't utilize a regular charger just anywhere. That's where having a battery pack for your Galaxy S6 comes in handy.

We've selected the best battery packs for the Galaxy S6 that range from 3,000 mAh all the way up to 25,600 mAh. That means you'll have enough battery life to get you through the most demanding of days, no matter which option you go with.

Update February 17: Added the Powerbear battery case and removed the Anker Quick Charge Battery, which is currently unavailable from Amazon.com — but still available for Canadians.

TYLT Energi (3,000 mAh)

Not every portable battery has to be huge and unwieldy, but you still want it to charge up your phone quickly and efficiently. The TYLT Energi 3K battery walks the line nicely with a compact case that's made of durable hard plastic and contains 3,000 mAh of capacity. A built-in MicroUSB cable means you don't have to bring one of your own to charge up your phone, and an additional standard USB port means you can charge two devices at once if you need to in a pinch.

The capacity is just right for giving your Galaxy S6 a full charge, and when you get back home it won't take long at all to get the Energi 3K itself juiced back up and ready for your next outing. What's more, the price is just right at the moment at under $20.

See at Amazon

Powerbear battery case (3,500mAh)

This recommendation comes from Lexamundo in the comments. Some people might be hesitant to buy a battery case for their phone because they don't like the idea of adding so much bulk to their phone. This battery case tries to mitigate that by keeping a relatively sleek and slim profile while adding 3,500mAh of power to your phone.

Since it's a case, you'll also be protecting your phone from accidental drops and other potential damage, as it ships with a compatible screen protector as well. it also reroutes the phone's speakers to be front-facing, which is pretty nice. If you use NFC on your Galaxy S6 for Samsung Pay or other purposes, you may want to look at your other options as this case will block out all NFC functionality. But if extending the battery life of your phone is your main concern, this battery case will do the trick while still looking stylish and comes with a two-year warranty.

See at Amazon

KMASHI Quick Charge Portable Charger (20,000 mAh)

KMASHI's external battery bank has a capacity of 20,000mAh and can charge two devices simultaneously. It's got one regular USB charging port, and another Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 port which is compatible with your Galaxy S6.

This battery pack comes with a built-in LED flashlight for emergency situations and offers a sleek, somewhat rugged design, which means you can take it with you anywhere. Coming it at around 6 inches by 4 inches, it's about average size for a portable battery pack of this capacity. Given its size you'll be be able to fully charge your Galaxy S6 multiple times with this battery pack. You can get yours for under $50 on Amazon.

See at Amazon

Anker E7 Battery (25,000 mAh)

Saving the beast for last, Anker's Astro E7 has an impressive 25,600mAh battery inside and offers an incredible charging speed of 3A per USB port or 4A using all 3 ports.

Packed with Anker's PowerIQ technology, it will automatically detect the fastest possible charging speed when plugged into the Galaxy S6 — that goes for any device, too. It even comes with an LED flashlight built-in which could prove useful for camping trips among many other low light situations.

If you're after a battery pack for your Galaxy S6 that'll outlast the rest, this is a keeper. It comes with a micro-USB cable, travel pouch, and is available in black or white right now for $79.99.

See at Amazon

Samsung Galaxy S6

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1 week ago

Best Cases for Honor 5X

10
Best cases for Honor 5X

What are the best cases for the Honor 5X?

Updated February 2017: These cases are still our top picks to use with your Honor 5X.

Whether you're looking for a simple, clear case or something a little flashier, the right case for your Honor 5X is out there. We went ahead and did the digging for you to find the best of the best cases you can get.

Lwang Nillkin Sparkle leather smart view window

Lwang Nillkin Sparkle leather smart view window

The Nillkin Sparkle case from Lwang comes in four colors, from the deep and subtle to the outstanding and vibrant. The hard plastic backing protects your phone while the leather flip cover protects your screen and gives you a little window into your notifications.

The clamshell design looks stylish and original. You get all-around protection for your Honor 5X with a finished, formal look that is suitable for work and play.

If you want the wallet look without any extra bulk, the Nillkin Sparkle case from Lwang is what you're looking for.

See at Amazon

DWay Armor Design with stand

 DWay Armor Design with stand

If you're the kind that's a little hard on your Honor 5X, your case needs to take extra care for you. The DWay Armor Design offers protection in six color varieties.

The dual-layer case will cradle your phone in spite of drops and bumps. The textured back and soft side bumpers give your Honor 5X a more rugged feel and look. If that's not enough, there's a built-in kickstand for hands-free viewing.

For a sturdier look and feel that will keep your Honor 5X extra safe, the DWay Armor Design is a solid choice.

See at Amazon

TUDIA Ultra Slim Full-Matte Arch case

TUDIA Ultra Slim Full-Matte Arch case

Not the flashy type? The case for your Honor 5X doesn't have to be an attention grabber. The four subtle colors of the TUDIA Ultra Slim case complement your phone without drawing attention to the device.

The TPU rubberized silicone case is soft, durable, and protective. Raised edges protect the screen from unfortunate encounters with hard surfaces, and the case gives you full access to all the phone's buttons and functions.

For a classic look that's a perfect match for the Honor 5X, get your hands on the TUDIA Ultra Slim Full-Matte Arch case.

See at Amazon

Spigen Liquid Crystal Ultra-Thin case

Spigen Liquid Crystal Ultra-Thin case

You're not stuck with only colorful cases to choose from; a clear case will show off the original hardware that makes the Honor 5X look so good. We like the Liquid Crystal case from Spigen.

The clear TPU case won't discolor over time, and you won't have to worry about smudges of fingerprints, either. A raised lip around the screen and camera cutout keep both sensitive areas protected from bumps, and the covered buttons keep their full functionality.

If you want to show off your Honor 5X the way it was intended to be seen, the Spigen Liquid Crystal Ultra-Thin case should be yours, all yours.

See at Amazon

Lwang Slim Fit Hybrid case

Lwang Slim Fit Hybrid case

Simple and straightforward, the second Lwang case on our list is the Slim Fit Hybrid, and its three color variations and reasonable price mean you could get one for each mood or outfit. Just sayin'.

The hard PC and flexible TPU combination add a nice grip to the slender Honor 5X, and the textured back surface prevents your phone from slipping off of smooth surfaces. There are precise cutouts for all the ports, buttons, and, of course, the camera lens.

Bonus feature: there are built-in air cushions in all four corners for a little extra drop protection. Sounds like a great deal to us.

See at Amazon


LK shock absorption hybrid case

LK shock absorption hybrid case

Let's say you like the look of Otterbox cases and you've been looking for that style to fit your Honor 5X. Look no further; we found a great plastic and silicone combination with the LK shock absorption hybrid case.

The soft bumper and anti-slip finish make it easy to keep a handle on your phone. The case is easy to snap on and off, and it's a snug fit. It's lightweight and gives you access to all the ports and buttons on your Honor 5X.

The six color combinations stand out and make your Honor 5X easy to find, and it's easy to see why the LK shock absorption hybrid case makes our list.

See at Amazon


Just in case

Which case are you using for your Honor 5X? Tell us all about it in the comments below, and give a shout if your case made our list!

Honor 5X

Newegg Amazon Honor

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1 week ago

Best external battery packs for Pokémon Go

Best external battery packs for Pokémon Go

Pokémon Go isn't just a short-term thing, so you're going to need a battery pack.

It's no secret that keeping your phone's screen, processor, mobile network and GPS ramped up for hours on end is going to kill your battery off pretty quickly, and those are precisely the things you're doing when out in the wild playing Pokémon Go. If you haven't had a need for a portable battery pack before, you definitely do now.

Since you're going out for hours on end, and you're buying the battery pack just for your gaming sessions, chances are you're more worried about capacity, ports and charging speed than you are portability and looks. We have a few solid battery packs that will offer you just that, and keep you out there catching new Pokémon without looking for a wall charger.

Update: Pokemon Go Gen 2 is out now, and it's a big deal. 80 new creatures, plenty of powerups to find, and lots of brand new reasons to get back in the game.

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1 week ago

How to accessorize your gold Galaxy S7

9

What are the best accessories for the gold Galaxy S7?

Updated February 2017: Added the gold Spigen Style Ring and updated buy links.

Having a plain black or white phone is alright, but spicing up your routine with the gold Galaxy S7 is a smart, stylish, modern choice.

Unfortunately, accessorizing and matching a gold phone can be a little bit more challenging than a standard color, but there's plenty of gear to match your new champagne-hued device perfectly.

Here're some options to consider as your begin to accessorize your gold Galaxy S7!

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1 week ago

Best Third Party Watch Bands for Moto 360 (2015)

10
Best third party watch bands for the Moto 360

Don't like that plain leather band that you got with your Moto 360? Strap on one of these!

Updated February 2017: Added the Barton Quick Release soft rubber band for people who want a cheaper alternative to the MODE bands.

The Moto 360 (2015) comes with a pretty nice leather band on its own, but if you're looking to give it an upgrade — or just a new style — we've rounded up some of the best third-party watch straps for your strapping smartwatch!

Important Note: Make sure you know the size of band you will need for your Moto 360! The Moto 360 2nd Gen comes in three different sizes that require three different watch band widths.

  • Men's 42mm case uses a 20 millimeter band.
  • Men's 46mm case uses a 22 millimeter band.
  • Women's 42mm case uses a 16 milimeter band.

With that in mind, we have rounded up some of the best third party wristbands for the Moto 360 that we could find. We divided them up into the material they're made of, so you can focus on the type you really want.

Leather

We know that the Moto 360 already comes with a leather band, but that doesn't mean you don't want a different one. Whether you want a different color, a different thickness, or just one that you think looks nicer, leather bands are definitely worth checking out.

MOTONG genuine leather band

MOTONG genuine leather band

This leather band is a little more defined than the one that ships with the Moto 360. The stitching along the sides and the two-toned wash really makes this band pop when it's on your wrist.

It only comes in the one size (17.5cm) so it may potentially feel too tight or too loose on your wrist. The good thing about leather is it's easy enough to poke an extra hole or two to make sure you get the right fit.

See at Amazon


Hadley-Roma genuine leather strap

If you want a band that stands out a little more than the stock Moto 360 leather band, Hadley-Roma's band has a really nice look to it. The leather is worked to look slightly worn and the stitching along the band is very contrasted to give the band a defined look.

It also comes treated with a water-resistant coating that is useful to help prevent sweat and light amounts of rain from wrecking the leather.

See at Amazon


Sport

Typically made out of silicone, sport bands are ideal for people who are very active. The bands are waterproof and very tear-resistant.

VIMVIP silicone sports watch band

This is a pretty typical sports band that's made out of silicone, so you can rest assured that your sweat won't ruin it, which makes it perfect for working out.

The band itself doesn't look like anything special, but it does have the added bonus of having a texture inside. This means the band doesn't move around as much and can still allow air to move in between your skin and the watch. This means less chance for any skin irritation.

See at Amazon


Lwsengme silicone band

Lwsengme silicone band

If you want a sports band that will stick out from the crowd, look no further than the Lwsengme silicone band.

It's textured silicone gives it the look and feel of a high-end watch strap at a fraction of the price. It's stainless steel clasp and quick release system will make sure you can swap this out anytime you need Lwsengme silicone band comes in a few different color combinations and the holes in the band aren't just for securing the watch to your wrist, they also increase air flow allowing you to wear the band longer without risk of skin irritation.

See at Amazon


Barton Quick Release soft rubber band

As mentioned by the user "tlaswell" in the comments below, Barton's quick release band is perfect for people looking to change bands often.

Barton's soft rubber band has a slightly textured inside, meaning air can flow between your skin and the band providing extra comfort for extend periods of use. The rubber is durable and washable, so you never have to worry about keeping it looking clean.

Barton's quick release comes in a variety of colors, such as Black, White, Slate Gray, Aqua Blue, and more. The bands are also available in all the Moto 360 sizes —16mm, 20mm, and 22mm — so you can find the perfect fit for your Moto 360.

See at Amazon

Metal

Metal bands are super durable and very stylish. An excellent way to make your Moto 360 look high-end and polished.

GOOQ stainless steel metal band

A metal watch band doesn't always have to mean links. GOOQ's watch band is made from a stainless steel mesh, which gives it a neat textured look and feel. The great thing about the mesh is arm hair doesn't get pinched inside it, which makes moving the watch around on your wrist much more comfortable.

The clasp is also made of stainless steel which makes this whole band pretty rust-resistant. The durability of the metal will also help it from showing any wear and tear.

See at Amazon


Fitian stainless steel band

The Fitian's metal band we've featured here is your more classic metal band. It's comprised of stainless steel links and connected by two spring pins that are easy to install. This is your classic metal band that you just can't go wrong with.

See at Amazon


MODE Bands

MODE band

MODE bands were just released from Google and they get rid of the hassle of dealing with those tiny pins all the time. They might just be the easiest bands you have ever installed! This neat video on the MODE site, shows you just how simple clipping one of these to you Moto 360 actually is.

To use them all you have to do is replace the original pin that is on your Moto 360 and then add the MODE pin. From there it's just a matter of sliding your MODE band over the pin, and locking it shut!

Hadley Roma is the only company making the MODE bands right now, and they start around $50. Don't forget, want size band you will need.

See at Android

Moto 360 (2015)

Motorola Best Buy

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1 week ago

The Pixel's USB-C charger is a nice backup for the new MacBook Pro

38
The Pixel's USB-C charger is a nice backup for the new MacBook Pro

I still mourn the loss of MagSafe, but this charger interoperability over USB-C certainly helps ease the pain.

In this massive transition to USB-C connectors across all of our devices, there are a few victories dotted along the path of annoyances and dongles. I've found some exciting USB-C adaptors in the past few months, but one thing that's fantastic over and over again is the seamless swapping of cables between my new MacBook Pro and various USB-C phones, primarily the Pixel XL.

I've charged this new MacBook Pro with various cables and power bricks far more often than the big 61W charger than came in the box. It truly is great to have the flexibility of knowing just about any charger will add power to the laptop — the only question is how fast. A standard wall charger that outputs 5V/2.4A just doesn't do enough to keep adding power while the laptop is in use, but the Pixel XL's little 18W USB-C charger actually can keep a 13-inch MacBook Pro running.

And that's why I'm actually using it regularly as a backup laptop charger.

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1 week ago

How Phil lost weight and got less fat with the Withings Body smart scale

23

A smart scale won't do the work for you, but it makes keeping track of your daily weigh-ins so much easier.

OK, let's get one thing straight. Knowing how much you weigh won't actually cause you to lose weight. The scale is just the messenger, right? But I've been a HUGE fan of the Withings Body scale (it's actually my second one, having upgraded from the older model) for a couple years now.

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The gist: You stand on it. It weighs you and uploads the data to The Cloud™. Weight, BMI, even things like air quality and how much of your body is made up of water. And it's smart enough to handle multiple family members. (My wife and kids all weigh different enough so that we're easily discerned, anyway.)

And then? You follow the trend line. Don't worry so much about the daily numbers. Look at it weekly. If you're losing weight, you'll know it. Same if you're gaining. It's super smart, and super easy. An app for Android. And one for iOS. A web-based dashboard. HealthKit. Google Fit. Withings ties into it all, and made all of this super-easy for me.

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img { width: 100%; height: auto; } .devicebox ul { display: table; margin: 0 0 10px; width: 100%; } .devicebox ul li { background: #f7f7f7; margin: 2px 0; padding: 4px 15px; } .devicebox ul li:hover { background: #fff; } .devicebox ul li:before { display: none; } .devicebox p ~ p { line-height: 1.25; } .devicebox p:first-of-type + p { padding: 15px; } .devicebox a.buy-link { border-radius: 5px; display: inline-block; font: 14px/31px "Proxima Nova Extrabld",Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; text-align: center; } .devicebox a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:link, .devicebox a.buy-link:active, .devicebox a.buy-link:visited { background: #37B5D7; color: #FFF; } .devicebox a.buy-link:hover { background: #2694B2; text-decoration: none; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { content: "\e61e"; font: 40px/0 "ac_iconset" !important; margin: 0 3px 0 -8px; vertical-align: middle; } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { /* div:not(.columns-3) excludes help menu content */ .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p img, .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 660px) { .devicebox h3 { text-align: center; } .devicebox ul, .devicebox p { display: block; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox p img, .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 661px), all and (max-width: 500px) { /* 2x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(even) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) { width: 100%; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 659px) and (min-width: 501px) { /* 3x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(100%/3 - 10px/3); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n):not(:nth-last-of-type(2)) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:only-child { width: 100%; margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(odd) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 500px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { display: none; } } .page-admin .devicebox {max-width: 350px;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe {position: relative; height: 0; padding-bottom: 56.9%;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe iframe {width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

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1 week ago

What is wireless charging and how does it work?

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Qi transmitter coil

Wireless charging isn't magic, but it can be convenient.

Wireless charging, like the Qi charging many Android phones use, isn't new technology. My Panasonic electric razor used it many years ago, and most of us have seen toothbrushes that charge wirelessly in a cradle. And of course, we can't forget Palm and the way they brought wireless charging (though a different standard) to the masses with the Touchstone. Now that size, cost, and efficiency constraints have all eased up a little, putting wireless charging in something like your Android phone or watch makes more sense.

We get more than a few questions about wireless charging and how it works, so let's take a few minutes and talk about the basics — what it is, how it works and why you would want it in your next Android purchase.

This post was updated in February 2017 with the latest information.

What is wireless charging?

Wireless charging comes full circle

Wireless charging isn't magic — you still need a wire. the difference is that the wire is connected to a charging base instead of your phone, so you can just drop your Android onto the charger and things get to work without hooking anything up to your phone. The charging base can be almost any shape or size, and can even be in something like your car dash or the base of a lamp from IKEA. As long as you're able to get the right spot on the rear of your Android on the right spot on the base of the charger, it will work.

A good example would be having a wireless charging base on your desk at work. When you're not using your phone, you set it on the charger. When you need to use your phone, pick it up and it has a charge. Wireless charging isn't as fast as Quick Charging, but it's easy and something you're more likely to use to keep your phone topped off throughout the day (in our example). That's where wireless charging shines — ease of use.

How does wireless charging work?

Let's try to explain the magic so everyone in the room can understand. While there are plenty of cool technical things to discuss, and we totally should discuss them in the forums or the comments, we'll try to keep things basic here.

Wireless charging uses two resonant inductive couplings to transmit low-power signals between two devices. These are specially designed to transmit electricity without touching each other like a normal wired connection does. The base station has a transmitter coil and your phone has a receiver coil. The base station regularly sends a signal out, and when a receiver coil gets close enough a resonance or capacity change happens in the signal. The waveform of the signal is then modulated and inductive charging begins.

Inductive charging uses those two specially designed electromagnetic coils to create a magnetic field between two devices. There is an intricate process involved that allows a magnetic field to produce electricity through the difference of potential and oscillation (we'll simplify this and call it vibration so it makes more sense to everyone).

The coil in your Android is also connected to the battery charging circuit, and your battery is charged using the energy induced by the magnetic field. Excess heat is created as well, and that's part of why wireless charging isn't the most efficient way to transfer power from the wall to your battery. This is also why it takes longer to charge your phone on a Qi pad than it does to plug it into the wall. While new methods and materials use higher frequencies and thinner coils than past iterations, wireless charging is still less efficient and more costly than standard charging over a wire. It will stay this way for the foreseeable future.

To simplify:

  • Your Android and the charger have special electrical coils in them.
  • When the two coils get close enough, they use magnetism and "vibration" to send a small amount of power across the gap between them.
  • This power goes through the charging circuit in your phone and charges the battery.
  • It costs more and takes longer to charge than it would if you plugged your phone in, and creates more heat because this is less efficient than connecting wires the traditional way.

A word about Powermat

Powermat

Qi is not the only wireless charging standard. Other standards like Powermat are used to build wireless charging solutions. These use a different standard than Qi but the science behind them all is the same. Powermat has partnered with companies like AT&T and Starbucks to provide base stations in public places, and using a special case or charging block attached to your phone lets you wirelessly charge. They are also partnered with General Motors and are working to bring built-in wireless charging bases in vehicles.

While the same basic electrical theory applies to both Powermat and Qi, the different standards mean they are not compatible. Your Qi-enabled phone won't charge on a Powermat base because the signals sent and received are different. If you have Powermat equipment, you'll need to be sure you're buying more Powermat equipment to get everything working.

There are exceptions, like Samsung Galaxy phones, which include both Qi and Powermat standards.

Why do I want wireless charging in my next phone?

Now that we have a good standard — we're talking the Qi standard here — we have to remember than any Qi charger will work with any device that is Qi-certified. That means the charger you buy, whether it's a $6 Chinese unbranded unit from Amazon or a name-brand like Samsung or Zens, will work with the device you have now and any devices you buy in the future.

Couple this with the convenience factor — and until you've bought a couple Qi chargers and put them in the places you're likely to set your phone you don't really understand how convenient it is. I have a Qi charger at my desk, on the table beside my recliner in the living room, one in my car and one on my nightstand. My Nexus 6 almost never had less than 50-percent charge. Not because the battery life on the Nexus 6 was great, or because Qi chargers work "better", but because whenever it was not in my hand it was charging.

Of course, there's the initial cost of buying the charging bases, but they are pretty cheap — about the same cost as a good wall wart and USB cable. As more and more handheld devices and smartphones move towards the Qi standard, more and more devices will be able to take advantage of the chargers.

Finally, wireless charging doesn't have to replace removable batteries for those that want or need them. Think of it as a supplement to stretch out the time between battery swaps.

Wireless charging doesn't make your phone work any differently, but it can change the way you use it.

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