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2 months ago

What to look for when buying USB-C cables and adapters

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Buying a cable shouldn't be difficult. It doesn't have to be if you follow these simple tips.

USB standards have a long history, and they've gone through plenty of changes since first implemented in 1996. The premise behind it all is providing a way to standardize cables, connectors, communication, and power transfer between electronic devices. Some of the first equipment to use USB were the really old, brightly colored iMac and speakers. USB was designed to be the one standard that does it all, and that's pretty much how it all worked out.

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3 months ago

SanDisk's 200GB microSD card is down to just $59 again!

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Right now you can pick up a 200GB SanDisk microSD card for just $59 at Amazon, a savings of $20 from its regular price. Whether you need some extra storage for your phone, tablet, camera or other devices, you won't want to miss out on this deal. Having 200GB of storage may seem a bit excessive to some and just right for others, but at the price you really can't go wrong with having the extra storage available to you. It will allow you to save music, videos, movies and more locally so you don't have to rely on your mobile data in order to access it all.

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3 months ago

Aukey's 30,000mAh portable charger is a power user's dream gadget

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If you need lots of juice on demand and all the ways to deliver it to your phone, you just found what you were looking for.

Aukey sent me their humungous 30,000mAh portable charger to take a look at. I've been using it for a week or so as my primary way to keep the phones I'm using charged up, and can say wholeheartedly that this thing is just what the doctor ordered if you're a power user or on the go a lot. Or both.

Before we get into anything else, you have to know it's big. Not big like regular big, but big like GREAT BIG. And heavy. It's a hair under 6-inches long, 3.5 inches wide and just over an inch thick. On the scales, it comes it at 20.6 ounces with a full charge. It takes about 13 hours to charge it using the Nexus 6P charger. So basically, this isn't just a "regular" external battery pack. It's a beast designed for people who want or need a beast of a portable power station.

The operation is pretty simple. You charge it through a USB Type-C port or a Micro-USB port, or both. As mentioned, I used my Nexus 6P charger to bring it back to full power two of the three times I had to recharge, but I did try the turbo charge method using both inputs. That takes about 5 hours from darn-near-dead to full. I didn't notice any excessive heat, but it does get warm while charging. When it's fully charged the green LED stops blinking. Other than having two charging inputs that can be used at the same time, there's nothing crazy or exciting here. Plug it in, charge it up, and you have a box of juice you can use to recharge your phone. Or tablet. Or MacBook. It's a great big box of juice that will charge your things plenty of times and has everything needed to do it quickly.

This portable charger is big and heavy. But it holds so much juice we can't complain about it.

The outputs set it apart from many other portable power sources and external batteries. The AUKEY PB-Y3 30000mAh Power Bank (that's it's full name in scientific notation and stuff) has two USB outputs, a Micro-USB input, and a USB Type-C port. The Micro-USB input is only there to charge it. That's easy — plug it into a charger you would use for a phone or anything that has a Micro-USB plug and charge away. Unplug it later after it's finished. The other ports are more interesting.

The USB C port is a full USB Type-C interface that acts as both an input to charge the battery inside the charger and as a port to plug your phone or tablet in. It is a USB-C rapid charger and can top the Nexus 6P from a red icon low-charge state to about 70% in about 15 or 20 minutes. It will charge it to full in 90 minutes. It will charge a Pixel C from dead to full in about 2.5 hours. I don't have a MacBook here to test it with.

You can charge just about anything, and probably do it more than once.

The two USB outputs are color-coded. There's an orange port that uses Qualcomm's Quick Charge 3.0 feature, and a green port that uses standard USB power delivery. The QC 3.0 port will charge my HTC 10 from dead to 50% in about 15 minutes. It slows down after that and takes between 90 minutes and two hours to charge it to full capacity. This is exactly how Quick Charge is supposed to work. The green port will charge a phone (I used my BlackBerry Priv on that port to test it) in about 2.5 hours, but there's no initial boost from any faster-charging tech. Both USB -A ports support Aukey's AIPower tech, which monitors battery feedback to charge things safer and faster.

There's also an LED flashlight built in, which you turn on and off by holding the power button.

Category Measurement Capacity 30,000mAh Micro-USB input 5V 2.4A USB-C input/output 5V 3A Quick Charge 3.0 USB output 3.6V-6.5V/3A, 6.5V-9V/2A, 9V-12V/1.5A Aukey AIPower USB output 5V 2.4A Nominal dimensions 5.9'' × 3.3'' × 1.1'' Nominal weight 20.4 oz

The real story is the capacity. You can charge a phone like the Galaxy S7 edge from dead to full five times. You can charge a Pixel C from dead to full two times. In both cases, you have enough left-over power to charge something with a smaller battery once or twice. On one charge of the Aukey portable charger, I was able to charge a Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, HTC 10, Galaxy S7 edge, a set of MotoRokr Bluetooth headphones and 5 batteries for my Sony camera. And I was able to charge the Nexus 6P and HTC 10 at the same time and use their fast-charging tech. There's 30,000mAh in there to do whatever you need to do with it. That's a lot of juice.

This Aukey portable charger is perfect for a trip or in your gear bag.

I wouldn't recommend this for someone who needs an external battery for Pokemon Go or Ingress. It's too bulky and heavy to carry around in your pocket, and there are plenty of other solutions that can work and aren't quite as cumbersome. But if you plan on going camping or on a road trip, or have a job that requires a gear bag filled with things that need to be charged, this is probably the best gadget you'll find to keep your phone topped up. I'd buy one with my own money, and am not afraid to recommend you do the same.

See at Amazon

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3 months ago

Grab this pocket-sized 5000mAh power bank for just $6

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For a limited time, you can pick up Kmashi's pocket-sized 5000mAh power bank for just $6 with coupon code S6Y8AMQO, a savings of $5. Being 5000mAh you'll be able to charge just about any phone or tablet that you are carrying around fully from the pack while out and about without needing to strap yourself to a wall. It outputs at a maximum of 5V/2A so it will deliver a quicker charge to your phone, and the bank itself recharges fully in around three hours.

If you find yourself running low on battery during the day, you should grab one of these for your pocket, purse, desk, bag, or anywhere else you can think to store one. Remember, you need coupon code S6Y8AMQO for the discount here.

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3 months ago

Grab these five USB charging cables for just $8 right now!

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Right now you can grab a five-pack of Aukey's charging cables to keep you powered up for just $8 with coupon code 5AUCABLE, a savings of $6. Included in this bundle is four Micro-USB and one USB-C cable in various lengths so you can keep all your different gadgets charged up at any time. You'll get two 3.3-foot Micro-USB cables, two 1-foot Micro-USB cables and one 3.3-foot USB-A to Type-C cables so you'll have a few to keep at home, in the car, and in the office.

You can never have too many charging cables around, and this bundle is a great way to pick up a bunch of extra cables for a great price. Remember, you'll need coupon code 5AUCABLE for the full savings.

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3 months ago

Save $10 on these magnetic Bluetooth headphones right now!

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Right now you can pick up a pair of Vtin's magnetic Bluetooth headphones for just $12 with coupon code 3ZNN27RG, a savings of $10. The magnets in these headphones allow for them to do additional tasks just by simply separating or placing the two together. For example, if you have the headphones connected to each other around your neck and separate them, it will automatically answer an incoming call. Putting the two back together with pause the music you are listening to or end a call for you. The lightweight headphones have a built-in battery that should provide around 7 hours of playback per charge.

If you are looking for a nice set of Bluetooth headphones that don't break the bank, you'll want to check these out. Remember, you need coupon code 3ZNN27RG for the full savings.

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3 months ago

Best Third-Party Watch Bands for Huawei Watch

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All the watch band things for Huawei watches

Whether you need to replace a broken watch band or you simply want to try a different style of band, you have many choices for your Huawei watch.

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3 months ago

Grab this 5 port USB charging station for $16 right now!

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Right now you can pick up a 5 port USB charging station for just $16 with coupon code 5AUPOWER. It features a single Quick Charge 2.0 port and four 2.4A ports, and you can use them all at the same time to safely charge your various devices. If you have a bunch of different devices that you like to charge at the same time and don't want to be lugging around a bulky power strip, this is a great choice. The block has built-in safeguards to protect against excessive current, overheating and overcharging so you don't have to worry once you plug your cable into it.

Don't lug around all those wall plugs and power strips anymore, and instead, grab one of these. Remember, you'll need coupon code 5AUPOWER for the full savings here.

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3 months ago

Oculus disables Gear VR functionality on Galaxy Note 7 due to fire concerns

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Oculus, the Facebook-owned company that powers the software inside Samsung's virtual reality ambitions (as well as the Oculus Rift headset, sold separately), has disabled its app from working with the Galaxy Note 7 after a number of replacement phones reportedly caught fire over the weekend.

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3 months ago

Best Chromebox

Chromeboxes are safe, easy to use, and up to just about any task you can throw at it. Here are the ones you should be looking at.

Best overall

ASUS Chromebox M004U

See at Amazon

Don't let the name fool you. The ASUS Chromebox M004U (generally known as the ASUS Chromebox though there are others from ASUS being sold) is dead simple to set up and use. Attach a monitor or television, a keyboard, and a mouse then turn it on. You'll be on the internet in just a few minutes.

The Haswell Intel Celeron 2955U CPU offers remarkable performance for the price, is energy efficient, and an industry staple in countless computers. Paired with a fast 16GB storage drive and 4GB of memory, you'll be able to enjoy everything Chrome has to offer, whether that means Facebook or a spreadsheet.

You also have the option to upgrade the ASUS Chromebox. Adding a larger storage drive or more memory is simple and well-documented. The ASUS Chromebox also makes an excellent HTPC as-is and can be an all-in-one media server with software like Plex.

Bottom line: The ASUS Chromebox M004U is powerful and capable. Chrome and everything you do present no challenges. If you want to explore other software options, upgrades are easy and inexpensive.

Why the ASUS Chromebox is the best

The ASUS Chromebox is the total package.

Chrome is a very lightweight and efficient, yet powerful, computing platform. On a computer like the ASUS Chromebox, you'll be able to experience everything there is to offer with nary a stutter once paired with good broadband internet service. Put the ASUS Chromebox under your TV for watching YouTube or Netflix, or use it at your desk to communicate or work from home. You can have confidence that this Chromebox can do it all.

If you're looking for more, you can upgrade the storage drive and RAM on the ASUS Chromebox using affordable and widely available off-the-shelf components without any complicated disassembly. If you are looking to install software like Kodi to build your own network streaming server, the ASUS Chromebox is widely recognized as the best value and is fully supported.

A package deal

Acer Chromebox CX12-4GKM

See at Amazon

If you're looking for a complete setup and aren't interested in upgrading anything or installing any alternative software, the Acer Chromebox is a solid choice.

It offers a Broadwell 1.5GHz Intel Celeron CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a 16GB solid state drive in a vertical standing enclosure that's not going to need a lot of real estate. The Acer Chromebox also comes with its own mouse and keyboard.

The Acer is a powerful package that won't crowd your desk or TV stand and is an excellent choice if you're OK with spending a little more and not tearing apart the case.

Bottom line: The Broadwell CPU is futureproofed and plenty powerful for everything you want your Chromebox to do, and many will find the included mouse and keyboard a useful addition

The best value

Lenovo ThinkCentre Chromebox

See at Amazon

The lowest priced Chromebox on our list is also a great combo package.

The Lenovo ThinkCentre Chromebox is another Broadwell 15 watt Celeron CPU offering, and it too comes with 4GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. The bundled mouse and keyboard will help you get up and running faster, and the ThinkCentre can be positioned either horizontally or vertically.

As the newest entry on our list, the ThinkCentre hasn't yet been proven to become our top pick, but the initial response looks great.

Bottom line: Great specifications, a bundled mouse and keyboard, and an attractive price makes the Lenovo ThinkCentre a compelling choice. If it stands the test of time, it has the potential to be our favorite.

Conclusion

Any of your choices for the best Chromebox are good ones. We had to consider what was the differentiator between and think long and hard about saying one was better than the others. In the end, the tried-and-true ASUS Chromebox won us over with its excellent support for advanced users and easy upgradeability. While all these Chromeboxes are worth considering, the ASUS is the best all around from features versus price point of view.

Best overall

ASUS Chromebox M004U

See at Amazon

Don't let the name fool you. The ASUS Chromebox M004U (generally known as the ASUS Chromebox though there are others from ASUS being sold) is dead simple to set up and use. Attach a monitor or television, a keyboard, and a mouse then turn it on. You'll be on the internet in just a few minutes.

The Haswell Intel Celeron 2955U CPU offers remarkable performance for the price, is energy efficient, and an industry staple in countless computers. Paired with a fast 16GB storage drive and 4GB of memory, you'll be able to enjoy everything Chrome has to offer, whether that means Facebook or a spreadsheet.

You also have the option to upgrade the ASUS Chromebox. Adding a larger storage drive or more memory is simple and well-documented. The ASUS Chromebox also makes an excellent HTPC as-is and can be an all-in-one media server with software like Plex.

Bottom line: The ASUS Chromebox M004U is powerful and capable. Chrome and everything you do present no challenges. If you want to explore other software options, upgrades are easy and inexpensive.

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3 months ago

REVIEW: udoq corrals your gadgets with style — and a high price tag

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Take it from a guy with too many phones: Finding the right charging station is well worth the effort. Striking the right mix of style and utility in a docking station can be tough — but the folks behind the cheekily-named udoq might just have found it.

It's a machined aluminum shelf that comes in four different sizes and lets you charge smartphones, tablets, or other pocketables... and unlike much of the competition, this docking station lets you use your gadgets while they top up. But is the udoq stylish enough to justify its steep price tag?

Check out MrMobile's udoq 400 review to find out!

Subscribe to MrMobile and follow him on all the social media!

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3 months ago

Best screen protectors for the Galaxy S7

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What are the best screen protectors for the GS7?

The Samsung Galaxy S7 is one of the best phones of 2016. With its beautiful glass curves, you'll want to try and protect the screen from scuffs and scratches.

After many months of waiting for a decent tempered glass screen protection for the S7's curved screen, we've finally found one we're able to recommend. We've also included some decent options for film screen protectors — not as tough as the tempered glass, but still providing good protection for your screen.

amFilm Galaxy S7 Screen Protector Glass

When you're looking for a tempered glass screen protector, you ideally want edge-to-edge coverage. Otherwise you're left with an ugly edge around the perimeter of your phone. For a while, there simply wasn't a decent option available for the Galaxy S7's curved screen.

Enter this option from amFilm. This tempered glass screen protector is scratch resistant and only 0.3 mm thick, featuring curved edges designed to contour to the curves of your phone and offering the best edge-to-edge screen protection you'll find for the Galaxy S7.

Installation is easy thanks to the precise cutouts and solid border around the bezel of the phone, and you shouldn't notice any difference in the phone's touch sensitivity. It's also available in three colors — Black, Gold and White — so you can match the style of your phone while keeping it well protected.

See at Amazon

Yootech Curved Edge to Edge Screen Protector 3-Pack

Yootech's 3-pack of screen protectors provides edge-to-edge coverage for your phone with precise cutouts for the ear speaker, camera and fingerprint scanner. The kit includes everything you'll need for installation — alcohol prep pad, squeeze card and dust removal tape.

This screen protector uses dry installation, meaning it adheres to your phone's screen via magic! Actually, they use static electricity to cling to your phone. That means you'll want to be quite careful during installation to be in a dust-free environment. A good tip would be to steam up your bathroom to get all the dust in the air to settle, then do the installation in there.

If you completely mess up your first installation attempt, you at least get two spares here, so you can give it another shot and still have a replacement to swap out if your first one gets too beaten up.

See at Amazon

Maxboost Liquid Skin Samsung Galaxy S7 Screen Protector

The Maxboost Liquid Skin protector includes two screen protectors for the screen — one with precise cutouts around the bits you want exposed, and the other a case-friendly option with cutouts from the edge around the top and bottom of the screen. It also includes a protector film for the back panel of your phone, because it's made of glass to and susceptible to scratches and scuffs too!

As you may have gathered from the name, these protectors require a wet installation with the included spray bottle. You spray down the sticky side of the screen protector, place it down on your cleaned screen and adjust it until it's just right. Then you'll want to use the squeegee card to clear out any bubbles then leave it to dry overnight. You'll want to be careful with it for the first few days, too, especially if you plan to slap a case on your phone too.

See at Amazon

IQ Shield LiQuidSkin 2-pack

Another wet installation option, the IQ Shield LiQuidSkin includes two screen protectors that IQ Shield claims each screen protector consists of four layers of protection. Cutting through the marketing buzzwords, these screen protectors feature a layer of TPU, will adhere well to your phone and should provide durable, transparent protection without yellowing over time.

Installation requires you to spray the adhesive side of the screen with the included spray bottle, then squeegee out the excess and any bubbles then leave it to dry for a few hours. The benefits of a wet install over a dry install include crystal clear transparency, and you're able to adhere the protector around the curved edges better.

See at Amazon

Which screen protectors do you trust?

If the screen protector brand you use isn't on our list, let us know in the comments!

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge

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3 months ago

Grab 5 USB-C cables in various lengths for just $15 right now!

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Right now you can grab a 5-pack of Aukey's USB-C cables for just $15 at Amazon, a savings of $21. This is a perfect way to pick up a bunch of cables at an affordable cost to start or build up your collection. They come in a variety of lengths, including three 3.3-foot, one 6.6-foot and one 1-foot USB-A to USB-C cables. Being USB 3.0 cables, they support faster charging and transfer speeds, and the cables are both flexible and durable to stand up to your usage.

This deal won't last long, and you don't need a coupon code to get the savings here. Be sure to act quickly if you are interested in these cables so that you can get them before they're gone.

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3 months ago

Best Workout Cases for Galaxy Note 7

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Whats the best way to work out with your Galaxy Note 7?

Working out in 2016 means you're going to want your phone with you at all times — whether it's for music to keep you energized while you run or lift weights, or so you can confirm plans with friends for later in the evening.

The most popular way to carry a smartphone while you work out is with an armband case. If you've got a Galaxy Note 7, you're going to need one that can accommodate phones with 5.7-inch screens. We've broken down some of your best options.

MoKo Sports Running Armband

Designed to be lightweight and comfortable, the MoKo Sports Running Armband is a great budget option that will hold your Note 7 securely. Made from sweatproof materials and featuring an adjustable velcro band which supports arm girth from 10.8 to 16.5 inches, the MoKo band should fit comfortably on an average sized arm. It also features a slot for a house key, as well as an interior pocket for storing a credit card and/or some folded bills, so you can head out for a run with peace of mind.

See at Amazon

TuneBand Go

This is one we've recommended in previous workout band articles, and there's a lot to like here. The TuneBand Go is a universal workout armband and will accommodate your Note 7 even with a slim case on. In fact, it's recommended that you use this armband with a case, so that the clips around the corner only make contact with the case and not the phone itself. It comes with two armbands that will fit arms from 8 to 18 inches in diameter. For its wide range of compatibility and smart design, the TuneBand Go may just be the last workout armband you ever need to buy.

See at Amazon

Armpocket Mega i-40 Plus Armband

The Armpocket Mega i-40 Plus was designed to carry everything you'd want on you for your run, with versatility to be used with big phones such as the Note 7 — even if you use a case. Everything is kept secure in the zip-up pouch, which holds your phone tight to the touch-through screen with a silicone strap and also includes space for a key and slots for cards and folded bills. The armband is made of soft moisture-resistant bamboo-rayon mesh fabric and available in three sizes, but you'll probably want to go to with the largest option just to be safe. It's machine washable with solid build quality, but at $50 might be a bit pricey for some.

See at Amazon

Belkin Fitness Belt

While armbands are the norm for working out with your phone, you do have other options such as the Belkin Fitness Belt. It's essentially a more stylish take on the fanny pack, that allows you to carry your phone, keys, energy gel and whatever else you want to put in the stretchable pouch. There are three compartment on the belt to help keep things organized, and with it's no-slip design you'll be able to wear it comfortably around your waist (adjustable up to 44 inches) without worrying about it slipping. The one downside about the fitness belt is the lack of a buckle or clasp, meaning you'll have to step into it or pull it down over your head. If you don't like the armband look or feel, Belkin's Fitness Belt might be a better fit.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 7

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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3 months ago

Google Home, Google Wifi and Chromecast Ultra hands-on preview

11

Google expanded its presence in the Home with Chromecast Ultra, Google Wifi and, oh, Google Home.

Among Google's announcements at its Pixel event in San Francisco were three pieces of in-home technology that on their own are interesting, but together are hugely noteworthy.

In addition to the Google Home assistant-in-a-speaker, which was announced at Google I/O earlier this summer, the company unveiled a streaming stick, the Chromecast Ultra, and a brand new mesh-enabled Wi-Fi router called, appropriately, Google Wifi (yes, lowercase i). Let's break them down a little.

Google Home

This is the first time we're seeing Google Home, and it's quite the compact little speaker. With magnetic replaceable bases made of metal or fabric, the unit can be made to stand out (a bright red flourish, for instance) or blend in (a nondescript slate metal) depending on the environment, and because they're magnetic they can easily be exchanged for various situations.

The slanted top is certainly a bold decision, but it definitely feels like something Google can get away with. The top is also touch-sensitive, and features a set of four dancing lights in the Google color scheme when a command is issued.

While the testing environment wasn't conducive to extensive testing, Google Home promises to be attentive and sensitive, able to hear a voice from across the room using far-field microphones. With Google Assistant built in, Home becomes a place to ask questions and solve problems, or just access information directly from Google Search. The upside is that Google's "knowledge graph" is in many respects the world's vastest and, with your permission, Home can access personal information culled from Maps, Gmail and more.

To convey those details, Home also sports a speaker — a 2" driver and dual 2" passive radiators for deeper bass — which sounds better than we expected, but it's not going to replace your Sonos Play:1 for music playback. What it can do, however, is reach into YouTube, Google Play Music, Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn and more to access tracks and podcasts, which is pretty great, and there are more services to come. There's also support for IFTTT and other smart home platforms like Nest, SmartThings and Philips Hue, so you can turn off your lights and turn on your thermostat with one command.

While Amazon's Echo has a pretty invested developer community, this is Google, and it's safe to say that after years of building developer relationships for Android's Google Play Store, Home should gain a lot of traction very quickly. Google is already planning that future with Actions, an SDK for developers to plug into Google Assistant, which works on Home as well as the Pixel phones.

At $129, Google Home appears to be a bargain, and a loss leader that Google is looking to capitalize on, not only to get Assistant into as many homes as possible, but to show off the multi-room synergies with Chromecast, Chromecast Audio, and the new Pixel phones. This is an ecosystem, folks.

Look for Google Home at the beginning of November.

See at Google

Chromecast Ultra

The Chomecast Ultra is a Chromecast, but better. Google demoed a number of 4K experiences for us at the event, and they looked great, with limited buffering and no skipping to speak of. Of course, much of that smoothness will depend on your broadband speeds and Wi-Fi bandwidth, but Google's got a trick up its sleeve for that: an ethernet adapter that attaches directly to the Chromecast Ultra's HDMI port.

Being nearly twice as fast as the previous Chromecast, it can handle 4K Ultra HD streams and HDR content, where supported, which is great to see.

At $69, the Chromecast Ultra isn't cheap, but it isn't replacing the existing Chromecast, which is highly resembles. Look for it in November.

See at Google

Google Wifi

Google Wifi is perhaps the most vexing announcement of the day. Alone it's a small puck whose user experience resembles that of the OnHub that was announced last year, but when paired with one or more friends, or an OnHub itself, it creates a mesh network that, according to Google, creates "fast Wi-Fi everywhere in your house, not just right next to the router." Each puck is AC1200 compatible, with 2x2 Wave 2 MIMO support and dual-band 2.4/5Ghz compatibility. On the back are two ethernet ports, one for a modem and one for a switch or something else.

Google Wifi itself is fairly nondescript, and considerably smaller than the OnHub routers from TP-Link and ASUS released last year, but the value proposition is the same: easy setup, and no maintenance. Plugging in a Google Wifi to your modem is the only thing you need to do, aside from pairing with the app that is set to unify with Google On later this year.

When paired with an OnHub or another Google Wifi puck, Wi-Fi creates a seamless mesh network that we hope truly solves the problem of dead spots throughout homes — my home is full of them, even with an OnHub. The good news is that OnHub isn't going anywhere, and Google is working hard to make sure it and the new set of Wi-Fi products work well together. Google also promises new features for both later this year, once Wi-Fi has launched, including Family Wi-Fi, which allows parents to pause connectivity on kids' devices.

Pre-orders for Google Wifi are expected in early November, starting at $129 for a single puck and $299 for a set of three.

See at Google

What do you think?

They're not as flashy as the Pixel phones, but these products represent a Google that is thinking beyond the handset, or the operating system — it's thinking of how the handset and OS are the center of a wide range of products in the home that enable continuous connectivity using either voice or touch.

We'll have lots more on Google Home, Chromecast Ultra, and Google Wifi in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

Google Pixel + Pixel XL

Google Store Verizon

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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