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1 year ago

A quick look at the Vinsic Wireless Charger


It's slim, lightweight, and always stays lit up whether you're charging or not.

We were about due for another wireless charger review, and this time we've got our hands on the Vinsic Wireless Charger. It's a bit larger than the average charging puck, but still keeps a low profile on any desk or nightstand. Measuring in just over 6-inches in length and nearly 3.5-inches in width, it fits every device we have nicely, including the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. The entire charging pad is made of a smooth plastic that steals your fingerprints with a quickness, but is extremely lightweight — weighing in at nearly 3oz.

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1 year ago

This Galaxy S6 case doubles the battery and adds SD card support


This Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge case aims to alleviate any issues you might have over battery life and lack of SD card support.

With a built-in 3,700 mAh battery as well as a built-in micro SD card slot, the Offgrid case looks like it was designed to fill the gap many think Samsung left with the Galaxy S6 when they moved to a new design. We've seen battery cases before, but the twist here is support (via USB OTG) for an SD card of up to 128 GB. Put in your SD card, pop the case on your Galaxy S6, and a flip of a switch changes from charging mode to storage mode.

Yeah, we're interested, too. We ordered one to check out — anyone else?

Buy the Incipio Offgrid case for $89.99

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1 year ago

This is the XShot Selfie Stick Deluxe with Bluetooth Remote


Great for group and solo shots, this selfie stick's remote connects via Bluetooth for quick and easy capturing.

Fully extended, the XShot Selfie Stick Deluxe reaches 31-inches and collapses to a compact 8-inches — perfect for storing in a backpack, cargo pocket, or purse. If you really want to get crazy, keep it inside the fanny pack at your waist for the complete getup and embrace your awesomeness.

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1 year ago

Amazon Echo adds more sports scores


The folks at Amazon continue to add small but cool new features to its Amazon Echo connected smart speaker. The company has sent out word that users can now ask, and receive, the latest sports scores and team schedules from the WNBA women's basketball league. They can also ask to listen to live concerts and events via TuneIn.

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1 year ago

Hands-on the Tronsmart Quick Charge 2.0 4-port USB car charger


Keep all your mobile devices juiced up with this 4-port car charger that packs a single Quick Charge 2.0 option.

We're always after a solid charging solution that offers fast and efficient power to a variety of devices simultaneously. The Tronsmart 4-port car charger stands up to the challenge of keeping every passenger's device at 100%. And most of us can agree that a quiet car is a happy car.

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1 year ago

Light up your party with the MiPow PLAYBULB Rainbow Bluetooth LED Light Bulb


Interested in adding some custom lighting to your home for those special occasions? The PLAYBULB Rainbow is definitely one to consider.

Aside from typical smart lighting that kicks on when I'm hitting the loo in the middle of the night, I haven't experimented with a smart bulb like the MiPow PLAYBULB Rainbow that has the ability to switch to dozens of custom colors and effects from my Android. It seems I've been missing out on a world of intelligent lighting that's perfect for parties, movies, or even bedside use.

The entire light measures about 4.6-inches in length and fits any standard E26/E27 light socket. Inside is an LED bulb that puts out 280 lumens and is capable of a RGB lighting scheme. The PLAYBULB Rainbow utilizes Bluetooth v4.0 and has a wireless range of around 30 feet, given there aren't many walls between your device and the light. At only 5W per bulb, your electric bill certainly won't have much to say about your new lighting setup.

After screwing in the smart bulb, you'll need to jump on the Play Store and download the PLAYBULB X app (also available for iOS if it's a divided household). Once installed, make sure your PLAYBULB is turned on and you should see it listed under "Devices". Tap Connect and you're ready to start experimenting with colors, effects and more.

You'll definitely want to go into the app preferences and switch on "Auto reconnect" to keep things quick and simple each time. The main light control screen features a color wheel that you can select from, also providing a color saturation adjustment if you want to keep things a bit dimmer than normal. If you really want to shake things up, toggle the Shake switch and go nuts with your device, whether it's to match the beat of a tune or to irritate your significant other. Pop into the Effects window to get even more customization options including flashing, pulse, candle effect, and a rainbow fade. Most of these effects have specific colors to choose from as well as speed settings.

Also available is a built-in music player which doesn't seem to serve much of a purpose as far as the lighting goes, but rather a quick way to select songs you've downloaded onto your device. There are options for beats and EQ here, but neither are active nor allow access — at least on my Galaxy S6 edge. Finally, the Scenes window gives you the ability to add a photo from your device and use an eye dropper tool to select a specific color from the image. Don't expect very accurate results here, though.

If you have more than one PLAYBULB you can easily set up a group, and control them simultaneously for a more impressive light show. Additional settings allow you to setup elaborate timers for a switch of colors, and when to put the PLAYBULB to sleep. The security settings feature options for start and end times, too.

Our take

Having just one of these LED smart bulbs around the house is a pretty cool addition and worth using for a variety of occasions. To really make an impression, you could add a handful to your screened porch or lanai and mix it up with some drinks and good friends. Their app leaves a lot to be desired with certain features that simply don't work, but the basics are still there. You can grab a single PLAYBULB Rainbow for around $37, or go all-in with a 3 pack which runs $87.

Buy now

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1 year ago

Sonos PLAY:1 Tone Limited Edition speakers going on sale July 21 for $250


The Sonos PLAY:1 wireless speaker family will soon get two new additions. The Sonos PLAY:1 Tone Limited Edition will be sold in black and white matte finishes but only 5,000 speakers of each color will be made available for sale on July 21 for $250.

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1 year ago

How smartphone-based VR works

Mobile VR

There are many kinds of virtual reality technology in the world today, and thanks to the current level of excitement surrounding the technology there are more and more companies developing solutions that immerse users in a whole new kind of interactive experience. The two primary challenges VR tech face right now lie in demonstrating useful content to justify the experience, and creating accessible solutions that are either inexpensive enough that anyone can try it or complex enough that users want to make VR a fundamental part of their regular entertainment.

Today we're going to talk about accessibility, specifically the push to make your smartphone the key component in the VR experience. We've seen several companies release accessories that you can slide your phone into, and in doing so gain a fairly inexpensive VR experience that can be appreciated anywhere. To accomplish this level of functionality, a lot of things have to be happening in your phone all at once. Here's how it works.

The display and the lenses

Vanguard V

The first thing you'll notice if you've ever peeking inside Google Cardboard when a VR app is running is the curious way everything looks on the display. There's a pair of images, showing what appears to be the exact same thing, but the images don't always fill the screen. Usually what you'll see is something that looks almost like the image you'd see on an old tube television flattened out on your smartphone, and the rest of the screen is black. Occasionally you'll see a white dividing line separating the two images, but not always.

The images you see here are designed specifically to work with the lenses that came with your VR accessory, and are by far the most common form of VR right now. It's the same basic idea we see in larger units like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Inside your VR accessory you'll find a pair of Biconvex lenses, which is what takes the images on the display and warps them to fill your field of view. Your eyes perceive these individual images as a single image, which creates the illusion of depth through stereoscopy.

VR Lenses

Most forms of smartphone-based VR rely on these lenses existing in a fixed position. This means anyone can pick up something like Google Cardboard and immediately start using it without adjusting anything, but if you rely on glasses to see you'll need to keep those glasses on your face to enjoy what you are seeing. As anyone with glasses can attest, holding something to your glasses for any length of time is less than comfortable and usually means you have to clean your glasses afterwards.

The alternative, as seen in the Samsung Gear VR, is a knob that adjusts the focal length while the headset is resting on your face. It means you've got to tweak the focal length to get it to where you want it, but it also means most folks who wear glasses can wear the Gear VR without them.

Moving around in a virtual world

We've had video games on our smartphones for quite a while where movement was a critical part of interactive experiences. Some of these apps let you tilt the phone to turn a vehicle, while others rely on standing up and physically panning the phone in one direction or the other to reveal more of an image. Photospheres and Spotlight Stories are two of the more impressive examples that come to mind when thinking about an experience where your phone is a window to this larger world, and you have to move around to see all of it. This same basic concept drives a lot of the VR content, and as a result a lot of the same technology is used.

Windy Day

The accelerometer and gyroscope in your smartphone give your VR app a sense of motion and position, allowing you to tilt your head and even spin around completely to see more of the virtual world being drawn for you. This experience is fixed, meaning you can't just get up and walk around to see more of the world around you. We've seen developers working on mobile versions of this experience through the Epson Moverio headset, but your smartphone will keep you sitting or standing in one place while you pan around and experience the game or video. That doesn't mean the video itself can't move — in fact we've seen many examples where things like roller coasters and space simulation relies heavily on making it feel like you are moving around, when in fact you aren't moving at all.

Not all mobile VR experiences are created equally when it comes to the use of this technology. Samsung's Gear VR, for example, includes an extra accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer to offer a smoother VR experience. More data points in this experience means head tracking can be more precise, which leads to a more polished experience. This is why the larger VR experiences rely on things like fixed-point sensors for your desk and a massive array of external sensors to track movement and position. It's impractical to expect that kind of experience on mobile, but it's nice to know the experience you have with your smartphone improves dramatically with these increased price tags.

Controllers for your VR experience

Pinc vr

Most of the VR experiences you will have through Google Cardboard right now aren't much more than moving your head around with a box held to your face, but there are several great mobile VR experiences that demand a little more. Just like the accessories we've seen with the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, there are accessories that will take your mobile VR experience somewhere unique.

The folks at Pinć VR plan to include a pair of rings that rest on your index fingers with a pair of buttons on the inside. These buttons, and the lights that help guide the rings, allow you to reach into your VR experience and interact. This depth addition feels a lot more natural than the button on the side of Google Cardboard, but also requires you have your VR set strapped to your head with your arms stretched out in front of you.

Meanwhile, Samsung has several apps in the Oculus store now that rely on a controller to use with your Gear VR. This experience puts your inside the game you are playing, without forcing you to hold something to your face. It's a control mechanic most folks are already used to, allowing you to play without looking down at the controller, and ultimately provides the most familiar experience for gameplay.

Virtual Reality

The most interesting thing about mobile VR right now is how relatively young the experience is. So many companies in every part of the ecosystem are working to make this experience special, and the core of the platform lives in your pocket at all times. With every iteration in the smartphone world — including screen resolution, motion sensing, and video rendering — mobile VR tech will continue to improve. Even if you're not ready to make the dive into VR just yet, it's an impressive ecosystem to be paying attention to right now.

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1 year ago

Samsung Level U Wireless Headphones review


The flexibility and lightweight design of the Level U Wireless Headphones make their audio quality that much more enjoyable.

These past few weeks we've been testing the waters with Samsung's Level line-up, jamming with the Level On headphones and bringing Bluetooth to our more dated gadgets with the Level Link wireless adapter. Now we've had a chance to spend some quality time with the new Level U Wireless Headphones during long gaming sessions, occasional phone calls and even utilizing S Voice in between.

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1 year ago

Seidio DILEX Pro kickstand case for LG G4

Seidio DILEX Pro kickstand case for LG G4

It's not the most rugged case available, but the Seidio DILEX Pro can certainly take a beating if and when it needs to.

What was once called the ACTIVE Case, the DILEX Pro has come a long way in design since it was first introduced. Seidio's refined both layers and managed to make a fairly slim cover that has many users coming back as they upgrade their devices. We took this hybrid kickstand case for a spin with the LG G4, getting a closer look at its build quality.

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1 year ago

This week's best Android gadgets: GoPro HERO4 Session, Spro 2, and more


It's another week of new Android gadgets and we're bringing you some hot picks that are available now, up for pre-order, and on Kickstarter including the GoPro HERO4 Session, Spro 2 Smart Projector, Grandstream GVC3200 Video Conferencing System, Micro-Flip reversible Micro USB, and the WearWise camera. Dive in as we visit each gadget in more detail.

READ NOW: Best Android gadgets of the week

GoPro HERO4 Session

If the full line of GoPro cameras weren't quite small enough to fit your needs, fear not because the answer is here. GoPro's Hero4 Session is their smallest device to date, but still packs quite a punch. The $399 camera captures 1080p video, along with 8MP still photos (complete with time lapse) through various short and long button press combinations. There's no display on the camera itself, but you can use the GoPro App or Smart Remote to take control as well. Plus it's waterproof and can connect to nearly anything you want, letting you grab some awesome action shots.

Buy the GoPro HERO4 Session

ZTE Spro 2 Smart Projector

The Verizon-connected Spro 2 Smart Projector from ZTE is multi-purpose Android-powered accessory that is not only a mobile projector, but a high-speed hotspot as well. Priced at $599, the Spro 2 is running Android 4.4 and features a 5-inch HD touch display, with 16GB of storage that can be expanded with the use of a microSD card. It projects up to 120" in size at 200 lumens of brightness with auto focus and auto keystone up to 720p. For all of your mobile hotspot needs, the Spro 2 lets you connect up to 10 devices on Verizon's 4G LTE network.

Buy the Spro 2 Smart Projector

Micro-Flip Reversible Micro USB

It's the plug we all wished was implemented years ago. The Micro-Flip is a reversible Micro USB cable that works with all our current devices, eliminating the first-time-fail aggravation we've all come to accept. Of course, with USB Type-C being added to future devices this cable may be a little late to the game. Still, it will be some time before we see Micro USB become as obsolete as Mini USB is now. The cable is made of a braided nylon that's tangle-free and will be available in 1 and 2-meter lengths. Unfortunately, it's not Quick Charge 2.0 compliant, since the Micro-Flip utilizes a 5-pin design. With a minimum $12 pledge you can score a 1M Micro-Flip cable if you're ready to make the switch.

Pledge Micro-Flip

WearWise Camera

If GoPro's newest camera isn't quite small enough to fit your needs, there's a new wearable camera on the way that may be better suited for you. Recently launched on Kickstarter is WearWise, a small 1.6 inch x1.6 inch x0.8 inch camera that you can wear nearly anywhere to capture video and photos. WearWise features an 8MP camera with 120-degree wide-angle lens, and takes 1080p videos at 30fps. The "multi-purpose" back lets you stick it do damn near anything, and it's all controlled over Bluetooth from your phone.

Buy the WearWise Camera

Grandstream GVC3200 Full HD Video Conferencing System

Ready to take your video conferences to the next level? Grandstream's GVC3200 is an Android-based video conferencing system that provides 1080p Full-HD video that works with popular Android apps including Skype and Google Hangouts. With the unit's powerful hardware you can have up to 9-way video conferences with support for 3 monitors through 3 HDMI outputs on the back. The PTZ camera features a 12X zoom that can be controlled along with the GVC3200's other features using the included Bluetooth remote. There's also a remote app for Android devices that can be used via Bluetooth, great for sharing control with more than one person. It's easy to install using Grandstream's IPVideo Talk Pro video conferencing service for a quick plug and play setup. You can pre-order the GVC3200 right now for a hefty $3,995.

Pre-order the GVC3200 Video Conferencing System

Your favorite gadgets this week

Do any of the gadgets we've selected this week interest you? Or, maybe there are others you have in mind for your Android device. Either way, drop a line in the comments below and let us know!

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1 year ago

A quick look at Amzer's Qi Wireless Charging Pad


Small in size and easily portable, this new charging pad from Amzer keeps your Qi-compatible devices juiced up at the typical 1A rate.

Measuring 3.5-inches in diameter, it provides enough surface area to enable wireless charging for most smartphones and tablets without constantly adjusting for the perfect placement. Its 1/4-inch thickness makes it a slim sidekick to any desk or nightstand, too. The entire charging pad is made of a glossy plastic, featuring a silver Amzer logo slapped dead center on the surface. Along the edge, you'll find a small charging LED that stays green while plugged in, flashing blue/green while charging.

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1 year ago

Ethernet adapter for Chromecast makes its way to the Google Store for $15


If you are looking to use a Chromecast in an area that doesn't get a great wireless signal, or you want to avoid using wireless all together, Google's latest accessory for the device is a must have. Now available in the Google Store is an Ethernet adapter for the Chromecast, that lets users plug their Ethernet cable right into the wall wart.

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1 year ago

Logitech wants to transform itself with its new Logi brand and revamped logo


Logitech is on a mission to reinvent itself to consumers with a new version of its company logo and an all-new brand called Logi. The PC and mobile accessory maker says the changes are part of its "transformation" into a company that has a bigger emphasis on design.

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1 year ago

Hands-on with the Samsung Level Link wireless adapter


We're no stranger to Bluetooth adapters, but the new Level Link adds a certain style and easy functionality that's refreshing to use with our non-Bluetooth devices.

Most folks have at least one gadget that doesn't come packed with Bluetooth, relying on a direct connection to get their audio from one end to the other. Where the Level Link shines is its ability to plug into any 3.5mm audio port and send or receive audio straight through to your favorite pair of wireless headphones or car stereo. Its intuitive design helps get the ball rolling from unboxing, too.

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