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1 week ago

What is LeEco's EcoPass actually worth?

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As of now, the Le Pro3's content offerings aren't enticing. Not even a little bit.

Last month, Chinese smartphone maker, LeEco, announced the Le Pro3, an Android device that promises to be thinner, faster, and more powerful than the competition. For $400, you get the phone, which features top-of-the-line specifications, in addition to three months of LeEco's EcoPass, which is what ostensibly unlocks a subscription to LeEco's video content services.

There's a catch, however. Since it's all still in "beta," there is no word on how much the EcoPass will cost to continue reaping the benefits of its content library. And that got me thinking: How much is LeEco's content library even worth in the first place? As a dedicated subscriber to a number of free and premium on-demand entertainment services, I decided to venture in and gauge it myself.

LeWhat?

There are two ways to play LeEco's content. The first is to launch the Le app, which showcases all the content you can watch on demand. Then there's Le Live, which aggregates all that watchable content into channels that are easy to peruse.

Remember when Netflix first started offering streaming video and a majority of the available titles were mostly low-budget horror movies and arty indie flicks? LeEco's offerings are a little like that. To dig out gems like Chris Rock's Good Hair and Benny & Joon, you'll have to sift through some slightly jarring movie titles and hokey web series.

It took a long time for me to find anything worth watching.

It took a long time for me to find anything worth watching. I was surprised at how little "on demand" content is actually offered and then subsequently annoyed that it was outdated. The Vice channel on Le, for instance, lets you watch episodes from series like Munchies and Noisey, but most of the episodes are already available on YouTube. Where's the exclusivity?

Here's another bold move on LeEco's part: Charging for channels with content that's free somewhere else. If you want a children-only entertainment channel, for instance, you'll have to fork over $3.99 a month, or 399 EcoPass tokens. This unlocks shows like Sonic the Hedgehog — yes, that one — Sabrina The Animated Series, The Adventures of Super Mario Bros 3, and Inspector Gadget. These shows are already free to watch on Pluto.TV, another live mobile TV app. Granted, you won't get them on-demand like you do with a subscription on a LeEco smartphone, but it's still free somewhere else! The kid's channel offers other content, too, and some shows I've never heard of, but I'd much rather pull from the free YouTube Kids app if I were a parent than pay another monthly subscription price.

What is worth paying for?

Have you heard of Seeso? It's a curated comedy channel. On its own, it costs $4 a month for a subscription. You can watch a library of Saturday Night Live" and *Monty Python clips, in addition to seasons of shows like Parks and Recreation and original content from both indie and mainstream comedians. It's available as an app on every major set-top box and streaming device.

Now, you can already subscribe to this channel on your own time, without the help of LeEco. It's even included in your package if you're an Amazon Prime subscriber. So why, then, is LeEco attempting to advertise Seeso as exclusive content, especially when it's already offered as a standalone app? It's not even a part of the EcoPass subscription — You have to pay the extra $4 a month on top of what you'd already be paying monthly. That's not exactly a deal.

And then there's Tastemade, which is basically the web's Food Network. It's cute, it's kooky, and most of the content is already shown for free on Pluto TV. The only benefit of paying the $3.50 monthly subscription price is to get access to Tastemade Plus, and that's if you find a personal benefit from this Internet food channel. Still, it's not inspiring me to buy into LeEco's content ecosystem, especially when I can already purchase this on my own.

Is the EcoPass even worth it?

There's a reason LeEco didn't announce its monthly subscription prices for the EcoPass at its big event back in October: It's not worth much. What you'd be paying for is scrap content from the Internet. You could very well curate your own YouTube playlist with more interesting clips and clandestinely uploaded television shows if you wanted. (Let's be honest: We all scour for those from time to time.) And here's the worst part: You can't even cast the shows from a LeEco smartphone to your television unless you've got a LeTV in the house.

What you'd be paying for is scrap content from the Internet.

In all fairness, I pay monthly for content on Hulu and Netflix that I will never watch, but the difference is that both of those services offer something else that I find worth the value. I watch so much of ABC and NBC's content on Hulu, for instance, and I like that I can do so on demand. I can also watch it on any TV set I want, or my tablet, or my computer.

LeEco's offerings don't entice me to buy its products. All I see are libraries of movies I've never heard of before, and web content I've already seen. It's possible that once LeEco's partnerships with Lionsgate and MGM come to fruition, that the EcoPass will be more worth the money. But don't bank on that as a reason to buy into LeEco's ecosystem.

More: LeEco LePro 3 and Le S3 Hands-on: Welcome to the U.S.

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1 week ago

Xiaomi is making a 'global' announcement at CES

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A big announcement from a growing player in the global tech game.

Xiaomi has been making waves in the U.S. in recent months despite having never officially launched a phone in the region. Between the impressive Mi Note 2 and the innovative Mi Mix concept phone, an increasing number of people are able to identify the Chinese company's brand and ambition without ever interacting with one of its products.

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1 week ago

OnePlus 3 owners shouldn't fret about software updates

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The OnePlus 3 will get updates at the same time as the OnePlus 3T, until the end.

If you're a newly-minted OnePlus 3 owner ticked off at the sudden appearance of the better, more powerful OnePlus 3T, here's one piece of solace: the two phones will be updated at the same time (which we already knew), and the original will receive updates for as long as its newer kin.

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1 week ago

Project Tango is a portal to another world

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The Lenovo Phab 2 Pro is the size of a basketball shoe, it has rough software, and it's going on sale at a hardware store. That's a strange mixed bag for Lenovo's first US smartphone offering, but still in all, I couldn't wait to try it out.

That's because the Phab 2 Pro is more than just a weirdo phablet: it's the first commercially-available smartphone with Tango, Google's augmented reality platform. In the couple days I've had with the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, I've put raptors on my breakfast table, test-fit expensive couches in my living room and remotely measured the dimensions of everything in sight. Are these glimpses of the future of augmented reality worth the $499 price tag (and the bevy of bugs that Lenovo's software packs along with it)? Find out in MrMobile's hands-on with the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro and Project Tango!

Got any further questions? Check out the ongoing Q and A thread in the VRHeads forums with our very own Russell Holly.

Get social with MrMobile

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1 week ago

Where to buy the Samsung Gear S3 in the U.S.

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Samsung Gear S3

We had to endure a bit of a wait, but now the Gear S3 is on sale.

Samsung's newest smartwatch comes in two forms, the Gear S3 Classic and Gear S3 Frontier, with the latter also offering optional LTE connectivity. Both are big, feature-packed and nice to look at, so long as you're a fan of bigger watches. If you're ready to pick up the latest in wearable tech from Samsung, we have all of the resources for you right here.

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1 week ago

OnePlus 3T now available in the U.S.

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OnePlus

Snapdragon 821 for $439.

OnePlus's new mid-cycle flagship refresh, the OnePlus 3T, is now available to buy unlocked, directly from the upstart manufacturer. The phone is shipping today in both 64GB and 128GB storage configurations, with the base model coming in at $439, and the more capacious model running $479. Right now the only color option is the new "gunmetal" hue, with "soft gold" set to arrive at a later date.

Compared to the soon to be discontinued OnePlus 3, the 3T steps up to a Snapdragon 821 processor, a 16-megapixel front camera, a bigger 3,400mAh battery and additional software tweaks. Besides those differences, you're basically looking at the same phone, and as such the 3 and 3T will be on the same software update schedule in future.

Here's what Andrew Martonik had to say in his review of the phone:

Even with the modest price bump, the OnePlus 3T is an amazing value. It has great hardware, slick and responsive software, amazing battery life, strong rear camera and every internal spec you could want. Even its few weaknesses, like slightly low screen brightness, lack of waterproofing and questionable software update frequency, are minimal bad marks on what is otherwise an exceptional phone. At $439, you can't find a better value than the OnePlus 3T.

The OnePlus 3T rollout continues next week, with a European launch on November 28.

See at OnePlus

OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T

OnePlus

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1 week ago

HTC's 10 Evo is a Bolt for the rest of the world

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HTC Bolt

Mixed bag of hardware launches Nougat and HTC Sense globally.

As rumored, HTC today took the wraps off the HTC 10 Evo, a global version of the Sprint-branded Bolt. Aside from some branding changes, this is the same phone we recently reviewed, with a questionable assortment of hardware: HTC 10-style metal unibody, a bigger 5.5-inch screen, water resistance, USB-C audio only (#donglelife) and a nearly two-year-old Snapdragon 810 processor, with 3GB of RAM. There's also a big focus on audio in general, with the bundled Type-C cans debuting HTC's BoomSound Adaptive Audio.

At least the software is bang up-to-date, with the latest Android 7.0 Nougat preloaded along with HTC's Sense interface.

Here's what Florence Ion had to say in her review of the HTC 10 Evo's American cousin:

The Bolt is a definite look at what HTC has in store for us next year. I'm expecting a super cool aluminum smartphone with top-of-the-line hardware and a rear-facing camera that can better capture low light. For now, consider the Bolt a mere test run that shows off Sprint's network — and one that isn't likely worth $600 to you.

The HTC 10 Evo will launch in Europe this month, but there's no word of any carrier partnerships or SIM-free price just yet. To the latter point, the current £500 unlocked price of the higher-specced HTC 10 (not to mention competitively priced rivals like the OnePlus 3T3 could make things tricky for HTC. For what it's worth, the Bolt's $600 cost would place it around the same price point as the HTC 10 in the UK, if prices were converted over directly.

More: HTC Bolt review

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1 week ago

Grab a Google Home for $99 for a limited time starting Nov 23

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Now this how you drive adoption of a new smart home product.

Google is starting Black Friday a little early, and on Wednesday (November 23) you'll be able to snag a Google Home for just $99 at the Google Store, Best Buy, Target and Walmart.

It's easy to set up, fun to play with and you can make your Hue lamps do stuff by talking to it. Now you can save $30, too.

See at Best Buy See at Target See at Walmart See at Google

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1 week ago

Huawei's holiday sale will save you money on phones, tablets and wearables

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Save big on great products from Huawei at the places where you'll already be shopping.

Huawei is offering some great deals on the Honor 8, Huawei Fit, Huawei Watch, MediaPad M3 and the MateBook + through popular resellers for their holiday sale. The sales start today and run until December 2. Here is what you can get, where you can get it and how long the deal will last.

Save $200 on a Huawei MateBook+ with keyboard and $300 on a MateBook+ bundle at the Microsoft Store. The bundle includes the MateBook+, keyboard, pen and dock. This deal runs until December 2.

See at Microsoft

Snag a 32GB Honor 8 for $299.99 or a 64GB Honor 8 for $399 at Amazon, Best Buy, Newegg or B&H. These deals run from November 25 through 28.

Chat about this, as well as a separate $1 Flash sale on the Honor 8 in the forums.

See at Amazon See at Best Buy See at Newegg See at B&H

The MediaPad M3 is $249 at Amazon between November 25 and November 28.

See at Amazon

The Huawei Fit is $99 at Amazon, Best Buy, and Newegg until November 28.

See at Amazon See at Best Buy See at Newegg

Save $200 on select styles of the Huawei Watch at Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, Google Store, Newegg and Target until December 2.

See at Amazon See at Best Buy See at B&H See at Google See at Newegg

Honor 8

Amazon HonorBest BuyNeweggB&H

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1 week ago

Motorola Black Friday deals: Save buckets of cash on the Moto Z and a Moto Mod

18

$250 off Verizon and unlocked Moto Z bundles make Thanksgiving Santa especially jolly.

Motorola has posted their Black Friday deals, and if you're in the market for a new Moto Z you'll like what you see.

For the appetizer, you can save $100 on the second generation Moto 360. You also get free shipping and you can run it through Moto Maker for a bit of personal flair. $249 is a great price for this one.

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1 week ago

Google Maps now tells you when places are busy in real time

15

Manage your time better with the new Google Maps update.

Google Maps has received a small update today focusing on improving time rationing at busy stores around the holiday (and beyond). In an update to Google Maps for Android and iOS, the service now tells you not only the general times when a restaurant, bar or store is busy, but, where available, a real-time summary of its popularity.

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1 week ago

Amplifi HD Home Wi-Fi system review: Your next Wi-Fi router

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Ubiquiti Networks' Amplifi HD promises complete coverage and fast network speeds for your whole house. And it delivers.

Mesh networking isn't exactly a new thing. But an affordable way to get started, and a setup routine that doesn't need a network engineer to make everything work is new. Even Google is taking part of a recent consumer push for fast and easy mesh networking in your house with Google Wifi. Everyone needs fast internet for things like streaming movies or playing online games, and for some homes, a single router solution won't cut it. That's where mesh networking comes in.

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1 week ago

Protect your OnePlus 3T with one of these cases for just $6

0

If you're thinking about picking up a OnePlus 3, you'll want to have a nice case to protect it from the first day. Ringke is currently offering up its clear back TPU bumper case for just $6 at Amazon with a coupon code. This is a 50% savings on the case, which is quite a deal, and at $6 there is very little reason that you wouldn't grab one.

You can pick between an all clear version or a smoke black version which adds some tint to it.

These coupon codes won't last long, so if you are interested, be sure to grab one now!

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1 week ago

MrMobile's OnePlus 3T review: More to love?

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The OnePlus 3T is physically identical to its predecessor aside from a new gunmetal paint job, so it has to rely on small bumps in processor, camera and software to stand out against the OnePlus 3 it's replacing.

Do these improvements make the OnePlus 3T worth its $40 price increase? Does it still beat out other smartphones in its class? Are you quick enough to catch a sly "Mr. T" joke? These questions and more answered in MrMobile's OnePlus 3T review!

Stay social, my friends

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1 week ago

Google claims Google Wifi is considerably faster than Eero and Luma routers

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Google says its own multi-router networking solution bests the more expensive competition.

Now that Google Wifi is on sale and shipping within the next two weeks, Google has put out a blog post showing just how well in performs against the mesh networking competition. Google provided its latest networking equipment to an independent testing company, Allion USA, to test in a controlled environment against both Eero and Luma.

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