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1 week ago

HTC U Ultra review: A beautiful group of questionable decisions

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HTC U Ultra

In a market filled with great high-end phones and tons of up-and-coming prospects at lower prices, the HTC U Ultra is unable to live up to its bloated price tag.

The quick take

HTC continues to get the basics right with flagships. The U Ultra has a great screen, amazing build quality and stunning design. You get just about every spec inside you'd expect, and the day-to-day performance as a result is fantastic with a super-smooth software experience. Unfortunately, HTC's camera performance once again lags behind the pack, its secondary display is all but useless and there's no headphone jack or waterproofing — all in a phone that's charging a premium price of $749.

The Good

  • Fantastic performance
  • Great screen
  • Stunning hardware
  • Unlocked and bloat-free
  • Absolutely nails the basics

The Bad

  • 2016-level camera performance
  • No headphone jack
  • Second screen lacks utility
  • No water resistance
  • Too big for most hands

See at Amazon See at HTC

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1 week ago

Celebrate St. Patrick's Day with these wallpapers, and a pint

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Go green with your phone, not your face, with these St. Paddy's Day wallpapers!

St. Patrick's Day is coming, and while as adults St. Paddy's means a whole lot of drinking and some sweet parades, as children our first introduction to the holiday consisted of unsuspecting kiddies being ganged up on and pinched for not wearing green on a seemingly random day in March. Well, not wearing green on your shirt doesn't mean you deserve to get pinched. Just set one of these wallpapers until the holiday is safely passed.

And if you see a green beer, walk the other way. Quickly.

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1 week ago

Add some smarts to your existing smoke and CO detectors with this $30 gadget from Leeo

5

Our friends at Thrifter are back with another deal, this time helping you make your home smarter for less!

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are a must-have, but when you are out of the house you have no idea if they are going off, which can be scary. Leeo changes that by notifying you, regardless of your location, when they are triggered, and right now you can pick one up for only $29.97, which is a $20 savings from its regular price. It monitors the existing detectors you have in the house and alerts you as soon as they make noise.

You can get a notification from the app or via an automated phone call, and if you don't answer Leeo can call someone from your emergency contact list. Installation is as simple as plugging it into an outlet and pairing it with the Android app. You can set it to display different colors as a nightlight, and it works with hundreds of other smart products and services. If you rent or own your own place, you should have one of these on each floor of your house!

See at Amazon

For other 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

Should Google Home intervene when someone threatens self-harm?

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A Google Home responds to a father and son's mention of death. Could this have been intentional?

My husband and I have had quite an experience adapting to the Google Home in our home. We love its presence, truly, but there are continually times when we're surprised at some of the interactions we've had with it.

For example, there have been several instances where we'd be chatting loudly and casually between the two of us, about something or other, when the Google Home would suddenly respond, despite the fact that neither of us had uttered the 'OK Google' hot key. It's quite hilarious when it happens, though — we always laugh — and it sort of validates this running joke we share that our Google Home is actually just a roommate who lives here for free in exchange for all the knowledge it brings.

I didn't think much of these random interactions until this week's All About Android, where I'm a co-host. We had a video mail submission from a father who was playing a game with his son in a room where the Google Home was stationed. They had reached a part of the game narrative where they were too stuck to go on, and realized that the best way to complete the story in its entirety was to effectively kill their characters off and start anew. But then...

As we were moving on with the game, somebody spoke up and said, "I just want you to know, you're not alone. Here's the number for the suicide prevention hotline."

It was our Google Home, and I think that when my son had said that we should kill ourselves, Google heard that, and that made it pop up with that message.

We already know that Google Home — and, by virtue, Amazon Echo — is constantly listening in, and that this actually a bit of an issue with owning one. And we already know that what you say could be used in a court of law. But it's curious why it would respond in an instance where there was no specific query directed at it. Does that mean that Google Home is always listening for a chance to interject? Or does it listen for intonation in the voice; whether it's conversational, and thus it must be conversing with it? Or, is it because even uttering the word Google will make its digital ears perk up in preparation for the next query?

Is Google Home listening, and could it act as an intermediary when someone is trying to harm herself?

For the most part, I thought it was interesting that Google Home responded after it somehow computed that someone was talking about suicide. I doubt it cared who was talking about it; it sounds like it was pre-programmed to listen for that specific phrase and reply in the event that it's sitting idly in the room of someone who is truly considering the act. I wasn't able to recreate this scenario at home, however, but as I was writing this article, Google Home responded. What's triggering it?

This particular event also has me mulling over whether this is a glimpse at our robot future. Are artificially intelligent devices being programmed to be our friends? Or is this what Google merely considers an extra feature — an aid that maybe a programmer thought would be worth including considering the rates of suicide around the world?

What do you think? Has your Google Home ever responded in this manner?

Google Home

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1 week ago

Get half-off one season of any TV season or movie with this sweet Google Play offer

20

Brace yourselves: Spring TV is coming.

Tons of exciting new shows are hitting the airwaves this season, as are new seasons of shows we already know and love! Whether you want to catch up on The Flash before Tuesday's Music Meister episode, cook up some nostalgia on Good Eats or you just want to grab the complete Batman The Animated Series, Google Play is giving some users a splendid deal on Google Play TV right now, and other users half-off on a movie.

Where was this during Stella last week?!

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1 week ago

How to make your own Ethernet cable

16

You can make your own Ethernet cable to achieve lengths that are more useful and save some money in the long run. Here's how.

Whether you want to make some cabling of a specific length or just wish to have a little more fun than picking up Ethernet cables from your local store, it's actually an easy and straightforward task to make your own. This process can also help you repair damaged cable in the home or at the office without having to fork out cash for replacements. To get started, here's what you'll need:

  • Ethernet cable.
  • Crimping tool.
  • RJ45 modular connector.
  • Cable tester.

For the cabling itself, you can pick up pre-assembled cabling that are ready to use and then cut to size or you could save some more money and pop to your local DIY store who should be able to cut some from a reel for you. You can pick up the crimping tool, modular connectors, and a cable tester in one package:

See at Amazon

The cable testing equipment isn't required (you can easily check by connecting the cable to your PC and router), but it makes things easier because you can just reach for a nearby tool and not have to fetch a device.

  1. Cut the cable to the length you require.

  2. Using the crimping tool, strip away the cable jacket.
  3. Check to see if you nipped away at the wires inside.
  4. Spread the twisted wires out.

    (The thin thread that joins the four twisted wires allows you to pull the jacket back further, but note that there may be a plastic spine in the middle that requires cutting, along with the wires.)

  5. Straighten out the wires.

  6. Line them up in order, using the guides below:

    Looking at the underside of a connector, the copper contacts are in eight individual slots, numbered one through eight. We're using the T568B standard, which differs slightly from the T568A standard for wiring Ethernet cables.

  7. Slide the wires carefully into the RJ45 connector.

  8. Insert the cable into the crimper tool and press hard to secure the connector.

The clamp within the connector should press against the cable jacket. You should not be able to test the cable using the tool or plug each end into a device and see if a connection is made.

Fear not if you don't get the wires lined up perfectly because it can take some practice to get the hang of preventing the wires from overlapping or locking as pairs into the connector. If you make a mistake, simply cut a bit behind from where you were working, and try again.

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1 week ago

Bootloop-affected LG G4 and V10 owners are suing LG in class-action lawsuit

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Bootloops suck.

Fortunately, bootloops are a relatively rare occurrence unless you tinker with your software... or you own an LG G4 or LG V10. Bootloops were a notorious problem for these phones and at the beginning of 2016, LG acknowledged the defect and offered repairs and replacements.

Problem is, owners are claiming they didn't work either. And now they've called in the lawyers.

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1 week ago

How to take a screenshot on the Google Pixel

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How do I take a screenshot on the Google Pixel?

The Google Pixel runs Android 7.1, which is pretty special. There are a whole bunch of new features, and there are rounded icons — for better or worse. If you're using the new phone, you're likely going to want to show off some of its awesome looks in the form of screenshots.

It's easy to take a screen on the google Pixel. Here's how.

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1 week ago

Should you upgrade your headphones for PlayStation VR?

Great audio experiences are a huge part of VR.

No matter what VR headset you are using, you want to make sure you have decent headphones. That full immersion experience, where your physical world is replaced by the virtual one, has a lot to do with hearing things from all around you. Knowing that when you turn your head you'll see something coming from the direction you just heard it is a big deal, but if you can hear the real world as well it takes away from this experience.

Killer headphones are going to be a big deal with PlayStation VR, so here's what you should be looking for if you're planning an upgrade.

Read more on VRHeads.com

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1 week ago

Get an eight-course Ethical Hacking bundle for only $39

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It seems like every other day there's another high-profile hack that puts thousands of users' information into the hands of people who shouldn't have it. To safeguard against these types of attacks, companies hire Ethical Hackers who expose security flaws. These Ethical Hackers are in high demand, and the profession can be quite lucrative,

Get eight Ethical Hacking courses for only $39 Learn more

Because this profession requires a broad range of knowledge, the courses needed to become an Ethical Hacker are generally quite expensive. Right now, however, Windows Central Digital Offers has a pretty amazing deal. You can get this 45-hour bundle for only $39; that's 96% off the regular price of $1,273.

The eight courses in the bundle include:

  • Ethical Hacker Bootcamp for 2017
  • A to Z Ethical Hacking Course
  • Learn Burp Suite for Advanced Web Penetration Testing
  • Complete Ethical Hacking/Penetration Testing Course
  • Intro to Ethical Hacking Certification
  • Real World Hacking & Penetration Testing
  • Learn Kali Linux and Hack Android Mobile Devices
  • Learn Hacking/Penetration Testing Using Android From Scratch

Don't worry about your skill level, as these eight courses take you from the basics to advanced tools used in the profession. After completing these courses, you'll be more than ready to jump into the world of Ethical Hacking.

This Ethical Hacking bundle is 96% off! Learn more

Ready to take the plunge into a new, lucrative career? Ethical Hackers are in high demand, and this course contains everything you need to get started. Don't wait too long, as this amazing deal won't last forever.

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1 week ago

Best VR games that don't rely on teleportation

These are the best VR games that don't rely on teleportation

What are some VR games that don't use teleportation?

If your VR legs are sturdy and you're comfortable getting around a game without teleportation, you probably prefer standard locomotion. It's usually more immersive, and it can really make horror games a lot scarier. If you have an iron stomach and don't want to teleport anymore, here are the best VR games that feature natural locomotion.

Read more at VR Heads!

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1 week ago

Best Phones to use with Mint SIM

Best overall

Google Pixel

See at Google

When buying an unlocked phone to use with a prepaid carrier, our recommendation is unchanged from our overall best Android phone pick: it's the Google Pixel. Google's first own-branded phone is absolutely hit, from its understated hardware design to its lightning fast performance, full-day battery life and of course its top-of-the-line camera.

The Pixel simply does everything faster than the competition, and does so while integrating with all of Google's excellent services and no extra bloat. It's also going to be the most up-to-date in terms of software, getting monthly security updates and also being at the front of the line for big platform jumps.

You'll pay for the privilege, but if you want the slickest and cleanest Android phone that you can buy unlocked and bring to a prepaid carrier, the Pixel is the way to go.

Bottom line: For the fastest, simplest and best-supported experience, you can't go wrong with Google's own phone.

One more thing: You can opt for the 5.5-inch Pixel XL if you want more screen to work with and longer battery life.

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1 week ago

Nanoleaf Aurora review: The coolest lights on the whole damn planet

6

It turns out the smart lights I've wanted all along aren't lightbulb shaped.

I've been thoroughly invested in smart lighting for a while now. Several rooms in my house have been fully converted, fully connected to Google Home for voice control, and so far I'm pretty happy with the setup. Smart lighting is absolutely the way forward for me, especially as costs come down and more options become available. Combining convenience with a familiar form factor is exactly what I thought I wanted, but these new lights from Nanoleaf have me questioning that last part.

Instead of making another lightbulb with smarts, the Nanoleaf Aurora is a modular solution that makes the lights part of the decor. It sounds a little crazy, and has a price tag to match, but these lights are seriously changing how I think about smart lighting in my home.

Every Nanoleaf Aurora setup is a little different, which is fantastic.

Every Nanoleaf Aurora setup is a little different, which is fantastic. You open the box and find nine triangles and a wire for power. These triangles can be assembled in whatever array you choose, as long as one of the sides is able to touch another triangle side.

A simple connector attaches each triangle, sharing power and network information along the chain. When you have the triangles mounted the way you want, you can pick where the power cable gets attached so you can discretely hide the cable however you want. It's a simple, elegant setup that allows you to expand by buying more triangles to add on to the kit. You can have up to 30 triangles attached to a single Aurora, so there's a lot of flexibility here.

It's not hard to imagine an Aurora panel completely replacing the lights in a decent-sized room.

Once everything is connected and powered up, you head to the the Nanoleaf app and set the lights up however you want. The app is aware of where each of the triangles is positioned as soon as it connects to the hardware, and from there you can either choose individual colors for each triangle or adjust the whole array as a single bulb.

If you're using this to light a room, the lights get plenty bright — roughly 100 lumens per panel — and you have fantastic control over the light temperature as you set things. If you're using this as an accent, the lights can also be set to rotate through a palette of colors in several different patterns. The most impressive part of this whole experience is the way Nanoleaf's app is aware of how your array is set up, adjusting the app to match.

Nanoleaf hasn't quite worked out the whole "talk to literally everything" functionality that Philips has with the Hue bulbs yet, but what exists right now is a solid start. You can connect to IFTTT, and there's some basic Amazon Echo integration, but a full open API and Google Home support is planned for later this year.

These lights are becoming more common as accent lighting for a lot of environments, but it's not hard to imagine an Aurora panel completely replacing the lights in a decent-sized room. The panels mount anywhere, and as long as you can make the wire disappear these lights are an amazing alternative to LED strips or recessed lighting in many environments.

Naturally, the big question here is price. The Nanoleaf Aurora starter kit isn't cheap — those nine starter panels will run you $200. If you want to expand, each three triangle kit will run you an additional $60. What you get in exchange is arguable more functional and undeniably more attractive than your average Wi-Fi connected lightbulbs though, and that's significant. These lights become a totally personal way to illuminate your space, and the end result rarely disappoints.

See at Best Buy

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1 week ago

India's leading mobile wallet Paytm heads to Canada to facilitate bill payments

1

Paytm lets Canadian customers make bill payments.

After crossing 200 million customers in India, the country's leading mobile wallet Paytm is now making its way to Canada. The app allows customers to pay for utility, cable, and cell phone bills, with the platform supporting thousands of service providers. Customers will also receive a bill reminder option ten days before a bill is due, followed by periodic reminders as the due date draws near. The app promises "100% Service Assurance," stating it will only debit money from your account after the bill is paid.

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1 week ago

Gmail for desktop now lets you stream video attachments

2

You no longer have to download video attachments to view them.

If you've ever received a video attachment in Gmail, the only option was to download the file to view it. That's changing today, as Google is now rolling out the option to stream video attachments from the Gmail desktop client.

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