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1 week ago

Five things you need to know about the HTC Vive

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There's nothing else quite like it, but the HTC Vive probably isn't for everyone.

Deep down, every kid who has ever played a video game has been preparing to use the HTC Vive. The way we turn our bodies to match a turn in a racing game, or jump when something scary happens, or even throw a controller when we're mad is something that can actually be done in Vive. Whether you're sidestepping zombies for that perfect headshot or crawling around on the floor to get a better look at that Fantastic Contraption you've been working on all day, the way your physical body interacts in the real world matters.

These are incredible experiences, but the HTC Vive as a whole requires some thought as you decide whether it is for you.

With that in mind, we've assembled some of the most important things for you to know about the HTC Vive before you start planning out where it's going to live in your home.

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1 week ago

Five things you need to know about the Oculus Rift

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There are some good reasons to doubt the potential success of Oculus and their Rift headset.

This first generation effort is expensive, the controllers meant to truly elevate the experience aren't available yet, and there are still plenty of folks out there who think VR is this year's version of the 3D TV. While it's still early days for this generation, and the cost of ownership is indeed higher than your average Xbox or gaming PC build, it's an experience well worth the early adopter itch.

If you're one of the folks on the fence about the Oculus Rift, there's a few things you should know about the headset before clicking the buy button.

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1 week ago

Amazon Echo gets cozier with Google Calendar, now lets you add events

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The Amazon Echo is now more capable of handling your schedule, allowing you to add items directly to your Google Calendar. While you could previously ask Alexa about your upcoming events, now you can use your voice to manage your calendar as well, using only your voice. Just say something like "Alexa, add dinner with Kathleen to my calendar for Thursday at 7:30 p.m." and that event will be added.

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1 week ago

The most important news from the Android Security recap had nothing to do with malware

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Viruses and exploits get headlines, but they're not the most promising news coming out of Google's 2015 security recap.

The funny thing about security, of course, is most of us on the end-user side of things tend to not worry about it until it's too late. That's natural, of course. It's why we close the barn door after the horse is long gone.

For most of us, security isn't sexy — it's a hindrance. It's our IT department requiring us to change an already pain-in-the-ass-to-remember password to another pain-in-the-ass-to-remember password that we haven't used once before — and then we write it down and leave it under our keyboard anyway. It's why our PIN codes are fewer characters than they would be — or why we forgo them at all on our devices.

Fingerprint sensors are changing that. They're making it easier than ever to keep our devices locked, but still make it relatively easy for the phone owner to unlock. Comparing the 2013 Nexus 5 and 2014 Nexus 6 — two phones that don't have fingerprint sensors — to the 2015 Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P, Google found that lock screens were being used about 64 percent more often — on about 91 percent of those new phones.

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1 week ago

Android Central 284: Your questions, our answers ...

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Audio-only stream below

So many questions. So many answers. Strap in, folks!

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1 week ago

Buy a OnePlus 2 or OnePlus X and snag a free StyleSwap cover or case

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OnePlus is looking to help you ring in the spring season with a bit of extra style.

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1 week ago

HTC Themes, icon packs, and copyright infringement: the situation one year on

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HTC's themes get a lot of things right… and a couple of big things wrong.

HTC Themes are thoroughly customizable, which is great. They're not all-or-nothing like the all-or-nothing kits offered by Samsung. You can choose your own colors, your own images, your own icon pack, and build the theme you want. You can even break them free of the traditional home screen grid on the new HTC 10. The problem is, an unfortunate amount of the material in the HTC Theme store wasn't uploaded by its creator.

And when those rightful owners have come calling for their work to be taken down, they haven't gotten much from HTC.

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1 week ago

Samsung Galaxy S7 Wireless Charging Battery Pack review

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Samsung Galaxy S7 Wireless Charging Battery Pack review

What at first seemed like a throwaway feature on yet another battery case ends up making it a realistic charging option.

As you may recall, I'm not the biggest fan of battery cases. They're cumbersome, come with a load of compromises and in the end don't add much of a charge to your phone. At the same time, the Galaxy S7's larger battery removes the need for a battery case for most people.

Samsung launched a new style of battery case with the Galaxy S7, which at the time seemed a little confusing. Rather than plug into the USB port like every other battery case, it uses Qi wireless charging to keep your phone powered up. Initially I wrote it off as a superfluous feature addition that didn't make a whole lot of sense for a case that's attached to the phone.

But then I used it, and it makes so much sense I can't believe it wasn't done before.

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1 week ago

Don't be fooled by Canada's latest push into 'unlimited' data

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Don't be fooled by the word "unlimited".

This week, Canadian operator Rogers' flanker brand chatr introduced a new promotional plan that purportedly offers unlimited data, along with Canada-wide talk and text, for a meagre $40 per month. In a market where it's not unheard of to spend upwards of $100 for a couple of gigabytes of data, such a deal is worth taking a closer look at.

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1 week ago

Running out of space on your Chromebook? Try these tips

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16GB isn't a lot of space. You might need a way to add more.

While Chromebooks are mostly cloud-centric machines, there are still quite a few offline packaged apps available. Sometimes, when you have a lot of those installed alongside media like music, video and pictures, there's not much room left. Add in Google Drive syncing, and running out of space is a real possibility — especially on the 16GB storage models.

There are a few things you can do to help if you ever hit the storage wall. Let's have a look at some of them!

Adding an SD card or USB thumb drive is an easy option

This one is simple. Your Chromebook has an SD card reader on the side, and if you add a card to it, all the space on the card is available to the operating system for storage. The same goes for a USB thumb drive.

There are a couple issues to be aware of here. The first is that you might not want half of an SD card or a USB thumb drive hanging off the side of your Chromebook where it can get broken. There's an easy solution — use half-height drives or cards.

Your Chromebook can read and write to SD cards or USB drives formatted as FAT32, vFAT and exFAT. Your Chromebook can format or reformat an SD card, but it will only do it using the FAT32 file system. There is a 4GB file size and 8TB partition size limit using FAT32, so if you need to read and write files (like movies) bigger than 4GB it's best to format the card on another machine. You can do that on a demo computer at Best Buy if you need to.

Lastly, tinkerers might want to use an ext file system on their portable drives. Besides issues with file permissions you might run into, remember that journalizing may cause flash storage to wear out fast.

A less portable solution — A USB hard drive

Like portable flash storage, your Chromebook can use a USB hard drive for a lot more storage at the cost of portability. Most any USB hard drive will work, so look for the fastest one (USB 3) you can afford, even if your Chromebook doesn't have USB 3 ports — your next one will.

Your Chromebook can access files on a USB hard drive using these file systems:

  • FAT (FAT16, FAT32, exFAT)
  • HFS+ (read-only on journaled HFS+)
  • ISO9660 (read-only)
  • MTP
  • NTFS
  • UDF (read-only)

You'll not be able to easily format a USB drive in Chrome OS, so you'll need to do that on another computer. Also note that there is no defragmenter in Chrome OS, so if the drive gets "clogged" up you'll need to do that on another computer, too.

Protip: Your Chromebook can also read files (like media in any of these formats: 3gp, .avi, .mov, .mp4, .m4v, .m4a, .mp3, .mkv, .ogv, .ogm, .ogg, .oga, .webm, .wav ) from a USB CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive, so it might be worth burning your videos and music to a disc if you have room to tote a USB drive around.

Use a second Google Drive account

And don't sync it offline with your Chromebook.

It's easy to switch users on Chrome OS, and downloading a file to a removable drive through the file manager means it can be available for all users. Every account gets 15GB of free Google Drive storage, and it will show in the file manager where you can easily access any of it.

Of course you can also choose to not sync your Google Drive files offline to save even more space from the Google Drive app settings.

You might be able to put a bigger drive in your Chromebook

This is a little more extreme than any of the other options, and most Chromebooks don't support it because the internal storage is soldered directly to the board.

Some notable models that can be upgraded with a bigger storage drive include the Acer C710, the Acer C720, the HP Chromebook 14, The Samsung Series 5 (and Series 5 550) and the Cr-48.

It's easy to do on some models like the Acers or the Samsungs, and very difficult to do on the HP 14 — but it can be done.

You also might need a specific drive like an M.2/NGFF SSD and it's best to stay away from drives bigger than 128GB. We swapped out the SSD on a trusty C720 if you want to see what you might be up against.

How to upgrade the SSD in your Acer C720 Chromebook

Have reasonable expectations

When you buy a $200 laptop that's built to be lean and speedy, you shouldn't expect a 500GB spinning disk drive under the hood. You wouldn't be happy with the performance even if you did. That's just not how Chromebooks are designed, and even the most expensive models only come with a 64GB SSD installed.

With tempered and well thought out expectations, and these few tips you should be able to manage all of your storage needs. I'm building a new desktop workstation for the office, and I have 6.5TB of storage sitting here to go in it. One day, I'll need to worry about it getting full, and I'll have to pay closer attention to what I save and where I save it. No computer is immune.

We have a feeling that Chromebooks with bigger storage sizes are coming, as it will soon be more expensive to spec out 16GB drives instead of 32GB. In the meantime, be sure to keep everything backed up somewhere, and learn to delete the things you'll never need again.

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1 week ago

Today, we celebrate our 99-cent 'Independence Day'

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Movie fans who like to buy them on the cheap should jump on today's sale in the Google Play Store. The classic sci-fi invasion film Independence Day can be bought for just 99 cents for Android phone and tablet owners.

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1 week ago

Best clear cases for the Galaxy S7 edge

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Best clear cases for the Galaxy S7 edge

Don't wanna cover up your phone? What do you do? Protect it. Clearly.

There's a reason clear cases are the most popular: phones are getting prettier and prettier. Have you seen the S7 edge in silver?!

Show off your gorgeous phone loudly and proudly with a clear case. We've rounded up the best of the best for your viewing pleasure.

Spigen Neo Hybrid Crystal

Spigen Neo Hybrid Crystal

This offer from Spigen is the two-piece type that has a flexible body with a harder plastic edging. Normally, those hard plastic outer edges don't fit the softer silicone properly, but in the case of this… case… the fit is superb.

The phone feels solid and neither the rim nor the silicone impede any functionality of the edge features. Sometimes the plastic has a habit of being a bit loose, so if you push near the power or volume buttons, they'd engage. Not with the Neo Hybrid Crystal; everything fits snugly and the buttons are only pushed when you want them to be.

It should be noted that the outer plastic piece could become loose over time, since it is rather flexible; however, if you aren't constantly taking the case off your S7 edge, you shouldn't have a problem. The reason we chose this case over Spigen's Ultra Hybrid, which doesn't have the harder outer plastic piece, is that you can't feel any seams on the Neo Hybrid. The Ultra Hybrid has a rather sharp seam that's just uncomfortable.

See at Amazon

Trianium Clear Cushion

Trianium

The Trianium Clear Cushion is a great option for those of us that love a 100 percent clear case that's seamless and sleek, while offering the necessary protection. With the S7 line-up being notorious for shattering when dropped on a corner, Trianium offers some peace of mind with its thicker corners and lifetime warranty. If you start to notice imperfections, then you can apply for a new one.

The Clear Cushion fits great and is less than a millimeter thick, so it's almost like your phone's wearing nothing at all, nothing at all, nothing at all…

The case is slim, but it's also proportioned in all the right places; the edges come up just enough to block you from accidentally hitting buttons, but they don't block the edge features at all. Use the edge when you want to, not when your case fits poorly.

You also have the added benefit of Trianium's scratch-resistant coating, so your pretty phone stays pretty longer.

Just watch out if you have a screen protector on your edge, as the Clear Cushion fits so snugly that it might curl up the edges.

See at Amazon

Abestbox Ulta Hybrid Air Cushion Crystal Clear

Abestbox

Another great one-piece entry, the Abestbox Crystal Clear is a solidly built case and when they say, "crystal clear," they mean it. It's really clear, which is great if you're someone that can't stand having to case your phone, but understand that it's probably a good idea.

Once again, this is another great fit that does not impede any edge function at all, and the super slim design doesn't add any bulk or weight to your phone. It's not slick, so you'll have no trouble gripping your S7 edge and holding on to it.

See at Amazon


i-Blason Clear Hero Series

i-Blason

If you're looking for heavy duty scratch resistance, then this is the case for you. It's rated 3H (pencil hardness) for scratch resistance.

Actually, i-Blason is great for all-around scratch protection, since its raised front bezel makes it ideal for phones with screen protectors. The raised bezel is also good idea, just in case you drop your S7 edge on its face.

Once again, the Clear Hero Series is really clear, leaving the beauty of Samsung's flagship on display.

See at Amazon

EasyAcc

EasyAcc

EasyAcc's clear case is as minimalist as we can get while still talking about a case that offers solid protection. This is the most flexible entry in our round-up, so if you like the grippy rubber feeling of TPU, then this is the one for you.

It's totally seamless and tear-resistant, so you need not worry about it being too flexible. The edges of EasyAcc's case are raised just enough, just in case you drop your phone on a flat surface.

This case is ideal if you're looking for something incredibly minimalist with great grip. Just beware of stretching, since it is so flexible and also be aware that the case may yellow over time, since TPU absorbs light very easily.

See at Amazon


LUVVITT ClearView

LUVVITT

With all the poor S7 and S7 edges that have been dropped on their corners and turned into spider webs come LUVVITT's interesting and effective answer: air.

There are small spaces for air in each corner of their ClearView case, which offer more impact support while not affecting the fit in any way. You'd think that space in a case would make it loose, but that's just not the… case (how many more can I fit into this post?).

There are raised lips on both the front and back of the case to protect your screen and the hard plastic back. The harder plastic makes for a clearer view of your S7 edge, while the rubber edging cushions impacts well.

LUVVITT offers a lifetime warranty, so if you start to notice imperfections that may compromise protection, let them know. The rubber edge is made of TPU, so keep in mind that it may yellow over time.

See at Amazon

Speck Candyshell Clear

Speck Candyshell

Speck's Candyshell is a dual-layer case that has a hard polycarbonate exterior and a soft acrylic interior so it's kind of like a bike helmet for your phone. There's less risk of these materials turning yellow, so your S7 edge will shine through for a long time to come.

Unlike most polycarbonate cases, this one has a slim build and doesn't add a ton of bulk to your phone, though it can be a tad slippery, especially if your hands are dry. It's also not as clear as other cases we've mentioned, but it still offers solid protection while showcasing your S7 edge.

The Speck logo is etched into the inside of the case, so you can kind of see it on the lighter-colored S7 edges, but on block it's not horrible visible.

See at Amazon

Supcase Unicorn Beetle Hybrid

Supcase Unicorn Beetle

If nothing else, you should probably just pick up this case for the name! The Supcase Unicorn Beetle hybrid is for those of us who want something rugged that can withstand more than a little jostle.

I should point out up front that this case isn't totally clear but more translucent. The outer edge is black as well, so if you really want to show of your S7 edge, this may not be the case for you. However, if you want rugged protection and would still like to see your phone if you can, then have at 'er.

You've got a shock-absorbent TPU bumper around the outer edges and a hard polycarbonate back panel that come in a rather slim design for a "rugged"-style case. The corners are all reinforced and there's a raised lip on the front that protects from a faceplant while still allowing for full edge functionality.

If you want to appreciate the craftsmanship of your S7 edge while truly feeling the protection, then this case is ideal for you.

See at Amazon

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge

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1 week ago

Telus may finally be updating the Galaxy S5 and Note 4 to Marshmallow

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According to a new document, it appears as though Telus may be preparing to roll out the Marshmallow update for both the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Note 4. The Marshmallow rollout has been a slow one, but we have seen lots of different phones get updated recently.

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1 week ago

Microsoft and Google hug it out, agree to withdraw regulatory complaints

44

Are Microsoft and Google entering a new era of cooperation? A new report states the two companies are going to work together to resolve any issues among themselves before bringing in outside regulators.

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1 week ago

Motorola Affinity spotted in import listing, may turn out to be the Moto E 2016

9

Indian import export website Zauba shows that Motorola has imported a phone into the country with the codename Affinity. The screen size is listed as 5 inches, and the retail value at ₹5,164 ($78) suggests this may well be the Moto E 2016.

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