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1 week ago

Xiaomi teases Mi Max phablet

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Earlier this week, we got our first look at the front panel of a phone rumored to be the Xiaomi Max, an upcoming phablet from the Chinese vendor with a screen size of 6.4 inches. Xiaomi has now started teasing the handset, which will be called the Mi Max.

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1 week ago

Mobile Nations Weekly: All the new things!

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HTC 10

New phones, updated laptops, and expanding the definition of 'mobile'

What a busy week! Let's start things off with the new releases: the HTC 10 is now available (as is our HTC 10 review). So too is are the two most exciting VR headsets: the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive — we're just now getting our heads around them (or them around our heads), so stay tuned for our thoughts!

But wait, there's more new stuff! Apple refreshed the MacBook laptop with faster prossessors and storage (and a rose gold finish), and Microsoft pushed out a massive Windows Insider Preview update with exciting new features like Windows Ink and Messaging Everywhere, as well as a revised Start menu. And following up on the cool and affordable-by-humans Model 3, Tesla refreshed the Model S with a new look and improved range.

Oh, did we not mention that we have a new site for Tesla owners and fans? We didn't? Oh, well, we do! It's called Tesla Centra and you should totally check it out!

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1 week ago

This LeEco mountain bike fuses exercise and your favorite mobile operating system

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One of the more exotic products we had chance to look over at the recent CE China show out in Shenzhen was this smart bicycle from LeEco. A company with a broad range of connected hardware, this pretty outrageous looking mountain bike isn't something we come across every day.

Oh, and it runs Android.

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1 week ago

Can I use apps on my Chromebook?

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Apps for your Chromebook are just a click away.

If the past few years have taught us anything, it's that people love to use "apps." That's in quotes for a reason — because it's not really anything new.

The word apps is a shortened term for applications, because everyone loves to shorten things. We've been using applications — aka programs — since we first started using computers. In fact, at one time Windows used to be an app that ran on top of DOS that let you do things with a mouse instead of typing a bunch of stuff into a command prompt. Even before that, people have been building apps and running them on computers since the days of punch-card programming. Days I do not miss at all.

It makes sense that people want to know if the Chromebook they're thinking of buying can run apps, and the good news is that they most certainly can — and it's pretty easy to get started.

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1 week ago

HTC 10 to reportedly hit Australian shores on May 3 with a hefty price tag

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Australian HTC fans may not have to wait long to get their hands on the company's latest, the HTC 10.

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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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