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3 months ago

How to configure the hardware shortcut buttons on Android Wear 2.0

2
LG Watch Sport

Watches are all about personalization — yes, even the hardware buttons.

Android Wear 2.0 opens up new hardware possibilities for wearable makers, including the inclusion of extra hardware shortcut buttons on the case. These buttons typically land above and below the power button on the side of the watch, and can be customized to launch any app that you have installed.

So if you have a watch with extra buttons running Android Wear 2.0 — like the LG Watch Sport — know that you don't have to stick with their default configuration. Here's how you can customize those hardware shortcut buttons.

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3 months ago

Top 5 ways to manage messy charging and power cables

15

Drowning in cords, cables, and wires? We're here to help!

Getting a new desk, computer monitor, TV, or other device is exciting, but dealing with the power cords, charging cables, and all the other wires that come with those devices is a different story.

While it's impossible to do away with every cable or cord needed to run all your tech, there are a lot of ways to manage your cables more efficiently, which can help you eliminate the stress of a disorganized space.

1. Move closer to outlets

I live in an old house, and I know power outlets can sometimes be in some inconvenient spots, but if you can, moving closer to wall outlets will prevent power cables from needing to stretch across the room. This small change can help minimize the look of clutter, and prevent tripping over cables.

2. Go wireless where you can

Almost anytime you can go wireless; you will feel a bit of relief from your cable madness,

Wireless Bluetooth headphones and speakers are prime examples of gadgets that can reduce cable fatigue. Yes, I know, they both have charging cables, and I'll get to that in a second, but the freedom and mobility devices such as these offer is outstanding and truly make spaces cleaner.

While those are common examples of going wireless, less common but super helpful is using wireless HDMI.

It's not the cheapest solution or even the most practical for everybody, but if you have multiple TVs and dislike having to get an HDMI cord (or several) for each TV, you can always pick up a product like the IOGear Wireless HD Digital Kit.

Rated as The Wirecutter's best wireless HDMI transmitter, it's easy to see how this just how useful the IOGear can be.

"The IOGear transmitter base unit has two HDMI inputs and an HDMI output. This means you can have a TV, transmitter, and sources (Blu-ray, cable/satellite box, etc.) wired up in one room while wirelessly sending the same signal to another TV elsewhere in the house."

See at Amazon

3.Store small cables and adapters

Charging cables, dongles, and small power adapters add up over time, and I often find they are about 90% of my clutter — especially at my desk. It's good to having a place to store said small items is crucial to getting your cable chaos under control; invest in a cable organizer.

The BAGSMART travel organizer is the perfect way to store cables and adapter you're not using. I know, it's meant for travel, but there is no reason you could store this in a drawer or on a shelf by your desk.

With one zipper pouch — big enough to hold a large mobile phone — BAGSMART also includes some stretchy straps, which are ideal for keeping in oddly shaped or bulkier items.

Plus, if you ever do want to travel with it, the outside of the case is padded and has a slight rigidness to prevent your items on the inside from being damaged by scrapes and minor falls.

See at Amazon

4. Keep essential cords neatly arranged

You probably charge items like your phone and your tablet every day, which means you're going to want access to those cords often and with ease.

An item like the YOCOU 5-Channel Cable Management System can tidy up your workspace and keep your most important cables readily available.

The small grooves will hold in pace almost any wire or cord that's ¼-inch or less in diameter, and It has an adhesive back that sticks to any flat surface so you can mount it wherever works best for you.

See at Amazon

5. Tie together excess cords

Some cords and cables are comically long, leaving you to deal with several feet of cord that inevitably ends up in a tangled mess behind your TV, computer, desk, etc. If you're going to have an excess amount of cord hanging around, why not make it look neat?

Wrapping your excess cord together with a velcro strap is an excellent way to eliminate some clutter. It's especially useful for cords and cables that you don't need to move often.

For example, The HDMI cable from your gaming console to your TV or the power cord for your computer speakers. If you don't regularly need to move the position of the item you're plugging in, strap that sucker down!

How to you keep your cables organized?

Have any other tips for keeping your cords and cable tidy? Share them in the comments below.

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3 months ago

Where to buy the Samsung Chromebook Plus and Chromebook Pro

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Samsung Chromebook Pro

Samsung's latest Chromebooks are here, and you have plenty of places to buy them.

With the two new laptops, Samsung has tossed its hat into the ring to be considered for the best mid-range Chromebooks available today. With a thin-and-light metal frame, brilliant QHD display and a stylus, it's worth taking a look at these machines. Your only decision is whether to buy the $550 "Pro" model with an Intel Core m3 processor, or the $450 "Plus" version with a lower-powered ARM processor.

The more mainstream Chromebook Plus is hitting stores first, with the Chromebook Pro to follow at the end of April. This is everywhere you can pick up the latest Chromebooks from Samsung.

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3 months ago

How to add complications to your watch face on Android Wear 2.0

8
Android Wear 2.0

Watch faces aren't just for looks anymore — now they can give you tons of useful information.

Android Wear 2.0 brings a ton of new features to your smartwatch, but one of the more noticeable is the addition of customizable "complications" on your watch faces. Complications are a two part system — watch face developers can design their faces to have open slots of the complications, and app developers can surface parts of their apps to integrate as complications.

As the Google Play Store on your Android Wear 2.0 watch starts to fill with freshly updated watch faces and apps that include complications, you'll want to spend a little time customizing things to make the most of the new capabilities. Here's how you can get it done.

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3 months ago

How to stay connected in a storm: a MrMobile guide

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APOCALYPSE! Well, maybe it's not that dramatic, but when your power goes out it can feel like one, especially in our connected world. If you haven't prepared, you might not be able to check your Twitter for HOURS. That's too much for some to bear.

I'm Michael Fisher, alias MrMobile, and I spent yesterday in one of New England's dreaded Nor'easters, preparing for the worst (which, in this case, was a cup of hot chocolate and uninterrupted electricity). But if you find yourself in the path of a storm, this video guide will help you get set up for whatever's incoming!

Featured Products

Stay social, my friends

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3 months ago

Where to buy the LG Watch Sport

41

At launch you have three places to buy the latest LTE-connected Android Wear watch.

The new LG Watch Sport is here, and Google is giving you three different places to buy it at launch: its own Google Store, as well as AT&T and Verizon, its U.S. carrier partners.

To simplify things, every LG Watch Sport includes an LTE radio is sold unlocked — meaning you don't have to make up your mind about a carrier decision at the time of buying. That means you can find the retailer that makes the most sense for you, knowing that it won't come back to bite you later.

The LG Watch Sport is now available for purchase! Here's all of the information you need.

More: LG Watch Sport review

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3 months ago

Where to buy the LG Watch Style

4

The sleek and beautiful LG Watch Style is available for an affordable price.

At just $249 and with a size that appeals to a wide range of buyers, the LG Watch Style has the features for success. The final part of the equation is where to buy it — and thankfully, Google has a big partner on board in Best Buy to supplement availability online from the Google Store.

The LG Watch Style is now available from Best Buy and the Google Store. Here's what you need to know.

More: LG Watch Style review

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3 months ago

How to install LibreElec [OS for Kodi] on Chromebox

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Get Kodi on your Chromebox in a flash using LibreElec!

A Chromebox is a pretty cool and inexpensive way to get yourself (or your kids!) online with Chrome OS. They're easy to use and keep you safer than most computers while you work or play around. But they're also just a regular compact-form PC when it comes to the hardware.

That means it's easy to slap another operating system on one if you take a little time to find the right directions. That's what we're going to talk about right here and get you started with installing LibreElec on your Chromebox.

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3 months ago

What color LG Watch Sport should I buy?

11

What LG Watch Sport Model should you buy? That depends...

The LG Watch Sport is a big watch for thick wrists, or at least people who are willing to carry 89.4 grams and 14mm of stainless steel goodness.

And while the rounded aesthetic may be the most universally appealing shape for watches these days — practically every Android Wear watch released in the past 18 months has been round — color also matters, and that's where things can get a bit tricky.

Unlike the LG Watch Style, which is, well, stylish in three colors, including rose gold, the Watch Sport is a bit more sedate in its palette options, offering just two: Titanium (black) and Dark Blue. In reality, as different as those depictions sound, the two colors are very similar — almost to a fault. Let's explore them, and which one you may want to buy.

Note: The Dark Blue version is currently a Google Play exclusive in the U.S., and like the lighter blue Pixel at its launch, it may be a little hard to come by for a while.

Titanium (black)

This is the standard model, the one that you will likely see sold in stores and on wrists, and the one that Google, LG and its carrier partners will push — hard. That's OK, because it's extremely attractive, with a lovely brushed stainless steel chassis and dark grey band to match. The dual tone is lovely, complementing one another, and that's a great thing, because the bands are not user-replaceable.

Dark Blue

As noted above, this is currently a Google Store exclusive in the U.S. so it may be hard to come by for a while — and it may never come to other regions. That's OK, too, because it looks very similar to the Titanium model, and may even be confused for the more ubiquitous version in some lighting conditions. The brushed stainless steel has a blue tinge, and the rubberized band is slightly darker than its Titanium counterpart, but otherwise the two models have considerable similarities.

Which should you get?

The quick answer is that you should probably get the Titanium model. It's going to be much easier to find, and combines the simple elegance of a dark silver bezel with a dark grey watch band, making it appropriate for almost any situation.

If you're more adventurous, or covet the things that few people are allowed to have, the Dark Blue model is going to be up your alley. The way its subtle cobalt hue glimmers in the right light helps it stand out from its more familiar counterpart, but at the end of the day there is very little between it and the Titanium Watch Sport.

Where to buy the LG Watch Sport

Android Wear

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3 months ago

LG Watch Sport vs. LG Watch Style: What's the difference?

13

There will be plenty of Android Wear watches in 2017, but LG has the latest crop to look at.

Lots of people are getting excited about Android Wear 2.0, and that means answering the next inevitable question: do I want the LG Watch Sport, or the LG Watch Style? Though both watches run the new software and launched at the same time, they are on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of size, hardware and capabilities.

For those who are trying to get acquainted with the two new watches from LG, and perhaps make a decision between the two, we have all of the information you need.

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3 months ago

How to update Kodi on your Amazon Fire TV Stick

13

Now that Kodi 17 is out for Android, that means you can update on your Fire TV Stick. Here's how.

Because Kodi isn't available to download through the Amazon Appstore, getting the latest version requires a little more effort on your part than it would on anything with access to the Google Play Store. Fortunately, if you've installed it once, you're probably familiar enough to update it.

Whether on a Fire TV Stick or the larger Fire TV, this guide applies to both.

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3 months ago

Best ways to use your Android phone with your PC

28
Best ways to use your Android phone with your PC

Make your Android phone interoperable with your PC.

Getting your Android phone to seamlessly connect to your PC isn't as daunting as it used to be. There are several services that let you mirror notifications, reply to messages, and sync data between your phone and PC. Here are some of the best options currently available on both platforms.

Pushbullet

Pushbullet

Pushbullet is the easiest way to send files between your Android phone to your PC. The app started out as a way to "push" links, files, and documents between devices, but has since evolved into a robust messaging platform. Along with the ability to mirror notifications from your phone onto your PC, Pushbullet lets you view and send text messages from your computer.

Pushbullet also lets you send files and links to your friends. All you need to do is add the email ID your friend used to register for the service, and you'll be able to share messages, links, and files with ease. Then there's the Channels feature, which offers notification feeds across categories, including news, sports, gaming, entertainment, and tech.

Pushbullet is available as an extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera, and you can download the Android app from the Play Store. The browser extensions let you access most of the functionality that Pushbullet has to offer, but if you want to access files on your computer remotely via your phone, then you need to install the Windows client.

Pushbullet is still the service to beat for notification mirroring and seamless transfer of files.

Using the native Windows client lets you remotely access files on your computer through your phone, and vice versa. Setting it up is easy: all you need to do is enable Remote Files access on both the Windows client and Android app, and you'll be able to access files on your computer through your phone.

The service is now offered in two tiers — a free option that has most of the features you're likely to use, and a pro version that costs $4.99 a month or $39.99 yearly that comes with universal copy and paste across all your devices, actionable notifications, and increased storage and file transfer limits. The free tier lets you send files up to 25MB in size and has a storage limit of 2GB, while the paid service lets you transfer files up to 1GB and offers 100GB of storage. You'll also be able to send unlimited SMS messages on the paid plan, whereas in the free tier you're limited to 100 per month.

Of all the pro features, the one that stands out is actionable notifications, which lets you reply to WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or Allo messages directly from your computer. Regardless of the tier, Pushbullet offers end-to-end encryption using AES-256 for notification mirroring, SMSes, and universal copy and paste.

Pushbullet offers tremendous value, and while its pricing leaves a lot to be desired, the free tier should be adequate for a majority of users interested in transferring files and syncing notifications between devices.

Download Pushbullet (free/$4.99 monthly)

Join

Join

Join is very similar in functionality to Pushbullet, with the service also offering notification mirroring, the ability to reply to notifications from your computer, send and receive texts, share links, files and documents, as well as a universal clipboard. Tasker and Google Assistant integration is baked in as well, letting you extend the functionality of the service.

Join also offers end-to-end encryption, and you can locate your device remotely by making it ring. Join is available as a Chrome extension, a Windows 10 native client, and an Android app.

The main difference is that unlike Pushbullet's yearly or monthly subscription plans, Join requires a one-time fee of $4.99 to unlock all the features. If you'd like to take a look, Join offers a 30-day trial with all the features enabled.

Download Join (free for 30 days)

Syncthing

Syncthing is similar to Lenovo's ShareIt in that both services let you transfer files across devices. That's where the similarities come to an end. Syncthing is a decentralized file sharing service that relies on an open source framework and encryption to secure your data.

With Syncthing, you essentially set up a server, and use it to connect to other devices. For instance, you can run a server on your phone, and connect to the server from your desktop computer to sync files between the two devices. Best of all, Syncthing is a free service, and its interface isn't riddled with ads. You don't even have to create a user account with the service, as it relies on unique identifiers for each device. Just enter the ID of the device you want to connect to, and you'll be able to transfer files between the two with ease.

Download Syncthing (free)

Cloud storage services

Drive

Cloud storage services are different from utilities like Syncthing in that they act as centralized repositories of data. You can pick from a multitude of services based on your needs, including the likes of Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, OneDrive, and so on. Each service has a free tier that gives you a certain amount of storage, and you can upgrade your storage quota by paying a monthly or annual fee.

A free Dropbox account comes with 2GB of storage, and Dropbox Pro offers 1TB of storage for $9.99 a month or $99.99 yearly. You get 15GB of free cloud storage with Google Drive, and you can increase your quota to 100GB for $1.99 a month or $19.99 yearly. If you have more storage requirements, you can get 1TB of storage for $9.99 a month or $99.99 yearly.

All services mentioned above have robust native clients for Windows, as well as feature-rich Android versions. If you're looking for a hassle-free way to sync files across several devices, a public cloud storage service is a good place to start.

Your turn

What service do you rely on to transfer data from your Android device to your computer? Let us know in the comments.

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3 months ago

How to update to Kodi 17 on your OSMC-powered Raspberry Pi

3
Raspberry Pi

Kodi 17 has been released now to OSMC, our favorite build for Raspberry Pi. Here's how to update.

If you followed our guide on getting Kodi on the Raspberry Pi, then there's a good chance you're also using OSMC. It's definitely one of the more attractive Kodi builds out there and it has now been updated underneath, and out front, with Kodi 17 Krypton.

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3 months ago

How to set up and use Kodi on your Android device

28

Getting Kodi set up on Android might take some time initially, but it's worth it in the long run.

Kodi is a powerful open source media center, which is available across a multitude of operating systems, but its rise to prominence is mostly thanks to its Android version. This is due to the rise in popularity of Kodi boxes — essentially cheap Android TV boxes sold with the Kodi app pre-installed. This has garnered Kodi a lot of press and attention lately, because its open source add-on feature can be used for media piracy purposes.

But it's an unfair situation because the piracy add-ons are unofficial, unsupported, and the Kodi box industry is unwelcome, according to the Kodi developers. The base app is perfectly legal, and what you do get is one of the best experiences for organizing and streaming media onto any device — even your phone. Bring your own content like you would with Plex — or even link to your Plex server within Kodi if you've already got one set up.

It's entirely customizable, so let's walk you through the basic setup.

Kodi is optimized for Android

Previously, when you downloaded Kodi on your Android device, you would be required to go into the Appearance setting and swap over to a more touchscreen-friendly skin. With the latest update for Android, the developers have swapped over to a much more user-friendly skin by default, so you'll be able to just load it up and go.

Download Kodi from the Google Play Store

Once you've loaded Kodi up, you'll find the navigation menu on the lefthand side with categories for Movies, TV Shows, Music, Pictures, Add-ons, and more.

Importing your media files

With Kodi, you can keep all your media organized and accessible in one place — from pictures and music to videos, sorted by movies and TV shows. It's quick and easy to import your media into Kodi and simply a matter of setting a source for the media from your phone's internal storage or a microSD card if your phone supports expandable storage.

  1. Tap the type of media you wish to add. We'll use Pictures for this example.
  2. Tap Add pictures….

  3. Tap Browse.
  4. Find the folder containing the media you wish to add then tap OK.

Now when you tap the category from the main screen, you'll find your source available with all your photos, music, or videos organized. If you've ripped your favorite TV box sets onto your computer and transferred them to a microSD card, they will be organized by season within Kodi.

Diving into Add-ons

Beyond your own media, you can also install a variety of handy add-ons from the built-in add-on browser or by adding them from remote add-on repositories. For now, we'll look at what's available from right within Kodi.

When you tap the Add-ons menu from the main menu of Kodi, you may find that all your Android apps have been automatically linked and displayed within Kodi. While it's somewhat convenient to be able to jump right into another app from within Kodi, I've found it to be somewhat buggy and it's caused Kodi to crash on more than one occasion.

You want to get to the add-on menu with all the different add-on types listed along the left side of the screen. There you'll be able to tap the button to browse through the available add-ons.

You can find video add-ons for over 100 different TV channels' online streaming catalogues and media sharing websites such as YouTube and Reddit, along with many international options. To install an add-on and see what it has to offer, simply select it and tap Install.

Along with the add-ons found within the included Add-ons browser, you can go into the add-on settings and install from an online repository. Since those are often hosting add-ons that promote piracy, you're on your own if you choose to go that route.

The Chromecast workaround

Watching Kodi on a tablet or phone when you're on the go is alright, but the best part is the way you can switch over to your Chromecast-enabled TV when you get home. Kodi doesn't support Chromecast directly, but you can cast your phone's screen to the TV.

It's a pretty good workaround if you've got an older Android phone or tablet sitting around collecting dust. If it also happens to feature a microSD slot, it'll be that much easier to load it full of your favorite media. I used a secondary phone for my bedroom TV, which allowed me to cast my favorite shows to the Chromecast while keeping the full touch controls over everything right on hand.

It did take some tweaking, including going into the audio settings and adjusting the volume and audio offset, but once it was set up, it was pretty great. The updated layout that's been optimized for touchscreen controls only makes things easier to navigate

Of course, there's nothing stopping you from [adding Kodi to an NVIDIA Shield] or downloading Kodi for your PC or Mac and streaming your content that way from home. Simply put, Kodi gives you all the customization tools for Android to make it fit into TV setups around your home.

Questions?

Let me know in the comments below!

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3 months ago

How to deal with blurry images in PlayStation VR

Seeing clearly in VR is a priority that you shouldn't overlook.

You're ready to spend some time in VR. The play area is clean, your accessories are charged, and you put on your PlayStation VR headset. Instead of seeing a crisp, clean image displayed around you, everything looks blurry and ill-defined. This issue can cause nausea, along with being a less than amazing experience. Thankfully, it's pretty easy to deal with this problem.

Read more at VR Heads!

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