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1 week ago

How to use an Elgato to stream video from your PlayStation 4

Elgato makes streaming more versatile, no matter which service you prefer using.

Sharing your gameplay by streaming is pretty easy and baked into PlayStation 4 if you want to stream to Twitch. If your prefer a different service then you may have taken a look at using an Elgato to help facilitate your gaming. While the initial setup of using an Elgato can seem a bit daunting, it's actually pretty easy to do. Just give yourself a bit of extra time the first few streams, and you'll have the entire thing handled in no time flat.

Read more at VRHeads.com

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1 week ago

This $15 desk toy will help you regain your focus and destress

Are you a pen clicker? Desk drummer? Toe tapper?

There's limitless ways people can fidget around when they're stressed out at work. While fidgeting about at your desk or in your chair has been shown to be pretty good for your own heath, it sure can be annoying for your co-workers. So you need to find a new, discreet, and more efficient way to keep your hands busy so you can stay focused on your work or the meeting you're sitting in on.

Get your own Stress Block for only $15 Learn more

One of the latest trends out there are little stress toys, which are designed to give your brain a bunch of little buttons, dials, knobs, and wheels to spin. They're designed to look cool enough to leave on display at your desk, while remaining small enough to slip in your pocket so you can take it anywhere.

Introducing The Stress Block, a cube that's loaded with six different sides covered with little distractions for your fingers to explore and play with while the rest of your brain focuses on work. It's a wonderful way to destress in little moments throughout the day.

You can get one Stress Block for $15 or two for only $28 , which means you could keep one for yourself and gift the second to a friend, family member, or co-worker that you know would love this.

Get two Stress Blocks for only $28 Learn more

Made of plastic and available in black, each side of this cube has a theme: click, glide, flip, breathe, roll, and spin. You can rotate through all the sides or focus on the ones you love to play with the most — the choice is yours.

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1 week ago

Spotify may restrict major album releases to its paid subscribers

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No word on which record companies would be a part of the deal.

And so it begins: The Financial Times reports that Spotify is looking to restrict major album releases from some of the major record labels as an incentive to lower its royalty fees.

The ploy is apparently in response to the company's IPO ambitions—Spotify can't make money off free listeners, and it needs to be making money to legitimize its place on the stock market. Spotify currently serves 50 million paying subscribers around the world — a 40 percent increase from the year prior.

Of course, Spotify isn't the only music streaming service to offer this sort of exclusivity to its paying customers. Tidal, for instance, employs a "pay for access" business model, while Soundcloud keeps its bigger artist's music libraries exclusive to subscribers. There's no word on whether this deal has gone through yet, but when it does, there should be more information about which of our favorite artists will be affected.

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1 week ago

In 2017, what do benchmark numbers even mean??

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Numbers can mean a lot of things, but not all the things.

Recently we had a look at some benchmark numbers for the Galaxy S8. Or at least we assume they are for the Galaxy S8 since it's not really here just yet. As expected, just by existing these numbers got plenty of people talking about them.

Some conversation about benchmarks is just idle chatter. "Oh, cool! The Snapdragon calculates the "stuff" in a benchmark application about as well as the Exynos" was the majority of the conversation. People talking about them because it's something to talk about while we wait for the Galaxy S8. Tomorrow, another factoid about the Galaxy S8 will conveniently "leak" and we'll talk about the new thing instead.

But some folks get serious about benchmark numbers and consider them an important part of a buying decision. I pulled a dumbass stunt and tweeted some raw numbers for the Galaxy S8 processors compared to the A10 in an iPhone 7 Plus with zero context. I do stupid stuff like that every now and then because I forget how seriously some folks take all this stuff. As a punishment to myself, I'm going to spend a Saturday afternoon talking about benchmarks and iPhones.

Benchmarks on mobile phones aren't really benchmarking any hardware, at least not the way we think they are. They don't have access to the hardware itself because they are using the operating system's application layer. They have a laundry list of things they have the phone do through the APIs exposed by the operating system, then they calculate how well it did them. There is an intermediary layer through the "brains" behind the operating system that controls the hardware directly. So a benchmark app is benchmarking the hardware through some software. You might have heard iOS people talking about Metal or Android people talking about an NDK. This is the software used to build benchmark apps so they can best use the hardware.

If you buy a phone because you like to run benchmarks, you should probably buy an iPhone.

Apple's intermediary layer is better. Let's throw that out there right where we all can see it. Apple builds its own processor and its own software so that they work really well together. Google has to build software that can be adapted to work with anything. It's done an amazing job and the software that powers an Android phone is a beautiful thing that's incredibly complicated. Something like a benchmarking app using Apple's interface to the hardware automatically has an advantage over Android, no matter who built it, because the interface itself is more streamlined and "faster" with iOS.

You're benchmarking the phone as a whole, not just the processor. When it comes to crunching numbers on each CPU core the iPhone 7 Plus does it a lot better.

Let's look at those cores in Apple's A10 processor. That thing is undeniably the best consumer ARM chip ever designed when it comes to raw performance per core. That's because it was designed to do just that. We've talked about ARM architecture before, and the A10 is a great example of how you can scale ARM to do just about anything you want. So are the Qualcomm 835 and the Exynos 8895, they just were designed with different criteria in mind.

We compare them because they all are inside a phone, but Apple is thirsty to build one ARM processor that can power an iPhone, an iPad, and a MacBook. Qualcomm and Samsung build processors to sell to other companies for small mobile devices. They aren't spending money and time to squeeze more from a processor that no other company wants to buy for their phone because it's too expensive.

When you take a tool designed to only do certain things in a certain order and see how "fast" they can be done, the A10 will always win. It should always win, and we should want it to always win. A CPU designed for a 13-inch MacBook needs to perform single core calculations faster than an Exynos 8895. The A10 isn't that CPU, but it is a step in that direction. And Apple is a tech company that we should want to do really cool things to drive tech forward just like we want Samsung or Google or Microsoft to do.

Qualcomm or Samsung could build an ARM processor that is as powerful as the A10, but they have no reason to do it.

My little snip of a benchmark scoreboard that had no context was intended to show that these numbers have little bearing on how great something like a phone is to use. The user experience has little to do with the hardware because the hardware has been good enough for a while now. The innards of a Galaxy S5 or Nexus 7 or Note 4 are more than enough to do the things we expect a phone to do as long as the software is up to snuff. You don't have to take my word on that, just stumble over to XDA where people who don't want or can't afford to buy something newer have built custom software for each.

I'm convinced even mobile VR would be fine if companies cared enough to support Vulkan correctly on their older processors. We'll never know because the companies involved exist to make new things and sell them to us.

What we really see from these benchmarks

What we can take away from these benchmark scores is that the way a CPU core calculates things and works with GPU cores isn't broken. Numbers can be crunched a little faster with newer hardware. The way the CPU cores crunch numbers hasn't been the bottleneck for a long time, so these small differences and increases won't be noticed when you're not running a benchmark application. Newer hardware might be better than last year's, and one processor might be better than another, but not in any way that benefits you while you are using it.

The Galaxy S8 will have a new operating system that should provide a better experience than last year's Galaxy S7 did. Many of us here will consider it a better experience than Apple offers with the iPhone 7, while many will feel the opposite. None of this is because of a benchmark score.

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1 week ago

Best replacement bands for Samsung Gear S2

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Which are the best replacement bands for the Gear S2?

Update, March 2017: Added clarification for bands that are for the Gear S2 and Gear S2 Classic.

When it comes to smartwatches, the Samsung Gear S2 stands out as a fantastic device, even if it isn't Android Wear. One of it's biggest pulls is that it's a fairly small, and stylish computer for your wrist. What if you aren't a big fan of the watch bands that come with it, or if those bands break?

Thankfully, there are options if you need to replace your Gear S2's watch bands. While you could take a waltz through the internet to search them out, we've put together the best watch band replacements for your Gear S2. Just keep scrolling to check them out.

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1 week ago

Super Mario Run comes to Google Play March 23, you can pre-register now

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Get ready to run as Mario and friends come to Google Play!

Nintendo America just dropped the date of March 23 as the day Super Mario Run comes to the Google Play Store.

In January we heard that Nintendo was putting more focus on getting Super Mario Run to Android, and March was their target for release. They will come in just in time according to this evening's news.

Super Mario Run launched in December, 2016 for iOS, and while not the smash hit for Nintendo that they saw with Pokemon Go, plenty of people are playing on their iPhones.

If you want to make sure you are ready to go on March 23, you can pre-register for the game at Google Play right now so you'll be set when it launches.

Pre-register at Google Play

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1 week ago

Galaxy S8 benchmarks show Exynos 8895 outpacing the Snapdragon 835

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Samsung's Exynos version of its Galaxy S8 appears to outperform Qualcomm's in GeekBench.

Adding to the pile of Samsung Galaxy S8 rumors that are stacking up as high as the Leaning Tower of Pisa is this GeekBench discovery. Uploaded earlier this week, the GeekBench score shows Samsung taking the cake. It has the top two spots on the chart, with its Exynos 8895 processor leading the pack, and the Galaxy S8+ with the Snapdragon 835 ranking in at a close second.

The Exynos 8895 is the successor to the Exynos 8890, which was featured on the international variant of the Galaxy S7 Edge. Like its predecessor, the Exynos 8895 will be exclusive to the Galaxy S8 sold in international markets. The U.S. will get the Snapdragon 835 version, which is what's sitting pretty in second place.

But all in all, benchmarks are still just numbers, and just because they exist within certain benchmarking suites, those numbers aren't the final say on whether one processor is best for a mobile device over another.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

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1 week ago

Eight Galaxys, six Gs and three weeks [#acpodcast]

10

Audio-only stream below

The wait won't be too long between the LG G6 and Galaxy S8, but three weeks is an eternity in phone years.

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1 week ago

Pre-order a Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 and get some great free stuff

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A great way to soften the blow to your wallet.

What's better than a brand new Galaxy Tab S3 and its gorgeous screen? A brand new Galaxy Tab S3 with a free keyboard cover or 64GB SD card!

Folks in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland who pre-order a Galaxy Tab S3 through Samsung eShop before March 31 will be gifted a fancy keyboard book cover. These keyboard covers are priced at £119, so this is a really great deal and softens the blow that the £600 tablet gives to your wallet.

A good keyboard changes the way you can use a tablet and what used to be just something to consume your media or play a game or two is now a more productive part of your life. When you have to edit a document or work on a spreadsheet while you're on the go, a good tablet with a good keyboard is the only way to do it.

The Tab S3 keyboard attaches with magnets and while putting things together can be a bit fiddly, once in place, it really becomes a part of the hardware and everything looks — and works — great.

If you're stateside, the Tab S3 pre-orders start March 17 and it checks in at $599. You'll also be able to see it in your local Best Buy starting March 24 if you need to hold it and see that screen before you dole out some cash.

When you pre-order, Best Buy has a care package for you that includes a six-month subscription to Webroot software and a 64GB Samsung microSDHC Class 10 UHS-1 Memory Card. That gives you room to store all your photos or a handful of full-length movies or about a gazillion songs. And it's free, so everything will look or sound a tiny bit better when you remember you didn't have to buy the SD card.

See at Best Buy

You can see everything you need to know about the Tab S3 in our hands-on preview. Peep the video below!

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1 week ago

The Android O rumor game has officially started, and here's what we think

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All the things that nobody knows but are fun to guess about. It's that time!

Everyone has a list of things they hope to see in Android O. Some make a lot of sense and there's a good chance we'll see them, others are just pipe dreams. But now that the time for a new version of Android to be announced is getting closer, the guessing games can begin!

9to5 Google has a list of features they say might show up in Android O. They tell us we'll see a new notification system, badges for application icons, picture-in-picture mode for multi-window, better text selection, and an assortment of other things that sources say are coming. You should go give it a read.

The people who have the answers are the people keeping quiet.

Some of what they are saying matches what we've heard, some is close and gives more insight to our rumors, and some of the supposed features are dead wrong according to what we've heard. That's how the rumor game is played — you get a little bit of good info and a little bit of bad info and mix it up with a whole lot of vague info.

For what it's worth, our sources tell us that Android O will be about putting Google Assistant to work. Assistant will live as a system aware entity, much like Google Now did in previous builds, and be there to integrate with the things you're doing and with ways to integrate into other applications that aren't Google Allo. There may be app badges in a new launcher or even smart text selection and gesturing. But let's be clear: the only people who actually know anything aren't talking.

It's fun to guess and play the game anyway, so we all will play it. Let's hope that Google tells us what we want to hear at Google I/O 2017 in May. For now, let's play — what do you think will be in Android O? Your guess is as good as anyone else's!

Chat all things Android O in the AC forums

Guess the Android O name in our official guessing forum post!

Android Nougat

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1 week ago

Best Accessories For Galaxy S7 And Galaxy S7 edge

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Best accessories for your Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 edge

There's a ridiculous amount of choice out there when it comes to Galaxy S7 and S7 edge accessories — let us offer a few top picks.

Samsung's best-selling phones of the year, the Galaxy S line, always command attention from accessory makers. Samsung itself has stepped up its game in first-party accessories as well, with lots of great Galaxy S7 and S7 edge options. From batteries to cases to car mounts, we have narrowed things down to a solid handful of accessories that you should consider for your phone.

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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

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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.

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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?

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