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2 weeks ago

LG is offering a free Google Home with the purchase of its new flagship

31

Already considering an LG G6? Then you might as well consider adding on a Google Home for free.

The LG G6 isn't out yet, but if you're considering one, you'll probably want to take advantage of this deal. LG is offering a Google Home in tow with the pre-order of its new flagship. All you have to do is buy yours before April 30.

For the full price of the smartphone — which has yet to be announced — LG will sell you the G6 flagship along with a $129 device that is really quite something. I certainly don't regret the purchase of my personal Google Home. And if you're interested in the G6 because of its native integration with Google Assistant, then you might as well pair it with a helpful home accessory that also doubles as a speaker in a pinch.

The G6 is scheduled to launch April 7 in the U.S. and Canada. If you're interested, you can get more details by signing up here.

LG G6

Verizon Sprint T-Mobile AT&T B&H

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2 weeks ago

How to make sure your phone works on a prepaid alternative carrier

11

Here's how to make sure your unlocked or pre-owned phone will work with an alternative carrier.

There are a number of things to consider before moving to an alternative carrier. How much data do I really need? Am I looking for better service, or just cheaper service? And if I already have a phone, will it work on the carrier that I choose?

We're going to delve into this topic, but there are a couple of things we should get out of the way beforehand.

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An introduction

Before we talk about whether your phone will work on a particular alternative carrier, we should direct you to a few introductory posts about what exactly these companies offer, and why you should think about switching over.

Once you've read through those, there are a few more things you need to know. In the U.S., there are four major carriers with nationwide networks — AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon. All four of them use generally the same technology, but there are some major differences worth noting.

  • Sprint and Verizon have 3G networks that use aging (and disappearing) CDMA technology. All phones that run on their networks must have special radios that support CDMA. Thankfully, most phones these days have some sort of CDMA support.
  • T-Mobile and AT&T use a more common HSPA+ technology for 3G service. Practically every phone you can buy today — even those designed for Verizon and Sprint — will likely work on AT&T and T-Mobile, as long as the SIM card is unlocked.

Thankfully, the days of poor interoperability between carriers are behind us, but there are some lingering issues. Even though all the major U.S. carriers have adopted what amounts to the same LTE standard as their high-speed mobile internet offering, they all use different wireless spectrum — also known as wireless bands, or frequencies — to deliver calls, text and, most importantly, data, over the air.

Unlocking the phone

Even if your phone is technically compatible with a particular network, the SIM slot still needs to be unlocked to be able to work on carriers both in the U.S. and abroad.

In the U.S., unlocking services are free as long as your account is in good standing and your phone hasn't been reported lost, stolen or involved in illegal activity. All the Big Four carriers are obligated to unlock your phone, though the process differs between them. All recent Verizon phones are unlocked out of the box.

The carriers

Let's discuss the individual carriers themselves, and why your phone — perhaps one you bought through your old carrier, or purchased unlocked from, say, Amazon — may or may not work on the network.

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Alternative carriers powered by Verizon

There aren't that many Verizon-powered alternative carriers, or MVNOs, in the U.S., so we'll start with the easy one. Companies like Total Wireless or Straight Talk, which are powered by Verizon's network, make it pretty easy to bring your own phone. They ask that you make sure your phone supports CDMA service, and offer network checkers to help you verify that your phone will indeed work on their network.

Quick trick: Open your phone's dialler and type *#06# to get its MEID number.

As we said above to work on a Verizon-based alternative carrier, your phone needs to support the following frequencies:

  • 3G: 800Mhz (BC0), 1900Mhz (BC1) 1
  • LTE: 700Mhz (Band 13), 1700/2100Mhz (Band 4), 1900Mhz (Band 2)

1 Phone must support bands on CDMA.

Many popular phones today, from the Samsung Galaxy S7 to the Google Pixel to cheaper devices like the OnePlus 3T and Moto G5 Plus, support Verizon's 3G and LTE networks. As long as you do your homework beforehand, you should be able to bring your phone over to any alternative carrier that runs on Verizon's network.

Here are the most popular alternative carriers that run on the Verizon network:

Alternative carriers powered by Sprint

Sprint is, like Verizon, a combination of CDMA-based 3G and modern LTE — though it uses different wireless frequencies. The upside is the same, though: your phone will need to support CDMA service on 3G in order to make calls and texts, and likely to register on the network entirely. Even if your phone supports Sprint's LTE bands, it won't be able to connect to Sprint's core network.

There are many alternative or prepaid carriers in the U.S. that rely on Sprint's network, including Ting, Straight Talk, and Boost Mobile. Most of these alternative carriers have online services to allow you to check whether your unlocked phone is compatible with its host network, though some — like Sprint-owned Boost Mobile — have explicit restrictions. For example, Boost Mobile customers cannot bring a Sprint-branded or Virgin-branded phone over to its network.

To use a phone on an alternative carrier that connects to the Sprint network, your phone needs to support the following frequencies:

  • 3G: 800Mhz (BC10), 1900Mhz (BC1) 1
  • LTE: 850Mhz (Band 26), 1900Mhz (Band 25), 2500Mhz (Band 41)

1 Phone must support bands on CDMA.

These are the most popular alternative carriers that run on the Sprint network:

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Alternative carriers powered by T-Mobile

Like Sprint, there are many prepaid and alternative carriers that rely on T-Mobile's network, including Mint SIM, MetroPCS and others.

The good news for those bringing their own phones to one of these networks is that there's a good chance, if it was bought in the past couple of years, that it will just work. All that you need is a SIM card and service from the new provider and you should be good to go.

That's because T-Mobile uses a combination of 3G and 4G LTE technologies that have been widely adopted throughout the world, and most phones today, from the Google Pixel to the Galaxy S7, OnePlus 3T and many others, will just work on an MVNO that runs on the T-Mobile network.

To make sure it will work, though, you have to verify your phone supports the following bands:

  • 3G: 1700/2100Mhz (Band 4), 1900Mhz (Band 2)
  • LTE: 700Mhz (Band 12), 1700/2100Mhz (Band 66), 1900Mhz (Band 2)

These are the most popular alternative carriers that run on the T-Mobile network:

Alternative carriers powered by AT&T

Like Verizon, AT&T doesn't power many smaller prepaid or alternative carriers, but it does own one: Cricket Wireless. And like T-Mobile, bringing a phone to an AT&T-powered MVNO is usually no big deal: most phones sold in the past couple of years work with AT&T. Indeed, AT&T's adoption of the worldwide HSPA+ standard for 3G, plus its standard LTE capabilities, means that even phones purchased overseas should work with Ma Bell.

After you've verified that a phone is SIM unlocked, you need to make sure that your phone has the following bands to work with an AT&T-powered alternative carrier:

  • 3G: 850Mhz (Band 5), 1900Mhz (Band 2)
  • LTE: 700Mhz (Band 12), 1700/2100Mhz (Band 4), 1900Mhz (Band 2)

These are the most popular alternative carriers that run on the AT&T network:

Alternative carriers with multiple networks

The final piece of the puzzle is a bit complicated, but let's talk it out. Some of the above providers, like Project Fi, rely on more than one host network to function properly. Others, like Consumer Cellular, connect to either AT&T or T-Mobile. This usually means that the SIM card inside your phone will choose between T-Mobile and Sprint depending on your location and signal strength. You as a user don't have to make any decisions, but your choice of phone could impact the quality of service.

As long as everything is working properly — your phone supports both networks, and you are in an area that has good coverage on at least one of them — then you don't need to think about it at all. But it's a good thing to know, since these kinds of carriers can be to your advantage if you happen to be in an area where both the host networks are strong.

Questions?

Some of this stuff is stupidly complicated, and we'd love to help. If you're having issues figuring out whether your phone will work on a particular prepaid or alternative carrier, let us know in the comments below!

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2 weeks ago

HTC is teasing a March 20 announcement, but don't get your hopes up

35

This is almost certainly not the HTC 11 you're looking for.

HTC is teasing an announcement on its Taiwanese Facebook page for a March 20 announcement, coinciding with the spring equinox.

2017.03.20

HTC will give you an unexpected surprise

While it's possible that the announcement will be a phone, there's almost no chance that it will be a worldwide release, and it's definitely not the rumored HTC 10 successor that is expected to be announced and released sometime in the second quarter.

What's more likely is that it is the successor to the HTC One X9, rumored to be called the One X10. We've already seen leaked photos of the Europe and Asia-only device, and its announcement is already overdue: it was expected in January or February.

The phone will sport a modest spec sheet, including a 5.5-inch 1080p display, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage and a MediaTek P10 processor.

In the meantime, HTC's follow-up to the HTC 10 is expected to rock this year's latest spec sheet, including a Snapdragon 835, which may end up delaying its announcement and release until sometime in May or June.

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2 weeks ago

Best Android Tablet of 2017

Update, March 2017: The Pixel C is still the best Android tablet you can buy right now, but the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 may change that very soon.

Best overall

Pixel C

See at Google

We liked the Pixel C when it first arrived at the end of 2015. We thought the aluminum design was striking, even at a time where we saw aluminum and other metal devices from all the people making phones and tablets and decided the added weight (a 10.2-inch aluminum tablet can be hefty) was a fair trade for the excellent way it was designed and built. The NVIDIA Tegra X1 processor handled everything well and the 1:√2 aspect ratio was easier to get used to than anyone had guessed. We really loved the display. The 2560x1800 display was bright and crisp and represented the Pixel brand very well. But we couldn't help but feel the tablet hadn't reached its full potential.

Android 7.0 and the native multi-window display feature changed that. With either of the keyboard folio covers, multi-window turned the Pixel C from yet another Android tablet with a keyboard case into something you really could use for light work or school. We're not trying to validate any company's claim that a tablet can replace a laptop when it comes to productivity, but when you need to do it, The Pixel C is the best way to do it.

Bottom line: No tablet is perfect. Neither is Android. But when you want to combine the two, the Pixel C is the best way you can spend your money until someone else can build something better.

One more thing: Because this is a Google hardware product, the Pixel C will be among the first Android tablets to be updated with new features.

Why the Pixel C is the best

A tablet that covers every need.

The Pixel C does everything you would want a tablet to do. YouTube or anything else on the web is great on the gorgeous screen, all the apps you love work well. The NVIDIA Tegra X1 processor is a screamer when it comes to gaming. This can be said about many Android tablets. The difference really did come with the Android 7.0 update.

Working, whether it's on a presentation for your boss or a paper for your professor, is very different on a tablet than it is on a more conventional computer. Apps are designed to be more simple and easy to use with a touch screen while omitting many of the battery-hungry features you would find in their desktop counterparts. The biggest hurdle has always been finding a way to organize the things you're doing on your screen while you're doing them. Samsung has had this figured out for a while, and even those of us who don't appreciate a split-window view on a phone will see the value on a 10.2-inch screen. The Pixel C now offers a native Android solution, with arguable better hardware (and a better keyboard) and current software.

The software has finally caught up with the excellent design and build and we put the Pixel C at the top of the Android tablet hill.

Budget power

NVIDIA Shield Tablet K1

See at Amazon

The Shield Tablet is a gaming powerhouse featuring NVIDIA's cutting-edge 2.2 GHz Tegra K1 processor. Forward-facing stereo speakers offer quality sound, and the now optional stylus opens up helpful functionality for day-to-day usage. But the Shield Tablet's software is what really sets it apart. Built right into the notification tray, for example, is the ability to stream what's on your screen to Twitch. Remote access software combined with the optional hardware gamepad allow you to play games that are running on your PC.

Alternatively, the GeForce Now cloud gaming service lets you do the same with games and computers hosted by NVIDIA. The Shield Tablet K1 recently received a mild refresh over the original, changing the exterior styling a little but more importantly reducing the price by $100. You no longer get a charger or the stylus included in the box, but the savings do give you enough extra cash to pick up the cover and controller. Which you really want if you're going to use the Shield to its fullest.

Bottom line: Even for those that aren't hardcore gamers, the NVIDIA Shield Tablet is a powerful tablet and offers excellent value for the price.

One more thing: The Shield Tablet has also been updated to Android 7.0 so you'll have some of the same software benefits as our top pick!

Slim and sleek

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

See at Amazon

Update: The Galaxy Tab S3 is coming very, very soon, so we'd hold off buying a Tab S2 unless you absolutely need one right now. Not only will the Tab S3 have much better specs and updated software, but it comes with an S Pen.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 brings together some of the best components available. As usual, Samsung delivers a high-quality display and manages to do it in a particularly slim package. To top it all off, it's got the processing power to handle just about anything you could throw at it.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 is available in two sizes, 8 inches and 9.7 inches, each only 5.6 mm thin. The display resolution comes in at 2048x1536 pixels, which is more than enough for enjoying HD movies or 3D games. Inside you'll find a 1.9 GHz processor and 3GB of RAM. An 8-megapixel camera sits on the back, and the home button doubles as a fingerprint sensor. The Galaxy Tab S2 ticks all of the boxes on hardware and while Samsung's software still divides opinion, it's packed with useful features.

Bottom line: While a bit pricier than other Android tablets, the slim design and beautiful screen are things you won't find in any other tablet.

One more thing: The Galaxy Tab S2 also has a great fingerprint sensor built into the home button.

For the enthusiast

Nexus 9

See at Amazon

Google partnered with HTC to deliver the Nexus 9 tablet as a spearhead for the Android Lollipop release. As it stands, the Nexus 9's blazing fast 64-bit 2.3 GHz processor and direct affiliation with Google provide it with a healthy degree of support, despite the fact it's over a year old. The Nexus 9 shuns the 16:9 form factor favored by so many Android tablets and instead goes for a more portrait friendly 4:3 with a 2048x1536 resolution display. So it's much nicer to hold in either orientation.

The back of the Nexus 9 has a soft touch coating available in a few different colors, but what's great about it right now is that you can find it for some bargain prices. Deals are frequent and since it's a Nexus you're getting the latest software, usually before everyone else. If you want to get some work done with the Nexus 9, there's an optional keyboard cover for it, too.

For the nerds out there who like to be on the bleeding edge (or more so, developers), the Nexus 9 is one of the early devices with access to any Android developer previews. But think twice before putting them on a daily driver.

For Android enthusiasts, the Nexus 9 is an easy pick. But if you just want a big tablet, running Android and don't want to spend too much, check it out.

Bottom line: For the Android enthusiast, the Nexus 9 is an excellent test-bed for custom software installations. It's fully unlockable and factory software is readily provided.

One more thing: The community will continue support for the Nexus 9 long after it officially ends because of its open hardware and bootloader.

Conclusion

Like most things, there is no one Android tablet that's right for everyone. That's one of the big reasons Google was able to break Apple's dominance in mobile computing — they offer a choice for just about everyone. Whether you want the stylish look and thin profile of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 or the high-powered yet low-priced NVIDIA Shield K1 — or anything in between — someone is making a tablet that will work for you.

Our pick with the Pixel C is tough to beat. Great construction, an awesome screen, and current software with all the features you hear about directly from Google make it the one tablet we can recommend to everyone.

Best overall

The Pixel C

See at Google

We liked the Pixel C when it first arrived at the end of 2015. We thought the aluminum design was striking, even at a time where we saw aluminum and other metal devices from all the people making phones and tablets and decided the added weight (a 10.2-inch aluminum tablet can be hefty) was a fair trade for the excellent way it was designed and built. The NVIDIA Tegra X1 processor handled everything well and the 1:√2 aspect ratio was easier to get used to than anyone had guessed. We really loved the display. The 2560x1800 display was bright and crisp and represented the Pixel brand very well. But we couldn't help but feel the tablet hadn't reached its full potential.

Android 7.0 and the native multi-window display feature changed that. With either of the keyboard folio covers, multi-window turned the Pixel C from yet another Android tablet with a keyboard case into something you really could use for light work or school. We're not trying to validate any company's claim that a tablet can replace a laptop when it comes to productivity, but when you need to do it, The pixel C is the best way to do it.

Bottom line: No tablet is perfect. Neither is Android. But when you want to combine the two, the Pixel C is the best way you can spend your money until someone else can build something better.

One more thing: Because this is a Google hardware product, the Pixel C will be among the first Android tablets to be updated with new features.

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2 weeks ago

Google Family Link finally brings broad parental controls to Android phones

12

Parents will soon have new tools to manage their child's phone access.

Google is making a huge step toward letting families manage Google accounts and phones of children in the house, moving well beyond Google Play Family Library. Family Link is Google's new system for parents to create Google accounts for minors (under 13 years old, officially) who technically can't have their own accounts, and when attached to an Android phone the parents get all sorts of great tools to manage their use.

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2 weeks ago

Microsoft's Arrow Launcher picks up tablet support in latest update

13

Arrow Launcher, an experimental launcher from Microsoft's Garage division, has picked up another big update.

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2 weeks ago

OnePlus 3T colette edition arrives in all black, only 250 made for €479

12
OnePlus 3T colette edition

It's the same phone you know, now in dramatically limited quantity.

We're all familiar with stock shortages when it comes to OnePlus phones, but this new collaboration is seriously exclusive. OnePlus has partnered with world-renowed boutique colette to create a special OnePlus 3T colette edition, which is matte black and with 128GB storage and a subtle "colette" engraving on the back.

The phones will also come with OnePlus Bullets headphones, a $20 set that are a really nice for the money.

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2 weeks ago

Best racing games for Android

37

Speed your way past the competition in these outstanding racers for Android!

Update March 2017: These are still the best racing games to play on Android. Added another classic, Colin McRae Rally, to the list.

We've rounded up the best racing games to be found in the Google Play Store. With so many options to choose from, we've compiled a list that covers a whole slew of sub-genres — from stylized arcade racing to highly realistic racing sims — so no matter your preference, you should find an outstanding game that's right for you. Let's hit the road!

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2 weeks ago

NVIDIA Shield TV is still the best Android TV box

27

There are a number of ways to get Android TV into your living room. This one truly is the best, though.

For those who are completely immersed in the Android ecosystem — and, frankly, even for those of us in mixed marriages — Android TV may well be one of the best-kept secrets Google has. The question, then, is how do you get Android TV? If it's already built into your TV, great. That's maybe my favorite way to use it.

But if you're looking for a standalone Android TV box, there's only one you need to consider. And that's the NVIDIA Shield TV.

More: Subscribe to Modern Dad on YouTube!

Andrew touched on most of the reasons why in the full Android Central review. And since then the Shield TV has only solidified its place at the top of the Android TV heap. It handles 4K video without a hiccup. It has a pretty vast gaming library. It has access to Amazon Video — one of the only Android TV instances to do so. It's got USB storage. It's got a good remote. It's got ethernet. It'll work as a Plex server. (Huzzah!)

And, yes, it's more expensive than other Android TV options. But I've used them all. This is the only Android TV box you should consider.

See at Amazon

Modern Dad

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2 weeks ago

Fossil's Android Wear 2.0 updates now arriving for 3 models

31

Getting the latest software can help you love your smartwatch again.

Fossil hasn't made too many splashes since it first had attention around its original Q Founder smartwatch release, but now it's rolling out Android Wear 2.0 to its 3 compatible models. The second-gen Q Founder is getting the update, as are the Q Marshal and Q Wander.

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2 weeks ago

Smaller Android Wear smartwatches are coming soon, says Intel VP

9

In an interview, Intel's Jerry Bautista chats modular smartphones, why you'd want a Tag Heuer Connected Modular, and whether we'll see more smartwatches under 45mm.

The Tag Heuer Connected Modular smartwatch is not for us plebeians. Its existence is intended for the true watch collectors who see time-keeping as its own bonafide art form. And can you blame them? Watches are mechanical works of art. As a little girl, I used to admire the edges of the hulking watches my Dad would wear; the way the leather straps seemed to waterfall from the watch lug.

That's the kind of fawning that Tag Heuer is counting on for its latest Android Wear 2.0 release — especially from the diehard watch fans. This Connected Modular employs a sort of modular form wherein you can easily swap out lugs, straps, and the chassis as you please. The idea is that if you're going to invest in a smartwatch — or any watch, really — it should suit daily, no matter the circumstance.

I managed to have a quick chat with Jerry Bautista, the Vice President of Intel's New Technology Group, at the Connected Modular launch event in San Francisco. The smartwatch runs an Intel Atom Z34XX mobile processor. Bautista didn't reveal too much, but he did tease the idea of smaller watches on the horizon, and offered a bit of conjecture into why watch fans might find themselves attracted to this particular Android Wear release.

Is modularity really what the smartwatch world needs right now?

Bautista: When you wear something, it's a statement of you, of your personality, of your style, where you're going. Modularity, with regards to different straps, lugs, and even added bling, include those elements of style.

Modularity is also important because, in the future, you can imagine that Android will change, silicon processes do change, and different kind of sensors will [arrive], and even though those elements will get smaller, this will stay the same size. This whole system works well. When new technology comes in, we fit it in here somehow.

A three-year-old watch, a three-year-old phone – it feels obsolete. And so, if I spend the kind of money that I would on this [Editor's note: Upwards of $1,600], I would not be very happy to be stuck with this forever.

Why choose a modular smartwatch when other modular-type devices have floundered?

Bautista: [This particular watch is] an heirloom type device, it's something you get for graduation or a new job. You hold it on for years. The ability to swap out the digital part with a new one is part of that.

Why is it so big? Will we ever see watches that aren't 45mm?

Bautista: I can't say too much, but there are future watches planned that are smaller in size. There are other designs planned.

-——

Are you excited for smaller Android Wear watches, and will they make you more likely to buy a new one? Let us know in the comments!

Android Wear

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2 weeks ago

You'll want to keep this powerful $16 Bluetooth speaker with you at all times

2

Our friends at Thrifter are back again, this time with a powerful Bluetooth speaker at a killer price!

Bluetooth speakers are a great way to listen to music, podcasts and more at a louder volume than your phone can offer. TaoTronics has discounted its offering down to just $15.99, which is the lowest price this speaker has hit yet. With two powerful 7W drivers and 2 high-performance acoustic drivers, you should get a pretty good sound quality out of the portable speaker and with the built-in 4000mAh battery, it can play for up to 8 hours on a single charge.

The speaker also has a 3.5mm jack on it so you can easily play from devices that don't have Bluetooth, and the buttons at the top of it allow for easy control of the audio even if you don't have access to the phone or tablet. With over 600 reviews the speaker has a 4.6 out of 5 star rating at Amazon.

See at Amazon

For more great deals on tech, gadgets, home goods and more, be sure to check out our friends at Thrifter now!

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2 weeks ago

Best External Hard Drives for PlayStation 4

13

The days of cracking open a PS4 for expansion are over!

At long last, PlayStation 4 owners can update their consoles with increased storage without needing to void the warranty to install a bigger drive themselves. The 4.5 update from Sony made it possible to connect any USB 3.0 hard drive to the console and make that storage part of the experience. No more storage concerns, and no more wondering if you will be able put this thing back together after installing a bigger drive.

All you need now is to pick the right drive for your needs. Here are some solid options available to you today.

Toshiba Canvio Connect II

If you need a storage bump but don't want to take up another power outlet on your entertainment center or would prefer the hard drive be easy to hide away, Toshiba has what you need. The Canvio Connect II is a 1TB hard drive that is powered by the USB port and is small enough to tuck away behind the console.

This will effectively double the storage of the more spacious PS4s you can buy today, and will be more than enough for those upgrading a 500GB console.

See at Amazon

Western Digital WD Elements

People who want to massively upgrade the storage on their PS4 but don't want the hard drive to take up a lot of space aren't left with a ton of options, but one of the better choices comes from Western Digital. The WD Elements series isn't small enough to be pocketable, but can be concealed on most entertainment centers. Most important of all, it's a 2TB drive, so you're unlikely to fill it with your PlayStation 4 games anytime soon.

WD Elements do also come in 1TB and 3TB variants, but the 2TB model is the most competitively priced and will be more than enough for most PS4 owners.

See at Amazon

Seagate Expansion

If all you really care about is storage, and you want to make sure you never have to worry about running out of storage on your PlayStation 4 ever again, the Seagate Expansion series has you covered. These external hard drives will go up to 5TB in capacity, but is one of the few 3TB options for under $100 if you're also concerned with your budget.

These drives are big, so don't grab one thinking you're going to be able to easily hide it next to your PlayStation 4. As long as that isn't a problem for you, these drives will get the job done.

See at Amazon

BYOD (Bring Your Own Drive)

Not everyone needs to buy a whole new external drive to expand a PlayStation 4, you just need a solid enclosure to put an existing drive in. If that's you, the Inateck enclosure is everything you need. It's USB 3.0 enabled, offers an aluminum body to better handle heat dissipation when under stress, and doesn't require any additional software to set up.

Drop your drive in, connect to your PlayStation 4, and you're done.

See on Amazon

PlayStation 4

See on Amazon

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2 weeks ago

These VR games do teleportation the right way

These VR games do teleportation the right way

What games do teleportation the best?

Moving around in VR requires, for many people, a different method than just pushing a joystick forward and having your character move. Why? Even with the smoothest movement, not having a reference point, like a car's dash or a spaceship's control panel, can cause serious motion sickness or instability.

To remedy this VR problem, many games use teleportation — you point where you want to go and, boom, you're there. Not all games do this properly, however, so we've rounded up the best titles for people who need teleportation in their games.

Read more at VR Heads!

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2 weeks ago

Best Android Phones of 2017

Update, March 2017: The Google Pixel is still our top pick, but we've replaced the Mate 9 with the LG G6 and shuffled the ordering to reflect the new entry.

Best overall

Google Pixel

See at Google See at Verizon

The Google Pixel does almost everything right. Its metal body is well-built and easy to grip — in either the 5-inch or 5.5-inch size — and its spec sheet is top-notch, featuring a Snapdragon 821 and 4GB of RAM.

But Google's Pixel, available in two sizes and screen resolutions, really makes the case for Google owning the hardware and the software. Android has come a long way, but even the best manufacturers can't achieve what Google has with its first-party powerhouse.

Android 7.1 flies through every task, and the small software additions add up to something larger. Then there's the camera, which is one of the best in the business, helped along by Google's exemplary electronic stabilization schemes.

Bottom line: It may cost more than the Nexus line, but Google handily competes with Samsung's best.

One more thing: The Pixel is available unlocked through Google's store in most countries, but if you're in the U.S. may we suggest getting it through Google Fi.

Why the Google Pixel is the best

Google could have built another Nexus phone with a partner like Huawei, LG or even HTC, but with the Pixel it decided to go it mostly alone. Tapping HTC for the manufacturing, Google's first "real" Android phone hits all the right marks.

In either size, the design is familiar but striking, with a plain front in either black or white and a dual-toned rear finish in silver/white, silver/black, or blue/blue. The larger of the two models, the Pixel XL, is the true enthusiast phone, boasting a large 3,450mAh battery and 5.5-inch QHD AMOLED display, but both devices have largely the same internals and camera setup.

To that end, the Pixel flies: Qualcomm's Snapdragon 821 chip, coupled with Google's own take on Android 7.1 Nougat, is the fastest Android experience we've had to date.

Alex Dobie, in his review, explained it this way:

The chassis is attractive, though some may say it's not as bold as Samsung's glass and metal designs. The software is fast and mostly good-looking. It's always going to be up-to-date with the latest Android software, and exclusive tricks from a new and highly ambitious AI-focused Google. The battery easily lasts a day, and charges quickly. The camera matches the Galaxy S7.

While the phone lacks waterproofing and expandable storage, Samsung's Galaxy S7, our former recommendation, is still two major Android revisions behind, and its software can't match the effortless polish of the Pixel.

And then there's the camera. The cornerstone of any flagship, if the Pixel's camera wasn't as good as the S7's, it probably wouldn't have topped our list — but it is. Despite lacking optical image stabilization, the Pixel's camera takes amazing photos in almost every condition.

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LG G6

LG G6

See at Verizon See at AT&T See at T-Mobile See at B&H

The new LG G6 uses a tall 18:9 display and tiny bezels to give you a larger screen in a smaller body. The all-new metal-and-glass design may not be totally inspired, but it's built amazingly well and incorporates lots of little features — like waterproofing — to help it hold up over time.

All of the internal specs you expect are here, even though the battery isn't removable like its predecessors. The one downside here is regional differences: the higher-quality Quad DAC is exclusive to Asia, while wireless charging is only for the U.S. market.

LG's dual camera setup has returned but with a refined emphasis on the wide-angle camera so it packs the same sensor as the standard camera. The main camera takes fantastic photos to go toe-to-toe with the best of them, and the wide-angle shooter adds in something that no other phone offers.

Bottom line: This is LG's best flagship phone to date, and going a step further it's one that can take on the competition in 2017 in so many ways.

One more thing: Take a look at launch deals and which retailer/carrier offers you the best price — prices do vary around the U.S.

Best for features

Samsung Galaxy S7

Samsung Galaxy S7

See at AT&T See at Sprint See at T-Mobile See at Verizon

The Galaxy S7 rocks a beautiful metal-and-glass design that's also holding a solid battery, top-end internals and a microSD card expansion slot. Around front you'll find an industry-leading 5.1-inch QHD SuperAMOLED display that's beautiful in every situation, and around back you can capture fantastic photos with the 12MP camera. It's also rated IP68 water resistant, which is helpful in many situations, unforeseen and otherwise.

The software may take some getting used to if you haven't used a Samsung phone before, and that's perhaps its only downside, but that's hardly a reason to look away from all of the fantastic features that the Galaxy S7 has to offer. It's compact, powerful, easy to use and takes wonderful photos — it really is one of the most complete packages in the Android world.

Bottom line: The Galaxy S7 has the best hardware in Android, but its software keeps it behind the Pixel.

One more thing: With the Galaxy S8 on the horizon, the Galaxy S7 can be had at a solid discount — just know that if you buy the GS7 now you're getting a nearly year-old phone.

Best for a budget

OnePlus 3T

See at OnePlus See at Amazon

OnePlus took an interesting approach in 2016, choosing to bump the internal specs of its flagship OnePlus 3 and make a new model the OnePlus 3T. The new version has a slightly faster Snapdragon 821 processor, optional 128GB of storage, a larger 3400 mAh battery and new front-facing camera.

The update keeps the OnePlus 3T relevant for that much longer, and it still stands as an excellent option that competes with the rest of the flagships at a much lower price — even though it is a tad more expensive than the original, at $439. The hardware, camera and software can all stand up to the competition that retails for $200 more.

Bottom-line: Though it doesn't have some of the fringe features you'll find elsewhere, the OnePlus 3T offers the best value in a high-end Android phone today.

One more thing: The OnePlus 3's Dash Charge fast charging solution isn't compatible with any other quick charging standards, so you'll need to invest in new chargers if you want to top up quickly.

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Conclusion

The best overall Android experience right now can be obtained by either the Google Pixel or Pixel XL. Regardless of which size Pixel, you're getting a great design, excellent build quality, incredible performance, and one of the best cameras on the market. That, combined with Google's simple-but-beautiful interpretation of Android 7.1 Nougat, and always-first updates, makes the Pixel the best option for most people right now.

Best overall

Google Pixel

See at Google See at Verizon

The Google Pixel does almost everything right. Its metal body is well-built and easy to grip — in either the 5-inch or 5.5-inch size — and its spec sheet is top-notch, featuring a Snapdragon 821 and 4GB of RAM.

But Google's Pixel, available in two sizes and screen resolutions, really makes the case for Google owning the hardware and the software. Android has come a long way, but even the best manufacturers can't achieve what Google has with its first-party powerhouse.

Android 7.1 flies through every task, and the small software additions add up to something larger. Then there's the camera, which is one of the best in the business, helped along by Google's exemplary electronic stabilization schemes.

Bottom line: It may cost more than the Nexus line, but Google handily competes with Samsung's best.

One more thing: The Pixel is available unlocked through Google's store in most countries, but if you're in the U.S. may we suggest getting it through Google Fi.

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