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2 weeks ago

Top eight features of MIUI 8

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Here's what you need to know about MIUI 8.

MIUI 8 is the largest update to Xiaomi's operating system in several years, introducing much-needed visual flair in the form of a bold color palette and a host of new features. The operating system has over 200 million users globally, and with Xiaomi soliciting feedback from its community for new features, it is a continually evolving platform.

This update rolled out earlier this year for several devices, including the Mi 5, Redmi Note 3, Mi Max, and others, and with most Xiaomi phones now making their way to Marshmallow, it's time to take a look at some of the new features on offer.

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2 weeks ago

These headphones will stay in your ears even when active for just $14

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Looking for a new set of headphones but aren't quite ready to make the jump to Bluetooth? If so, TYLY's Tunz headphones may be a perfect set to consider. The headphones are made for active people so they will stay in your ear, and there are three different sized gels to ensure you get the right fit. You can pick from five different colors on the headphones, and right now you can pick up a pair for just $14.

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2 weeks ago

CES 2017 Day Two: New laptops, new phones, and old ideas made new

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CES 2017

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Update all the laptops

Thinner, faster, lighter, stronger.

With new 7th-generation Core chips from Intel landing in the months before CES, it was time for a seemingly every PC manufacturer to update their lineup. In the cards for everybody: thinner, lighter, marginally faster, longer-lasting batteries, Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C, and a notable decrease in bezels.

The new BlackBerry that's not made by BlackBerry

BlackBerry's back, alright!

From the looks of the BlackBerry Mercury you'd think that BlackBerry hadn't changed at all. But this is a phone from TCL, the new licensee of the BlackBerry brand, even if it looks and feels every part a BlackBerry. We're still light on practically every detail, from specs to the actual production name, but we're still kind of excited to see that the shifting of the BlackBerry brand doesn't mean the abandonment of the classic keyboard.

Honor's Magic is a design showcase as a phone

Curved all around, because they can.

Huawei's never been a manufacturer that shied away from making crazy hardware, and their Honor sub-brand has generated a phone that's a truly beautiful piece of design: the Honor Magic. The glass is curved in every direction more substantially than any phone we've seen before, married to a thin metal frame. As Android Central's Andrew Martonik described it, it's similar to the "Galaxy S7 edge, but it's even more impressively thin and compact." More impressive, however, might be the software: Honor baked in artificial intelligence to help the phone predict what you'll want to do, such as dynamically rearranging your home screen.

The first Chromebook designed for Android apps

Google and Samsung partnered up to design an impressive new pair of Chrome OS devices: the Samsung Chromebook Plus and Pro. These convertible Chromebooks are the first designed with running Android apps in mind, and as such they're equipped with full motion sensor suites. Beyond that, Samsung also built in their stylus tech — pop out the docked pen and you'll be able to write and draw to your heart's content on the hi-res 12.3-inch display.

ASUS announces two new phones with four cameras

ASUS took to CES 2017 to unveil their newest ZenFone devices: the ZenFone 3 Zoom and the ZenFone AR. The ZenFone 3 Zoom is the follow-up to the unique if flawed optically-zooming ZenFone Zoom, and its ditching of the mechanical optical zoom is both a disappointment and not a surprise. In its place are a pair of cameras — one standard, one telephoto, not unlike the iPhone 7 Plus. On the flip side is the ZenFone AR, which uses its cameras and sensor array to scan your surroundings in full 3D. It's not the first phone to do this, but it's certainly the most compact Google Tango phone we've yet seen.

NVIDIA's Shield TV box has been something of a sleeper hit — those that know it love it, but it's never really got a heavy push behind it. We don't know if that's going to change with the latest update, but we do know it's an impressive update. Coming to the Android TV party is Google Assistant, Samsung SmartThings integration, HDR video, and a whole bunch of new games.

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2 weeks ago

Xiaomi India's revenues exceeded $1 billion in 2016

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Xiaomi sold a lot of phones in India in 2016.

Xiaomi has announced that it crossed $1 billion in revenue in 2016 from its Indian unit. The last two quarters of 2016 were particularly fruitful for the company as it set new sales records in the market. The Redmi Note 3 was very well received in India, with Xiaomi selling over 2.3 million units in just six months. The entry-level Redmi 3S also made a strong start following its debut in the third quarter.

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2 weeks ago

LG G6 won't have a modular design as focus shifts to 'aesthetics and usability'

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No one liked the LG G5's modular design, so LG is ditching it.

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LG's audacious plan to offer a modular design with the LG G5 failed, and with the company's profits taking a turn for the worse, it is going back to the basics. At CES, LG has announced that it will ditch the modular platform for its upcoming LG G6, instead focusing on "aesthetics and usability."

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2 weeks ago

Huawei Mate 9 arriving in the U.S. Jan 6 for $599, will add Alexa support in a future update

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Huawei's massive and impressive Mate 9 will be coming to the U.S. this month.

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Huawei's indomitable quest for world domination continues this week as it has announced its latest oversized flagship, the Mate 9, would be coming to the U.S. on January 6 for a very agreeable $599 through various online retailers including Amazon and Newegg.

See at Amazon

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2 weeks ago

Google Assistant is coming to Android TV

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Google Assistant is making its way to more devices.

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Right now, Google Assistant is available on the Pixel, Google Home, and messaging app Allo, and Google has now announced that it is bringing Assistant to Android TV devices and set-top boxes "in the coming months." NVIDIA's latest Shield streaming box — which was announced earlier today — will be one of the first devices to include the Assistant.

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2 weeks ago

NVIDIA Spot peripheral extends the Shield Android TV's Google Assistant throughout the home

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A simple accessory expands the capabilities of the new Shield Android TV throughout your home.

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To partner with the announcement of the brand-new Shield Android TV, NVIDIA is hoping to leverage its new power and Google Assistant smarts throughout your home with the NVIDIA Spot, a Wi-Fi-connected microphone/speaker peripheral. Rather than holding computing power and software in itself, the NVIDIA Spot is a small — roughly golf ball-sized — peripheral that can be placed anywhere and connect to your Shield Android TV over Wi-Fi.

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2 weeks ago

New NVIDIA Shield Android TV box includes Google Assistant, 4K HDR streaming

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NVIDIA's latest set-top streaming box is a must-buy, even at $199.

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NVIDIA has announced an updated Shield streaming box — the one that debuted last year running Android TV — with updates to the hardware design, including the popular controller, and significant improvements to the software.

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2 weeks ago

ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom hands-on: Focused on being more than just a camera

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Asus ZenFone Zoom

The second 'Zoom' model isn't quite as impressive optically, but makes more sense practically.

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After some pretty audacious engineering marvels going into the last ZenFone Zoom, ASUS has taken a decidedly simpler approach with the new ZenFone 3 Zoom. Rather than being a majority camera-focused smartphone, this is aimed at being a solid mid-to-high-end device overall that also happens to great photos with top-end camera specs.

ASUS effectively gave up on the huge, cumbersome and trade-off-heavy optical zooming solution of old and instead chose to go with a dual-focal length camera setup not unlike the iPhone 7 Plus. And while the camera setup still seems quite impressive based on the specs — dual 12MP 1.4-micron sensors with f/1.7 lenses — and company's claims, it's also a dramatically smaller package that let the rest of the ZenFone 3 Zoom round out as a "normal" smartphone.

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2 weeks ago

ZTE's insane, crowdsourced eye-tracking phone is called Hawkeye and is coming in September for $199

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ZTE is bringing its crowdsourced, crowdfunded Project CSX phone to market this September, and it's called Hawkeye.

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ZTE has announced that its long-awaited (by some) crowdsourced phone will go up for pre-order starting January 4 and will be delivered nine months later, in September, barring any unforeseen delays.

The device, born under ZTE's ambitious Project CSX, which stands for Crowd Source X, gleaned suggestions from people around the world, integration the two most viable into the finished product: eye-tracking navigation, and adhesive properties .

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2 weeks ago

Samsung's new Chromebook is a convertible with a stylus

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Ready for a Chromebook built for the Android apps era?

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Samsung made one of the first Chromebooks back in 2011, and has made a few different models over the years, but the new Chromebook Pro and Plus are making a big statement about Samsung's commitment to Chrome OS. Designed in conjunction with Google, these are the first Chromebooks to truly be designed for full hardware support of Android apps on Chrome OS.

The Chromebook Pro and Plus are full 360-degree convertible Chromebook, working in both the traditional notebook form factor or flipping around to work as a touchscreen tablet. Samsung made the device rounded all around, making it comfortable to hold in every orientation.

But convertible Chromebooks aren't a new thing, so what makes these different? Samsung built in the same accelerometers and gyroscopes you'd find in a smartphone, enabling the Chromebook Pro and Plus to interact fully with motion-controlled Android apps and games in a way that's simply not been possible before now. Want to play Asphalt 8 on your Chromebook? The Samsung Chromebook Pro can do it.

As this is Samsung's first Chromebook with touch support, Samsung did exactly what you would expect: they built in stylus support. The Chromebook Pro and Plus have a small silo on the right side in which you'll find what is essentially a Samsung S Pen stylus, just like you'd find on a Galaxy Note phone. Pop out the pen and a quick actions menu pops up from the bottom menu.

The cooperation with Google extends to the pen — Google's used machine learning from a corpus of anonymized handwriting and drawing to predict where your drawn line is going to go and reduce latency. There's no personalized profile of pen use, the handwriting corpus is supposedly "good enough that we don't really need it" and Google's argued that a personalized profile could lead to overcorrection and poorer predicition. This machine learning predictive pen use is supposed to offer a dramatic reduction in latency (faster than a Microsoft Surface Pro with the excellent Surface Pen, they say), but in our time with the Chromebook Pro the lag with the pen in handwriting was almost unbearable. But at least the fidelity of the results was quite fine and accurate.

Both versions of Samsung's new Chromebook are equipped with a 12.3-inch 2400x1600 LED touch display at a comfortable-as-a-tablet 3:2 aspect ratio, 4GB of RAM, and 32GB of e.MMC SSD storage. They both are going fully all-in on USB-C, sporting a pair of the reversible USB connectors and a MicroSD card slot.

So what's different between the two? It's in the processors.

  • Samsung Chromebook Plus: hexa-core OP1 ARM processor (2x Cortex-A72 cores + 4x Cortex-A53 cores)
  • Samsung Chromebook Pro: dual-core 2.2GHz Intel Core M3 6Y30

The Chromebook Plus will be priced at $449 when it lands in February, while the Chromebook Pro will come later in Spring 2017 for an undisclosed but likely higher price.

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2 weeks ago

Amazon is building the next important OS, and Google can't keep up

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Alexa is an operating system, and that could mean trouble for Google.

Google made a fundamental mistake by launching Google Home two years after Amazon Echo, says Ben Thompson of Stratechery. Amazon's Echo and its growing lineup of first-party hardware, including the Tap and Dot, are less significant to the company's future than Alexa itself, the voice-enabled operating system that seems to be growing in reach and intelligence more quickly than any other.

The Echo created its own market: a voice-based personal assistant in the home. Crucially, the home was the one place in the entire world where smartphones were not necessarily the most convenient device, or touch the easiest input method: more often than not your smartphone is charging, and talking to a device doesn't carry the social baggage it might elsewhere.

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2 weeks ago

ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom joins the dual-camera train, adds a 5000 mAh battery for good measure

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ASUS heard cameras and batteries are a big deal right now.

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It's no surprise that two of the biggest things many people look for in a smartphone right now are camera quality and battery life. Photo quality has dramatically improved over the las two years, and manufacturers are trying new things to see what the most important next step is going to be.

In the process, many of these phones wind up in the 5-inch range with just enough battery to get you through a busy day. Sacrificing camera quality for battery life isn't fun, though, but if you look back at 2016 that's largely what happened.

ASUS seems to think they have the camera-focused phone with the least amount of compromise, and a big part of that experience is the 5000 mAh battery stuffed inside. Check out the new ZenFone 3 Zoom.

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2 weeks ago

Tango and Daydream finally coexist in a single phone thanks to the ASUS ZenFone AR

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Finally, Google's AR and VR vision in a single phone.

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Google's vision for augmented reality and virtual reality are built by separate teams with different goals, but the things they have in common are significant. First, despite not having massive user bases right now, Tango and Daydream have healthy lists of apps with high profile software exclusives.

Second, there are plenty of would be fans wondering if their next phone will support either of these platforms. The obvious answer for those eager to dive headfirst into VR and AR would be a single phone with both experiences onboard, but the first phone with Tango onboard was only built with AR in mind and would struggle to offer a quality Daydream experience.

Fortunately for those eager to be a part of Google's reality platforms, ASUS has stepped in with a single phone that handles both Daydream and Tango. Meet the ZenFone AR!

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