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2 weeks ago

WeMo's new smart dimmer solves the problem of LED light flickering

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Belkin's WeMo is back with a couple more smart home gadgets to make your life easier.

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As it has every year for as long as we can remember, Belkin's WeMo brand is launching a couple of neat new smart home products at CES, set to be released in the next few months.

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2 weeks ago

Dish's AirTV set-top box is now official with Sling TV, OTA, and 4K streaming

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OTA and streaming TV mash it up.

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After initially leaking on its website in December, Dish has made its first standalone set-top box is now official (via Engadget). Called AirTV Player, the box is based on Android TV and mashes up Sling TV's streaming cable offering with apps available on Google Play and over-the-air (OTA) broadcasts.

AirTV comes packed with a Bluetooth remote that features convenient shortcut buttons to popular services like Netflix, YouTube, and, of course, Sling. A microphone is also on board for easy voice control when you need it.

The box also supports 4K streaming, so if you've got the it hooked up to a compatible TV, you can start streaming UHD content from sources that support it. Perhaps most interestingly is the AirTV's support for OTA broadcasts when hooked up to an antenna. Any channels you pick up will then be integrated into Sling's own channel guide, which is pretty convenient if you're already a subscriber.

Dish, Sling TV's parent company, is already selling the AirTV in two different variants on a dedicated AirTV website. If you plan on using an OTA antenna, the $129.99 configuration includes a necessary OTA adapter kit. Otherwise, you can pick up a $99.99 version that only works with Sling and other streaming apps. The OTA adapter will be available separately for $39.99 if you change your mind later.

Of course, Sling TV is available on a number of streaming boxes already, so it may be difficult for some to justify slotting AirTV into their setup. That said, the inclusion of OTA support may just be appealing enough for some to warrant moving to on all-encompassing set-top box for their entertainment needs.

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2 weeks ago

LeEco wants you to ride its Android-powered smart bicycles

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LeEco, the Chinese company whose recent push into the U.S. has been met with excitement, trepidation and more than a little skepticism, is launching a pair of smart bicycles at CES 2017, powered by the company's own Android 6.0-based BikeOS.

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2 weeks ago

Acer announces education-focused Chromebook 11 N7 with rugged body, $229 starting price

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As Chromebooks continue to dominate the education market, Acer keeps its line fresh.

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This one won't necessarily get the Chromebook enthusiasts excited, but Acer has another education-focused Chromebook hitting the budget segment with a rugged body. The Chromebook 11 N7 (or model C731) is an 11-inch offering made to take a beating without also looking too tough, so it still has a tad bit of design appeal while also being sturdy for the expected rigors of many months being passed around in the classroom.

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2 weeks ago

Feel great in 2017: Get fit with MrMobile

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It's that special time of year! The time we all say "heck no, I'm not going to keep all this holiday weight!" and trundle off to the gym... for about a week. But not this year! You know it's going to be different, and you want some apps to help you keep to that goal.

MrMobile and his friends Jon Rettinger of TechnoBuffalo, Serenity Caldwell at iMore, Marques Brownlee at MKBHD, Krystal Key, Joshua Vergara at Android Authority, Safwan Ahmedmia at SuperSaf, and Jaime Rivera at PocketNow suggest their favorite apps to keep you getting healthy this 2017. Let us and them know which ones work for you!

Stay social, my friends

And thanks to all our friends who collaborated on this video:

Jon Rettinger [TechnoBuffalo]

Serenity Caldwell [iMore]

Marques Brownlee [MKBHD]

Krystal Key

Joshua Vergara

Safwan Ahmedmia [SuperSaf]

Jaime Rivera [Pocketnow]

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2 weeks ago

Best Wallet Cases for the Google Pixel

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What are the best wallet cases for my Google Pixel?

Wallet cases offer and elegant and functional way to keep your phone, cards and cash around in one place while cutting down on the amount of stuff one needs to carry around.

The cases we've assembled here are for the 5-inch Pixel, so you won't want to get one of these if you've got the larger Pixel XL.

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2 weeks ago

Xiaomi Mi Mix review: Lose The Bezel

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Bezel. It's a mainstay of phones everywhere. Heck, you need it to put in things like an earpiece, right? Or do you? (dun dun dun!) The Xiaomi Mi Mix has figured out a way to push its display all the way to the edge. Is it worth it?

MrMobile brings the Xiaomi Mi Mix to the U.S. and sees what it's like to live life all the way to the edge. How will it respond to our networks here? Does it do more than provide a flashy screen? Can Michael Fisher find a private place to talk on the phone? Hit that play button to learn all this and more.

If you want to purchase the Xiaomi Mi Mix, visit our friends at GearBest:

Stay social, my friends

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2 weeks ago

This $7 car charger will look like it is built into your car

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Right now you can pick up Aukey's 2-port USB car charger for just $7 with coupon code AUKCARS7. This car charger, unlike many others, sits pretty flush with most of the cigarette adapters, so you won't really even notice that it is there. Being relatively flush, there is less of a chance that you'll knock it out or bang it around by accident while moving in your car, and being able to charge two devices at the same time is a great feature.

Remember, you need coupon code AUKCARS7 to get the discount here. Odds are it won't last long at this price, so be sure to act quickly if you want one!

See at Amazon

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2 weeks ago

These are the accessories your PlayStation VR needs right now!

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There's more to owning a PlayStation VR than being Batman.

As gaming VR systems go, PlayStation VR has been a hit so far. The initial launch left many hunting for games that were out of stock for days and controllers that were out of stock for longer, but now that things have settled down and you've started pushing through the lineup of launch titles, it's time to take a look at what you need to enjoy this headset long term. Outside of a fresh controller and the new PlayStation Camera, this is what you need to fully enjoy your PlayStation VR!

Read more at VR Heads!

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2 weeks ago

Will my phone get updated to Android 7.x Nougat?

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Jerry looks into his crystal ball and asks: Will your phone get an Android 7.x update?

It's time for a new version of Android, and that means I also get to make my yearly predictions about updates. Fun times!

Now, to be sure, unless a manufacturer has already committed to updating an existing phone, these are simply (mostly) educated guesses. We base them on a company's track record, the capabilities of the phone itself, and the number of phones a company makes. It's sort of like a blogger version of reading tea leaves and calling the bookmakers. And it's fun. Even when we get it wrong it's fun.

Since we're here because we are interested in Android, and most of us like to have a little fun, let's jump right in and answer the million dollar question — will my phone get updated to Android 7.x Nougat?

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2 weeks ago

Linksys sets sights on Google Wifi with the Velop mesh router

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The Velop is a mesh router that connects to Amazon Alexa.

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Over the course of the last year, we've seen mesh networking gain momentum thanks to the likes of Eero and Luma. Google also joined the fray with the Google Wifi, and now Linksys has launched its own mesh networking solution called the Velop. The modular system is made up of invidiaual nodes that you'll have to place around your house to maximize coverage.

Each Velop node is a tri-band AC2200 class device with 2x2 802.11ac Wave 2 MU-MIMO and three Wi-Fi radios that can cover up to 2,000 square feet, but you'll ideally need more than one to get coverage throughout your house. Standalone nodes can function in four modes — router, range extender, access point, and bridge — and can be configured through Linksys' Android app.

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2 weeks ago

Google Home Wish List 2017

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Here's how I'd like to see Google Home improve.

Google Home is quickly growing more capable as a connected home accessory. New features are being added at a steady pace, and now that third-party developers are able to extend their services onto the platform we're going to see an exciting ramp-up in capability moving into the next year. I'm excited to see what third-party teams bring to Google Home, but I'd also like to see Google add some unique features of their own to really help this platform stand out.

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2 weeks ago

What to do if you're locked out of your phone after resetting it

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While it's for our own good, Factory Reset Protection can trip you up when you reset your phone. These tips can help.

Getting stuck when trying to reset your phone seems to be a fairly common thing. The reasons for it are good — Google has methods in place to try and cut back on phone theft — but when it's your phone and your data, it can be frustrating if you can't use it. Here are a few pointers that can help if it happens to you, as well as what you can do to prevent it from happening.

Why do I need to know the old account information?

In recent versions of Android, once a phone has been tied to a Google account you need to use the same account and password to "unlock" it if you reset it. It's called FRP (Factory Reset Protection), and it's done to make stolen phones less valuable; if you steal my phone you can't unlock the screen to use it, and if you reset it you need my Google account information to set it up again. If you can't use my phone, you're less likely to steal it. Or if you've found a phone and can't use it you'll be more likely to turn it over to the police. Every company that makes phones with access to Google Play is using this feature and some also have their own version that can do the same thing through their accounts.

Even a great idea seems bad when it keeps you from using your phone.

The problem is that if you reset your own phone, or buy a used phone that still has FRP active you might need to know the account username and password that was last used on the phone to sync with Google's servers. Resetting the phone through the settings should remove the account before it erases the data, but it very often doesn't. Sometimes we forget those details, or if we bought a phone from someone else we might not be able to get them. While people are always looking for exploits to work around the FRP lock, once found they quickly get patched. (Though sometimes those patches take a while to work their way through manufacturers and carriers, so it's always worth a Google search.)

When this happens on your own account and you have access from another phone (or tablet or computer) first instinct is to have the password you forgot reset so you can move forward. But that only locks the phone setup completely for at least 24 hours because another security feature stops you from adding access to your Google account on the phone right after a password change or other "suspicious" activity. On phones running Lollipop, this might be 72 hours — Google changed it in May 2016 and some phones need a software update for it to take effect. Every time you try starts the 24-hour clock new, and we all would keep trying over and over out of frustration.

So what should I do?

There are three ways to get in. The first, using the Google account recovery tool, will only work if you took the time to set up a backup phone (and can swap your SIM card with another phone to get a text) or second email account. We'll go over how to do that in the next section, but if you already did it you can click this link to start the recovery process. Make sure your phone is charged and turned on, and make sure you have access to a phone using the recovery number or the recovery account email. If you're using two-factor authentication, you'll need a way to authorize your account. If that would usually be the phone you're trying to unlock, the recovery tool will walk you through the steps to disable 2FA or use a CAPTCHA code.

The next step is to reset your account password from another device, then wait 24 (or 72 — see above) hours before trying to set it up. You can leave the phone powered on or shut it off, just don't try to do anything with it while you're waiting or you may reset the countdown. Waiting a full day (or three) really sucks, but it's better than not having any access to your account and not being able to use your phone ever again.

If you bought used, you'll need to contact the original owner for some help.

The third option is for advanced users, and may not work on your particular model. You can try to wipe the phone's data and cache partitions through the device recovery. This used to work on some models, never worked on others, and even triggered a dialog asking for the same account details as setup does on others. But if you're into fiddling with things, this is pretty easy to try. The other thing to try is to reflash the operating system. Using whatever tools are needed on a computer (Fastboot, Odin, LG Flash Tool, etc.) and the correct factory image to completely erase the phone and start from scratch. This too isn't 100%. Rooted users can try ADB through recovery and then remove specific files from the settings database — search your particular model for more on this.

If none of these solutions work you can try filling out this form or calling 650-253-0000 to work through the Google Accounts customer service menu. You can also try checking with the company you bought the phone from, as they may have experience solving the issue.

If you aren't the original owner and don't have access to a way to recover the account, you'll need to contact whoever you bought it from.

Account recovery options

Save yourself some headache and set up your account recovery options. Visit your Google account settings page and run the "Security Checkup" you'll find in the left column. You can tell Google how to send you a token to get into your account if you're locked out and select recovery questions as part of the first step. We recommend you provide all the detail you can here. Just because the FRP "issue" hasn't hit you yet doesn't mean it never will.

With password managers and 2FA settings, the days of just remembering a simple account password are over for a lot of us. Don't think that you'll never be locked out of your own phone and your own account! Take a few minutes and make sure Google can help you get in if you need them to.

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2 weeks ago

Lenovo's making a prettier Amazon Echo and a smarter home NAS

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Alexa, show me Lenovo's new stuff.

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In addition to a slew of new PCs, Lenovo's bringing a slew of new connected home accessories to CES 2017. Chief among them are a new smart home network drive, their take on an Amazon Echo-style device, and a handheld keyboard that includes the most sensitive of keys.

Lenovo Smart Assistant

What if you could make a fancier-looking Amazon Echo? That must be the question that Lenovo's engineers asked themselves when cooking up the "Lenovo Smart Assistant with Amazon Alexa". This cylindrical connected smart speaker is an Echo clone if we've ever seen one; it's the fruit of a Lenovo-Amazon partnership, and there's anything wrong with that. It even bakes in the same Amazon Alexa software, includes eight far-field noise-cancelling microphones, and a pair of speakers — a 5W tweeter and a 10W woofer.

Looks-wise, it's like a fancier Echo, with a fabric speaker grill below a solid upper half, plus a raised control surface on the top ringed by a chrome volume ring. That fabric grill comes in multiple color options, though they aren't removable (a la Google Home). You'll have your choice of a white upper half with grills in light gray, green, or orange, or an all-black Harman Edition model that includes an additional 2-inch acoustic sound cavity for enhanced audio performance.

There's one big difference between an Amazon Echo and the Lenovo Smart Assistant: price. The standard Smart Assistant starts at $129.99, while the Harman Edition version will run $179.99 (the retail price of Amazon's Echo). Both versions are expect to be available in May 2017.

Lenovo Smart Storage

There are standard NAS devices, and then there's this. You could call the Lenovo Smart Storage device the next generation of the Network Attached Storage unit, and that's essentially what it is: a smart NAS. Packed inside the compact pinched white box you'll find 2TB or 6TB of hard drive storage, a dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac antenna, and a dual-core 1.6GHz Intel Celeron processor.

More than just a mere hard drive with Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity, the Lenovo Smart Storage is packed with software to make it, well, smart. Auto Sync will help to automatically back up your files, it includes DLNA so you can stream movies on it to your TV, and even facial recognition software to scan and organize your photo library by people. There's also a USB port on the back — plug in your drive, press a button on the Smart Storage, and it'll back up everything on the drive.

If that piques your interest, you'll be able to grab one in May 2017, with the a starting price for the 2TB version of $139.99.

Lenovo 500 Multimedia Controller

There's a user interface flaw in most smart TVs: if you want to search for anything, or log into any installed apps, you're either clicking around an on-screen keyboard with a remote control or dictating into a microphone and hoping it understood you correctly. While plenty of TVs offer Bluetooth support so you can connect a keyboard, who wants to keep a big slab of a keyboard in the living room, let alone try and balance it on their laps? Enter the Lenovo 500 Multimedia Controller, a compact keyboard that fits into your hands and has a trick up its sleeve.

At first glance it looks like a standard, but compact, albeit it with an advertised 66-foot range to the 2.4GHz USB receiver (twice the range of a typical Bluetooth device). It's designed to fit comfortably in both hands so you can type with your thumbs — it's roughly the size as the on-screen keyboard of a 7-to-8-inch tablet in portrait orientation. But there's more: the entire keyboard is also touch sensitive — swipe across them and they're a trackpad to move the cursor on the screen along with left/right mouse buttons below the keys. Pair it with a Windows 10 PC (perhaps a Stick PC plugged into your TV) and it even supports multi-finger gestures.

The Lenovo 500 Multimedia Controller is expected to be available in March 2017 for a reasonable $54.99.

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2 weeks ago

New BlackBerry with hardware keyboard to launch during CES

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A new BlackBerry is coming.

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We knew it was coming, but BlackBerry's long-awaited 'Mercury' handset is set to be announced at CES.

A teaser of the keyboard-sporting BlackBerry handset, which is now designed, overseen and built by TCL, Alcatel's parent company, was shown by Steve Cistulli, President of TCL, prior to the start of CES.

In mid-December, BlackBerry and TCL formalized their relationship, officially making the Canadian outfit a software company. TCL will still release BlackBerry-branded handsets, for which the former telecom giant will build the Android software.

According to previous rumors, the new keyboarded "Mercury" will feature an unusual 1620x1080 resolution with a 420 ppi pixel density, which works out to a 4.63-inch display size. There's also expected to be a Snapdragon processor of some sort (perhaps the 625), 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of internal storage.

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