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2 days ago

The first five things you need to know about Mass Effect: Andromeda

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There is plenty to do in Mass Effect: Andromeda, so be ready to dive in.

The Mass Effect franchise has officially returned with the fourth installment in the series, and everything here is very shiny and new. A new galaxy, new set of characters, and plenty of new content to delve into. Don't be worried if you're a returning fan though, there are plenty of nods to the original trilogy, and this includes the alien races you know and love.

With a game as expansive as Mass Effect: Andromeda, knowing what to keep an eye out for early is a good call. That's why we've got 5 tips to help you get started exploring the Andromeda galaxy.

Scan all the things

You have a handy little scanner right on your arm which can be activated by dressing the down button on the directional pad. This allows you to scan your surroundings and see if there is anything hiding from your view. Do this. Do it often, and do it everytime that you enter a new area. Even during the initial planetside mission there is tons to see and explore. While you won't be able to access everything at the get go, you can still tag it for your eventual return.

Scanning the environment is such a small thing, but it really does make a difference. Since unscanned items pop up in bright orange, it makes it easier to find important items or alien technology you might otherwise miss. You can also use it to scan enemies whether they are alive or dead, which can be particularly handy when you're just getting started. Scanning unfamiliar tech and aliens will also net you research points which are used to unlock technologies in the game, and you want those technologies.

Cover is your friend

There are some games where you can stride around like a tank, blowing the face off of anything you come across without paying a price for that audacity. This, is not one of those games. Cover is important, you will need cover, or you will die. Repeatedly. I would know, because I learned this lesson the hard way. Taking cover will allow you to heal from your wounds, flank an enemy while they can't see you, and get a better read on what you are dealing with.

To break it down further, humans are not a dominant species in the Andromeda galaxy. There are more of them than there are of you, and sprinting around shooting sounds fun until you die three times in a row because there are seven aliens shooting at you simultaneously. Use cover if you want to survive.

Keep an eye out for containers

You shouldn't be surprised, but there are plenty of loot containers to be found scattered through the worlds you'll be exploring. Be sure to keep an eye out for them, because not all loot containers are made equal and some of them have some lucky items in store for you. The loot containers will have items that relate directly to the race that left it behind. This means on an Angaran world, you're going to find Angara loot of one kind or another. What you find is also randomized, using a dynamic loot generation, so you won't get the same result if you die and return to a specific box.

Salvage containers look like boxes left behind, and alien orbs scattered about. Generally they look a little bit broken, or mussed up, and are filled with salvage only usable for trading to merchants for credits. The boxes you really want are the normal containers, which look like boxes. More or less. Depending on the rarity, you can find anything from components for weapons to the weapon itself. By grabbing every container you see, you can ensure that you have a solid stock for selling to merchants, and using later for crafting.

Stay aware of your surroundings

While the planets you'll be exploring are the hope of a future for mankind, they are still a bit hostile at times and if you aren't paying attention to what is going on it's very easy to wind up dead. This is because the planets are covered in various hazards of varying severity. While the level 1 hazards can damage your health and be a nuisance, level 3 and 4 hazards can kill you quite quickly. It is worth mentioning high level hazards are usually indicative of an area that is currently off limits until you have progressed further.

For the most part, hazards are pretty easy to see. Green smoky haze, fire, ice, geysers, and lava are all examples of hazards that you will run into during your exploration. To avoid being wounded by the hazard, just avoid the hazard. The hazard level is also shown at the bottom left of your HUD, so that you are aware when you are entering a dangerous area unwittingly.

What are your tips?

There is tons to do, and plenty to explore within Mass Effect: Andromeda, but these tips should help you to get a running start when it comes to exploring the Andromeda galaxy. Find rare items, get the perks you need, and remember that you are in hostile territory and you should have the hang of things in no time flat. Just remember that this is just the beginning, and there will be plenty more to explore and discover. Do you have a tip for those just starting Mass Effect: Andromeda? Be sure to drop us a line in the comments below and let us know.

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2 days ago

Galaxy S8 pre-orders may ship as early as Apr 18

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Galaxy S8

Expect a big pre-order push in Samsung's home market.

As it looks to draw a line under last year's Note 7 unpleasantness, Samsung is reportedly betting big on Galaxy S8 pre-orders. South Korean outlet The Investor reports that subsidized deals for the new flagship will be unveiled from April 7, with pre-orders shipping out to customers as soon as April 18. It's worth noting that this likely refers to Korea, not necessarily other parts of the world, where an April 28 ship date has been rumored.

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2 days ago

Xiaomi Redmi 4A hands-on: A decent phone at an unbeatable price

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Xiaomi Redmi 4A

The Redmi 4A solidifies Xiaomi's place in India's budget segment.

Xiaomi is sailing high in India — the company's Redmi Note 4 sold a million units in just 45 days, and the entry-level Redmi 3S is faring remarkably well in the country. Coupled with the immense success of the Redmi Note 3, Xiaomi is well on its way to continuing its dominance in the online segment.

The company is far from resting on its laurels, as evidenced by the launch of the Redmi 4A. With Samsung somehow managing to sell millions of units of the thoroughly underwhelming Galaxy J2, Xiaomi is positioning the Redmi 4A as a viable alternative.

Xiaomi's offering has much more going for it in the form of a 720p display, Snapdragon 425 SoC, 13-megapixel camera, and 3,120mAh battery. We've seen several decent phones often get waylaid on account of the price, but that isn't an issue for the Redmi 4A. With a retail price of ₹5,999 ($90), Xiaomi will be lucky if it can meet the insatiable demand for the device in the coming weeks.

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2 days ago

Android 7.1.2 beta 2 for Pixel C adds Pixel launcher, brand new multitasking interface

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Android 7.1.2 Beta for Pixel C

A great sign of cohesion for the old Pixel C getting with the times.

Android 7.1.2 beta 2 has started rolling out for Pixels and Nexuses, bringing some older devices up to speed with some new features. Sliding under the radar, at first, was the Pixel C, which actually seems to have received the largest changes. The latest beta release includes the Pixel launcher, as well as a brand new multitasking interface that makes multi-window management a bit more natural and altogether better looking.

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2 days ago

8 Important Considerations When Switching To An MVNO

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Before you make the switch you need to think about a few things.

Having good cellular service has become an important thing for most people. We use our phones for everything from keeping in touch to keeping entertained when we have a few quiet moments. It's pretty great that we have such powerful machines in our pockets and nobody is happy when their service lets them down. That's why it's worth taking your time and checking out a few things before you switch carriers.

This can be especially important when switching to a prepaid alternative carrier, also known as an MVNO. Because they aren't the ones installing new facilities and building out the physical networks they operate on, they sometimes have to do things a little differently. These differences usually mean the service is cheaper every month, but it can also pose a few problems if you haven't done your homework before you made the switch.

What is an alternative carrier?

That's what we're here for! Android phones and the service that powers them is our job and our hobby. We love to get in the mix and try things like switching away from the Big Four as much as we like writing about it. With that in mind, here are some things you need to think about when you're ready to switch to an MVNO as your new carrier.

Picking the carrier that works where you need it to

This needs to be the first thing you look at. MVNOs have the luxury of using the networks the Big Four have rolled out, and we all know that not everyone has equal coverage on every carrier.

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One of the best things you can do is talk to people you know and see what service they are using. If you hear a lot of praise for one particular carrier and complaints about another, you have a good starting point when it comes to picking the right MVNO. You can also check out the carrier coverage maps.

You need to make sure you know what you're looking at here. Nobody is trying to deceive you but they all want their map to look as good as it can. On each of the coverage map sites, you'll find some controls to filter the different types of coverage that are being shown. Make sure to have a look and compare the voice calling maps to the data connection maps, and make sure you are filtering to see the high-speed data coverage. And definitely make sure you're not looking at "partner" or roaming maps, as many MVNO carriers don't support that part of their parent carrier's coverage.

Finally, be cautious if you need to use your phone in areas on the fringe or edge of coverage maps. The maps are never exact, and if the map tells you service will degrade just a few blocks from where you need to be covered, you might not get service at all. These maps should be considered as a good estimate rather than any sort of exact science.

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Match your phone with the right network

One of the best parts about using an MVNO is that you can save even more money by using the phone you already paid for. As long as your phone works on at least one of the Big Four carriers in the U.S. there's an MVNO that offers great service for you.

It's not that difficult to make sure the MVNO you want to use supports the phone you already have. If you're up on all the technical jargon you can check the radio bands on your phone against the radio bands listed on every alternative carrier's website. You'll usually find these on the FAQ portion and if they match you're in business.

If you don't want to get bogged down in frequency numbers and all the different network bands, sites like WillMyPhoneWork can tell you if your phone is compatible with most any network worldwide.

We've built a list of popular MVNO carriers and which networks they operate on that can answer many of your questions right away!

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

You might need to get your phone unlocked

Most phones will need to be SIM unlocked before they can be used on another carrier. This has nothing to do with your phone's security (that's a different type of unlocking) and only lets your phone accept programming for a new network. Carriers have their phones SIM locked as a way to cut down on equipment loss — a locked phone only works on the carrier who locked it, and only as long as you're making the payments.

SIM unlocking won't affect your phones security.

In the U.S. carriers are required to unlock a phone once it's paid for. Most will also unlock a phone after you've been a customer for a while as a show of good faith. You can get your phone unlocked by the carrier by making a phone call or going into a store. Customer service will be happy to help you provided you've met any obligations they require. Because of some rules for using the frequency Verizon uses for 4G service, they are required to sell all their phones unlocked.

Getting your phone SIM unlocked is easy

There are also third-party unlocking services that will send you a code to unlock your phone. If you go this route, be sure to do a quick web search on the company to make sure they have decent customer feedback. Getting your phone unlocked by a third party is exactly the same as having a carrier do it; once the code is entered you're good and can use a phone on any compatible network.

Know how much data you need

Most of us don't need unlimited data. The Big Four have brought back unlimited plans for the people who do need them, and we think that's great! But if you're not someone who needs a ton of data every month you're probably overpaying if you sign up for one of them.

You can check how much data you've used recently pretty easily. Your phone has a setting in the Wireless and networks section that tells you how much you have used in the past 30 days, but it's a good idea to get a bigger sample size here. At your carrier's website you should find a statement for the past few months that will show how much data each phone number on the account used. Get an average for the past couple of months, then add 1GB to it for a "just in case" bumper.

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Take this number and look at the MVNO you're considering. Chances are there is a plan that will cover what you need. The best part? You don't have a contract and can adjust things next month if you need to!

Android Nougat gives you a great way to keep your data usage in check

What happens if you use all of your data for the month?

Life isn't static. Even with careful planning you might have a month where you had to use more data than you budgeted. It's important to know what happens and how you can add more data on a temporary basis.

Most every MVNO will sell "extra" data in 1GB increments. It's usually a little more than it would be if it were bundled into a pre-packged plan, but it won't be outrageous. Most companies charge about $10 per GB.

Buying extra data is always easy, but make sure you know how to do it before you need it.

What you need to do is check how you can add it right from your phone, so when you're close to using your allotted amount you can tap a few buttons and fill up your data bucket. You'll find this information on the company's website along with any other services they offer, such as international roaming or auto-refilling.

This is important because MVNOs aren't like the Big Four, and won't keep you connected then charge you overage fees (the good part) and instead usually cut you off completely once you've used all you have paid for (the bad part). Don't get stuck with no data and no way to buy more!

Some things cost extra or are not available

Wireless carriers can be strict about what they allow on their networks, and MVNOs are no different. Their business model — buy wireless service in bulk and resell with no frills — means they will have some restrictions on what you can and can't do, like tethering your phone or using your phone to call and text with someone outside of the U.S.

Chances are none of us are planning to run a server from our phone, but if you want to tether a laptop or tablet through your phone once in a while or call and text relatives in Mexico, you need to know the rules so you know what to expect. Many MVNOs will have simple and cost effective add-ons you can apply if you need more than just the basic service.

Just take the time to read the terms and see what you can and can't do while using the service. If you're unsure of anything you see, call or chat with a sales rep through the website and get squared away.

Advanced features may not work

Many of us have phones that support things like HD voice calls (VoLTE) or Wi-Fi calling. They're nice features if you use them regularly, but most of the time they are very phone and network specific. An MVNO may not have them at all, or you may need phones designed to run on a specific carrier to use them.

Advanced calling features require very specific phones.

This works the same way for the Big Four. If you want Verizon's HD Voice, for example, you'll need to have a phone that says Verizon on the back because it was built to the carrier's specs to use the service. Because most MVNOs don't sell phones under their own brand, you'll have to investigate if any of the features they offer need a specific brand of phone.

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Mint SIM offers Wi-Fi calling, and it works really well — as long as you have a phone that supports T-Mobile's Wi-Fi calling feature. Verizon offers its own Wi-Fi calling but it's not supported on Mint SIM. Most phones that support Wi-Fi calling are built to work on both networks so you're OK with either a Verizon or T-Mobile phone, but not a Sprint or an AT&T phone. It can be a little confusing even to smartphone veterans!

You don't need any of these extras to have good, cheap cellular service. That's the best part. But if you see something you don't understand, you can drop a question in the comments and someone can help give you an answer.

Photo courtesy National Park Service.

Prioritization is a thing

Prioritization means a carrier like T-Mobile identifies which phones using the network are doing it through an MVNO and gives priority to their direct customers. Only a certain number of phones can be connected to a cell tower at a time, and we're always switching on and off to make sure everyone has a turn. We've all probably been somewhere that a lot of people were using their phones and the service got really slow — that's because the lines to get your turn were long and you noticed the wait time.

When things get extreme, MVNO customers can experience even slower service because direct customers are given priority. I use MVNO carriers almost exclusively because I love the value they offer. But I do get to see prioritization in action every year on The Mall in Washington, D.C. during the annual July Fourth celebration. There are three-quarters of a million people jammed into a four block area, and we're all on our phones. Folks who pay AT&T (for example) directly for service have very poor service. People like me using an MVNO have practically no service.

There's nothing you can do about this, and no secret hack you see on the internet is going to work. It just happens when there are way too many people using just a few towers. The rest of the year I get the same service I would have from one of the Big Four at a much lower price.

Bonus number 9 thing!

You're going to have extra money every month. You'll have the service you are used to in most every way, but it costs a lot less and you only have to pay for the amount you'll need. Some MVNOs only charge you for the exact amount you use!

Saving enough for a nice night on the town because you switched phone companies is a great feeling. You'll love it.

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2 days ago

Here's our best view yet of the Galaxy S8

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Front to back, this is the best view of the Galaxy S8 so far.

Well, this is it: without seeing a leaked hands-on video with the device, this is about as good a perspective as you're going to get of the Samsung Galaxy S8.

Courtesy of Evan Blass, here is a series of Galaxy S8 renders (altered slightly by us) giving us a view of both the front and back of the upcoming flagship phone in two colors: black, and silver. It appears that the silver version has a black front face, along with metal sides that match the hue of the rear, while the all-black version maintains the "murdered out" aesthetic that debuted with the Galaxy Note 7 (and was subsequently released on the Galaxy S7).

The leak appears to be sourced from the same place as a previous one, but this time we have the matching rear view to round things out.

We also know, thanks to that previous leak, that the Galaxy S8 will likely debut in Europe at 799€, while the larger Galaxy S8+ will come in at 899€. You can expect a similar breakdown in the U.S.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus

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2 days ago

Android 7.1.2 beta 2 is here, and it brings new features to old phones

24

Android 7.1.2 has now received its second beta prior to the public release in April.

Users of Nexus and Pixel phones running the Android 7.1.2 beta can now download the second beta in the series, which fixes some bugs from the initial version released in January while bringing eligible phones that latest security updates.

The update is already hitting Pixel devices, along with the Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, Pixel C and Nexus Player, and brings the devices up to build NPG47I. It was announced on Google+ by Google's Orrin Hancock.

According to numerous reports, the Nexus 6P gains the popular "swipe-down-for-notifications" shortcut with the new version, which came to the Nexus 5X in a previous update. Perhaps the biggest update of the group is for the Pixel C, which gains the new Pixel launcher and a refreshed multitasking interface.

How to enroll in the Android 7.1.2 beta

We expect the final public version of Android 7.1.2 to roll out to all eligible devices in early April.

Android Nougat

img { width: 100%; height: auto; } .devicebox ul { display: table; margin: 0 0 10px; width: 100%; } .devicebox ul li { background: #f7f7f7; margin: 2px 0; padding: 4px 15px; } .devicebox ul li:hover { background: #fff; } .devicebox ul li:before { display: none; } .devicebox p ~ p { line-height: 1.25; } .devicebox p:first-of-type + p { padding: 15px; } .devicebox a.buy-link { border-radius: 5px; display: inline-block; font: 14px/31px "Proxima Nova Extrabld",Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; text-align: center; } .devicebox a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:link, .devicebox a.buy-link:active, .devicebox a.buy-link:visited { background: #37B5D7; color: #FFF; } .devicebox a.buy-link:hover { background: #2694B2; text-decoration: none; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { content: "\e61e"; font: 40px/0 "ac_iconset" !important; margin: 0 3px 0 -8px; vertical-align: middle; } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { /* div:not(.columns-3) excludes help menu content */ .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p img, .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 660px) { .devicebox h3 { text-align: center; } .devicebox ul, .devicebox p { display: block; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox p img, .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 661px), all and (max-width: 500px) { /* 2x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(even) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) { width: 100%; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 659px) and (min-width: 501px) { /* 3x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(100%/3 - 10px/3); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n):not(:nth-last-of-type(2)) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:only-child { width: 100%; margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(odd) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 500px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { display: none; } } .page-admin .devicebox {max-width: 350px;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe {position: relative; height: 0; padding-bottom: 56.9%;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe iframe {width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

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2 days ago

Neverware offering Office 365 focused version of CloudReady Chrome OS

4

Neverware is now offering a version of its take on Chrome OS with Microsoft OneDrive and Office 365 integration.

CloudReady is software designed to breathe new life into your old Windows computer or Mac by using Chromium — the free open source version of Chrome OS. We looked at a build of CloudReady designed for virtual machines and found it was an excellent way to experience Chrome OS without buying any new hardware. It's great to see another company using the resources the Chromium project makes available and doing such a good job with it.

Now Neverware has taken the next step and is offering more than just the same software you can get from Google. The CloudReady: Office 365 Education Edition.

Neverware thinks this combines the best of two worlds for students and IT managers.

While still Chrome OS at its core, this new version of CloudReady offers integration with OneDrive in place of Google Drive. When it's time to create or edit documents, the user is directed to the online versions of Word, Excel, and the rest of the Microsoft Office 365 apps. Neverware says they worked with Microsoft to develop the Office 365 Education Edition of CloudReady and that this should enable "more efficient learning for students" while keeping the safe and simple reliability that comes with using Chrome OS.

While any Chrome-powered PC can access the online Office 365 suite, having this deep integration is something we haven't seen before. Similarly, these Office 365 Edition computers can still access all of Google services through the web browser for a best of both worlds scenario.

Since this is geared towards the education sector, it has a very enticing price: $1 per student (or $15 per machine) per year. A lifetime license is just $59 per machine. Learn more at Neverware's Office 365 Edition web page.

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2 days ago

Essential Accessories For Google Pixel and Pixel XL

59

Perfect partners for your Pixel.

So you've just dropped a chunk of cash on a shiny new Pixel or Pixel XL, and it'll soon be heading your way. But what about accessories for your shiny new Google phone?

Google has a wide range of first-party accessories for its first own-branded handset, and we've also rounded up some top essentials from elsewhere. Take a look!

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2 days ago

New Guess Connect Android Wear watches announced in two sizes with lots of gold

7

More fashion names are getting into the Android Wear world.

You may have forgotten by now that Guess actually had Android Wear watches, but it's hoping to re-spark enthusiasm for its brand in the smartwatch world with two new entries in the Guess Connect family. The new Guess Connect models come in two sizes, corresponding with different styles: a 41mm women-focused design, and a 44mm with more of a men's look. The 41mm Guess Connect will have multiple color choices, including silver, gold, and rose gold.

Just like we'll continue to see throughout 2017, the Guess Connect watches are powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor, which is designed specifically for Android Wear 2.0. Because we won't see the products actually launch until late this year, Guess isn't laying out any more specs at this time. And to be fair, most people looking at a Guess smartwatch likely don't care about how much RAM is in it either.

Guess takes its best shot at who it thinks will be interested in a Guess Connect watch:

The global fashion powerhouse recognizes the importance of providing smart, hi-tech value on the wrists of their young, sexy, and adventurous consumers.

Uh huh. That perfectly describes us! Well, they're bound to appeal to someone — Guess sells plenty of mechanical watches and is an extremely well-known name in fashion. Google has shown a propensity to make partnerships with well-known fashion brands for Android Wear rather than just electronics companies, and it's a good dual-pronged approach that can appeal to a wider audience.

We'll have a better idea of complete specs, pricing, and availability of the Guess Connect watches later this year.

Android Wear

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2 days ago

Lineage OS surpasses 1 million active installs, with OnePlus One leading the charge

5

From the ashes of CyanogenMod, Lineage OS continues to grow.

Late last year the world officially said goodbye to CyanogenMod when its parent company, Cyanogen Inc., shut down operations. But in its wake came Lineage OS, a rebranding of the same core OS carried on by the CM community.

Despite the setback, the movement appears to be back on track. Just under 3 months later, there have been over 1 million active downloads across all the different builds, according to the project statistics page.

Lineage OS is available for a growing number of devices. Currently, the most popular active build is "bacon" for the OnePlus One, with over 60,000 active installs.

If you're interested in getting involved in the community, you can check out the Lineage OS subreddit.

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2 days ago

LG's cute airport robots show a lighter, more helpful side of technology

3
LG airport robots

There's more to these big companies than just phones and computers.

When we think about LG as a company, we understandably tend to focus on its phones, TVs and perhaps components — after all, we're most excited when something like the LG G6 or a new display is announced. But LG is a massive company that does all sort of things with electronics (and beyond), like the cute and helpful airport robots the it announced at CES 2017.

Immediately after my trip to South Korea in February, LG started trialling these two autonomous, helpful airport robots at Seoul-Incheon International Airport (ICN). One tall model with a screen, aptly named "Airport Guide Robot," is designed to help passengers find their way around the massive ICN airport terminals. Slightly less exciting from a passenger perspective, but still important, is the "Airport Cleaning Robot" that's designed to tidy up the floors.

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2 days ago

SoftBank eschews $100 million investment in Andy Rubin's 'Essential' smartphone company

11

Money from tech-focused 'Vision Fund' is flowing, but not to Andy Rubin this time.

After first hearing about Andy Rubin's upcoming phone company called "Essential" back in January, information is being revealed today that SoftBank has pulled back on an expected $100 million investment in the company. SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son has decided to put the brakes on the investment that would have valued Essential at $1 billion.

That would have been putting a considerable amount of faith in a company that has yet to announce or even tease a product, though according to sources of The Wall Street Journal, Essential could be launching a phone as early as this Spring. WSJ claims Essential's phone would be "high-end" and of course running Android, with tie-ins to home automation and artificial intelligence. It would be priced similarly to Samsung's Galaxy S line.

Essential still plans to launch a high-end phone this year.

As we all know, the high-end smartphone market is a tough one to crack today, and a whole lot has to go right in order to make a splash. The reported investment would have involved more than just money, though, as SoftBank would have also used its large marketing and carrier power in Japan to help launch the phone there.

Sources indicate that the deal between Essential and SoftBank was nearly finalized after months of talks, only to be called off in the late stages by Son. Speculation is that Son had a last-minute change of heart on the deal following Apple's $1 billion commitment to his "Vision Fund" venture capital fund. Though Apple itself did not explicitly block the investment in Essential, Son may have seen some conflict of interest in investing with a rival smartphone maker.

It is unknown as to how much the loss of this funding will play into the launch plans of Essential's phone.

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2 days ago

Save $30 when you buy 2 Google Homes from Verizon

6

Intelligent speakers shouldn't be confined to just one room of your house.

Verizon has been pushing its offering of accessories and smart home products quite a bit recently, and its latest deal will give you two Google Homes for $229. That's $115 each ... or one at $130, with the second one at $100. Hey, any way you slice it, you're saving $30 when you buy two Google Homes, and that's a really solid deal.

See at Verizon

Maybe you haven't yet hopped on the Google Home train or you've already bought one and want two more for around the house; either way, Verizon is a great place to look if you're in the market. Verizon also offers free shipping if you want to buy online.

Google Home

Google Store Best Buy Target

img { width: 100%; height: auto; } .devicebox ul { display: table; margin: 0 0 10px; width: 100%; } .devicebox ul li { background: #f7f7f7; margin: 2px 0; padding: 4px 15px; } .devicebox ul li:hover { background: #fff; } .devicebox ul li:before { display: none; } .devicebox p ~ p { line-height: 1.25; } .devicebox p:first-of-type + p { padding: 15px; } .devicebox a.buy-link { border-radius: 5px; display: inline-block; font: 14px/31px "Proxima Nova Extrabld",Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; text-align: center; } .devicebox a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:link, .devicebox a.buy-link:active, .devicebox a.buy-link:visited { background: #37B5D7; color: #FFF; } .devicebox a.buy-link:hover { background: #2694B2; text-decoration: none; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { content: "\e61e"; font: 40px/0 "ac_iconset" !important; margin: 0 3px 0 -8px; vertical-align: middle; } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { /* div:not(.columns-3) excludes help menu content */ .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p img, .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 660px) { .devicebox h3 { text-align: center; } .devicebox ul, .devicebox p { display: block; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox p img, .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 661px), all and (max-width: 500px) { /* 2x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(even) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) { width: 100%; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 659px) and (min-width: 501px) { /* 3x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(100%/3 - 10px/3); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n):not(:nth-last-of-type(2)) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:only-child { width: 100%; margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(odd) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 500px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { display: none; } } .page-admin .devicebox {max-width: 350px;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe {position: relative; height: 0; padding-bottom: 56.9%;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe iframe {width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

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2 days ago

ZTE Blade V8 Pro review: Remarkably good for the price

37

The ZTE Blade V8 Pro is better than it has any reason to be.

I'm always a little shocked at how little people know (or care) about the Chinese companies slowly (and in some cases, not so slowly) eating into market share in the West. Through missteps and massive marketing campaigns, giants like Huawei and ZTE are encroaching on the feeling, if not the actual doorstep, of popular culture, largely because they have found success in their home country and feel it's replicable in the U.S.

But the powers that be are not ready to concede the traditional handset market to these agitators, at least not at the carrier level, so the likes of ZTE have to play the hand they have. And my, what a hand.

The quick take

The ZTE Blade V8 Pro is the series' first entry into the U.S., and it's a stunner. From the incredible build quality to the excellent performance and admirable camera performance, this is a phone that does not betray its $230 price point.

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