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6 days ago

How to prepare your HTC Vive for Star Trek: Bridge Crew

 Bridge Crew

Is my Vive ready for Star Trek: Bridge Crew?

Star Trek: Bridge Crew, the hotly anticipated game that many VR and Trek fans have been waiting for forever is finally dropping May 30, 2017. The ability to sit on the bridge of the USS Aegis and work as a team with your friends on Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR is bound to be popular, but how can you get your Vive ready for what promises to be an authentic Trek experience? Here are a few tips to ensure your bridge station is as good as possible.

Read more at VR Heads!

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6 days ago

Best Android Camera

Update, May 2017: The Google Pixel is still our top camera, followed closely by the Galaxy S8. The LG G6's dual cameras join the group, taking over from the V20, and the new HTC U11 hops on as a great camera in its own right.

Best overall

Google Pixel

See at Verizon See at Google

Google's Pixel phone comes out on top when you look at photo quality and simplicity of shooting. Interestingly, it does this with what would normally be considered middle-of-the-road camera specs. You get a 12MP sensor and f/2.0 lens without the support OIS (optical image stabilization), but that isn't an issue for the Pixel.

It also has a simple camera interface that doesn't have a ton of features, but makes up for it in terms of overall quality. Just point and shoot, and you're going to get a great photo every single time. Daylight shots are crisp and bright with just the right amount of extra saturation, and low-light shots are surprisingly smooth and lack the extra noise that other phones often introduce.

Add in the extra perk that the Pixel includes unlimited full-resolution photo backup with Google Photos, and it's a truly great smartphone camera.

Bottom line: For the best possible photos from every type of situation, the Pixel is your best choice.

One more thing: For the same camera experience in a larger size with a bigger battery, consider the (more expensive) Google Pixel XL.

Why the Google Pixel is the best

After years of Nexuses with hit-or-miss cameras, Google finally delivered on its promise with the Pixel — and it's doing it with a similar formula we first saw in the Nexus 6P and 5X. You don't get OIS (optical image stabilization), but instead a 12MP sensor with really large pixels that can take in extra light and HDR+ software that does the extra work to bring multiple exposures together.

The results are absolutely fantastic, no matter the shooting situation. As Alex Dobie said in our Pixel review:

Captures are quick, there's plenty of fine detail in a wide variety of lighting conditions, and Google's Auto-HDR+ trickery produces photos with excellent dynamic range in situations where many rivals stumble. Colors are punchy, but not excessively saturated. And even in challenging lighting conditions, such as dark restaurants at night, a good amount of fine detail and color detail is preserved.

The Pixel doesn't offer a ton of shooting modes or lots of tweaking options in the camera interface, but that doesn't really matter to most people — the end result when you press the shutter key matches or beats the competition, and offers amazing consistency from shot to shot. Photos are crisp with just the right amount of punchy color, and when the light is at a minimum it manages to still take smooth shots anyway. It's incredibly impressive what Google was able to do in the Pixel, and the results are to your benefit every time you open the camera.

Best runner-up

Samsung Galaxy S8

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

Samsung's new Galaxy S8 (and the larger Galaxy S8+) has an extremely iterative camera experience from the Galaxy S7, but when you're coming from such a great shooter as before it's easy to see why. This is still a 12MP sensor with 1.4-micron pixels and an f/1.7 lens, which are all specs that stand up strong in 2017. What's changed is Samsung's processing software.

The Galaxy S8 takes excellent photos in just about every situation, leaning on those bigger pixels and bright lens to make the most of dark scenes. Samsung's new processing is a bit less saturated and more balanced than the GS7, but still steps away from "neutral" and leans toward "pleasing to the eye" instead — that's not an issue, but simply a characteristic of Samsung's cameras. The GS8's edge detail and sharpening are much improved all around from last year.

The camera app is still blazingly fast to open and consistent, adding in a whole bunch of shooting modes and a few neat features that enhance the experience.

Bottom line: Anyone would be happy to shoot with the Galaxy S8, and it's tough to find fault in this formula.

One more thing: Samsung's front-facing camera also offers auto focus, which is a nice-to-have feature you don't get everywhere.

Best for tweaking

LG G6

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

LG has taken the dual camera setup from the V20 and vastly improved it with the G6. Both sensors are identical 12MP units, leading to increased quality of the wide-angle shots and more similar shots overall between the two. This makes the dual camera setup more valuable, as you can lean on the 125-degree wide-angle lens in the same way as the standard 71-degree one.

Despite having relatively small 1.12-micron pixels, the main camera takes amazing photos paired with its f/1.8 lens. During the day it's quite neutral and true to life, while at night it does well to recreate the scene without adding light that isn't actually there.

LG's camera app can still be a little slow and isn't as fast as Samsung's or simple as Google's, but gets the job done. And as a trade off it also offers a whole heap of manual controls so you can tweak anything you want.

Bottom line: With a main camera that can challenge the competition and an extra wide-angle shooter, the G6 offers many great options for photos.

One more thing: The LG G6 is also the cheapest phone in this lineup, offering perhaps the best value for your money when looking at the cameras.

Best balanced

HTC U11

See at Amazon See at Sprint See at HTC

HTC's 2017 flagship, the U11, sort of splits the difference between the Pixel and the Galaxy S8. Like the Galaxy S8 it has a 12MP sensor with 1.4-micron pixels and an f/1.7 lens — which HTC dubs "UltraPixel 3" — but HTC's camera app is simpler, leaning a bit toward Google's. The U11's camera offers advanced shooting modes and hyperlapses, for example, but no filters or anything of that sort to get in your way.

When it comes to photo quality HTC will tout its DxOMark Mobile score of 90, but the proof is in the pictures: this thing absolutely competes with the top-end phones released in 2017. HTC's continued focus on accurate photos is at play here giving you shots that are attempting to be true to the scene, but reproducing them with just a little punch and plenty of sharpness and clarity.

Bottom line: The U11 offers a great overall camera experience, with excellent photo quality and also extra features without being overwhelming.

One more thing: We highly recommend buying the U11 unlocked from Amazon or HTC — it works on any U.S. carrier.

Conclusion

Google still has the best camera when it comes to photo quality, but it's followed closely by three other phones that all have their own perks. The Galaxy S8 is fast and feature-packed, the LG G6 has its dual cameras and HTC offers a nice mix of features and quality.

Best overall

Google Pixel

See at Verizon See at Google

Google's Pixel phone comes out on top when you look at photo quality and simplicity of shooting. Interestingly, it does this with what would normally be considered middle-of-the-road camera specs. You get a 12MP sensor and f/2.0 lens without the support OIS (optical image stabilization), but that isn't an issue for the Pixel.

It also has a simple camera interface that doesn't have a ton of features, but makes up for it in terms of overall quality. Just point and shoot, and you're going to get a great photo every single time. Daylight shots are crisp and bright with just the right amount of extra saturation, and low-light shots are surprisingly smooth and lack the extra noise that other phones often introduce.

Add in the extra perk that the Pixel includes unlimited full-resolution photo backup with Google Photos, and it's a truly great smartphone camera.

Bottom line: For the best possible photos from every type of situation, the Pixel is your best choice.

One more thing: For the same camera experience in a larger size with a bigger battery, consider the (more expensive) Google Pixel XL.

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6 days ago

Tracking your pet with TrackR creates a false sense of security

11

Using a TrackR device to keep tabs on your pet works, although it's not as convenient and easy as you may expect it to be.

It's spring time, which means we're all itching to get outside and enjoy the warm sun — and that goes double for your pets. Whether you try to keep close tabs on your pet or keep them fenced in your backyard, there's always a risk that your furry friend might make a break for it and go for a wander around the neighborhood.

Few moments are more nerve-wracking as when you realize your pet is lost.

Few moments are more nerve-wracking as when you realize your pet is lost. It was the fear of that moment that inspired me to test out using the TrackR Bravo as a means of keep tabs on my feisty feline — and assist me in tracking her down if she manages to get out.

TrackR produces a line of small and simple-to-use tracking devices that use Bluetooth and your smartphone using the TrackR app. It's slim enough to be tossed in a wallet or added to a keychain so that you can track down those vital items if you misplace them in your home.

What I found is that the TrackR technology certainly works for tracking pets, but not quite at the level was hoping it would.

Great in theory, flawed in practice

Setting up the TrackR in the Android app is easy. You're able to add and manage multiple trackers with labels for different items you may want to track — including pets!

So I went in, set up my tracker for my cat Shelley and then attached it to her harness. Given the slim size of the tracker, she barely noticed it was there which is great. It really does just look like any other dog tag, so we were off to a great start.

The TrackR Bravo's size makes it ideal for adding it to your pet's collar.

Once I was all set up, it was time to run my first tests. I threw the cat outside — and by that I mean I opened the back door as she darted between my legs — and went back to my office to work, with the TrackR app open at my side. From my window, I could still see my cat exploring the backyard, and could also see her location on my phone.

I did this same thing for a few days before it finally happened: I looked outside and Shelley was nowhere to be found. "Great," I thought, "now is the perfect time to really test the TrackR app."

So I loaded it up and… the cat and TrackR were out of range of my phone's Bluetooth radio. I was able to see her last tracked location, which was in my backyard about five minutes before I noticed she was missing, so I knew she couldn't have gone far. And lo and behold, when I opened the back gate, there she was waiting to be let back into the back yard. I found it took a bit of time for the app to reconnect with the TrackR again.

In the tracker settings, you're able to turn on features like "Device Separation Alert", which will have the TrackR alarm ring if you leave it behind — or in this case, when it walks out of range from your phone. But due to warnings of false alerts and increased battery consumption I left that feature off as it didn't seem like it would be effective for my needs.

Ideally, I was hoping the pet settings would include a feature that let me set an acceptable location range for the tracker, and if the app detects the TrackR has left that outlined parameters I get a warning alerting me that my cat is trying to make a break for it. Unfortunately, it seems like the pet icon is nothing more than a label, and the app treats a TrackR Bravo attached to your pet's collar the same way it would a set of keys.

It's better if we work together!

TrackR sporting some battle scars after Shelley's great escape.

All told, using the TrackR on my pet didn't work the way I expected it would, though my expectations were probably set a little too high going in. It does give me some added peace of mind, though, that if she does get out and lost I've got some technology to help track her down, and for that reason, I'm going to keep it on her collar going forward.

The crowdsourcing feature has the potential to be really useful — as long as TrackR beats out the competition.

This actually brings me to a key feature built into TrackR that will be really helpful if you plan to use their technology to track your pets — crowdsourcing. Like competitor Tile, TrackR relies on its users to create a sort of network of devices around your city or area to help pinpoint the location of its trackers. So let's say your dog runs away, but your neighbor down the block has the TrackR app on his or her phone. In theory, their phone will recognize your dog's TrackR and update its last known whereabouts in your app.

To this end, if you're planning on using a TrackR device to track your pet, your best bet may be to try and coordinate with other pet owners in your neighborhood to get them in on the plan with their own TrackRs, or at the very least have the app running on their phone. The more devices running the TrackR app, the better the odds of getting updated pings if your pet gets loose.

Beyond that, if you don't want your cat or dog to run away, common sense pet ownership still reigns supreme. Tie your cat up with a harness if you want to give them some unsupervised time outside, or better yet keep an eye on them yourself and enjoy some quality time outside.

See at Amazon

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6 days ago

Moto G5S leak shows off all-metallic chassis and three color options

11

Motorola is getting ready to launch an upgraded variant of the Moto G5.

Motorola's leaked roadmap for 2017 revealed the existence of a Moto G5 variant dubbed the G5S, and we're now getting a first look at the device courtesy of Android Authority. The publication got a hold of press renders of the upcoming phone from a "trusted source familiar with Lenovo's plans," showing off the color options on offer.

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6 days ago

How to enable iris scanning and face unlock on the Galaxy S8

11

How do I unlock the Galaxy S8 with my face?

The Galaxy Note 7 (RIP) was the first Samsung device with biometric unlock, but along with iris scanning, the Galaxy S8 brings back an old trick: face unlock. Both are fast and secure, and make up for the awkward placement of the fingerprint sensor. Here's how to use them to unlock your phone.

Biometrics on the Galaxy S8 explained

How to enable iris unlock on the Galaxy S8

  1. From the home screen, swipe down on the notification shade.
  2. Tap the settings icon (cog shape).
  3. Scroll down and tap on Lock screen and security.

  4. Tap on Iris scanner.
  5. Enter your password, PIN or pattern.
  6. Tap Register irises.

  7. Agree to the disclaimer.
  8. Tap continue.
  9. Look at the front-facing camera to register irises.
  10. Tap Turn on if Face unlock is already enabled.
  11. (Optional) Enable Iris unlock when screen turns on to speed up unlock process.
  12. (Optional) Enable Samsung account to use iris to unlock Samsung account.

How to change the screen mask you see when unlocking the phone

Samsung has included a number of interesting (and a few child-friendly) masks that you can use to spruce up the iris unlocking feature. Here's how to change to one of them from the default.

  1. From the home screen, swipe down on the notification shade.
  2. Tap the settings icon (cog shape).
  3. Scroll down and tap on Lock screen and security.

  4. Tap on Iris scanner.
  5. Enter your password, PIN or pattern.
  6. Tap Preview screen mask.
  7. Select new mask pattern.

How to enable Face unlock on the Galaxy S8

  1. From the home screen, swipe down on the notification shade.
  2. Tap the settings icon (cog shape).
  3. Scroll down and tap on Lock screen and security.

  4. Tap on Face recognition.
  5. Enter your password, PIN or pattern.
  6. Tap Register your face.

  7. Tap continue.
  8. Look at front-facing camera to register face.
  9. Tap Turn on if iris scanner is already enabled.
  10. (Optional) Enable Face unlock when screen turns on to speed up unlock process.

That's it! But there are a few things to keep in mind.

How to improve your iris scanning or face unlock experience

Even though the iris scanner and face unlock on the Galaxy S8 are fast and secure, there are ways to improve the experience.

  • When registering irises, take off glasses or remove contacts. This makes it easier for the system to see the real you. You know, inside.
  • Make sure your eyes are open fully — if you're in the sun, move to a shady area so you don't have to squint.
  • Don't try to unlock with your iris in direct sunlight. If you're going to be outdoors for a long period of time, switch over to face unlock, which is faster in good lighting conditions.
  • Don't try to use face unlock in low-light situations. If you're going to be indoors for a long period of time, switch over to iris scanning.
  • This seems obvious, but don't smudge up the front-facing camera or any of the front sensors.
  • If you're getting a lot of failures on either iris scanning or face unlock, remove the registered data, move to a better-lit area (indoors, with good light) and try again.

That's it! Hopefully your biometric unlocking experience is great, but if it's not, there's always the rear fingerprint sensor to fall back on. You have set that up already, haven't you?

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Main

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About

The Galaxy S8, and its larger sibling the S8+, are Samsung's top-end devices for 2017 meant to appeal to the general consumer and power user alike. The two phones are only differentiated by screen and battery size: 5.8 inches and 3000mAh, and 6.2 inches and 3500mAh.

The displays have a new 18.5:9 aspect ratio with a QHD+ resolution, meaning they're extra tall and narrow. Samsung moved to on-screen buttons and reduced bezel size dramatically in order to fit as much screen into the body as possible. That moved the fingerprint sensor to the back of the phones, where it sits somewhat-awkwardly next to the camera lens. Iris scanning makes its return in a new-and-improved version from the Note 7.

Though the batteries haven't increased in size from the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, the hope is that the improved efficiency of the new 10 nm processor inside will provide some help. The processor is backed up by 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Waterproofing and wireless charging are still here as well, plus a new USB-C port on the bottom. The rear camera is unchanged in terms of its 12MP sensor and f/1.7 lens, but has improved processing thanks to a new ISP and software.

Specs

Width Height Thickness 5.86 in
148.9 mm
2.68 in
68.1 mm
0.31 in
8 mm
5.47 oz
155g grams
  • Display:
    • 5.8-inch AMOLED display
    • 2960x1440 resolution
    • 18.5:9 aspect ratio
    • Dual-curve infinity display
  • Cameras:
    • 12MP ƒ/1.7 rear camera
    • Dual-pixel phase detection autofocus
    • 1.4-micron pixels
    • 8MP ƒ/1.7 front camera
  • Battery:
    • 3000 mAh battery
    • Non-removable
    • USB-C fast Charging
    • Qi + PMA wireless charging
  • Chips:
    • Snapdragon 835 processor
    • Samsung Exynos 8896 processor
      (varies by region)
    • 4GB RAM
    • 64GB internal storage
    • microSD card slot
    • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • GS8+
    • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    • 6.2-inch AMOLED display
    • 3500mAh battery
    • 6.28 in x 2.89 in x 0.32 in
      159.5mm x 73.4mm x 8.1mm
    • 6.10 oz / 73g

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6 days ago

OnePlus 5 teaser reveals four color variants, including a unicorn option

19

The OnePlus 5 could be available in black, unicorn, red, and gold color options at launch.

As we get closer to the launch of the OnePlus 5, the company is teasing additional details about its upcoming flagship. The latest tweet suggests the phone will be offered in four color options, including a multicolored unicorn hue:

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6 days ago

Mophie's Juice Pack for the Pixel XL adds Qi wireless charging

22

Just because you chose Google's Android over every other rendition doesn't mean you should be left out of the wireless fun.

Mophie has concocted a clever solution for those of you who may adore your Pixel XL smartphones, but have been secretly ruing the day you abandoned your wireless charging privileges. The newly released Juice Pack case for the Pixel XL not only tacks on an additional 2950mAh battery, but it also adds Qi wireless charging capabilities.

The Juice Pack offers protective covering and up to 50 hours of additional talk time, claims Mophie. You can charge both the battery pack and the Pixel XL's internal battery via a Qi wireless charging pad, though Mophie also mentions compatibility with "other wireless systems." If you need even faster charging, you can plug in a USB Type-C cable instead and Juice Pack will prioritize re-juicing the Pixel XL first.

Perhaps the only drawback of the Juice Pack is that it tacks on an additional 3.8 ounces to your current load, making the Pixel XL an even bigger device. But if you need the extra energy and like the idea of tapping to charge, the Mophie Juice Pack for the Pixel XL sells for nearly $100.

See at Mophie

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6 days ago

MrMobile at Google I/O: Only boring if you're not paying attention

4

Google! A giant among giants who other giants think are giant (yeah, how's that for writing?) Google's I/O conference this year has been plagued by the specter of yawns from journalists who wonder where all the fun of the previous year has disappeared to. But what were they expecting? It's a developers conference!

I'm Michael Fisher, AKA MrMobile, and while it's not splashy or gadget-heavy, there's a lot to be interested in coming from I/O this year. From simple things like easy ways to save battery life on your smartwatch, to the ease of the Kotlin programming language, to the 50 billion apps a DAY that Google scans for malware, there's a lot of cool things to do. Check out this video and Android Central's coverage of the event for all the reasons you should be excited about what we saw at Google I/O.

Stay social, my friends

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6 days ago

LG launches the X Venture, an affordable active smartphone

14

Bear Gryll-types and the accident prone: if the Galaxy Active is too much for you, LG's offering a cheaper alternative.

Looking for a rugged device that won't break the bank? LG wants you to consider its second-generation X Venture smartphone. It's made for people who are active and it's cheap enough that, if you're on AT&T, you could probably grab one as a backup simply for adventurous weekends.

The LG X Venture features a 5.2-inch Full HD In-Cell touch display. It runs Android 7.0 Nougat and features IP68 water and dust resistance, a front-facing fingerprint sensor embedded into a physical Home button along with two other physical navigation keys, and a whopping 4100mAh battery. It also comes with a 16-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 5-megapixel wide-angle front-facing camera.

Its other specifications may leave a bit to be desired, however, especially if you're eager for flagship-worthy specs. The X Venture is powered by a low-end Snapdragon 435 processor and 2GB of RAM, though it should be enough for traversing the trails and slogging through mud pits—if that's your thing. The LG X Venture is an AT&T exclusive for now.

The trickling news of LG's rugged smartphone appears to be perfectly timed with the alleged leaks of Samsung's Galaxy S8 Active hitting the scene. It's hard to ignore the similarities, too; Not only is the X Venture also an AT&T exclusive, but the X Venture is also equipped with a QuickButton on the side, which is similar to the Galaxy Active's own quick launch hardware button. LG's can be customized to launch your favorite app, too.

This particular smartphone is much cheaper, however. Rather than charge full price for a decidedly full featured phone, the LG Venture X is well-suited as a secondary device with its $260 price tag. It'll be available exclusively at AT&T beginning May 26.

See at AT&T

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6 days ago

Nest preparing new security camera with 4K video, fresh design

8
Nest Outdoor Cam

Nest isn't resting, releasing a fresh indoor camera with new features.

Nest, perhaps known best for its popular smart thermostat, is reportedly ready to refresh its Nest Cam camera with new features and a higher resolution. The Google-owned company most recently refreshed its camera lineup with an outdoor-ready version near the end of 2016.

It's a 4K camera ... but you'll only get 1080p out of it in the end.

The new Nest Cam will have a sensor capable of recording in 4K resolution, but will use this new resolution to simply enable dynamic zooming while preserving a 1080p resolution stream to the user. When it detects motion, it will be able to digitally zoom in to a specific point for a better view.

The refreshed hardware will round out with a new USB-C power source, and the lens will get an LED ring around it to indicate it's recording. Android Police claims the design is similar to that of the current Nest Outdoor camera ... but the new camera is designed for indoor use. Pricing is reportedly set at a steep $300.

The new Nest Cam is expected to launch by the end of the month, so we'll find out all of the details soon enough.

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6 days ago

Amazon Echo vs. Dot vs. Tap vs. Show: Which should you buy?

64
 Which should you buy?

Control your music and way more with Amazon's line of Echo smart speakers.

Updated May 2017: Added Modern Dad's take, a note on Tap's hands-free capabilities, and information on Echo Show.

The world of the connected home is still very much a disconnected mess. As Apple and Google each compete with their own standards — and other companies doing the same with their own — Amazon has quietly snuck in the side door with its smart, attractive, and intelligent speaker. Or, rather, speakers. After more than a year with just the Amazon Echo to lead the way, Amazon's line of smart speakers embodies that future. The Echo, Tap, Dot are very similar smart speakers, in that they perform nearly all the same functions, with some minor differences. And the new Echo Show adds a screen, and a whole new way of interactiveness.

If you're in the market for a smart speaker but can't decide between these three, we'll outline the key differences and let you know which one is best for you.

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo

The first of its kind, Amazon Echo is a 9-inch speaker that at first glance resembles a tube of Pringles. However, this unit is far more than just a speaker that can play all your favorite tunes from Pandora, Spotify, Prime Music, and more. (Tell it to "Play the Android Central Podcast," too!) It can easily become the smart controller for your entire home, connecting to smart lights (like Philips Hue), Nest thermostats, Samsung SmartThings, and much more.

It's basically a smartphone search appliance without the screen. It can answer questions, read audiobooks, check traffic and weather updates, and essentially act as your voice-activated butler (aside from actually bringing you a snack, though you can use it to order pizza from Domino's…).

In a somewhat creepy display of semi-AI, the Echo is always connected to Amazon's Alexa network, which is in the cloud and always getting smarter. The more you use it, the more it learns your preferences, speech patterns, and vocabulary, to better deliver on what you're asking for. It's always learning.

Check out our review for more!

Is it for me?

You'll want the Echo if you want the total package. If you want a whole-home control center coupled with a decent speaker, then the Echo is your best choice. It's an especially prudent choice if you already have your home rigged with smart devices. This one is designed to truly integrate with your home and therefore become a relatively permanent fixture. It comes in white and black.

See at Amazon


Echo Dot

Amazon Echo Dot

The Dot is essentially the Echo's "Mini-Me." It has a smaller, quieter speaker and, in size, is more akin to a hockey puck. It does everything the Echo does, but also has a 3.5mm output jack and Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to connect it to your current sound system. Truly, it's as though someone just decapitated the Echo and then scrunched up the full-size speaker and jammed it up into the neck, and boom, the Dot.

Connect to and control all of your smart home devices, as well as your existing audio set-up, making the Dot perhaps the most desirable of the Echo family, especially since it's only $50.

Check out our review for more!

Is it for me?

It is if you have an existing audio setup and several smart devices around your home that you'd like to control with just your voice. Don't go looking for real sound quality from the Dot, though it will do in a pinch if nothing else is available. Like the Echo, the Dot is constantly learning and adapting to your voice and your preferences. Comes in white and black.

See at Amazon

Echo Tap

Amazon Tap

The Tap is the next in line and brings most of the same features that the Echo has, with the added benefit of portability. With up to nine hours of playback, the Tap is rechargeable and comes with a handy wireless charging cradle.

Like the Echo and Dot, the Tap can control your smart home devices, and it can also act as you futuristic assistant, adding items to your calendar and helping with searches. It connects to your phone and other smart devices, like tablets, via Bluetooth, but just for playback.

The Tap is the only somewhat customizable Echo option, with the Tap Sling cover available in six colors.

The Tap has also been updated to allow for an "always listening" mode, so it's now basically the same as the Echo and Dot in terms of control. Its portability is really what separates it from the others.

Is it for me?

It is if you want a portable speaker that also lets you stream music from many of your favorite services. The Tap can do all of the assistant-related things that the Echo and Dot do. If you just want a Bluetooth speaker that doubles as a personal assistant (by using the Alexa app), then the Tap is your best choice. Only available in black.

See at Amazon


Echo Show

Amazon Echo Show

The Echo Show is the next evolution of the Amazon Echo. Whereas Alexa could only tell you about stuff before, now she can show you. Before, you could simply listen to your flash briefing, which was dynamite — a quick overview of the day's news. Now you can watch your flash briefing, as well as YouTube videos. See where this is going?

Thanks to Alexa's new calling skill, you can also video call — hands-free — like it's the future. Calling isn't all it's for, since you can also see music lyrics, listen to music straight out of it, thanks to excellent Dolby processing, and you can even connect compatible security cameras, then ask Alexa to show you those cameras, so you can keep an eye on things from wherever you are in the house.

The Echo Show features eight microphones and noise cancellation, so it can hear you from just about any direction — even while music is playing.

Is it for me?

If you're looking for one of the most futuristic devices available that not only lets you control your smart home hands-free but also lets you take and make hands-free video calls, watch YouTube videos on the fly, see your flash briefing, and much more, with a well-balanced speaker to boot.

Echo Show is the perfect stationary Alexa vehicle, so if you're looking for something portable, go with one of the other options.

See at Amazon

How do you choose?

If you want the total package — decent speaker, whole-home control, and a personal assistant, all controlled by your voice — then go with the Echo.

If you want the exact same thing, but smaller, since you already have a sweet home-audio setup, then go with the Dot. It's definitely the best value.

If you want a portable Bluetooth speaker that can also act as a personal assistant, and you don't mind getting up to tap it when you want to control your smart home devices, then the Tap is your bag, baby.

But if you want it all — and have the money for it — grab an Echo Show when it's released at the end of June.

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo Dot

Amazon

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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6 days ago

Google I/O 2017: Developers share their highlights

3

Google I/O is a developers conference, after all, so we asked developers to tell us about what excited them this year.

*/ /*-->*/

What would Google I/O be without the mass number of developers congregating together in honor of one of the world's biggest mobile operating systems? Well, it wouldn't be much. After all, this is a developer's conference.

I went around and asked a few Android developers what they loved most about the Google I/O keynote and the conference this year. And interestingly, many of those who were queried had something to say about the addition of Kotlin for Android.

Voltrack Poltrack, Fat Russell

AC: What was your favorite part of the Google I/O keynote?

I'm excited to work on stuff for the Google Home. Something for world domination.

AC: What are you most looking forward to from the conference?

I'm excited about the Android Wear talks, but I'm biased. [Poltrack is a developer of Android Wear apps.]

Mike, Developer at Speedify

AC: What was your favorite part of the Google I/O keynote?

I'm really excited about the changes to Android Studio 3.0. So many awesome features — the new profiling features really look good. I'm also really excited for the Fabric and Firebase merger. We use Fabric all the time at work and I think it will be awesome to have a single console.

AC: Will that make developing easier for you?

It'll make detecting bugs to deliver a good, stable product much easier.

Lucia, N26 - The Mobile Bank

AC: What was your favorite part of the Google I/O keynote?

Kotlin, obviously. Kotlin is a smarter, more advanced language. Now that Google is going to support it officially, it's going to push the community to do much more with it. I'm very excited to see how this goes.

AC: Will that make developing easier for you?

Migrating Java to Kotlin is easy in a way because you can have both, but there is a learning curve…so I don't know about that, but let's see.

Jerrell Mardis, Ride Metra

AC: What was your favorite part of the Google I/O keynote?

Kotlin. It's an awesome language and it's an upgrade over Java.

Erik Hellman, Freelancer

AC: What do you develop?

Android, mostly. Sometimes I'm unfortunate enough to do stuff that is less interesting, but mostly Android.

AC: What was your favorite part of the Google I/O keynote?

The lady from YouTube with the Red Blazer. That was amazing.

AC: Did Google announce anything that would make development easier for you?

Tons of stuff. I'll be out of work soon because they're going to put Machine Learning in everything, so.

AC: What about Kotlin?

I've been doing Kotlin for a couple of months already, so it's nice to see it get official support.

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6 days ago

Your sweat won't affect these $10 Bluetooth headphones

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Our friends at Thrifter are back again, this time with some extremely affordable Bluetooth headphones you should try!

If you've been considering making the move to Bluetooth headphones but don't want to spend a ton to try them out, this may be the perfect set for you. Right now you can pick up Mpow's sweatproof Bluetooth headphones for just $9.99 with coupon code WQMZZ4LE, which is a savings of $23. Keep in mind that at this price you won't be getting Bose quality headphones, but if you are looking to try something out, or need a new set of headphones for the gym, these may be perfect for the job.

The headphones are lightweight and comfortable, and the non-slip rubber ear hooks help keep them in place. Odds are you can find sillier ways to spend $10 today, so why not give these headphones a shot!

See at Amazon

For more great deals be sure to check out our friends at Thrifter now!

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6 days ago

Best motion controller games on PlayStation VR

PlayStation Move enabled games on PlayStation VR bring you into the heart of the game, and add an extra layer of immersion.

Many of the games on PlayStation VR only require you to use a DualShock 4 controller. However, there are a fair few that are either enhanced by using PlayStation Move controllers, or require them to play the game at all. Rather than taking away from the experience, Move controllers can really add to the immersion of PlayStation VR. That's why we've collected the best PlayStation VR games that use PlayStation Move controllers for you to check out.

Read More at VR Heads!

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6 days ago

Chromebook Keyboard Buyer's Guide

7

The best keyboard you can buy for your Chromebook or Chromebox.

Like most any other laptop, your Chromebook works great with an external keyboard. It's incredibly easy to use an external display, mouse, and keyboard if you work or play from a desk and Chrome does a great job mirroring to a monitor or having one as an extended display. All you need is the right parts!

Chrome OS supports any USB (wired or wireless) or Bluetooth keyboard. There are differences in the default keyboard layout across the function keys and the addition of a dedicated search key (the Windows key on a standard 104-key keyboard will act as a search key) but you won't have any trouble typing out a web search or a term paper. We've looked at a lot of keyboards for your Chromebook and Chromebox, and here's what we think are the best ones to use.

Best overall

Logitech K380 Multi-Device Bluetooth Keyboard

The Logitech K380 is not a dedicated Chrome OS keyboard, but even with that in mind, we think this is the best overall purchase for a Chromebook or Chromebox user because it works with everything and switching between up to three devices is as easy as pressing a button.

This compact keyboard has roomy keys with great feedback for typing and it automatically adapts so that the keys support the operating system of whatever it's paired with. All of your keyboard shortcuts work exactly as you would expect, even if what's printed on the key itself isn't what you would see on your Chromebook.

Pair it with up to three devices at once; Chrome OS, Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Android, iOS, Android TV, Apple TV and Steam OS are all supported. You'll never need another keyboard for any of your devices.

See at Amazon

Best for Chrome OS

ASUS Chromebox Wireless Keyboard & Mouse Set

Built specifically for ASUS' Chromeboxes, this set (there's a Bluetooth mouse included) has the right keycaps for your Chromebook.

The keys are roomy and the battery life is great. It's also easy to connect to your Chromebook or Chromebox with a wireless USB receiver that supports both the keyboard and mouse. If you want a dedicated Chrome keyboard with the keycaps labeled so you won't ever have to look up a keyboard shortcut, this is the one to buy.

See at ASUS

Best value

Logitech MK270 Wireless Keyboard and Mouse Combo

We mentioned that any USB or Bluetooth keyboard works fine with your Chromebook, and that means Logitech's excellently priced (around $20 US) combo will work out of the box.

A single 2.4GHz nano receiver (this is not the Logitech Unifying Receiver found on more expensive products) gives a 10-foot connection range and there are no drivers or additional software to fool with. Plug the receiver in and power on the keyboard, then you're good to go. Besides the great price tag, the MK270 has excellent battery life. A pair of AAA batteries provide about 6,000,000 keystrokes and the mouse battery (one AA) last up to 24 months.

This is a basic keyboard and mouse that will definitely get the job done, and it's our best pick for people in search of value.

See at Amazon

More: Best wireless mice for Chromebooks

Chromebooks

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