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2 months ago

Best Bluetooth Trackers

10
Best Bluetooth trackers to make sure you don't lose your keys — or anything else!

Which Bluetooth trackers are the best at keeping track of keys and other household items? Here are our top picks!

Time was you'd lose track of your keys and waste precious minutes or even hours scouring the house or office for them. Now, though, you have phones and you have Bluetooth. Put them together and you have Bluetooth trackers that go on your keys — or any other household or office item — and connect to your phone. That way, if what you're tracking ever gets lost, you're only an app and tap away from quickly, cooly finding them again. Here are our favorites!

Tile Mate

Tile Mate

The easy-to-use Tile app allows you to find your keys (or anything else you've put a Tile on) on a map or have them make a sound so you can hunt them down.

The 100-foot Bluetooth range means you won't be too far away to find what you need, and since you can connect up to 10 Tiles to one phone, you can everything you need as well. If your keyring Tile is out of the 100-foot range, you can activate a wider search which anonymously uses the growing community of Tile users to scan for your missing Tile.

Tile is waterproof with a battery that last for up to one year, after which you will be sent replacement Tiles at a reduced cost. Check it out at Amazon for about $25.

See at Amazon

Chipolo Plus

Chipolo Plus

The Chipolo Plus is (for all intents and purposes) a Tile Mate clone. It's about the same height and width as the Tile Mate — it's just a circle instead of a square. That being said, it has an excellent, loud alarm (around 100dB), so you'll likely be able to find it anywhere in your house, and it has a battery life of about a year. The battery isn't replaceable, but Chipolo has a discounted renewal service to help you out.

Chipolo Plus is water-resistant at an IP5 rating, so it can withstand some splashing and even jets of water. Just don't submerge it. The handy Chipolo app can give you a fairly accurate location of your lost item, and if you're out of range, it'll show you where you had it last.

Chipolo Plus comes in seven vibrant colors, which makes it a lovely little keychain accessory. You can buy a 1-, 4-, or 7-pack, with the 4-pack saving you 30%. Pricing starts at $25 for a 1-pack and if you buy a multi-pack, you can choose your colors!

See at Chipolo

MYNT Smart Tracker & Remote

The sleek MYNT Smart Tracker and Remote adds more to the mix than just finding your misplaced keys. Of course, the Bluetooth connection and MYNT app warn you when your keys and your phone are getting too far apart, and the alarms are easy to hear if you do lose your keys. It's water-resistant and for a few extra dollars, you can buy a colorful waterproofing cover for it.

The replaceable battery lasts up to one year and each tracker has a range of up to 150 feet. The Smart Tracker can also be used as a Remote, whether for taking selfies or syncing to your MacBook for a PowerPoint presentation. Talk about versatility. $20 on Amazon (to start — other color options are available).

See a Amazon


iTrack Easy

iTrack Easy

The iTrack Easy system will sound an alarm and flash an LED light to help you find your keys. The replaceable battery lasts a little longer than the standard batteries in other trackers, thanks to Sleep Mode which can be set up for times when you don't require alerts and reminders. The iTrack Easy network uses the tracking app on your phone to help locate your lost keys or other items if they are out of the standard 100-foot range.

The trackers can be purchased in vibrant orange or green or regular white if you're looking to be more subtle. They also double as remote controls for the camera in your phone, making selfies and group shots easy. Pricing starts at $15 fir a single tracker or $29 for two (wow, a whole dollar off!).

See at Amazon


Nonda iHere 3.0

Honda iHere Tag

You can pair up to 10 Nonda iHere trackers to the app on your phone and they're rechargeable, with a single charge lasting for several weeks. This discreet, white triangle tag takes up very little room on your keychain, while saving you that worrisome search every other morning.

Nonda iHere has a range of up to 150 feet and a clear alarm. The easy-to-use app includes a car finder feature, and can also be used if you've found your keys but misplaced your phone. The button on the tag also acts as a remote for picture-taking on your phone. This one's perfect if you want to try Bluetooth trackers but are on a budget, since it's only $10.

See at Amazon

Never search again

Is there another Bluetooth tracker out there that's helping you keep your keys and your sanity? We'd like to hear about it in the comments below!

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2 months ago

Five home automation accessories under $35 that work with Google Home Mini

17

Now that you've got the cheap controller, it's time to get some things to control.

So you've got yourself a shiny new Google Home Mini. Good for you. It's a great inexpensive way to get into the smart home game for less than $50.

But now that you've got the controller, you need some things to actually control. And it's real easy for things to get expensive real quick. We're talking hundreds and hundreds of dollars of connected ... stuff.

Or, you can dig deep and find the cheap stuff. And so we've dug deep. Really deep. Here's the best connected stuff we've found for Google Home Mini — all for less than $35(ish) each.

Belkin WeMo Mini

This is a great little connected outlet for about $35. (I know because I have one.) And it's great because it doesn't take up much space, leaving plenty of room left over for the second plug of a two-gang box.

What's it do? It turns your dumb plug into a smart plug. You can control it remotely and set timers, or other schemes.

And with the holidays coming up, it's the perfect little gizmo to control lights. Because nobody wants to hit the front porch in the their underwear when it's 30 degrees out.

See at Amazon

SwitchMate Bright

SwitchmateThis is great for those who don't want to do any rewiring. You just pop the $35 SwitchMate on top of an existing switch or plug, and it does all the work for you.

You can set timers for whenever — a fun one is to have the lights kick on in the morning so you're not stumbling through the house any more than necessary. And you an also set it to turn things on so the house is lit up when you arrive home in the evening.

Is it any easier than this? Probably not.

See at Amazon

APower SmartPlug

APower

Here's another smart plug that plugs into your existing dumb outlets (because, yo, dawg, I heard your outlets like outlets) and smartens things up a bit.

I'm cheating a tad because you'll have to hit Amazon's "Other Sellars" to find this one under the $35 limit, but it's definitely doable.

The plug itself is a little clunky. But if you're looking to save a few bucks, sometimes you have to go that route.

See at Amazon

TP Link Smart LED

TPLinkA basic smart bulb isn't nearly as expensive as it used to be. Sure, you can get white bulbs that can change their color temperature — more orange or yellow than white or blueish-white, or vice-versa. But those dollars start to add up pretty fast.

If you just want something basic, look for a dimmable light. This one from TP Link is just $20 and gives you basic functionality. You can turn it off and on from Google Home Mini. (Or, yes, from anything else.) You can dim it so it's not BRIGHTER THAN THE SUN all the time.

Is $20 a lot of money for a light bulb? Yes, it is. But it's not all that much for something connected.

See at Amazon

Philips Hue A19 dimmable

Philips HueSpeaking of relatively inexpensive smart lights, this is another dimmable A19 bulb — this time from Philips Hue. It runs $30 — for two bulbs this time — and works through Philips' excellent connected system. (At some point I'd spring for the hub, too, though that's another $60 and thus outside the scope of this post.)

Philips Hue bulbs really are a bit of a rabbit hole. Once you start down it, you're going to find it hard to stop.

So if you're going to do it, start with this inexpensive option.

See at Amazon

Any others?

Let us know in the comments below!

Google Home

Google Store Best Buy Target

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2 months ago

Best Alexa-enabled speakers of 2018

0

Not everything Alexa has to be an Echo. There are some great options out there for smart speakers without Amazon's logo on the box.

If you want everything that Amazon Alexa has to offer, but don't actually want an Amazon Echo, you can get other speakers with Alexa built in!

Amazon Alexa can be baked into just about anything these days, so here's a quick look at some of the best Amazon Echo alternatives you can find.

Sonos One

Sonos One

This will be one of the more expensive entries on this list at $199, but for good reason. Sonos is the No. 1 name in wireless home audio, with great sound and ridiculously easy setup. And Sonos One is the first of its speakers to have Alexa built in. (And be sure to check out our full Sonos One review.)

The multiple microphones means Sonos One will hear you wherever you are. And it's able to control anything that Alexa can control — and that means additional Sonos speakers as well. Looks great, sounds great. It's still in its infancy, so Sonos is still working out a few software kinks, but this one should be high up on anyone's wish list.

See at Sonos

Vaux cordless home speaker

Vaux Cordless Home Speaker

OK, I'm going to cheat a little here, but for good reason. The VAUX cordless home speaker is, in fact, a cordless home speaker with Alexa inside. Literally. It's a speaker that you put an Amazon Echo Dot inside, connected via the 3.5mm audio port. It's an ingenious little thing.

Why get this over something that takes advantage of Alexa via software? For one, it's only $49. And because it uses an actual Echo Dot, you've always got the option to remove the Dot to use it in the more traditional way.

It's a clever little option, actually, and one that you should definitely check out. Check out our full review.

See at Amazon

Sugr Cube Minimalist

Sugr CubeYou can't troll around on Amazon without running into this speaker. The Sugr Cub Minimalist has mixed reviews, but there's no denying that it's one of the more intriguing-looking speakers of the bunch. And for a lot of folks that's going to be a big selling point.

It's also on the more expensive side, at $169 for the darker cherry, or $159 for the lighter maple model. But with it you can full Wifi and Alexa support, touch motion controls, and the knowledge that visitors are going ask about that cool-looking speaker on the shelf.

And all you have to do is have them ask Alexa. She'll be happy to explain.

See at Amazon



Eufy Genie

Eufy Genie

If you want something that's more like an Amazon Echo Dot but comes in even less expensive, then you need to check out the Eufy Genie. (I have, and you can read that whole experience here.)

It's currently listed at a mere $25 — or about half the cost of an actual Echo Dot. And you get a pretty good experience from it. I still think I looks better than the Dot, and it performs reasonably well despite having fewer microphones with which to listen for you.

It's a really inexpensive way to get into the whole Alexa thing, and it's worth checking out.

See at Amazon

Invoxia smart portable speaker

InvoxiaIf you want something a little different, Invoxia's got an intriguing offering. This speaker has Alexa built in, of course, and it's also got some other tricks up its sleeve. It's got a small display on the front, a few physical buttons for things like internet radio stations and Spotify playlists, and you can make VOIP calls with a paired smartphone.

But maybe the coolest part? This rechargeable speaker has a magnet on the back so you can stick it to the fridge. Very cool. The basic gray model starts at $119.

See at Amazon

Amazon Echo

See at Amazon

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2 months ago

Mophie announces new battery cases for the Galaxy Note 8

8

Mophie's new juice pack and charge force case for the Note 8 cost $99.95 and $49.95, respectively.

Samsung knocked most things out of the park with this year's Note 8, but one aspect of the phone that left some users feeling a bit cheated out is with its battery. The 3,300 mAh unit isn't technically small and offers enough juice for most folks, but compared to the Galaxy S8+ and last year's Note 7, it does leave a bit to be desired.

Thankfully, mophie is coming to the rescue as it just announced its juice pack and charge force case for the Galaxy Note 8.

Starting first with the juice pack, this is the more expensive of the two cases with a price tag of $99.95. The juice pack comes equipped with a built-in 2,950 mAh battery, and mophie says that this should provide over 36 hours of additional talk time. Mophie added wireless charging to the case so you can continue to wirelessly charge your Note 8 just like you would if it didn't have a case on, and it features secure magnetic positioning for use with mophie's charge force stations.

Mophie juice pack (left), charge force case (right)

As for the charge force case, this features a much more affordable price of $49.95 with the exception of not having a built-in battery. This makes the case much slimmer than the juice pack, and it still offers passthrough wireless charging and compatibility with all of mophie's charge force accessories – including the powerstation mini, desk mount, and others.

Both cases are available to order from mophie's website starting today, but at the time of publishing the article, the juice pack is already out of stock.

See at mophie

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Best Buy

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2 months ago

Best microSD Cards For Samsung Galaxy Note 8 as of January 2018

What's the best microSD card to use with the Samsung Galaxy Note 8?

2017 is Samsung's year to make up for the fiasco surrounding last year's Note 7 —and the Galaxy Note 8 sure seems ready to impress!

If the 64GB of base internal storage on the Note 8 isn't going to cut it (and you missed out on the pre-order deals that include a 128GB microSD card), you'll want to invest in a quality microSD card and add up to 256GB of additional storage. That means you'll have more space for all your music, 4K videos, photos, and whatever else you want to store

Samsung MicroSD EVO+ 256GB

Samsung is offering a 128GB microSD card if you pre-order before September 14 — but what if you want more? You can get that 128GB card for $60 or go all out with the 256GB card for $140. Both cards feature read speeds up to 95MB/s and write speeds up to 90MB/s, meaning they will be able to handle whatever you throw at it.

Whichever you go with, you can be sure that it'll work perfectly with your Note 8 and provide you all the storage space you desire so you never have to delete photos and videos.

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SanDisk Ultra 200GB microSDXC Card

If you're serious about maximizing your storage, you definitely want to consider this 200GB microSDXC card from SanDisk. With write speeds up to 90MB/s, you'll be able to record in HD or 4K to your heart's content. And you'll still have room to spare for all your movies, music and other data. Amazon regularly has this one on sale for $77, so this is your best value for sure.

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SanDisk Extreme PLUS 64GB microSDXC

Looking to double your available storage without breaking the bank? This 64GB card from SanDisk is UHS speed class 3, with write speeds up to 50MB/s — more than enough to handle 4K video. With transfer speeds of up to 95MB/s, you're able to add your favorite music and media in a flash with the included SD card adapter. This card is designed to withstand anything life throws your way — including X-rays — and comes with a lifetime limited warranty. Get yours for $33 from Amazon.

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Kingston Digital 64GB microSDXC Card

This Class 10, UHS-I microSDXC card from Kingston features a 64GB capacity and advertises a read speed of 90MB/s and write speed of 45MB/s. Included is an SD adapter which the microSDXC card slides into when using on a computer or other standard SD device. The Kingston Digital 64GB microSDXC card is currently available for $28, with a 128GB card available for just $59.

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Will you be expanding your Note 8 with a microSD card?

If you're considering on upgrading your Note 8's storage, let us know in the comments how much space you think you'll need, and how you plan on using that extra storage.

Update November 2017: Updated pricing info. These are still your best options.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Best Buy

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2 months ago

Bowers & Wilkins PX wireless headphones review: Essential sounds

15

A great, forward-thinking set of over-ear headphones.

You're probably familiar with headphones by companies that command the most attention: Bose Sennheiser, Sony and others. They're popular because they're great products, but also because they have great marketing departments.

Other deserving headphones fall under the radar. Enter the Bowers & Wilkins PX.

Most important: they sound amazing.

They are a pair of over-ear, closed back wireless headphones with aptX HD that can charge, update and carry audio through a USB-C port. They feature different levels of noise cancellation, including a mode that can pipe in surrounding noise. Most importantly, they sound fantastic.

See at Amazon

I've been wearing and listening to the Bowers & Wilkins PX headphones for the past two weeks. On most days, I had the headphones on for at least eight hours per day taking helpdesk calls at my day job and listening to music and podcasts. All the music I listen to consists of MP3s originally purchased from iTunes, Google Play or Amazon. I also listened to those same music files from my home computer with audio routed through a Dragonfly Black USB DAC. For mobile use, I listened to music through my OnePlus 3T running Open Beta 15, which features the aptX HD codec.

In terms of sheer song count, my music library primarily consists of Johnny Cash (older country), Rosanne Cash (pop/alternative country) and Lily and Madeleine (folk/pop), with a smattering of other rock, pop and country artists. This is an important note, because the way the headphones have been tuned will represent certain instruments and genres better than others.

I was able to hear details in my songs that I haven't heard from any other pairs of headphones I've tried. For example, I just noticed background instruments in My Chemical Romance's "Welcome to the Black Parade" — a song I've been listening to regularly for the last 11 years — that I never picked up on other speakers or headphones. And this was while writing this review and responding to instant messages, where my attention isn't solely focused on listening to music. My current benchmark for great sounding headphones is my pair of TMA-2 headphones configured with the S02 speaker module, and the PX headphones easily match that. More impressive, they match those headphones while streaming wirelessly.

Noise cancellation

Three noise cancellation modes can be accessed in the companion app, and that app is the only way to actually toggle between them. The three modes are "Office," where surrounding noises will be piped into the headphones, "City" which blocks certain frequencies but amplifies others, and "Flight" which blocks everything.

I didn't get a chance to test these headphones on an actual flight, but the "Flight" noise canceling mode was sufficient to drown out a crowded coffee shop concert. Flight mode does have a negative effect on the quality, but not so much that it takes away from the music's overall fidelity.

The three noise cancellation modes are effective for most situations I found myself in.

The Office mode is fantastic. I use it every day to hear my coworkers over the sound of my music, and it works well enough that I haven't had to remove my headphones while listening to a conversation. Listening to podcasts in that environment can be troubling, but that's because my brain is trying to decipher two separate and unrelated conversations at once. Bowers & Wilkins estimates 22 hours of music listening while using any of the noise cancellation modes, and that lines up with my experience.

Build quality

These wireless headphones sound better than many wired headphones I've tried.

The controls and ports for the headphones all live on the right earcup. From top to bottom, there is the volume up button, play/pause, volume down, noise canceling, the 3.5mm-in port and the USB-C port. Holding down the play/pause button will activate Siri or Google Assistant, while double tapping that button will skip forward and triple tapping the button will skip backward.

I spent the previous six months using gesture controls on the Sony MDR-1000X headphones, and I was more than happy to move back to solid buttons. The buttons all feel solid with no wiggle, activate with just the right amount of force, and seem like they'll hold up to the test of time. Speaking of holding up to the test of time, the earcups are held on with magnets and can be easily swapped out.

The headphones are mostly made of metal, with plastic used for the top of the headband and leather for the bottom of the headband and the ear cups. Vlad Savov of The Verge noted he had problems with the long-term comfort of the headphones, but they're perfectly comfortable to me. I definitely get a case of headphone hair after wearing them for eight hours a day, but that happens with every pair of over-ear headphones I use.

Smart features

The PX headphones can pair with as many as eight devices, and will automatically switch the audio source depending on what's playing music. For example, if I'm listening to music from my phone and decide to fire up my favorite YouTube channel on my Chromebook, my music will automatically pause on my phone and I will start hearing the audio from the YouTube video.

Only needing to bring one USB-C cable with you for charging is a huge plus.

Another great feature is that these headphones detect when they are sitting on your head. If not, music is automatically paused. Even moving an earcup off of your ear is enough to trigger this. Again, this feature is included on other high-end Bluetooth headphones, but the PX are the first set where this feature has consistently worked for me. The companion app lets you make this feature more or less sensitive if it isn't working, but the default setting was sufficient. The feature can also be disabled entirely if you'd like.

Next on the list of things other headphones do but the PX does better: routing audio over the USB port. Because the PX's use the newer USB-C standard, users can use the same cable that came with their phone for wired USB audio rather than needing to use an adapter. For those without a headphone jack, this is great way to avoid the #donglelife.

That may not sound like a huge deal, but as someone who hates any and all clutter it's another huge win for these headphones. I tested the audio routing with my OnePlus 3T, a Samsung Chromebook Plus, a Google Pixelbook and Pixel 2 and my brother's iPhone 7, and it worked every time.

Should you buy them? Definitely

I do have one minor complaint about these headphones, and one larger one. The minor complaint is that I wish the battery was easily removable so that a new one could be popped in a few years down the road.

The major complaint is that Bowers & Wilkins don't include a hard case. The included soft case is nice, with a magnetic clasp and interior pouch for cables, but anyone taking these on vacation or a business trip would want more protection. And at $400, they should come with one.

Those complaints aside, these are fantastic headphones. The USB-C port means you'll only need one charger for both phone and headphones, and being able to route audio through the USB port will better prepare those without a headphone jack on their phone. Automatically having my music pause when I take them off is a great convenience and, above all, they sound amazing.

At $400, they're definitely at the higher end of what you'll spend for headphones, but I feel they are well worth it.

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2 months ago

Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro review: The best fitness tracker for most people

32

Samsung's latest waterproof fitness tracker is smarter — and cheaper — than many smartwatches.

It's taken a few years, but Samsung's wearable strategy has settled — as has much of the industry — on fitness as its primary selling point. This year's crop of wrist-worn products from the Korean giant include the excellent Gear Sport, along with the Gear Fit2 Pro, both with the intention of making it easy to track steps and workouts while receiving notifications.

In other words, the value proposition hasn't changed dramatically from the original Gears of a few years ago, but the 2017 refreshes put an emphasis on durability, longevity, and comfort.

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Gear Fit2 Pro What you'll love

The Fit2 Pro is the direct successor to last year's Fit2, and besides the new strap design, the two could be interchangeable — at least on the surface. With a 1.5-inch vertical OLED display that gets really bright, the Tizen-based interface — black background throughout to lengthen battery life — is easy to understand and extremely touch-friendly. Samsung has this down pat.

  • Display: 1.5 inches 216x432 pixels
  • OS: Tizen
  • Price: $169.99
  • Processor: Dual Core (1GHz Exynos 3250)
  • RAM: 512MB
  • Storage: 4GB
  • Weight: 34 grams
  • Size: 25 x 51.3 x 12.6 mm
  • Wireless: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS
  • Sensors: Heart rate, Accelerometer, Gyro, Barometer
  • Battery: 200mAh (three to five days)
  • Water resistance: 5ATM
  • Colors: Red+black, black
  • Compatibility: Android + iOS

While 2016's Gear Fit2 had a built-in GPS it was only IP68 water resistant, not waterproof, which has since been corrected in its sequel. Not only can the Fit2 Pro plumb the depths of your average pool, it's certified waterproof to 5 atmospheres — even if you dive to the bottom of a pool, it'll survive. The red plastic casing has two buttons on the right, one to go back to the previous screen and the other to enter the app drawer, and they're both clicky and responsive. No complaints there.

The Fit2 Pro lives up to its name: it effortlessly tracks workouts, automatically after 10 minutes or as directed by you when engaging in something specific like a bike ride or swim, and records a number of worthwhile metrics including heart rate, steps taken, floor climbed, and more.

It actually takes heart rate measurements constantly throughout the day, similar to the latest Fitbits, and does so with accuracy; I wore a Fitbit Ionic on another wrist for a day and found the metrics to be close enough to satisfy me. I'm no athlete; I just want a fairly robust approximation of my steps taken, calories burned, and route taken. That the Fit2 Pro is comfortable enough to wear the whole day without noticing it is helpful, too.

All of those things are table stakes for a so-called fitness tracker, but the Fit2 Pro emulates a smartwatch in a number of impactful ways; it shows notifications in a dedicated area to the left of the watch face, and even allows users to action them — reply to a text message, for instance — in certain situations. Generally, if you can reply to a message on an Android Wear watch, you can do the same here (though only with a selection of canned responses or emoji).

Notifications are easily one of my favorite aspects of the Fit2 Pro; it's ostensibly a fitness tracker, but it conveys what's happening on your phone better than the more-expensive Fitbit Ionic, and about as well as its "real" smartwatch counterpart, the Gear Sport. Yes, the long-and-thin screen wraps sentences oddly at times, but it requires less scrolling as a result, and the touchscreen is capable of keeping up. I missed the Gear Sport's rotating bezel, but not as much as I thought.

Finally, battery life is the cherry on this smart milkshake. It's really, really good — like three days plus from this little 200mAh cell. Mind you, I didn't regularly run with GPS turned on because I always have my phone with me, but Samsung promises nine hours when engaging the GPS. That's pretty good, but not remarkable when compared to the Gear Sport or Fitbit Ionic.

Gear Fit2 Pro What you'll hate

Don't expect to track your sleep properly with this tracker — rather, use it as a bedside clock.

I don't think you'll hate anything about the Gear Fit2 Pro, but here's what you'll leave wanting, especially if coming from an Android Wear or Apple Watch — apps. While the tracker comes with a handful of decent first-party and third-party apps from the likes of Under Armour (MapMyRun and Endomondo) for tracking runs, and Speedo Go for tracking swims, the Galaxy Apps "store" is, as it is on the Gear S series, a wasteland of expensive, poorly-designed watch faces.

The actual app downloading and update procedure is less than convenient, too, showing just how far Samsung still has to go when it comes to designing and curating its software experiences. Even the sparse Spotify app, which for some reason isn't pre-installed on the tracker, is basic to a fault and difficult to use.

On the tracking side, you'll probably find fault with the sleep tracking, should you choose to use it. I wore the Fit2 Pro to bed for a week or so and found the metrics to be almost useless.

Moreover, the screen doesn't automatically turn itself off once it detects you're snug in bed, which makes for constant disruption unless you explicitly enable Do Not Disturb — which requires disabling it in the morning. These things are automated on Android Wear.

I'm also not a huge fan of the rubbery, cheap-feeling strap. While the latch design is an improvement over the more sporty (and uglier) button clasp that shipped on last year's Fit2, the 24mm replaceable straps on the Fit2 Pro are neither robust nor attractive. Thankfully, Amazon has plenty of alternatives that look and feel better.

Finally — and this is no big deal, really — I dislike the plasticky charging dock that, somehow, always seems to fall over when the tracker is magnetically latched to it. Didn't Samsung test it?! At least, when properly supported, the Fit2 Pro dock doubles as a nice bedside clock.

Should you buy it? Yes!

I really like the Samsung Fit2 Pro. Yes, it's not as robust a smart thing as some other trackers out there, but at its current price of $170, it's a steal. The screen is out-of-this-world good, and the tracking is fantastic for those who'd rather be reinforced with kind messages and automatic number crunching than to-the-millimeter perfection.

At the same time, the notification system on the Fit2 Pro is better than some smartwatches (coughFitbitIoniccough), and even most of the negatives are nitpicks.

The Fit2 Pro goes up against the Fitbit Blaze, Garmin Vivosport, TomTom Spark 3 Cardio and a Series 1 Apple Watch, and it largely comes out ahead against all of them. If you're looking for more accurate fitness tracking or better sleep metrics, you're better off with a Garmin or a Fitbit, but nothing touches Samsung for an all-around experience.

And, wow, that screen.

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Samsung Gear Sport review: The company's best smartwatch yet

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2 months ago

Best Cases for the Samsung Galaxy S8

53

The Galaxy S8 is one of the most exciting phones of the year, so if you want to keep it pristine, grab a case!

The Samsung Galaxy S8 has been around for a few months now, and there's no question that it's one of the best-looking phones on the market right now. But there are two sides of curved Gorilla Glass, which means that any drop, even from a short distance, could damage it. If you're looking for a case for your new Galaxy S8, we've got you covered!

Samsung S-View

If you're after a case made by Samsung, you'll definitely want to check out the S-View case. A perennial favorite for the latest Galaxy phones, the S-View case will keep your phone with that front cover that also adds some functionality to your sleeping phone.

This case is compatible with wireless charging and offers full protection for your phone, but the best feature (and where it gets its name) is the ability to see the time and notifications with the front flap closed.

Available starting at $29 for black and up to $48 for the gold version, you'll be able to find one that perfectly matches the color of your phone. Since it's made by Samsung, you can be sure of the fit, and it's well worth the money for all the functionality packed in here.

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CM4 Q-Card case

The Q-Card case from CM4 stands out from other wallet-style cases with its back pocket for storing cards. Made of premium fabric, it offers a nice texture for your hand and allows the card pocket to expand and accommodate up to three cards and some cash. This texture is also along the edge of the case which helps to make this a very grippy case in your hand.

This case also features all the protective elements you'd want from a case, including air-cushioned corners to help disperse shocks away from your phone, a bezel around the front to protect the screen, and even includes a slim slot along the edge that can be used with a credit card to create a kickstand for hands-free media viewing.

Get yours for either the Galaxy S8 or larger S8+ for just $23!

See at Amazon

Spigen Liquid Crystal

The best clear cases offer protection for your phone without drawing attention to the fact that you've got a case on your phone. The Spigen Liquid Crystal is an ideal clear case that'll keep your phone safe while letting the design of your Galaxy S8 shine through.

Made of lightweight and flexible TPU material, this single-layer case is easy to pop onto your phone while adding next to no bulk to the phone. Precise cutouts and buttons mean that your phone's functionality is never affected, and it's thin enough to allow for wireless charging, too.

You can get this case for your phone for just $11.

See at Amazon

Otterbox Commuter Series

The OtterBox Commuter Series has garnered a well-deserved reputation as being one of the best cases for keeping your phone well protected while maintaining a slim design.

Like most OtterBox cases, this is a two-piece case that features a soft inner sleeve paired with a hard outer shell that helps to absorb impacts while providing great all-around protection for your phone. The case features port covers over the headphone jack and USB-C charging port, which just adds extra protection against dirt, dust, and pocket lint.

Typically we'd also recommend OtterBox's Defender Series, which typically offers more rugged protection with a built-in screen protector. However, OtterBox made the curious decision to not include a screen protector with their Defender Series case for the Galaxy S8. Both cases are compatible with screen protectors but the Commuter Series is probably your best bet, as it's $10 cheaper and offers most of the same protection — although it lacks the Defender Series' belt clip holster.

You can grab the OtterBox Commuter for around $25.

See at Amazon

Ringke Flex S Series

If you like your case's name aligning with your phone's, the Ringke Flex S is a great option. (It's also a damn good case.)

The main attraction here is the exceptional protection gleaned from the combination of a flexible TPU layer cushioning the phone itself, which is covered by a hard polycarbonate layer. That's a familiar combination, but Ringke's version is very attractive, with a grippy, textured back that looks great as it protects.

You can pick up a Flex S case for around $14 and it comes in four colors.

See at Amazon

VRS Design Cases

VRS Design has a full collection of cases available from its site for the Galaxy S8, but we'll highlight one of the more minimalist options here.

The Single Fit case offers a minimalist option for keeping your phone safe. It's a one-piece case made of TPU that snugly fits around your Galaxy S8 without adding too much bulk to that sleek design. Unlike the phone itself, this case is fingerprint resistant and also provides better grip than the slippery Gorilla Glass on the Galaxy S8. You get nice protection around the camera and fingerprint sensor on the back, and a subtle lip around the screen, along with the ample cutouts and precise buttons to ensure your phone's functionality is unaffected.

Check out the Single Fit case for around $20.

See at VRS Design

Spigen Liquid Air Armor

Spigen consistently delivers cases that combine great design and quality protection for a stylish product that keeps your phone safe. We've gone hands-on with their latest batch of cases for the Galaxy S8 and can report back that they're as good as ever on Samsung's latest device. Whether you like their Tough Armor series or their minimalist Thin Fit cases, you're sure to find a case that you'll love.

We're big fans of the Liquid Air Armor, one of the most low-profile cases that actually protects your phone. It's a great combination — a flexible TPU, not too thin, plus a textured back for extra grip.

Best of all, the case is just $10, which is a steal for one of our favorite cases for the Galaxy S8!

See at Amazon

Nomad Leather Folio Wallet

Nomad's Galaxy S8 folio case is like nothing else on the list. It uses Horween leather from the oldest tannery in the United States that is meant to show its age. On the inside of the light brown case is a holder for up to six cards plus cash, and the phone insert is there to keep your Galaxy S8 steady in the case of a drop.

This is one of the nicest-looking folio cases we've seen to date, and we're looking forward to seeing how it looks in three or six months!

See at Nomad

What case are you rocking?

We want to know how you plan to keep your Galaxy S8 protected. Let us know which case you're getting in the comments!

Update November 2017: This list has been updated with new options and up-to-date links.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Unlocked

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2 months ago

Best Cases for Amazon Fire Tablet HD 10

3

The Amazon Fire HD 10 may be more affordable than most tablets, but you'll still want to keep it protected with a case!

The Amazon Fire HD 10 (2017) is the latest generation of Amazon's popular line of affordable tablets. It's got Alexa built in and runs all the Android apps from Amazon's own app store, along with easy access to Amazon Books, Music, Games, and everything else Amazon has to offer!

With all that the Fire HD 10 can do, you'll want it on you at all times — which also means you should probably keep it protected from harm with a case. Here are the best cases for the Amazon Fire HD 10!

Amazon Tablet Case

It makes sense to start with Amazon's own accessory for its tablet, so that's what we'll do.

Amazon offers a pretty classic and slim design for its case, featuring a full cover for the front of the tablet with magnetic closures to keep things securely shut when you aren't using it. You'll be able to automatically wake or put the tablet to sleep by simply opening or closing that cover, too, which is super convenient.

Made of premium fabric with a microfiber interior, your Fire HD 10 will be well protected. It's also able to be folded into a kickstand for hands-free viewing — perfect for watching movies or even using Alexa!

You can get yours for $40 in your choice of four colors!

See at Amazon

MoKo Folding Case

Looking to save some dough on a basic case for your Fire HD 10? MoKo has you covered with its folding case that offers great protection at a discount price.

It's a pretty standard folding case that offers a front cover that doubles as a folding kickstand for hands-free viewing. It's made of premium PU leather with a microfiber interior and a magnetic closure and stylus loop (stylus not included).

You can get yours in a solid color for $15 or a fun picture pattern for $18. It's also backed by a lifetime warranty by MoKo.

See at Amazon


Fintie Keyboard Case

Looking to get a bit more functionality from your tablet case? You might want to consider the Fintie Keyboard Case, which includes a full Bluetooth keyboard on the inside of the cover.

The keyboard is super slim and detachable via magnets, so you can take the keyboard out if you won't need it. But when you do, it's there with a great experience provided by a spring mechanism under each key to ensure a tactile response with every keystroke.

The case itself is also made of premium synthetic leather with a microfiber interior to keep your tablet protected. Availble in six stylish options, you can get this case starting at just $35.

See at Amazon

MoKo Kids Shock Proof Case

MoKo also makes a reliable Fire HD 10 case specifically designed for kids — or I guess anyone who's particularly prone to dropping things.

No, this one is definitely for the kids. It's been constructed with an interior sleeve made of shock-absorbing silicone and a rigid polycarbonate shell on the exterior. MoKo doubled up on the silicone in the corners to provide even better drop protection for those vulnerable parts of the tablet.

The case features a handle that can be folded over and used as a kickstand in both a horizontal or vertical orientation. This case is available in three fun colors and will let you give your tablet to a little one without having to worry about it getting destroyed.

See at Amazon

To protect and save your Fire HD 10!

Do you buy a case for all your tech? Does the Fire HD 10 deserve a case? Let us know in the comments!

Amazon Fire tablets

See more at Amazon

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2 months ago

Best Wireless Headphones for the Google Pixel 2

37

What are the best wireless headphones for the Google Pixel 2?

The Google Pixel 2 is a great phone, but you're going to need a quality pair of Bluetooth headphones thanks to the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack.

Fortunately, there are a plethora of options to choose from, from "Made for Google" options like the Pixel Buds to tried and tested classics. We've tried to round out a list that offers a good variety of styles and price points, so you should be able to find the right pair for your needs.

Google Pixel Buds

Google unveiled its own wireless headphones alongside its new Pixel phones, and the Pixel Buds look like a compelling option for anyone in need of a fresh new pair of Bluetooth headphones — with advanced smarts built in!

Arguably the biggest feature you get by pairing the Pixel Buds with a Pixel 2 is the ability to trigger the Google Assistant with a quick tap and also use Google's impressive language translation technology to translate up to 40 supported languages into English nearly instantaneously. This feature is only available for Pixel phones and as such make them a really intriguing option — especially if you love to travel to far-off lands where that live translation feature could come in extremely handy.

Google sure would sure be happy if you bought them when they go on sale. You can join the waiting list on the Google Store so you're notified immediately when they are available for purchase.

See at Google

Bose QuietComfort 35

When it comes to over-ear noise-canceling Bluetooth headphones, the Bose QuietComfort 35s are basically the gold standard. The Bose brand is synonymous with high-quality audio products and the QC 35s are a great example of their craftsmanship.

Featuring some of the best noise cancellation you'll find, these are ideal options for your noisy commute or for frequent travelers who want to cut out the sound of the airplane engines. Cutting out that distracting noise is important and with 20 hours of battery life, you can wear them comfortably for hours without worrying about these dying on you.

Sure, these puppies will set you back $429, but you absolutely get your money's worth. They've been reviewed well by most people who've tried them, including AC's own Phil Nickinson, who called them nearly perfect. If noise cancellation and comfort are your biggest factors when buying headphones, you gotta consider Bose.

See at Amazon

Jabra Move Wireless

Not looking to break the bank on headphones? You'll want to consider the Jabra Move Wireless on-ear headphones. They're lightweight and durable with a headband made of stainless steel and dirt-resistant fabric on the ear cups. You get up to 8 hours of music playback and 12 days of standby time on a single charge.

These headphones were selected by the Wirecutter as the best wireless Bluetooth headphones you can buy after testing 115 headphones. They say the sound quality and comfortable fit belies the lower price, so if you're looking for Bluetooth headphones that sound great at a great price, pick up a pair for as low as $67 for the black pair or up to $95 for red.

See at Amazon

Libratone Q Adapt

These on-ear headphones from Libratone are featured in the Google Store as a "Made for Google" certified accessory. They've got a great look to them and feature adjustable noise cancellation, a touch interface for controlling playback and volume, and a built-in microphone for taking calls.

While the Pixel 2 did away with the headphone jack, there's a good chance that you still own several products that use them, so Libratone has included an optional 3.5mm cable for those times when you'd prefer a wired connection.

There's an older model of these headphones available on Amazon for $200, but we've been told that the newer, "Made for Google" version that supports Fast Pairing and Google Assistant are currently exclusively available through the Google Store.

See at Google

Bowers & Wilkins PX

If you've got money to burn on your Bluetooth cans, you may be interested in the Bowers & Wilkins PX wireless headphones. B&W is a trusted name in audio equipment and its latest wireless headphones have been earning rave reviews.

The main attraction here is the outstanding noise-canceling and sound quality, making these an ideal choice for any audiophiles living that big city lifestyle. They're also quite adaptable, supporting both 3.5 mm and USB-C wired connections.

AC's own Tom Westrick picked up a pair of his own recently and praised them for their comfort and sound quality, which he says are better than any other pair of headphones he's tried — and for a price of $400, you'd definitely expect a premium experience.

See at Amazon

Sony H.ear Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Sony's wireless over-ear headphones are jam-packed with features such as noise-canceling, NFC connectivity, and a handy carrying case for traveling. They're wireless with Bluetooth 4.1 technology, but also include a 3.5mm cable with inline volume controls. They have digital noise-canceling that adapts to your surroundings to cut out unwanted sound and deliver high-resolution audio to your ears.

They've got a sleek and comfortable design that you can wear for hours, and you can expect up to 20 hours of playback time on a battery charge. If they die, you've got a wired connection available, so make sure you got your headphone adapter with you.

You save a bit of cash by buying used on Amazon for $250, or you can get a new pair starting at $380.

See at Amazon

Jaybird X3 Sport

Jaybird has been making quality headphones for quite some time and the Jaybird X3s are no exception.

You can get a full week of workouts on a single charge and a quick 15 minutes of charging will get you a full hour at least. If you rely on your tunes to get you through a workout, check out the Jaybird X3 wireless earbuds and enjoy.

These headphones come in Blackout or Sparta (white) colors, and they're sweat- and rain-proof, so you can pour your heart and soul into every workout without worrying about frying them. Pricing starts around $100.

See at Amazon

What have you tried?

What are your favorite wireless headphones that you've tried? Any thoughts on the options we've listed here? Let us know in the comments!

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

Best Buy Verizon Google Store Project Fi

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2 months ago

Best Cases for the LG V30

What are the best cases for the LG V30 so far?

The LG V30 is the latest flagship from LG and a really well-designed phone. It's got waterproofing and wireless charging capablilities, but it's also made of glass on both sides so you're going to want a case to help keep it free from scratches and other damage.

Here are some of the best cases you'll find for the LG V30. We'll be sure to update this list as more accessories are released.

Spigen Rugged Armor Case

Looking for a sleek case that offers great protection? You want the Spigen Rugged Armor case for your LG V30. Made from TPU material with a matte finish and carbon fiber detailing, this case looks slick and keeps your phone protected without adding much bulk. Wireless charging will still work with this case on, and precise cutouts around the fingerprint scanner and dual-camera setup around back ensure that all the phones functionality is unimpeded.

Spigen's Rugged Armor case is my go-to choice for any phone I've owned, so it comes highly recommended for any new device. If you want to keep your phone protected while keeping it looking sleek and thin — all for just $13.

See at Amazon

SUPCASE Unicorn Beetle PRO Series Case

Some cases claim to be rugged, but few live up to the name quite like SUPCASE. The Unicorn Beetle PRO Series is tough as hell, designed for heavy users and those who love to take their phone into the great outdoors.

Made of a combination of premium TPU and PC materials and includes ports to block dust and debris from getting in — the phone already has IP68 water resistance and dust-proofing, but redundancy is always a good thing. It also comes with a swivelling belt clip and holster, if you're into that look. You can pre-order yours today for just $18.

See at Amazon

UAG Plasma Series Case

Some cases are simply iconic, and it's fair to say that the Urban Armor Gear's Plasma series is one of those.

Part clear case and part rugged protection, UAG never compromises on the construction of its cases— despite the premium materials and heavy-duty design, the case remains feather-light with thoughtful design elements like non-slip rubberized edges so your phone will never slip off a table when you put it down.

It's passed military-grade drop-test standards, but you probably won't be dropping it too often thanks to all the textures for your fingertips to cling to. You can get the premium Plasma Series case for a premium price from UAG's website — yours for $40.

See at Amazon

Ringke Fusion Case

The Ringke Fusion case blends rugged design features with a sleek and clear case that lets the LG V30's design shine through.

This case combines a tough polycarbonate back plate with a soft and shock-absorbing TPU bumper. There are dust caps over the charging port and the headphone, and you can get yours as a crystal clear case, or with rose gold or black accents. This case starts at just $11 on Amazon, so it's also a great budget case option.

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LK Ultra Slim Thin Case

If you're planning to get plenty of use out of the LG V30's wireless charging capabilities but still want to keep things protected with a case, you may want to consider the LK Ultra Slim Thin case.

At only $8, it's super affordable and available in your choice of classic black, clear, or a purple or mint-green tint. It's your standard, minimalist thin case, that offers decent protection without adding any bulk to your phone. It's got an anti-slip finish to it, too, so your phone won't slide anywhere if you put it down.

See at Amazon

Tridea Power Guard

Feeling bored of the plasticky finish of most phone cases? Why not add a touch of class to your LG V30 with this stylish and slim leather case from Tridea.

Made of flexible and shock absorbent TPU, this case is rugged around the edges of your phone to provide great drop protection while changing things up around the back with a more stylish finish. There are protective lips around the screen and the camera on the back to keep those important glass bits protected, and on the inside of the case, you'll find a hiding space for a credit card.

It's available in both a brown synthetic leather look as well as black with a carbon fiber-style finish and both look pretty great! Get yours for just $10.

See at Amazon

Tauri Wallet Case

A folio wallet case is a great option for two reasons: it offers superior protection for your phone's screen, and also lets you ditch your traditional wallet by offering slots for cards and cash on the inside portion of the front cover.

If you're after a wallet case for the LG V30 case you'll want to consider the Tauri wallet case. It's got a no-frills design made of synthetic leather with a magnetic clasp to keep everything closed when it's not in use. It includes a see-through slot for your ID on the inside and ample cutouts around the fingerprint sensor and camera on the back.

Available in black or rose gold, get this case for just $10 and ditch your ratty old wallet!

See at Amazon

What cases are you eyeing up?

These are our picks, but which cases are you planning to pick up for the LG V30? Let us know in the comments!

Update November 2017: Added the Tridea Power Guard and Tauri wallet case to our list!

LG V30

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2 months ago

Best Cases for LG G6

19

What are the best cases for the LG G6?

Whether you have an LG G6 already or it's on its way, you'll probably want to have a good case around for those times when you can't guarantee it'll stay safe from bumps and scrapes. Now that we're a few months removed from the G6 launch, there are tons of options available to fit your needs and budget.

Here's our breakdown of some of the best cases you can find for the LG G6.

Caseology Geometric

Caseology's Geometric case is the perfect blend of protective and comfortable, offering two layers of protection — an inner silicone and outer TPU shell — that is covered, on the back, with a grippy geometric pattern.

While all the ports are easily accessible, including the G6's rear fingerprint sensor, the case lips over the front of the phone, protecting it from the front and back. Available in three colors — black, red, and blue — at an affordable $13 price.

See at Amazon

Spigen Rugged Armor

Spigen's Rugged Armor cases are always a great option, offering good protection without adding too much bulk to your phone. It features a premium look with carbon fiber textures on the back, clear cutouts for your ports, camera and fingerprint scanner, as well as all the protective features that Spigen is known for — spiderweb shock absorption on the interior of the case along with Air Cushion Technology in all the corners.

For a case that offers great protection along with a sleek and stylish appearance, you can't go wrong with the Spigen Rugged Armor case for your LG G6. It'll only set you back about $12.

See at Amazon

SUPCASE Unicorn Beetle Pro

If you're the klutzy type who's constantly dropping your phone, you want this $17 rugged case from SUPCASE. This is a two-piece case that features a front plate with a built-in screen protector that, along with the LG G6's waterproofing, will pretty much keep your phone in pristine condition. It features multi-layered protection that combines TPU and polycarbonate materials to create a shock absorbing core and impact resistant bumper.

It also comes with a belt clip holster that swivels 360-degrees, making it a great accessory for anyone who's constantly on the go throughout the day and needs quick access to their phone at all times.

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Trianium Clarium Series Case

The thing about having a new phone is that you want to show it off, right? But not at the expense of leaving it open to damage. That's where a great clear case come in.

Trianium's Clarium Series cases are sleek and minimalist, so if those are important features in a case for you, you'll definitely want to check it out. Your phone will get all around protection from this slim case that also perfectly preserves the look of your LG G6 for just $8.

See at Amazon


Spigen Thin Fit

If you absolutely hate the idea of using a case because of the added bulk, perhaps you should consider Thin Fit case from Spigen. While it won't offer as much drop protection as the other cases on this list, it will prevent your phones from being scuffed or scratched while in your pocket.

All your ports and side buttons are left wide open, and the case is thin enough to guarantee NFC and wireless charging pass through without issue. Again, if you're looking for a case that offers sound protection, your best to look at other options. But if you're looking for a slim and lightweight case to offer the most basic protection from nicks and scratches, this is your best bet at $11.

See at Amazon

UAG Plasma

UAG is known for making some really great rugged cases for your smartphones. The UAG Plasma case offers a great balance between style and protection.

This composite case is feather-light and combines a translucent hard outer shell with a shock-absorbing soft inner core. With a raised rubber screen lip and rear skid pads, your phone will stay put when you put it down without ever coming into direct contact with anything that might scratch the LG G6's big screen. If you're concerned about the phone slipping out of your hand, this case features so many ridges and texture around the back to help with grip.

On top of all that, UAG has included oversized cutouts around the camera, fingerprint scanner, and ports, so that all your phone's features are unencumbered by the case. All of those features will set you back $40, making it the most expensive case on this list, but chances are you know whether or not you're the kind of person who needs that protection.

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Incipio DualPro

Rugged protection doesn't have to look so utilitarian. Incipio's DualPro case — at a hefty $30 — is a really stylish option that combines a shock absorbing TPE inner core with a sleek and lightweight polycarbonate outer shell that works in tandem to provide great shock protection and protect against scratches and scuffs. The power and volume buttons are covered with raised rubber that's easy to press, and precise cutouts for the camera, charging port, fingerprint scanner, speaker, and headphone jack ensure you're always able to get the most out of your new phone.

The DualPro offers everything you want from a case while keeping a slim and stylish profile, and is available in five different color options.

See at Amazon

OtterBox Defender Series

The OtterBox Defender Series is a great option for anyone looking for trusted protection for the LG G6. If you've used an OtterBox case before you know what to expect here — a rugged triple-layer case that offers superior defense against drops and damage.

This case features a built-in screen protector to keep your display free from scratching, and also has port covers to prevent lint and dirt from affecting charging or using headphones. As usual, OtterBox also includes a belt-clip holster if you're into that thing, but it's slim enough to fit into most pockets no problem There's a diamond-shaped cutout around the cameras and fingerprint sensor on the back which sure has a cool look to it, too.

At $37.80, its on the pricier side but OtterBox backs all their products with great customer support so if you have any issues you can be sure that OtterBox will help resolve the issue promptly.

See at Amazon

J&D Heavy Duty Wallet Case

A wallet case is a great option for not only keeping your phone protected but also cutting down on your daily carry. You're able to store your ID, credit or debit cards, and a pocket for cash which is perfect for traveling or going out without needing to bring your wallet too.

Your phone is held in place by a TPU snap-on case on the interior, while the exterior casing is made of synthetic leather. There's a cutout around the earpiece so you can talk on the phone with the front flap closed if you choose.

Available in your choice of seven colors, you can get this case starting at just $10.

See at Amazon

Update November 2017: Added the OtterBox Defender Series and J&D wallet cases to our list.

LG G6

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2 months ago

Google Home: What you need to know about Assistant, Skills, Music and more!

9

Get to know your Google Home!

Google Home works as a hub for making your life easier. From listening to music to getting the news, to using Google Home to stream videos through Chromecast, there is plenty that it can do. With so much going on it can be intimidating at first, so we've put together this handy guide to help you get acquainted.

Keep reading for all the details!

What is it?

Announced at Google's hardware event in October 2016, Google Home is a smart speaker that hooks into Google Assistant. You're able to ask Home to do pretty much anything, from answering questions about sports and news, to finding a song from Play Music or Spotify.

The speaker sounds good -- better than the Amazon Echo -- and thanks to a growing ecosystem of skills, it's getting smarter all the time!

Google Home review

How to adjust the default apps on Google Home

Google Home makes it easy to keep track of your busy life and enjoy some music when you're relaxing at home. When you're ready for some music or you want to check up on the news, though, you'll want to be sure that the default apps are the ones that you want to use.

How to change the default apps on Google Home

Do I need more than one Google Home?

Google Home makes it easy to control your connected home. So what do you do when multiple people in the house all want to use your Google Home at the same time? Well, you pick up a second — or third! Even better, the Google Home Mini can be used to expand your Google Home network for much less money! Having multiple Google Homes only increases your benefits, and we have the details for you here!

Do I need more than one Google Home?

How to take advantage of Google Home offers

Google Home brings you a hub that lets you control your connected home, listen to music, and plenty more. Hidden inside of the menu in the Google Home app, you'll also find a tab called "Offers" filled with special deals that can let you enjoy everything this accessory has to offer at a discount. These include Play Movie rentals for just $0.99 or discounts on a SmartThings lighting kit and more.

How to take advantage of Google Home offers

What countries support Google Home?

Google Home has been helping out Americans with scheduling, playing music, and bringing their connected home together since November of 2016. While this accessory started out in the States, it's been slowly rolling out across the world. The United Kingdom and Canada are the two newest additions, but there are definitely more to come.

What countries support Google Home?

What you need to use Google Home

Google Home aims to make your life easier, but you will need a few things in order to use it. Don't worry though, chances are you already have access to the three integral parts of using Google Home.

What you need to use Google Home

How to buy things with Google Home

It seems as though every year our lives get even busier than they were the year before. Between your commute, working, hitting doctor's appointments, making it to the gym, and ensuring everything gets done on time, it can be hard to figure out the best time to run out to the store. That's where Google Home wants to make things a bit easier for you.

You can set up voice purchasing and even reorder items that you've ordered previously. It only takes a few minutes to set up voice purchasing, and we have the details on how to do it right here!

How to buy things with Google Home

How to set up Google Home with multiple users

Google Home works by recognizing your voice, letting you listen to music, add items to your shopping list and even check the day's news. With multi-user support, that goes a step further allowing up to six different accounts to link to a single Google Home. This means that every account can receive personalized responses from Google Home to help them on their day.

How to set up Google Home with multiple users

How to manage users on Google Home

Google Home makes it easy to control your connected home and linked accounts all with the power of your voice. While multiple accounts can use Google Home at the same time, the time may come when a roommate moves out and you need to remove their access. Have no fear.

We've got the details on how to add or remove a linked account from Google Home, and it only takes a few short minutes!

How to manage users on Google Home

How to listen to music with Google Home

Google Home has a great set of speakers, making it fully capable of filling the room with music. The speakers on the Google Home Mini aren't quite as good, but still sufficient. All you need to do is link up a music account, and you'll be good to go. With options like Pandora, Spotify, YouTube Music and Google Play Music, you'll always be able to listen to the music you're craving, and all you have to do is ask Google Home to play what you want to hear.

How to listen to music with Google Home

How to get Google Home to lull you to sleep

Finding it hard to fall asleep with the blaring summer heat? Google Home is good for more than turning off the lights or playing back your favorite podcast. You can use it as a noise machine of sorts for when the current environment just isn't your vibe. If you're in the U.S., you can use these quick tricks to get the Assistant-enabled speaker to drown out the noise of the trains, planes, and automobiles outside your window and instead transport you to a serene nature scene — or whatever else you need to be to fall asleep.

How to get Google Home to lull you to sleep

These products and services work with Google Home

Google first introduced Google Home to the world back in May at Google I/O 2016, later revealing the final product alongside the Pixel in October. From everything we've seen, Google Home seems primed to eventually link up with any smart device in your home and allow you to control everything with just the sound of your voice.

Google Home works with many smart home devices, including Nest, Phillips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, Honeywell, Logitech Harmony and more. Of course, Google Home also works with Google's Cast ecosystem. Continue to check back to this article in the coming months, as we'll surely be updating this list as more products and services are added. We've broken things down into two categories — home automation products and supported services.

These products and services work with Google Home

6 Awesome Google Home commands you may not know about

Google Home has tons of great features that allow you to keep better track of things. If you aren't sure what it's really capable of, or how to use it, then it can be hard to get started. That's why we collected the six great commands you may not know about. These include listening to music, checking your schedule, controlling your home, and more.

6 Awesome Google Home commands you may not know about

Top 8 things to know about Google Home in Canada

Google Home is now available in Canada, and it's the first voice assistant-powered speaker to make the trip north (despite years of secret Amazon Echo smuggling). Available for $179, the diminutive speaker is terrifically cute and extremely useful, but there are a few differences between it and the U.S. or international versions that you'll want to know about. Additionally, Google Home Mini is also available in Canada for $80.

Top 8 things to know about Google Home in Canada

Top ten tips and tricks for Google Home

Using Google Home is fun. That's not unique to just Google Home — telling any computer, no matter what size or shape, to do stuff by talking is fun. And the more you talk to your Google Home the more things you'll find out about what it does and what it doesn't do.

Top 10 tips and tricks for Google Home

There's a mini version!

A year after announcing the standard size, Google unveiled the Google Home Mini. Everything you love about the Google Home is now available in a smaller, less expensive size. The only real downgrade is in speaker quality, since the Mini doesn't have as much room to push sound. But all voice commands work the same and all smart home accessories are also compatible with the Mini.

More: Google Home vs. Google Home Mini: Which should you buy?

Updated November 2017: Added references to the Google Home Mini and additional products and services that work with the Google Home ecosystem.

Google Home

Google Store Best Buy Target

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2 months ago

Can Mophie make an argument for the $150 battery pack?

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The Mophie Powerstation USB-C XXL is a big, reliable battery that gets the job done.

Search "battery pack" on Amazon and there's no shortage of high-quality options at reasonable prices. Once-unknown brands like Aukey, Anker, and RAVPower seem to have maneuvered their way to the tops of the search results, and hundreds of thousands of happy customers regale the user reviews sections with tales of successful deals on top-notch componentry.

When a battery pack that can charge a phone, a tablet, and a laptop at the same time costs a hair under $40, can Mophie convince people that it's worth spending nearly four times that amount on a portable charger that has less capacity and fewer ports? That's what we're aiming to answer here.

See at Mophie

This is definitely the nicest-looking battery pack I've used, but that doesn't mean much in the long run.

The Mophie Powerstation USB-C XXL is a two-port charger with a USB-C port and a USB-A port splitting the responsibilities. Its 19500mAh capacity is, while capacious — especially for its relatively small size — not the biggest we've seen, but the Mophie is programmed to release that capacity as quickly as possible right now.

That's because, in addition to the USB-A port that supports standard 2.4 amp output, the USB-C port uses the Power Delivery standard, allowing for up to 30W of output with a compatible device and proper cable. As we learned from the Pixel 2, most phones don't support such wattage — it technically supports a 27W charger, but will only accept 18 watts, likely due to heat concerns. Still, the Mophie can charge a phone and tablet at the same time, or a phone and USB C-capable laptop (say, a Pixelbook), which is pretty great.

For most products on the market today, the USB-C port will output 3A, which is roughly equivalent to Quick Charge 3.0 speeds.

The battery itself is hefty and solid, wrapped in a fabric outer layer that, after a few weeks tossed into the bottom of my bag, has worn incredibly well. The single button uses four white LED buttons to indicate battery levels, and unlike many other chargers, the Powerstation is intelligent enough not to need an "on" button to start charging something that's plugged in.

So why spend $150 on a battery when larger capacities are available at a third of the cost? Well, USB-PD is a burgeoning standard not supported by most battery chargers yet, and its licensing fees are reportedly higher than Quick Charge and other fast charging standards. Mophie is also well known for its high-quality components, and the Powerstation's two-year warranty should be reassuring for those willing to take the plunge.

I can say that the Powerstation USB-C XXL is not three times better than the average battery pack from RAVPower, Anker, Aukey, and others, but in my time with it, it's been incredibly reliable, useful, and hardy.

See at Mophie

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2 months ago

7 Unique Amazon Echo Dot Cases and Stands to Amp up Your Home Decor

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Personalize your Echo Dot with these unique cases and stands!

For all its great features and portability, the Amazon Echo Dot is rather uninspired when it comes to looks. The $50 smart speaker comes in two colors: black and white. It's a short, relatively small puck with four buttons, a tiny speaker system, microphones, and an LED light ring. Depending on your decor (and where you choose to place it), the Echo Dot may blend in… or it may stick out like a sore thumb (I'm still not entirely certain sore thumbs stick out, but please pardon the digression). Whether you want to turn your Echo Dot into more of a statement piece or have it blend in seamlessly with your particular style, you're going to need a case or stand to provide the proper camouflage. Without further ado, here are 7 unique Echo Dot cases and stands that'll help you achieve your interior design goals!

Amazon Echo Dot Cases

Amazon Echo Dot Cases

Amazon's Echo Dot cases don't necessarily fit the "unique" criteria because there's a chance many, many other people have picked up a few of these. That said, the $10 to $20 sleeve comes in six varieties — odds are you're going to find something that matches your style.

Designed and sold by Amazon, the case is a perfect fit for your Dot. You simply slide your Dot down into the sleeve, plug it in, and you're ready to go. The sleeve comes in three fabric styles ($10 apiece) — sandstone (a grayish white), charcoal (a dark gray), and indigo (a denim blue) — and three leather styles ($20 apiece) — merlot (a deep red), midnight (a deep black), and saddle tan (a medium brown).

With so many options to choose from, you could have a perfectly matching Echo Dot for every room of your house!

See at Amazon

Bamboo Echo Dot Case

Bamboo Echo Dot Case

This bamboo Echo Dot case is not only a nice, natural look for your home, but it also serves as a light feature of sorts. Thanks to the fact that the Echo Dot sits down inside of the case, the Dot's light ring beautifully lights up the edges of the bamboo.

You can get this bamboo Echo Dot case for the same price as Amazon's fabric cases: $10. It's lightweight, it's simple, and it's shaped perfectly to hold your Echo in place — it's even got a hole in the back for plugging everything in.

If you want a splash of light brown, textured bamboo to accompany your Echo Dot, this case is the perfect choice!

See at Amazon

Bamboo Echo Dot Stand

Bamboo Echo Dot Stand

You can step things up a notch from a simple bamboo case to this cleverly crafted, bamboo Echo Dot stand!

The unique design lets you nestle your Dot in the top of the stand, leaving loads of space inside for the Dot's small speaker system to resonate and grow louder. You can even position the hole on the front of the stand to direct the sound depending on where you are in your home. It's designed to precisely hold your Dot in the top portion of the stand — you can route your cables through a hole in the back.

If you're looking to pump up the power of your Echo Dot's small speaker system while adding the natural, beautiful look of bamboo to your home, this $16 stand is for you!

See at Amazon

Dot Genie Flush Mount

Dot Genie Flush Mount

I must confess: I am absolutely in love with this contraption. The $20 Dot Genie Flush Mount won't add to your home decor, instead it serves to hide your Amazon Echo away while still giving you easy access to Alexa's voice commands.

So how does it work? Well, it's a rounded puck that's meant to sit flush against a wall or ceiling. You cut out a hole in your drywall, stick the mount into the hole, feed in the Amazon Echo Dot, and wire everything up (it comes with wiring, too). After it's installed, you can use your Dot the same way you normally would. This is a great way to get your Dot up off the counter or table and into a place that's free from furniture and other objects that might obstruct your voice. Plus, if you're a little self conscious about having a bunch of fu7ur3 73ch in your home, this'll hide it away!

If your idea of a smart speaker and in-home assistant is a disembodied voice that seems to communicate from the heavens (mine sure is), then you've got to pick up this flush mount. Oh, I should also mention it won't muffle your Dot's built in speakers — the mount features a unique design that channels the audio out into the room.

See at Amazon

Fintie Echo Dot Sleeves

Fintie Echo Dot Sleeves

If you struggled with the numerous case options from Amazon, you're going to be stuck clicking between these sleeves from Fintie for the next couple hours. For about $12, Fintie offers a protective case that's made with a synthetic leather exterior and microfiber interior.

To put on the sleeve, you slide your Echo Dot into the pocket of the sleeve and fasten it with a small metal snap on the side. The case has cutouts for the ports on the back of your Echo, cutouts for the four buttons atop the device, and space for your speakers and mics to output sound and listen for your commands. The best part (or worst part if you have trouble making decisions) is the wide variety of colors and patterns available. From simple colors like black and blue to complex patterns like illustrated trees and stained glass, you're likely to find something that works for your home decor.

Whether you'd like to really make your Echo Dot stand out or just need something to add a bit of you to your Dot, Fintie's sleeves are a great choice!

See at Amazon

NewRice Echo Dot Statues

NewRice Echo Dot Statues

Talk. About. Adorable! These Echo Dot statues from NewRice would look right at home in just about any home. Instead of buying a glass vase and filling it with those little wicker and twine balls or fake cherries, buy one of these statues! You'll be getting an interesting bit of home decor and a place to tuck away your Dot.

NewRice is offering both an owl and an elephant statue that retail for about $20 and $24, respectively. Much like the bamboo stand we mentioned before, these statues let you nestle your Dot into the top of the vessel. There's a hole on the back for routing your cables. It even features a non-slip coating on the bottom of the statue to keep you from knocking over your new decoration.

If you'd like to add a little statement piece to your home and hide away your Echo Dot, you've got to take a look at these NewRice statues. If you look closely, you can see the owl staring longingly at you, asking you to let it come hang out.

See at Amazon

This Dottie Echo Dot Mount

This Dottie Echo Dot Mount

Like the flush mount, the "This Dottie" mount is for those who feel the Dot is incompatible with their home decor. For about $20, you can get this mount in either white or black — whichever works better for your home and the color of your Dot.

The all-in-one design of the "This Dottie" mount makes it simple to keep your Echo Dot — and its cord — up and out of the way of your counters and tables. You connect your Dot, slide it into the mount, and plug it in! The mount works in two configurations: up and down, meaning you'll be able to choose the best option based on where your wall outlets are positioned.

If you want to get your Echo Dot out of the way and more out of sight, the "This Dottie" will help with that. I love the all-in-one design that eliminates the need for an unsightly wire hanging down and snaking across your countertops.

See at Amazon

Thoughts? Ideas?

What do you think, are any of our choices calling out to you? Do you have a different case or stand that you absolutely adore? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments and over on Twitter!

Amazon Echo

See at Amazon

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