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3 months ago

DxO One camera with USB-C coming to Android later this year

4

Still no word on pricing or exact availability.

If you've been following flagship smartphones for any length of time this year, chances are you've heard something or another about how this phone has the highest DxOMark rating, and just a few months later, a new phone came out with the same praise.

We can all agree at this point that DxOMark ratings are pretty useless when it comes to judging smartphone cameras, but DxO as a company is actually releasing something quite interesting later this year. It's called the DxO One, and it's a camera that plugs into your Android phone via USB Type-C.

DxO One first launched with a lightning cable for the iPhone back in 2015, and it received positive reviews at the time. However, it's steep price tag of $499 kept most potential customers at bay.

The one-inch sensor on the DxO One can capture up to 20.2 MP images, and the f/1.8 aperture should allow for solid low-light performance. There's a fixed focal lens of 32mm, and it's capable of capturing images in both JPEG and RAW. While you'll want to plug the DxO One into your phone to get the full experience, you can also capture images blindly by using the gadget entirely on its own.

We weren't sure if the DxO One would ever make its way to Android, so it's nice to finally have some closure on the matter. DxO says that it'll have more information about the Android-compatible version of the One on November 2, and the device will initially be released through some sort of Early Access program. Unfortunately, we don't currently know if pricing will change or when it'll be widely available for everyone to purchase.

From the Editor's Desk: Why DxOMark scores are basically worthless

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3 months ago

Best Digital Photo Frames

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Best Digital Photo Frames

Show off your favorite pictures with a digital photo frame.

Wood and glass photo frames can be had for relatively cheap, but they come with an issue: you can only display one picture at a time. What happens if you have thousands of digital photos taken on multiple devices? What about if you went to all the work of converting your old photos into digital format? A digital photo frame is a logical answer, and we've rounded up the best of the best right here.

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3 months ago

Tablo Tuner lets you scan and record broadcast TV to your NVIDIA Shield

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Get the best of streaming and over-the-air TV channels with a Tablo Tuner for your NVIDIA Shield.

Correction: Updated info on Tablo subscription service.

The NVIDIA Shield Pro is the most reliable and powerful Android streaming box for adventurous cord cutters, but it's easy to forget about the other methods for avoiding a costly cable bill. A digital over-the-air (OTA) antenna lets you relive the bunny-ear days of TV by scanning the airwaves for channel signals available in your area.

Now you could always use your NVIDIA Shield to stream content the various services then switching over and use the antenna to see what's on live TV is on — but the Tablo Tuner accessory takes things a step further, allowing you to connect an antenna to your Shield and use the Tablo Tuner app to watch and record your favorite shows or local newscasts.

Depending on the number of OTA channels available in your area, the Tablo Tuner offers the best perks of a digital cable subscription without the expensive DVR set box.

Setup is very easy

You only need three components to get everything set up: a NVIDIA Shield, the Tablo Tuner accessory, and an indoor or outdoor digital antenna. If the idea of setting up an antenna and DVR on your NVIDIA Shield seems daunting, don't worry. The Tablo Tuner easily plugs into one of the available USB ports in the back of the Shield, and the hardest part might be experimenting to find the perfect placement for the digital TV antenna. I used a Philips indoor digital TV antenna, but you can find a good selection of indoor TV antennas on Amazon for under $30. Your best practice is to place the indoor antenna near a window.

Once you've got the hardware hooked up and have the antenna cable plugged into the Tablo Tuner, it's time to get the Shield set up. Download Tablo Tuner Engine app and go through the setup process, which will use the antenna to scan for available channels and then populate a channel guide as you'd find on a cable set-top box.

The user interface is clean and easy to navigate — if you've ever watched digital cable before you'll have no issues. You can browse through the channels and select a show to get more information about it, including the option to set a recording. The DVR functionality is the real hero here, as you're able to manually record shows or set a series to be automatically recorded.

If you love the DVR functionality, you'll need to subscribe to use it. Tablo offers a TV guide and DVR subscription as a free trial when you first set up Tablo on the Shield. The service lets you set Tablo to record an entire TV series — whether that's all airings of a show you want to archive or all new shows that just aired — and also adds cover art, episode and series synopses and other metadata that's really useful when perusing through your recorded content. The service costs $3.99 a month and could be well worth it if you're able to record a decent number of your favorite shows.

The value will depend on what you can pull in

The Tablo Tuner works great, but its usefulness hinges on one crucial factor — the quantity and quality of HDTV broadcast signals in your area.

Be sure to check the availability of broadcast TV signals in your area first!

Don't know what free broadcasts are available in your area? Check out this online tool for locating TV signals which will give you specific results for your exact address. I live in a medium-sized Canadian city and was able to pull in three channels. All three channels came in crystal clear, but only one carried shows I was interested in watching or recording. Your results may vary, so be sure to check what channels are even available in your area, lest you be disappointed.

Final thoughts

The NVIDIA Shield Android TV is a fantastic tool for cord-cutters looking to stream, and the Tablo Tuner is a great way to legally watch and digitally record the HDTV channels being broadcast over the airwaves in your area. shows. The physical accessory costs $69.99, which is comparable to an average month cable bill. Even with the premium subscription, you'll be saving money in the long run and use your NVIDIA Shield as the ultimate DVR and streaming box.

See at Tablo TV

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3 months ago

Google's $20 USB-C to 3.5mm headphone adapter is now $9

39

THANK YOU

When Google announced the Pixel 2 on October 4, one of the biggest complaints that fans and customers had was with the company's decision to remove the 3.5mm headphone jack. Google is one of many companies making the push to Bluetooth and USB Type-C audio solutions, and in an effort to make the transition a bit smoother, Google includes a USB-C to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter in the box with every Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.

Although adapters/dongles are never preferable, this is still appreciated on Google's part. However, as anyone that uses phones, laptops, or other gadgets that are really pushing the USB Type-C lifestyle knows, adapters can be very easy to lose.

As such, when the Pixel 2 was added to the Google Store for preorder, another item popped up as well – a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter that you could purchase in case you want an extra one or ever lose the included one with the Pixel 2. The price? Twenty freaking dollars.

Google's unnecessarily high pricing for the adapter was quickly met with a bit of justified outrage, and likely due to all of the backlash, the price has been dropped from $20 to just $9.

The new price is much more reasonable than what was previously being asked, and we can only hope that not too many people purchased one of these prior to the change.

See at Google Store

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

Best Buy Verizon Google Store Project Fi

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3 months ago

Best Google Pixel Cases

Google Pixel case

Whether you're looking for something low-key or high-protection, these are the best cases for the Google Pixel

Not everyone uses a case on their phone, and those who do may not even use a case every day. But one thing is certain: the Google Pixel is an expensive piece of hardware, and that means you should consider the options for protecting it.

We're not just talking about a drop from shoulder height onto concrete. There are also just little bits of daily life that can leave your phone looking less than pristine after a few months or a year. Now that the Pixel has been out for a while you have plenty of great case options that can help you keep your phone looking great for longer. Here are a few of our favorites.

Maxboost mSnap Thin Case

Maxboost mSnap Thin Case

Maxboost has made a great and super minimal offering with the mSnap Thin Case. Available in turquoise, black and rose gold, the mSnap case offers complete protection of all edges without adding any unnecessary bulk. Little slits at the corners let the case stay super rigid but still fit around your Pixel.

The case cuts out relatively large holes around the camera, fingerprint sensor, USB port and headphone jack so you don't have to worry about compatibility with other accessories or issues with not being able to access basic functions. Starting at just $9, this is a great minimalist choice.

See at Amazon

Diztronic Pixlee Flexible TPU Case

Diztronic makes some excellent cases, and the Pixlee TPU for the Pixel is another example of one that fits perfectly with the phone. The flexible TPU means that the hardened plastic has a little give, which is better for absorbing drops, scrapes and other mishaps. The 'Pixlee' stands for the laser-etched pattern on the back, which gives the Pixel a little extra flair — though you can grab the same design in four matte colors, too.

Regardless of the design, these Diztronic cases run just under $10, which is a steal.

See at Amazon

Otterbox Commuter

Otterbox Commuter

Otterbox is a company that is well-known for its protective offerings, but many are turned away by how bulky that can make your Pixel. The Commuter series is a great balance of protection and bulk, all while looking pretty great. Thanks to its inner synthetic rubber slipcover and the polycarbonate outer shell, you'll have awesome protection in the event of a drop or fall.

The case allows for easy access to the ports and fingerprint sensor, and the buttons are raised so you can easily find them. Coming in at just $21 (regularly $40 MSRP), it is more expensive than many of the other options, but worth every penny for the protection it provides.

See at Amazon

Tauri Ultra Slim

Tauri ultra slim

The Pixel is a great looking phone, and you may not want to hide it under a case. That doesn't mean you should leave your phone completely unprotected to show it off, and instead you should consider a great clear case. Tauri offers its Ultra Slim case in a variety of tinted colors, most of which can be seen through to still show off the beauty of the phone.

You won't get extreme protection with this case, but it will prevent some dings and scratches from making your phone look older than it really is. Priced at only $8 there is very little reason to not pick one up for your Pixel to keep it safe.

See at Amazon

Spigen Rugged Armor

Spigen Rugged Armor

If you're looking to protect your Google Pixel but don't want to make it super big and bulky, Spigen's Rugged Armor is a solid pick for you. The case combines Military Grade protection with Air Cushion Technology for all of its corners, and the TPU material is flexible but protective.

Being fingerprint-resistant, the case will not only protect your phone but keep it looking clean and great. The front has a small lip to it, so if you place the phone face down the screen won't touch the surface to prevent scratches. At only $13, you can't go wrong with this slim case that offers great protection.

See at Amazon

Updated October 2017: This list has been refreshed with updated pricing, links, and the latest information.

Google Pixel + Pixel XL

Google Store Verizon

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3 months ago

Best Chromebox

Best overall

ASUS Chromebox M004U

See at Amazon

Don't let the name fool you. The ASUS Chromebox M004U (generally known as the ASUS Chromebox though there are others from ASUS being sold) is dead simple to set up and use. Attach a monitor or television, a keyboard, and a mouse then turn it on. You'll be on the internet in just a few minutes.

The Haswell Intel Celeron 2955U CPU offers remarkable performance for the price, is energy efficient, and an industry staple in countless computers. Paired with a fast 16GB storage drive and 4GB of memory, you'll be able to enjoy everything Chrome has to offer, whether that means Facebook or a spreadsheet.

You also have the option to upgrade the ASUS Chromebox. Adding a larger storage drive or more memory is simple and well-documented. The ASUS Chromebox also makes an excellent HTPC as-is and can be an all-in-one media server with software like Plex.

Bottom line: The ASUS Chromebox M004U is powerful and capable. Chrome and everything you do present no challenges. If you want to explore other software options, upgrades are easy and inexpensive.

Why the ASUS Chromebox is the best

The ASUS Chromebox is the total package.

Chrome is a very lightweight and efficient, yet powerful, computing platform. On a computer like the ASUS Chromebox, you'll be able to experience everything there is to offer with nary a stutter once paired with good broadband internet service. Put the ASUS Chromebox under your TV for watching YouTube or Netflix, or use it at your desk to communicate or work from home. You can have confidence that this Chromebox can do it all.

If you're looking for more, you can upgrade the storage drive and RAM on the ASUS Chromebox using affordable and widely available off-the-shelf components without any complicated disassembly. If you are looking to install software like Kodi to build your own network streaming server, the ASUS Chromebox is widely recognized as the best value and is fully supported.

Best all-in-one

Acer Chromebox CX12-4GKM

See at Amazon

If you're looking for a complete setup and aren't interested in upgrading anything or installing any alternative software, the Acer Chromebox is a solid choice.

It offers a Broadwell 1.5GHz Intel Celeron CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a 16GB solid state drive in a vertical standing enclosure that's not going to need a lot of real estate. The Acer Chromebox also comes with its own mouse and keyboard.

The Acer is a powerful package that won't crowd your desk or TV stand and is an excellent choice if you're OK with spending a little more and not tearing apart the case.

Bottom line: The Broadwell CPU is future proofed and plenty powerful for everything you want your Chromebox to do, and many will find the included mouse and keyboard a useful addition

Best for Power Users

ASUS CHROMEBOX2-G013U

See at Newegg

The ASUS Chromebok2-G013U has an awkward name, but it's a total powerhouse for a Chromebox.

powered by a fifth-generation Intel core i3 processor, complete with 4GB of DDR3L RAM and a 16GB SATA M.2 SSD the ASUS Chromebox2 will fly through anything work or play. If you need just a little more hardware inside your Chromebox, this is the one to get.

Bottom line: The memory and SSD are an industry standard and can be user upgraded to have 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD!

Conclusion

Any of your choices for the best Chromebox are good ones. We had to consider what was the differentiator between and think long and hard about saying one was better than the others. In the end, the tried-and-true ASUS Chromebox won us over with its excellent support for advanced users and easy upgradeability. While all these Chromeboxes are worth considering, the ASUS is the best all around from features versus price point of view.

Best overall

ASUS Chromebox M004U

See at Amazon

Don't let the name fool you. The ASUS Chromebox M004U (generally known as the ASUS Chromebox though there are others from ASUS being sold) is dead simple to set up and use. Attach a monitor or television, a keyboard, and a mouse then turn it on. You'll be on the internet in just a few minutes.

The Haswell Intel Celeron 2955U CPU offers remarkable performance for the price, is energy efficient, and an industry staple in countless computers. Paired with a fast 16GB storage drive and 4GB of memory, you'll be able to enjoy everything Chrome has to offer, whether that means Facebook or a spreadsheet.

You also have the option to upgrade the ASUS Chromebox. Adding a larger storage drive or more memory is simple and well-documented. The ASUS Chromebox also makes an excellent HTPC as-is and can be an all-in-one media server with software like Plex.

Bottom line: The ASUS Chromebox M004U is powerful and capable. Chrome and everything you do present no challenges. If you want to explore other software options, upgrades are easy and inexpensive.

Updated October 2017: The ASUS Chromebox M004U is still your best choice, but there's a new power-player in town with the ASUS Chromebox2.

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3 months ago

Anker Soundcore Boost Review: Big sound, sleek design, one flaw

0

The Anker Soundcore Boost boasts bigger sound and cool features... but ultimately at the expense of epic battery life.

Anker's been known for its battery packs, but it may soon be equally respected for its Soundcore line of Bluetooth speakers. The Soundcore Boost was released for 2017 and features improved sound quality and deeper bass, along with a redesigned exterior that is both flashy and adds extra functionality.

At $80, it's twice as expensive as the reliable and rugged Soundcore 2, so what does that extra money get you? Much better sound quality and a great portable speaker for around the house.

Overall design

The Soundcore Boost continues the Anker tradition of monolithic Bluetooth speaker design — minimalist, sleek, and available exclusively in black. The Boost stands out from the other Soundcore speakers with a more refined look that's clearly aiming to find a home in your living room rather than your camping gear.

The NFC sensor on the top is a smart addition that makes pairing phones painless and perfect for parties.

It's hard to ignore the curvaceous design of the wraparound speaker grille on this speaker — classic and clean with next to no speaker bezel if you will. On top, you have your usual assortment of controls with the addition of the "BassUp" button which kicks up the bass without distorting the music. The charging port and aux input are behind a rubber panel on the left along with a USB port for charging devices.

The other really convenient features built into the Boost is NFC compatibility. The NFC-sensor on the top is a smart addition that makes pairing phones painless and perfect for parties.

The Anker Soundcore 2 earned praise in my review for its rugged portability after testing it through a rainy camping trip. The Soundcore Boost works equally well as a portable speaker and features the same level of IPX5 water resistance, but the fancier wraparound speaker grille design makes it feel more suited for a bookshelf than a book bag.

Sound quality

The Soundcore Boost delivers some of the best I've heard from a portable Bluetooth speaker, but especially when well-placed within a room. I've found putting it at head height on a bookshelf or something similar delivers the best acoustics.

BassUp is the Boost's key feature, delivering deeper bass at the push of a button.

Of course, the main audio feature here is BassUp, which lets you boost the bass with the push of a button. It allows you to go louder with a deeper low-end that doesn't distort or buzz. It's a nice feature that's easy to use and quite noticeably improves the low end of music or spoken word without distorting the rest of the mix.

Part of the reason why I believe the Soundcore Boost is best as a stay-at-home speaker is that it does such a great job of filling a room with sound — at a reasonable volume but especially with BassUp activated. If I'm cleaning up the house and moving around between rooms, I'll place the Soundcore Boost in a central area of my house with BassUp on and it'll send my podcasts or playlists throughout the house reasonably. It's as loud as an Amazon Echo speaker but a little clear at the highest volume levels.

For me, the Soundcore Boost is a great companion speaker for keeping around the house. On a near daily basis, I'm using it paired to my laptop to watch videos or listen to a podcast in the shower, and it's always available for providing music at a party or around the bonfire.

Battery life

With the extra subwoofer and fancy features included in the Boost, you had to know there'd be a hit to the battery life. Whereas the Soundcore 2 boasted an incredible 24-hours of playtime, the Soundcore Boost claims a respectable but underwhelming 10 hours — and that number will also depend on your usage of BassUp or the USB port to charge your phone.

The lesser battery life is another reason why the Soundcore Boost makes more sense as a stay-at-home Bluetooth speaker. While I've reliably taken a Soundcore 2 speakers with me for a weekend camping trip without needing to recharge, I'm less confident taking the Boost. It's ironic, too, since it's the Boost offers the great feature to also let you charge your phone.

It's not a dealbreaker in and of itself, but coupled with the higher price point, it's a fair conclusion to sacrifice the audio upgrades and cool design for a speaker with a battery that just keeps chugging.

Should you buy it?

The Soundcore 2 was an easy recommendation to make for a $40 Bluetooth speaker, so the question you're left asking is whether the Soundcore Boost's enhanced sound quality and sleek new design are worth paying twice the price of its speaker siblings.

It will also ultimately come down to your specific needs for a Bluetooth speaker. If you're looking for a fun speaker to throw in your backpack and take with you everywhere, I would definitely lean towards recommending the Soundcore 2, but if you're looking for a more advanced portable speaker that's built perfectly for a dorm room or office or just something with a little more oomph to the bass the Soundcore Boost might be worth the extra investment.

Had Anker managed to deliver a 24-hour battery along with all the other features found in the Soundcore Boost, it would be an easy recommendation to make. But at $80, with great options available for significantly less it becomes a matter of your lifestyle and personal tastes.

See at Amazon

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3 months ago

Best microSD Cards for the Moto G5 Plus

0

Which microSD card is best for the Moto G5 Plus? Well, it depends what you need...

The reality is this: if you are buying a budget phone, you're kind of over the idea of paying a lot for accessories. No fancy, expensive case; no insanely high-performance microSD slot. You just want something that works.

Even though the $229 Moto G5 Plus has a pretty hefty 32GB of storage out of the box (and double that for an extra $70), if you're in need of extra storage for movies, music, or even large games, a microSD card can come in real handy.

The Moto G5 Plus even supports Adoptable Storage, which means that you can make the inserted SD card a permanent part of your phone's storage.

So which cards do we recommend? Take a look below!

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3 months ago

Google Home Mini review units had a bug that recorded everything, all the time

63

Google Home Mini is only shipping on October 19, but a major bug has already been reported — and fixed.

Google is no stranger to problematic hardware launches — recall how difficult it was to get a Pixel last year, or how frustratingly bad the Nexus 5's camera was in 2013 — but this one may top it all.

According to Android Police owner, Artem Russakovskii, review units of the new Google Home Mini had a bug that caused it to intermittently listen to everything in its surrounding area, even when not explicitly called using the "OK Google" hotword.

Russakovskii discovered the bug after realizing that his Home Mini was responding to dialogue from his television. He then checked his My Activity Portal, which is where Google stores all the data obtained by its various services, including Google Assistant. That's how he discovered that thousands of commands had been entered in the database without his knowledge.

The bug, which has since been fixed, turned out to be a malfunctioning touch panel on the fabric top of the Home Mini itself. See, the device, like the larger Google Home, can be manually activated by holding down on the center of the fabric; some early units were too sensitive and saw this touch panel activate with no actual human input.

Google has since released an update to fix the issue, and hopefully no retail units will have the problem.

Google has since released an over-the-air update to all early reviewer units (including mine) to disable the manual activation command entirely and plans to create a long-term fix before the product ships on October 19.

Of course, such a bug just reinforces the cliché that Google knows too much about its users, and that connected speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home are constantly listening to its users. The reality is that these units are always listening to its users — that's how they detect the activation word — but they don't keep any of the data except for the terms expressly said after the hotword itself. In fact, there's no connection to the internet at all until "OK Google" is activated. That's an important distinction here, but some people are still going to be reticent to invest in a system that could be storing personal information it wasn't authorized to store.

Google Home Mini: Everything you need to know!

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3 months ago

Best Wireless Charging Pads for LG V30

10

What's the best charging pad for LG V30?

The LG V30 supports wireless charging. Simply place your V30 on a Qi wireless pad and your phone will start charging instantly.

LG doesn't have fast wireless charging like Samsung's phones, but it's still convenient to not deal with wires when topping up your phone's battery. Here are some of the most reliable wireless chargers.

Samsung wireless charging pad

Samsung's $23 wireless charging pad is the most popular wireless charger on Amazon, with over 8,000 reviews, 70% of which are 4- or 5-star.

These charging pads look like mini-UFOs and are Fast Charge-compatible for devices that support it such as the Galaxy Note 8. It also comes with a Samsung 2A wall charger — always great — and comes with a standard one-year warranty.

See at Amazon

Spigen Qi Wireless Charging Stand

Spigen is one of the best accessory makers, and its Qi Charging Stand is a fine example to back that claim.

This charging stand is angled so you are still able to see your display easily while your phone is charging. If you need a way to quickly top off your phone on your desk or a new place to keep it safe on your nightstand, this may be the choice for you. Pick yours up for under $30 at Amazon.

See at Amazon

Aukey wireless charging pad

Aukey's wireless charging pad for Qi-enabled devices is sleek and minimalist, which might jive well with your personal tastes. It's an updated version of Aukey's coaster-sized charger, and has a pretty stylish and minimalist look to it and won't take up much space on your desk or nightstand. And unlike other options on this list, it actually uses a USB-C cable to supply power which should make for more an efficient energy transfer.

You can get one for your home or office for just $25.

See at Amazon

Seneo Qi wireless charging stand

Seneo's wireless charging stand features a couple cool features such as LEDs to notify you when your phone is charging or if there's anything blocking the connection between your phone and the charging coils. Other key features are its minimalist inclined design and its price — only $20 on Amazon.

It's available in your choice of black or white.

See at Amazon

Are you done with wired charging?

Do you find wireless charging pads to be convenient? Which is your favorite to use? Let us know in the comments below.

LG V30

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3 months ago

Vizio Crave Go is a Chromecast speaker that delivers big sound in a small package

2

Big sound in the right package and it's a Chromecast device!

There are a lot of choices out there when it comes to buying a wireless speaker. That can make finding the one that's right for you a little difficult. Most of us want the same thing when we're buying a speaker — the right balance between cost, features and sound quality. Vizio comes in with the right mix of each with its Crave Go Wireless speaker.

At first glance, the Crave Go looks like other high-end speakers on the market. You have a rounded corner rectangle, a stately two-tone silver and black exterior, all propped up with a built-in kickstand on the back. It's clearly designed to serve its purpose without looking out of place in most any setting. And while the Crave Go is a great size to carry along on an outing, it would also look right at home in your living room or bedroom.

The sliver and soft-black rubber finish looks great and should hold up well.

A look at the rear shows the inputs for power and auxiliary cable, a USB output to use it as a charger for other devices, and the power switch. The rest of the controls are on the right side, which is convenient as they would be difficult to reach while in use had they been positioned near the kickstand. There you'll find the Bluetooth pairing button, a volume rocker, and play/pause buttons. One thing I noticed is that the controls are spaced far enough apart that you can easily operate the speaker in the dark or without lifting it up to look at the buttons themselves.

See at Amazon

The features

The best feature of the Crave Go is wireless support through Chromecast or Vizio's SmartCast Mobile app. The speaker is a full-fledged Chromecast Audio device which means it is capable of use in a multi-room setup. In case you're not aware of how this works, once your Crave Go is set up on your Wi-Fi network you can stream audio from any Chromecast enabled app directly to the speaker without going through your phone. You can also start listening through Google Home or Google Assistant. I found the Chromecast feature to work just as well as it does with Google's own Chromecast Audio products, including multi-room setup.

Of course, you can also use the Crave Go as a traditional Bluetooth speaker for the times you're on the go. Pair it with your phone and you can send audio out to it like you would any standard Bluetooth speaker — the Wi-Fi abilities don't interfere with Bluetooth operation in any way. I found the Bluetooth connection nice and strong, with a range of about 35-40 feet before any noticeable stuttering or pausing. On the go, I was able to use the speaker for about 4.5 hours (less than the advertised six hours) before it needed to be plugged in.

Bluetooth while on-the-go and Google cast at home makes the Crave Go a double-duty device.

One pain point I did come across was the initial Wi-Fi setup. The Vizio SmartCast app was able to set up the speaker on my Wi-Fi network, but it never fully finished up to allow me to cast to the device using the Android version. I had no such problems with the iOS version of the SmartCast app. This was easily rectified by using the Google Home app to assign the speaker its name and could then send music out just as expected. This could be because of my network or the phones I tried, but in any case, it's worth a mention. As is the fix.

The sound

In a word, excellent.

The Crave Go is advertised as being able to output volume up to 88 decibels and frequencies as low at 75 Hz. That translates into a loud stream of audio with big booming bass, which the speaker certainly does deliver. Over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, you'll be able to play music or any other audio at levels that border on uncomfortably loud without any crackle or distortion, and you really can feel a hint of the chest-pounding bass you experience from bigger and more expensive speakers.

With the volume at full on the speaker itself and adjusted through my phone while casting, I was able to get the right amount of sound to fill a small or a large room as well as get everyone in the backyard toe-tapping and singing along while using it outdoors for a cookout.

You won't have any complaints about how the Crave Go sounds, and that's because it sounds damn good.

The verdict

The Crave Go lists for $199, but it's on sale at Amazon (at the time of this writing) for $149. You can find plenty of Bluetooth speakers for a lot less. But this is not just another Bluetooth speaker.

I would buy this, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a great wireless speaker.

The excellent sound quality puts it above most Bluetooth speakers on the market, and the ability to also use it as an at-home Wi-Fi speaker with Google cast separates it from almost every other portable speaker out there. When you do find a speaker that sounds good and offers support for Wi-Fi play through Google Cast, you'll see that the price isn't out of line.

I have a bit of collectoritis when it comes to speakers and other audio products. When I find a good one, I'll buy it even if I don't need it. the Crave Go is a good one, and I'd totally buy it. I'll also recommend it to anyone else.

See at Amazon

Chromecast

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Chromecast Audio:

Google Store Best Buy

Chromecast Ultra:

Google Store Best Buy

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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3 months ago

Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers

14

Take your music with you with a portable Bluetooth speaker.

Portable Bluetooth speakers are one of the best ways to take those excellent audio waves with you everywhere. Compatible with practically every device out there, Bluetooth speakers will make sure that, as long as your phone, tablet, or laptop is around, your music is loud!

We've rounded up some of the best portable Bluetooth speakers that you can take with you just about anywhere!

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3 months ago

Best MicroSD Card For Android

Best top-tier

Samsung EVO+ 256GB

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Samsung's very-highest-of-the-high-end microSD card isn't cheap. In fact, it's the priciest on this list. But you're also getting a winning combination of performance and storage capacity, with 90MB/sec write speeds and 95MB/sec reads, and an enormous 256GB of space.

That's more than you'll ever need in a smartphone, and the high read/write speeds will help if you're shooting lots of 4K video on a high-end phone like the Galaxy S8 (as too will that enormous capacity.) Better still, it's water, temperature, X-ray and magnetic proof, so you needn't worry about it getting damaged while you're out and about.

Best value - capacity

Samsung EVO Select 128GB

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If you want a nice high storage capacity without breaking the bank, Samsung's 128GB card is a good option — it provides a staggering amount of storage, and with pretty fast read and write speeds to boot — though remember your phone probably won't be able to achieve the maximum read and write speeds quoted here. It's about the lowest price we've seen for a 128GB card, and a great way to free up a ton of space on your phone or tablet.

What's more, you can pay an extra few bucks at checkout and get an OTG reader thrown in too.

Best value - speed

Lexar Professional 1000x 32GB UHS-II/U3

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If speed is more important, you might want to give this Lexar card a shot. It uses UHS-II flash memory and boasts read speeds of up to 150MB/sec — but only to supporting PCs and cameras, no phone we're aware of currently supports UHS-II speeds for reads and writes. The capacity isn't the greatest, but there are also 64 and 128GB variants available, if you're willing to pay more.

The Lexar card also comes with a USB reader for plugging into your PC and transferring data at higher speeds.

Best Balanced

Lexar High-Performance microSDXC 300x

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This Lexar card won't break the bank — it's just under $26 at the time of writing — but offers a great balance of speed and capacity. 64GB should be enough for most people's photo, video and offline music needs, while the card's UHS-I speed rating provides ample performance.

There's no full-sized SD adapter bundled with this card, but you can't argue with the price for this kind of microSD.


Update, October 2017: This list has been updated to reflect new pricing for some of these cards.

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3 months ago

Google has sold 55 million Chromecasts around the world

2

Google sold 25 million Chromecasts over the last 15 months.

At the Pixel 2 event, Google hardware chief Rick Osterloh announced that the company has sold 55 million Chromecasts and Chromecast built-in devices in the four years since its launch. That number is a sizeable increase from the 30 million sales Google announced back in July 2016, with the company selling 25 million Chromecasts over the last 15 months.

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3 months ago

5 reasons it's worth buying an Android Wear watch right now

19

Android Wear is more awesome than ever, and now is definitely the time to buy.

Android Wear is the software that powers an increasing number of awesome smartwatches that sync up to your phone. From notifications to fitness to apps, they're better than ever, and now may be the right time to pick one up for yourself — be it a low-key LG Watch Style to a fancy (and expensive) Tag Heurer Connected.

It helps you work out! 💪

With the rollout of Android Wear 2.0 earlier in 2017, staying fit using your Android Wear device became even easier than ever. You'll get access to the features you may have already known about like step trackers, but the big change came with Google Fit.

Google Fit is now better able to communicate with your watch to tell what kind of activity you are engaging in. It also includes mini-games for working out and an update to cycle tracking for gym goers. All of these things add up to make your Android Wear device more invaluable than ever for getting fit and staying that way.

Track notifications

Android Wear has always been great at conveying notifications from your phone to your wrist. But with recent versions, it's getting smarter about sending the right ones, and allowing you to respond in the most convenient way possible.

With Android Wear 2.0, you can respond using your voice — that's not new — but there's also the option of using an on-screen keyboard, or emoji (🙄) or writing individual letters. Whatever suits your fancy.

Most people are programmed to pull their phones out of a pocket as soon as they hear a notification. When you wear an Android Wear watch, you realize, with great relief, how much less that happens. That alone is worth the price of admission.

Stay organized with Google Assistant and apps

There's something about being able to just say, "OK Google, remind me to pick up milk on the way home," and have it turn into a usable reminder on your wrist. Or to download an app like Bring! and have a cross-platform, Wear-friendly grocery app that works completely independently on the wrist.

Android Wear 2.0 comes with its own Play Store, and a bunch of apps that make it possible to do an increasing number of things without a phone nearby.

Easy-to-reach remote

Many people have opted into the Google ecosystem, using Chromecast or Google Home to help stream music and programs. If you like dancing around to Spotify when nobody is home, but need to pause the music to answer the door, fumbling for your phone can take just a few moments too long.

Android Wear acts as a remote control, letting you pause, play and even fast forward media all with just a few swipes and taps. Of course, you can always reach for your phone, but if you have the controls right on your wrist, then why worry about it?

Pay without a hassle

When Android Pay was released, it suddenly made picking up milk from the corner store a much quicker process (as long as the merchant supported NFC payments). Instead of having to reach for your wallet or fumble with cash, you had the option to just tap your phone and pay using the connected app. While it has taken a bit, with the addition of NFC chips to newer Android Wear devices, mobile pay has come to the wrist.

Of course, you still need to properly set up Android Pay on your device, and connect a card, but once you do that you can pay with a tap. Since your smartwatch can pay the bills it means you can just move your wrist without ever having to pull something out of your pockets.

See at Amazon

Do you have an Android Wear watch?

Android Wear watches have been around for a few years now, and they're only getting more awesome as time marches forward. Have you picked up an Android Wear watch? Do you use it for everyday things, or just specific reasons? Is there a reason to pick up an Android Wear watch that we didn't cover? Let us know about it in the comments below!

Android Wear

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