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4 months ago

How to make your own Ethernet cable

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You can make your own Ethernet cable to achieve lengths that are more useful and save some money in the long run. Here's how.

Whether you want to make some cabling of a specific length or just wish to have a little more fun than picking up Ethernet cables from your local store, it's actually an easy and straightforward task to make your own. This process can also help you repair damaged cable in the home or at the office without having to fork out cash for replacements. To get started, here's what you'll need:

  • Ethernet cable.
  • Crimping tool.
  • RJ45 modular connector.
  • Cable tester.

For the cabling itself, you can pick up pre-assembled cabling that are ready to use and then cut to size or you could save some more money and pop to your local DIY store who should be able to cut some from a reel for you. You can pick up the crimping tool, modular connectors, and a cable tester in one package:

See at Amazon

The cable testing equipment isn't required (you can easily check by connecting the cable to your PC and router), but it makes things easier because you can just reach for a nearby tool and not have to fetch a device.

  1. Cut the cable to the length you require.

  2. Using the crimping tool, strip away the cable jacket.
  3. Check to see if you nipped away at the wires inside.
  4. Spread the twisted wires out.

    (The thin thread that joins the four twisted wires allows you to pull the jacket back further, but note that there may be a plastic spine in the middle that requires cutting, along with the wires.)

  5. Straighten out the wires.

  6. Line them up in order, using the guides below:

    Looking at the underside of a connector, the copper contacts are in eight individual slots, numbered one through eight. We're using the T568B standard, which differs slightly from the T568A standard for wiring Ethernet cables.

  7. Slide the wires carefully into the RJ45 connector.

  8. Insert the cable into the crimper tool and press hard to secure the connector.

The clamp within the connector should press against the cable jacket. You should not be able to test the cable using the tool or plug each end into a device and see if a connection is made.

Fear not if you don't get the wires lined up perfectly because it can take some practice to get the hang of preventing the wires from overlapping or locking as pairs into the connector. If you make a mistake, simply cut a bit behind from where you were working, and try again.

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4 months ago

Best Samsung Galaxy S7 Charging Docks

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What are the best charging docks for my Samsung Galaxy S7?

Update March 2017: These are still the best charging docks for the Samsung Galaxy S7.

If you are really concerned about taking care of your Samsung Galaxy S7, you might be a bit hesitant leaving it charging on a table, where it's free to be knocked off the ground by an errant elbow or a clumsy pet. That's where a charging dock can come in real handy.

The Galaxy S7 is also special in that it supports Qi wireless charging, meaning you can elevate your Samsung Galaxy S7 off the table or counter with a dock that'll also keep it fully charged when it's time to go.

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4 months ago

Google will soon sell the LG Watch Style (and maybe Watch Sport) in Canada

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The LG Watch Style is coming to Canada just in time for Spring!

Google tends to take a slow-and-steady approach to selling phone-adjacent products in its e-commerce store outside of the U.S. While the LG Watch Sport and Watch Style went on sale in early February in the United States, their expansion has been slow — until now.

Google has put up a waitlist registration page for its LG Watch Style (and, hopefully soon, the Watch Sport) on the Canadian portal, albeit with no clue as to when it will go on sale, but we do know it will cost $319 CAD, a $70 premium over the U.S. version. But this is a good start: we know the first Android Wear 2.0 watches are coming soon.

Android Wear 2.0 is a big upgrade, and will soon roll out to older hardware like the Moto 360 (2015) and Huawei Watch. It brings a redesigned interface, an emphasis on standalone apps, and more robust support for standalone cellular smartwatches.

See at Google

Thanks Puleen!

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4 months ago

You'll want to keep this powerful $16 Bluetooth speaker with you at all times

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Our friends at Thrifter are back again, this time with a powerful Bluetooth speaker at a killer price!

Bluetooth speakers are a great way to listen to music, podcasts and more at a louder volume than your phone can offer. TaoTronics has discounted its offering down to just $15.99, which is the lowest price this speaker has hit yet. With two powerful 7W drivers and 2 high-performance acoustic drivers, you should get a pretty good sound quality out of the portable speaker and with the built-in 4000mAh battery, it can play for up to 8 hours on a single charge.

The speaker also has a 3.5mm jack on it so you can easily play from devices that don't have Bluetooth, and the buttons at the top of it allow for easy control of the audio even if you don't have access to the phone or tablet. With over 600 reviews the speaker has a 4.6 out of 5 star rating at Amazon.

See at Amazon

For more great deals on tech, gadgets, home goods and more, be sure to check out our friends at Thrifter now!

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4 months ago

Xiaomi's Yeelight Wi-Fi bulb offers Hue quality at less than half the cost

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The Yeelight LED bulb is a great option if you're looking for an affordable smart lighting solution.

Xiaomi made its name by selling budget phones that offered great value for money, and the company is taking the same approach to connected devices. That's especially true of the $20 Yeelight LED bulbs, which offer a experience similar to that of Hue bulbs at a fraction of the cost.

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4 months ago

Speed up your home Wi-Fi with discounts on select TP-Link gear today only

0

Our friends at Thrifter are back again, this time helping you make your Wi-Fi faster for less!

If you've been looking for some new networking gear, you'll want to check out Amazon's Deal of the Day which discounts a variety of TP-Link's products. From gigabit ethernet switches to network extenders and Wi-Fi routers to cable modems, there is a deal here for just about everyone.

With these prices, today is a great day to stop renting your existing modem from your cable company and start owning yours. Most cable companies charge around $10 per month to rent the modem from them, and today you can have your own for as little as $60 (which means it pays for itself in just 6 months!).

Some of the best deals include:

Be sure to check out the full list of products that are on sale as well to see if any of the others will work for you.

See at Amazon

For more great deals on tech, gadgets, home goods and more, be sure to check out our friends at Thrifter now!

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4 months ago

Best Car Mounts for Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge

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Best car mounts for the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge

Holding your phone while driving is a horrible idea. Get a car mount for your S7!

Updated March, 2017: Added the iOttie wireless charging mount.

In many cases, it's illegal for you to hold your cell phone to your ear while you're driving, so a car mount is a great alternative. This way, you can throw up a Google Map before you embark and you'll be able to following your path like you would on any GPS device.

Get yourself a Bluetooth headset (or, better yet, a car with built-in Bluetooth) and you'll be able to answer calls, since pushing a button on your phone will be no different than pushing the buttons on your console.

If you've got the Galaxy S7 or S7 edge, then we've got the car mount roundup you've been looking for.

Spigen Air Vent Magnetic Car Mount

Spigen Air Vent Magnetic Car Mount

Gone are the days of gooey adhesives that muck up the inside of your pristine automobile. Magnets are where it's at. No, the magnets won't mess up your phone; you'll just have easy on and off mounting, which is what we all want, isn't it?

This Spigen mount has two sizes of slits to fit almost any car air vent and you can pop your S7 or S7 edge on in any orientation. All you do is stick the metal plate to the back of your phone's case and boom, your phone's magnetic and good to go any time. You can even take the mount with you and use it as a kickstand for when you're watching videos on your phone.

Note: you should stick the metal plates to a case and not the back of the phone itself. If you need some help finding cheap cases, we've got another round-up with your name on it.

It should also be noted that having the metal plate on the back of your Galaxy S7 or S7 edge's case will hinder wireless charging, so you'll have to take it out of the case for that.

See at Amazon

EnergyPal HC84K Car Mount

EnergyPal HC84K Car Mount

This particular mount serves a dual purpose: it holds your phone and doubles as a car charger. The end of the mount plugs into your cigarette lighter and looks like most USB car chargers, but an articulating arm extends upward from the unit into a three-sided phone holder. It softly cradles your phone, leaving the bottom open so you can run your charging cable down to the USB ports.

This unit comes equipped with over-charge protection, so you won't fry your phone if your car decides to short circuit on you. The gooseneck-style end can be rotated to any orientation, so you can view maps in landscape format if you fancy.

The only downside of this particular mount will be where your lighter plug is placed. If it's kind of hard to get to, then this particular mount may not work out for you, since the neck is only about 5 inches long.

See at Amazon


Logitech Drive One-Touch mount

Logitech Drive

If you're into a minimalist mount, then the Logitech Drive will suit your needs nicely. It mounts with just a twist and only takes up about 2 inches of either your dashboard or windshield.

The adhesive metal disc attaches to either your phone or its case (definitely preferable) and it securly mounts to the Drive in any orientation you like.

See at Amazon


iOttie Easy One Touch Car Mount

iOttie Easy One Touch Car Mount

This is one of those mounts with a sticky gel pad that you stick to your dashboard, so if you're worried about damage, you may want to sit this one out. However, the nice part about it being a gel pad is its ability to stick to uneven and textured surfaces, making this mount ideal for even the most oddly designed vehicle interior.

You've got a telescopic arm that extends two inches and bends 180-degrees, to give you versatility in terms of where you stick your mount. It comes with a one-year replacement warranty, so if anything goes wrong, you just contact iOttie and they send you a new one.

If the gel pad on the back gets all dusty and gross and won't stick anymore, you can just rinse it under warm water, let it dry, and it'll be good as new.

See at Amazon

Nite Ize Steelie

Nite Ize Steelie

This mount is just plain cool as hell. You stick the magnet to the back of your phone or case, and it easily mounts to the magnetic ball that mounts to your dash. It takes up next to no space, and you can mount your phone in any orientation you want.

The magnet is strong, so there's no worry of your Galaxy S7 or s7 edge falling off (unless you plan on off-roading), and the adhesive won't leave a grody residue on your phone or dashboard.

See at Amazon

Spigen Style Ring

Spigen Style Ring

If you want to go as minimal as possible, then the Spigen Style Ring is the only way to go. It's an adhesive piece, no bigger than an inch, that sticks to the back of your phone, with an articulating ring that doubles as a kickstand (bonus!).

Then, there's another piece, about the same size, that adheres to your dashboard or your console and you just hang the ring on it. That's it. It takes up about as much space as the volume knob on your radio. If you're taking some wild turns, it may jostle your phone out of place, but it's otherwise quite secure, despite how it looks.

Make sure you stick it to your dash during warmer months, since the adhesive won't really take in the dead of winter.

See at Amazon

ProClip mobile mounting solutions

ProClip

For a completely customized car mount, direct your attention to ProClip. They offer a two-part car mount solution that you customize for your specific needs. Firstly, you select your iPhone 7 or 7 Plus from the menu, and indicate whether or not you want to factor in the case you use. You'll be given a variety of six to eight images to choose from with specs and details for each phone holder offered.

Once you've decided on your iPhone holder, you move on to the custom mounting base. Select the kind of base you want (dashboard, pedestal, and so on) and select the vehicle you drive. The bases you will be selecting from are designed to snap into the seams of your dashboard or grip the necessary panels, so no sticky pads or bolts are necessary. Eliminate the guessing by customizing every aspect of your car mount and know that it's going to fit just the way you want it to.

See at ProClip

RAM mount

RAM Mount

The RAM mount is a heavy duty twist-locking suction cup mount that mounts on your dashboard or windshield. Made of marine grade aluminum, the RAM is just about as tough as they come and sturdily holds onto your Galaxy S7 or S7 edge and won't let go.

The rubber-coated tips ensure that your phone doesn't slip, and the holder is spring-loaded, so you don't need to fiddle with the mount with both hands just to get your phone in there.

If you need a mount that holds onto your phone with kung fu grip, check out the RAM.

See at Amazon

iOttie HLCRIO132 wireless charging mount

iOttie wireless charging mount

This Qi-enabled mount is perfect for keeping your Galaxy S7 charged up on the go. The two-step locking mechanism is perfect for any type of dashboard, since one step is for smooth surfaces and the second is for textured surfaces.

This mount also features iOttie's great one-touch mounting system that make it easy to mount your phone and remove it quickly. It has a telescopic arm so that you can adjust and orient it in any way you like, and it comes with a Micro-USB cable, as well as a dashboard pad so that you can mount on even the most stubborn surface.

See at Amazon

Important to consider

Double-check the ol' law where you are and make sure that it's not illegal to mount anything on your windshield.

You'll also want to consider the absorbency of your dashboard, since some adhesives may leave stains.

What's your favorite?

Which car mount are you presently using for your Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 edge? Sound off in the comments below!

See Galaxy S7 at Amazon

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge

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4 months ago

Take your pick of 3 popular iOttie car mounts for $13 today only at Amazon

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Our friends at Thrifter are back again, this time scoring you big discounts on popular iOttie car mounts!

It's no secret that you shouldn't be driving and using your phone in your hand, but people still do it. Instead of putting your life at risk to view an incoming email or driving directions, head over to Amazon and buy an iOttie smartphone car mount for less than $13. There are 3 different styles to choose from so you're bound to find one that works for you. As a price comparison, you'd normally pay about $20 per mount.

These universal mounts will accommodate nearly any size smartphone, with or without a case. iOttie makes the best car mounts on the market, period. Its Easy One Touch 2 (on sale for $12.77 today) is rated 4.3 out of 5 stars from more than 27,500 Amazon reviewers.

See at Amazon

For more great deals on tech, gadgets, home goods and more, be sure to check out our friends at Thrifter now!

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4 months ago

Best Chromebox

Update, March 2017: This post has been updated with new formatting. All the choices have remained the same.

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 futureproofed and plenty powerful for everything you want your Chromebox to do, and many will find the included mouse and keyboard a useful addition

Best value

Lenovo ThinkCentre Chromebox

See at Amazon

The lowest priced Chromebox on our list is also a great combo package.

The Lenovo ThinkCentre Chromebox is another Broadwell 15 watt Celeron CPU offering, and it too comes with 4GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. The bundled mouse and keyboard will help you get up and running faster, and the ThinkCentre can be positioned either horizontally or vertically.

As the newest entry on our list, the ThinkCentre hasn't yet been proven to become our top pick, but the initial response looks great.

Bottom line: Great specifications, a bundled mouse and keyboard, and an attractive price makes the Lenovo ThinkCentre a compelling choice. If it stands the test of time, it has the potential to be our favorite.

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.

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4 months ago

Best Smart Scales to Get You On the Right Track to Weight Loss

20

Keep track of your weight loss with some smart scale help!

Updated March, 2017: Swapped the Withings Body Cardio with the Withings Body, which is a more affordable option; swapped in the WiTscale S220, since the S200 has been discontinued.

Whether you're just beginning your weight loss journey or you're deep into a workout regimen and just want to start tracking your weight, BMI, and more, a smart scale is an awesome way to keep your fitness goals in check. These scales connect to a corresponding app on your phone or tablet and show you comprehensive results that you wouldn't get from a regular ol' bathroom scale.

The scales you find below ain't heavy — they're our favorites!

Fitbit Aria

The Fitbit Aria features a polished glass surface with a digital display that syncs your weight, BMI, and body fat percentages straight to your Fitbit account. This smart scale recognizes up to 8 users and keeps everyone's results separated and private. You can pair the Aria with any Fitbit tracker, including the Fitbit Charge HR or the Fitbit Surge, and keep track of your results using the Fitbit Android app or on the Fitbit website. The Aria can register weights up to 350 pounds and distinguishes between users by individual weights and body fat percentages.

See at Amazon

Withings Body

The Withings Body smart scale is a comprehensive scale that gives you a total-body readout, complete with high-accuracy weight, BMI, body fat, muscle mass, bone mass, and even water measurements, using what Withings calls "Position Control" technology.

The Withings Body is great for the whole family (as Phil explains in the above Modern Dad video), because you can add everyone in the app and, based on weight, the scale can tell who's on it, sending the correct information to the app for the correct user — and you don't have to do a thing.

This scale also looks great, with a shiny, modern blue finish that almost looks black.

See at Amazon

Weight Gurus Smart Scale

Sporting a larger LCD display with a bright blue backlight is this smart scale from Weight Gurus. Along with measuring your weight and BMI, this scale covers key factors like lean mass, body fat, bone mass, and even water weight. Using 4 high-precision sensors, it provides accurate measurements every time you step on its tempered glass surface. The scale syncs to your Android device via Bluetooth to the Weight Gurus app, Fitbit, Google Fit, and more. Powered by 4 AAA batteries, the Weight Gurus Smart Scale features a 400 pound capacity.

See at Amazon

Garmin Index Smart Scale

This sleek smart scale from Garmin is quick to set up via Wi-Fi and tracks a slew of in-depth metrics including body weight ,BMI, water percentage and skeletal muscle mass. Able to recognize 16 different users through the Garmin Connect app, simply step on the Garmin Index and it will and automatically upload data straight to your specific account. And with extra-large white-on-black numbers, it's always easy to read the display, even in the dark. The Garmin Index Smart Scale is available in white or black options for just $149.99, and works well with Garmin's Vivofit activity trackers and Vivoactive smartwatch in your quest to crush your fitness goals.

See at Amazon

Archos Connected Scale

Able to recognize up to 4 different users, the Archos Connected Scale is a great option for tracking your fat mass, BMI, and general weight. Using the Archos Connected Self Android app you can set up goals and deadlines to help yourself stay motivated and monitor your progress using graphs. The Archos Smart Scale connects to your device using Bluetooth, but doesn't require you to have your smartphone or tablet nearby every time you weigh-in, as it's able to store a month's worth of data on its onboard memory. This smart scale is a great addition, especially if you're using an Archos Activity Tracker and/or Blood Pressure Monitor.

See at Amazon

WiTscale S220

More affordable than the average smart scale is the WiTscale S200 which uses 4 highly sensitive sensors to measure your body weight and BMI. With a maximum capacity of 330 pounds, this smart scale features a tempered glass surface with a 3.5-inch LCD display that's easy to read. The WiTscale is powered by 2 AA batteries that are included and it tracks all your data in a single graph that you can share through social media. Although the Bluetooth Scale app for Android leaves much to be desired, it still provides accurate weight readings, making it hard to argue with for its price.

See at Amazon

Polar Balance

The new Polar Balance smart scale offers an easy way to monitor your weight using the Polar Flow Android app. Its weight capacity of nearly 400 pounds, matched with advanced activity control, provides a personalized daily activity goal to help you reach your goal weight. The "weight speedometer" will tell you how hard you need to work out each day and how many calories you need to burn to meet the goals you've set. The Balance also works great with Polar's wearables like the A300, Loop, and A360 if you're after complete tracking of all your activities.

See at Amazon

Under Armour UA Scale

HTC and Under Armor have partnered together to create the UA Scale, just one accessory within the entire UA HealthBox that's available for a whopping $400 (it also features a wristband and heart rate monitor). This Wi-Fi smart scale is $120 on its own and features auto-recognition for up to 8 users and tracks your weight, body fat percentage, and more through the Under Armor Record app. The entire HealthBox includes a heart rate sensor, activity tracker, and of course the smart scale.

See at Under Armour

Yunmai Smart Scale

If you're on a budget, but still want smart scale functionality that's reliable and easy to set up, check out this scale from Yunmai. It'll provide you with 10 body measurements, like weight, BMI, body fat, hydration, and more.

You can track up to 16 users and setup takes only 5 seconds, so for about $35, you're in for a hell of a deal. The app is a bit difficult to use, since it's seemingly directly translated from Chinese, but for $35, you put up with the little things.

See at Amazon

You weigh in

What's your favorite smart scale? Sound off in the comments below!

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4 months ago

Sony MDR-1000X review: No noise is good noise

7

Good headphones should be like a big wall between you and the rest of the world. Great headphones should let you get through that wall easily and comfortably. Enter the Sony MDR-1000X Acoustic Noise Canceling headphones, which have a feature I truly appreciate: the ability to hear outside your headphones with a quick tap.

I'm Michael Fisher, but you probably know me best as MrMobile. I've reviewed more than a few ANC headphones in the past year, and this is unquestionably the best. Watch this video, and keep your ears open. You might hear something you like.

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4 months ago

Best microSD Cards For Galaxy S7

168

What are the best microSD cards for the Galaxy S7?

Although the option to add a microSD card to the Galaxy S6 was absent, Samsung listened to consumers this time around and added the feature back with the new Galaxy S7. This means more room to save photos, record HD video to, and upload your extensive library of music. There are many sizes and speeds to sort through when it comes to choosing a microSD card for the Galaxy S7, but we'll be sticking with mostly 64GB options as a good starter card — shedding light on some of the best ones worth considering.

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4 months ago

Best Tempered Glass Screen Protectors for LG V20

24

Protecting your LG V20's screen doesn't need to be difficult.

The LG V20 is a huge phone, featuring a 5.7-inch main display below a smaller secondary ticker. If you're like us, you'll want to find a quality tempered glass screen protector to ensure both displays stay scratch-free and protected from damage.

But LG threw a curveball for those looking for tempered glass protection by literally adding curves to the top and bottom of the display. As has been discussed in the AC Forums, it's been a challenge to find a quality tempered glass screen protector that offers good coverage without peeling up around the top and bottom.

There are also a number of really bad options floating around early in this product cycle, so you'll want to be careful with which one you buy. If it's not sized or installed properly, you're going to have a bad time.

Having said all that, here are some recommendations taken from firsthand experiences from the Android Central community.

Update March, 2017: Added the Spigen screen protector to the list.

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4 months ago

Best Solar Chargers for Your Phone

8
Best Solar Chargers for Your Phone

What's the best solar charger for my phone? Wait, there are solar chargers for my phone?!

Our yellow Sun is what gives Superman his powers, so of course it can also keep your phone charged while you're on the go! It's almost weird, right? Using nature to keep technology working. What a beautiful melding of the old and the new! If you can't find an outlet (because you're camping or whatever) then grab a solar charger and take advantage of the biggest battery Earth has!

Note: Yes, the Sun is powerful. No, the Sun will not charge a solar battery bank/charger or your phone as quickly as a wall outlet. You will have to be patient with these.

Anker PowerPort Solar Lite

Anker PowerPort Solar Lite

The Wirecutter's top choice for best battery bank also belongs at the top of our list. Anker makes excellent charging products and the PowerPort Solar Lite fits in well. This 15W charger is very thin (0.7 inches folded or 0.2 open) and lightweight (12.5 ounces), making it perfect for long treks where lightening your load is imperative.

This solar charger is so efficient that you can charge two devices simultaneously, and it can charge at up to 2.1 amps in direct sunlight, making it about as fast as regular chargers under ideal conditions. Without an actual battery, you don't have to wait for the PowerPort to charge up — just grab it and hit the trails.

See at Amazon

Dizaul

Dizaul

Diuzaul's solar charger is one of Amazon's best sellers and 73% of its reviews are 5 stars. Its size makes it ideal for camping or hiking, and it's waterproof, so if you're traversing waterfalls, you won't kill it. The 5,000mAh battery is handy just in case you have to hide from a bear in a cave (worst place to hide, by the way) — just don't expect it to charge quickly. By opting for a smaller solar charger, you do compromise on the size of its solar panels, meaning it'll take quite a while to charge fully (even in direct sunlight). That being said, if you're looking for a portable option that can hold on to a charge in battery form, then definitely check it out.

See at Amazon


Voltaic Systems Amp

Voltaic Systems Amp

Voltaic Systems' Amp solar charger is a neat little device that features a removable 4,000mAh battery, which can be charged by sunlight or via USB. The Amp has two solar panels that are waterproof and covered in a self-healing plastic that can withstand some abuse (kind of like some screen protectors). About 3.5 hours in direct sunlight should fully charge your phone (according to Voltaic Systems), which is pretty quick for most solar chargers, but that is probably under ideal conditions, so you'll wanna be patient with this one, as with all solar chargers.

Designed for the rugged life, the solar panels and battery are housed in a rugged and lightweight, water- and UV-resistant fabric made from recycled soft drink bottles.

If you need your solar charger to withstand a bit of the rough and tumble, go with the Amp.

See at Amazon

Ayyie

Ayyie

At about the size of a larger phone, the Ayyie solar charger is another awesome option made with portability in mind. This charger is perfect for the happy wanderer, being water, shock, and dustproof, and it features a two-LED flashlight with multiple settings, including S.O.S. Five indicators will show you the status of the internal 10,000mAh battery, and once full, you'll be able to charge most phones at least twice. Again, a smaller unit means smaller solar panels, so it'll take a long time to fully charge the battery on Sun juice alone.

See at Amazon

Got a favorite?

Do you have a great solar charger for your phone? Let us know which one in the comments below!

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4 months ago

Best Dualshock 4 Controller Charging Docks

4

Best Overall

PowerA DualShock 4 Controller Charging Station

See at Amazon

The PowerA DualShock 4 Controller Charging Station is the only officially licensed charging dock for your PlayStation 4 controllers. It works off of AC adapters to make it easy to plug your controllers in and get a charge without any additional hassle. With a design that makes it easy to plug in your controllers and one that doesn't take up much room, this dock fits easily onto an entertainment system. From the design to the size, this dock makes it easy to keep your controllers charged and ready for you when it's time to game.

Bottom line: The PowerA DualShock 4 Controller Charging Station is the officially licensed charge dock, which means it's the dock that you can trust with the solemn duty of charging your controllers. Additionally, it's a small dock that is easy to fit into even a crowded entertainment system.

One more thing: This charging dock can charge up to two DualShock 4 controllers at the same time.

Why the PowerA DualShock 4 Controller Charging Station is the best

PowerA DualShock 4 Controller Charging Station makes it easy to keep your controllers stored and charged for when you need them.

There are plenty of great reasons that this controller dock is the best, and they all combine to deliver an absolutely stellar product. The design means that you can slot your controllers directly down and into the cradle, which means that properly plugging your DualShock 4 controller in is a breeze. That same design also takes up as little room as possible. Since you may well already have an overcrowded entertainment center, this means that it won't be taking up too much room. It's designed so that you don't have to think about what you're doing; just drop your controller in and go about your day. While many other docks have a few more features, they don't combine to form the excellent product that PowerA has delivered.

Best Third Party

Nyko Charge Base - PS4

See at Store

When it comes to third-party accessories, Nyko is well-known for delivering quality products that work exceedingly well. Its DualShock 4 charging dock is no exception to that either. The dock is small and easy to drop a controller into when it's time to charge, and, like the official DualShock 4 Controller Dock, it can easily handle both of your controllers at the same time. It's got a low profile design that you set your controller into when it's time to charge, meaning that it's easy to settle just about anywhere on your entertainment center. While it is a bit pricier than some of the other options, it does it job very well, so it's worth it.

Bottom line: Nyko's charge dock is easy to use, can hold two controllers at once, and has a low profile design that makes it easy to fit just about anywhere.

One more thing: When your controller is done charging, you'll see an indicator light go out, letting you know that your controller is good to go for hours of gameplay.

Best on a budget

PDP Energizer 2X Charging Station for PlayStation 4

See at Amazon

When it comes to finding great accessories that fit into your budget, things can be a bit difficult. Thankfully, this controller port is both easy to use and affordable, even when you don't have much money to spare. The PDP Energizer 2X Charging Station for PlayStation 4 can easily handle two controllers at once and lets you smoothly slot them into the charging port. Indicator lights will let you know that your controller has a proper connection for charging, which makes checking on your charge status at a glance an easy task. This charging station isn't quite as sturdy as some of its competitors, but for just $20, it's a solid purchase.

Bottom line: The Energizer 2x Charging Station delivers a great product without a steep price tag. It can charge two controllers at once, has convenient LED indicators, and is easy to fit in your crowded entertainment center.

One more thing: The indicator lights will shine red when charging and then switch to green when your controller is fully charged.

Conclusion

There are plenty of charging docks that are available for your DualShock 4 controllers, and, thankfully, many of them are fantastic at their jobs. While they often have similar features and functions, there are definitely some docks that work better than others. That's why we recommend the PowerA DualShock 4 Controller Charging Station. It offers all of the features that you might want, as well as a design that makes it easy to pop your controllers in and out of without any frustration. It's affordable, easy to use, and the officially licensed PlayStation 4 charging dock for DualShock 4 Controllers. All of these things combine to deliver a stellar dock that can get the job done without any issues in the process.

Best Overall

PowerA DualShock 4 Controller Charging Station

See at Amazon

The PowerA DualShock 4 Controller Charging Station is the only officially licensed charging dock for your PlayStation 4 controllers. It works off of AC adapters to make it easy to plug your controllers in and get a charge without any additional hassle. With a design that makes it easy to plug in your controllers and one that doesn't take up much room, this dock fits easily onto an entertainment system. From the design to the size, this dock makes it easy to keep your controllers charged and ready for you when it's time to game.

Bottom line: The PowerA DualShock 4 Controller Charging Station is the officially licensed charge dock, which means it's the dock that you can trust with the solemn duty of charging your controllers. Additionally, it's a small dock that is easy to fit into even a crowded entertainment system.

One more thing: This charging dock can charge up to two DualShock 4 controllers at the same time.

PlayStation 4

Amazon

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