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4 months ago

Logitech launches its first updated trackball mouse in nearly a decade

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Do you prefer the trackball style mouse? Logitech finally updates its trackball design.

If you've become accustomed to trackball scrolling with your mouse, you'll be happy to learn that Logitech has just launched its first new design for a trackball mouse in almost a decade. It's called the MX Ergo and its design comes directly from Logitech fans that have figured out ways to make their own trackball mouse more comfortable.

What makes the MX Ergo stand out is its unique adjustable hinge that makes it possible for you to change the angle of your mouse position from 0 to 20 degrees. The mouse is also designed with ergonomics in mind. It is shaped to fit comfortably while your palm rests, but also gives you easy access to its scroll and click features.

The MX Ergo includes all the great features that Logitech's other mouse accessories have, like easy-switching (two channels), so you can switch between devices without having to re-pair anything. It comes with a unifying USB receiver, so you can pair up to six different Logitech peripherals to one computer, or you can connect it using Bluetooth.

It's wireless, using Bluetooth LE and a super-fast recharging system. According to Logitech, you could charge it from empty for just a single minute and it will last a full day of use.

We are so excited by this new trackball. It is back, better than ever and the idea for this trackball innovation was inspired by our users, who invented creative ways to achieve their desired level of comfort, sometimes adding additional wedges under their trackball for elevated angles," saidAnatoliy Polyanker, global portfolio and brand director at Logitech. "The MX Ergo is our first adjustable trackball that delivers on the need for elevated comfort in a beautiful design.

The MX Ergo costs $99.99 and will ship in mid-September. You can pre-order it from Logitech today.

See at Logitech

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4 months ago

Best Accessories for Samsung Gear VR

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Samsung Gear VR

Make the most of your Samsung Gear VR experience with these accessories.

The Samsung Gear VR is currently the most interesting option for people interested in exploring virtual reality. This platform has grown considerably over the last year, which means there is plenty for you to do!

As your usage increases, you'll want to invest in some essential accessories to get the most out of your Samsung Gear VR. Here are a few recommendations to get you on your way.

Gamepad

Not every game for the Gear VR requires a gamepad, but most of the best games are made even better by not having to touch the pad on the side of your headset. Enhance your gaming experience on the Gear VR with what we call the best gamepad for this headset.

SteelSeries Stratus XL

SteelSeries Stratus XL Bluetooth Controller

As mentioned above, SteelSeries makes a quality controller. So while the SteelSeries Free has been priced out of consideration, the Stratus XL is arguably your best bet — as long as its bigger size isn't an issue.

The Stratus XL similar in size and feel to an Xbox One controller with analog sticks laid out similar to Sony's DualShock controllers. It's a great compromise between the two leading console gaming standards and will instantly feel familiar the moment you pick it up. This Bluetooth controller is compatible with Android devices and Windows 10, plus it'll only set you back $50.

See at Amazon

Headphones

A fully-immersive VR experience is only possible with the right pair of headphones. Whether you prefer the over-the-ear variety or in-ear buds, we've picked out some prime options that pair well with the Gear VR headset so you can block out reality as you delve into your favorite VR games and apps.

Over-the-ear headphones

Sennheiser HD 598 C

If you are looking for the best audio experience with your Gear VR, this is where you start. This is among the best set of headphones you can get for under $150, and the included cable is short enough you can have them connected to your Gear VR without worrying about getting tangled up.

This isn't designed to keep the rest of the world out, so there's no active noise cancellation to be found here, but you'll get quality audio from headphones comfortable enough to be worn for extended periods of time.

See at Amazon

One more thing: If you're looking to go wireless or you need noise cancellation in your life, check out MrMobile's review of the Bose QC 35 headphones!

In-ear headphones

Panasonic ErgoFit In-Ear Earbuds

Samsung ErgoFit TCM125 If you're looking for simple, straightforward in-ear headphones, Panasonic has what you need. They're pretty basic in-ear headphones, which include a mic and a pause/play button built into the main cord, but they'll deliver great sound comfortably at a great price. With three different pad sizes available, you should be able to find the right fit for your ears, and they should stay in as you move about wearing your Gear VR

ErgoFit buds are available in a variety of colors, but they've also been lumped in with a few other Panasonic in-ear options — drops360 and drops360 Luxe. If you're switching around the colors and suddenly see the price jump up, it's because Amazon is showing you one of those higher-end models instead. And you might be inclined to spend a bit more for the better drivers, which provide better bass and build quality, if that's important to you.

Otherwise, the ErgoFit earbuds come with a 90-day warranty and should be more than serviceable — especially for $10.

See at Amazon

Want something nicer? Check out our Samsung Level In headphone review!.

Microfiber cloths

AmazonBasics microfiber cloths

Another thing that might distract from your VR experience with your Samsung Gear VR is dust or smudges on your device or the VR headset lenses. To prevent that problem, it's a good idea to have some microfiber cloths around to give things a good (but gentle) cleaning.

AmazonBasics offers a 24-pack of microfiber cleaning cloths for under $10 — that's less than $.50 a cloth. Better yet, they're machine washer safe, so you'll be able to keep your gear clean for months and months with this small, one-time investment. And of course, you'll also have microfiber cloths on hand for cleaning all your other devices. Also available in packs of 36, 48, and 144 — which may essentially constitute a lifetime supply.

See on Amazon

microSD cards

Samsung EVO Plus 128GB

This is a must-have accessory, especially if you're using a Samsung Galaxy S7 or the newer S8 — the only current Gear VR-compatible mobile devices with microSD slots. Loading up your favorite movies, tv shows, apps and other media onto the microSD card allows you to use your Gear VR to its full potential without clogging up your phone's internal storage, or continually cycling through content.

We've broken down a list of the best microSD cards to use with your Galaxy S8, but to save you a bit of time, we'll recommend the $53 Samsung EVO Plus 128GB, which is sure to provide you with more than enough storage for hours upon hours of VR entertainment.

See at Amazon

Want something less permanent? Patriot makes a USB-C flash drive you can connect directly to the Gear VR!

What do you use?

If you own a Samsung Gear VR, we're curious to know what your must-have accessories are. Anything we've omitted on our list? Let us know in the comments!

Update, September 6: We've added some great new accessories for your new Gear VR!

Samsung Gear VR

Amazon

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4 months ago

Nest Learning Thermostat vs. Nest Thermostat E: What's the difference?

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Trying to decide between the Nest Learning Thermostat and the company's new Nest Thermostat E? Here's how the two compare!

Nest recently announced the brand new Nest Thermostat E, a less-expensive smart thermostat with many of the same features as its more expensive sibling. The subtle, all-white design and simplified display of the Thermostat E stand in stark contrast to the flashier, heavier look of the Learning Thermostat. But look and feel are only part of the picture. If you're trying to decide between Nest's thermostats, this guide will give you an idea of what each brings to the table.

Design

Other than pricing, the design is arguably the biggest difference between the Learning Thermostat and the new Thermostat E. Where the Learning Thermostat is meant to be a bold bit of industrial art for your wall, the Thermostat E is meant to blend in, almost disappearing into its surroundings.

The Nest Learning Thermostat comes in four colors — white, copper, black, and stainless steel — and the adjustment ring around the outside of the device is made of metal. The Thermostat E comes in one color — white — and its adjustment ring is made of polycarbonate, though Nest says it's made to feel like ceramic.

The Nest Learning Thermostat's 2.08-inch, 480 x 480 resolution display is sharp (229 pixels per inch) and bright. The Thermostat E's 1.76-inch, 320 x 320 resolution display is layered under a polarized covering that dulls the display, helping it to fade into the background and blurring the display's resolution (182 pixels per inch).

Functionality

You could be forgiven for thinking the Thermostat E doesn't pack in all of the same "learning" features present in the Nest Learning Thermostat — the new name seems to suggest one "learns" and the other doesn't. Luckily, that's not the case!

Both the Nest Learning Thermostat and the Thermostat E pack in all the same functionality, save for one special feature: Farsight. Farsight uses the far-field sensor built into the Nest Learning Thermostat to detect when you walk by, lighting up to display the temperature, time, or weather.

If the Farsight feature is important to you, you'll want to get the Learning Thermostat. The Thermostat E — like the Learning Thermostat — has temperature, humidity, occupancy, and ambient light sensors, but it doesn't have those far-field "Farsight" sensors.

As for the rest of the feature set, both thermostats learn as you use them, both can be controlled using the Nest app, both can adjust the temperature based on your location (i.e. turning down when you leave your home), and both offer scheduling.

Compatibility with furnaces

Nest Thermostats work with a whole bunch of heating and cooling systems, but the Thermostat E can't boast the impressive compatibility rating of its more expensive sibling. Nest says the Learning Thermostat will work with 95% of heating and cooling systems. The Thermostat E, on the other hand, will work with "most" heating and cooling systems. What does that mean, exactly? It means most folks can expect the Thermostat E to work just fine with their setup. Still, if you've got a complicated setup with multiple humidifiers, dehumidifiers, fans, and other accessories, it's worth running a compatibility check before you decided to buy one of these models.

You can use Nest's Compatibility Checker to see which model(s) will work in your home.

Price

At long last, the largest differentiator between two otherwise similar products: price!

So what's the takeaway here? If you can skip the far-field sensing feature and would rather have a thermostat that blends in instead of standing out, you can save about $80 by choosing the Nest Thermostat E. That said, premium materials, multiple color options, and Farsight might be worth the extra money for some. Whichever model you choose, you can count on Nest's nifty learning features that help you save on energy costs over time.

See Nest Learning Thermostat at Amazon

See Next Thermostat E at Amazon

Which will you choose?

Now that you have a better idea of how the two thermostats compare, which one do you think you'll choose? If you already own Nest's current Learning Thermostat, is there anything about the Thermostat E that interests you? Give us a shout in the comments!

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4 months ago

Aftershokz Trekz Titanium review: Wireless headphones you can wear everwhere

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The Aftershokz Titanium headphones are excellent for workouts and let you hear your surroundings.

While I've been quick to lament the disappearance of the 3.5mm headphone jack from some smartphones, I converted to Bluetooth audio a few years ago with my first pair of Jaybird Bluebuds X. Charging them every few days was inconvenient, but it was well worth it to have a wireless pair of headphones for running or weight lifting.

Before this, I had an incident where my headphone wire getting caught on a tree branch, painfully ripping the earbuds out of my ear. It happened only once, but that was once more than I would have wanted.

Flash forward a few years, and it's easier than ever to get a good pair of Bluetooth headphones without spending a lot of money. Whether your preference is toward in-ear, on-ear or over-ear, it's really easy to find something without spending nearly as much as you would on higher end brands.

But the Aftershokz Trekz Titanium wireless headphones are different — in a good way. Let's see why, and whether they're worth your time.

See at Amazon

Why I went for the bone (conduction)

Bone conduction is unlike anything you've experienced before.

A couple of months ago, I decided to start riding a bicycle in hopes of living past the age of fifty. This presented a unique problem: I could skip listening to music while riding my bike and hate the experience; I could listen to music with my earbuds and obstruct the noises of traffic; or I could use my Sony MDR-1000X headphones, which have a cool feature where they pipe in surrounding noise.

The problem with the second option is obvious: if I can't hear surrounding traffic while I ride my bike, I could very easily end up dead. The third option is safer, but still less than ideal because the over-ear design of the headphones would keep sweat trapped around my ears and make the headphones themselves disgusting.

With that, I decided to try a pair of bone conduction headphones, which work by placing the headphone drivers outside just outside of your ears, with the contact points of the headphones remaining in place just outside the ear canal. The contact points cause vibrations to move down your cheekbone, transmitting sound to the brain.

There's a much more in depth explanation here, but long story short is you'll be able to hear your music while also hearing everything from your surroundings, since your ear canals are completely unobstructed. Because of this, they are much safer to use for bikers and anyone else listening to music in a high traffic setting.

I've been using the Aftershokz Trekz Titanium headphones for about a month and a half now, for at least an hour per day. The headphones come included with a m=Micro-USB cable for charging, ear plugs for those that work in high volume areas like construction zones, and a storage bag that I have not seen since opening the box for the first time. Unlike traditional earbuds, the fit on the Trekz Titanium can't be adjusted whatsoever. I was lucky in that they fit me perfectly, but I can't universally recommend the headphones because they just won't fit everyone — it's important to do your research beforehand.

First impressions — knocking me on my ass

The headphones paired without issue, and I began listening to music. And by "listening to music," I mean I had to sit down immediately from the assault on my head. The first song I listened to after putting on the headphones was Come to Me by Lily and Madeleine, and while that song isn't particularly bass-heavy, the notes were still strong enough to knock me on my ass at full volume.

Once I got the volume down to a dull roar, I adjusted quickly to the unique way the headphones transmit sound into my ears. I spent two or so hours trying different genres to find out how each song would feel on my ears. Then it came time for the ultimate test: wearing the headphones while bike riding. Again, I was super fortunate in that the headphones fit underneath my helmet without any issues. With my phone kept in my backpack for the bike ride, I never experienced any connection issues or interference. Nor did I have any issues in a crowded gym full of other people and their Bluetooth devices.

With these headphones, I could comfortably hear my music while also hearing all nearby traffic, from quiet cars to emergency sirens.

Before taking off on my first bike ride with the headphones, I played with the volume a bit to find out what the best level would be. At higher volumes, it is absolutely possible for the headphones to drown out any surrounding noise, negating the benefits of this design. At low-medium volumes, I was able to comfortably hear my music while also hearing all nearby traffic. I could hear cars approaching to pass me, or sirens from emergency vehicles. It sounds trivial, but the open design of these headphones really improved my bike riding experience.

Using them in the real world

Besides bicycle riding, there are a few other environments where the open design really shines. Being able to hear nearby people in the gym is nice, so I don't feel like a jerk for ignoring people who ask if I'm almost done with a weight bench. It's also good for people like me who always looks and listens for someone who may be injured. The headphones were also fantastic to use while I was moving, since I was able to hear my neighbors while I was loading my U-Haul van. I also used them for the drive itself, since my rental van didn't have an aux port. Again, I was able to hear car horns and sirens without a problem. Finally, while I don't do this myself, the headphones would also be fantastic for an office environment so one could hear their music and coworkers at the same time.

There are some usability issues, but they don't outweigh the benefits of these headphones.

Two areas I'd like to see future versions improve would be battery life and the controls. The headphones are advertised with six hours of battery life, which is approximately what I get. Not bad, but not great. I also wish there was some sort of battery level announcement. Instead, the headphones give one low battery warning, and five minutes later they power down.

The volume controls are difficult to get to, since they rest on the bottom right arm of the headphones. The play/pause/skip/answer phone calls/hang up phone calls button is located on the left "earbud," and I'm not proud of how many times I held it down thinking it was the power button. Instead, the power functions are triggered by holding down the volume up button. Not the hardest thing to adjust to, but certainly different from any other headphone I've used.

At the end of the day, the Aftershokz Trekz Titanium headphones are a very specific product for a very specific user. Battery and control issues aside, these headphones are phenominal for me. I still can't universally recommend them because of the distinct way they fit onto a head, but they're worth trying at the very least. The slate grey version I've been using retails for $99.99, which is a fair price in my mind. There are also blue, green and pink options for a little bit more money. For those that don't mind using a wire and want to save a bit of money, there is a wired version for $40 less.

See at Amazon

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4 months ago

Sphero BB-8, BB-9E, and R2-D2: Are they worth it?

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What exactly are you spending $179 on?

While undeniably cute and the perfect size for any collector to add to a shelf, the app-controlled Star Wars Droids by Sphero are kind of expensive. If all you want is a little Star Wars-themed Droid you can drive around like an RC car, you can get away with spending less than $50 in most places. If you want something a little nicer and a lot more featureful, Sphero has a kit unlike anything else you can buy today.

For the unconvinced, here's what makes these Droids special.

LOTS of detail

These aren't just little toys to be driven around. Sphero put the time in to make sure these Droids are all movie-accurate and meticulously detailed. You won't find any leftover plastic or bleeding colors on these, and the materials used are engineered to last. The sounds that accompany these Droids are movie-accurate as well, and while BB-8 and BB-9E use the speaker on your phone for all the sound, you'll find R2-D2 has its own speaker that is plenty loud enough to enjoy. These are collector-quality models with lights and sounds to match, and plenty durable enough to survive actually being played with.

For example, R2-D2 has a mode in the app where it will rock back and forth and then fall over on purpose. That fall is LOUD, and is accompanied by internal sounds that would leave a casual observer to believe some serious damage had been dealt. Star Wars fans will immediately recognize this as a recreation of the scene when a restraining bolt was forcibly attached to the Droid, but it's a little alarming to see a $179 toy fall like this. I've pressed that particular button about 50 times since taking R2-D2 out of the box, and you won't find a single scratch on this thing.

The BBs are just as durable, even when driving the Droids over gravel and coarse sidewalk and even picking a fight or two with my dog. You'll need to wipe down the bodies after rough play, and probably shouldn't let the dog chew on the heads for too long, but there are no defects. These Droids are built to last, and that's great for people who look forward to playing with these for a long time.

No hands required

Driving these Droids around is a lot of fun, but there's an automated "sentry" mode in the app that will send your Droid into autopilot. It will drive around your room and appear as though it is inspecting things and keeping an eye out for you. This drive mode is really more so you can enjoy these characters the way you would in the movies, and is complimented by an mode in the app that helps trick you into thinking the Droid is actually scanning and plotting.

BB-8 and BB-9E are not at all alike

We don't know a lot about BB-9E as a character yet, the general assumption being that we'll meet this little Droid in the next Star Wars movie, but it's easy to look at the model and wonder of this is just a black version of the BB-8 model that has been out for a while already. The designs for these two units are basically identical, right down to being able to swap their heads. That's kind of the point though, since they are both BB units. Outside of this detail, playing with these two Droids offers very different experiences.

Both BB-8 and BB-9E have "personalities" that include reacting to bumps and turns differently, and the app has a whole set of commands that are unique to each droid to give a unique look and feel too. BB-8 is generally more bubbly and positive, while BB-9E is terse and downright grumpy with some of the sounds it makes. The app is also themed to match the Droid you are driving, but that's not as big a change obviously.

As for actually comparing the two Droids themselves, the blue positioning light in BB-9E is easier to see through the semi-transparent black shell when playing outdoors. BB-9E is also noticeably faster than the BB-8 released on the first Force Friday, and both are way faster than R2-D2.

AR Mode is a lot of fun

BB-9E comes with a secondary dock, something the original BB-8 did not come with and R2-D2 does not include. This dock is for the Augmented Reality mode in the app, which is a lot more fun than I expected it to be. With BB-9E, you are exploring Supremacy, the Mega-class Star Destroyer where Supreme Leader Snoke currently lives. This AR mode lets you drive around Supremacy as BB-9E, and as you explore, you'll learn things about the First Order and its capabilities.

BB-8 and R2-D2 also have AR Modes in the app where you get to explore other ships, but the most immersive experience is absolutely BB-9E. If you own both BB-8 and BB-9E you can share a dock and make the BB-8 experience better, but out of the box this is something particularly great for the First Order's little rolling ball.

Watch your favorite Star Wars movie with your Droid

This is what happens when Lyra Erso dies in Rogue One.

You can set these Droids on the coffee table in front of you or beside you on the couch and watch Star Wars movies with them. The app on your phone syncs up with the movie, and each Droid has unique reactions to key points in the movies. BB-8 will appear afraid when the bad guys are doing something, for example.

If you have kids, watching them as they interact with the Droids during a movie is amazing. If you don't have kids, do this anyway. It's a ton of fun, and one of the things that make these Droid truly unique.

Are these Droids worth it? Absolutely

For the build quality, feature set, and general style of these Droids it's easy to see why they're priced at $129 a piece. The battery life is great as well, on average getting about 45 minutes of nonstop play time on a single charge and recharging in less than an hour. Whether you're considering one Droid or all three, these belong in the collection of every Star Wars fan.

See BB-9E on Amazon See R2-D2 on Amazon See BB-8 on Amazon

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4 months ago

These cheap adapters let you use your old Micro-USB cables with USB-C

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They're not expensive, but it would be a good idea for more companies to bundle a USB Type-C adapter in the box.

Unless you're rocking a budget phone from Motorola, most companies have transitioned their device lineups from Micro-USB to USB-C. The change is ultimately good, both for charging speeds and convenience. But what about all those old Micro-USB cables you have in a drawer somewhere? Should you just throw them away? No, you need a USB Type-C to Micro-USB adapter, which makes it easy to use all of those legacy cables.

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4 months ago

Marshall upgrades its speakers with multi-room audio

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Marshall is adding much-needed connectivity options to its speakers.

Marshall teamed up with Zound Industries a few years ago to roll out speakers designed to look like its guitar amps, and the company is now rolling out new connectivity options. The new speakers will now offer multi-room audio through Marshall's Wireless Multi-Room System, which allows you to control the music playing in any given room though the Marshall app.

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4 months ago

These Screen Protectors Are a Good Idea if you Own an Essential Phone

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How can I keep my Essential Phone screen protected?

The Essential Phone features one of the most unique-looking screens we've ever seen on an Android phone. With tiny bezels around the display and the unique camera divot at the top, it's a phone that's sure to stand out from the crowd for some time.

But you'll want people to be staring at your Essential Phone for the right reasons. That means keeping it protected from scratches, cracks and worse with a quality screen protector. We've rounded up some of your best screen protector options and the good news is there's value to be had across the board.

amFilm Essential Phone Tempered Glass Screen Protector (2-Pack)

First up is this two-pack of tempered glass screen protectors from amFilm. These screen protectors are just .33mm thick but will provide the necessary protection for your Essential Phone against drops, bumps, scratches, and normal wear and tear.

This kit includes everything required for a clean installation: wet and dry wipes, dust removal stickers, and a squeeze card for removing any air bubbles. With this two-pack, you'll have a backup in case your first one takes a hit on behalf of your phone. Get yours for just $8!

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Mr Shield Tempered Glass Screen Protector (3-Pack)

Two is good, but three is better! If you're seeking out the best value on tempered glass screen protectors for your new Essential Phone, look no further than Mr Shield's offerings. You get three slabs of rugged tempered glass that feature rounded edges for a smooth feel for your fingers, along with everything you need for a clean installation — all for only $8 on Amazon.

These protectors are also covered by Mr Shield's lifetime replacement warranty, which means they will send you a replacement free of charge if you run into an issue during installation such as air bubbles.

See at Amazon

J&D Tech Matte Film Screen Protector (8-Pack)

Tempered glass is typically the way to go, but if you're more concerned about scuffs and scratches on your screen, a film screen protector should offer adequate protection. That makes this 8-pack of Essential Phone screen protectors from J&D Tech virtually a lifetime supply for only $8.

Made from high-quality PET film, these screen protectors feature a matte finish that helps to cut down on glare and they're also resistant to fingerprint smudges. It protects the full display, but does not provide edge-to-edge coverage because of the curved edges of the phone — but it does allow these screen protectors to be compatible with cases. You just get the eight screen protectors in the box, so you'll have to do the work to ensure the screen is clean during installation, but then again you'll have seven other tries to get it right if you mess up the first time.

See at Amazon

Picking up a screen protector for your Essential Phone?

What accessories are you eyeing to keep your Essential Phone in mint condition? Or do you like to gamble and keep it entirely bare? Let us know in the comments below!

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4 months ago

SanDisk Ultra 400GB microSDXC is the world's largest microSD card

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The SanDisk Ultra 400GB microSDXC UHS-1 card will retail for $249.

SanDisk has rolled out the world's largest capacity microSD card at IFA. The 400GB card can store 40 hours of Full HD video content, and transfers files at up to 100MB/s. SanDisk's parent company Western Digital was able to double the capacity of the 200GB card — which made its debut two years ago — by turning to a new production process.

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4 months ago

RhinoShield Galaxy S8 CrashGuard Bumper Review: Sleek S8 protection

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Surprisingly rugged for a bumper case.

I'll be entirely honest from the outset : I did not think I would feel comfortable using the RhinoShield CrashGuard with my Galaxy S8. I'm a habitual phone dropper, so the idea of leaving that gorgeous glass of my phone exposed felt like a dangerous opportunity for the worst case scenario to occur.

And yet, after spending about a month using the Galaxy S8 with just the RhinoShield for protection, I feel quite confident recommending it to any Galaxy S8 owner — especially if you're the type who hates cases because you can't stand any added bulk on your phone. It really lets you show off the S8 in all its glory while offering great drop protection.

So what makes it so good? Well, for starters its precisely crafted to the dimensions of the phone and as such, it's a bit tricky to install and remove — absolutely a good thing when we're talking about a phone bumper. RhinoShield includes a little warning not to twist or bend the bumper before installing it and it's a good thing they did as I instinctively wanted to pull and stretch at it to see how tough it really was as soon as I got it out of the box.

There's a lot to admire despite its minimalist design.

There's a lot to admire despite its minimalist design. On the inside of the bumper is a hexagonal pattern that makes contact with the phone itself, and greatly improves the CrashGuard's ability to disperse the shock of a drop. It's thick and rigid around the top and bottom of the phone and especially in the corners while managing to hug the side edges tight with raised covers for the power, volume, and Bixby buttons. The bumper is noticeably thinner than the phone along the sides, which allows the curved edge of the screen to accomplish that spill over effect as if the bumper wasn't there.

I'm one of the people who think these all-glass flagship phones are too slippery, so I really appreciate the CrashGuard's matte finish, and the little extra grip it provides without adding any bulk. Using the CrashGuard feels like an overall improvement on Samsung's initial design of the phone, almost like an optional accessory that should come packaged with a new phone. It frames the nearly bezel-less display nicely and I've frequently forgotten that there's even a case on it when I'm showing it off to friends and family.

I've never seriously considered a bumper case as a viable option for a phone, at least not since the days when I was rocking an iPhone 4, so just the idea of replacing my Spigen Rugged Armor for a bumper case in 2017 gave me pause. But I've been more than satisfied with the results of using the RhinoShield CrashGuard. While I'm not the type of reviewer to purposefully try and cause a case to fail, the CrashGuard has been called into duty on several occasions and has the battle scars to prove it. I shudder to think what may have happened to my phone if the CrashGuard wasn't there.

The one downside with a bumper case, of course, is that it does leave much of the phone's glass exposed. A falling phone will crash land violently and randomly, and the CrashGuard will offer protection in ideal situations — landing on a flat floor or sidewalk, for instance. But all bets are off if your phone clips a table's edge or lands on an uneven surface like a gravel road. The CrashGuard isn't the most screen protector-friendly case option for the Galaxy S8, but RhinoShield does sell its own protectors for both the screen and the back glass of the phone, which I did not test but would be the missing pieces for those looking for maximum protection.

At $25, the RhinoShield CrashGuard Bumper certainly isn't cheap, especially for a bumper case that doesn't even cover the back. But it does work surprisingly well and will pay for itself when it takes the brunt of an otherwise phone-destroying drop. Furthermore, shedding my usual case for the RhinoShield CrashGuard has led me to fall back in love with the Galaxy S8's design all over again. RhinoShield also has a bumper available for the larger Galaxy S8 Plus for the same price.

See at RhinoShield

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4 months ago

This $14 OBD2 reader can tell your phone what's wrong with your car

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Save some money while figuring out what's wrong with your car thanks to our pals at Thrifter!

No one likes seeing their check engine light pop on, and it's even worse when you don't know what the cause of it is. Sure, there are some places that will scan your car for free to tell you what's up, but most of them charge for the service. Stop throwing money away having your car scanned, and start doing it for yourself.

Right now you can pick up Kobra's Wireless OBD2 reader for just $14.39 with the coupon code 83ZIWPVF. This is a savings of nearly $6 from its regular price, and one of the best features of it is that you can connect it right to your smartphone to decipher the cards.

  • THE MOST EFFECTIVE OBD SCANNER AND CAR CODE READER YOU HAVE EVER TRIED: Diagnose Your Car - Like a Pro and instantly transform your car into a Smart Car! KOBRA has created a top quality auto diagnostic scanner. This OBD2 Scanner can read generic and manufacturer-specific trouble codes and its database includes over 3000 code definitions.
  • CONNECTS TO ANY IOS, ANDROID AND WINDOWS DEVICE VIA WI-FI: Unlike other Bluetooth OBD Scanners available on Amazon, this amazing car code reader OBD scanner can connect to any device including Apple, Android and Windows smartphones and tablets. You just need a Wi-Fi connection and you can diagnose any car problem and unlock massive amounts of data on your car's performance in real time!
  • VARIOUS FREE AND PAID APPS AVAILABLE! Supports OBD Fusion, DashCommand, OBD Car Doctor, etc for iOS and Torque Pro for Android, OBD Auto Doctor for Windows as well as many other ELM327 Apps that require a WiFi OBD2 adapter. Do not worry about compatibility. The KOBRA OBD2 wireless car code reader works with all 1996 to 2018 cars and small trucks in the United States
  • UPGRADED VERSION: Thanks to user feedback we have released the new version of the WIFI OBD2 Scanner and Check Engine Code Reader. Upgrades include improved WIFI signal range, enhanced app compatibility, upgraded components, and NO CD. Don't be fooled by other brands who sell cheaply made obd2 elm327 scanners. Our OBD Diagnostic scanner and Check Engine Light Eliminator is made with top quality materials for optimal performance and durability.

This is a great addition to any garage, and at just $14 it's hard to pass up. Don't get caught wishing you ordered one, and instead grab one for yourself now! There is also a Bluetooth-only option for $9.06 with coupon code 2WQM8IBW.

See at Amazon

More from Thrifter:

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

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4 months ago

Samsung has new Gear to keep you Fit: MrMobile hands on

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Samsung's Gear Sport, Gear Fit2 Pro, and Icon X are all variations of designs we've seen before. The Gear Sport is an evolution of the Gear S3 Frontier, Samsung's outdoor smartwatch I reviewed last year. I didn't get as close a look at the Gear Fit2 or the Icon X earbuds – but maybe that's just as well, given how much the newer models improve upon their forebears. With MIL-STD 810G durability and 5ATM water resistance the Gear Sport and Fit2 Pro bring a strong outdoor game, while the 2018 revision of the Icon X earbuds improves battery life many times over. All that's pretty exciting stuff even for a non-athlete such as myself – and to hear Samsung tell it, that's kind of the whole idea.

Click on through to the video above to catch MrMobile going hands-on with the Samsung Gear Sport, Gear Fit2 Pro, and Icon X 2018! Then be sure to check out Android Central's own in-depth coverage, and stay tuned for much more mobile tech coming out of Berlin as IFA 2017 rolls on!

Stay social, my friends

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4 months ago

Samsung refreshes fitness-focused wearables with Gear Fit 2 Pro, Gear Sport and Gear IconX 2018

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Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro, Gear Sport and Gear IconX 2018

It's a product portfolio that was in need of updating.

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Samsung is taking to IFA 2017 in Berlin to refresh its fitness wearable lineup, with an improved version of the Gear Fit 2, refreshed Gear IconX earbuds and an all-new Gear Sport smartwatch. The naming is not subtle: Gear Fit 2 Pro, Gear Sport, and Gear IconX 2018.

The new set of wearables is all about building on what Samsung has already done in this market, with each product effectively just improving on a previous one rather than creating a whole new segment. Here's what you can expect from the three of them when they hit stores later this year.

Improvements in all of the right places.

The Gear Fit 2 Pro, as was initially leaked, is a general update to the current Gear Fit 2 that was released back in mid-2016. It offers the same basic size and shape, walking the line between a smartwatch and a fitness-only wearable. The bands have been updated to be a bit more durable, with a proper watch-style clasp to keep it tight on your wrist. That's important because the Fit 2 Pro is water-resistant up to 5 atmospheres — or about 50 meters — including salt water, and is now designed to track swimming as well as any other activity.

More: Gear Fit 2 Pro hands-on

The software experience remains effectively unchanged, aside from some new partnerships with Under Armour and Speedo to use the Gear Fit 2 Pro with all of those partner services. The Fit 2 Pro can also now track heart rate constantly throughout the day, including when a workout starts automatically from detected movement.

The Gear S2 refresh we all wanted to see.

On to smartwatches. The Gear Sport is an altogether new product that effectively takes the place of the Gear S2 line while leaving the top-end of Samsung's wearables to the Gear S3. The new Gear Sport takes on many of the Gear S3 Frontier's styling cues, but puts them in the same basic shape and size of the Gear S2 — with the same-sized 1.2-inch circular display.

More: Samsung Gear Sport hands-on

The Gear S2 offers the same automatic fitness tracking, GPS, and 5 ATM water-resistance as the Gear Fit 2 Pro, but with a full-featured smartwatch operating system that's identical in capabilities to the Gear S3. There's no cellular data option, and the battery is of course smaller, but then again it's also much lighter and actually suited to use during fitness in ways the Gear S3 wasn't. It also offers Samsung Pay, but only via NFC and not MST like the Gear S3 (and Galaxy S6 through Galaxy S8).

The one thing we needed in the IconX: more battery life.

Last but not least, Samsung has also updated its all-wireless Gear IconX headphones, which haven't changed much in terms of form factor but have improved significantly in practicality. Samsung focused on battery life with this update — simply called "Gear IconX 2018" — and now quotes a full 7 hours of standalone music playback, or 5 hours of playback over bluetooth; those are numbers that easily triple the battery life of the original version. The earbuds still nestle into a case to receive a full charge without going to a wall socket, and the charger now has faster charging tech as well — Samsung quotes being able to get 1 hour of usage out of the new IconX buds with just 10 minutes of charging.

As for availability and pricing, Samsung is unfortunately only announcing details for the Gear Fit 2 Pro. The refreshed fitness-focused band will hit stores for $199 (or regional equivalent) and be up for pre-order right away on Aug. 31, with a full retail launch on Sept. 15. As for the Gear Sport watch and Gear IconX 2018, we'll have to wait for the holiday season before Samsung drops any more info on us.

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4 months ago

Best Accessories for the LG G6

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Get the most out of your LG G6 with these great accessories!

As we head into the Autumn season, the LG G6 is still quite the compelling flagship and surely in the running for the best of 2017. Featuring a premium build design and a generous 5.7-inch screen, the LG G6 is a very beautiful and capable phone that you can enhance with the right accessories.

We'll start off with some cases and screen protectors to keep your phone safe, then move on to some great charging options to make sure you never run out of battery during the day.

Spigen Rugged Armor

Spigen's Rugged Armor case is always a great option to protect your new phone, so of course we're going to recommend it for your LG G6.

This one-piece case offers great protection for your phone while keeping a mostly sleek and slim profile. Made of flexible and durable TPU material that makes it easy to install, it's got a premium look to it with carbon fiber textures at the top and bottom on the back. Featuring cutouts around the camera and fingerprint scanner on the back, and with tactile buttons for the volume control on the side, this case feels natural in hand while ensuring all your phone's functionality remains intact.

For a stylish case that offers quality protection, get the Spigen Rugged Armor case for your G6 for just $14.

See at Amazon

SUPCASE Full body Rugged Holster Case for LG G6

If keeping your new investment in good condition is important, you'll want to slap a rugged case on your phone. SUPCASE provides some of the sturdiest cases you'll find for smartphones, so you can buy with confidence here.

SUPCASE offers full protection for your phone, with a front plate that includes a built-in screen protector and port covers for the headphone jack and charging port. Made from a combination of TPU and polycarbonate materials, your phone will be protected from anything life throws your way for just $17.

Ideal for heavy use and outdoorsmen, it also ships with a 360-degree swiveling belt clip holster so your phone is always within arms reach.

See at Amazon

Trianium Clarium Series Case

A clear case offers great protection for your LG G6 while providing a mostly unobstructed view of the LG G6

Trianium's Clarium Series cases are sleek and as minimalist as it gets, so if those are important features in a case for you, you'll definitely want to check it out. Your phone will get the all-around protection you want from this slim case that also perfectly preserves the look of your LG G6. It's thin enough to work with wireless charging pads no problem, and should also work with charging docks as well. You can get yours for only $8 from Amazon.

See at Amazon

For more great case options for your LG G6:

The best cases for LG G6


Tronsmart Dual USB Car Charger w/ Quick Charge 3.0 technology

Tronsmart's car charger with a built-in USB-C cable is a great option for keeping your LG G6 juiced while on the road.

The built-in USB-C cable is convenient since you'll never need to remember your cable each time you drive. The included USB Type-A port is handy for charging another device at the same time via Quick Charge 2.0 or 3.0. It's a great value at just $15 on Amazon.

If you need a car charger that to keep your LG G6 charged when you're on the go, check out the Tronsmart 33W dual USB charger.

See at Amazon

Spigen Tempered Glass Screen Protector

Spigen's tempered glass screen protectors are available in a very affordable two-pack, which will let you keep that brand new LG G6 screen protected right out of the box.

This screen protector will cover the entirety of the screen while still remaining case friendly. This is a dry install screen protector with everything you need for a clean, dust-free installation on your first attempt included in the package. You can buy with confidence knowing that Spigen offers a lifetime warranty for any product defects. You can get this two-pack of quality screen protectors for just $8.

See at Amazon

Samsung EVO+ 256GB microSD card

The LG G6 offers storage expansion up to 2TB via microSD. While a 2TB microSD card doesn't yet exist, it's good to know that this phone is virtually future-proof when it comes to storage.

For now, your best bet for expanding your phone's storage is Samsung's 256GB EVO+ microSD card. Featuring read speeds of up to 95MB/sec and write speeds up to 90MB/sec, this card is plenty fast enough to handle storing all the photos and videos you take with your G6, while also letting you load up all your favorite media so you have your favorite music and movies with you on the go.

At over $150, it might be too pricey for some, and that's ok. Check out our other MicroSD card recommendations for your Android phone.

See at Amazon

Anker Micro-USB to USB-C adapter (2-pack)

If the LG G6 is your first Android phone that relies on USB-C charging cables, chances are you've got a stockpile of Micro-USB cables laying around that are about to become fairly obsolete. If you want to be able to use your old Micro-USB cables with the G6, you'll want to pick up this two-pack of Anker adapters. They're cheap and will get the job done, especially if you've got chargers or devices that have integrated cables you can't easily swap out. Get two adapters for just $7 on Amazon.

See at Amazon

Anker PowerPort Qi 10 Wireless Charging Pad

The U.S. variant of the LG G6 is the only model that supports Qi wireless charging. If you want to take advantage of this exclusive feature, you'll need a wireless charging pad.

The Anker PowerPort Qi 10 wireless charging pad is your best bet. It's simple to use with a premium design that features breathing LEDs to indicate your devices' charging status. The non-slip pad keeps your phone secure while your phone takes advantage of Fast Charge Mode, which delivers 10W charging to your LG G6. All this comes with the advanced safety features you demand to ensure your phone doesn't overheat and is protected from short-circuits and electrical surges.

You will need to supply your own wall charger, (of course, Anker recommends their own for guaranteed compatibility) but if you've got a couple spares already kicking around they should work just fine. Best of all is the price — at only $20 it's a great value!

See at Amazon

Dretal Desktop Charging Dock

Looking to incorporate your phone into your workspace set up while simultaneously keeping it fully charged when it's time to go? You need a desktop charging dock.

This charging dock from Dretal will keep your LG G6 topped up and propped up, helping to eliminate stray cables on your workspace and declutter your desk. The dock lets you watch videos or control your music while providing a good viewing angle for keeping tabs on any incoming calls or messages as you work. Also works great as a nightstand charger.

The design makes it incompatible with most cases, but it will work with slim cases like the Spigen Thin Fit. Simply pop it onto the USB-C connector at the base and you're good to go. It's available in five different color options, so you can pick one to match your phone or your desk color scheme for just $16.

See at Amazon

What are your favorite accessories?

Got any opinions on the products we've highlighted here? Anything we missed? Let us know in the comments!

Update August 2017: Updated product links and descriptions. These are still the best accessories for your LG G6!

LG G6

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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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4 months ago

Xiaomi's $45 Mi Travel Backpack is the perfect gear bag

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Xiaomi Mi Travel Backpack

The Mi Travel Backpack will fit all your gear with ease.

Xiaomi has been aggressively branching out into lifestyle products, with the manufacturer making everything from smart home lighting to robot vacuums, rice cookers, and even a desk light (which looks really cool).

The common theme among all of Xiaomi's products in this segment is affordability — the brand rose to fame by effectively undercutting entrenched vendors in the handset segment, and it is following the same strategy in the lifestyle category. The Yeelight, for instance, is an $18 bulb that offers the same set of features as Hue for half the cost, and you don't even need a hub for the lights to work.

That's the idea with the Mi Travel Backpack as well. The backpack retails for just $45, which is an absolute steal when you consider what's on offer.

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