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5 months ago

How to sync your calendar with Alexa

1

Syncing up your Calendar to Alexa should only take a few moments.

Our lives have gotten progressively busier. Whether you're bouncing between doctors appointments, play dates, meetings, or family occasions, keeping track of everything you have going on can be easier said than done. Thankfully Amazon Alexa is here to help you out by keeping track of your calendar for you. All you need to do is sync your account, and you'll be good to go!

Alexa can keep track of your calendar

Life can get busy, and even if your calendar is sitting on your phone in your pocket, it can be easy to forget when you have an appointment. Alexa is here to help though, and can let you know when you have something coming up in your day. However before you can ask her what's on the books, you'll need to sync your calendar.

This is a fairly simple process; once you know what you're doing and shouldn't take more than a few minutes. Alexa can sync up with calendars from Google, Microsoft and even Apple. This means that even when your itinerary is on a different service, Alexa can still sync up so you never miss a beat. If you've got different events on different accounts, then you're still free and clear, since you can add multiple calendars, and even choose which folders or events to ignore from within the Alexa app.

How to sync your calendar with Alexa

  1. Open the Alexa app on your phone.
  2. Tap the overflow button that looks like three horizontal lines in the upper left corner of the screen.
  3. Tap Settings.

  4. Scroll down and tap Calendar.
  5. Tap the type of account you want to sync with Alexa.
  6. Tap Link your calendar account.

  7. Tap the account you want to link.
  8. Tap the allow button in the lower right corner.

Is your calendar synced?

Have you synced your calendar with Alexa? Do you prefer not to? We want to know about it, so be sure to drop us a comment below!

Amazon Echo

See at Amazon

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5 months ago

Mophie Charge Force review: A better, smarter Galaxy S8 battery case

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With Charge Force, Mophie builds a charging platform that takes advantage of the Galaxy S8's built-in wireless charging. And it's pretty damn good.

Battery cases are kind of a bummer. They promise the world, but in the end you get a fatter phone and an extra couple pieces of plastic you have to carry around with you when the battery dies. And despite the success of Mophie's own Juice Pack line of cases, the company thinks it has something better: Charge Force.

It's a line of cases that, starting with the Galaxy S8 and iPhone 7, offer an approximation of modularity — high-quality, leather phone covers that add (in the case of the iPhone) or reinforce (with the Galaxy S8) wireless charging, along with highly precise magnets that help align the pièce de resistance of the whole thing: a portable wireless battery pack.

The idea is simple yet compelling, especially with the Galaxy S8, for which the leather case acts only as protector and magnetic conduit — the iPhone 7 version, not having wireless charging built in, is much bulkier, and occupies the Lightning port — since the battery pack sticks to the case magnetically, charging wirelessly as the phone lies in a pocket or on a desk.

The case itself

The Charge Force case is surprisingly good. In fact, it's quickly become my favorite mid-level protection case in my repertoire. Made from strong, curved plastic — think a slightly less bulky version of the Otterbox Symmetry series — with a real leather overlay, it is comfortable to hold and extremely solid, holding the Galaxy S8 firmly in place.

This is a really good case. And it better be for $50.

Like all other Galaxy S8 cases, it makes finding and using the fingerprint sensor much easier, since there's a clear delineation between phone and perimeter. And, like any good case, it reinforces and improves the feeling of the buttons, which on the Galaxy S8 is an essential part of the experience.

The Powerstation mini

The Powerstation mini is the main event, since the Galaxy S8 already has wireless charging and doesn't need any help from the case. Instead, the case helps align the Powerstation, a 3,300mAh wirelessly charging battery, using magnets.

The battery pack gets in the way of the Galaxy S8's fingerprint sensor while it's charging your phone.

When you're running low on power, you bring the back of the Powerstation close to that of the Galaxy S8 and — wham! — they stick together in the perfect position every time. Hold down the unit's power button for a few moments and you'll soon hear an accompanying haptic vibration on the Galaxy S8 to indicate it is charging wirelessly.

Of course, charging sans wires means that it's going to do so a little more slowly than plugging into a battery pack, but this keeps the phone's bottom clear (and in turn doesn't add height to the phone, which all other battery cases do) and thanks to the magnets, it's fairly easy to use the Galaxy S8 while the Powerstation is connected.

There is only one problem with this whole thing: while the Powerstation is slowly juicing your phone, it's nearly impossible to hit the fingerprint sensor, since the, well, protrusion gets in the way. This is less Mophie's fault than Samsung's (though if the fingerprint sensor was positioned where it is on the Pixel or LG G6 it would be impossible to activate) but it's still a bit annoying.

The Powerstation charges using Micro-USB, which is unfortunate, but it's so portable and convenient in other ways I'm wont to forgive that small oversight. Doubly so because, given that Mophie is attempting to make an ecosystem out of Charge Force, all Powerstations are cross device-compatible, which means that the same wireless battery pack will work on an iPhone 7 as well as future cases.

There are also other, larger-capacity batteries in the Powerstation family, including a $100, 10,000mAh pack that offers an additional USB port for charging another device.

Should you buy it?

Honestly, if the case wasn't any good I'd say skip it, but the Charge Force is so well made that it's quickly been elevated to my favorite Galaxy S8 cover. That it facilitates a magnetic connection to a portable wireless charger seems silly at first, but there were so many instances in the week or so I relied on the system to keep my phone topped up that I came to appreciate it.

Yes, it's no different to carrying around a lone battery pack — indeed, this is one with only wireless charging — except for the odd time I needed to use my phone while it charged. Then I liked, and appreciated, the integrated nature of Charge Force.

See at Mophie

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

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5 months ago

Essential Accessories for Moto Z

29
Essential accessories for the Moto Z

What are the best accessories for the Moto Z?

The Moto Z is a great phone, but it's even better with perfectly paired accessories. Here are the add-ons you need to know about.

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5 months ago

How to add new smart home hardware to Alexa Groups

0

Adding your new smart home hardware to an Alexa group should only take a moment or two.

Alexa works hard to make itself a hub for all of your questions and technology. This of course includes Smart Home hardware, like Hue bulbs. Before you can go about making your house listen to your spoken commands though, you'll need to add that new hardware to Alexa. Thankfully this is a very easy process, and shouldn't take you more than five minutes.

Get organized with Groups!

When it comes to truly being a connected hub, Alexa does a great job. Between Groups letting you organize what room of the house you are talking to and its ability to automatically detect smart home hardware, Alexa does most of the heavy lifting for you. This of course means that once you've got that new hardware home and ready to roll, you can be connected in just a few moments, seriously cutting down on frustration.

Groups within Alexa are how you separate all of your devices, which is especially handy if you have hardware in different rooms of your home. This means you can have a group for the Bedroom, the Living Room, the Kitchen, and so on. Using groups makes talking to your Smart Home hardware, and from within groups you can easily add that hardware to the room it lives in.

How to add Smart Home hardware to an Alexa group

  1. Open the Alexa app on your phone.
  2. Tap the menu button in the upper left corner. It looks like three horizontal lines.
  3. Tap Smart Home from the menu.

    Open the Alexa app, Tap the overflow icon, Tap Smart Home

  4. Tap Groups.
  5. Tap the group you would like to add hardware to.
  6. Tap the checkbox next to the Smart Home hardware you would like to add.

    Tap groups, Tap the group you want to add hardware to, tap the checkbox next to the hardware you want to add

Have you added Smart Home hardware to your Alexa groups?

Alexa makes it easy to edit your groups and add new Smart Home hardware in just a few moments. Since Alexa will automatically detect devices that can be added to a group, all that you need to do is hit a checkbox to connect it. This also means it's easy to disconnect if you decide to move things around in the house. Have you connected Smart Home hardware to your Alexa? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!

Amazon Echo

See at Amazon

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5 months ago

Sphero made a Spider-Man your kids can talk to like an Amazon Echo

14

Sphero's contract with Disney now includes Marvel, which is great for all of us nerds. I guess kids will like it, too.

We've seen Sphero bring BB-8 and Lightning McQueen to life over the last year, but now is the time of superheroes. A little Spider-Man can now stand on a pedestal and interact with anyone who taps the logo on his chest, in a way that is not terribly unlike an Amazon Echo speaker without the wake command. What makes this little Spidey worth adding t your house? It's aimed at being a best friend for your kid.

Spider-Man by Sphero is a Wi-Fi enabled snark machine with eyes that animate with the audio from the speaker and lots of ways to play with kids. He will "guard" a bedroom, tell stores, and with the two hour battery inside can roam around the house with your kids to go on adventures. You know, standard friendly neighborhood hero stuff.

You can grab one of these little heroes starting today for $149. Will you be picking one up?

See on Amazon

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5 months ago

Decal stickers can help hide the lightbar on your DualShock 4 controller!

6

You don't need to have a glowing controller with these hacks to hide the PS4's DualShock 4 lightbar.

Plenty of gamers prefer to play their games in a dim or darkened room so that they're more immersed in what is going on in front of them. However, PlayStation 4 players have been a bit aggravated by the lightbar on DualShock 4 controllers. Thankfully there are some neat and easy ways to hide this bar so it doesn't get in your way while playing.

Your DualShock 4 controller is going to glow

On every DualShock 4 controller, there is a lightbar that glows when the controller is powered on. It's located on the top of the controller, and depending on the game and battery level, it will either glow blue, green, yellow, or red.

While there isn't a way to turn off your light bar, you can hide it so that it isn't quite so aggravating. There are a few ways to do this, but the easiest — and the most fun — method involves finding yourself a sweet decal online. That's right, industrious gamers have created a variety of decals that can hide most or all of your lightbar.

Decal stickers from Flaming Toast

You can pick up a decal sticker that has a custom name on it, pick from a variety of geeky logos, or even completely block out the lightbar — although this last option might be a bad call since your lightbar will glow red when the battery is getting ready to die.

It's a simple vinyl sticker that just gets attached to the lightbar, and can be removed if you get tired of them. Best of all they are available for less than $5 each, which is a serious steal. With options like the Batman logo, Assassin's Creed symbol, Biohazard, and even an Arc reactor, the nerdier stickers have something for most of us.

Of course there are also total black out stickers, as well as ones you can get customized with your name or gamertag, and even patterns, photographs, and fonts that can be used. There are over 250 options, which gives you plenty of leeway to find the perfect sticker to cut down on the light emitting from your controller.

See at Flaming Toast

Have you covered the lightbar on your controller?

While the lightbar on DualShock 4 controllers isn't particularly bright in a well lit room, it can definitely become aggravating if you are playing in a dim or dark room. Thankfully there are a few things you can do to hide that light, and have a bit of fun while you're at it. Have you covered up the lightbar on your DualShock 4 controller? Be sure to drop us a comment and let us know about it!

PlayStation 4

Amazon

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5 months ago

Using a heatsink can help with Daydream overheating

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A heatsink can help with overheating problems.

Nobody wants to deal with problems when they are in the middle of an awesome VR game, but unfortunately from time to time they do occur. One of the most common issues for VR headsets that run off of a phone, is overheating. Your phone ends up working too hard and heating up too much, and when it hits a certain point, it will turn itself off, booting you out of VR in the process. Thankfully, there is something you can do to help this problem.

Read more at VRHeads.com

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5 months ago

Modern Dad's Father's Day Favorites!

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Don't think about it too hard. Any Dad (heck, any person) would love to have any of these great gift ideas.

I gotta be completely honest here: While this is an excellent Father's Day gift guide full of things that any dude would be thrilled to get any day of the week, the simple fact is not a single one of these products requires actually having sired any children. Consider having offspring a bonus, in that case. Or a drain on your bank account. Your call.

In any event, here are six things I'd love to get on Father's Day. Your Dad would, too.

KeySmart key organizer

KeySmartDoes your favorite Dad have a rat's nest of unlockers bulging from his pocket? KeySmart ($35) is a way-cool way to organize your keys. But that's not even the best part: accessories like a bottle opener (!), USB drive (!!) or golf divot tool (!!!) make it even cooler.

Plus, KeySmart has a new version coming that'll integrate the Tile Bluetooth tracker, making it virtually impossible to ever lose your keys!

See at Amazon

Sonos Play:1

Sonos Play1Look, I know people with Sonos won't shut up about it. But for good good reason, right? It's that good, and it's that simple. And getting one for Dad means everyone gets to use it.

Start with a Play:1. ($199) It's ridiculously great for its size, and it rarely goes on sale. They're great on their own, but you'll be amazed at what a pair of things things can do to a room. Plus, you you can snag two for a bit of a discount before Father's Day!

See at Amazon

Philips Hue starter set

The thing about smart lights is you look at 'em and just can't find an excuse to shell out the money. They're just lights, right? Wrong!

And Father's Day is the perfect excuse to upgrade to these little connected wonders. And a starter pack ($62) is a great way to get going. Careful, though: It's easy to get addicted. I'm getting close to switching out every single one of my lights, much to the chagrin of my wife. And once you get a feel for what you want where, you can give the colored lights a go!

See at Amazon

Ring Pro Doorbell

Ring ProI'm not going to stop talking about the Ring Pro ($199) until everyone who has a front door has one. It's that good. Ring Pro plugs into — and requires — existing low-voltage wiring, and from there you connect it to a Ring account and control things via a phone, tablet or computer.

Ring Pro means I don't have to worry about who's coming around, or whether my packages are still there, or when the kids get home. And right now you can get a good deal on it, or its battery-powered brother, too.

See at Amazon

Ember Mug

Ember MugThis is one of those things I don't think I'd buy just any day out of the week. But now that I have one, I use it as much as possible. Because coffee!!! Ember Mug ($150) takes your too-hot coffee and quickly lowers it to a more manageable temperature. And then it keeps it there thanks to a small battery and heater in the base.

This is definitely a luxury. But once you try it, you'll wonder how you ever drank coffee without it.

See at Amazon

HDHomerun Connect

HDHomerun ConnectIf you've got a Dad who's cut the cord but is still struggling to fill gaps in that TV content, then this is what you need. First, get a good antenna. The 60-mile Clearstream 2MAX is serving me very well. Then you'll want to pair that up with HDHomerun Connect. ($99)

This little wonder has two tuners and takes that over-the-air signal and spits it out to almost any device you can think of. Android. iOS. Windows. Linux. Xbox. Apple TV. Android TV. ... The list goes on. (Everything except Roku.) So you can watch on your phone, or a tablet, or a TV. And if you pair it up with something like Plex, you can record shows or even watch your live, OTA channels while you're not at home. It's been a game-changer for me.

See at Amazon

A REALLY GOOD waffle iron!

Mmmmmm. ... Waffles ...OK, this one isn't really techy. But it does beep.

If you love waffles and don't have a good waffle iron, you're really not living life. This one's nice and heavy and holds the heat well, and it's even gotten my kids to give up the frozen stuff on the weekends. Splurge a little at Amazon. ($99) It's worth it.

And, seriously: Real maple syrup. Don't short-change yourself with that cheap stuff. Your taste buds will thank you.

See at Amazon

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5 months ago

Save $50 on two Sonos Play:1's, $14 on LIFX Smart Bulbs and more with these Father's Day tech deals

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Our friends at Thrifter are back with some tech deals that your dad is sure to love!

We know. Father's Day is right around the corner and you haven't bought your dad anything yet, right? Don't worry, there are some really great deals going on right now that make it even more affordable to buy your dad some awesome tech gear. From popular Bluetooth headphones from Jaybird to wireless speakers for the home by Sonos, you'll want to look through the list below and see if anything here would help make Father's Day even more special for your loved one.

There are tons of great deals going on right now that can certainly help make your Father's Day purchase an epic one. Be sure to grab something for yourself while you're at it, too. (You deserve it!)

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

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5 months ago

eero 2nd-gen mesh Wi-Fi system: Everything you need to know

6

Mesh Wi-Fi used to be complicated, but eero made it simple. Now it wants to make it faster.

A little more than a year ago, eero burst onto the consumer market with a propitious offer: to solve the problem of messy, unreliable and dumb Wi-Fi routers that most people have in their homes. It would take a well-worn idea — mesh routing — and bring it down to an accessible, customer-friendly level.

Not only did eero make it relatively easy to set up multiple access points, but the small base station and accompanying pucks were understated enough to fit into any environment. eero also inspired competition, as we've seen from the likes of Netgear, Google and others.

Now, the company is back with its second-generation model, claiming double the power and tri-band support (the original was dual-band). At the same time, eero is debuting a new Beacon product meant to subtly bolster Wi-Fi signals using any power outlet in the home, and a subscription-based network security software service called eero Plus.

What's new in the second-gen eero?

Tri-band. That's the main improvement here, the ability to broadcast at 2.4Ghz, 5.2Ghz and 5.8Ghz at the same time, with 2x2 MU-MIMO beamforming antennas. eero claims that the new system is twice as powerful as the previous one, meaning using the same setup in the same house you'll theoretically get twice the speed and twice the distance.

Of course, there are caveats there: the first-generation eero was only dual-band, and didn't support the less-used 5.8Ghz frequency in the new system. At the same time, the extra distance is only accessible on the lower, noisier, 2.4Ghz band, which will likely encounter considerably more interference than the other two.

The other piece of hardware improvement is the addition of Thread support, which was originally a Nest-built smart device solution meant to simultaneously simplify and compete with Z-Wave and Zigbee. Right now, there are few, if any, products that support Thread, but eero says that it is working with dozens of companies to help develop and promote them. Expect connected lights, doorbells, cameras and more to support Thread in the coming months. We hope.

What's the Beacon?

Beacon is interesting. It's an eero hub, miniaturized, meant to plug into a two-prong AC outlet in the home. eero says that there's no limit to the number of Beacons that can be installed and connected to the main hub, since its software is designed to intelligently route data.

Beacons are smaller than the traditional eero hubs, and also include a 10 Lumen LED nightlight with automated dimming, which is perfect for dark passageways. Two birds, one stone.

By default, eero ships its base package with one eero hub and one Beacon, for $299. It's only when you get to the $499 eero Pro bundle that you get three eero hubs, which is important since the Beacon is only dual-band and doesn't support the faster 5.8Ghz standard.

eero Plus — Amazon Prime for routers

eero is also launching a new software bundle called eero Plus, which touts itself as "premium protection for your network." That includes things like protection against malware and botnets, but also offers built-in, easy-to-use parental controls for your entire network.

Here's what it offers:

  • Anti-malware
  • Anti-virus
  • Anti-phishing
  • Anti-ransomware
  • Protection from Distributed Denial of Service (DDos) attacks
  • Protection from botnets
  • Parental controls
  • Priority support

The service costs $9.99/month or $99 for a full year, and the company says it will keep the price stable while continuing to add features.

How does it compare to Google Wifi?

Well, first of all, Google Wifi is much cheaper — a 3-pack of eeros goes for $499, whereas Google Wifi's three-puck offering costs $299. Even if eero is slightly faster (and it likely is with its tri-band support) it's probably not worth spending the extra money on eero.

That is, unless you have a really big house. eero promises better connectivity and faster speeds than Google Wifi, and with support for Beacon, you can have far more than just two additional access points. You can have five or six spread out throughout the home and blanket your house with high-quality Wi-Fi. Google Wifi is good, but it's not that flexible.

Then it comes down to software. Both eero and Google claim to constantly update their routers with new features, but eero says it expends considerable effort monitoring the way people use their devices and pushing performance and feature updates to accommodate those new products. At the same time, Google pushed out numerous sizeable updates for OnHub during its first year on the market, and there's no reason to believe it won't do the same with Wifi.

A Canadian launch

eero says it will launch its second-generation system in Canada in August, which is nice for me, and for others who have been waiting for a good mesh Wi-Fi solution in the country. Google recently launched its own Google Wifi system in Canada, too.

It will be available at Amazon, Best Buy and eero.com.

U.S. pricing and availability

eero's second-gen solution is available for pre-order now and will be shipping in the next few weeks online at Amazon and Best Buy. It will also be available in store at Best Buy and many Walmart stores.

  • 1 eero + 1 Beacon - $299
  • 1 eero + 2 Beacons - $399
  • 3 eeros - $499

That's a steep price to pay for good Wi-Fi, but according to our Jerry Hildenbrand, who loved the first-generation model, it's worth it.

What do you think? Are you jumping on the mesh Wi-Fi train? Let us know in the comments below!

See at eero

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5 months ago

Best Drones for Under $50 to Earn Your Wings

0

Earn your drone pilot wings by starting small and mastering the basics.

Sure, we all want to get our hands on the latest and greatest drones. Those commercials always make them so easy to use, and that's true to an extent... until things go sideways and your drone takes off into the sunset (sorry, Mr. Mobile!).

The fact is, accidents happen — especially when you're relatively new to drones. If you've never flown a drone before, you need to spend some good time just understanding how to keep a drone in the air, make minute mid-air adjustments, and "become one with the drone" before moving on to bigger and better drones. Fortunately, there's no shortage of good training drones available for under $50!

Here are your best bets for snagging a fun drone to practice on. They're ideal for anyone interested in owning their first drone and learning how to fly for aerial videography, drone racing, or simply picking up a new hobby. Note that these drones are all recommended for ages 14 and up.

AUKEY Mini Drone

AUKEY has created a drone that's truly pocket-size and designed with features included to make it perfect for first-time drone pilots.

For starters, it features one-button takeoff and landing, because most crashes from early drone flying occur just getting the thing into the air or back onto ground. Its size means you can take it out and practise it practically anywhere, with a controller that also lets you pull off tricks as your skills improve.

Best of all, you can get over 10 minutes of flight time per battery charge, which is pretty great. You'll probably want to stock up on a ton of replacement blades, since they'll be prone to getting damaged or lost when you crash.

See at Amazon

EACHINE E10 Mini Quadcopter

The EACHINE E10 Mini Quadcopter is a perfect first drone for someone interested in learning the basics of drone flight. This drone is a great option for kids, too, with a simple, kid-size controller and everything you'll need to practise drone flying.

This drone has some impressive features, including one-button 360-degree rolls and a return home function built into the directional control stick. There're also 4 LED lights on the underside of the drone, which help with visibility in low-light conditions.

Best of all is the price — at under $25 for the standard version and under $40 for the E10C with a 2.0MP camera, these are ideal little drones for novice pilots still learning the basics. They are super portable and quite durable, and if they stop working after an epic crash, it's not the end of the world.

It's worth noting that you'll want to give the battery some time (at least 20 minutes) to cool down before recharging after a flight, otherwise you risk drastically shortening the lifespan of the battery and the drone.

See at Amazon

Hubsan X4 Quadcopter

The Hubsan X4 Quadcopter is a basic, palm-size drone that's a great option for beginners and kids. It features all the standard features you'd expect, including a 6-axis gyro system to help with flight stability and LEDs to help you keep the drone properly orientated while in flight.

A fully charged battery will deliver about 5 minutes of flight time, so you're probably going to want to invest in a set of spare batteries. If you buy the drone and the extra batteries, it'll still come out to about $50, except you'll get 5 times the flight time by swapping in fresh batteries.

See at Amazon

Holy Stone HS170 Predator Quadcopter

If you're looking for a cheap and reliable drone to practise with that avoids FAA registration or Canada's new drone laws, the Holy Stone Predator is a great option. It comes with its own controller that's simple enough for beginners to pick up and fly and is capable of pulling off stunts and withstanding light winds for outdoor flights.

The real bonus here is the size — it's small enough to allow for practice indoors if you've got the space, with blade guards built in for protection. A fully charged battery supplies 6 minutes of flight time; with replacement batteries really cheap and easy to swap in and out, this is a cheap drone with affordable accessories.

See at Amazon

UFO 3000 LED Drone

When you're learning how to fly a drone, crashes will happen. The UFO 3000 LED Drone helps to mitigate that by keeping the blades fully protected. Any novice pilot can bump into walls and whatnot while they learn how to zip around on low and high speed modes, as well as perform flips with the simple press of a button.

Oh, and then there's how cool this drone is, with its blue and green LEDs creating four brilliant rings of light — it'll really look out-of-this-world when you fly it at night. Two batteries ship with this drone, with flight time averaging around 7 minutes on a full charge.

See at Amazon

Cheerwing Syma Quadcopter w/ HD Wi-Fi Camera

The Cheerwing Syma offers the best value if you're after something a little more macho than a mini drone. Featuring a pretty archaic camera for photos and video (fun for practicing but nothing you'd want to put on a demo reel), this is one of the cheapest camera drones you'll find.

This kit comes with everything you'll need to get flying and is probably a better place to start for someone who aims to own a drone like the DJI Phantom and wants to start off learning how to control bigger drones. Flight time is still under 7 minutes, which is standard for drones in this price range. Despite the low-res camera, you are able to test out some FPV flying if you're keen and have your own Google Cardboard headset.

Another benefit of this style of drone is the modular nature of the landing feet and blade guards. Once you've become confident with your piloting abilities, removing the guards will reduce the overall weight and allow for a decent boost of speed and maneuverability for practising enhanced maneuvers.

See at Amazon

What's your favorite?

Got a favorite drone for under $50? Let us know in the comments below!

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5 months ago

How hot is your Android smartphone?

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We used the FLIR One Pro to measure how hot the LG G6, Galaxy S8, and Pixel XL become when they're charging or running applications.

Naturally, when you're equipped with a thermal imaging camera, you want to point it at all the things. The FLIR One Pro thermal imaging camera is certainly fun to play with, even though its battery life is finicky. I rounded up a couple of the latest Android-powered smartphones I had laying around, including the LG G6, Galaxy S8, and Pixel XL, to see how hot they become (if at all) when they're plugged in and running a benchmark. Why the heck not?

Note: I'm using a version of the FLIR One Pro thermal camera that's running on beta software.

As they lay charging

galaxy s8lg g6pixel xl

The temperatures of the Galaxy S8 (left), LG G6 (middle), and Pixel XL (right) as they're charging with the screens on at high brightness.

It took a while for the FLIR One Pro to charge up enough to shoot the three smartphones. I pointed the One Pro at a Galaxy S8 as it charged through a USB-C cable connected to an Aukey power strip. It measured in at about 89 degrees Fahrenheit. The LG G6 measured in around 84 degrees. Both had their screens set on to full brightness.

The Pixel XL measured in surprisingly warmer at nearly 94 degrees. It was charging from the same power strip, with the screen brightness on full blast. The FLIR One Pro simply reinforces what I've been thinking for the past eight months: the Pixel XL runs hot.

While they're benchmarking

Have you ever seen how hot a smartphone becomes when it's plugged in, throttling, and running a graphics-intense benchmark at the same time? That's what the FLIR One Pro can show you. In this case, we have a very warm set of phones, all of which are running the 3DMark benchmark suite while charging from the same power strip.

The G6 and Galaxy S8 benchmarking, side-by-side.

Here's the Pixel XL benchmarking (left), as well as the Pixel XL running Snapchat (right).

Of course, we can't overlook the fact that there are two different processors at play here. The Pixel XL and LG G6 are both running on a Snapdragon 821 processor, while the Galaxy S8 is powered by a Snapdragon 835. Both processors have different GPUs, too, though none of that seemed to really affect the temperature of either device while it was powering through 3DMark and filling up on battery. In fact, the overall heat output of each phone seem to correlate more with the brightness of each screen. For instance, perhaps the G6 measured the lowest because its screen was the dimmest of the three.

What about a smartwatch?

What about a smartwatch? Unfortunately, it was not a warm-enough day for me to show how truly heated an Android Wear watch like the LG Watch Style gets — or at least, seems to get, based on my own anecdotal experience — but it sure is dormant when it's not being bombarded with app notifications. Interestingly, when it's charging, it measures in at about the same temperature as the Pixel XL.

The LG Watch Style, in thermal mode.

Where else should we feel the heat?

Got ideas about what we should shoot for next?

Not only is thermal imaging such great fun, but we're also still in the midst of testing out the FLIR One Pro. We're planning to shoot plenty more gadgets with it. Perhaps a networking module like Google Wi-Fi, or the NEST camera while it's on? We're taking requests!

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5 months ago

Best Universal Car Mounts

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Best universal car mounts

Keep your phone safely in sight and secure with a car mount.

Update June 2017: Added the Nite Ize Steelie to the list and added a note about windshield mounts.

When you're on the go, your phone is more than just a tool for keeping in touch. It's your road trip playlist and your GPS, too. For safety's sake, mounting your phone to your dashboard, windshield, or air vents is the best way to keep it in view while keeping your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. We've gathered up a list of some excellent options for universal car mounts, and trust us, there's no shortage of choices out there.

Note: Before you consider a windshield mount for your phone, you should make and check that windshield mounts are allowed in the states you'll be driving most frequently in. As it stands, most states outlaw windshield mounted GPS or phone holders due to visibility and safety concerns.

iDoo Qi Car Charger Mount

iDoo Qi car charger mount

The car mount from iDoo is one fantastic multitasker. It offers wireless charging for your Qi-enabled phone, or space for a charging cable if you need to plug in.

You have three installation options: dashboard mount, air vent clips, or windshield mount. Take the time to experiment a little with the best sight lines for your phone when you're ready to get set up so you'll know which variation works for you. The cradle arm is completely adjustable, so you can avoid glare, and the frame rotates 360 degrees. No matter where you put it, the mount will be an essential part of your commute.

See at Amazon

Affordable Universal Car Mount

Affordable universal car mount

This offering from Affordable is as minimalist as they come, and you know what that means: no obstructed view. It's ideal for dashboard or windshield installation.

It's simple to install and remove when you're switching vehicles. Bonus points are also awarded to this mount for living up to the name Affordable. It's also been favorably reviewed for some time now; it won't drop your phone when you're travelling bumpy roads, and potholes won't shake it's grip.

See at Amazon

Koomus CD-Eco Car Mount

Koomus CD dash mount

Remember when you kept stacks of CDs in the backseat so that you'd always have your favorite tunes close by? Well, your phone takes care of the songs these days, but your CD player can still be put to good use. The Koomus mount uses it to hold your phone in a very convenient place.

The low-profile mount is easy to install, and your CD player won't be damaged or even recognize that it's in use. The flexible clamps hold your phone securely with or without its case. You can also rotate your phone 360 degrees for easier viewing.

See at Amazon

iOttie Easy One Touch XL Car Mount

iOttie One Touch XL car mount

iOttie's car mount is available in a few different versions, but we're going to spotlight the XL. The suction cup is tough, and won't budge from your dashboard or windshield. If you favor dashboard mounts, you can choose to add their Sticky Gel Pad for some extra grip, although most users say they don't need it. The windshield mount won't obstruct your view, either.

The XL is an especially solid choice if your phone case adds a little extra bulk, since the cradle is designed to hold larger phones to begin with. Your phone can rotate 360 degrees, and if you need to remove the mount and put it in a different vehicle, a quick rinse and dry of the suction cup makes it good as new again.

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New Trent Arcadia Magnetic Mount

New Trent Arcadia car mount

For something completely different, check out the mount from New Trent. It holds your phone with a strong magnet, and installs onto your air vents. You don't have to worry about snapping your phone into a cradle, just stick it to the magnetic pad and you're on your way.

The base mount is available in black or blue, and comes with two magnetic plates you can stick to the back of two devices, especially handy if you share your car with other family members. The magnetic plates are thin enough to fit into your phone's case, and strong enough to adhere to the base without having to constantly removing the case every time you get in the car.

See at Amazon

WizGear Universal Air Vent Magnetic Mount

WizGear universal car mount

Wizgear produces another magnetic car mount we're a fan of.. The magnet is strong on this one, and if you take the mount out of the car, it doubles as a kickstand for your phone. The magnet can be concealed inside most phone cases, so you won't have to constantly remove the case before sticking your phone to the mount.

The air vent clips keep your phone highly visible without obstructing your view. The base swivels your phone into your preferred position and promises to keep it there until you move it, even when going over rougher terrain. It's perfect if you just need to jump in the car and go with your phone at the ready.

See at Amazon

Spigen Style Ring

Spigen Style Ring

An inexpensive alternative for car mounts is the Style Ring. The mount is a tiny black hook that sticks to your dashboard, and the ring sticks to the back of your phone. If you're not wild about sticking things to your car or device, this may not be the right choice for you, but it's convenient.

The ring that attaches to your phone doubles as a kickstand in both portrait or landscape. It hooks to just about anything, so you might find yourself hanging your phone from a variety of places. Positioning the car mount might take some patience to get it just where you'd like it to stay, but it works well for hands-free calling and accessing music. Your phone snaps into place and swivels 360 degrees. It's the smallest car mount you can find, so if space on your dashboard is at a premium, the Style Ring is a solid option.

See at Amazon

Nite Ize Steelie

Nite Ize Steelie

This is definitely one of the coolest mounts on this list. The Steelie is a two-piece mounting system wherein a circular magnet adheres to the back of your phone, or its case, and a spherical magnetic base adheres to your car's dashboard or console.

Hop in the car, and your phone mounts in a snap. This is about as minimalist as it gets in terms of car mounts. Making sharp turns and hitting potholes? No worries: The magnet is super strong and the magnetic ball moves with your phone to prevent it from falling off.

If you want a mounting system that barely noticeable, the Nite Ize Steelie is your slick solution.

See at Amazon

The bottom line

First and foremost, you need to know the details of your local laws, in terms of whether or not you are allowed to mount anything on your windshield. Next, you need to consider how often you'll use a car mount and where in your vehicle it's going to be. Each of these car mounts has distinct advantages all their own, but we think that versatility and durability are the most important qualities to look for.

Which universal car mount are you using these days? Tell us about it in the comments!

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5 months ago

Six Great Father's Day Tech Gifts Under $50

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Not sure what to get Dad this year? Check this out.

We've all been in this situation. It's time to get Dad a gift, but you're drawing a blank. Worse, you're on a budget and gift cards aren't really his thing. Not to worry, we've got a few quick suggestions that should appeal to everyone!

An app-controlled grill companion for maximum relaxation

The iGrill Mini is a good thermometer for single pieces of meat, and relays the information recorded to an app on your phone via Bluetooth. It's a solid, inexpensive thermometer that keeps you from needing to walk up and check the grill every couple of minutes, which means more time can be spent relaxing.

See at Amazon

Sleek, durable insulation for every cold drink

Everyone is familiar with the classic beer koozie, but Thermos steps things up a bit with stainless steel insulation. This makes the drink a little more difficult to spill, and does a better job keeping that precious liquid as cold as possible.

See at Amazon

A robe worthy of a true hero

Who doesn't want to be Captain America sometimes? This robe lets Dad walk around with a shield on his back and a desire to stand up for those who look up to him.

See at ThinkGeek

Loud, outdoor-friendly speaker that can handle being splashed

There are many, many Bluetooth speakers for outdoor enjoyment, but this Villain combines loud and waterproof speakers with a 7,000mAh battery to charge dad's phone.

See at Amazon

A tool he'll never use but always love

These hammers can be personalized with whatever you want to say on it, which means you have the opportunity to bring a tear to Dad's eye. Don't waste it!

See at Etsy

Something that will finally listen to him every time

Even if Dad isn't the biggest gadget geek, Amazon's Echo Dot is an inexpensive way to keep track of many different things and integrate your digital life in a convenient little speaker.

See at Amazon

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5 months ago

Best Drones For Kids

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There are plenty of kid-friendly drone options out there!

Updated June 2017: Added the EACHINE E10 and Protocol Videodrone AP to our list.

Whether you're buying a drone for a kid, or simply for someone who's never owned a drone before, there's a few considerations you want to keep in mind — cost, size, range, and durability. If you're buying for a young one, you'll definitely want to keep the first three down, but that will invariably also affect the drone's durability as well. Crashing is part of the learning process, so we've highlighted some options that include built-in blade guards.

We've listed our favorites starting from the smallest and cheapest option to more full-fledged camera drones, ideal for older kids interested in aerial videography or picking up drone racing as a new hobby. Note that these drones are all recommended for ages 14 and up.

Looking for more drones? Check out our article on the best drones under $300 or the best camera drones if price is no object.

Aukey Mini Drone

This pocket-sized drone is basically the definition of a kid drone at just under two inches across. It comes ready to fly out of the box, with a USB cable for charging and a kid-friendly controller that features a one-press button for take-off and landing. You'll get five minutes of flight on a fully-charged battery, with just over 80 feet of range from the controller.

Perfect for flying indoors, this little drone makes a great gift not only for kids, but for anyone interested in having a little drone fun in their spare time. Learn the basics of flight on the Aukey Mini Drone, then move onto bigger and stronger drones once you're confident in your piloting abilities.

See at Amazon

EACHINE E10 Mini Quadcopter

The EACHINE E10 Mini Quadcopter is a perfect little drone for kids, featuring a simple, kid-size controller and everything your kid needs to practice drone flying.

Despite its small size, this drone includes some impressive features, including one-button 360-degree rolls and a return home function built into the directional control stick. There's also 4 LED lights on the underside of the drone, which helps with visibility in low-light conditions.

Best of all is the price — at under $25 for the standard version and under $40 for the E10C with a 2.0-megapixel camera, these are ideal little drones for young pilots. They are super portable and quite durable, and if they stop working after an epic crash, it's not the end of the world.

It's worth noting that you'll want to give the battery some time (at least 20 minutes) to cool down before recharging after a flight because otherwise you risk drastically shortening the lifespan of the battery and the drone.

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UFO 3000 LED Drone

When you're learning how to fly a drone, crashes will happen. The UFL 3000 LED Drone helps to mitigate that by keeping the blades fully protected. Your novice pilot can bump into walls and whatnot while they learn how to zip around on low and high speed modes, as well as perform flips with the simple press of a button.

Oh, and then there's how cool this drone is, with its blue and green LEDs creating four brilliant rings of light, so your little drone pilot can practise flying even in the dark. Two batteries ship with this drone, with flight times averaging around seven minutes on a full charge.

See at Amazon

Holy Stone HS170 Predator

The Holy Stone Predator drone is a fun, palm-sized drone that's pretty much good to fly right out of the box. It's a great, affordable option for anyone looking to learn the basics of flying a drone. It features six-axis gyro stabilization and can be flown indoors or outside — though given its size, you'll want to wait for a calm day with little to no wind.

The downside here is that you'll only get about five minutes of flight time from a fully-charged battery, so we recommend picking up a few extras as well, since it's easy to hot swap them out and only takes about 40 minutes to recharge. We'd also suggest getting a few extra props, too, since they're so cheap and are the first thing to go flying and get lost or broken in a crash.

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UDI 818A Camera Drone

This is the first drone on our list that comes with a camera, which allows you to snap photos and videos conveniently with the included controller. Its price makes it an ideal starter drone for someone looking to eventually upgrade to bigger and better drones with better cameras.

This is another drone that provides good protection for the blades, which are typically the first thing to get damaged or lost in a crash. It's very lightweight, so you'll want to avoid using it outdoors on a windy day. It ships with a camera that shoots photos and videos in standard definition (640x480), with a 2GB microSD memory card included for storage.

See at Amazon

Protocol Videodrone AP

If your kid has played around with mini quadcopters and is looking for something a little bigger, a little more substantial, and really cool-looking, then you'll want to look into the Protocol Videodrone AP.

For starters, as the name implies, this drone comes with a built-in camera for snapping video (640x480 resolution) and up to 1000 images on the included 4GB of memory. The drone includes onboard sensors and features that make it easy to launch and keep in the air. You'll get roughly 7 minutes of flight time per fully charged battery, and you'll want to preserve the battery by letting it cool down before recharging immediately.

In terms of build quality, the Protocol Videodrone AP certainly has a premium look to it with black and gold materials. Spanning about 10 inches across and featuring proprietary blades and stylish blade guard designs, this stands out from other options on this list. At nearly $100, this is a good intermediate option for those who have learned the basics and want to step up to something a bit bigger.

See at Amazon

Microdrone 3.0

If you're buying for an older kid who is really interested in taking up drone racing as a hobby, the Microdrone 3.0 is a great option, given everything that comes with it.

Included in the full set combo, now available from Amazon, you get the drone, a 2.4 GHz handset, propeller guards, four replacement blades, four blades for inverted flying, the Wi-Fi Camera module, a smartphone holder that attaches to the handset, as well as a VR headset that holds most smartphones for first-person view flight. Basically, it's everything you need to dip your toes into the world of drone racing.

It's a capable flyer with three control modes (slow, fast, and insane), as well as a toggle switch for stunt mode, which lets you perform impressive flips and rolls. The camera literally snaps on in a second thanks to proprietary magnets that also deliver power to the camera. Connect your phone to the camera's Wi-Fi and control and record video through the Microdrone app.

See at Amazon

Your picks?

Do you have a go-to drone that's great for kids? Let us know in the comments below!

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