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6 months ago

Protect your devices as they charge with these discounted Belkin Surge Protectors

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Our friends at Thrifter are back again, this time with some great deals on surge protectors to keep your devices safe!

Odds are you have to charge more than one of your devices every single day, which means that they spend a lot of time connected to a wall to power up the battery. Did you know that a power surge could come through and potentially ruin those pieces of electronics at any time? Wouldn't that stink? Well, luckily, protecting your devices isn't extremely expensive. Today, Amazon has some great deals on Belkin surge protectors that can prevent your devices from being affected.

The most popular option is also the smallest, the SurgePlus Mini travel swivel surge protector, which is down to just $11.99. It has 3 outlets, 2 USB connected, offers a 918 Joules protection, and comes with a lifetime warranty and $75,000 in connected equipment warranty. There is also the Belkin 8-outlet pivot-plug for $13.99 with protection against 2,160 Joules, and the Belkin 12-outlet power strip for $16.99, which has a 6-foot cord and the largest protection at 3,996 Joules.

These prices are good for today, July 14, only, so don't miss out. Trust me when I say that buying one of these is far less expensive than replacing a gadget that fries during a surge.

See at Amazon

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

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6 months ago

Best Tempered Glass Screen Protectors for HTC U11

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Want to keep your HTC U11 in pristine condition? That means you'll want to look into a tempered glass screen protector. The U11 has a slight curve around the edge of the screen, which makes pure edge-to-edge protection from a tempered glass screen protector difficult.

Nevertheless, if you pair a tempered glass screen protector with a quality case, you'll get supreme protection for your new phone. Here's a rundown of some of the best options for the HTC U11.

Supershieldz (2-pack)

This two-pack of screen protectors from Supershieldz is compatible with cases and features a black border with precise cutouts around the fingerprint sensor, ear speaker, and camera. It features hydrophobic and oleophobic coatings to protect against sweat and oil from your fingerprints.

The adhesive is around the edges, which is less than ideal and may lead to issues such as a rainbow effect when the screen is turned off. If that's not a dealbreaker for you, you can get two for under $10, and enjoy Supershieldz's no-hassle lifetime replacement warranty.

See at Amazon

Wimaha (2-pack)

Don't like the look of a black border on your screen protector? Consider this two-pack from Wimaha. As mentioned above, it does not offer full edge-to-edge protection, but does cover the entirety of the display and is compatible with cases for better protection.

This screen protector includes curved edges for a smooth touch experience and features cutouts around the fingerprint scanner and camera to avoid any weak points in the screen protector's design. The package includes everything you'll need to ensure a clean, bubble-free installation with both of the protectors included. Wimaha backs its product with a lifetime warranty.

Again, this is far from being the ideal edge-to-edge protection we all want in a screen protector, but unless phone manufacturers go back to a flat sheet of glass for screens, we're going to be dealing with this issue for the foreseeable future.

See at Amazon

Orzero (2-pack)

Another option comes from Orzero, with another two-pack of tempered glass screen protectors with black borders. They feature hydrophobic and oleophobic coatings with rounded edges and include a complete package for a bubble-free installation.

It goes right up to the curved edge of the screen but leaves a bit exposed — perfectly covered by a case. You'll want to take your time during installation to ensure all the cutouts are precisely lined up with the fingerprint scanner, ear speaker, and front-facing camera. Since it's a two-pack, you'll get two shots at getting it right, and it's backed by Orzero's lifetime replacement warranty.

See at Amazon

How do you keep your HTC U11 safe?

Have you tried out a different make of screen protector? Opting for a film protector for better coverage? Let us know in the comments below!

HTC U11

Amazon Sprint HTC

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6 months ago

10 Desk Accessories To Keep Your Office Cool During The Sizzling Summer

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Are you tired of roasting in your office every summer? Here are some great gadgets that'll keep you cool and refreshed through the sweltering heat!

Keeping cool can be tough, but keeping cool at the office can be nearly impossible.

You're always running around to meetings and appointments; you have to dress in more restricted, stuffy clothes; you're in tight, humid spaces with other coworkers; and that damn air conditioning just shuts off whenever the hell it pleases #imnotbitter.

If you're looking to cool down at your desk, here are a number of accessories that you can use to do just that!

1. Clip on this tiny fan on your desk and stay cool all day!

Seriously, you can even buy, like, 8 and clip them on your computer and all around your desk for maximum fannage.

2. Keep your drinks cold with this funky insulated water bottle!

It comes in 6 different fun colors, too.

3. Get icy with this Ice Body paper from Japan

Part all-over-body deodorant, part cool summer breeze in a package!

4. Look stylish and keep cool with this cooling bandana!

Yeah, that totally goes with your suit!

5. Warm wrists? We got ya covered!

This aluminum mouse pad is sure to cool down your overheated wrists.

6. Spritz, spritz, then spritz again

Seriously, this Mario Badescu facial spray will have you feeling refreshed and cooled down in an instant!

7. Cool down your laptop ASAP!

This aluminum cooling stand should do the trick...

8. Get some relief from the summer heat with a cooling mat!

You can put the mat on the ground by your feet to cool them off or on your char to chill out your bum!

9. Be not-sweaty with a S'well!

Seriously, these things can keep your ice cold and unmelted for up to 24 hours!

10. Mini USB fan + cooling humidifier feature = everything you've ever needed

Seriously, how can you be hot in the office with this little guy at your disposal?!

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6 months ago

The 8bitdo Zero is an excellent Bluetooth controller that fits on a keychain

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Game controllers are pretty big. But not this one, oh no.

It's called the Zero and it's from a company called 8bitdo, which is based in China and produces a lot of modern takes on old, retro gaming hardware. If you want a Bluetooth version of an original SNES or N64 controller, or perhaps want to use a wireless controller with an original NES system, chances are 8bitdo can take care of you.

The Zero isn't a modern take on a classic, though. It's an insanely small game controller that you can carry on a keychain and doesn't suck.

And it's only $17.

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6 months ago

Best Cases for the HTC U11

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HTC U11 case

Keep your HTC U11's lustrous chassis in perfect condition with these cases.

With a beautiful mirrored glass finish, the HTC U11 is one of the most striking Android flagships available today. But exposed glass isn't the most sturdy of materials, and if you use the U11 for long enough, it's inevitable that you'll start to pick up a few scrapes and scratches.

That's why we've rounded up the top few U11 cases for your perusal. Read on to find out more.

HTC Clear Shield case

ClearShield case

This is the same case that comes with the HTC U11 in many markets, protecting the back and corners of the phone, while keeping the side walls exposed for easy squeezability.

Plastic inner corners keep the U11 securely in place, while the clear plastic design lets you show off the phone from its most impressive angle.

At $19.99, it's not super cheap, but it's a pretty small price to pay to guarantee the back of your phone will stay free from wear and tear.

See at HTC

Spigen Liquid Crystal HTC U11 case

Spigen TPU Case

If TPU is your thing, this Spigen case gives you all-around protection, including cover for the buttons and side walls.

Meanwhile, a raised lip around the camera cutout and front bezel keeps the lens protected when the phone is laying flat, and the screen out of contact with surfaces when it's face-down.

Being a flexible TPU case, it's also fully compatible with HTC's squeezy Edge Sense features. And there's even a glittery version if you want to add a bit of extra glamor to the HTC U11's already shiny derrière. Check it out for around $11.

See at Amazon

Incipio Octane UTC U11 case

Incipio hard case

For more heavy duty protection, you might want to consider this Incipio offering, featuring a textured bumper and hard shell back. Despite the added heft of this case, it still works with Edge Sense, and the textured side walls provide a much more secure grip than the U11's metal trim.

Sure, you'll need to cover up much of the U11's eye-catching design if you go for this model, but you can rest assured the entire body of the phone will be protected from drops, knocks and scrapes.

For less than $25, that's not a bad deal at all.

See at Amazon

Olixar Genuine Leather HTC U11 wallet case

Olixar leather case

For many people, nothing beats the convenience of a wallet case, and Olixar has an affordable leather option that provides space for credit cards, while also folding out into a stand.

Olixar's "Executive Wallet Case" keeps the vulnerable areas of the U11 protected and the plastic side walls mean it's still possible to use Edge Sense without too much hassle.

This leather offering, complete with stand, adds a bit more bulk to the body of the phone, but you can't argue with the extra functionality it brings — particularly for $26.

See at MobileFun

Official HTC U11 leather-style flip case

Official flip case

HTC's official U11 flip case for the U11 is clad in a soft-touch exterior, with space for a single credit card, and the option to fold it out into a stand -- though unlike Olixar's offering, this one's not magnetic.

The U11's shiny back panel is secured in place with plastic corners, keeping these areas protected from drops, and the exposed side walls allow you to use Edge Sense with ease.

This model is also a good deal slimmer than most wallet cases, though it'll set you back a bit more too, with prices starting at $46.

See at MobileFun

Your favorite?

Let us know in the comments below.

HTC U11

Amazon Sprint HTC

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6 months ago

You won't empty your wallet for studio-grade headphones with the Status Audio HD One's at $19

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Our friends at Thrifter are back again, this time bringing you studio-grade headphones for much less!

Wireless headphones have grown in popularity lately, but wired headphones are still invaluable for many since they don't need to be charged, offer a more reliable connection and more. Over-the-ear headphones can range in price from around $10 to over $300, depending what you are looking for. If quality is the main concern for you, but you don't want to go broke buying a new set of headphones, we've got just the deal for you.

Status Audio, a company that specializes in high-quality affordable headphones, is currently offering its HD One wired headphones for just $18.99. This is the lowest price these headphones have ever been, and $5 less than our previous mention. You won't want to miss this deal.

So, you've never heard of Status Audio? Don't worry, these headphones have a 4.3 out of 5-star rating at Amazon with over 700 reviews, and the company's other headphones, the OB-1, maintain a 4.7 out of 5-star rating with over 70 reviews. These are actually on sale as well, and you can get them for just $49.99. This is a $30 savings.

With the HD One's you'll get:

  • THE STATUS AUDIO ADVANTAGE – No logos, no celebrities, just sound. Join the 100,000+ customers enjoying premium sounding, beautifully constructed headphones at a fraction of the price of the big name competition.
  • SLEEK AND MINIMAL – Prefer not to be a walking billboard? The HD One headphones are 100% free of logos and branding, and are coated in a rubberized matte finish that doesn't show fingerprints or reflect light. Perfect for a minimal look or for customizing.
  • STUDIO GRADE – 40mm drivers deliver an exciting sound signature that responds to all genres of music. Deep, articulated bass with a sizzling high end. Exceptional detail and clarity throughout the entire frequency spectrum. This is the big, crisp sound you've been looking for.
  • FIT AND FINISH – On-ear design that is lightweight and comfortable for long-term use. A unique foldable design collapses into a small form factor, ideal for travel and commuting. Substantial, yet highly portable, these are your go-to headphones for your morning commute and throughout the day.

You don't have to take our word for it that you'll be impressed with the quality of these, though. Try them for yourself now for just $18.99, which happens to be the best price we've tracked on them, and let your ears show you just how good they are.

See at Amazon

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

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6 months ago

Amazon Prime members can grab Dash Buttons for $1 and still get a $5 credit for a limited time

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Our friends at Thrifter are back again, this time with a way to grab Dash Buttons for just $1!

Amazon's Dash Buttons are an extremely easy way to reorder the supplies that you use the most in your house, and thanks to Amazon's Prime Day (which is now live), members can grab select ones for $0.99. Normally the buttons cost $4.99 each, and then you receive a $4.99 credit after using it for the first time, but right now you can pick up a discounted one and still get the same credit. That means that you'll effectively make $4 on each button that you buy and use (limit of 3), so be sure to check them all out.

Purchase each button separately and choose No-Rush Shipping at checkout to receive a free $1 digital credit with each one you buy. If you aren't already a member of Amazon's Prime service, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial to take advantage of this offer and others. Some of the discounted Dash Buttons include:

These discounted prices will run until Tuesday, July 11. If you want to get really crazy with it, you can even reprogram the Dash Buttons to do other tasks, so be sure to check that out as well.

See at Amazon

Prime Day 2017 is coming! Follow along with our live blog to discover the best deals first!

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6 months ago

Braven Stryde 360 review: Bluetooth and waterproof never sounded so good

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For $100, the Braven Stryde 360 just might be the best waterproof Bluetooth speaker around.

The Braven Stryde 360 is Braven's latest Bluetooth speaker offering from its "Active" series, which combines water resistance, excellent sound, and a price tag that's more than easy to swallow.

Here's my full review!

Audio quality

When I first unbox a Bluetooth speaker, I don't take stock of how it looks, the controls, or any other superfluous features. I immediately connect it to my phone and play my go-to test songs (generally any of my favorite songs of the moment that have wide dynamic range — this month it's One Good Piece Of Me by Big Wreck.

Android Central Choice Award

I was quite pleasantly surprised by how the Stryde 360 performed. It pumps out a rich, warm low end, thanks to its two passive radiators, which are located on each end of the speaker. Speakers of this size that favor bass generally overdo it and muddy up the rest of the mix, but the Stryde 360 provides a more-than-present midrange and high end, with crisp, clean treble. Many similar Bluetooth speakers also tend to become distorted at high volumes, but not this one (unless you pump your phone to max volume and the speaker to max volume, which is just silly if you want it to last longer than a day). If you like your music loud or need it loud for an outdoor party or what have you, the Stryde 360 will clearly pump out the jams without issue.

The Stryde 360 provides more than enough bass without overdoing it.

The big test, however, came in the shower. This is a water-resistant speaker; of course I'm going to use it in the shower. I have no tub, just a walk-in shower that's enclosed on all sides but the door. I've used other bass-favoring Bluetooth speakers, like the UE Wonderboom, which is a great speaker, but terrible for an enclosed shower — the bass muddies up everything. The Braven Stryde 360 performs exceptionally well in the shower. I stand it on an end, and since it has speakers on two sides, the mids and highs bounce off the shower walls, while the bass pumps out of the top and bottom, providing a great mix that's perfect for singing along.

Design

In a word: brilliant. The Stryde 360 is a sexy Bluetooth speaker looks at home on your desk, in the backyard, or by the pool. It comes in silver with green accents (the version I have) or a darker gray with red accents. Its cylindrical shape makes it perfect for toting along in your backpack's water bottle pocket, and it'll even fit in cup holders (like the ones that come on some pool floaties).

The rubber playback controls blend fairly seamlessly into the hard plastic body, and the ends have a ring of durable rubber so that you can stand your Stryde 360 up if your prefer. On the opposite side from the playback controls are two feet for standing and the very well-protected microUSB charging port, USB-A port, and 3.5mm auxiliary port. The rubber cover is even a little difficult to open, but I'd rather that than water damage.

All in all, it's a great-looking speaker that's clearly made for life, wherever it happens.

Features

Voice control is a great feature, especially if you want this for your shower.

For $100, you certainly get a lot with the Stryde 360. Playback control right on the speaker is a big thing for me, especially on one that I use in the shower (believe it or not, I have a couple Bluetooth speakers with only a power button — UGH). I hate having to constantly step out of the shower to change the song, drying my hands each time. Just hold down the volume up or volume down button to skip to the next track or previous track, respectively.

Voice control is another huge feature (though not uncommon to Bluetooth speakers), allowing you to use Google Assistant or Siri through the speaker itself. Take notes, change songs, make phone calls, whatever.


Battery life

Put it this way: I received the review unit over two weeks ago, charged it up the day I got it, and haven't had to charge it since. I use it in the shower almost every day, as does my wife. So yeah, battery life's pretty good.

The 2500mAh battery should power a party jam for the entire party and well into the night.


Should you buy it? Absolutely

For $100, you get more in the Braven Stryde 360 than you do in most other competitors around the same price or even higher. It sounds great, it looks slick, it has awesome features, and it's versatile to a fault (as far as something that plays music can be, anyway).

If you're looking for an excellent Bluetooth speaker that you can take with you anywhere, then I'd choose the Braven Stryde 360.

See at Amazon

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6 months ago

Grab the NVIDIA Shield TV for £169 in the UK

0

Get a £20 discount on the Shield TV for one day only.

As part of Amazon's Prime Day sale, the retailer is offering a £20 discount on the NVIDIA Shield TV, bringing it down to £169. That's for the model with 16GB of internal storage. If you're looking for the Pro variant with a 500GB hard drive, you'll have to shell out £279.

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6 months ago

Best Accessories For HTC U11

12

You have the phone, now gear it up with some accessories.

You may have some accessories from a prior phone that work with your HTC U11, but chances are you'll need at least a couple to address this phone in particular. When you're looking for everything to gear up your U11, start with this list and get the essentials before heading anywhere else.

Aukey dual USB port Quick Charge 3.0 car charger

You get a Quick Charge wall socket in your U11's box, but if you don't yet have a car charger with the newer fast charging tech you'll want to snag one for topping up on the go. Aukey sells a sweet little car charger that can actually charge two phones at once using Quick Charge 3.0, giving you extra possibilities.

The USB ports are obviously backward compatible to previous Quick Charge versions, or will charge up non-Quick Charge phones at standard USB rates. A solid deal for $20, especially considering how long you'll be able to keep it in your car and use it with future phones.

See at Amazon

Anker PowerCore Speed Quick Charge 3 10,000mAh battery

Just like the car charger, if you're getting a new portable battery to use with your U11 you'll want to get one that can charge it as fast as possible. Quick Charge 3.0 comes in batteries, too, and Anker makes an awesome battery to use with your U11 or any other phone. The PowerCore Speed battery has 10,000mAh in capacity — which is enough for over two full charges of the U11 — but stays super compact because it only offers one USB output.

There are bigger batteries and ones with many more USB ports or extra features, but if you need something that's compact, easy to carry around and will charge your U11 quickly, this is a great choice at just $35.

See at Amazon

LG Tone Ultra HBS-820 Wireless headphones

Without a headphone jack on the U11, there's a good chance that you'd prefer using Bluetooth most of the time rather than carrying around the USB-C to 3.5 mm headphone dongle. You can find Bluetooth headphones of just about every style, size and price, so we've picked a pair that are very middle-of-the-road and won't set you back too much — the LG Tone Ultra HBS-820.

You may not be the "neckbud" type, but they do have a nice balance of comfort, size, sound and battery life that save you from having big over-ear headphones or always-dead little earbuds. LG's been one of the leaders in this category for a while, and when it comes to an all-around set of neckbuds these are great. Give the LG Tone Ultra a look — at under $75 they're a good value if you like the form factor.

See at Amazon

Spigen Liquid Crystal HTC U11 Case

The U11 comes with a case in the box, but it's extremely basic and gets roughed up very quickly. If you want a case that you can actually use regularly for protecting your phone, you should pick something else up. This Spigen Liquid Crystal case is thin and clear just like the case that comes in the box, but shouldn't get scratched up in the same way and will actually protect the sides of the phones as well. Even though it covers the sides this case won't hinder your ability to use the Edge Sense squeeze feature on the U11.

Going with a clear case lets you show off that awesome glass back of your U11 while also keeping it protected — whether you use the case every day or just when you expect it to get bumped around. And it'll only set you back $11.

See at Amazon

HTC U11

Amazon Sprint HTC

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6 months ago

Add some color to your gaming with these lighting hacks for PlayStation 4!

1

Spice up your setup with some light!

Making your PlayStation 4 stand out a bit from the crowd doesn't have to mean getting a fancy entertainment center or becoming a guru at cord management. With a few lighting hacks, you can ensure that when you're gaming, it isn't quite the same experience everyone else gets when they are at home. Whether it's disabling your controller's lightbar or adding LED lights that react to what is going on onscreen, you can use light — or the absence of it — to really change your experience.

We've got the details on what you can do right here!

Transparent LED thumbsticks

If you're a fan of being able to tell which accessories are yours with just a glance or you just want everything to glow, then swapping out your stock thumbsticks for a pair of transparent LED thumbsticks might be just the ticket.

You can pick up a pair from Amazon for just $10, which is a serious steal, but to get them installed you'll need a bit of technical knowhow. That's because you'll have to take apart your controller and swap out the thumbpads, using solder to connect the LED elements. This sounds a bit more complicated than it is, but you can check out a great YouTube tutorial to get an idea of what you'll need to do before making a purchase.

See at Amazon

Disable your DualShock 4 controller light bar

The lightbar located at the top of your DualShock 4 controller has been a source of irritation for plenty of gamers over the years. For those players who prefer playing in a dimly lit or dark room, the bright LED can seriously throw you off. We've talked before about how you can use decal stickers to hide your lightbar, but there is another option.

There is a way to manually disable your lighbar so that it's no longer an issue. This is a fairly straightforward process but will require a bit of work on your end. You'll have to take apart your controller and, using a foreign object, block one of the pins inside from communicating. This allows you to stop your lightbar from doing its job but definitely requires you to know what you're doing so that you don't accidentally muck things up.

If you're worried about the process you can check out a YouTube tutorial that will show you precisely how it's done.

Lightberry LED lights for your TV

Adding LED lights to your system or controller isn't really anything new, which is where Lightberry steps in. Lightberry gives you LED lights that connect to your PlayStation VR in order to react to what is going on on the screen.

This means that you get a pared down light show every time you watch a movie or play a game. Originally built to run off of Raspberry Pi, you can pick up an HDMI connector, which allows you to hook it up to your PlayStation 4 with minimal fuss. This of course means no taking anything apart or soldering anything.

All you need to do is open the box and follow the instructions to get your new lights installed, and they will then do the hard work of reacting to what is playing on the screen. Whether you're trying to save your team in Overwatch or trying not to cry while rewatching Band of Brothers, Lightberry will be amping up the experience with lights for you.

See at Lightberry

Do you have a favorite hack?

Do you have a lighting hack for PlayStation 4 that we missed here today? Did we cover your favorite? Be sure to drop into the comments below and let us know about it!

PlayStation 4

Amazon

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6 months ago

Best Tempered Glass Screen Protectors for Google Pixel

11

As usual, the curved screen of the Google Pixel makes finding a tempered glass screen protector that much harder.

Looking to keep your Pixel's screen in pristine condition? A tempered glass screen protector is your best bet. The problem is, like so many newer phones these days, the Pixel has a slightly curved screen around the edges which is less than ideal and can result in the dreaded halo effect.

It's been a point of discussion in the forums, with the consensus being that the following screen protectors are your best bets. It's also worth considering pairing your screen protector with a quality case, which will add another layer of protection and help cover a bit around the curved portion of the screen.

Mr Shield [3-pack]

Mr Shield offers the best value for Pixel screen protectors — you can get this 3-pack for under $10. When properly installed this screen protector will like up with the actual screen of the phone but leave the curved bevel along the side and edges exposes. That's where a case will come in handy to provide protection in those vulnerable areas.

These screen protectors feature a cutout around the front-facing camera and ear speaker and come with everything you need to get a clean and dust-free installation the first time — though if you mess it up you've got two more fresh attempts.

See at Amazon

Supershieldz [2-pack]

Supershieldz is another trusted brand for tempered glass screen protectors, and it offers a 2-pack for the Google Pixel. Similar to Mr Shield's offerings, these screen protectors feature cutouts along the top for the front-facing camera and ear speaker.

Again, because the screen is curved and the tempered glass is flat, this won't provide the ideal edge-to-edge protection, but it will protect against direct impacts to the screen and also features an oleophobic coating to help keep fingerprints from smudging up your screen.

See at Amazon

Orzly Pro-Fit

The Orzly Pro-Fit screen protector offers really good protection with a trim around the screen that's available in either black or white to fit the style of your phone, so if you've been looking for edge-to-edge protection this is your best shot.

However, to get that full protection requires a dot matrix grid that may be hardly noticeable to some and extremely distracting to others. Users have also reported that this screen protector is a fingerprint magnet so you may need to carry around a microfiber cloth to keep your screen protected and smudge-free. Either way, if full-screen protection is what you're after, it's worth giving it a try.

See at Amazon

Spigen [2-pack]

Spigen actually offers a full line of tempered glass screen protectors for the Google Pixel, which are all case friendly. That's good news, because of Spigen also makes some really great cases. It offers a 2-pack of crystal clear tempered glass screen protectors that come with everything you need for a clean install. If you've had difficulties installing a screen protector before it can be really handy to have that second screen protector if you need a second go at it.

Alternatively, Spigen also sells single screen protectors with trim around the screen (very similar to the Orzly screen protector) available in black and white. It aims to offer true edge-to-edge protection and are also worth considering if that's exactly what you're after.

See at Amazon

What's your take?

Do you use a screen protector on your Pixel? Got an opinion on one we've featured here? Let us know in the comments!

Update, July 2017: This article was updated to ensure that all details are still correct and the choices still valid. Enjoy!

Google Pixel + Pixel XL

Google Store Verizon

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6 months ago

Tronsmart Encore S2 and Encore S4 review: Inexpensive Bluetooth headphones with some compromise

4

If you're looking for some inexpensive Bluetooth headphones that actually sound pretty good, Tronsmart might have the solution.

Tronsmart is usually known for chargers and other power delivery products, but it also has a small line of Bluetooth headphones, made for a variety of activities. I was sent two pairs of the five options available: the Encore S2 and Encore S4. Here's how they measure up to what's out there.

Tronsmart Encore S2

The Encore S2 is one of Tronsmart's two "sport" headphone models. This one features a neckband that sits loosely around your neck, with two earbuds attached to cords. I used these every day for about a week and a half in the gym to see if they lived up to the "sport" headphone moniker. Here's what I found.

Sound quality

Despite the size of the earbuds, the Encore S2 has surprisingly great sound. The bass is low and much warmer than I expected. It's also incredibly present, which is unusual for "entry-level" headphones like these. The bass is so present in fact, however, that it sometimes muddies up the midrange, which can be a little distracting if you're actually trying to listen to your music. If you just need a pump-up jam in the gym, though, it's great.

The high end is where these 'buds falter for me. The high end just isn't as crisp as it could be, and if you listen to a lot of rock, much of the more treble-y tracks can get lost in the mix. That being said, for the $24 price tag, the Encore S2's sound is more than passable and even downright enjoyable.

Fit and design

If you don't love bass — a lot of bass — you may want to give these a pass.

I took this heavily into account, since these are billed as "sport" headphones and came up with mixed feelings. If you're a runner, you probably won't like these headphones. I had never worn headphones with a neckband before, so I was skeptical at best, and after a couple cardio sessions, was less than impressed.

I have a fairly slender neck, and the constant jostle of the loose neck band is distracting. It would also twist around my neck sometimes while running, which meant I had to constantly adjust it, and it was just a pain in the ol' hindquarters. You can tighten the restraints on the earbud cords, but then it all just feels constricting.

With that said, the earbuds themselves fit quite nicely in your ears. They're the variety that sit in your ears, with the speaker shoved into your ear, which I prefer over the classic, all-speaker design. If you have smaller or larger ears, there are differently sized tips in the box.

The back of each earbuds is magnetic, which helps prevent tangling, but the cords are already connecting to the neckband, so it's kind of unnecessary, and the magnet is quite weak anyway.

Somewhat peculiarly, the volume controls/pairing button/call controls are on the left side of the neckband, which isn't a huge deal, but annoying when you're used to what most headphones are like. And you can't flip them around, since each earbud is designed to fit in a specific ear.

Battery life

In a word: excellent. From such a compact set of Bluetooth headphones, you should expect nothing less, but, again, for the $24 price tag, the battery life on the Encore S2 is great. I used these in my hour-long workouts for over a week without having to charge them, so the billed 12-hour battery life is legit.

Should you buy them? Maybe

If you're looking for an inexpensive pair of Bluetooth headphones that sounds great for its class and can likely last you a week on a single charge, then absolutely snatch these up. If you're looking for them as workout headphones, I'd keep looking. While the earbuds themselves stay securely in your ears, the neckband is a nuisance, and the lack of discernable controls on the headphones themselves makes it difficult to change volume or answer a call on the fly.

See at Amazon

Tronsmart Encore S4

The Encore S4 is Tronsmart's noise-cancelling Bluetooth offering, which features a thicker neckband with earbuds attached to cords. I used them every day for about a week while working from home.

Sound quality

With a sophisticated sheen and a $50 price tag, I expected these headphones to sound a bit better than the Encore S2 model, and I was right. The low end is rich, the mids are present, and the high end is discernable, though only just so. It appears that Tronsmart has sacrificed treble for bass in its earbuds, which is probably fine for most folks, but if you're trying to pick out a hi-hat pattern in a rock tune or some other treble-y elements, you're rather hard-pressed.

I found the bass dropped out quite a bit when the active noise-canceling was turned off, which was a little annoying, since noise-canceling uses quite a bit more battery, but for the sake of audio quality, I left it on. Like the Encore S2, these 'buds likely won't please audiophiles, but for most people and for that price tag, they do sound quite good.

Active noise cancellation

These earbuds are fantastic value and sound surprisingly good.

First and foremost, we must realize that earbuds with active noise cancellation will never be as good as proper cans. So if you're thinking you can spend $50 on these and them work just as well as the Bose QC35 headphones, you're gonna have a bad time.

With that in mind, I set up a fan in my home office to test things out when it was a little cooler outside, and I had the air conditioning going on the hotter days (I'm seated right next to the vent). Even with the fan right next to me, I really had to strain and concentrate to hear it above my music. Turn the noise cancellation off and it was the only thing I could hear, so did these headphones do their job? Absolutely.

They even managed to drown out the TV a little bit, which my wife was watching in the other room. I've yet to try these on a plane, but will have to opportunity in a couple months, at which point I'll update this review.

Fit and Design

The thicker neckband of the Encore S4 is actually more comfortable than that of the Encore S2 because it feels substantial, but when you put it on, you barely feel it, and it stays in place. That's not to say it stays in place while you run, but it's perfect for sitting and working or even walking around.

The earbuds are an even better fit than the Encore S2, and you get the various tips in case your ears don't accommodate the "regular" ones. Again, though, the controls are on the left of the neckband. It's hard to get used to, but you can at least feel the buttons on this model. The switch for active noise cancellation is a little difficult to move, but that's a minor annoyance.

Battery life

Just great. Tronsmart bills the Encore S4 with 20 hours of battery time, and I got that and then some. It wasn't 20 continuous hours of use, of course, but I made it through three days of work (roughly 8 hours a day) without needing to charge them. The larger battery does make for a thicker neckband, but that's alright.

Should you buy them? Yes

For inexpensive active noise cancellation, Tronsmart does a great job of providing focused listening in a good-looking package, with great battery life and well-fitting earbuds.

See at Amazon

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6 months ago

Best Charging Stands for Google Pixel

18

Elevate your Pixel off the table while it charges with these charging stands.

Finding a charging stand for your Google Pixel is, as we learned, a matter of making compromises. One of the best features of the Google Pixel is its fast charging ability, but you'll get the best results using the charging cable and wall outlet that came with your phone.

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6 months ago

Protecting your OnePlus 5: A tempered glass screen protector is a good idea

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OnePlus 5 tempered glass screen protector

Your choices are limited right now, but it's worth considering a tempered glass screen protector to keep your OnePlus 5's display in mint condition.

Tempered glass screen protectors are a great way to ensure any phone's screen stays in great condition throughout its life span. But there are often comrpomises involved in picking one. Edge-to-edge screen protectors will generally leave a small air gap between the transparent area and the display, which can affect visibility. Clear tempered glass protectors that adhere directly to the display area can run into problems with the 2.5D glass used in many modern phones, like the OnePlus 5.

Film screen protectors like the one pre-installed on the OnePlus 5 are a decent, simple alternative, but they're not quite the same.

Right now, since the OnePlus 5 is so new, there are only a handful of tempered glass screen protectors from reputable brands, so we'll be updating this list as we go. Nevertheless, here are some early options if you're looking to keep your OnePlus 5 screen in top condition from day one.

OnePlus tempered glass screen protector

OnePlus screen protector

OnePlus's official tempered glass screen protector for the OnePlus 5 covers the entire surface of the phone, with cutouts for the proximity sensor, camera, earpiece and fingerprint scanner.

This screen protector is rated for 9H hardness, meaning it can go toe-to-toe with keys and even knives and survive unscathed. It'll cover the full area of the display, so you don't need to worry about any unsightly edges cutting into your screen.

As is normal with this type of screen protector, the border extends 0.9 mm over the edge of the panel, so tight-fitting cases may cause issues.

See at OnePlus

Orzly tempered glass screen protector (2-pack)

OnePlus screen protector

Orzly's tempered glass screen protector for the OnePlus 5 is almost identical to OnePlus's official offering, with the same 9H hardness rating and cutouts for all the vital areas. Once again, it'll protrude ever so slightly around the top of the panel, which is worth bearing mind if you plan in pairing it with a case of any kind.

The main difference here, though, is the price, as Orzly's screen protectors are available in a 2-pack from Amazon for $10.99 with free shipping. That gives you a spare if you mess up the installation, or if your first meets with an untimely demise.

See at Amazon

Orzly film screen protector (5-pack)

OnePlus screen protector

The OnePlus 5 comes with a film screen protector pre-fitted on the display, and if you don't mind the slightly plasticky texture, these are a decent, cheap option. Should you wish to replace an old film screen protector with a fresh one, Orzly sells a 5-pack of these for $6.99 with free shipping on Amazon.

A film screen protector isn't the most glamorous option, but you can't argue with the price, nor the simplicity of installation compared to some tempered glass options. Film protectors like these are also more likely to play nicely with bulky cases than glass screen protectors, because they're significantly thinner.

See at Amazon

OnePlus 5T and OnePlus 5

OnePlus Amazon

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