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1 month ago

The NIFTY Mobile Charger is the smartest battery pack you'll ever buy

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This NIFTY battery pack sure lives up to its name, but can its slick design justify the price?

Battery packs are essential phone accessories these days. We rely on our phones to do so much, and heavy phone users often can't rely on their phone's internal battery to get them through a full day without a recharge along the way.

Furthermore, few battery packs offer the same functionality and features, making it sometimes confusing as to which will best support your devices. Enter the 6800mAh NIFTY mobile charger, a stylish battery pack that aims to solve the charging needs of all your mobile devices

The folks behind the NIFTY battery pack sent me a unit to review this summer, and my first reaction was that this battery pack sure lives up to its name. Fans of well-designed products are sure to swoon over this battery pack. It's compact, sleek with no buttons to fuss with, and just two ports on the top, both of which can be used to charge devices simultaneously with 24W of dual output being intelligently split to give priority to the device that needs more juice. The USB-C port doubles as the one used for recharging the battery pack itself, which only takes a few hours.

NIFTY claims to have includes the most powerful chipset in a mobile charger, with support for Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0, 3A Type-C output, as well as safe fast charging capabilities for iPhones, iPads, and even the latest MacBooks, too. There're no screens or buttons to fiddle around with — simply plug in and the NIFTY automatically detects and delivers the fastest charging speeds for your device.

A row of 5 LEDs give you an indication of how much charge is left, and all you do is give the NIFTY a tap and they come to life to show you the remaining charge. A tap also illuminates another LED ring located around the USB-A port on top, which is a fantastic feature for those times when you're fumbling around in the trying to plug in a USB cable in the dark.

I've kept it on me through most of my weekend travels this summer when I've often been away from a wall outlet. At 6800mAh, it's far from the beefiest battery pack you can buy and will reliably recharge a phone from battery warning to full no problem, but that's about it. On a weekend trip, I was able to get about a full charge and a half for my Google Pixel before the NIFTY needed to be recharged itself. The pack does get quite warm both when charging a device and while being recharged, so you're likely losing some energy in the heat transfer.

I accidentally left the NIFTY outside overnight during a rainstorm and was pleasantly surprised to find it still functioning perfectly the day after. NIFTY makes no claims of water resistance but it was nice to see it survive a wet night.

There's something to be said about great design, and the curvy design of the NIFTY's casing feels great in your hand.

The only drawback is the price — at $80, it's asking a lot for a battery pack with a battery capacity under 10,000mAh. You can buy an Anker PowerCore charger with three times the charging capacity for $20 cheaper than the NIFTY. For those who value capacity and bang-for-your-buck over anything else, that's bound to be a deal breaker.

But there's still something to be said about great design, and the curvy design of the NIFTY's casing feels great in your hand. Tapping to reveal the power levels is an ingenious feature and I love how you can plug any phone in and NIFTY delivers the fastest charge without hesitation. Whether the NIFTY is worth the money is ultimately a matter of personal preferences. The NIFTY serves my need for a compact and portable charger that gives my phone an extra boost when I need it most.

The NIFTY Mobile Charger is available in your choice of color —Signature Stone Red, Stone Grey or Suede Black — and comes with both a USB-C and Micro-USB charging cable.

See at NIFTY

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1 month ago

Best Ultra Thin Cases for Samsung Galaxy Note 8

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Keep your Note 8 protected without adding too much bulk!

The Galaxy Note 8 is a device that's so expensive you would have to be a fool not to try and keep it safe with a case — but it's also a gorgeously designed phone. So I can understand some folks' hesitation to cover it up with a thick layer of plastic and rubber.

That's what makes a slim case such a compelling compromise, keeping your phone protected from the daily bumps and scratches without adding superfluous features or accents. We've rounded up the best options from the most trusted brands. Thin cases will also work well with wireless charging pads, so you won't lose that functionality either!

Spigen Thin Fit Case

You're not likely to find a case thinner than Spigen's Thin Fit case. Just a millimeter thick, this case will snap on easily and keep the back glass of your phone protected from scuffs and scratches. There's also a very subtle lip around the front to offer face-down protection for the screen, too.

We all know that the best cases have reinforced corners, and unfortunately, this case falls short there in an effort to keep the bulk down. But that's why you're here, right?

You can get it in matte black for just $10.99, or opt for a more colorful option for a few bucks more.

See at Amazon

Spigen Rugged Crystal Case

Want a case that's nearly invisible while still providing rugged protection for your Note 8? Spigen has you covered with its Rugged Crystal case.

This slim case is made of a single layer of clear TPU and features reinforced corners to provide that rugged drop protection you may require. It's got a grippy in-hand feel and its flexible design means that it's super easy to pop on and off as needed.

You can get this slim clear case from Spigen for just $11.99 on Amazon.

See at Amazon

Caseology Skyfall Series Slim Case

Caseology's Skyfall Series of cases are always stylish and popular, mixing a clear acrylic back plate with colorful accents provided by the polycarbonate bumper.

The slim build of this case compliments the Note 8 well, while the two-layered design is capable of absorbing any drops that may occur. There's a raised lip around the front of the phone as well around the camera and fingerprint sensor, so all the features of your phone will be protected and functional.

There are four color options to choose from designed to match the different colors of the Note 8 itself, starting at just $12.99.

See at Amazon

Ringke Slim Case w/ slot card holder

Ringke's slim case for the Note 8 is pretty basic as you'd expect, but it has included a pretty nice accessory for cutting down your daily carry.

Along with this ultra-thin case that only adds about 2mm of bulk to your phone, Ringke includes an adhesive card slot holder that's capable of holding two cards — say your photo ID and a credit card. It's the perfect accessory for traveling or going out to the bar if you want to keep your carry light.

This one-piece case is made of rugged polycarbonate will keep your phone safe from bumps and scuffs while keeping the sleek design intact. You can get it in classic black for just $8, or opt for a powder blue or salmon pink option for $10.

See at Amazon

Ringke Transparent Air Case

Another great thin case option from Ringke, this clear case is just $7.99 on Amazon. You may even forget you've got a case on your phone it's that clear and minimalist.

Made of lightweight TPU, this case is designed to take abuse so your phone doesn't. Ringke uses its dot matrix technology to cut down on the rainbow effect on the backside of your phone, and the precise cutouts around the ports and S-Pen keep your phone entirely functional.

If you want to add a bit of flair to your phone, you can also get this case in transparent rose gold or smoke black, too.

See at Amazon

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

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2 months ago

Best Memory Cards for Amazon Fire Tablet

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Amazon Fire HD 10

The Amazon Fire Tablet is a great investment, but it can run out of storage space pretty fast. That means it's time for a microSD card. Here are some you should definitely check out.

Whether you have a Fire Tablet for yourself or your kids, you've probably noticed that the internal storage doesn't go very far. You can easily fill it up with some games, a few apps, and media, which is a bit disappointing. Instead of trying to figure out what to delete, and how to better manage the storage, why not make things easier and add a microSD card so it can hold more?

There are tons of great microSD cards out there, and not all of them are expensive. Depending on your needs, you can get cards with as little as 8GB or as much as 200GB. Spend whatever you're comfortable spending. Figure a 32GB card will be the bare minimum you'll want, and frankly getting anything less is just a waste of a shipping fee. But if I were you, I'd get whatever's on sale in the highest capacity you can afford. (Because this is the sort of thing you can use anywhere, not just in an Amazon tablet.)

Whether you are waiting for your brand new Amazon Fire tablet to arrive, or are using the previous generation, here are some great options you will want to consider.

SanDisk 64GB microSD

SanDisk is a well-known brand when it comes to portable storage, and its cards are almost always highly recommended. The company offers a bunch of different cards in different storage capacities, and this one is specifically made for the Fire Tablets and Fire TV. For most of what you will do with your Fire Tablet, the microSDXC UHS-I will be fast enough to meet your needs. It may take a few minutes longer for the initial transfer of information to the card, but after that, you won't notice much of a difference.

With 64GB of extra storage, you'll easily be able to install a ton of new apps, save music and movies locally to access whenever you want, and much more. Priced at around $23, it's hard to find a much better value than this microSD card.

See at Amazon

Samsung 32GB microSD

Samsung has been making storage products for quite some time and has been offering extremely affordable microSD cards as well. You won't find the smaller sizes, like 8GB or 16GB from Samsung, but from 32GB all the way up to 256GB, you'll find great deals. This high-performance card offers transfer speeds of up to 80MB/s, and they're built to last. These cards are water-, temperature-, magnetic-, and even X-ray-proof.

All of these good things must mean that it is on the pricey side, right? Wrong. A 32GB card will only set you back around $18, which is less than many people pay to go see a movie.

See at Amazon

Silicon Power 64GB microSD

Silicon Power's 64GB microSD offers speeds you'd expect out of a memory card for this price, with nothing crazy that makes it stand out. It can work in a variety of devices and comes with a lifetime warranty, so you shouldn't have to worry much about it. Another great feature of the cards is the included SD adapter which allows you to put the microSD card in your computer, camera or anything else that takes a full sized SD card.

Coming in at around $23, you can't go wrong with adding one of these to prevent the inevitable running out of storage.

See at Amazon

PNY Elite 128GB microSD

If you are looking for more storage, PNY may make the card for you. The company makes a variety of different sizes at different price points, and the 128GB sits at a pretty sweet spot. It may be more than you need initially, but having extra space is never really a bad thing. With it you can load tons of movies, endless amounts of apps and pictures, and have to worry very little about filling it up.

Of course, the more storage you get the more it will cost. PNY is quite reasonable with pricing, having this card listed at around $55 right now.

See at Amazon

SanDisk 200GB microSD

200GB is the largest capacity that the Fire Tablet is meant to use, and you may just want to purchase a microSD of that size to put in and forget that it is there. Sure, 200GB is a lot of space to have, but do you want to have to worry about storage ever again? A few years ago it would have cost a fortune to put that much storage inside your tablet, but now it is totally affordable.

You can usually find a pretty good deal on this card, making it run anywhere from $65 to $80, which is a great price for how much it can hold. If you don't want to worry about what you have on the tablet or deleting one thing to install another, you'll want to get one of these right now!

See at Amazon

Your favorite?

Do you have a favorite microSD card that isn't listed here? If so, be sure to drop a link and brief description of why you like that one so others can check it out as well!

Updated September 2017: Updated some pricing. These are still the best microSD cards for your Fire tablet!

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2 months ago

This $25 Bluetooth speaker has a crazy long 24-hour battery life

6

Keep the party going all night long with this loud Bluetooth speaker!

Amazon's currently has a pretty great discount on the extremely popular Anker SoundCore Bluetooth speaker. With this deal, the black version speaker drops down to $25.49 (the other colors are $32.99), from a usual street price around $36. Anker is well known for coupon code deals, which are hard to track over time, so it's possible this speaker has gone lower than this in the past. For direct price drops, though, this price only matches a previous drop back in 2016 on Black Friday.

The SoundCore has a 24-hour battery life, which means you can take it on any outdoor excursion without worrying about it fading for quite some time. It has a built-in mic so you can use Bluetooth for hands-free phone calls. It also comes with an 18-month warranty from Anker. The waterproof successor to this speaker, the SoundCore 2 is also on sale right now, and you can pick one up for just $40.

See at Amazon

More Stories from Thrifter:

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

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2 months ago

KeySmart Pro review: Tile tracking on a great key organizer is invaluable

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KeySmart Pro

If you lose your keys — or if you even think you might lose your keys — then this is a no-brainer.

I can't say that I've ever really lost my keys. I tend to put them in the same place every time I return home. And I keep them in the same spot in my bag when I travel.

Keys, they say, are pretty important.

Having written that, I now fully expect to lose my keys in the coming days.

That brings me to a new version of an old toy. I've long been a fan of KeySmart — sort of a Swiss Army Knife sort of thing for your keys, so you're not stuck with a mangled mess of metal, stabbing you in the pocket when you least expect it. And now KeySmart has gotten even smarter, teaming up with the Tile tracking service. So you can use your phone to find your keys. No extra dongles — it's just all built in.

Let's take a quick look.

See at KeySmart   See at Amazon

KeySmart Pro

The keys, please — what is KeySmart Pro?

First things first: KeySmart is one of those key organizer things, as opposed to a simple key ring. It takes maybe 5 minutes to unscrew it, plop in your keys and then put it back together. KeySmart has a bunch of weird little accessories, too, including (and most importantly) a bottle opener, a USB flash drive, a golf divot tool — you know, normal, everyday stuff like that.

What's new in the Pro is the integration with Tile. And that's required some changes to the hardware. The KeySmart itself is now plastic instead of metal, and it's about twice as thick. That's the tradeoff you'll have to make to cram electronics inside this thing (radio waves and metal don't play all that nicely together), including a battery, Bluetooth radio, Micro-USB charger, buttons, LED flashlight, and a tiny speaker.

There's a lot going on in this little thing, for sure.

Installing your keys is as easy as it's always been with KeySmart. You unscrew the thing, arrange your keys and spacers and accessories, then screw it all back together.

The Tile tracking part of the equation

What makes this one new, of course, is the ability to find your keys with Tile. The tracking system is built into the KeySmart Pro itself, so you don't need any dongles hanging off.

Setup was simple enough. Load up the Tile app (either from Google Play or from the iOS App Store, log in, and attach the KeySmart Pro to your account. (If you've been anywhere near the Internet the past, oh, decade, you're probably good to go here.)

Organizing your keys is great. Knowing it's much harder to lose them is even better.

If you're new to all this tracking stuff, here's how it works. I like to think of it as short range/long range. Say you just can't find your keys. They're somewhere in the house, but the damn things are just missing. Use the app on your phone to have your keys start playing a little 8-bit tune.

And that works the other way around, too, if your phone's gone missing somewhere nearby. Double press the Tile button on the KeySmart Pro, and your phone will start making noise. Clever.

That's short range. Long range relies on keeping track of your location in real time, and also on the kindness of strangers.

Say you lost your keys... somewhere. The KeySmart Pro also works in conjunction with your phone so that Tile always knows its most recent location. So when someone says "Do you remember where you had them last?" — you'll actually know where you had your keys last.

And should your keys come into range of someone else who uses Tile, it'll piggyback on their phone to let the Tile system know where they are. (That's far less creepy than it sounds, at least in my experience.)

So what's it like to use?

That's also standard stuff when it comes to KeySmart and Tile, though. The question for me is what it's like to use the KeySmart Pro.

And the answer is pretty much "If you've used a KeySmart, you know what you're getting here."

As I mentioned previously, I'm not crazy about switching from metal to plastic. (Though I certainly understand why it was done.) It just doesn't feel as nice — not that I'm all that worried about how nice my key organizer feels. Worse than that, though, is the additional thickness, though that'll vary a little depending on how many keys and accessories you have. (I've got six total; three on each side.)

There's also the asymmetry in the two halves, which definitely bothers me more than it should. And the addition of buttons tells my brain that I'm not using something that's much more complicated in its new iteration than it was previously. (On the other hand, that's a conscious choice I made. So pipe down, brain.)

I'm also not in the habit of losing my keys. So I'm going to consider the Tile integration to be insurance, not something I actively use. But since it's here...

KeySmart Pro and Tile on Android

Tile is super easy to use. You just load up your account on your phone with your device — you'll add KeySmart Pro in the "View all partners" section — and it starts working. It works with your phone to figure out location and where they KeySmart Pro was last. That'll get you in the ballpark.

Hit "find" and the KeySmart Pro starts playing a little tune, the better to find it with. (There are eight options for ringtones.) It's fairly loud, so there's a pretty good chance you can track it down.

KeySmart Pro LEDThen there's the whole Tile Network thing that goes into effect if you've really left your keys somewhere. Assuming your KeySmart Pro still has power, sending out the Mayday will cause anyone else who uses Tile to be able to passively "see" your KeySmart Pro and report back its general location. (And maybe they'll even hear it and turn in your keys somewhere.)

And that's pretty much it. Is it foolproof? Nope. Is it way better than dropping your dumb keys somewhere and hoping your dumb self can find 'em? Absolutely.

One more thing: the LED flashlight. It's a handy little addition. It's far from the brightest thing you'll ever see, and I wouldn't want to go solve mysteries out of the back off a van with a bunch of kids with this thing.

But it'll help you get your key into the lock.

(By the way, if you just want a KeySmart with the flashlight, they now have the KeySmart Bright.)

A word on battery life: First, saying to yourself "I need to charge my keys" is kind of ridiculous. Second, KeySmart Pro charges over Micro-USB, which is a previous standard and really shouldn't be used in any new products. (In other words, grrrrrrrr.)

Third, I don't actually know how long the 40mAh battery (yes, that's four-zero) lasts. Mine's been going strong for a couple weeks now. KeySmart says you should be able to get a couple months of use out of it "if you go easy on it." (I'll update here if I see something wonky.)

The bottom line

KeySmart Pro

Again, there are a couple ways to look at the KeySmart Pro. First is that it's a kick-ass key organizer, albeit not inexpensive at $70 retail. I've been a big fan of the less expensive original for a long time now. (And we're talking about a "my own money" kind of thing here.) And now I have a bottle opener and a flashlight on my keys? Awesome.

Second is that if you lose your keys — like, a lot — this is no-brainer. Pick one up ASAP. Or even if you worry that you might lose your keys. The Tile integration is excellent, and super easy to use.

It kind of makes you wonder why you weren't using this already.

See at KeySmart   See at Amazon

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2 months ago

Bose QC 35 II with Google Assistant are now available for $350

17

The first headphones with Google Assistant built-in are now available.

In the year or so since launching, Google Assistant has come to more and more form factors. Starting with the Pixel phones and Google Home, Assistant has expanded to most Android-powered devices. Starting today, the service will be available on headphones as well.

Bose says that the the QC 35 II headphones are now available to purchase. These are mostly the same as last year's highly praised QC 35's, with mostly the same button layout, same (glorious) Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), and same basic construction. The one addition is a button on the back of the left earcup, specifically to trigger Google Assistant.

The headphones will still be reliant on whatever phone they are connected to, as Assistant on the headphones will only be used for speeding up voice processing and delivering notifications. The Assistant button can be remapped to toggle different ANC settings for those who don't care for having an assistant on their headphones. According to Bose, these will get the same 20 hours of battery life as the first generation QC 35's, so it seems like Google Assistant doesn't impact battery life. Finally, these are not the same headphones as the rumored pair that are likely to be announced at Google's October 4 event.

Are you interested in the Bose QC 35's II? Let us know down below!

Buy at Bose!

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2 months ago

Blue Satellite review: Sweet sound, bad basics

3

The Blue Satellite Headphones don't just stand out thanks to their striking looks. With an onboard analog amplifier, dual drivers per earcup, and one of the most well-known brand names in audio, the Blue Satellite should have been a shoe-in for first place in my ever-rotating selection of bluetooth headphones.

But after a month of using them in the real world, I can't bring myself to like them nearly as much as Daniel Bader did when he reviewed the Satellite this summer. Maybe that's because I'm not really an audiophile – or maybe it's because I think $399 is a steep price for a headset that doesn't even give you the courtesy of a warning beep before its battery dies. As usual, the truth is probably somewhere in between. Dive into my Blue Satellite review video for the full story!

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2 months ago

Best Wireless Headphones for Samsung Gear Sport, S3, or S2

5

Listen to your favorite tunes with your Samsung Gear with these great headphones!

Your Samsung Gear Sport, S3, or S2 are great for on-the-go productivity and pleasure. Whether you want to listen to your favorite tunes on your weekly jog, conduct phone calls using your smartwatch on the subway, or taking in a new audiobook while your significant other is sleeping next to you, a great pair of wireless headphones are essential to enjoying sound through your Samsung Gear.

Here are our favorite wireless headphones to use with your Samsung Gear Sport, S3, or S2.

Jaybird X3

Jaybird has been making quality headphones for quite some time and the Jaybird X3s are no exception.

You can get a full week of workouts on a single charge and a quick 15 minutes of charging will get you a full hour at least. If you rely on your tunes to get you through a workout, check out the Jaybird X3 wireless earbuds and enjoy.

PC Mag was more than satisfied with the overall quality of the headphones:

"Powerful audio performance with strong, rich bass and well-defined, bright highs. The gym-friendly Jaybird X3 wireless earphones deliver high-quality audio in a comfortable, secure-fitting design."

These headphones come in Blackout or Sparta (white) colors, and they're sweat- and rain-proof, so you can pour your heart and soul into every workout without worrying about frying them. Pricing starts around $100.

See at Amazon

Bose QuietComfort 35

The Bose brand has been the gold standard for active noise-canceling headphones for years, and it's Bluetooth QuietComfort 35 (QC35) over-ear model that carries the torch.

Though other brands have come close to matching Bose's quality, I still think Bose is the headphone manufacturer to beat, and I'm not the only one.

The Wirecutter has selected the Bose Q35 as its best wireless noise-canceling pair of headphones.

I know battery life is of extreme concern when it comes to anything that runs on Bluetooth, but the QC 35 has a 20-hour battery life. Plus, even if you do run out of power, you can use the included AUX cable to still listen to the audio. The noise-canceling feature, however, will not function if the battery is dead.

You can get a pair of the Bose QC35 in black or silver and they will cost you around $349.

See at Amazon

V-Moda Crossfade 2

If you're looking for a unique design in a pair of headphones, the V-Moda Crossfade 2 definitely sticks out from the crowd.

Coming with a compact carrying case, the V-Moda Crossfade 2 can be used both wirelessly and with a wired connection, making it perfect for toting around.

CNET was pleasantly impressed with the improvements V-Moda made from the previous model.

"The sturdily built, well-designed V-Moda Crossfade 2 Wireless delivers better battery life and improved sound over its predecessor, with more sculpted bass and better detail. The new larger earpads provide a more comfortable fit."

A pair of the V-Moda Crossfade 2 will set you back about $350 and comes in matte black, white, or rose gold trimmings.

See at Amazon

Bose SoundSport Wireless

If you're hoping to get the signature Bose sound in a much smaller and workout-friendly package, look no further than the Bose SoundSport Wireless.

The SoundSport Wireless earbuds are sweat- and weather-resistant, and the gel tips are wholly designed with comfort and stability in mind. Though battery life isn't the greatest in these (about 6 hours on a single charge), they still pack an aural wallop and the mic and music controls are handy.

Comes in Aqua, Black, and Citron for about $149. You can also pick up a pair of Bose SoundSport in Power Red, which has a heart monitor, for $199.

See at Amazon

Jabra Move

Although the Jabra Move is a couple of years old, it's still a great option for people looking to dip their toes into the wireless world without spending a ton of money.

They don't offer noise cancellation, but still, provide impressively good sound quality for their construction costs — and an 8-hour battery to get you through most any workday.

At only a fraction of the price of high-end headphones — about $99 — you'll keep a lot more money in your wallet and still have a very capable pair of cans to enjoy your favorite sounds.

See at Amazon

Which headphones do you use with your Samsung smartwatch?

Let us know in the comments below!

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2 months ago

Google Home Mini is the Amazon Echo Dot competitor we need — now it just has to sell

33
Google Home and Amazon Echo Dot

Google's problem hasn't been that it can't make good hardware. It's just that it's never been able to market it properly.

Fun fact: Google Home is my favorite of the connected-speaker-assist-things so far. I like it more than Amazon Echo. Way more than the Echo Dot. Maybe not quite as much as Echo Show, but that's a whole 'nother product just waiting for a purpose.

No, these are not to scale.

The just-leaked Google Home Mini, as leaked by Droid-Life, has me downright excited.

Start with the way it looks. It's got that same sort of fabric thing going on that the original Google Home has. And so long as you get away from the drab gray (please, Google, make sure that's not the only color available at launch), it's going to be a looker. After the Echo Show, Google Home is the best-designed of the bunch. This should follow in its footsteps.

Then there's the diminutive size. Like the Echo Dot, it's going to be small. While the OG Google Home isn't exactly massive, something even smaller will be able to tucked into corners that much more, and that's a good thing. How good will it sound? I have no idea. But size generally does matter when it comes to that sort of thing. I'd be surprised if it's as good as the original Echo Home. But so long as it's at least as good as the Echo Dot (and that's a low bar, I know), then we're good. But figure it'll also be able to shoot out to other speakers, so...

Also, this:

Next is the price. The unofficial listing (until Oct. 4, anyway) is $49, right in line with the Echo Dot. That's important because price is the Dot's one true weapon. It doesn't look great. It doesn't sound great. And I'd argue that Google's "Actions" are generally better and easier to use than Alexa's "Skills." (Plus remember that Google Home can now make phone calls.)

Amazon still has a huge advantage in that it promotes the Echo Dot on its home page — and doesn't sell Google Home.

But you haven't been able to beat the price of the Echo Dot, which we've seen dip to just under $40 when on sale. (And I'm not counting the Eufy Genie, which is basically an inferior Echo Dot.)

At $49 — and figure we'll probably see discounts, and even more likely a "Buy a phone, get a Home Mini for free" deal — this is going to be priced to move.

The final piece of the puzzle is marketing. Google's gotten a lot better at that over the past few years, with specifically with its Android Wear "Be together, not the same" commercials, and later with spots for the Pixel phones. It'll need to spend a bunch of bucks promoting the Home Mini to keep up with Amazon. (To say nothing of the front-page advertising advantage Amazon has, as well as the fact that you can't actually buy a Google Home on Amazon, because competition sucks and all that.)

But it looks like Google's finally got something on its hands that can compete with the Echo Dot. Now it just has to sell it. Erm, after it's actually announced.

Google Hardware

Google Home family

Google Wifi:

Google Amazon

Google Home:

Google Best Buy

Chromecast Ultra:

Google Best Buy

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2 months ago

Google's smaller Home Mini speaker will cost just $49

16

The Google Home Mini will cost just $49 when it debuts next month.

A treasure trove of leaked Google hardware information is coming to light today as Droid-life is reporting evidence of an upcoming miniature version of the Google Home set to debut at company's October 4 hardware event in San Francisco. From Droid-life:

According to the information we've viewed, the Google Home Mini (official name) will arrive in Chalk, Charcoal, and Coral colors. The Google Home Mini will be powered rather than wireless, at least according to the images here. This Google Home Mini will be able to help you with your schedule, set reminders, grab news, and other Home-related inquiries. It'll cost just $49 and is, of course, sports Google Assistant.

The speaker will reportedly come to market as the Google Home Mini in three colors, and will take on Amazon's incredibly successful Echo Dot, which has dropped in price to a similar $49 in recent months (though we've seen it for as low as $39).

Google Home Mini won't have replaceable bases like its larger counterpart, and certainly won't sound as good, but its main attraction is Google Assistant, which has grown in usefulness since it debuted over a year ago.

Google Hardware

Google Wifi:

Google Amazon

Google Home:

Google Best Buy

Chromecast Ultra:

Google Best Buy

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2 months ago

Best Replacement Watch Bands for Samsung Gear S3

22
Gear S3 Frontier and Gear S3 Classic

What are the best third-party watch bands for Samsung Gear S3?

The Samsung Gear S3 is one of our favorite smartwatches, and a great alternative to many of the Android Wear watches out there. The Gear S3 supports standard 22mm watch bands, making it really easy to upgrade with something new.

Here are a few of the best third-party watch bands to consider once you pick up your brand new Samsung Gear S3!

ArtStyle nylon strap

ArtStyle nylon strap

Keep things simple, fun, and functional with the ArtStyle watch band made from a sturdy nylon material and a durable metal buckle! The ArtStyle nylon strap is easily adjustable and is hypoallergenic, making it the perfect band to wear if you have sensitive skin.

The material from this particular band is also breathable and waterproof on top of being extremely comfortable to wear day-to-day. One downside, though? It might interfere/cover up your Samsung Gear 3's heart rate sensor.

On top of the ArtStyle's practical design, the watch strap comes in a ton of different, bright colors, including red, blue/yellow, black, black/gray, navy blue, gray, khaki, orange, army green, black/blue, black/green/red, black/gray/blue, black/gray/orange, black/gray/green, black/red starting at around $9.

See at Amazon

EloBeth Milanese Magnetic Loop Strap

If you're someone who struggles with putting on your Samsung Gear S3 with one hand, or if you simply want a little bit of additional security when you're sporting your S3, then the EloBeth Milanese Magnetic Loop Strap might be a good option to take a peek at.

The strong, magnetic clasp keeps this around-$13 watch band tight around your wrist, and can easily be adjusted to fit almost any wrist type, so if you have especially larger or smaller wrists, this band might be a great option for you.

The EloBeth Milanese Magnetic Loop Strap is made out of a high-end stainless steel that's perfect for day-to-day wear, and if there are any issues with the band, you have an 18-month warranty to fix any issues.

You can pick up the EloBeth Milanese Magnetic Loop Strap in black, gold, rose gold, or silver finishes.

See at Amazon

Rerii leather band

Rerii leather band

There's nothing more simple and stylish than a classic leather watch band, and Rerii nails it with their affordable 22mm leather band that the Samsung Gear S3! Made from a high quality and sturdy yet lightweight and soft leather, the Rerii watch band comes with an easy-to-buckle stainless steel clasp, making it the perfect day-to-day band.

Unlike some other watch straps, the Rerii's design is super simple and void of all logos, so it's perfect for people who want a classic-looking smartwatch accessory.

The Rerii leather band also comes in a number of vibrant, eye-catching colors, like black, brown, coffee, black with white stitching, brown with white stitching, or coffee with white stitching for around $13.

See at Amazon

TRUMiRR Milanese stainless steel band

TRUMiRR Milanese stainless steel band

The Milanese look has been a staple with traditional watch designs for decades, so incorporating the TRUMiRR Milanese stainless steel band might be the perfect fit if that's the particular style you're after.

This 22mm watch band is designed with a mesh, woven, stainless steel wire, and is adjustable for a variety of wrist sizes, so you never have to be uncomfortable while sporting your Samsung Gear S3 — and for $11, that's quite the steal!

To attach and detach your watch band, all you need to do is release a small spring bar, minimizing annoying tools. The TRUMiRR may not come in a ton of colors, but it does come in a shiny silver, blingy gold, or a clean, classic black design.

See at Amazon

Barton silicone band

Barton silicone band

After garnishing its fair share of positive reviews online and coupled with an easy-release design, vibrant colors, comfortable feel, and much more, the Barton silicone band is a great option to check out while you're customizing your Samsung Gear S3.

The Barton silicone watch band is designed with a textured back, making the slipping and sliding of most smooth silicone bands a thing of the past. The silicone design also makes it a great tool for working out, as you can easily remove and wash it if it starts to look dirty or stink.

To change your watch band, simply turn the band over and flip the switch — no tools are required! You can pick your Barton band from a number of vibrant colors, including black, white, turquoise, forest green, brown, gray, burgundy, yellow, navy blue, orange, peach, dark gray, and baby blue for around $14.

See at Amazon

Rechere stainless steel watch band

Ritche stainless steel watch band

The Ritche 22mm stainless steel watch band is an affordable, high quality strap that keeps your Samsung Gear S3 looking classic and clean without any clutter or useless accents of other watch bands.

Unlike some other straps, the Ritche cannot be adjusted to fit individual wrists with a simple tightening system; rather, users will have to remove the links near the band's clasps in order to make the stainless steel Samsung Gear S3 accessory smaller. You can pick up this band for around $11.

To remove the Ritche, you will have to use a small tool which comes with the band. The Ritche only comes in one color, silver, but if you're looking for a watch with a similar style in a different color, then we suggest taking a peek at the Vetoo.

See at Amazon

Your pick?

Is there a third-party watch band that you think would be perfect for the Samsung Gear S3? Drop a link in the comments with a brief description of why you like it so that others can check it out as well!

Updated September 2017: This list still has the best of the best options available out there for your Samsung Gear S3!

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2 months ago

The iHome iAVS1 is a boring Echo Dot alarm clock

4
iHome iAVS1

It's a clock with an Amazon Echo Dot shoved inside. And I'm having no problem containing my excitement.

On one hand, it's good thing that so many accessories manufacturers are jumping onto the Echo Dot bandwagon. Amazon's budget Echo is a prime candidate for cheap accessories that make it do more than was originally intended. But that may be the undoing of the iHome iAVS1 clock.

iHome, of course, is a longtime maker of all sorts of smart-ish accessories. If you've been in a hotel room in the past decade there's a decent chance you've seen one of their alarm clock/speaker mash-ups. (And there's also a decent chance you've seen one with an old-school 30-pin iPhone connector, as your Micro USB-powered Android phone watched from the sidelines. But that's another story for another time.) The iAVS1 goes a slightly different direction and uses an Amazon Echo Dot (either first- or second-generation) to make an otherwise dumb clock a good bit smarter.

iHome iAVS1

Setup of this sort of thing is as simple as it is obvious. You plop the Echo Dot into the hole in the top of the clock, and then plug in the USB and 3.5mm audio connections in the back. Then the whole thing plugs into a wall outlet. In return you get a dimmable clock and decent (but not great) speaker.

It's important to note that there's really not anything smart about the iAVS1 itself. It's a dumb clock in that you set it manually — it doesn't poll the time from the Echo Dot or anything. And the speaker uses the included audio cable to get sound from the Echo Dot. (That's better and easier than Bluetooth anyway.)

Everything else relies on the Echo Dot. Want to set an Alarm? You're doing it through the Echo Dot. Want to play some music? Ask Alexas to do it. So in that sense the iAVS1 is like any of those other accessory speakers we've looked at (be sure to check out the VAUX review) in that it takes a cheap Echo Dot and for double the price gets you something that sounds better but still isn't as good as a more expensive Echo.

And in the case of the iAVS1, it's doing so in an accessory that's a magnet for dust and fingerprints, and takes up a lot more room on my nightstand than I'd like. It's not that it doesn't do its job well — it does — or that it's prohibitively expensive (it lists at $70, but you can find it on Amazon for less at times).

There's just something sort of ... generic about this thing. It works fine. It looks decent. It sounds OK. And for $50 or so I guess that's good enough.

See at Amazon

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2 months ago

Best Wireless Chargers for Samsung Galaxy Note 8

11

What are the best wireless chargers for Galaxy Note 8?

If you ask Apple, wireless charging is the latest and greatest feature for smartphones — and one that Samsung has been perfecting on its line of Galaxy phones since 2014.

Samsung's latest flagship, the Galaxy Note 8 carries on that tradition with the same Wireless Fast Charge abilities as the Galaxy S8, and many of the best wireless chargers available are compatible with old and new Samsung phones alike.

So let's dive in and take a look at your best options!

Samsung Fast Charge Convertible Wireless Charging Pad

It's always best to lead with the accessories made by the phone manufacturer, and Samsung redesigned wireless charging pad/stand sure stands out from the crowd. Launched alongside the Galaxy S8, it features a premium leather-like appearance and ingenious design which allows you to easily convert this pad into an angled charging stand.

The charger also comes with a spare Samsung Fast Charge wall charger which is another accessory that ensures your phone charges safely, and allows you to fast charge your Galaxy Note 8 wirelessly at your home or office. At over $60, this is the most expensive option on the list, but if value premium quality and functionality this is the one you want.

See at Amazon

Samsung Wireless Charging Pad w/ 2A wall adapter

If functionality and cost are your two biggest buying factors, you'll want to consider Samsung's old style of wireless charging pad, which has been deeply discounted on Amazon to around $20.

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

This is a great option if you're looking to set up wireless charging at your home and at work because they're so damn cheap right now. You can also get the older style as a charging stand if you prefer that look instead.

See at Amazon

Tronsmart Chocolate Qi Wireless Charging Pad

Tronsmart is a trusted brand for charging accessories, and produces a unique looking charging pad that's designed to look like a bar of chocolate — and who doesn't love chocolate?

The top of this charging pad is made of a silica gel that's designed to ensure your phone stays in place while also preventing the charger itself from slipping around on your desk. It's compatible with all of Samsung's other fast-charge capable phones, so the Note 8 should be no exception.

You'll need to supply your own Adaptive Fast Charger wall adapter to get the most out of this charging pad, Other than that, this is a fairly minimalist charging pad that can be yours for just $13.

See at Amazon

Spigen Qi Wireless Charging Stand

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

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

See at Amazon

Aukey Wireless Charging Pad

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

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

See at Amazon

iOttie iON Wireless Qi Charging Pad

This wireless charger from iOttie might seem like the bulkier option based on pictures, but it's actually very intelligently designed. It's Qi-compatible with a triple-coil charging zone that's capable of 5V/1A output with a non-slip ring to hold your phone in place on top while it charges. And that hollow opening in the middle isn't just for the stylish look — it's also a docking bay for the iOttie PowerPack 3400mAh External Portable Charger which is super convenient and cool.

You can even get a bundle pack that includes the iOttie PowerPack 3400mAh External Battery for just $50, so you can have a fully charged battery pack to take along with you if you think you'll need it. Otherwise, you can get the wireless charging pad for just $29.95.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Best Buy

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2 months ago

Workout in style with these Jaybird headphones on sale for $100

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The Jaybird X3 wireless headphones are now on sale for $99.99, which saves you $15 off the average cost. That price is $5 higher than our previous deal which saw them drop to $95 in early August. The X3 headphones are available in multiple colors at this price, including Blackout, Alpha Green. The RoadRash Red and Sparta White versions are priced at $130.

The X3 is the follow-up to the highly praised Jaybird X2 and has earned a few great reviews itself, like 4 stars from CNET. These headphones are designed to be as small and unobtrusive as possible so they don't get in the way while you run. They're also sweat-resistant and have access to the MySound app, which lets you customize the sound from each device.

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

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2 months ago

Best GPS trackers for kids

Best GPS trackers for kids

Keeping a closer eye on your children is now simple, safer, and more accurate with a GPS tracker. But what are the best options? Here are a few to check out!

It can be difficult to keep track of your children, and it can also be hard to gauge when it's appropriate to get them a cell phone or something a bit more mature in order to keep in contact with them.

GPS trackers are fantastic, potentially life-saving tools that help keep track of your little ones, so you won't have to worry about where they are. Just have them wear their GPS tracker like a watch, and the rest is up to your watchful eyes.

Here are a few great options to check out if you're looking for the best GPS trackers for your kids!

Tinitell

Tinitell

Stylish looking with a simple, modern design, the Tinitell GPS tracker is an innovative new smartband that worked effortlessly with an app from your smartphone.

Tinitell isn't only an interesting-looking, modern device, it's also an incredibly durable and resilient GPS tracker. Tinitell is designed to take some abuse, including splashing water and dirt (although the device itself isn't 100% waterproof by any means), and for a price tag of $126, you're certainly getting your money's worth.

With your smartphone, you can connect and monitor your child with a precise GPS tracker, and you can even call your child using the Tinitell app. The smartband can have up to 12 contacts listed, so they never have to worry about being stranded without anyone to reach out to if they're in trouble. To make a call, all they have to do is press the front of the band, say the name of the person they'd like to contact, and that's it!

The Tinitell comes in four different, vibrant colors, including aqua, coral, charcoal, and indigo. You can use a Ting SIM card with your Tinitell for around $12 a month.

See at Tinitell

GBD-GPS Tracker Kids Smartwatch

GBD-GPS Tracker Kids Smartwatch

With all-day tracking, three-way positioning, and even an additional fitness tracker element, the GBD-GPS Tracker Kids Smartwatch aims to make monitoring your children as effortless (and as accurate!) as possible.

Using a micro-SIM card, the GBD-GPS tracker is not only able to make two-way calls, but also immediate SOS emergency calls if your child comes in contact with unexpected danger. While some GPS tracking devices use one or two ways of triangulating your child's location, the GBD-GPS uses GPS, AGPS, and LBS positioning to paint a more accurate picture of where your child may be.

The GBD tracker allows parents to erect an Electric Fence, giving your child boundaries that will set off an alarm on your smartphone if crossed. If need be, parents can also call their child on their smartwatch for easy two-way talking, and can even use the app to set remote alarms and reminders for their children.

The GBD-GPS comes in three neon colors, including blue, green, and bright pink, so there's a color option to match almost every child's favorites. This particular gadget will set you back about $150.

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LG GizmoGadget

If you're a Verizon Wireless customer and are looking for a tracker that will allow your child to use text and voice to check in with you, then the LG GizmoGadget is an excellent option for a very affordable price range that starts at $27.

The GizmoGadget sports a 1.3-inch touch screen display, but in order for your child to make a call, they will have to press the physical button, and then use the touch screen to choose a contact. The GizmoGadget also allows you to pre-program up to 9 different texts messages that your child can send to 10 whitelisted numbers.

PC Mag rated the LG GizmoGadget 4.5 out of 5 stars:

The LG GizmoGadget is an excellent smartwatch for primary schoolers who need to stay in touch with their caregivers via voice and text.

The wearable also has a handful of other useful functions, including an activity tracker, a stopwatch, and a timer.

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dokiWatch

dokiWatch

Though the dokiWatch is designed for children 6 to 12, its sleek and modern looking design, high-quality, reliability, and wide range of color options make it a stylish (and incredibly practical) GPS tracker for people of all ages.

The dokiWatch claims that it's the world's most advanced 3G smartwatch for kids, and there's a lot to support that statement. The dokiWatch combines precise GPS, GSM, and Wi-Fi tracking technology with video call capabilities, voice calling, one-way text messages, fitness tracking, and so much more for around $200.

The smartwatch automatically uploads location data directly to your smartphone, meaning you'll never have to guess where your child is. Video and voice calling is almost instantaneous, while parents can remotely schedule their child's appointments and reminders from the dokiWatch's compatible app.

With the dokiWatch, children can send out SOS alerts if they're in immediate danger to their preset contacts, including their location and a recording of their surroundings. Parents can even enable Class Mode which will remove the distraction of the device while their child is in class by deactivating it at specific times.

See at Doki

What's your favorite?

Is there a GPS tracker you've been using that you're extremely happy with?

Please let us know which model is your favorite in the comments and we'll be sure to check it out!

Updated September 2017: All the options on this list are still the best of the best!

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