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2 months ago

FrontRow Review: You can wear this camera – but should you?

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Ever since I saw Android Central's own Daniel Bader tooling around town wearing a Narrative Clip, I've had the nagging desire to review a wearable camera. But none of the boxy designs on the market has really spoken to me, and as cool as Snapchat's Spectacles are, they have a lot of limitations. What's more, "lifelogging," or the practice of digitally documenting your daily life, hasn't exactly taken the world by storm since it hit the mainstream a few years back.

So I was surprised to find out, earlier this summer, that a company best known for making WiFi routers has waded into the wearable waters to "redefine the camera." The device in question is FrontRow, a pendant that comes across as a blend of pocketwatch and Android Wear wristwatch, but is actually a very sleek – and very pricey – wearable camera. I've been wearing FrontRow between Boston and Berlin for a little under two weeks; this is the MrMobile review!

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2 months ago

Best Car Chargers for Samsung Galaxy Note 8

What's the best way to keep your Galaxy Note 8 charged in your car?

Samsung's latest marvel is the Galaxy Note 8, a gorgeous device that's packed with awesome features and specs. The only glaring shortcoming might be the battery, which is slightly smaller compared to the Note 7 and Galaxy S8+.

Fortunately, the Note 8 offers multiple different ways to keep it charged on the go, with USB-C fast charging along with Qi wireless charging capabilities. With the right accessories, you can be sure that you always arrive with a full charge. Charge your phone in your car with one of these great accessories.

iOttie iTap Wireless Car Charger

We spent some time testing the iOttie iTap Wireless Car Charger with the Galaxy S8 and it proved to be a fast and reliable wireless charger for inside your car.

There are two mount styles included: one for your car and one for your work desk. The car mount is quick and easy to install on your dash and includes a ball joint to adjust the viewing angle. The magnetic hold is strong and the wireless charging is nearly instantaneous; the built-in fan helps to disperse the heat and keep your phone cool. The only thing that may give you pause is the metal plate that needs to adhere to your phone somehow.

You can slap it on the back of the phone itself, or opt for an ultra thin case that will still allow for wireless charging. There's no getting around the fact that adding anything that breaks up the Note 8's flow is going to turn some folks off, but if you're looking for pure performance from a wireless car charger, the iOttie iTap is worth your consideration (even if it is $70).

See at Amazon

Dodocool Qi Wireless Charger

So you want to wirelessly charge your phone in your car, but you're more than fine compromising for a cradle rather than attaching anything to your phone. No problem, check out the Dodocool Q1 Wireless Charger. It's compatible with the Galaxy S8, so it should be good to go for the Galaxy Note 8 as well.

It includes both a suction cup mount and an air clip mount so you can attach it to your dash whichever way works best. All you need to do is lay your phone in the cradle and it instantly starts charging, which will be indicated by the LED — green for standby and blue for charging. As usual with wireless charging, it will work best if you don't have a case on your phone.

You can get the 3-coil version for $40, which will work best with the larger body of the Note 8.

See at Amazon

Tronsmart Dual USB Car Charger with Quick Charge 3.0

Charging your phone via a wired connection is still the fastest way to keep your smartphone charged. With most Android manufacturers moving over to USB-C, this Tronsmart Dual USB Car Charger includes a built-in USB Type-C cable for your Note 8 and future phones, while also giving you an extra USB port for your passenger to use.

This particular charger is able to maintain solid voltage while your Note 8 draws significant amperage, meaning that fast charging is both fast and safe. This accessory was released well before the Note 8 with the USB-C port designed to rapidly charge for the Nexus 6P and Google Pixel, so if you aren't experiencing the best charging speeds, try using your own USB-C cable with the green port instead.

If you're looking for very reliable fast charging car charger that won't let you down, grab a Tronsmart for just $15.

See at Amazon

Nekteck USB Type-C Car Charger

Got a smaller car and need a compact car charger? This option from Nekteck includes a built-in Type-C cable that's perfect for charging your Galaxy Note 8.

It includes Smart Sense IC Technology, which will intelligently identify your device and deliver the optimal charging speeds. You're also able to fully charge a second phone with full charging speeds using the secondary USB port, whether that be a Chromebook, Nintendo Switch or any other USB-C device.

It's a sleek and ultra compact little charger that just delivers power when you need it and is available for just $16 on Amazon.

See at Amazon

AUKEY USB-C Car Charger

The Aukey Quick Charge 3.0 charger is a great option for keeping your Note 8 charged while driving. And with three ports (two full-size USB and one USB-C), you'll be able to charge multiple devices on the go.

Aukey includes a USB-C to USB-C cable in the box, so you won't have to go out and get an extra one for the car.

You get the full range of Quick Charge options with the Aukey Quick Charge, so there's no worry of overloading devices that may draw less power. Aukey has gained a solid reputation for making great products, so this $16 car charger is a great deal.

See at Amazon

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

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2 months ago

Logitech launches its first updated trackball mouse in nearly a decade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See at Logitech

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2 months ago

Best Accessories for Samsung Gear VR

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Samsung Gear VR

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

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

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

Gamepad

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

SteelSeries Stratus XL

SteelSeries Stratus XL Bluetooth Controller

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

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

See at Amazon

Headphones

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

Over-the-ear headphones

Sennheiser HD 598 C

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

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

See at Amazon

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

In-ear headphones

Panasonic ErgoFit In-Ear Earbuds

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

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

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

See at Amazon

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

Microfiber cloths

AmazonBasics microfiber cloths

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

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

See on Amazon

microSD cards

Samsung EVO Plus 128GB

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

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

See at Amazon

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

What do you use?

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

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

Samsung Gear VR

Amazon

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2 months ago

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

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

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

Design

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

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

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

Functionality

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

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

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

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

Compatibility with furnaces

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

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

Price

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

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

See Nest Learning Thermostat at Amazon

See Next Thermostat E at Amazon

Which will you choose?

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

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2 months ago

Aftershokz Trekz Titanium review: Wireless headphones you can wear everwhere

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

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

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

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

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

See at Amazon

Why I went for the bone (conduction)

Bone conduction is unlike anything you've experienced before.

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

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

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

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

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

First impressions — knocking me on my ass

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

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

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

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

Using them in the real world

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

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

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

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

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

See at Amazon

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2 months ago

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

5

What exactly are you spending $179 on?

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

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

LOTS of detail

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

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

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

No hands required

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

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

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

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

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

AR Mode is a lot of fun

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

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

Watch your favorite Star Wars movie with your Droid

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

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

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

Are these Droids worth it? Absolutely

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

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

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2 months ago

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

10

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

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

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2 months ago

Marshall upgrades its speakers with multi-room audio

9

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

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

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2 months ago

Best Shower Speakers

20
Best shower speakers of 2016

Sing along with your favorite tunes in the shower with these great speakers.

If you're sick of belting out your favorite tunes in the shower a cappella you may want to consider getting a speaker to use in the shower.

We've compiled a list of the best shower speakers you can find to help you sing like nobody's listening.

UE Wonderboom

UE Wonderboom

UE's latest water-resistant Bluetooth speaker is cute as a button! The Wonderboom is a compact Bluetooth speaker with big sound, a lovely design, and an IPX7 rating, meaning it can be submerged in up to 1 meter of water for 30 minutes — it's perfect for the shower. I've been testing this speaker and have been very impressed with its low end. The bass is surprisingly warm for such a small unit, and its size, again, is perfect for the shower.

Given its size, the Wonderboom does have a bit of trouble at higher volumes, with clarity capping out around the halfway mark on my phone's volume. That being said, half my phone's volume is plenty loud outside the shower and almost too much in it, so you don't need to crank it at all.

It comes in six fun colors, and we'll just hope the price comes down below its current $100 to make it a bit more competitive.

See at Amazon

Polk Audio BOOM Swimmer

Polk Audio BOOM Swimmer

This tadpole-looking device was conceived by the folks at Polk Audio to be as versatile as possible. The tail-end of the speaker is bendable, making it easy to wrap around shower curtain rods or even your shower head pipe, meaning there is always a convenient place to put it.

The Swimmer's waterproof rating is even greater than it needs to be for use in the shower. It can be submerged in up to 3 feet of water for half an hour without suffering any damage, meaning it can even fall into the tub when you're taking a bath.

The sound quality is not bad; although, there is very little bass, which isn't a surprise when you're talking about something this small. The Polk Audio BOOM Swimmer will only cost you around $19.

See at Amazon

Photive Hydra

Photive Hydra

The Photive Hydra is perfect for people that want a shower speaker and are more concerned about sound quality than convenience. Sporting a passive subwoofer and two 40mm drivers, the Hydra delivers a fuller sounding low-end, while still providing pleasing, clear treble.

Its IP66 rating won't allow the speaker to be submerged, but it can handle water jets and splashing just fine, making it more than durable enough to withstand your daily shower.

At roughly $35, the Hydra is a little bulkier and bigger than most of the other speakers on the list, but it's still compact enough to fit on the edge of your tub or on your shower caddy.

See at Amazon

SoundBot SB510

SoundBot SB510

The SoundBot SB510 is perfect for people who want an easier way to control their music while they are listening in the shower.

The simple interface on the front of SoundBot will let you control playback or adjust volume with just a tap of its buttons, meaning you don't need to get out of the shower and touch your phone to change songs. Plus, there is even a speaker and microphone for taking calls, so you won't miss anything important just because you're bathing.

Its water-resistant rating only protects the SoundBot from splashing; however, It installs super easily with a suction cup that is attached to the back of the speaker, so you should have no problem finding a place for it that's out of harm's way. Plus, for $15, it's the cheapest speaker on our list.

See at Amazon

UE Roll 2

UE Roll/UE Roll 2

The Ultimate Ears Roll 2 has an IPX7 rating, meaning submerging it in up to 3 feet of water for about half an hour won't cause any damage, so your daily showers won't affect it at all. Plus, on the back, it comes with a bungee cord loop, making it easy to wrap or tie the speaker around your curtain rod or shower head, so it stays out of your way while you're headbanging in the shower.

The UE Roll 2 does come with a couple of improvements over its predecessor model. It has better sound, regarding both volume and quality, than its predecessor, and it also has an increased Bluetooth range of 100 feet, meaning your phone or tablet doesn't even have to be in the hot, steamy bathroom while you're getting clean.

The UE Roll 2 will cost you about $99 at full price; however, it's a very popular product and often goes on sale, so make sure you look out for those deals!

See at Amazon

Braven Mira

Braven Mira

The first thing you will notice about the Braven Mira is the impressive sound quality for such a small device. It manages to stuff two drivers and a passive radiator into its small protective housing, giving the Mira the ability to sound full and provide some decent bass for about $63.

The hook on the back of the speaker allows it to hang easily from your shower head or it can even be used as a kickstand, allowing it to sit nicely in the corner of your tub. Plus, the battery lasts for up to 12 hours of playback, so even the longest shower takers should get more than enough time between charges.

Its waterproof rating is IPX5, meaning it can handle being hit by the stream from your shower head, which is more than enough protection for the average user.

See at Amazon


Fugoo Sport

Fugoo Sport

Although it's another speaker you will need to rest on a shelf or the side of your tub, the Fugoo Sport is an awesome device that carries a starting price of about $99.

The thing that stands out the most is its 40-hour battery life. If you are truly using this in just the shower, you could probably go for weeks without needing a charge. With a waterproof rating of IP67, not only can you submerge the speaker in 3 feet of water for 30 minutes, but it's also dust-proof, meaning dirt and other particulates won't cause you any problems.

On top of it all, the sound quality is very good. The Fugoo Sport has six drivers that are spread out across all four sides, giving you clear, well-balanced 360-degree sound.

See at Amazon

UE Boom 2

Taking the UE Boom 2 into your shower is absolutely no problem as it has a very high water-resistant rating, allowing it to be submerged in 3 feet of water for 30 minutes. It's also protected against dirt and mud, but you can hand-wash the speaker with warm, soapy water just in case it gets messy.

UE Boom 2's battery will last you approximately 15 hours of playing time, which should amount to a lot of time in the tub, and has a Bluetooth range of 100 feet, making sure your phone, tablet, or PC doesn't have to be anywhere near the water. Plus, if you truly want the Boom 2 to live up to its onomatopoeic name, you have the option to set up another one to make a stereo pair and really raise the roof.

The UE Boom 2 doesn't come cheap, as its full retail price is $199; however, much like other UE products you can often find the UE Boom 2 on sale for as low as $149.

See at Amazon

What's your favorite?

Are you a shower singer? Let us know your favorite speaker to take into the shower with you by leaving us a comment below!

Updated August 2017: Added pricing information to each description.

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2 months ago

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

12

How can I keep my Essential Phone screen protected?

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

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

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

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

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

See at Amazon

Mr Shield Tempered Glass Screen Protector (3-Pack)

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

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

See at Amazon

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

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

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

See at Amazon

Picking up a screen protector for your Essential Phone?

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

Essential Phone

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2 months ago

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

29

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

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

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2 months ago

RhinoShield Galaxy S8 CrashGuard Bumper Review: Sleek S8 protection

10

Surprisingly rugged for a bumper case.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See at RhinoShield

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2 months ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

See at Amazon

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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

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

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

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

Stay social, my friends

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