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1 week ago

Google Pixel Buds: What I learned in my first afternoon with the headphones

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Google Pixel Buds

Can these headphones really be worth $159?

Google's Pixel Buds were one of the more ... under-the-radar announcements back at Google's October hardware launch event. What with the Pixel 2, Pixelbook, Home Mini, Home Max and new services, a pair of Bluetooth earbuds kind of got lost in the shuffle. But now the short-supplied wireless headphones are shipping to reviewers and some early buyers alike, and I have a pair in my ears right now.

I've used the Pixel Buds for just an afternoon, but here's what I'm finding about them so far.

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The fit is comfortable, but has trade-offs

Google Pixel Buds

The design and fit of the Pixel Buds will only truly be familiar to those of us who had Google Glass with the optional earbud attachment. It's a very similar design, with a shallow hard plastic earbud and a bit of a cord that's used to form a loop to keep the bud in your ear. It's designed this way because the earbud itself doesn't have the typical soft rubber tip that goes deep in your ear.

Easily the most comfortable wireless earbuds I've used.

The core feature of this design is comfort — these are easily the most comfortable wireless "earbuds" I've ever placed in my ear. If it weren't for the cord dangling on the back of my neck, I would forget they're in my ears — yes, they're THAT comfortable. Part of that is the super light weight of the buds, but also how they sit in your ear rather than jamming down inside. The cord loop is difficult to adjust and it takes a while to figure out the "right" fit in your ear (with awkward time spent in front of a mirror) but just like any other pair of earbuds I think I will be able to figure it out.

On the other side of that coin, the Pixel Buds have almost no sound isolation. Because there's no rubber "tip" that goes into your ear to seal out the outside world, you still hear most everything around you. For someone riding a bike down a busy street that's probably a good thing, but if you're sitting in a cafe and want to concentrate it'll be annoying.

Sound quality is surprisingly good

These are headphones, after all, so here are my quick thoughts on sound quality. My initial take is that it's surprisingly good. Even with a general lack of sound isolation letting in lots of noise from your environment, you can get a good range of sound and even a little bit of bass out of these tiny buds. They get louder than I'd ever want for my hearing's sake, but that lack of noise isolation also means that there's a higher chance you'll be turning the volume up a bit higher — not great for your ears, or for the people sitting next to you on the train who probably don't care about your music choices.

Are they as good as wired earbuds of the same size and cost? Nope. But they're definitely better than what I experienced with the Gear IconX 2018 earbuds and are on par with larger "neckbud" type headphones I've used in the past. That's pretty good for a relatively tiny pair of headphones, and will be good enough for most people — even if they don't necessarily give you amazing quality for the money.

Bluetooth 'Fast Pair' is amazing

Google Pixel Buds

This isn't something that's specific to the Pixel Buds — you'll find it on all "made for Google" headphones — but the new Bluetooth Fast Pair is fantastic. Open the Pixel Buds case, unlock your phone, and with a tap you're paired. It's absolutely wonderful, and it removes one of the biggest pain points of Bluetooth audio devices today.

I can only hope that this gets adopted across the industry and makes its way down to the inexpensive headphones out there and doesn't remain a high-end feature, because everyone should be able to experience this.

This is as good a place as any to remind you that the Pixel Buds are only designed to work with Pixel phones (either generation), at least when it comes to the advanced features. Google could definitely expand this further in the future, but it support documentation right now only talks about the Pixels when it comes to Fast Pair, Assistant and Google Translate.

Google Assistant is FAST ... and needs some polish

Though these aren't the only proper "Google Assistant headphones," this is my first experience with the feature — and consider me super impressed. Rather than using "OK, Google" detection, the Pixel Buds trigger Assistant by pressing and holding on the right earbud (yes, only the right one) to speak the command. Lift off of the earbud, and it finishes taking your input and does what you asked it to do.

Google Assistant on Pixel Buds

It's absolutely ridiculous how fast this is working when connected to my Pixel 2 XL. Most of the speed really comes from the fact that the Pixel Buds don't have to guess when you're done talking — as soon as you lift off of the earbuds, it knows you're done an is ready to give you information back through the earbuds. But the responses come super quickly as well.

The only issue, as ever with Assistant, is what it can actually do and how it fails. As we've experienced with Google Home, it's tough to deal with a voice-only interface when things go wrong. Multiple times the Pixel Buds gave me a confirmation-type sound after speaking, only to do absolutely nothing. Rephrasing my question or retrying, it'd hear me and perform the action. Other actions, like "skip forward 30 seconds" while listening to a podcast work, but often didn't resume playback after doing so. Saying "walking directions to X" pulls up the directions on my phone, but doesn't give me step-by-step guidance in the earbuds.

Google's list of suggested Assistant actions for the Pixel Buds is basically the same set of things you'd normally do with your phone, and that's totally fine. But it's how those things are manifested in an audio-only interface rather than on a screen that looks like it needs a little work.

I'm probably going to turn off notifications

As part of this Assistant-type functionality, the Pixel Buds also feed notifications from your phone into your ears. Rather than just send you the sound, it also gives you extra information, including the app that sent the notification and if applicable who sent it. It's useful the first couple of times, and being able to double tap the right earbud to read the notification aloud and then also reply via voice is very cool in certain circumstances.

It just takes too damn long to manage notifications through voice and taps.

But considering the number of notifications I get, I'm likely going to be turning off this feature until I'm in a situation where I can't actively look at my phone. Having my podcast or music paused for 5 to 10 seconds so I can try to tap and speak to manage a message in my earbuds just isn't worth it to me. And with dozens of notifications coming in every hour, I'm going to be spending a large amount of time managing things rather than concentrating on what I'm actually listening to — the whole reason I have headphones on in the first place.

This could easily be fixed by giving control over which notifications come through to the earbuds, but right now the Pixel Buds don't offer that. It's all or nothing.

A fabric charging case?

Just like the Apple AirPods and Samsung Gear IconX 2018 earbuds, the charging case is a big part of the experience of the Pixel Buds — with 5 hours of charge, you need to let the buds sleep in this case and charge back up again periodically. Google loves fabric right now. Look at the Daydream View, Google Homes or new line of Pixel 2 cases — they're all fabric. The same type of stuff makes up the Pixel Buds case.

The case is fine — but what will it look like after several months of daily use?

The case looks nice. The fabric on the outside and soft rubber on the inside are very friendly and easy to get acquainted with. But I have serious concerns about the longterm durability of something that is this soft. The only real structure to the case is around the bottom surrounding the battery (makes sense) but the lid is simply hinged fabric and rubber and the edges are very flexible. Normally I wouldn't be super worried about these sorts of things, but the Pixel Buds charging case is designed to be with you all of the time — in your pocket, in your bag, on the table — and I'm not sure how it'll handle that every day for months on end.

The case's functions are all just fine. There are strong magnets that suck the L and R buds into place for charging, and a handy diagram sticker inside shows you how to wrap the cord around (though I doubt people will hold to this, and that may create some problems with the cord down the road). Three LEDs show the charging state of the case itself, and pressing a button shows the charge state of the buds that are inserted. The case provides "24 hours" of charge for the buds, and charges over USB-C — yes, it can even charge off of a Pixel 2.

TBD — voice translation

The final fun part of the Pixel Buds — and their one true differentiator — is the promise of real-time language translation via Google Translate. Not expecting my Pixel Buds to show up today I don't have the means to test this just yet, but I plan to. I have already lowered my expectations, understanding that it can't possibly consistently work in the same seamless way as Google's demo on stage in October, but I'm cautiously optimistic after seeing how quickly Assistant works for other things.

If Google has figured out how to get the latency down, and deal with ambient noise (the big issue) it could be a fantastic tool. We know the core Google Translate experience is good, but the rest of it has to be perfect or it's going to get really frustrating.

That's it for now — let us know in the comments what else you want to know about the Pixel Buds and we'll do our best to answer!

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1 week ago

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds — How to get all the awesome new equipment

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Questing for Bluegleam is the way to new equipment.

Horizon Zero Dawn was a breakout hit for PlayStation 4 when it was released earlier in 2017, and now the first —and possibly only — expansion, The Frozen Wilds, is available. Traveling up into the Banuk region of The Cut gives you new story to explore, machines to kill and loot, and of course, some awesome new weapons and outfits. You'll need more than just metal shard and machine components to pick these up though, and we've got the details on how to do it.

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Quests are your friends

Once you've made it to the first settlement inside of Banuk lands, and gotten through the cinematic, you'll see a trader nearby. You can sell him any extra gear you have cluttering up your inventory, but it's what he's holding on to that ought to really get your fingers itching. There are several new outfits, as well as three new bows for you to add to your inventory.

Of course, there is a catch. Even if you roll up with all the shards and components in existence, you still won't have what you need to purchase this new equipment. That's because it requires a new resource: Bluegleam. Bluegleam grows on the bodies of the oldest machines, but the way that you'll acquire it in-game is by completing quests or finding natural reservoirs of the stuff.

Quests will offer Bluegeam as a reward, and depending on the quest you can snag between one and seven as a reward. Of course, each bow sold by the Banuk is fairly pricey in Bluegleam alone, starting at 12 and moving up from there. While you can get a decent start by completing quests as quickly as possible, there is also another way to find it.

Bluegleam deposits

There is a specialty trader up on the side of the mountain who will trade you maps of collectibles — including a Bluegleam deposit map — so long as you bring her what she needs. In the case of the map we're talking about, you'll need a goatskin, and a badger bone in order to make the trade. Thankfully both of these animals are pretty common this far up the mountain, so it shouldn't take long.

Once you've acquired the map, you'll be able to see the deposits where Bluegleam is hiding out in the wild. Much like collectibles from the main game, you'll get a general area on the map and then need to use your focus to identify it and harvest what you can. Since there is only a limited amount of Bluegleam to be acquired from quests, if you want every new piece of equipment you're gonna need to hunt down a significant amount of it.

A special quest for to modify your spear

While you can find new outfits and some sweet new bows from Traders, there is also a way to modify your spear. Yes, even if you're playing after beating the game. This quest, called A Secret Shared, will send you to the very top of the map to go hunting through an old drone hangar looking for a specific part. You need to find a rail that can be attached to your spear, allowing it to enjoy the glory of modifications.

It's a quest that will let you finally modify your spear, making it far more dangerous than it had been up until this point. You'll have to delve down and into the hangar to find a rail inside a drone, the point of this quest. Once you return to Song Edge and speak to Kamut, the character who sent you on this quest, you'll be able to modify your spear for the first time.

Is the new equipment worth the wait?

The Frozen Wilds are a savage place. With new machines more powerful than the corrupted ones you've seen down south, having the right weapons to get the job done are absolutely critical. While none of the new weapons are particularly easy to snag, they are well worth every piece of Bluegleam that you pay for them.

These weapons are built to take down the nasty new machines running amok, and even playing at level 47 they made a huge difference compared to the weapons that were already in our inventory. It's the outfits that become a bit more complicated. Depending on when you take on the Frozen Wilds, they may, or may not be worth the effort.

Namely, if you've already gotten Aloy the Shield Weaver armor found in a bunker in the main game, then you really don't need to worry about picking up any other outfits. Those other outfits are solid, they just don't hold a candle to the capabilities that Shield Weaver has. It is, after all, the ultimate armor, and requires some serious work on your end to unlock.

Are you playing?

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds delivers an excellent expansion to an already spectacular game, and gives players plenty to do there. With new bows to shoot those machines from a distance, the ability to modify your spear for the first time, and some swanky new outfits to acquire, there is plenty of new equipment to feast your eyes on. So are you playing The Frozen Wilds? Let us know in the comments below!

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1 week ago

Pixelbook will soon do split-screen multitasking in tablet mode

3

Your Pixelbook's about to get a lot more productive.

If you've got the spare $1000 to spend, Google's Pixelbook currently offers the absolute best Chrome OS experience you can find. However, that doesn't mean the device is without its issues. One area of aggravation lies with Chrome OS's inability to properly multitask when in tablet mode, but thanks to the latest updated in Chrome OS 64, this is finally changing.

Discovered by Googler and Chrome fanatic François Beaufort, Split View multitasking can now be enabled in tablet mode by enabling a flag within the Dev Channel for Chrome OS.

The flag is labeled as chrome://flags/#enable-tablet-splitview, and once turned on, you'll be able to tap on the overview icon to see which windows are open and then move them to either side to snap them in place and run two tabs of Chrome on the screen at once.

Split View in tablet mode currently only works with the Chrome browser, meaning that you still can't run two Android apps side-by-side when using your Pixelbook as a tablet. That's undoubtedly disappointing, but even so, this is a big step in the right direction for where Chrome OS needs to be.

Split View in tablet mode on a Pixelbook.

There's no ETA for when this feature will be available to use without having to enable the developer flag, but our guess is that it'll be here soon. Keep an eye out.

Chromebooks

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1 week ago

Best Cases for the OnePlus 5

16

Keep your OnePlus 5 protected in a case!

After only a few months on the market, the OnePlus 5 has a sequel, but that doesn't mean it's still not worth protecting if you have one.

If you're hoping to keep your OnePlus 5 in immaculate condition, your best bet is a quality case. Thankfully, both OnePlus itself and a number of well-known accessory makers have made cases available for the "flagship killer," so let's take a look.

OnePlus protective cases

Assuming you bought your phone through the OnePlus website, you would have seen some of what it has to offer for OnePlus 5. As expected, you can buy some pretty cool style swap covers, which are shell cases designed by OnePlus, available in Sandstone, Ebony Wood, Carbon Fiber, and Rosewood finishes.

These are super slim cases that add little bulk to your phone, offering just enough around back to level off the camera bump. The wood cases are backed with a layer of Kevlar, the Karbon is all Kevlar, and the Sandstone case is made of reliable PC plastic. They come in at $20 for Sandstone, and $25 for the wood varieties.

Check out the OnePlus accessories page to find some cases that are bundled with earbuds, screen protectors, and more.

See at OnePlus

Otterbox Achiever Case

OnePlus is also offering an Otterbox case through its website. If you know your phone needs a bit of added protection from yourself, the rugged two-piece design here will fit the bill. And at $30, it's actually cheaper than getting it from Amazon, and it won't break the bank too badly.

It's actually got a pretty unique construction from other Otterbox cases, with stylish cutouts on the PC shell around the bottom. This look really shines with the red and black color option, with the black TPU cutting through the red shell for a nice effect. For a slim yet rugged case from a trusted brand, you can't go wrong with this Otterbox case for the OnePlus 5.

See at OnePlus

Spigen Ultra Hybrid

if you're looking for a slim clear case for your OnePlus 5, you should consider the Spigen Ultra Hybrid. Spigen is one of the accessory brands we've come to trust as no matter how slim they manage to make their cases they still manage to offer good protection.

With the Ultra Hybrid, you get Spigen's Air Cushion technology in the corner which helps to reinforce the case where it needs it most. There are precise cutouts around the ports and

Get yours for just $13!

See at Amazon

Poetic Nubuck Credit Card Case

We expect cases to keep our phone protected, but it's also nice when they can provide additional functionality, too. Check out the Poetic Nubuck case, which includes a card slot on the back for holding two cards — perhaps a credit card and your photo ID.

You'll be able to quickly access your cards with the pull tab design. This case is made of a high-quality TPU shell that keeps your phone protected along with a synthetic leather backing over the card slot that combine to offer a unique look for your OnePlus 5.

Despite the card slot, the Poetic Nubuck is still a fairly slim case and also affordable at just $10.

See at Amazon

SUPCASE Unicord Beetle Pro Case

Searching for something a little more on the rugged side? The Unicorn Beetle Pro provides front and back protection for your OnePlus 5, which also includes a durable swivel holster for quick-draw access at your side.

On the front, Supcase has included a built-in plastic screen protector that's surrounded by a thick rim to keep the display raised from flat surfaces. The case itself utilizes a shock-absorbent TPU and durable polycarbonate to protect your phone from harsh impacts.

The Unicorn Beetle Pro's rugged design is great for enhancing grip, too, with plenty of texture on each side of the case. This protective bundle is only $18 and available from Amazon.

See at Amazon

Orzly FlexiCase

If you're looking for a simple case to keep your OnePlus 5 protected, Orzly has got you covered. Their FlexiCase is made from flexible TPU material and is available in clear and black versions.

It's a really simple design, with the clear case offering that "barely there" look and feel. There are precise cutouts around the dual camera and flash setup, the alert slider, and the USB-C charging ports, while the power and volume buttons are covered but accessible. It's a great option if you're looking for a cheap, basic case for just $7.

See at Amazon

We want to hear from you!

What case are you rocking? Let us know in the comments below!

Updated November 2017: Added new options from Spigen, Supcase, and Poetic, and also updated the links and pricing for the other options on our list.

OnePlus 5T and OnePlus 5

OnePlus Amazon

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1 week ago

Huawei's Mate 9 is down to just $400 for a limited time

20

This is a whole lot of phone for not a whole lot of money.

Is this deal for me?

If you're in the market for a new smartphone, Huawei's Mate 9 may have crossed your radar. Right now you can pick one up for just $399.99 at Amazon and B&H Photo, which is a savings of $100 from its regular price. Being unlocked, you can buy this and pop in the SIM card of your choice (from a compatible GSM carrier) and be on your way with the phone. Unfortunately, it will not work on either Verizon or Sprint.

  • Integrated with Alexa voice service. Just tap and ask Alexa to enjoy thousands of skills on the go, such as hearing the latest news, weather and traffic reports, check Sport scores, and much more.
  • Enjoy revolutionary two-day battery life with a large 4000Mah battery and smart power-saving technology. Huawei supercharge technology safely charges the Device for a full day's power in 20 minutes.
  • Second-generation Leica Dual Camera with a 12MP RGB sensor and 20MP monochrome sensor renders images in unprecedented detail for exceptional results that take you from mere photography to artistry.
  • 5.9 inch screen with 3-months Complimentary screen protection. Dual SIM (Primary Nano SIM + Micro SD, and secondary Nano SIM slot) to support 1334 carriers in 217 countries and Regions.
  • Four noise-cancelling microphones with directional audio capture eliminate background noise and improve call quality. No support for Wi-Fi calling.

This is a new all-time low for this phone. You get a whole lot for the price, so don't miss out! Be sure to also grab a case to help keep your new phone safe!

TL;DR

  • What makes this deal worth considering? - This price drop brings a flagship-level phone down to near budget-level pricing. It's the lowest we've seen it hit, and honestly, it's going to be hard to find a better phone spec for spec (and performance wise) at $400.
  • Things to know before you buy! - Amazon appears to have matched B&H's price drop on this one. Amazon shipping may be faster for you, but B&H doesn't charge sales tax at the time of purchase for those outside of NY and NJ. Either way, be sure you pick up a nice case to help keep your new phone safe!

See at Amazon

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1 week ago

Google Assistant not working when prompted through Bluetooth headphones on Pixel 2

33

The hits keep on coming.

Poor Pixel 2. Whether it be display controversy with the XL model, clicking/hissing noises with its smaller brother, or defective microphones across both handsets, to say that Google's latest and greatest has been faced with a bit of trouble would be an understatement.

In addition to everything else that's already going on with the phone, it's now being reported that both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are having trouble getting the Google Assistant to work when its prompted through a pair of Bluetooth headphones that can summon it.

On affected devices, connecting Bluetooth headphones to a Pixel 2/2 XL and then pressing the button on your headphones to bring up the Assistant plays the regular tone or sound to let you know that it's listening, but for some unknown reason, voice detection straight up doesn't work.

Even worse, the issue appears to be all across the board – affecting headphones from Beats, LG, Anker, and more. A community manager for the Pixel User Community forum has responded to the many complaints regarding this, but we're still waiting on an official statement from Google.

I personally don't have any problems with the Bose QC 35 II on my Pixel 2, but be sure to let us know in the comments below if your device is affected.

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

Google Store Project Fi Verizon Best Buy

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1 week ago

Nova Launcher: Everything you need to know!

52

Once you go looking for Android launchers, it's hard to miss the legacy of Nova Launcher.

Nova Launcher has been around for over half a decade, and while scores of launchers have risen and fallen in that time, Nova Launcher is still at the front of the pack and getting more awesome every month. Nova Launcher is one of the best launchers on the market, it is the best launcher for theming.

There are a lot of reasons to love it, but here are some of our favorites.

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1 week ago

Google Pixel Buds shipping now to early buyers

11

Estimated delivery is set for sometime next week.

Although the Pixel 2 was the star of Google's October 4 hardware event, there were plenty of other gadgets and gizmos that the company had to show off – one of which was the Pixel Buds. The Pixel Buds are Google's first shot at wireless headphones, and they're finally shipping out to those with early preorders.

Android Police first caught wind of this, and it looks like orders that were made on October 4 should arrive between November 16 and 17 (if not sooner depending on your location and the type of shipping that you chose).

The Just Black and Clearly White Pixel Buds are currently back in stock on the Google Store as well, each with a price of $159 and estimated to ship out in five or six weeks. As for the great-looking Kinda Blue option, this is unfortunately still sold out.

Between the unique design and real-time translation through Google Translate, the Pixel Buds are shaping up to be one of the more interesting wireless headphone options of the year. It remains to be seen if the Buds will truly be worth their high price, but with orders finally shipping out, that question will be answered soon.

See at Google Store

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1 week ago

Add a Ring Video Doorbell to your front door for just $100

4

Know who's at the door before the doorbell rings!

Is this deal for me?

The Ring Video Doorbells have become more popular over the past year, and there are several good reasons for that. If you're in the market for one, or have considered one but weren't sold on the pricing of it, today may be the day you make that purchase. Right now you can pick one up for $99.99 at Amazon and Best Buy.

This is one of the many items in Best Buy's early Black Friday sale, and those prices are scheduled to run through Saturday at Best Buy, though it may not last that long at Amazon.

From being able to see who is coming to your door to being able to interact with people who are in places that they shouldn't be right from your phone, there are lots of advantages to having a Ring Video Doorbell on the front of your home.

TL;DR

What excites us about this deal

Most of our posts come because an item hits a new low, but this is a really low price for this item. Previously, the low we saw on this was around $125, and that was nearly a year ago. This year it dropped down to $150 a handful of times, but not often. This is one of the most practical outdoor security camera options out there, and one of the least intrusive ones. The app is great, and you can be notified as soon as someone starts walking up to your house, and even interact with them.

Things to know before buying

This version of the Ring Video Doorbell only broadcasts a 720p video signal. The Ring Video Pro Doorbell or the 2nd-gen Video Doorbell bump you up to 1080p, but they are around $100 more. In order to access your videos at any time from anywhere, you'll have to pay for a Ring Protect Plan which starts at $30 per year.

See at Amazon

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1 week ago

Deal: Jaybird Freedom wireless headphones are just $49

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The headphones usually cost $149

Black Friday will be here before you know it, and while some sales will be reserved specifically for that day, there are a lot of deals that have already begun so you can start doing some early Christmas shopping right now.

Best Buy is one retailer that's running early Black Friday sales, and one of the best ones we've seen so far is a $100 discount on the Jaybird Freedom wireless headphones.

The Freedoms usually cost $149, and while they aren't the newest wireless headphones around, it's hard to find anything to complain about with them for as little as $49. Jaybird promises 8-hours of battery life between the headphones themselves and the included battery pack, a sweat-resistant design is perfect for jamming out to your tunes while at the gym, and you have full control of your listening experience through Jaybird's MySound app.

Add all of this together with a sleek design, numerous wing and ear-tips to help you get the perfect fit, and a free carrying pouch, and the Jaybird Freedoms are a steal at this price.

It's unclear just how long this deal will last, so we recommend jumping on it as soon as you can to make sure you don't miss out.

See at Best Buy

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1 week ago

Sphero Mini is the best $50 you can spend on your kids this year

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I'm loving this little ball of fun, and at $50, it's one of the best toys you can add to your (or your kid's) collection.

This past week, my life has been consumed by a particular game that has nothing to do with an erstwhile plumber with a magical hat.

No, the game is a ball, a literal ball, that moves with the help of some innovative tech and a very cool Android app. It's Sphero Mini, a pint-sized version of the popular Sphero robot that has been delighting people for years. At $50, it's less than half the price of the regular version, and while it doesn't have the same overall capabilities and battery life, I've found it to be just as enjoyable.

See at Amazon

What is it?

Sphero Mini is a small motorized sphere and uses magnets, sensors and a bunch of programmatic magic to respond to movement from a smartphone app. The Mini is considerably smaller than the mainline version, and as a result can zip through corners and under couches (and more easily annoy pets) than its larger counterpart ever could.

Who's it for?

Sphero Mini is aimed at kids, and that's reinforced by its cutesy packaging, neon color options (blue, orange, green, pink, and one) and straightforward charging options. That guidance also extends to the app, which in addition to controlling the little sphere with a virtual joystick also encourages kids (and kids at heart) to use facial expressions to move the ball up, down, left, and right.

What can you do with it?

Drive it! When I was young, I loved remote-control cars, and Sphero Mini is the next step in that gaming evolution. Instead of winding up a Matchbox Car and letting 'er rip, this little thing lets you ride around for around an hour on a full charge, doing tricks and smashing into things (or knocking down the small bowling pins that come in the box), which on their own is a lot of fun.

But there's also three games included in the app, allowing you to use the Sphero as a controller to accomplish tasks. It's fun and rewarding, and teaches kids that there can be a physical element to virtual play. The company promises more games in the near future, too, which is exciting.

I heard you can program with it, too

Yep! Sphero is interesting because it uses its robots to teach kids how to code using a simple-to-understand language and a familiar app-based interface.

Available through the Sphero Edu app, the idea is to help kids understand the basics of coding using macros and templates that make the Sphero perform tricks or recall an obstacle course.

It's the best $50 you can spend on your kids this year

I'm not going to lie — I've used the Sphero Mini a lot in recent weeks, but one of my favorite moments was giving it to my five-year-old niece and watching her go wild with it. From the ridiculous Face Drive feature (which isn't accurate but it's terribly fun) to the built-in games (with more to come) the Sphero Mini is great value.

See at Amazon

2017 Holiday Gift Guide

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1 week ago

BlackBerry Motion now available at Bell, TELUS, Koodo, and SaskTel

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It's not available in the U.S., but Canadians can now purchase a BB Motion.

Although SaskTel was the first to go live with orders for the BlackBerry Motion in Canada, Bell, TELUS, and Koodo have now also got the all-new BlackBerry Motion added to their lineups. Pricing is pretty standard across all retailers offering the Motion but here's the breakdown.

Bell

  • $0.00 - 2-year term - Requires a minimum of 1 GB ($25/mo.) of data per account plus a minimum of $70/mo. per user.
  • $99.99 - 2-year term - Requires a minimum of 1 GB ($25/mo.) of data per account plus a minimum of $60/mo. per user.
  • $599.99 - No term

TELUS

  • $0 - Starting at $95 per month a 2-year plan
  • $100 - Starting at $85 per month a 2-year plan
  • $605 - No term pricing

Koodo

  • $100 + $21 Tab charge for 24 months
  • $245 + $15 Tab charge for 24 months
  • $365 + $10 Tab charge for 24 months
  • $605 No term pricing

The BlackBerry Motion is live on all the sites right now for consumer accounts, while Bell and TELUS also have business customer options available. If you're looking to pick your BlackBerry Motion up in store, remember select Bell, TELUS, and SaskTel stores will have it available while Koodo is only offering the Motion online. With the sites now live, let us know if you placed your order yet in the comments!

See at Bell See at SaskTel See at TELUS See at Koodo

BlackBerry Motion Specs and Features

More BlackBerry Motion First Look Videos

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1 week ago

Take better photos with the RevolCam lens accessory!

We're reaching a point with smartphones where it's expected that all new releases come with a great camera. With nearly identical specs and comparable results, its easier than ever to take good photos with your phone — but if you want to take truly great photos you'll need some accessories

There are a lot of photography accessories out there to choose from and it can be a bit overwhelming. Some of them are kind of clunky to use or they're crazy expensive.

If you want to step up your photography game without breaking the bank, you need the RevolCam multi-lens smartphone photography accessory. It's an all-in-one accessory that includes three lenses on a rotating rig along with an adjustable and detachable LED light for shooting in low-light conditions.

The RevolCam can easily clip onto practically any smartphone and lets you choose between wide-angle, macro, and fisheye lenses with a simple flick. There's also a built-in mirror behind the LED light, which allows you to take selfies using the better-quality back camera on your phone.

Buying all of these accessories individually would likely set you back a few hundred dollars, but you can get the RevolCam from Android Central Digital Offers for just $34.99!

Better still, use coupon code GIFTSHOP15 at checkout to save an additional 15% — that brings down the final price to just $29.75! So what are you waiting for? Take your photography to new heights with the RevolCam.

See at Android Central Digital Offers

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1 week ago

Samsung announces Exynos 9810 processor capable of gigabit LTE speeds

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All new tech for 2018.

Although Samsung phones here in the U.S. are powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon processors, those same devices in other parts of the world feature Samsung's own Exynos silicon. The company recently published a press release announcing the CES 2018 Innovation Awards that it's already won, and in doing so, quietly announced the all-new Exynos 9810 processor.

There aren't many technical details present here, but what we do know is that is that it features an upgraded CPU and GPU with support for gigabit LTE speeds.

The full description of the processor is as follows –

The Exynos 9 Series 9810 is Samsung's latest flagship processor, with 3rd-generation custom CPU cores, upgraded GPU, and gigabit LTE modem with industry-first 6CA support. It is built on 2nd generation 10nm process technology.

Gigabit LTE is being pushed more and more heavily these days by carriers and processor manufacturers alike, and the 6CA technology in the 9810 will allow for downlink speeds up to a whopping 1.2Gbps. Carriers certainly need to adapt and enhance their networks to allow for such increased data, but knowing that Samsung is already playing its cards right in these regards is great to see.

Exact specifications likely won't be unveiled for the Exynos 9810 until CES 2018 this January, but when they are, we'll be sure to outline all of the important details to see just how it compares to Qualcomm's imminent Snapdragon 845.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 India review: Two months later

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1 week ago

These are the 8 thinnest cases we could find for the Galaxy Note 8

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What's the thinnest case for Galaxy Note 8?

It's a good idea to protect your big ol' Note 8 with a case, but you don't have to give up the slim form factor in the process. These are the absolute thinnest cases we could find for Galaxy Note 8!

It's almost like your phone is… Naked?

Bare cases are super thin, and make your phone feel like it's wearing nothing at all… nothing at all… nothing at all. $30!

In the vacuum of space, no one can see how thin your case is

But you can, down here with the Jupiter Lights case for $10.

Spigen Thin Fit — that pretty much says it right there

Blue, gold, black, or gray, and yours for $10.

A case like skin for your phone — that's Peel

Black, gray, or silver. Match it and grab it for $25.

Sexy and sophisticated slenderness

At least that's what I'm guessing based on the hot dude in the promo image. Either way it's $10 on Amazon.

Love thin

By Love Ying. Clear and oh so skinny minnie. $8 on Amazon.

Go the the source

Not the store, but like the source of the phone. Like Samsung. Samsung makes this case. $19 on Amazon.

Finding a thin case is a mSnap

Black, turquoise, and rose gold because why not. This slim-hipped little minx is $10 on Amazon.

Got a great thin case of your own?

Sound off in the comments below!

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

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