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2 days ago

Best Chromebook for Students in 2018

Best overall

ASUS Chromebook Flip (C302)

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A student needs a laptop that is both reliable and fast, both affordable and robust. The ASUS Chromebook Flip C302 is both. It's a big step up from our previous pick, the Flip C100, but in the Chromebook space this is about the best you can get for the price. It has a large 12.5-inch display, a flexible but strong hinge, and is powered by an Intel Core m3 processor. And at 10 hours, the battery should last the entire school day.

The bottom line: Portable and powerful, the Chromebook Flip is great for a busy student. The excellent Chome and Android app support means you'll be able to use it to get things done and be able to play games or watch a video during the downtime.

Why the ASUS Chromebook Flip C302 is the best

Most Chromebooks sacrifice power or battery life in the name of affordability, but the Chromebook Flip C302 finds the right balance. Available starting at $470, it's not cheap, but with the price you get plenty of RAM (4GB) and storage (64GB) for all your multitasking and app needs. The 12.5-inch display is sharp and the touch response is perfect, while the keyboard makes typing for long stretches a breeze.

At 2.65 pounds and only 13.7mm thick, the laptop is also incredibly portable which, for a busy student, can't be overstated in importance.

Best for younger students

Lenovo Flex 11

See at Lenovo

The Lenovo Flex 11 is the perfect Chromebook for a younger student. Far from the most attractive laptop you'll run across, the Flex 11 more than makes up for it by being built with rugged materials and designed to survive a 2.4-foot drop on a hard surface. Combined with its water-resistant keyboard, the Flex 11 can survive more of the rough-and-tumble treatment a youngster will dish out.

The Flex 11 has an industry standard MediaTek processor with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, so performance and usability are on par with most other models. Android app support is an additional plus, especially when paired with the many educational apps in Google Play.

Bottom line: If you are shopping for a younger student or anyone who is a little accident-prone, the Flex 11 will take a lot more abuse than most other models and has a modest price tag.

Best big screen

Acer Chromebook R13

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The Chromebook R13 offers a lot for its higher-than-average price. It has a solid metal build and nice-looking screen, with a solid (but quite standard) keyboard and trackpad. It isn't particularly light, but much of that is because of its large battery. The only real concern here is performance and configuration options, as you're getting a MediaTek ARM processor and can only choose to get 16, 32 or 64GB of storage — there's no choice to get a higher-end processor or more RAM.

The addition of Android apps and a full touchscreen just add to the list of reasons why this is the right Chromebook for any student who needs something bigger.

Bottom line: If you're happy with the base configuration and don't need something that's hyper-portable, this is going to be a great choice for a student who wants something a little larger than the ASUS Chromebook Flip.

Best high end

Samsung Chromebook Plus

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Samsung and Google have built one of the best Chromebooks you can buy with the Samsung Chromebook Plus. It's incredibly well built, has one of the best displays of any laptop and has the horsepower to handle anything you throw at it. And handle it well. That makes it perfect for the student who needs the very best.

The bottom line: For anyone who wants to use a Chromebook on a regular basis, and values getting extra performance and hardware quality at an added price, Samsung has made the Chromebook for you.

One more thing: There's also a Samsung Chromebook Pro, built with a slightly faster Intel processor and available for a bit more money.

Conclusion

There are plenty of great Chromebooks for students right now, but the ASUS Chromebook Flip C302 finds the right balance between performance and price. If you want something a bit bigger, the Acer Chromebook R 13 is cheaper and not quite as powerful, but has a great big touchscreen, while Lenovo's Flex 11 can take a spill, and Samsung's Chromebook Plus comes with a stylus for added productivity in certain apps. All these laptops run Android apps.

Best overall

ASUS Chromebook Flip (C302)

See at Amazon

A student needs a laptop that is both reliable and fast, both affordable and robust. The ASUS Chromebook Flip C302 is both. It's a big step up from our previous pick, the Flip C100, but in the Chromebook space this is about the best you can get for the price. It has a large 12.5-inch display, a flexible but strong hinge, and is powered by an Intel Core m3 processor. And at 10 hours, the battery should last the entire school day.

The bottom line: Portable and powerful, the Chromebook Flip is great for a busy student. The excellent Chome and Android app support means you'll be able to use it to get things done and be able to play games or watch a video during the downtime.

Update, January 2018: We've swapped out our top choice for the ASUS Chromebook Flip C302, which is the perfect balance of price and performance for most students.

Chromebooks

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2 days ago

A Few Reasons Why I Subscribe To Amazon Prime

51

Wait — aren't you signed up for Amazon Prime at birth? That's how it works, right?

I don't remember when I first signed up for Amazon Prime. Sorry, but that's just the way it is. It's kind of like, I dunno. Shaving. It was a thing that you just started doing at some point. (Erm, and that I stopped doing a few years ago.)

Probably it had to do with faster shipping. That's a pretty unsexy answer, but years ago that was the main perk, right? Free two-day shipping, and inexpensive options for next-day shipping.

The easier question is why I've continued re-upping Amazon Prime every year. That's become an easier decision, and it's never been one that I had to spend too much time on.

Sign up for a free Amazon Prime Trial

Yeah, the shipping options are still important. We're ordering more things these days, not fewer. I don't always do next-day delivery. (We don't have same-day where I live.) Sometimes the free option is just fine, and you can't beat free. But if I do need something as soon as possible, I don't mind ponying up a few extra bucks to do it.

(OK, if I really need something as soon as possible I'll drag my butt out of the house and go to one of those "store" places the old folks tell me about. But that's such a hassle.)

The real reason I've so readily kept Amazon Prime, though? It's got to be the digital services.

Start with Amazon Prime Video — probably the one we get the most use out of. For one, you get a ton of free shows. And for another, it's a great babysitter. (Don't judge, you do it, too.) Loads of old shows, for grown-ups and kids alike. And if you're bored of the same old stuff, there's a world of original content, too. (The wife and I are currently making our way through The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which is as good as you've heard.)

See what's new this month on Amazon Prime Video

If you're like me and you've got a few Amazon Echoes (of various ilk) laying about, you also get a fair amount of free music through Amazon Prime. Yeah, I hit a wall pretty quickly on deep cuts. But if you're just looking for some free ambient music, it's a great option. So add that into the mix.

Another cool find I discovered this past year is Amazon Prime Photos. It's a surprisingly good digital photo service, much in the same vein as Google Photos. It's got a good amount of storage (with plenty of paid options), automatic backup, image recognition — and it turns the Echo Show into a great digital picture frame. (Which is really the only thing it's good for.)

And finally, I'm a huge believer in the importance of reading, both for fun and for information. Amazon's got a bunch of free reads, including a sort of old-school lending library.

And maybe even more important is that an Amazon Prime subscription gets you a free six-month subscription to The Washington Post. (The newspaper is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos but is a separate entity from Amazon itself.) And, yeah, I'm now paying for my WaPo sub.

So, yeah. That's why I've still got Amazon Prime. Figure I'm easily getting back the $99 a year I spend to be a "member." That part's on me, though. If I wasn't taking advantage of all that free content and those services, I'd be wasting the money.

For me and my family, though, it's absolutely been worth it.

Amazon Prime

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2 days ago

Verizon Go Unlimited plans will include coverage in Mexico and Canada

3

Starting January 25, 2018.

If you want to get an unlimited plan through Verizon Wireless, you have two main choices – Go Unlimited and Beyond Unlimited. Both plans come with unlimited talk, text, and data, but Beyond Unlimited has a few extra perks such as higher-quality streaming, faster hotspot speeds, etc.

Starting on January 25, Go Unlimited customers will get unlimited talk, text, and data in Mexico and Canada – something that ws previously limited to Unlimited Beyond subscribers.

Just like Unlimited Beyond, coverage in Mexico and Canda for Go Unlimited customers limits 4G LTE data speeds to 500 MB each day. Speeds are reduced to 2G following this but are then reset at midnight EST. Additionally, Go Unlimited plans will now come with unlimited calling from the United States to Mexico and Canada.

Go Unlimited typically costs $10-$20 less than Beyond Unlimited depending on how many lines you have, so it's nice to see one of these perks come to Verizon's more affordable unlimited option.

Verizon's TV streaming service will consist of multiple standalone apps

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2 days ago

This little battery helps you hide the Amazon Fire TV power cable

6

If your TV's USB port doesn't put out enough power for your Fire TV, this battery box will take care of things.

Here's a quick look at a little accessory that could make your Amazon Fire TV experience a little bit better. One hangup for folks when it comes to HDMI dongles is that they often still require an external power source. So you've got this little magic wonder box tucked behind your TV, out of sight, but there's still a cord running down the back of the thing. It's the home theater equivalent of having your fly open, basically.

If you're lucky, the USB port on your TV puts out enough consistent juice to power said dongle. That's the case with every one of my TVs. But if your sets a little older, you might be out of luck. And that's where the $20 Mission Cables USB Power Cable for Fire TV (or anything else that takes Micro-USB) comes in.

It's a simple little thing — basically just a battery in a box. Your TV trickle charges the 2,000 mAh battery that's inside, and the box then gives your Fire TV dongle consistent power.

And, uh, that's it. There's nothing else to it. No lights. No switches. Just plug it into your TV, and the other end goes into your Amazon Fire TV dongle. It's about the same overall size as the Fire TV itself, and I'd recommend also getting something with which you can stick all of this to the back of your TV — you don't want to put any stress on the cables or ports themselves.

See at Amazon

Amazon Fire TV

Buy at Amazon

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2 days ago

Will the OnePlus credit card fraud affect your decision to buy from them?

54

Our forum users share their thoughts about certain OnePlus customers experiencing credit card fraud after buying something from OnePlus's site.

Update, January 19: Today, OnePlus confirmed that its credit card systems were breached between November 2017 and January 2018 and up to 40,000 users had their credit card information compromised.

At the beginning of this week, OnePlus officially announced that certain customers that had purchased items from its website had been experiencing fraudulent activity on their credit cards. This resulted in OnePlus removing the option to pay with a debit/credit card directly on its site, and now it's a waiting game to see how long it'll take OnePlus to get this situation cleared up.

It's currently assumed that this credit card fraud is a result of something going on with OnePlus's payment processor and not OnePlus itself, and in the midst of all this, some of our forum users got to talking about their thoughts on this whole situation.

Here's what they had to say:

*/
ODog2323 01-16-2018 06:42 AM “

Have you ever had your card info stolen? Not so hilarious. Sure, OP may not be the ones directly responsible...just about every company who takes card payments does so using using a third party...but this is still on OP's turf, so it could be a big problem for them. My company went through something like this a while back. It's a nightmare!

Reply
*/
newcollector 01-16-2018 07:27 AM “

Yes, it is OP's responsibility to get this sorted out. I am sure they know what contractor is responsible and have an idea where the hack occurred if indeed it is a case of stolen cards. It could be an inside job. At least OP did not try to cover it up. Not that it makes it any easier for those who are affected. Hopefully those affected do get their credit fixed and that OP steps up to offer...

Reply
*/
Morty2264 01-16-2018 10:12 AM “

I too have heard that anyone using PayPal was not affected. I'm feeling bad for OnePlus - they've had some bad press of late. Good phones though. So hopefully this gets sorted quickly!

Reply
*/
Bollycats 01-16-2018 05:19 PM “

I just got a text and phone call from Chase. Someone tried to charge over $300. They declined the charge and the account is now closed. Ordered my 5T last week and still waiting on it to be delivered. The delivery was delayed for 3 days and now I'm worried about the phone's performance since it's been sitting around in below freezing temperatures. Maybe I should just give it up and send it back....

Reply

If you're a OnePlus customer, we'd like to hear from you – Does the recent credit card fraud affect your decision to do future business with the company?

Join the conversation in the forums!

OnePlus 5T and OnePlus 5

OnePlus Amazon

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2 days ago

Avoid costly errors with this great deal on a Grammarly one-year subscription

We write so much around these parts that it's easy for a few grammar errors to slip through. Whether you're writing an article for a major website like Android Central or a business email to a boss or a colleague, we all want to be sure our writing comes off as professional and clean. But mistakes are bound to happen, and that's why it's handy to have an extra set of eyes looking over your writing.

Grammarly is that extra set of eyes for millions of people around the world. It's like your personal editor that scans your writing and corrects all the mistakes in your writing — from a simple typo to complex grammar errors. Grammarly puts spellcheck to shame by catching contextual errors, helping to improve your vocabulary, and suggesting style improvements for your writing.

If you feel like your writing could use the Grammarly bump, Android Central Digital Offers has a great deal on a one-year subscription to the full suite of Grammarly features. Not only will you write mistake free across popular services and apps like Gmail, Facebook, Twitter and more across all your devices (iOS, Android, MacOS and Windows supported), but you'll also get great features like plagiarism detection that scans billions of web pages and a weekly progress report to show how Grammarly has helped your writing improve.

A yearly subscription to Grammarly is usually priced at around $139.95, but thanks to this great deal from Android Central Digital Offers you can get your subscription for just $69.98 — that's 49% off the regular price! Never write a poorly written email again with a little help from Grammarly!

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3 days ago

OnePlus confirms up to 40,000 users affected by credit card breach

27

Things just went from bad to worse real quick.

On Monday, January 15, OnePlus announced on its forums that some customers had reported fraudulent activity on credit and debit cards used for purchases on oneplus.net. It was unclear at the time how many people had been affected or what caused this in the first place, and just a day later, OnePlus removed the option to make payments with a credit/debit card from its site.

A few days later on January 19, OnePlus issued another update on its forums to confirm that this fraudulent activity was a result of a security breach that affected up to 40,000 users.

How in the world did this happen? According to OnePlus, a malicious script was added to the payment code of its site and sniffed out credit/debit card information as customers entered it. The script has since been eliminated, but it was active between mid-November of 2017 and January 11, 2018.

Thankfully, there are some caveats in regards to who's been affected. Per OnePlus:

  • Users who paid via a saved credit card should NOT be affected
  • Users who paid via the "Credit Card via PayPal" method should NOT be affected
  • Users who paid via PayPal should NOT be affected

OnePlus says that it's in contact with customers that have fallen victim to this attack and that it's working with its payment processor and providers to ensure that something like this doesn't happen again. If you're unsure whether or not your card information has been compromised, keep an eye on your transaction history to confirm that any payments being made are ones you've authorized. If you want to be extra precautious (which we almost encourage in a case like this), it's not a bad idea to contact your bank, cancel your current card, and get a new one.

Even though I already asked you this question, does this new information impact your decision to do business with OnePlus in the future?

OnePlus 3T on OxygenOS beta was sending clipboard data to Alibaba servers

OnePlus 5T and OnePlus 5

OnePlus Amazon

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3 days ago

Best Travel Accessories for PlayStation 4

Whether you've got the original model, the Slim or the Pro, if you travel with your PS4 these are the accessories to get.

Traditionally you play your games console at home, that is unless it's a Nintendo Switch. But, it's not a totally ridiculous idea that you might want to carry your PlayStation 4 around with you, particularly if you're traveling on a lengthy trip.

It's not the most convenient thing you'll ever do, but with the right accessories you can certainly travel both (fairly) light and have a great experience on the road.

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3 days ago

Old Man's Journey is at once a game and a work of art [Best games of the week]

8

What are the latest games worth checking out in the Google Play Store?

Update January 19, 2018: Be sure to check out Old Man's Journey, one of the finalists in Google's latest Indie Game Contest! Then, check out Duck Warfare, which is currently free in the Google Play Store!

Old Man's Journey

This week, Google announced the 20 finalists in the 2017 Indie Game Contest, so I figured I'd use this space to highlight some of the more interesting games on that list that slipped through the cracks last year.

My recommendation is Old Man's Journey. This is an absolutely gorgeous game that follows the story of an old man who receives a mysterious letter that triggers him to set off on a nostalgic journey.

Part adventure game, part puzzler, Old Man's Journey is optimized for touch as you interact with the world by moving the land to connect paths for the old man to continue his journey. Each section is bookended with a nostalgic flashback that gives a glimpse of a moment earlier in the old man's life. It's an intuitive experience that rewards interacting the entire scenery.

This is an emotional tale being told here and is a great example of how artful video games can be. The soundtrack is also amazing and quite soothing. If you love chill games with an engaging story, check out Old Man's Journey!

Download: Old Man's Journey ($4.99)

Duck Warfare

Duck Warfare isn't a brand new game, but given that it's currently on sale for free, it's definitely worth checking out this week.

This is a fun and cartoony action game in which you command an army of ducks trying to fight back against the GÜSCO corporation (pronounced "goose-co") who are trying to take over and develop the local park.

The controls are dead simple — you cast ducks onto the battlefield as they fight to keep the construction workers and their vehicles at bay. There are 24 different ducks to unlock and fight with that each has its own unique abilities and animations, and five areas to battle in. The graphics are simple and cartoony and the gameplay starts out very easily but it does get more challenging as you progress. There's even a Flappy Bird clone thrown in just for kicks!

This is a great game for kids and casual gamers that's ad-free with no in-app purchases… and it's currently available for free so check it out!

Download: Duck Warfare (Free)

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3 days ago

LG publishes patents for two foldable phone concepts

11

The slow march to a foldable smartphone future continues.

The mobile industry has been dreaming about folding smartphones for years at this point, but in 2018, we're closer to this becoming a reality than ever before. New details recently emerged about Samsung's "Galaxy X" foldable phone, and following this, new patents have been discovered for two folding phone concepts that LG has in the works.

Looking at LG's first concept, the device is made out of two individual bodies that house a single screen. You get a full, tablet-like display when the phone is open, but when you close it, you end up with a very narrow candy-bar shape. A second screen on the front shows information like the time and weather when it's closed, and on the back is a camera module.

The second version is mostly the same, but a back panel moves to the side to reveal a small transparent section of the main display that's used for notifications, time, date, etc.

LG's patents certainly look interesting and are likely the way of the future, but it's unclear if/when these will ever come to market. The patents were first filed back in July of 2017 before being published this month, and while that could be a sign that LG is ready to move forward with them, only time will tell if this turns out to be true.

If you had to choose between one of these two concepts as LG's foldable phone design, which do you prefer and why?

LG might announce an upgraded V30 at MWC instead of the G7

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3 days ago

Amazon to raise cost of monthly Prime membership by $2 in February

23

A bad deal gets worse.

If you're paying monthly instead of annually for your Amazon Prime membership, it's going to cost you a bit more each month. Amazon will be raising the price by $2 per month starting on February 18, and the change applies to both new and existing customers. This will bring the monthly fee from $10.99 up to $12.99, meaning that you'll be paying just under $156 for a year of Prime membership. Those who pay the annual $99 fee will not see a price increase from these changes, nor will any of the awesome benefits of Prime be changing.

From GeekWire's report:

Amazon said the price increase does not affect the annual membership option, which will remain at $99. With the price increase, the monthly option will now equal slightly less than $156 for a year. Amazon has been investing heavily in Prime, bringing it to new markets and creating additional benefits and original content. Those moves, plus regular increases in fees from shipping partners, are among the factors contributing to the price increase.

Amazon says it has no preference on the annual versus monthly option. However, offering a monthly service with no contract or guarantee carries with it a cost to manage and volatility that isn't present with the more dependable annual option.

The cost for students will be increasing to $6.49 a month and the standalone Prime Video subscription will be $8.99. The best deal continues to be the $99 annual subscription, and this price increase just makes it even more valuable.

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3 days ago

Top 5 VR180 videos you can watch on YouTube with Daydream

0

The best of YouTube VR180

From live performances to pre-recorded films, you have plenty of options for the types of videos available in virtual reality. Although most common, 360° videos aren't the only viewing option for VR. You can experience almost the same amount of fun with a 180° video! Yeah, you might not be able to turn all the way around to see the scenery behind you but that's okay! It's just as fun to still be able to move your head around to focus on all the things in your sights.

Travel to Bangkok and experience the Buddha Temple

YouTube channel Oprod has filmed their entire trip to Thailand for you to experience in VR180. My personal favorite of this playlist has to be the experience from inside the Buddha temple. It's absolutely mesmerizing to see the sun shining in on the structure, creating an ambiance of serenity and beauty. Outside of the visuals, it's exciting to experience the excitement of traveling without having to leave your living room.

JamJam' live session at Tower Records

If you are as much of a music head as I am there is nothing you love more than experiencing a concert up close and personal. Well, there is one thing better and that's a live jam session where they've mashed some of the best musicians together to perform for you. Jammcard brought exactly this to the table by uploading a VR180 video of a performance at Tower Records. Better watch this video standing up, as this jazzy sound is sure to get your feet moving.

I'm Poppy.

I'm Poppy. I am Poppy. I am Poppy?

Poppy is definitely in a love or hate relationship with all of her viewers. Regardless of whether you love or hate her, she has responded to the viewer's interest in virtual reality by releasing this... interesting video. There is always a sort of uncomfortable entertainment when I watch her videos where I don't know if I want to laugh or cry, but for some reason, I'm addicted. Just a warning, if you jump into the world of virtual reality with her you might not leave!

First We Feast interview with Sean Evans from Hot Ones

If you haven't heard of First We Feast, I recommend checking them out. Their host Sean interviews your favorite celebrities while both of them eat wings that increase in heat as they go further. Not only do they cover hot topics, but they also cover hot sauces. If you're a fan of watching interviews in your spare time, these are definitely some to give a look. While watching through the VR180 experience it's almost as if your sitting right at the table with them. So order yourself some hot wings to include yourself in the party and click the link above!

Teen Choice Awards

There is always this general opinion that the Teen Choice Awards are only for teenagers to enjoy, and that's not true. I know plenty of adults who spend their time on the Disney Channel or Nickelodeon and not because the kids in their house are forcing them to. When you find yourself so invested in these young stars you want to see what the face being your favorite character can achieve in their life! Do just that with the Teen Choice Awards, and one-up your viewing experience by visualizing yourself standing right in front of your favorite actors with the VR180 experience.

Thoughts?

What did you think of the videos above? What do you think will be your favorite genre of videos to watch in virtual reality? Tell us in the comments below!

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3 days ago

LG might announce an upgraded V30 at MWC instead of the G7

34

A report claims LG will unveil another version of the V30 at MWC 2018 with new AI tech.

Just a few weeks ago, we were expecting to get our very first look at the LG G7 during Mobile World Congress this coming February. However, following LG's CEO's decision to scrap current development of the phone and start over from scratch, this is no longer the case.

The LG V30

This decision left us wondering if the company would have anything to show off at this year's MWC, and according to a new report from The Korea Herald, LG may announce an upgraded version of the V30 in place of the G7's absence.

The phone is supposedly being referred to as the "V30+a", and the main focus of the new model would be improved artificial intelligence features. It's believed that these new features could be based on the Google Assistant, but I find it a bit odd that Google would use a phone outside of its Pixel brand to debut new Assistant goodies.

It's also possible that LG will show off its own AI tech like HTC did with Sense Companion on the U Ultra, but seeing as how that went nowhere, I don't envision this being LG's saving grace either.

If this AI-centric V30 does turn out to be legit, what new features would you like to see?

The U.S. smartphone industry has an LG problem

LG V30

Amazon Best Buy Verizon AT&T

img { width: 100%; height: auto; } .devicebox ul { display: table; margin: 0 0 10px; width: 100%; } .devicebox ul li { background: #f7f7f7; margin: 2px 0; padding: 4px 15px; } .devicebox ul li:hover { background: #fff; } .devicebox ul li:before { display: none; } .devicebox p ~ p { line-height: 1.25; } .devicebox p:first-of-type + p { padding: 15px; } .devicebox a.buy-link { border-radius: 5px; display: inline-block; font: 14px/31px "Proxima Nova Extrabld",Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; text-align: center; } .devicebox a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:link, .devicebox a.buy-link:active, .devicebox a.buy-link:visited { background: #37B5D7; color: #FFF; } .devicebox a.buy-link:hover { background: #2694B2; text-decoration: none; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { content: "\e61e"; font: 40px/0 "ac_iconset" !important; margin: 0 3px 0 -8px; vertical-align: middle; } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { /* div:not(.columns-3) excludes help menu content */ .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p img, .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 660px) { .devicebox h3 { text-align: center; } .devicebox ul, .devicebox p { display: block; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox p img, .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 661px), all and (max-width: 500px) { /* 2x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(even) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) { width: 100%; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 659px) and (min-width: 501px) { /* 3x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(100%/3 - 10px/3); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n):not(:nth-last-of-type(2)) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:only-child { width: 100%; margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(odd) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 500px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { display: none; } } .page-admin .devicebox {max-width: 350px;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe {position: relative; height: 0; padding-bottom: 56.9%;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe iframe {width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

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3 days ago

Google Now is being left to wither and die as Google Assistant takes the focus

136
Google Now feed on the Pixel 2 XL

One of Google's standout features has been left to die, and that's sad to see.

Google Now used to be really useful. It used to be so good that I only used Google Now Launcher on every phone because I needed to have Google Now just a swipe away on my home screen. Any other launcher felt like it was keeping me disconnected from information that I relied on every day.

As we turned the calendar over to 2018, and just spent a week at CES 2018 seeing a huge emphasis on Google Assistant, it looks like Google's happy to let the traditional Google Now feature set — aka the "feed" — wither and die. In the past six months, Google Now has gone from a must-have feature to something I have stopped looking at regularly and even forgotten about for days at a time. It's no longer helpful, insightful or useful.

Google Now feed on the Pixel

Every morning, I used to unlock my phone, swipe to the right on my home screen and scroll through Google Now. I'd get updates on the weather, traffic, sports scores, upcoming calendar events, reminders about important emails and more. Throughout the day, when something was really important, I'd get a notification telling me about it — things like a stark change in the weather, an accident on my route to an appointment or breaking news.

Google Now used to be the start of my daily routine; now it's an afterthought, at best.

Now, my engagement with Google Now (ahem, feed) is sporadic and mostly disappointing. Swiping over on my home screen today shows me ... just a bunch of poorly-targeted news stories. Some based on things I like, others perhaps tangentially so, and many that are clearly jumping out on a limb to show me what's "trending" even though I have no interest in it. How did the once-wonderful Google Now turn into the same annoying throwaway feature as Samsung's Flipboard Briefing and HTC's News Republic in BlinkFeed?

Google Now no longer shows me a single piece of information on appointments, calendar events, commute times or anything of the sort. I rarely get reminders for upcoming events or bills or other information from Gmail. There's one small card with upcoming weather, but that's just about the easiest possible thing to show and is available anywhere.

Google Now feedGoogle Now feedGoogle Now feed

A subset of these things has been moved behind an "upcoming" button — one that's found in different places depending on your phone and launcher — and even in here I don't get the same great layout of up-to-date information at a glance that I once had. It's not even close, actually. This was the reason to use Google Now, and it's relegated to a second press and a different interface, entirely removed from the spontaneity and immediacy of being right there next to my main home screen. The useful notifications, too, have disappeared. At best I'll get a reminder about a sports game starting or a big drop in a stock ticker I've searched. Sigh.

What the hell is Google doing with the Google Now feed? Ignoring it, as far as I can tell.

Google Assistant on the Google Pixel 2 XL

As Google Now dies a slow death, Google Assistant has of course taken the focus. Many of the core features of Google Now in terms of following what you do and what you like to tailor answers and information to you in particular is integrated into the new Assistant experience. It works across a variety of devices, with and without screens, and does so primarily with voice interactions — and that's precisely the reason why it can't replace Google Now in the way I used to love it. Google Assistant works great for a question and answer, or a short interaction with a couple of phrases — but the number of visual interactions are extremely limited, as are the ways that Assistant can "push" information to you when you need it.

The 'old' Google Now and new Google Assistant can work together in harmony — and that's what I want.

In many ways, the "old" Google Now was a far better assistant than Google Assistant is today. Today's version of Google Assistant is sitting there, waiting to help you when you ask it to — and it's ridiculously smart when you do. But a proper personal assistant does things before you ask, and has information waiting for you before you're ready to see it. Google Now may not know if you prefer coffee or tea in the morning, but it will prepare both before you're out of bed; Google Assistant knows your drink preferences, but it sits there and waits for you to wake up, shuffle into the kitchen and say "Google, make me some coffee" before it does anything. That's a key difference in user experience.

With how little the two services actually overlap, it wouldn't be a stretch to think that they could be put together on your phone. Bring back Google Now as it once was: a visual feed of super-useful information based on all sorts of data Google has about you and your habits. Stop pushing piles of useless news that I don't care about, or let me turn it off entirely. And take this renewed respect for how good Google Now was and put it dead-center with the Google Assistant's interface on my phone. When I talk to it, give me the Assistant's voice commands and knowledge base. But if I just want to scroll and see what's there for me before I even ask, let me have it in the same place.

Until then, I won't be using Google Now anymore.

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

Best Buy Verizon Google Store Project Fi

img { width: 100%; height: auto; } .devicebox ul { display: table; margin: 0 0 10px; width: 100%; } .devicebox ul li { background: #f7f7f7; margin: 2px 0; padding: 4px 15px; } .devicebox ul li:hover { background: #fff; } .devicebox ul li:before { display: none; } .devicebox p ~ p { line-height: 1.25; } .devicebox p:first-of-type + p { padding: 15px; } .devicebox a.buy-link { border-radius: 5px; display: inline-block; font: 14px/31px "Proxima Nova Extrabld",Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; text-align: center; } .devicebox a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:link, .devicebox a.buy-link:active, .devicebox a.buy-link:visited { background: #37B5D7; color: #FFF; } .devicebox a.buy-link:hover { background: #2694B2; text-decoration: none; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { content: "\e61e"; font: 40px/0 "ac_iconset" !important; margin: 0 3px 0 -8px; vertical-align: middle; } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { /* div:not(.columns-3) excludes help menu content */ .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p img, .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 660px) { .devicebox h3 { text-align: center; } .devicebox ul, .devicebox p { display: block; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox p img, .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 661px), all and (max-width: 500px) { /* 2x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(even) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) { width: 100%; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 659px) and (min-width: 501px) { /* 3x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(100%/3 - 10px/3); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n):not(:nth-last-of-type(2)) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:only-child { width: 100%; margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(odd) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 500px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { display: none; } } .page-admin .devicebox {max-width: 350px;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe {position: relative; height: 0; padding-bottom: 56.9%;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe iframe {width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

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3 days ago

The U.S. smartphone industry has an LG problem

55

LG needs to rebuild, but it may be too late.

A few years ago, I was in New York for the launch of the LG G3. It was the first phone I'd touched with a Quad HD display and was pretty well built (though plastic) and fairly fast (though not the fastest) and overall people seemed pretty happy with the phone. That year, the company went on to sell over 10 million of them, so LG must have been fairly happy.

Back in New York, though, in a room filled with other journalists, members of LG's executive team explained how the G3 was the culmination of what its loyal customers wanted. That it took feedback from its millions of fans and turned that advice, as best it could, into a phone — one that went on to sell well over 10 million units.

This past week, LG announced that its mobile division lost money for the 11th consecutive quarter. Its vice chairman and CEO, Jo Seong-jin, said in an interview that "We will unveil new smartphones when it is needed. But we will not launch it just because other rivals do. We plan to retain existing models longer by, for instance, unveiling more variant models of the G series or V series." While it's been rumored that LG may scrap the so-called G7, or the entire "G" name altogether, the company says it will launch a successor to the G6 "when the time is right." Here's what a company representative told Android Central.

"The successor to the G6 is on schedule and the official name will be announced when the time is right. Until then, reports of a decision being made on the timing and name are all speculative."

LG's in a good position to do this, since, despite losses in the mobile space, its overall business is thriving. The company leads the field in OLED television innovation, and had a banner year in appliance sales. Its LG Display business is ramping up quickly, even though hiccups led to the problematic Pixel 2 XL.

To us in North America, especially those attuned to the highs and lows of the quickly-changing mobile industry, LG's market share plateau and tepid customer loyalty sees a company in retreat, as so many others, from Nokia to Palm to BlackBerry have done before it. But LG's business is diverse and robust, and we only see the proverbial tip of the iceberg; back in native South Korea, LG enjoys enormous influence, and like Samsung dominates a wide range of industries, from manufacturing to robotics to autonomous vehicles and even medical equipment.

LG has a great relationship with the Big Four U.S. carriers, which means a retrenchment is not a death knell.

It's important to point this out because it helps explain why LG has, despite failing to find success in the smartphone space, maintained the twice-yearly release cadence that many Android manufacturers have slid into since 2014 or so. Smartphones are not just potential profit vehicles but hero products that, for LG, Samsung, Sony and other vertically-integrated companies, consolidate and focus expertise in disparate areas into a single point. Indeed, it's presumed that Sony has never made any money from its smartphone business, but feels it needs to make them because the smartphone is the center of our digital lives. Sony also makes the imaging sensors that go into almost every high-end smartphone.

But this brings us to today: LG is all but admitting defeat — last year it released two of its best phones ever in the G6 and V30, but hasn't managed to move the needle above 10% market share in the U.S. At the same time, Chinese competition from Oppo, Vivo, and Huawei have affected its place in Asian markets, reinforcing its need to do well in the U.S.

The irony in all of this is that LG's mobile revenue is actually increasing, and that the G6 led to a 9% rise in smartphone sales in the U.S. in the third quarter. But the company faced extremely strong competition from Samsung and Apple, and that trend won't soon abate. The U.S. market is becoming a two-horse race, dividing its riches between Samsung and Apple with very little left for even the strongest of third parties. Huawei's thwarted attempting to enter the U.S. market should be a soothing reprieve for LG and others — the Chinese company is the world's number three smartphone vendor and had every intention of dethroning the dominant players before long — but will not ultimately change anything.

This context somewhat justifies LG's decision to rethink its entire mobile strategy, and stop committing to annual product refreshes. People are holding onto their phones for longer, and only a small number replace them on an annual basis, despite carrier leasing deals encouraging frequent trade-ins.

LG's excellent relationship with the Big Four U.S. carriers likely means that any changes made to release cadences will be met with approval and understanding, and the change in strategy may mercifully mean less time between announcement and release. But there is unlikely to be any one recipe for a resurgence in the U.S. market, and LG's recent struggles reinforce the difficulty in finding success in great products.

Update, January 22: This article has been updated with comment from LG and to clarify that the "G" lineup, and the G6 successor, is still on target for release.

LG V30

Amazon Best Buy Verizon AT&T

img { width: 100%; height: auto; } .devicebox ul { display: table; margin: 0 0 10px; width: 100%; } .devicebox ul li { background: #f7f7f7; margin: 2px 0; padding: 4px 15px; } .devicebox ul li:hover { background: #fff; } .devicebox ul li:before { display: none; } .devicebox p ~ p { line-height: 1.25; } .devicebox p:first-of-type + p { padding: 15px; } .devicebox a.buy-link { border-radius: 5px; display: inline-block; font: 14px/31px "Proxima Nova Extrabld",Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; text-align: center; } .devicebox a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:link, .devicebox a.buy-link:active, .devicebox a.buy-link:visited { background: #37B5D7; color: #FFF; } .devicebox a.buy-link:hover { background: #2694B2; text-decoration: none; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { content: "\e61e"; font: 40px/0 "ac_iconset" !important; margin: 0 3px 0 -8px; vertical-align: middle; } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { /* div:not(.columns-3) excludes help menu content */ .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p img, .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 660px) { .devicebox h3 { text-align: center; } .devicebox ul, .devicebox p { display: block; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox p img, .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 661px), all and (max-width: 500px) { /* 2x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(even) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) { width: 100%; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 659px) and (min-width: 501px) { /* 3x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(100%/3 - 10px/3); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n):not(:nth-last-of-type(2)) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:only-child { width: 100%; margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(odd) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 500px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { display: none; } } .page-admin .devicebox {max-width: 350px;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe {position: relative; height: 0; padding-bottom: 56.9%;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe iframe {width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

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