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13 hours ago

Running out of space on your Chromebook? Try these tips

4

16GB isn't a lot of space. You might need a way to add more.

While Chromebooks are mostly cloud-centric machines, there are still quite a few offline packaged apps available. Sometimes, when you have a lot of those installed alongside media like music, video, and pictures, there's not much room left. Add in Google Drive syncing, and running out of space is a real possibility — especially on the 16GB storage models.

There are a few things you can do to help if you ever hit the storage wall. Let's have a look at some of them!

Adding an SD card or USB thumb drive is an easy option

This one is simple. Your Chromebook likely has an SD card reader on the side, and if you add a card to it, all the space on the card is available to the operating system for storage. The same goes for a USB thumb drive.

There are a couple issues to be aware of here. The first is that you might not want half of an SD card or a USB thumb drive hanging off the side of your Chromebook where it can get broken. There's an easy solution — use half-height drives or cards. Newer Chromebooks may only have USB-C ports, with no option for an SD card or USB-A port without an adapter. Monoprice makes an excellent micro-SD adapter that can connect over either USB-A or USB-C, so feel free to use those back and forth with your other computers.

Your Chromebook can read and write to SD cards or USB drives formatted as FAT32, vFAT and exFAT. Your Chromebook can format or reformat an SD card, but it will only do it using the FAT32 file system. There is a 4GB file size and 8TB partition size limit using FAT32, so if you need to read and write files (like movies) bigger than 4GB it's best to format the card on another machine. You can do that on a demo computer at Best Buy if you need to.

Lastly, tinkerers might want to use an ext file system on their portable drives. Besides issues with file permissions, you might run into, remember that journalizing may cause flash storage to wear out fast.

A less portable solution — A USB hard drive

Like portable flash storage, your Chromebook can use a USB hard drive for a lot more storage at the cost of portability. Most any USB hard drive will work, so look for the fastest one (USB 3) you can afford, even if your Chromebook doesn't have USB 3 ports — your next one will.

Your Chromebook can access files on a USB hard drive using these file systems:

  • FAT (FAT16, FAT32, exFAT)
  • HFS+ (read-only on journaled HFS+)
  • ISO9660 (read-only)
  • MTP
  • NTFS
  • UDF (read-only)

You'll not be able to easily format a USB drive in Chrome OS, so you'll need to do that on another computer. Also note that there is no defragmenter in Chrome OS, so if the drive gets "clogged" up you'll need to do that on another computer, too.

Protip: Your Chromebook can also read files (like media in any of these formats: 3gp, .avi, .mov, .mp4, .m4v, .m4a, .mp3, .mkv, .ogv, .ogm, .ogg, .oga, .webm, .wav ) from a USB CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive, so it might be worth burning your videos and music to a disc if you have room to tote a USB drive around.

Use a second Google Drive account

Google Drive

And don't sync it offline with your Chromebook.

It's easy to switch users on Chrome OS, and downloading a file to a removable drive through the file manager means it can be available for all users. Every account gets 15GB of free Google Drive storage, and it will show in the file manager where you can easily access any of it.

Of course, you can also choose to not sync your Google Drive files offline to save even more space from the Google Drive app settings.

More: How to choose what you sync on Chrome across devices

You might be able to put a bigger drive in your Chromebook

Chromebook SSD replacement

This is a little more extreme than any of the other options, and most Chromebooks don't support it because the internal storage is soldered directly to the board.

Some notable models that can be upgraded with a bigger storage drive include the Acer C710, the Acer C720, the HP Chromebook 14, The Samsung Series 5 (and Series 5 550) and the Cr-48.

It's easy to do on some models like the Acers or the Samsungs, and very difficult to do on the HP 14 — but it can be done.

You also might need a specific drive like an M.2/NGFF SSD and it's best to stay away from drives bigger than 128GB. We swapped out the SSD on a trusty C720 if you want to see what you might be up against.

How to upgrade the SSD in your Acer C720 Chromebook

You don't need every app in the Play Store

If you have a Chromebook that can use the Google Play Store to run Android apps, it's tempting to make a visit and go on a download spree. It's not hard to fill up all the storage inside your Chromebook this way.

Take some time and do a self-audit here. What apps do you need, what apps do you really want and what apps will you never use? Ask yourself these questions and uninstall everything else. Your hard drive will thank you and you'll have room to try new apps as they come out.

Have reasonable expectations

When you buy a $200 laptop that's built to be lean and speedy, you shouldn't expect a 500GB spinning disk drive under the hood. You wouldn't be happy with the performance even if you did. That's just not how Chromebooks are designed, and even the most expensive models only come with a 64GB SSD installed.

With tempered and well thought out expectations and these few tips, you should be able to manage all of your storage needs.

Updated January 2018: This article was updated to remove references to old models and address Android apps as a storage issue.

Chromebooks

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15 hours ago

How to fix common Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL problems

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Google Pixel 2 and 2 XL

Having trouble with your Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL? Here's where you start.

No phone is perfect. And even though the Pixel 2 and 2 XL seem to be pretty solid devices, there are some issues that have cropped up over time as thousands and thousands of them made their way out into the wild. Some of the problems are inherent in all smartphones, others appear in rare cases and a couple are simply unavoidable in the Pixel 2 and 2 XL in particular.

If you're having trouble with any aspect of your Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL, this is a great place to start. We've gathered up some of the most common issues owners are having, and accompany them with some possible remedies.

Screen color is 'wrong'

Google Pixel 2 and 2 XL

How you feel about the color and saturation of your phone display is a very personal decision, and everyone has different thoughts on what looks "right." But the Pixel 2 XL in particular has taken heat for not having the most colorful or saturated display out there, to the point of looking dull to some. If you're not a fan of how your Pixel 2 or 2 XL's screen looks, you have some options.

Go into your Settings, then Display and tap on Colors and choose between the three options. "Natural" will be the most neutral and simple, "Boosted" will be natural still but with a little extra punch, and "Saturated" will go more over the top with colors. Most people will be happiest with Boosted, but those coming from other OLED phones that are often tuned to offer deeper colors will want to switch to Saturated to keep things familiar.

Noticing screen burn-in

Perhaps the biggest hullabaloo surrounding the Pixel 2 XL has been early reports of image retention and full-on burn-in on the screen. The former isn't much more than an annoyance — sometimes things that have been shown on the screen for a long time stay there faintly for a bit after switching away. The latter is more of an issue — burn-in seems the same as image retention at first, but the effects are permanent and typically seen for core interface elements like the navigation and status bars.

Don't go hunting for screen burn-in, but if you see it early you should get a replacement.

The most important thing to say here is that you probably shouldn't go hunting for signs of screen burn-in on your phone. If you don't notice it in the regular use of the phone, you shouldn't have any issue with it — and at the same time, every phone today with an OLED-based screen will have some level of burn-in over time. It's just a characteristic of the display technology at this point.

But if you're noticing screen burn-in on your Pixel 2 or 2 XL early on, such as within the first few weeks, you shouldn't hesitate to contact Google support and get a replacement device. While burn-in is relatively common, it doesn't typically set in on phones so rapidly — and seeing a considerable amount right from the start isn't a great sign for how that display will look a year on. Google will offer you at least a two week return period, and you should take advantage of it. For serious cases, Google has also extended its manufacturer defect warranty to a full two years.

Bad battery life

Google Pixel 2 battery life

"I'm seeing bad battery life" is the holy grail of problems that are nearly impossible to diagnose. But here are some good basic principles to follow when trying to improve battery life:

  • Check for power-hungry apps: One badly coded app can be a nuisance; a handful of badly coded apps can destroy your battery. At the end of the day, go into your battery settings, scroll down and see what percentage of your day's battery life was consumed by which apps. If a single app is using more than 5%, think about if it really needs to be using that much — investigate to see if you can get it to calm down.
  • Uninstall unused apps: A bad app can't drain your battery if it isn't installed. If you started up your new Pixel 2 and just installed all 100 apps from your last phone, chances are there are dozens on there you don't actually need. Uninstall the useless ones — you can always install them later if you decide you need them.
  • Turn off always-on display: It doesn't have a huge effect, but any time the screen is even partially illuminated it's using battery. Go into the Display settings and turn off "Always-on" — a nice compromise is keeping "Lift to check phone" turned on to have it illuminate when you grab your phone.
  • Reduce display sleep time: In the same vein, you can set your display to go to sleep quickly when it isn't being interacted with. By default the phone is at 1 minute, but you can set it as low as 15 seconds if you'd prefer to save the battery instead of the convenience of having the screen stay awake.
  • Use a static wallpaper: Out of the box the phones use a great "living wallpaper" that subtly animates. It looks cool, but also uses up battery. Switch to a static wallpaper, and you'll save some precious juice.

One thing to consider at some point, particularly on the Pixel 2 with its 2700mAh battery capacity, is that you just won't be able to get more battery life out of your phone no matter what you do. Even if you follow all of the above steps, you have to use your phone at some point — and if you use it hard, it's going to drain the battery quickly.

Slow performance

Chances are your Pixel 2 or 2 XL is still zippy, but perhaps 6 or 12 months into owning it you'll notice it slow down a bit. This is normal, but it's also preventable! It's no coincidence that some of the fixes for bad battery life noted above are also applicable to issues with bad performance. The best thing you can do is figure out if there is an app (or multiple apps) running rogue in the background and sapping your processor power or memory.

The best thing you can do is check on misbehaving apps and clear up your storage.

First, go to your battery settings and see if an app is draining an an usual amount of your battery over the course of the day — if it is, there's a good chance it's also using up other system resources. While you're thinking about apps, also consider uninstalling old apps you haven't used in a while — there's no need to keep them around, potentially running in the background, if you have no intention of using them.

Next, go into Settings and then Storage to see if you have enough free space on your phone. Chances are if you're at a critically low storage level you'll have a notification bothering you about it, but if you're pushing up past 90% full storage you may run into other performance issues. The Storage settings give you a readout of what's using up storage, and an option to automatically free up space.

LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS problems

Google Pixel 2 network connections

Dealing with wireless radios is so often referred to as a sort of dark art — something that's difficult to understand but so often extremely frustrating to deal with. But on phones, we rely on mobile networks, Wi-FI, Bluetooth and GPS on a daily basis. If you're having troubles with any of the set, here are a few tips to consider trying:

  • Turn the radio off and back on again. Yes, really — just toggle on airplane (flight) mode, and turn it back off about 15 seconds later. Give your various radios a few minutes to reconnect to everything, and see if that fixes your issues.
  • At the same time, power cycle the device on the other end. There's a good chance the cheap pair of Bluetooth headphones, or the wireless router at home, is what's having an issue. Turn it off and start over.
  • Forget the network or device you're having trouble with. Whether it's a Bluetooth speaker or a Wi-Fi network, go into the network/device list and forget it — start back from scratch and see if it fixes it.
  • Reset network settings by going into Settings, Reset options and "Reset WI-Fi, mobile & Bluetooth." Confirm you want to reset, and it will return all of these areas back to their defaults. Now you can start fresh and reconnect to each device one at a time to determine where the issue may be.

There are so many potential issues here that it's tough to get into the details. But start here — and hopefully you get on the right path to troubleshooting where the issues are and how to fix them.

Clicking noise in Pixel 2 earpiece

One of the more peculiar issues on the Pixel 2 in particular is a reported "clicking" or "hissing" noise heard in the earpiece when making a call. It wasn't present on all calls or all phones, but it's happening on enough phones that Google has addressed the problem. According to Google it has rolled out a fix for the clicking sound.

Previously, Google had indicating that turning off NFC would fix the problem temporarily, and though some have reported that this doesn't work, it may be worth a shot if you're still waiting for that November update. If the problem persists beyond that update, that points to a potential hardware problem and you may want to contact Google support and look for a replacement device if you're still within your return window.

How to factory reset the Pixel 2 or 2 XL

Google Pixel 2 factory reset settings

For the software-related issues noted here, if the step by step processes to try and fix them don't work sometimes the only way to go is a full-on factory reset of the phone.

Before going any further, make sure you've backed up any data you want to save. Make sure Google Photos is synced, and you have any other important data offloaded to a service like Google Drive or Dropbox. Then, proceed.

  1. Go into Settings and scroll down to select System.
  2. Tap on Reset options and then Erase all data (factory reset).
  3. Scroll down to acknowledge and tap Reset at the bottom.
  4. Confirm your PIN or passcode, and proceed.

After a brief period and a reboot of the phone, it will come back exactly as it did the first day you took it out of the box. Use this opportunity to start anew — don't necessarily just reinstall all of the same things you had before, because that may be how you had troubles in the first place!

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

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20 hours ago

How to use face unlock (trusted face) on the Google Pixel 2

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How to use face unlock (trusted face) on the Google Pixel 2

A fingerprint sensor is both secure and fast, but sometimes you want other unlocking methods.

Much was made of the OnePlus 5T's Face Unlock, but it's hardly the only Android phone to have a great face-unlocking feature. Google's own Pixel 2 actually has a great face unlock feature available as part of Smart Lock. And even though the fingerprint sensor is more secure and often faster, some of us want to have other options for unlocking. Whether you're wearing gloves or have your phone in positions that are awkward to reach behind the phone, it may actually make sense in some cases to unlock with your face rather than your finger.

Here's how you can set up and use face unlock to unlock your Pixel 2 with just a glance, and a couple ways to make sure you don't compromise your phone's security in the process.

  1. Head into your phone's Settings, scroll down and tap Security & location.
  2. Tap on Smart Lock underneath the Device security subheading.
  3. Confirm your current screen lock, then tap on Trusted face.
  4. Go through the setup process, making sure to keep your face centered in the circle for the whole scanning process.
    • It's helpful to be in a well-lit environment when you first train it, preferably during the day.
  5. After completing initial setup, tap on Improve face matching to make it even better.

    • This is particularly important if you wear glasses or regularly change your hairstyle, but can be useful even if you just face a different way or use different lighting for the extra scan.

    Pixel 2 Smart Lock face unlock setup

You can come back and use "Improve face matching" at any time, but for now, you're finished!

To use face unlock, simply turn on your Pixel 2 to its lock screen. You'll notice, centered at the bottom of the screen, an icon with the silhouette of a head and shoulders, that means it's actively looking for a face. If the phone has already recognized you, the face will turn into a padlock that has been unlocked. Just swipe up on the lock screen, and you're in!

If you haven't unlocked your phone in a four-hour period, only your PIN, pattern, password or fingerprint will work. (The same goes for restarting your phone, minus fingerprint.) Additionally, by tapping the face icon or padlock on the lock screen will manually lock the phone, so that it can then only be unlocked by your PIN, pattern, password or fingerprint and not your face or other Smart Lock methods.

Stay unlocked, but stay safe!

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

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1 day ago

How to find the IMEI number on your Android phone

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How to find the IMEI number of your phone

There are lots of easy ways to find your phone's IMEI number.

No matter what phone you're using — whether it's a budget Moto E4 or a $900 Galaxy Note 8 — it will have an International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number. The IMEI number is a unique identifier that's usually a string of 15 digits, and comes in handy if you're trying to locate a lost or stolen phone.

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1 day ago

5 fantastic apps for eating healthier in 2018

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Eat healthier with a little help from these apps!

While subsisting off takeout and fast food might be fine for some people, there are definitely those of us who are hoping to start eating healthier in the new year. Whether you're just tired of feeling like crud from too much processed sugar, or you just want to keep a better eye on what you eat, this can be a task that's easier said than done. But thankfully there are apps out there that can help you achieve this feat without too much stress.

That's why we've put together the best apps to help you eat healthier in 2018!

Foodstand

If changing your eating habits means breaking your addiction to soda or candy, Foodstand is the app to take a peek at. It's built to bring you to a community of people who are also working on breaking similar habits, and lets you check in easily every day when completing challenges.

Foodstand aims to deliver a way to be more mindful of your food choices in order to live a healthier life. One of its main features is Challenges, which lets you check in each day that you complete — or abstain from — a goal. These include things like cutting out soda, having a distraction-free meal, or employing tactics to make sure that you don't overeat when you sit down for dinner.

If you're making new food choices with friends, then you can also connect with them in the app. You can post up comments on friends' public challenges to help keep each other on track, or keep all of your information private until you've gotten the hang of things.

Download: Foodstand (Free)

Thrive Market

One of the peskier parts of switching over your eating habits is trying to find the food that you're looking for. If you're looking for specific organic brands, or you are serious about sticking to that new Keto diet, Thrive Market can help you out. It's an organic marketplace that you can access right from your phone.

Thrive Market lets you easily search for specific brands of food, cleaning supplies, and more, as well as giving you some pretty hefty discounts if you use the app to order what you're searching for. You can also search by diet, which means only the foods you're looking for will pop up making it easier to stick to that diet when meal planning. The diet choice in search will also let you filter down to vegan or gluten-free options as well. This means if you have limited options you can easily find the food that you can safely eat without a hassle.

Download: Thrive Market (Free)

Is my food safe?

Whether you're trying to figure out if the meatloaf you made for dinner the other night is still edible, or you're experimenting with new foods, you want to be sure that what you are about to eat is safe. That's exactly what Is my food safe? aims to do.

You can access quizzes for better sanitation in the kitchen, look up how long leftovers will keep before going bad, and even see how long certain foods need to cook before being safe for eating. This is especially handy if you're just getting used to cooking for yourself, absolutely nobody wants accidental food poisoning from an undercooked sausage.

Download: Is my food safe? (Free)

Pepperplate

Just because you've made the choice to go ahead and start eating better doesn't necessarily mean that you have any idea what you're going to be cooking up. That's where Pepperplate comes in. You can add recipes, share them with friends, and access them no matter what device you're on making picking up the ingredients for dinner easier than ever.

While some of Pepperplate's basic features can be found in many other cooking apps, it's got a few tricks up its sleeve. Namely, the ability to scale a recipe to feed more — or fewer — people so that you have a better eye on portion control, as well as creating a schedule for your meals. This means you can do your meal planning for the whole month right in the app, and get it out of the way without having to constantly check back!

Download: Pepperplate (Free)

My Fitness Pal — Calorie Counter

If you're pairing your changing food choices with a workout plan or diet, then you may have very specific caloric needs. If keeping track of your calories is important to building healthier eating habits, then My Fitness Pal — Calorie Counter is the way to go.

You can input your daily calorie goals, use it as a food diary, and track exercise so that you have an accurate idea of how much you are taking in and how many calories are being burned in your daily routine. The search ability will also let you look up foods and check their nutritional facts before you decide to order when you're grabbing lunch on the run.

Download: My Fitness Pal — Calorie Counter (Free)

Are you eating healthy?

Trying to change your eating habits can seem like a seriously daunting task. These apps are by no means the end all be all of what is lurking out there on the Play Store, but they are a great way to get started and are specifically aimed to help you meet your goals. Is there an excellent app for eating healthy that we didn't mention here? Is your favorite on our list? Let us know in the comments below!

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1 day ago

Here's an easy fix for Google Pixel 2 fingerprint sensor issues

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Google Pixel 2 fingerprint sensor

When a convenience turns into a concern, we get mad.

The Google Pixel 2's fingerprint sensor is in a perfect place to effortlessly use. But what happens when you put your finger there and it just ... doesn't work? After a few attempts of the sensor not recognizing your fingerprint, the software actually fails out and requires you to enter your passcode to get past the lock screen or password to enter a secure app. That's not fun — particularly when it happens regularly.

It's easy to think that the fingerprint sensor itself just isn't good or there's a problem with the software. It's actually likely something much simpler: the sensor is just dirty.

I was having a seriously frustrating time using my Pixel 2 XL. Unlike my smaller Pixel 2, the fingerprint sensor just stopped working regularly. I was consistently tripping the "too many attempts" counter trying to get the fingerprint sensor to work, and even removing and re-adding my fingerprints wasn't fixing it. I thought the sensor was failing ... until I looked closely at it and saw just how much grime had built up on the sensor over the weeks I've had it. Ew. But this is totally normal — we wash our hands often because they get dirty, but how often are we washing our phones?

With just a few swipes of a damp cloth, you'll see the film of grime start to disappear.

If you're facing the same issue, it's time to clean up your fingerprint sensor. But first, you might as well start fresh in the software as well by removing your previously learned fingerprints. Go into Settings, Security & location and Pixel Imprint and then confirm your screen lock. Tap the little trash can icon next to all enrolled fingerprints to delete them — now it's time to clean the sensor.

Cleaning your fingerprint sensor is simple. You don't need a fancy cloth or special cleaning solutions. For most situations of regular "yeah you get some stuff stuck on there" you can just use a damp non-abrasive cloth or even a paper towel. Remove your case, if you have one, and get the towel damp (not dripping wet). Give the sensor a good little scrub — there's a good chance you'll start to see the film of grime come off right away. Without placing much pressure on it, continue to rub in a circular motion for about 15 seconds to make sure it's all cleaned up.

Set the phone aside and let the sensor dry out. Provided you didn't soak your cloth to start, it shouldn't take long. Once it's dry, open up those Security & location settings again and enroll your fingerprints. It's very likely that this simple process of cleaning the sensor has just fixed your recognition woes. It completely alleviated my fingerprint sensor problems, and I think it will for you too.

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

Best Buy Verizon Google Store Project Fi

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1 day ago

What color LG V30 should you buy: Black, silver, blue, violet, or red?

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LG V30

Which of the five LG V30 colors should I buy?

The LG V30 nominally launched with two colors, Aurora Black and Cloud Silver, but in the weeks and months since it was released we've seen other colors either break exclusivity and move to new markets or be introduced altogether. Now, we have five different colors to choose from ... well, sort of, depending on where you live and what carrier you use. Those restrictions aside, we have Aurora Black, Cloud Silver, Moroccan Blue, Lavender Violet and Raspberry Rose.

I think we can all agree those are some great names, but which one is right for you? Unlike some companies, LG has quite a bit of variation in the colors so you have a wide range of interesting options with little overlap in their styles. Here's a look at all five colors, and a few notes to keep in mind when you're choosing which one to buy.

LG V30 in Aurora Black

The Aurora Black V30 is classy, simple and stealthy. Black glass combines with shiny black metal to create a sleek look similar to many other glass-and-metal flagships of the same color. You don't get much flair here aside from the shiny metal accents, but that's just fine if you're someone drawn to this blank color style

Who is it for?

If you're all about keeping things simple and under the radar, Aurora Black is a great choice. Maybe you'll let a brighter or more colorful case jazz things up a bit later, but out of the box you'll be able to keep it clean. Unlike most black phones the black V30 doesn't seem to hide scratches any better than any other color, perhaps on account of its subtly lighter coloring and light texture on the back.

LG V30 in Cloud Silver

Using the word "silver" is a little bit of a misnomer, as the Cloud Silver V30 really is more of a mirrored finish. Both the back and polished metal sides are an extremely light silver color that reflects much of the colors in its surroundings to give a unique look depending on the angle you see it from. It's flashy, literally, and it's a good antithesis to the Aurora Black color.

Who is it for?

Cloud Silver is for someone who wants their phone to stand out, even if they don't buy a flashy case for the phone. It's super-reflective and will always catch your eye. Just keep in mind that it's also a bit more susceptible to showing smudges and fingerprints.

LG V30 in Moroccan Blue

Moroccan Blue is a great middle ground between the black and silver color options. Its deep blue color doesn't catch your eye at a glance, but is clearly differentiated from the black color as it slightly shifts in the light between blue, green and turquoise. The blue metal sides stand out far more than the black ones, but aren't eye-searing bright like the silver finish.

Who is it for?

There aren't that many shiny blue phones out there, so from that perspective Moroccan Blue is a great choice to feel like your V30 is differentiated. But it manages to stand out without the extreme reflectivity of the Cloud Silver color, meaning you don't have to worry as much about scratches or fingerprint smudges showing.

LG V30 in Lavender Violet

LG V30 Lavender Violet

Forget about the whole "violet" bit of the name, the Lavender Violet V30 really should be just "lavender" as it perfectly describes this color. It's not far off from the Cloud Silver, but with that subtle hint of lavender or light purple to set it off. In darker light it can start to look a bit like a light blue, and in bright sun it's almost like the Cloud Silver color. But it's very unique in any case, as there really aren't many phones out there rocking purple of any shade.

Who is it for?

If you can get your hands on it, the Lavender Violet V30 is for someone who wants to stand out ... subtly. It isn't as shiny and reflective as Cloud Silver, nor as ostentatious as Raspberry Rose — but it's clearly different from any other phone color out there right now.

LG V30 in Raspberry Rose

The Raspberry Rose color is the one that launched the latest after the V30 was first introduced, and for some it was worth the wait. It's a gorgeous combination of different reds, and ambient lighting sets off different parts. In bright light it's more of a light red raspberry, almost approaching a deep pink, but in the dark it's more of a deep rose or garnet color. The shiny metal sides are the most visible of the bunch when looking at the phone from the front, so you never forget how sweet the back looks.

Who is it for?

This isn't just a Valentine's Day gift, it's a great color. The varying shades of red stand out from a crowd, and you probably won't want to cover up this phone with anything but a clear case — you bought it for the color, so show it off! Being a relatively limited edition device this is likely the most rare V30 color you'll see, so there's a bit of value in that as well.

Regional and carrier differences matter

Despite being a big name in phones, you'll be hard-pressed to find a market where the V30 is available in all five colors. Between various regional, country and carrier deals, you're only likely to have access to two or three of the five, if you're lucky. In the U.S., you basically just have black or silver, and most carriers will offer only one or the other. Looking unlocked and global you get access to blue more often in addition to black and silver, but if you want violet or red you'll have to live in one of a handful of countries.

As is often the case, there's typically more downside than it's worth to import a phone from a different region just to get a specific color. Yes, they look cool. And yes, they're far more exclusive. But make sure to do your research, as international phones from other regions are less likely to have the radio bands you need for your country, and in most cases you won't have access to that phone's warranty anymore. Unless you're getting a great deal or simply care about color above all else, take a look at what colors are officially available where you live and go from there.

Where to buy the LG V30

See at B&H Photo

LG V30

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2 days ago

How to customize your Chromebook launcher

10

Make your Chromebook look the way you like it with these tips.

If you're using a Chromebook that has Google Play, you might be downloading a bunch of Android apps. If you don't yet have Google Play on your Chromebook, you're probably thinking of Android apps you want to install when it comes. With all those apps — and your Chrome apps — you'll probably want to tidy things up a bit. Here's how you can do it.

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2 days ago

How to browse and add Alexa skills from any computer

1

How can I control Alexa from the web?

While the Alexa app on phones and tablets is the default for setting up and managing an Amazon Echo, you can do quite a bit with Amazon's website if you prefer. Just like shopping for anything else on Amazon, you can search for Skills to add to your personal Alexa and take advantage of the larger screen in the process. All you really need is the ability to log in to your Amazon account, and you can use any browser to manage your Alexa Skills.

Want a shortcut? Here are our 10 favorite Alexa Skills!


How to browse for Alexa skills in your browser

The key here is remembering Amazon has a dedicated section for Alexa Skills you can access from the homepage of its website. From there, assuming you've used Amazon to shop before, everything should feel familiar.

  1. Open your web browser and go to Amazon.com
  2. Hover your mouse over the Departments tab in the top left corner of the home page
  3. Move your mouse down to the Echo and Alexa section to expand your options
  4. Click on Alexa Skills under the Content and Resources section

The Alexa Skills section of Amazon gives you several navigation options. There's a banner for some of the most popular promoted Skills, individual categories for popular questions, and a full breakdown of every category on the far left. If you're just browsing for what is available, your best bet is to pick a section and read on.

If you have a more specific idea of what you are looking for, the search bar at the top of the screen will now only show you Amazon Skill-related results. You can search for anything, and if there's a skill for it you'll get some results.

How to add Alexa Skills from your browser

Once you have found an Alexa Skill you'd like to try for yourself, all you need to do is enable it. Since Alexa Skills are added to all of your Amazon Echo accessories at the same time, the only requirement on the web is that you be logged in to your Amazon account from the browser you are using. Once you are signed in, enabling a Skill is easy.

  1. Click on the Alexa Skill you want to enable
  2. Click the Enable button on the right side of the page
  3. Confirm the skill has been enabled by speaking one of the test phrases listed on the page

Once you have confirmed the Skill has been enabled, you're all done! If you have decided this Skill doesn't do quite what you were hoping, you can also use this same page to remove a Skill. As soon as you click the Enable button, it will change from orange to gray and now say Disable on it. Clicking this will remove the Skill from your account, and you'll be right back where you started.

Amazon Alexa

See more at Amazon

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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2 days ago

A beginner's guide to virtual reality

With so many virtual reality devices available, it can be difficult to even know where to start. Our beginner's guide breaks down some of the big questions you need to ask before getting your first VR device.

Big name players from a variety of industries are all racing towards a VR goal, all of them using slightly different approaches. From price to specs to space available in your home or office to equipment you already own, there are a number of factors that help you decide which device is best for you.

This isn't an exhaustive list of virtual reality devices or a spec showdown between VR powerhouses. This is a guide to the big questions you'll have to ask yourself before you get your first VR device.

Should you go mobile or PC-powered?

The first big decision anyone has to make when it comes to VR is what type of headset they're going to get. PC-powered VR headsets are powerful, generally well-built, and are often high-end, giving you the ultimate VR experience. Their power and capabilities utilize the PC powering them and, if you have the funds and the proper setup, can give you a holodeck-like experience.

A downside of PC-powered devices is that they're often tethered to a PC and that hardware has to be fairly powerful to run high-end VR, or even run the device at all. But that restriction has become slightly less of an issue recently. While PC-powered VR headsets have to be connected to a PC, that connection doesn't have to be wired. TP-Cast has a wireless adapter for the HTC Vive and HTC showed off its own wireless adapter at CES 2018. Additionally, you can run high-end VR off of some laptops and even a PC that fits in a backpack. These computers aren't cheap, but they mean that you have options that provide more mobility than VR used to have.

If you're starting completely from scratch, you'll have to buy both a VR device, which can range from $100 to around $600, plus an entire gaming rig, which can range from relatively affordable to absurdly expensive depending on what you're looking for.

Mobile VR offers the distinct advantage of being portable. You can pop on a Gear VR or Daydream headset and use it anywhere you want. You can easily bring it to a friend or family member's house or into your office. They work by just attaching your phone and, depending on the VR device, have a relatively wide range of compatibility with phones. You have to have a fairly new and high-end smartphone to use Google's Daydream, but you have multiple options that fit the bill. Samsung's Gear VR requires a Samsung device but you don't have to have the latest flagship to make it work.

The downside of these phone powered devices is that they don't stack up to PC powered VR in terms of power. And while mobile powered headsets are built well, they aren't as beefy as the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. Additionally, if you don't have a phone that can run VR you'll have to buy one. This is less of a hurdle for many people because phone carriers make it easier to get high end devices and if you go the buying outright route most people are used to buying new phones every couple of years.

If you're in the market for a new phone and are interested in checking out VR, it's worth grabbing a handset that can handle virtual reality. The phone makes up the bulk of the expense when it comes to phone-powered VR.

How much space do you have available?

Before you get any device, you need to look at the space you'll be using it in. A device can go to waste if it's not in an environment to thrive.

There are two approaches to immersive VR: devices that require sensors mounted in the room and devices that have all required sensors built in. The two main options for setups requiring mounted sensors are the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. The Oculus Rift comes with two sensors but a full room setup requires an additional censor to be purchased.

If you are mainly using VR at your desk, you don't need the full room setup.

Devices that have all of their sensors built in are generally powered by Windows Mixed Reality. These headsets scan the room you're in and can incorporate your surroundings in VR and AR.

If you are mainly using VR at your desk, you don't need the full room setup. The Oculus Rift is well suited for desk-based or seated virtual reality and also comes with a lower price tag. The HTC Vive can be used at a desk as well, but you'll have to decide if it's worth the price jump to get a device that you wouldn't be using to its full potential. Windows Mixed Reality headsets can also be used while seated or while utilizing an entire room.

What equipment do you already own and how much are you will to spend?

VR isn't the cheapest field to jump into. Computers or phones that can power VR aren't usually cheap, the VR headsets themselves have a price tag, and the software you run on them can add to the price. It's worth it of course if you can afford it. And how much you can afford is one of the biggest dictators of what device you should look to purchase.

If you're a PC gamer and just want to add VR to your gaming setup, prices likely won't surprise you. Similarly, if you have a PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 4 Pro and want to get into VR, you can look at PlayStation VR. But if you're just a casual user who wants to jump in, you can easily, and affordably, enjoy VR with a high-end smartphone.

The entry-level price for VR is the most affordable it's ever been. Google's Daydream can be purchased for only $69. Samsung's Gear VR is slightly higher but is still only around $100 with a controller. But these devices' low prices don't mean that much if you need to spend $600 or more on a phone to run VR.

PlayStation VR is closer to PC-powered VR pricing at around $360, but if you already have a PlayStation 4, that isn't as much of an investment.

Equipment you already own affects your budget the most on the PC-powered side of things. The Oculus Rift is available with Touch controllers for $399, and even if you want to add more sensors, they're only $79 each. The HTC Vive recently had its price dropped to an alluring $599 and with that you get an extensive setup. Windows Mixed Reality devices vary more in price, ranging from $399 to $499. None of these is a small investment, but perhaps something many could afford. But if you have to tack on a full gaming PC, you'll be looking at a total in the thousands rather than hundreds depending on the specs you want.

Summing up your decision

VR is an expanding industry that many are going to want to be a part of. But deciding what type of device you get isn't cut and dry. After weighing your financing, space available, equipment you already own, and looking at how you'll be using your device, you can cut down your choices to a few options.

Once you've decided the type of device you want, check out some of our head-to-head comparisons to help you pick a specific headset:

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3 days ago

How to download Android One launcher with Google Feed on your phone

7

It's basically the Pixel 2 launcher with the search bar at the top.

Android One phones like the Xiaomi Mi A1 and Moto X4 are great for a lot of reasons, and one of the main highlights is the stock Android experience they ship with. If you own a non-Android One phone and want to spruce it up a bit, you can now download the launcher that ships with these phones for free.

Amir Zaidi (also known as AmriZ) is the developer responsible for this, and by downloading the APK file he's created, you can get a fully working version of the Android One launcher on your phone right now. There's support for adaptive icons, you swipe up to access your app drawer, and there's even a working Google Feed on the left-most side.

If that sounds a lot like the Pixel 2 launcher, that's because it's incredibly similar. The two main differences are that the search bar is at the top rather than below the dock and there's no At a Glance widget, but depending on who you are, you might prefer that over the Pixel 2's UI.

In order to get the Android One launcher on your phone, just download the APK file to your phone, install it, and you'll be good to go. The launcher won't work if you own a phone with the Android One or Pixel Launcher already installed, but if you're reading this, chances are that's not the case.

You can now download the Google Pixel 2 launcher on any phone

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3 days ago

Try one of these royally dark Disney themes

10

Call me a princess. I dare you.

I'm a child of the 90's, and as such, I was raised on Disney Princess movies. Everyone thinks princesses — and everything around them — should be light, bright, and saccharine. Well, we've got a princess theme that brings our favorite royals into the lovely embrace of the dark. Whether you kick it old-school with Snow White or rock the harem pants with Jasmine, we've got you covered for the six "original" Disney Princesses. Sorry, Raps, we'll get to you later.

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4 days ago

Best Android Tablets in 2018

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

See at Best Buy

The two most important things to have in a full-size Android tablet are a great screen and software that uses every inch of it. That's what makes the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 the best Android tablet.

An amazing screen from Samsung is no surprise. The 9.7-inch 2048x1536 Super AMOLED on the Tab S3 carries on the tradition, and it's simply the best display on a tablet. Android and Samsung mesh to provide a great software experience and the new S Pen and its 4096-level pressure sensitivity makes taking notes or producing digital artwork a breeze.

Bottom line: The Galaxy Tab S3 is the best tablet Samsung has ever made, as well as the best Android Tablet you can buy.

One more thing: The internal hardware is also top notch and will keep up with everything you would want to do.

Why the Galaxy Tab S3 is the best

It's exactly what we want from a tablet.

In 2018, a tablet is no longer just a bigger version of a phone. They have to pull extra duty and be a media player, a book reader, a web browser, and a work tool without any complaints or complications. Some tablets are great at some of these things, but the Tabs S3 is great at all of them.

Working, whether it's on a presentation for your boss or a paper for your professor, is very different on a tablet than it is on a more conventional computer. Apps are designed to be more simple and easy to use with a touch screen, while omitting many of the battery-hungry features you would find in their desktop counterparts. The biggest hurdle has always been finding a way to organize the things you're doing on your screen while you're doing them. Samsung has had this figured out for a while and with the debut of native features with Android Nougat, you'll be able to run your apps just how you like to run them.

The S Pen takes things over the top. A tablet with a wonderful screen, a custom-fit keyboard and cover, and powerful hardware is made better with a fully capable digital pen. The excellent Wacom integration makes taking notes or using photoshop a fluid and enjoyable experience that you won't find with any other tablet on the market.

Best smaller tablet

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

See at Amazon

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 is an 8-inch tablet that would have been the best tablet you can buy last year. It's the predecessor to our top pick, and shares features like an incredible screen, great battery life and plenty of power.

The Tab S2 may be a year old, but it's still a great tablet if you're looking for one in the 8-inch category. And the price won't make you cringe — you can pick up a Tab 2 for under $300.

Bottom line: If you want something super thin and ultra-light, the Tab S2 is the best.

One more thing: The Tab S2 also has a fingerprint sensor!

Best on a budget

Amazon Fire HD 10

See at Amazon

The Amazon Fire HD 10 isn't going to blow you away with speeds and feeds — that's not why it exists. Instead, it's simply the best budget tablet for doing many things, from watching movies and TV shows to playing mindless games. Best of all, at under $150, you can hand it to your kids and not worry about it.

Bottom line: The Fire HD 10 is one of the best values in technology products you'll find.

One more thing: Did we mention that it's under $150?

For the enthusiast

Pixel C

See at Google

We liked the Pixel C when it first arrived at the end of 2015. We thought the design was striking and the NVIDIA Tegra X1 processor handled everything well. We really loved the crisp display and thought the package represented the Pixel brand very well. It reached its full potential with Android 7.0 and the native multi-window display feature.

Enthusiasts will love the Pixel C because the hardware is open and unlockable. Third-party Android builds or Linux builds or something nobody has thought of yet can be flashed to the tablet with no worries and the path back is as easy as downloading the software from Google.

Bottom line: The community will continue support for the Pixel C long after it officially ends because of its open hardware and bootloader.

One more thing: Because this is a Google hardware product, the Pixel C will be among the first Android tablets to be updated with new features.

Conclusion

Like most things, there is no one Android tablet that's right for everyone. That's one of the big reasons Google was able to break Apple's dominance in mobile computing — it offers a choice for just about everyone. Whether you want the stylish look and thin profile of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 or the high-powered yet low-priced NVIDIA Shield K1 — or anything in between — someone is making a tablet that will work for you.

Our pick with the Galaxy Tab S3 is tough to beat. Great construction, an awesome screen, and Samsung's unique S Pen experience put it at the top of our list.

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

See at Best Buy

The two most important things to have in a full-size Android tablet are a great screen and software that uses every inch of it. That's what makes the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 the best Android tablet.

An amazing screen from Samsung is no surprise. The 9.7-inch 2048x1536 Super AMOLED on the Tab S3 carrys on the tradition, and it's simply the best display on a tablet. Android and Samsung mesh to provide a great software experience and the new S Pen and its 4096-level pressure sensitivity makes taking notes or producing digital artwork a breeze.

Bottom line: The Galaxy Tab S3 is the best tablet Samsung has ever made, as well as the best Android Tablet you can buy.

One more thing: The internal hardware is also top notch and will keep up with everything you would want to do.

Update, January 2018: The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is still the best Android tablet you can buy right now.

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4 days ago

How to connect PlayStation VR to your PC

0
How to connect PlayStation VR to your PC

You can connect your PSVR to your PC with the help of some third-party software.

Sony's entry into the VR world has been a hit — their head-mounted display is as comfortable as they get, and the library of quality games continues to grow. For some of you, however, PlayStation VR (PSVR) games might not be enough. Thanks to some clever programming by the developers at Odd Sheep Games, you can actually connect your PSVR to your PC. Trinus PSVR is a piece of software that handles all the communication between your PC and PSVR that would normally never happen.

Why would you want to connect your PSVR to anything other than a PS4? If you have a library of Steam games on your PC, whether VR or not, you can play them with Trinus PSVR. If you'd like to watch movies or TV in VR, you can also do so through the PSVR head-mounted display.

If this is something you've always wanted to do, we're here to show you how to get it all set up.

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6 days ago

Samsung Gear Sport vs. Fitbit Ionic: Fitness smartwatch showdown

11

Samsung and Fitbit have two of the best smartwatches out now for Android users, and we're here to help you determine which is best for your lifestyle.

If you're an Android user and are in the market for a new smartwatch, you're currently in a slightly awkward position. Google doesn't seem to be giving Android Wear any sort of real attention for the time being, and as such, your best bet is to go with third-party solutions.

The Samsung Gear Sport and Fitbit Ionic were both released in late 2017, and they've quickly become two of the best wearables on the market. Samsung's Gear Sport is an evolution (and a shrinking) of the Gear S3 that came out in 2016, and the Ionic is Fitbit's first real shot at the whole smartwatch game.

Both are excellent products, but the one that's best for you will ultimately come down to services and features you're looking to use.

Let's dive in.

Design and fit

As someone with small wrists, I was very pleased to find that both the Gear Sport and Fitbit Ionic aren't oversized like most Android Wear options. The Gear Sport has a round display that sits atop a shiny, metal squircle body, and it's definitely the better looking of the two. The watch doesn't look out of place whether you're at the gym or in the office, and thanks to the 22mm band size, you can swap out the included silicon band with just about anything you'd like.

There are two physical buttons on the right side of the Gear Sport's body, and while these work fine, the real star of the show is the rotating bezel that surrounds this display. The bezel can be rotated left and right for navigating the Gear Sport's UI, and along with having excellent tactile response it also makes it easy to go find what you're looking for without covering up the screen with your fingers.

Samsung has the looks and Fitbit excels at comfort.

On the other hand, the Fitbit Ionic very much looks the part of the fitness-focused watch that it is. The square body is boxy and not nearly as sleek as Samsung's option, but what the Ionic lacks in looks it makes up for with how darn comfortable it is.

The Gear Sport isn't an uncomfortable watch by any means, but you almost immediately forget that you're wearing the Ionic as soon as you strap it on. Not only is the included band soft and easy to adjust, but the lighter weight of about 50 grams compared to 67 grams with the Sport makes a big difference.

Samsung's nailed the aesthetics down, but if you prefer comfort over looks (which is arguably more important when being active), the Ionic is the way to go.

Fitness features

Speaking of being active, this is the thing that both Samsung and Fitbit are marketing the most for their respective wearables.

As expected, both the Gear Sport and Fitbit Ionic do a great job at counting your steps, calories burned, and recording a variety of different exercises (including swimming thanks to 5 ATM waterproofing on each one). There are obviously small discrepancies between the stats that each one tracks, but one area where I found the Ionic to be much more accurate is with how many floors I walked up and down. On the Gear Sport, I found myself having to walk up and down a flight of stairs twice before it registered a single one, whereas the Ionic was able to keep up without any trouble.

Another area where the Ionic shines is with on-screen workouts. There are three loaded onto the watch by default, and you can get more with a subscription to Fitbit Coach. Being able to follow personalized workout routines right on your wrist is extremely convenient, and while Fitbit Coach will cost you $40 for an annual subscription, it's one of those things that's hard to live without once you've tried it.

The Gear Sport has a surprisingly extensive fitness package.

The Gear Sport doesn't have anything like this, but it does have a few nice features of its own that the Ionic surprisingly lacks. You can use the Gear Sport for logging your food, water, and caffeine intake throughout the day, set desired targets you'd like to hit during a workout, and even view your weekly performance for steps, calories, heart-rate, etc. These are all things that Fitbit could add to the Ionic with a future software update, but for the time being, you have to go to the Fitbit app on your phone to see/do any of this.

Even with that said, I still found myself more motivated to be active with the Ionic. The frequent reminders to get 250 steps in per hour is a nice encouragement to keep moving, and a lot of Fitbit's clock faces do an excellent job at showing your steps, heart-rate, and calories burned. This is entirely subjective on my part, but I did actually notice myself wanted to hit the gym more often than not when wearing the Ionic.

Smartwatchy stuff

When it comes to non-fitness-related features, this one's a mixed bag.

To be perfectly blunt, notifications on the Ionic just aren't that good. You'll get notified of any calls, texts, calendar appointments, and other apps that you grant permission to, but there's no way to interact with them. You can answer or decline phone calls, but that's about it. If you get a text or message on Hangouts, the only thing you can do is swipe it away.

The Gear Sport is the best with notifications, but Fitbit's quickly gaining strong developer support.

You can dismiss notifications on the Gear Sport, but you can also Like messages on Facebook Messenger, archive/delete emails, and respond to texts by typing on a T9 keyboard, handwriting, using your voice, or even sending emojis. I certainly wouldn't advise writing long emails on the Sport, but being able to send off a quick reply to incoming messages without having to pick up your phone helps this feel a lot more like a proper smartwatch than the Ionic.

Fitbit's app selection is smaller, but there are more big names here.

Both the Ionic and Gear Sport can store music for offline listening, have NFC chips for mobile payments, and can run apps. I prefer the use of Spotify on the Sport as opposed to Pandora on the Ionic for storing songs, and Samsung Pay has support for a lot more banks than Fitbit Pay in its early stages. When it comes to apps, however, I have to give the upper hand to Fitbit.

Samsung's wearables have had a lack of compelling apps since the original Galaxy Gear that came out in 2013, and this, unfortunately, hasn't changed all that much five years later. There are some big names here, such as MyFitnessPal, ESPN, Bloomberg, and Endomondo, but most of what you'll find in the Galaxy Apps store isn't worth messing with.

Numbers-wise, there are much fewer apps available for the Ionic. However, just about three months since its release, there are already apps for Starbucks, Yelp, Philips Hue Lights, Nest, Strava, Flipboard, E*TRADE, and others. Smartwatch apps aren't something I enjoy spending a lot of time in, but paying for my coffee at Starbucks and turning on my Hue lights (with an official app I don't have to pay for) are things I can't do on the Sport, and likely won't ever be able to.

Other tidbits

A few other things I noticed while using the Gear Sport and Ionic before we wrap things up:

  • You have to download four apps to use the Gear Sport on a non-Samsung phone. For the Ionic, you only need one (the Fitbit app).
  • The Gear Sport lasts for a solid two days on a single charge, but the four or more days of use on the Ionic is amazing.
  • Fitbit chose to use a proprietary band system on the Ionic, but there are already a ton of third-party options to choose from on Amazon.
  • You can change watch faces directly on the Gear Sport, but have to open the Fitbit app to do so with the Ionic.

Final verdict

The Gear Sport and Fitbit Ionic share the same retail price of $299 (though they're both cheaper than that right now), and to be perfectly honest, both are well worth the price.

If you're in the market for a smartwatch that looks great, handles notifications well, and is a very respectable fitness tracker, it's hard to be disappointed with the Gear Sport. This is the smartwatch I've been wearing since the day it came out in mid-October, and I've really enjoyed my time with it.

See Samsung Gear Sport at Amazon

With that said, I'm moving over to the Ionic as my daily wearable. The Ionic may not be as flashy as the Gear Sport or have its rotating bezel that's endlessly fun to use, but it works better for my lifestyle. For someone who's at Starbucks just about every single day, using my watch to pay for my morning coffee is a big convenience that I like to have. The Ionic stays more secure on my wrist when I'm running compared to the Sport, Fitbit's companion app is more enjoyable to use, and when you pair the watch with the Aria 2 scale, it's easy to see why the Fitbit community has become as large as it is.

See Fitbit Ionic at Amazon

If you own a Samsung Gear Sport or Fitbit Ionic, which one did you choose and why?

Smartwatches are awesome. So why aren't they more popular?

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