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5 months ago

How to set up peripherals to use with Samsung DeX

1

It's easy to do, though you'll want to pair your Bluetooth peripherals first.

The Samsung DeX isn't a replacement for your laptop, but it does make a nice little companion computer for when you're on the go. Don't forget the peripherals, however, which you'll need if you want to actually use the desktop mode to get things done. If you're curious about what kind of peripherals to actually purchase for the device, we've got suggestions for that, too.

If you're planning to use Samsung DeX on the road, make sure that you pair all of the Bluetooth-connected peripherals before you leave the house. This way, everything will be raring to go once you plug the Galaxy S8 into the DeX dock at your final destination.

How to pair Bluetooth peripherals to Samsung DeX

You can save yourself a ton of headache if you elect to pair all of your Bluetooth peripherals to the Galaxy S8 or S8+ before you play it into the DeX dock. This is all possible from the Settings panel.

  1. In the notification shade, tap the Settings icon.
  2. Tap Bluetooth.
  3. Tap the toggle to turn on Bluetooth.
  4. Tap the device you want to pair under Available Devices.

Once the peripheral is paired, you'll see it appear under Paired Devices. Tap the Settings icon in the same line for more options, including the ability to rename the peripheral or unpair it entirely. Now that everything is paired, the Bluetooth peripherals that tag along on your journey will work instantly with the Galaxy S8. You can even test what you've paired while the device is in phone mode before plugging it into DeX.

How to set up USB-connected peripherals

The nice thing about the Samsung DeX is that you can use almost any USB-connected peripherals you might have lying around. All you have to do is plug them in while the DeX dock is operating and they should be instantly recognized.

Plug anything that's USB-connected in and it just works.

I tested the ability with both a wired mouse and a USB-connected one. The latter was of the Logitech Unifying receiver variety, and I didn't have to install software to have the scroll wheel and back buttons properly work. You can also an external webcam or high-performance microphone if you have the appropriate third-party apps installed. By default, the Galaxy S8 supports OTG, so it theoretically accepts anything that's USB-connected. You can also use DeX to offload files and apps from external flash drives.

The DeX options screen.

Note that some keyboards may require a bit of a learning curve as you figure out which keys correspond to what. Under Language and input, select Physical keyboard to take a peep at the keyboard shortcuts. You can also adjust the Pointer speed in the DeX settings panel.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Unlocked

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5 months ago

Using Alexa Conversations to make calls

5

You can make calls through Alexa! But what does that actually mean?

Alexa Conversations is Amazon's way of offering a way to contact other Alexa users with either your voice or an app, and it works great as long as you remember where everything is. It also helps if you have lots of friends and family who also use Alexa.

Want to send messages with Alexa? Here's your guide!

Here's a quick how-to on Alexa Conversations!

How to make a call with Alexa Conversations

Calling friends with Alexa Conversations can be done in two different ways. The first was is using your voice, which goes a little like this:

Alexa, make a call.

Saying this will cause Alexa to ask you who you want to call. From here, you can speak the first name of anyone in your Alexa contacts list. This list is created when you install the Alexa app on your phone. The Alexa app checks your contact information and checks to see if any of those people have an Alexa account. If they do, you'll see their name in the contact list and be able to speak their name to your Echo.

Once you say a name, the call will begin. The recipient's Alexa devices and apps will start ringing. This means the call can be answered from an Echo or an app on a phone with the same basic result.

The other way you can make a call is directly through the Alexa app on your phone. It's simple enough to do, as long as you know where all the buttons are.

  1. Open your Alexa app
  2. Tap on the Conversations tab at the bottom of the app
  3. Tap the People icon in the top right of this page
  4. Tap the contact you want to call
  5. Tap the Phone button in the top right

This will start the call, after which everything is the same as using your voice. When a call is over, you'll see the call details next to the contact in your Conversations tab with any messages you've sent.

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5 months ago

How to connect your favorite music to Alexa

6

Listening to music with Alexa is as easy as connecting the app you want to use!

Most of us spend some time every day listening to music, podcasts, or audiobooks. For some folks, it's how they workout at home, while others like to lounge on the couch and listen to a good story after a hard day at work. It doesn't really matter why you want to listen using Alexa and your Amazon Echo, just that you know how to do it when you are ready to relax with some tunes.

How Alexa lets you listen to your music

Alexa has tons of great features that you can use to stay up to date on the news, weather, and more. It also allows you to connect a variety of music and audiobook apps, so that when you want to listen to some music you're good to go. This should only take a few short minutes, and it's all done from within the Alexa app.

From within the app you can connect 6 different music specific apps, 2 different audiobook apps, and even Dish for video. You just need to take a few minutes on your phone to link the accounts so that Alexa can access the music you've already saved or liked in those apps.

Now it is worthwhile to mention that not every music app is available to link with Alexa, and once you have linked an account you'll want to adjust your default music apps from within the settings. This is so that when you tell Alexa to play an album, she accesses music from the correct app, rather than always trying to use Amazon Music.

How to connect a music app to Alexa

  1. Open the Alexa app on your phone.
  2. Tap the overflow icon in the upper left corner.
  3. Tap Music, Video, and Books.

    Open the Alexa app, Tap the overflow icon, Tap Music, Video and Books

  4. Tap the music app you want to link.
  5. Tap Link your Account.
  6. Log in to the account you want to link.

    Tap the music app you want to link, tap link your account, log in to your account

  7. Tap Okay to link the account.

    Tap okay to link the account, and you're done!

Are you listening?

Have you connected a music app to Alexa? Is this how you like to listen to music or podcasts when you're at home? Be sure to leave us a comment below, and let us know about it!

Amazon Echo

See at Amazon

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5 months ago

Where to buy the BlackBerry KEYone

48
BlackBerry KEYone

It's time to put your money where you want your keyboard to be.

The BlackBerry KEYone is on sale now, and it's available just about anywhere you'd want to buy it. The pricing is a notch below what you'd expect to pay for other flagship phones, which is nice, but really we know you're considering the KEYone for one main reason: that hardware keyboard.

If the keyboard entices you, we have all of the places where you can buy the KEYone across the U.S., Canada, UK and Germany.

United States

Canada

United Kingdom

Germany

BlackBerry KEYone

Amazon Best Buy BlackBerry Mobile

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5 months ago

How to set up the Secure Folder on the Samsung DeX

0

You don't even have to set it up through DeX if you don't want to.

Having people snoop around your stuff when you're not at your desk is seriously infuriating. Unfortunately, your best bet against this kind of personal violation is to take advantage of some of the available measures you can set up beforehand.

If you've got a Samsung DeX in your possession for dressing your regular smartphone as a desktop compute, you can set up the Secure Folder on the Galaxy S8 beforehand with a virtual compartment of sorts where you can store apps and files you hold near and dear to your heart. But if you didn't set it up before docking the Galaxy S8, you can do so later in the main DeX interface. Before you attempt to set up anything, however, make sure you've got an active Samsung account.

How to set up the Secure Folder on the Samsung DeX

  1. Open up the Device Settings from the notifications shelf.
  2. Scroll until you see the Lock screen and security section.
  3. Scroll until you see Secure Folder.
  4. Log in with your Samsung account to begin the process.

Once you've started the process and you're all signed in and ready to rev it up, you'll have to set up a Pattern, PIN, or Password to unlock the folder from DeX. Afterwards, you'll see the Secure Folder pop up on screen with a few apps already installed. You can add more as you please.

What else can the Secure Folder do?

Everything the Secure Folder can do on Samsung DeX is possible through the Galaxy S8. Here's more information on how to set up the Secure Folder so that you get the most use out of it.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Unlocked

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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5 months ago

How to create playlists in Kodi

1

Use Kodi playlists to binge your favorite shows or keep the music going at your party.

Kodi is a great way to organize and enjoy all your favorite media in one convenient place. Better yet, it's available on so many different devices, from PCs and Macs, Amazon Fire TV to Android phones and Android TV boxes.

For the sake of this guide, we'll be focusing on Kodi for Android because we're Android Central and that's what we do, so we'll be using touchscreen terminologies (tap, long press etc.), but the steps should be transferrable across all Kodi-supported platforms. For example, a tap will be a left-click on your computer or a press of the select button on your TV box remote, and a long press will be a right-click or a long press of the select button on your remote.

Without further ado, let's dive in!

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How to queue content to autoplay

Looking to binge through a whole season of your favorite show or have Kodi autoplay a series of videos like Netflix does? It's easy and doesn't actually require you to go into the playlist menu — we'll get to that later.

You're able to have separate queue playlists going for music and video content. We'll show you how to set one up using video as our example.

  1. Launch Kodi from your home screen or app drawer.
  2. Tap Videos
  3. Tap Files.

  4. Tap the source where you've stored your files. In this example, the media was stored on a microSD card.

  5. Tap on the folder containing the files you want to queue up.

  6. Long press on a video file to reveal the context menu.

  7. Tap Queue item.

This will add that video to your active queue playlist, which lives in the Music section of Kodi. You're able to add entire folders to your queue by following steps 6 and 7 with a folder instead of a file.

How to manage your Queue Playlist

So you've added a whole bunch of awesome stuff to your queue playlist but now you want to remove some repeats and re-order things. Here's how to find and manage your playlist.

  1. Tap Music.
  2. Tap the settings icon. It's in the bottom-right corner and looks like a gear.

  3. Tap Current playlist. This will bring you to your queue playlist and display the order of all the content you've added.

  4. To reorder or remove a file, long press to reveal the Context menu.

  5. Tap Move up, Move down, or Remove

How to save and/or clear your queue playlist

If you want to start from scratch and clear your playlist without removing each file individually…

  1. On the playlist screen, tap the Settings icon, the gear in the bottom-right corner.
  2. Tap save to save the playlist for later (you'll be prompted to give it a name), or clear to clear all items from the playlist.

Saved playlists will be found in the Music section even if they contain videos.

How to create a permanent playlist

The queue content playlist is great if you're just wanting to quickly watch some shows back to back or throw on some music quickly, but if you want to build out some playlists to listen to at work or for a party. Here's how to create your own.

  1. Tap Music.
  2. Tap Playlists.

  3. Tap New playlist.

  4. Tap Files to browse to where your music (or video) files are stored.

  5. Long press on the folder or file you wish to add to the playlist

  6. Tap Add.

  7. When you've added all the songs you desire and you're ready to save, tap the settings icon. It's the gear in the bottom-right corner.

  8. Tap Save playlist. You will then be prompted to give your playlist a name.

You can use that same settings menu to open an existing playlist for editing purposes.

What are "smart playlists"?

Smart playlists use a set of rules to automatically scan your music or video database and create a playlist based on the parameters you set out. To use these you must first use a scraper addon for Kodi to retrieve standardized metadata information for all of your media. This is a great option if you've got a ridiculous amount of music or videos and want to sort them out in different ways, say a music playlist of a specific genre, or a movie playlist of your favorite actor.

Here's some quick info on some reliable scraper addons for movies, music, and tv shows, which include links to their respective repositories:

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5 months ago

You can now buy an unlocked Galaxy S8 in the U.S.

59

Get an unlocked Galaxy S8 ... for a considerable amount of money.

After a few weeks of pre-orders, Samsung has fully opened sales for the U.S. unlocked versions of the Galaxy S8 and S8+.

Samsung had previously confirmed around the time of the S8's launch in April that it would eventually offer an unlocked model in the U.S., and now we have specific details.

  • Prices are $724.99 and $824.99 for the S8 and S8+, respectively.
  • They're only available in Midnight Black.
  • They will work on AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon, US Cellular and most prepaid carriers.
  • They're available with 0% 24-month financing from Samsung.
  • Samsung is offering up to $350 off when trading in an old Samsung phone.
  • The proper U.S. unlocked model numbers are G950UZKAXAA (GS8) and G955UZKAXAA (GS8+).

Galaxy S8 unlocked

See at Best Buy
See at Samsung

Galaxy S8+ unlocked

See at Best Buy
See at Samsung

While Samsung doesn't have a great track record for keeping its unlocked phones up-to-date, the company has said that it will do better this time around. It's unlikely the carrier and unlocked versions will receive updates at the same time, or the latter with as much frequency, but at least there's hope. And buying the unlocked model does ensure there's no carrier bloatware, which is nice.

Are you planning to pick up an unlocked Galaxy S8? Let us know in the comments below!

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Unlocked

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5 months ago

How to send a voice message with Amazon Alexa

0

You can now send messages through Alexa using just your voice, but there are some caveats.

Messaging with Alexa is one of those features you either don't know how you managed without or you're completely uninterested in. For those falling into the former category, there are a few quick tricks for getting the most out of this new Alexa-based messaging system. Here's what you need to know!

How Alexa Voice Messaging works

It's a fairly simple setup, and voice commands make it even easier to figure out. If you have something with Alexa onboard, and you know someone else with anything also running Alexa, you can send voice messages to each other. This can be done through the Alexa app on your phone, or entirely with your voice on an Amazon Echo or some other Alexa-based tech.

The only real restriction here is both sides of the conversation need to have Alexa and be in your contacts list. If you share Alexa with someone and their name is the primary on the account, you will need the Alexa app on your phone to show up in everyone's contact list. Editing that contact list means editing your actual phone contact list, so nicknames will show up as primary names in the app.

When you have a message waiting to be heard, you will be notified in two ways. If you have an Amazon Echo, a green ring around your notification light will let you know a message is waiting. On your phone, the Alexa app will prompt you with an incoming message notification. Both options will allow you to hear the message and reply, but the app will allow you to read the message without audio.

How to send Voice Messages with the Alexa app

From any point in the Alexa app, the Conversations icon is available in the bottom navigation. From here you can see messages that have been sent to you and send new messages. To send a voice message:

  1. Tap the New Message icon in the top left of the Conversations page
  2. Select the person you want to send a message to from your contacts list
  3. Press and hold the Microphone icon
  4. Start speaking your message
  5. Release the Microphone button when you are finished speaking
  6. Wait for the voice-to-text transcription to finish, confirming the message has been sent.

How to send Voice Messages with an Amazon Echo

If you're trying to send a message without touching your phone, the obvious answer is to call out to Alexa and have your Echo transcribe the message and send it for you.

  1. Say "Alexa, send a message" in range of your Echo
  2. When prompted, tell your Echo who the message is being sent to
  3. When prompted, speak your message
  4. Wait for Alexa to confirm the message was sent

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5 months ago

How to enable and disable Alexa skills

0

How do you make your Amazon Echo do stuff? You've got to have skills!

Alexa is the beating heart of the Amazon Echo and the platform upon which all of its abilities are based. Think of it like an operating system with apps that developers can build for it.

In this case the apps are known as skills, and they're what makes your Echo do all kinds of things like turn on your lights, control your WiFi and tell you what's happening in the world today.

Here's how you get new skills and turn them off if you're done with them.

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5 months ago

Rugged phone ratings: Everything you need to know

16

Ever wonder exactly what the IP rating on your phone means? This reference has your answers.

IP ratings are a way to describe the ingress protection of your phone. IP itself stands for International Protection Marking, but you might see it called ingress protection because it fits and describes exactly what it is. Phones like the Galaxy Note 7 are rated with an IP specification (IP68) to tell you how resistant to dust and water they are.

IP ratings are broken into two numbers. The first number is the level of protection against solid objects — things like fingers, tools, wires, and dust. The second number is the liquid protection rating and is tested using water (no water specifications for things like salinity or TDS are referenced) and not other liquids unless specifically mentioned.

Because there are so many different combinations in use, a set of charts will help explain it all.

Solid particle protection

Solid IP number How effective is it? IP number How effective is it? 0 Not protected at all against any size particle. 1 Particles larger than 50 mm can not enter in enough quantity to affect the normal operation. 2 Particles larger than 12.5 mm
This is the minimum rating to protect against putting your finger(s) into a thing. 3 Particles larger than 2.5 mm can not enter in enough quantity to affect the normal operation. 4 Particles larger than 1 mm can not enter in enough quantity to affect the normal operation. 5 Dust Protected
Dust must not enter in enough quantity to affect the normal operation. 6 Dust Tight
Dust can't enter, even in a vacuum.

The type of dust used for the last two tests could matter and no specifications or particle sizes are given like they are in the first five tests. If you're working with something like a dry stone saw that creates really fine particles, you might want to assume you're not protected. For everyday use, though, dust is dust.

Liquid ingress protection

Liquid IP number How effective is it? IP number How effective is it? 0 Not protected at all. 1 Protected against dripping water. 2 Protected against dripping water when tilted up to a 15-degree angle from its normal position. 3 Protected against spraying water when tilted up to a 60-degree angle from its normal position. 4 Protected against splashing water at any angle. 5 Protected against water sprayed from a 6.3 mm nozzle at 12.5 Liters/minute and 30 kPa (pressure) from three meters away for three minutes. 6 Protected against water sprayed from a 12.5 mm nozzle at 100 Liters/minute and 100 kPa (pressure) from three meters away for three minutes. 6K Protected against water sprayed from a 6.3 mm nozzle at 75 Liters/minute and 1,000 kPa (pressure) from three meters away for three minutes. 7 Protected against immersion in water up to one meter at normal pressure for 30 minutes. 8 Protected against immersion in water one meter or deeper at specifications detailed by the manufacturer. 9K Protection against water sprayed from high-flow and high-pressure jets at high-temperature
Water volume of 14 to 16 Liters/minute
Water pressure of 80 to 100 bar
Water temperature of 80-degrees Celsius
Distance of 0.10 to 0.15 meters

Ratings of 5, 6, 6K and 9K are pretty extreme protection and something we'll never see on a phone or watch or tablet. I'm pretty sure 6K testing would damage your skin, and 80-degree Celsius liquids are a bit above the comfort level of most of us. For phones and other electronics, the 7 and 8 ratings are more important.

In addition, the IP Code has letter designations for additional protection. Like any K rating, you'll never see these on a cell phone.

Additional protection designation

Letter code What it means Letter code What it means f Oil resistant H High voltage protection M Motion during any testing S No motion during any testing W Weather resistant

Note that these additional ratings aren't mandatory. Their absence doesn't mean your phone (or any other IP rated product) will not survive exposure. It just says that nobody is certifying it.

Most importantly, having an IP rating doesn't mean you can do anything you like with your phone. Phones aren't tested individually and they are mass produced. Your phone might fail if you take it into the pool, even if rated for water resistance. Having the IP rating does mean that the people who made it should be willing to stand behind it for any warranty issues.

We wouldn't use an IP certification as the only reason to buy a phone, but having it certainly can be an added bonus!

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5 months ago

How to use Alexa's to-do list

0
Echo Dot

The brains behind your Amazon Echo can also manage your to-do list.

The beauty of using something like Alexa to manage your to-do list at all is the voice interaction. You suddenly think of something that you need to take care of later, but where's your phone, or even a pad and pen?

Alexa can take down that note for you, and here's how you use the to-do list feature.

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5 months ago

Unknown Sources: Everything you need to know!

5

The Unknown Sources setting isn't the mystery — or the demon — it's made out to be if you know a little bit about it.

To install apps that you downloaded from somewhere besides the "official" app store from Google or the company that made your phone, you need to enable the "allow unknown sources" setting. There has always been a bit of confusion about what it is exactly and how things work. We're going to remedy that and talk through everything you need to know about unknown sources. Don't worry, it's gonna be fine.

What are 'Unknown Sources'?

No, not people who leak government stuff to the press. The Android kind of unknown sources. It's a scary label for a simple thing: a source for apps you want to install that is not trusted.

Unknown = not vetted directly by Google.

When we see the word "trusted" used this way, it means a little more than it usually would. In this case, trust means the same as it does for a web certificate and everyone involved on all sides will vouch for the source. Google says you can trust Google Play and Samsung Apps (for example) because they don't require you to enable the installation of unknown (not in the circle of trust) sources to install apps from either. Samsung feels the same way and so does your carrier.

In short, a trusted source is one that the company you gave your money to, the company who built it, and the company who wrote the software all have vouched for.

Why is there even a setting for this?

Half the people reading this will think that no company should allow us to install apps they do not trust. The other half will think that nobody should be telling me what apps I can and can't install. Having a setting in place is the only real solution.

It's not really a good idea to just let any app from any place get installed on your phone. When you block app installs from places not in that trusted circle, random drive-by downloads can't happen. Full stop. It's insanely difficult to find an exploit that can force you to install an app you don't want. It should be, because that sort of trickery is never done for a good reason. Going one step further and just outright blocking the darn things is the type of over-the-top phone security Google loves.

And Google doesn't claim that apps from other places are a bad thing. It has a whole page that tells app devs how to go about offering apps without putting them in the Play Store. All Google has to say about the Unknown Sources setting is:

User opt-in for apps from unknown sources

Android protects users from inadvertent download and install of apps from locations other than Google Play (which is trusted). It blocks such installs until the user opts in to Unknown sources in Settings > Security on their device. Users need to make this configuration change before they download your apps to their devices.

Note that some network providers don't allow users to install applications from unknown sources.

Google is cool with developers doing it and cool with you downloading and installing them. But they make sure you opt in for it before you do.

Are unknown sources a bad thing?

Nope. But enabling the setting for no good reason or leaving it on all the time is.

The internet is a big place. There are plenty of places to get apps that are as trustworthy as Google or Samsung or LG or any other company with their own on-device app store. You just need to do a tiny bit of poking around to make sure a place is trustworthy before you grab an app from it.

The Unknown Sources setting is like the stove: turn it off when you're done using it.

Reading this article is a good start. Read other Android websites, too. We're not afraid to tell you when you can trust something or some place. Here are two places I trust as much as anything from Google: Amazon and F-Droid. I use them both and am not afraid to tell you to use them if they have something you want. And everyone else here would say the same thing. In essence, Android Central trusts Amazon and F-Droid and thinks you can, too. But because of Google's definition of trust, in this case, they can't. Knowing that both Amazon and the folks running F-Droid scan all their files and are diligent about how they are distributing them isn't enough for Google because they need to do those things themselves before they trust a source.

What is a bad habit is leaving the unknown sources box checked if you don't need to. If an app you installed will run with the setting disabled, disable it until you need it again. If an app won't run without it enabled, find out why before you install it.

You're still protected

Google wants to scan every single app you install right before you install it. It will ask you to let it do so and to let it do it in the future the first time you try. At Google I/O, we were told that Google scans 50 billion apps per day to ferret out any with malware, including the ones you are installing. And this doesn't depend on having the latest version of Android. Every single phone with access to Google Play running Android 4 or higher has these protections built in through Google's Play Services feature. While no type of scanning is going to be 100% foolproof, chances are someone else has installed that app before you and Google has looked at it, and they will look harder if it does anything fishy. Or has a hidden ability to do anything fishy.

Fifty. Billion. Every day. That's a helluva lot of apps.

Google, Apple, Samsung, and every other company takes the integrity of their app store very seriously. Nothing makes them look worse than me telling you about bad apps that slipped through, so they do everything they can to keep it from happening. In this case, that benefit rolls over to apps you installed from elsewhere. Win all around!

Why don't companies just put their apps in Google's Play Store?

That's a question with a big, convoluted answer that no two people will agree on. Let's just say that Google places some restrictions on ways developers can make money. Not everyone is willing to accept those restrictions.

Of course, test apps and beta apps and project apps are better off being hosted locally and set to whoever needs them. But for big production ready apps, not everyone wants to use Google Play.

How do I turn Unknown Sources on?

  1. Open the device settings. Look for a gear icon in the notification shade near the top left corner and tap on it.
  2. Scroll down to the Security section and tap to open it.
  3. Scroll down to the entry labeled Unknown sources and read the subtext because you should always read any and all subtext in a "security" section of settings.
  4. Read the pop-up box that tells you Google isn't responsible if you install apps from places they do not explicitly trust and click OK to enable the setting.

You disable the setting the exact same way. Toggle the switch off and installation is once again blocked for apps downloaded outside of trusted app stores.

So should I enable the setting?

If you want to install an app that you trust — you know the source and are sure they aren't pulling a fast one and that the app is exactly as the developers have written it, then you can enable it when you need it.

There are a lot of different ways to define trust, but we think that word of mouth is one of the best ones. Your friends, people in forums and comments, and your favorite Android blog can tell you whether or not they think you should trust a thing or place, and whoever is saying it should be willing to tell you why.

Most importantly, you don't have to worry about temporarily enabling Unknown Sources if you trust a place that has an app you want to install.

I trust Amazon because it vets every app in its store and it is a popular source. That means if an app slips through, it will get caught quickly. I trust F-Droid because every app it offers has the full source code available and provides a checksum to make sure you're downloading a verified copy that it compiled itself. Not everyone wants the source code. You don't necessarily have to know either of these things because someone else has looked into it and the information is available. You should still do any personal vetting that you need to feel comfortable, but generally, a site that's not trustworthy is going to be talked about even more.

Do a little bit of homework and you're golden. Just be sure to turn the setting back off once you're done installing your apps.

Wrapping it up

This is a simple breakdown to make sure everyone can understand what's going on when asked to enable the Unknown Sources setting or when you see people warning against it. There are other more nerdy things like signing keys and heuristic scanning that could be talked about, but we feel that will muddy the water a little. If you're the type of person interested in the minutiae, the Android Developers site has plenty of information about how Google Play works and what else Google does to make it safe. It's great reading if you're inclined.

For everyone else, just know that the Unknown Sources setting isn't really a mystery or anything to be afraid of if you need it. And when you don't make sure it's turned off.

Stay safe!

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5 months ago

Best mobile plan add-ons for international travel

Don't let your wireless bill spoil your summer vacation!

With summer just around the corner, you've likely finalized your travel plans before you set for a summer vacation.

If your travels are going to take you out of the U.S., you'll want to know your carrier's international roaming plans and policies before you accidentally rack up a massive bill. We've broken everything down in terms of the Big Four carriers.

This article is limited to comparisons of the Big Four U.S. carriers, which comprise the majority of cellphone subscribers in the U.S. For information about Project Fi and how it compares to the Big Four in terms of roaming, check out our dedicated roaming portal.

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AT&T

AT&T offers plenty of great options for traveling throughout North America and internationally as well. There are two separate options for the Americans and crossing the ocean.

For travel to Canada and Mexico

If you're planning a trip to Canada or Mexico, AT&T gives you unlimited talk and text along with access to your plan data with no roaming charges. This unlimited roaming within North America is a feature included with all AT&T Unlimited Plus and AT&T Unlimited Choice plans, but you may be able to add it to other plan types before you embark on your trip.

Learn more

For overseas travel

If you travel plans will see you leaving the shores of North America, AT&T has a few different plans for international plans that are worth your consideration

Your best bet is probably the AT&T International Day Pass. For just $10 a day, you'll be able to take your domestic talk, text, and data plan to over 100 countries, including unlimited calls within any qualifying country. You're only charged for days you make a call, send a text, or use data — which means you'll want to be aware of any and all apps that use data in the background.

Either prepare to pay $10 to enjoy the full features of all your apps, or spend some time turning off background data updates on your phone so you don't get dinged.

Learn more

Not looking to piecemeal your mobile plan together as you travel? Then you'll want to consider the AT&T Passport, which allows you to pay up front for 30 days of service in over 200 countries. You pay a flat fee per device that gives you unlimited texting (both SMS and MMS), unlimited Wi-Fi access at participating hotspots, and then tiered data amounts and cost per minute of talk based on the pricing plan you go with:

  • $40 for $1.00 per minute to any country and 200MB of data ($0.25 per MB for overage)
  • $60 for $0.50 per minute to any country and 300MB of data ($0.20 per MB for overage)
  • $120 for $0.35 per minute to any country and 800MB of data ($0.15 per MB for overage)

Obviously, the same advice applies regarding apps that use data in the background, but if you're planning to use texting as your primary way of communicating with your friends and family back home, it's a great option.

If you end up traveling without an international travel plan, you'll have to abide by AT&T's pay-per-use rates which differ depending on the countries you're visiting.

Learn more

As previously mentioned, AT&T offers Unlimited Wi-Fi in select countries. You'll need the AT&T Global Wi-Fi app, however, we wouldn't recommend you plan your travel data solely around this service — the most recent app reviews in the Google Play Store claim the app doesn't work as advertised, and the latest app update came back in January 2017.

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Sprint

Sprint offers Global Roaming for all its LTE/GSM capable phones, which offers free texting and free data (at 2G speeds) in over 100 countries. Calls are available for a flat rate of $0.20 per minute.

For your high-speed data needs, Sprint offers data passes that give you up to 4G speeds — get a 1-day speed data pass for $5, or a 7-day data pass for only $25. Which pass you go with will depend on the length of your stay — if it's a short trip five days or under, you may be better off sticking with day passes as needed, but the choice is yours. There's no need to decide before you travel, as you're able to opt in or out of high-speed data at any time while traveling.

For travel to Canada and Mexico

If you're traveling to Canada or Mexico you get the same free texting and free 2G data, but a discounted rate on the 4G data passes — available for just $2 a day or $10 a week. Just another reason to consider visiting our neighbors to the north and south.

For overseas travel

Sprint customers are best off going to Sprint's International Roaming calculator, which asks you where you're going and which device you plan to travel with and then the site gives you a breakdown of the available coverage in the area along with available data speeds.

Most international destinations qualify for the $5 a day/$25 a week high-speed data passes, though China's rates are doubled to $10 a day and $50 a week.

Learn more

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T-Mobile

T-Mobile is generally good about offering some form of free roaming to its customers, whether they're in Canada or Mexico, or further abroad.

For travel to Canada and Mexico

Customers on T-Mobile ONE or Simple Choice North America plans get free, unlimited calls, texts and data while traveling in Canada or Mexico. Calls and texts can be made back to the U.S. or within the country they're visiting. Data speeds while in Canada or Mexico are limited to 128kbps on T-Mobile ONE or, for $5 more per month, speeds can be increased to 256kbps on T-Mobile ONE Plus. Higher speeds can be obtained using an On-Demand Data Pass.

T-Mobile also offers Mexico + Canada Unlimited, which lets you use your 4G LTE data while in Mexico and Canada just like you do in the U.S., a feature that's available for just $5 a month on T-Mobile ONE Prepaid plans.

For overseas travel

If you're traveling abroad, you may want to consider the T-Mobile ONE Plus International add-on to your T-Mobile ONE plan for just $25 a month. Doing so gives you unlimited international calling to landlines in over 70 countries and mobile numbers in over 30, and unlimited in-flight Wi-Fi on Gogo-enabled flights (although the Gogo option is added on the regular One Plus plan, which is an additional $5 per month).

Find out T-Mobile's international calling rates or for specific coverage and rate information for the countries you're visiting, click the link below.

Learn more

Verizon

Verizon was one of the first carriers to offer a TravelPass that lets you take your domestic talk, text and data allowances with you wherever you're traveling for a daily fee.

For travel to Canada and Mexico

TravelPasses for Canada and Mexico are only $5 a day per device, and allow you to bring your talk, text and data allotments with you as you go. If you're on the Verizon Unlimited plan, Mexico and Canada coverage is included without needing to pay any extra fees.

For overseas travel

Verizon offers TravelPasses for $10 a day, that allow you to take your domestic Verizon plan with you to over 100 different countries. You're only charged on the days you use your device abroad, so you'll want to be sure to turn off any app features that use background data.

Learn more

Which should you get?

Every carrier approaches roaming differently, and some are more generous than others when it comes to including roaming privileges in regular plans.

  • If you're looking for simplicity, go with Verizon. The company makes it super easy and straightforward to add international roaming if you're on an older postpaid plan, and if you're on a new unlimited plan, it's included if you're traveling to Canada or Mexico.
  • If you never want to pay a cent extra for roaming, go with T-Mobile. On a T-Mobile ONE plan, roaming is included practically anywhere in the world, albeit at slower speeds. Still, if you just want to connect to the internet, you can't go wrong with T-Mobile.

Your turn!

What are your picks for the best carrier for international roaming? Let us know in the comments below!

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5 months ago

How to customize Hello Bixby on the Galaxy S8

15

Make the most of Hello Bixby with a little customization.

Bixby is Samsung's take on the virtual assistant, offering a similar experience to Google Now on the Galaxy S8 and S8+, along with the Galaxy Note 8 . You can access Bixby either by swiping right on the home screen or by pressing the Bixby button (on the left of the S8, below the volume buttons) at any time.

But Bixby is only going to be useful if you make it your own. Here's how to customize your Bixby experience.

How to customize your Hello Bixby cards

Feeling overwhelmed by all the content displayed when you check Bixby? It's set to display content from all supported apps by default to showcase everything it can do. Fortunately, it's quick and easy to customize your Bixby experience

  1. Press the Bixby button or swipe right to access Hello Bixby.
  2. Tap the settings icon in the top right corner.
  3. Tap Hello Bixby cards.

  4. Tap the switch next to all Apps
  5. Tap the switch next to the apps you want to see on Bixby.

Bixby only currently supports a limited number of apps, and as you might expect, they're mostly Samsung's stock apps. If you use Google apps such as Gmail or Google Photos, you're out of luck for the time being.

How to re-organize Hello Bixby cards

Want the weather card or any other card to be at the top of your Hello Bixby menu? You can customize the order of your cards to fit your needs.

  1. Press the Bixby button or swipe right on the home screen to launch Hello Bixby.
  2. Tap the menu button on the card you want at the top. It looks like three dots in a vertical line.
  3. Tap Pin to top.

It's just that easy. You can pin multiple apps to the top, but just know that the last card you pin will go straight to the top, so order your cards accordingly.

How will you customize Bixby?

Personally, I decided to turn off almost everything, even mostly useful features like Flipboard briefing. While I generally liked the content it was providing, I always find that Bixby cuts off the full headline and that's really annoying.

What do you think of Hello Bixby so far? Love it? Hate it? Let us know in the comments!

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Unlocked

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5 months ago

How to set up Samsung's Secure Folder on the Galaxy S8

16

Secure Folder makes it easy to keep your stuff where only you can get to it.

Secure Folder is a component of Samsung Knox that gives you a "compartment" to hold apps and files that is separate from the rest of the phone. You don't need to create a new user or go through any hoops to get it up and running, and once you're all set up you can not only keep private files private but you can also use apps with a separate user login, or add apps that you only use through your secured profile.

Secure Folder is one of those awesome things Samsung offers on every Galaxy S8 or (Galaxy S7 with Android 7.0) so you don't have to go looking for an app that tries to do the same thing.

As mentioned, it's easy to get started.

Set up Secure Folder

Secure Folder uses your Samsung account, so you'll need to have that setup and running. If you downloaded anything from Samsung Apps you're already set up. If not, the easiest way to do it is to open Samsung Apps and check out some icon themes. You'll be walked through the setup process. Don't worry, it's easy. Once that's done, here's how to set up Secure Folder.

  1. Open the device settings by tapping the gear icon in the upper right corner of your notification shade.
  2. Scroll down until you see the Lock screen and security section. Tap to open it.
  3. Scroll down until you see the Secure Folder entry and tap it to open the setup process.
  4. Log in with your Samsung account.

A few apps are part of Secure Folder by default, but you can add or remove most any app you like.

You'll see a short tutorial about what Secure Folder is and what it can do that you should look at. The setup process itself is simple. You sign in, agree to the terms and conditions, and set an unlocking method. you can use the same options you use to unlock your phone: Pattern, PIN, Password, Fingerprint or Iris. This sets up Secure Folder with a few apps already there (Gallery, Calendar, Contacts, Email, Camera, Internet and My Files) ready for use. You can also add more, and any app you have installed on your phone can be copied to Secure Folder. You can also copy any file to Secure Folder's storage.

This adds a Secure Folder icon in your apps list. To get inside, you tap the icon and you're prompted to sign in with whatever method you used during the setup. You can customize the icon and name of the Secure Folder app, and if you go back to the Secure Folder section in your device settings you'll now find other options. Be sure to take a look at them and set things up the way you like them.

Using Secure Folder

This is the cool part. When an app is copied to Secure Folder, it's a completely separate installation. That means it doesn't share any data with the "regular" version of the app and you can log in with a different username. Things you download or save while using an app from Secure Folder aren't available through the regular version of an app, and you can even manually move files like photos or documents to Secure Folder to keep them private.

To install an app to Secure Folder

  1. Open the Secure Folder app from your app drawer by tapping the icon.
  2. Log in with the method you chose when you set things up.
  3. Look for the Add apps button and tap it.
  4. Choose an app from your phone or download an app through Google Play or Samsung Apps.

Data you save from an app in Secure Folder isn't available to a 'regular' version of the same app.

Now your new app will be inside the Secure Folder app, ready to use and completely private. You use the apps the same way you would have before, but remember that you can't share data between the secure version and the regular version. That means if you do something like add a calendar appointment through Secure Folder it won't show in the normal calendar.

You can also edit the apps you have put in Secure Folder by tapping the Edit apps button instead of the Add apps button. Choose any apps you want to remove from Secure Folder or apps you want to place a direct shortcut to the secure version of on your home screen and make the corresponding choice.

To manually move files to Secure Folder

  1. Open the Secure Folder app from your app drawer by tapping the icon.
  2. Log in with the method you chose when you set things up.
  3. Look for the Add files button and tap it.
  4. Choose the file you want to be placed in the Secure Folder storage area.

You can copy files to Secure Folder or move the originals. Remember that they will still be visible outside of Secure Folder if you copy them.

You can add any file to Secure Folder by choosing the My Files button when you add a file. This opens the file browser, and from there you just choose it like you normally would. You can also filter for just pictures, music, documents and videos by using the shortcuts when you tap the Add files button.

You have a choice to move or copy files from the regular storage to the Secure Folder. If you choose to copy them you'll still have the original that is available through any app. If you choose to move them, you'll only be able to access them through Secure Folder.

This is awesome

Privacy is pretty important. Secure Folder gives us an option to hide files and apps from view even if we lose or phones without having to encrypt the entire SD card. The concept isn't exactly new, but Samsung native implementation is great and it's something you should have a look at!

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Unlocked

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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