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1 month ago

Action Launcher's best hidden treasures: Covers, Shutters, and Quicks

9

When it comes to home screens, what you don't see can be just as important as what you do.

There are a lot of ways to hide things on a home screen. Folders are the most obvious example, but gestures hide shortcuts and functions in plain sight. But what about hiding widgets? What about hiding ugly folder icons?

Well, Action Launcher hides home screen elements better than a secret agent, and here's how to hide your things in it.

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1 month ago

Best MVNO Carriers for Data Hungry Users

29

When you need all-you-can-eat but still want to save money, Walmart Family Mobile has just the thing for you.

It's no secret that MVNOs, or alternative carriers, offers the best value when it comes to phone service — particularly mobile data. For some of us, though, the price is secondary because we need to use a lot of data. The good news is that there are options when it comes to MVNO service for data-hungry customers!

We looked at what's out there, did some math and decided that Walmart Family Mobile is the best MVNO to use if you need a lot of data every month. Here's how we made that decision.

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The Unlimited Plan

Of course, we mean unlimited 4G LTE data. You have to be careful while shopping because there are plenty of "unlimited" plans with a set limit on LTE data and a fallback to slower speeds once it's reached. Those are fine plans for a lot of people, but calling them unlimited is deceptive. Don't fall for it.

Thankfully, Walmart Family Mobile's Truly Unlimited plan is dead simple: $49.99 per month gets you all the calls, texts and LTE high-speed data you can use. No frills, no international use, no extras. Just as much LTE data and you want each and every month on T-Mobile's nationwide LTE network.


Walmart Family Mobile isn't the cheapest MVNO with an unlimited LTE data plan. Notably, Teltik offers the same no-frills unlimited LTE on T-Mobile for just $40 per month, or a plan with unlimited consumption plus 10GB of LTE hotspot for $50. We're just not sure if we can trust the company enough to call them our choice for the best because of their history.

Formerly Harbor Mobile, they left plenty of people in a pickle when they dropped AT&T service on short notice resulting in lost phones numbers. More information is available at Howard Forums. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice ...

Why Walmart is the best

Sum this one up with two words: cheap and easy.

A SIM card for Walmart Family Mobile costs just $0.99 and you can buy one right at your local store. Drop it in a compatible phone (any T-Mobile branded phone or unlocked phone with the correct network support), set things up online and enter the PIN from your monthly unlimited purchase and off you go. Most every MVNO is this easy to set up, but the kicker is that you can also walk into a Walmart store and get some help with the process if you need it. With a Walmart on every corner of the U.S., this makes a difference for a lot of people.

$50 gets you unlimited calls, texts, and data from a company that will still be here in a year.

T-Mobile's network still isn't as good for coverage as Verizon's, but it's as good as AT&T's — and that's saying plenty. It's fine for over 95% of the people in the U.S. according to companies like OpenSignal, which makes checking this sort of thing its business, but there are still people who won't be able to use T-Mobile's network so they won't be able to use Walmart Family Mobile. There's no sense in denying any of this and if you fit into this group of people your best bet is to talk to Verizon about a post-paid plan if you consume copious amounts of LTE data.

Everything you need to know about Verizon's unlimited plan

That price though. Fifty dollars a month is a substantial savings over every postpaid unlimited plan with any carrier, and having the freedom of paying for service when (and with who) you want is worth just as much as any monetary savings. MVNOs offer cheaper service because they don't have the same overhead of maintaining a physical network and focus on phone service instead of extras. You won't be able to make calls to or from Canada or Mexico. You won't be able to use the service for tethering. You won't get the same level of support for network issues that you would from T-Mobile proper. But you're saving over $20 each month and if you just want a real unlimited LTE plan for your phone Walmart Family Mobile is the best MVNO to get it from.

Things you might not like

  • T-Mobile's Network. T-Mobile has come a long way in just a few years, and we're not kidding when we say the network is as good as AT&T's now. We're also not kidding when we say it's not as good as Verizon's. It's fast, and as long as you don't venture too far off the beaten path you'll be fine. But if you regularly visit or live in rural America, T-Mobile service can be iffy at best. As always, check this out as best you can before you send any money to any company.
  • There is no tethering. None. If you want unlimited data so you can watch YouTube or Netflix all day on your phone (you can be slowed down after you use 32GB in a single month) this isn't a problem. But if you want to play online games on your iPad or use your laptop away from Wi-Fi, this is not the plan for you.
  • Not every phone is compatible. Your phone has to have support for the network frequencies T-Mobile uses. Savvy consumers already know if their phone does, but not everyone is a savvy user. If your phone comes from T-Mobile, regardless of brand, it's compatible. If you bought your phone unlocked recently, it should be fine, too. But if your phone comes from another network provider and you had it unlocked, or if it's an older model, you should check. Visit this T-Mobile page and they'll look it up for you!

MVNOs can be pretty "fluid" and things change from month to month. That means the next time we visit this one the recommendation might change, but right now we say Walmart Family Mobile is the best MVNO for data-hungry users.

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Alternative carriers (MVNOS)

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1 month ago

How to take a screenshot on your Google Pixel 2

26
Google Pixel 2 screenshot

This is one of the most fundamental features of a smartphone.

Being able to take a screenshot on our phone is something we all need to do on a regular basis. Whether it's to send off to someone or save for your own use later, it's the fastest way to grab information on your phone. For all of the changes in the new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, one thing has remained: taking a screenshot is dead simple.

How to take a screenshot on the Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL

  1. Open up whatever you want to screenshot.
  2. Press both the power and volume down buttons and hold them for 2 seconds.
  3. You'll know it completed when the screen briefly flashes and displays the screenshot.
  4. Check the notification shade to see your screenshot.
    • You can tap the notification to view it in full, or expand the notification and tap the share button to share it directly or delete to discard it.

See? That's about as simple as it gets. If you don't need to work with the screenshot right away, you can clear the notification and view your screenshots later in any gallery app of your choice or the default Google Photos app.

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

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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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1 month ago

Here's what you need to know about Dash Charge on the OnePlus 5T

49

Dash Charge is one of the best fast charging protocols available today.

OnePlus rolled out Dash Charge in the OnePlus 3 and 3T, and while this year's OnePlus 5 and OnePlus 5T featured a new wall charger, the underlying tech has remained intact. Dash Charge allows the OnePlus 5T to attain a 60% charge in just 30 minutes, and while there are other fast charging solutions that let you top up your battery quickly, the advantage with OnePlus' tech is that it doesn't overheat your phone.

Dash Charge is licensed from OPPO, the parent company of OnePlus, and is different from the majority of quick charging options available today, most of which are based on Qualcomm's Quick Charge technology.

Here's what you need to know about Dash Charge on the OnePlus 5T.

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1 month ago

How to enable the Pixel Visual Core for HDR+ on Android 8.1 — and what it actually does

37
Google Pixel 2 camera

It's time for a photo processing upgrade.

Google's new Pixel Visual Core co-processor has been sitting dormant inside the Pixel 2 and 2 XL since launch, but now with the Android 8.1 Developer Preview 2 (aka Beta 2) release we have an early look at what it can do. Well, sort of — it actually isn't enabled by default on the phones, and turning it on only gives us a glimpse of what it's capable of in third-party apps.

But if you know where to go, you can turn on the Pixel Visual Core and see what it does for your photos on the Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL. Here's how.

How to enable Pixel Visual Core processing

The process for enabling the Pixel Visual Core is a bit funky, and isn't actually in the Camera app itself but rather the Developer options — but chances are this won't be an issue for you if you're running beta software on your phone. Provided you're running the latest Developer Preview / Beta, here are the steps:

How to enable the Pixel Visual Core for HDR+ on Android 8.1 Beta 2

  1. Go into Settings, System, About phone.
  2. Find the Build number at the bottom of the screen and tap it five times.
    • You'll also need to confirm your screen lock.
  3. Go back and tap on the new Developer options menu.
  4. Scroll down under the "Debugging" subsection and tap the toggle marked Camera HAL HDR+.
  5. Reboot your phone for the function to be enabled.

What does the Pixel Visual Core do right now?

So here's the thing: enabling HAL HDR+ doesn't change the photo quality from the built-in camera app — after all, it already has HDR+ on its own without utilizing the Pixel Visual Core. Because this is a beta release, the focus is on enabling the Pixel Visual Core for third-party apps to use. Once you turn on HAL HDR+ processing, any third-party app that plugs into the standard Android Camera API will have its photos processed with the Pixel Visual Core, giving them the HDR+ treatment much in the same way the Google camera app does already purely with proprietary processing software.

The change isn't massive right now, but the future is bright with this dedicated co-processor.

That means when you fire up something like Instagram or the bevy of other apps with in-app camera needs, the photos you get directly out of those third-party apps will be closer to the quality you experience when taking photos with the built-in camera app. The goal is to not have such a big drop-off in camera quality when shooting inside an app versus using the built-in camera and sharing the photo afterward. This is a huge win for developers and users alike.

Chances are you won't notice a huge difference in quality or processing speed just yet — remember, this is the first time Google is enabling the Pixel Visual Core for consumers (and just beta testers, who enable it, at that). But the computational capabilities of this co-processor go way beyond most ISPs in phones. There's also a machine learning component to the way the Pixel Visual Core works, meaning it has the potential to "learn" and improve as it's used. This processor's capabilities could be leveraged far better in the future, both with third-party apps and the built-in camera. With hardware like this, the future is bright.

Once you enable the Pixel Visual Core on your Pixel 2 or 2 XL, let us know how you're finding its capabilities!

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

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1 month ago

Top 10 Chromebook tips and tricks

ASUS Chromebook lid

If you love Chromebooks like we do you'll want to see these tips and tricks to make the most of them.

Millions of people are using Chromebooks, but despite their simple and "for everyone" nature, not every powerful feature is easy to access. Every Chromebook (or Chromebox) is a powerful tool that's just waiting to be used to its full potential, and once you know a few tricks you'll feel like you're getting even more value out of your inexpensive computer.

We've rounded up the top ten tips and tricks for you to try on your own Chromebook so you can start making the most of your machine. Read along and learn a thing or two about the computer you're using.

Use third-party DNS servers

There are a lot of reasons to use third-party DNS (Domain Name Server, or the sort of "address book" for the Internet) when you're on the web. Some say they are faster, some claim they are more secure, and it's a great way to get around any silly content blocks that may be in place on the servers of the people who provide you your Internet.

Using them on your Chromebook is easy. Open the settings page, and click on the name of the network you want to change. In the window that comes up, choose the network tab. At the bottom, you can choose which name servers to use. You'll see automatic and Google options, or you can enter some manually if you know specifically what you want.

Use Chrome overview

There is a built-in overview mode on your Chromebook that lets you see every open window at a glance. If you've ever used a Mac, this is just like Expose. It's also just as useful!

On the top row of the keyboard, just press the []]] button (above the 6 key) or swipe down from the top with three fingers on your trackpad or touchscreen to go into the overview. Clicking any of the thumbnails will open that window, and clicking in a blank space will return you to the last window you were viewing. If you find yourself with a lot of windowed apps running all the time, this is a great time-saver.

As a bonus, while in overview mode you can type to filter what you're seeing. For example, typing "Google" will only show windows with the word Google in the title.

See all of your keyboard shortcuts

By now you know that Chrome OS is full of handy keyboard shortcuts for things like reloading a page or going to your home page in the browser. In fact, there are so many it's almost impossible to keep track of them all. Finding out just what you can do so you know which ones to remember is easy.

Press Ctrl + Alt + ? and you'll see an overlay of the keyboard with all the key functions and shortcuts. Soon you'll be a pro and Shift + Alt + L-ing and Alt + Shift + B-ing all over the place.

Take advantage of the 'Chrome goodies'

Chromebook goodies

Part of the value of a Chromebook is in the extras you get along with your purchase. When you buy a computer running Chrome OS you don't just get a computer — Google throws some freebies your way as well. After buying your Chromebook and getting logged in, be sure to head to the Chrome Goodies Page to pick up these offers:

  • 60-day free trial to Google Play Music All Access
  • 100GB of Google Drive space for free for two years
  • 12 free passes for Gogo Inflight Internet

The offers expire 60 days after you first associate a Google account with your Chromebook, so make sure to use them before they run out. The Google Play Music All Access and Google Drive deals can only be used once on any given Google account, but the 12 free Gogo passes are on a per-device basis.

Use an SD card for extra storage

Chromebook SD card

Most Chromebooks offer an SD card slot of some kind — be it MicroSD or standard. While the SD card slot is useful for transferring pictures off of your camera and getting them up to Google Drive or moving files between computers, for many people it may be most useful as semi-permanent external storage.

Because you'll often have no more than 32GB of internal storage (unless you feel like upgrading that yourself) on your Chromebook, you may find yourself wanting more. Pop a 64GB SD card into your Chromebook and use it just like you would the local or Google Drive storage. The SD card shows up in the Files app just like another folder, where you can use it any way you'd like.

Check out SD card deals on Amazon

Share your Chromebook — safely

When you first set up your Chromebook it feels like it's just locked to your own personal Google account, but one of the perks of Chrome OS is the ability for any machine to work with any Google account. When you're on the lock screen of your Chromebook, you can click "Sign out" in the bottom left corner and let someone else sign in with their own Google account. They'll have no access to your main account, and all of their previous activity on any other Chrome device will be set up on this new machine in its own profile.

If you just want to hand your Chromebook to someone else for a quick bit of research or something simple, use the guest mode from the lock screen. Nothing done in the guest mode will be tied to your Google account, and everything will be completely erased as soon as the guest account signs out.

If you'd prefer to lock down your Chromebook so only specific people (or just you) can sign in, head into the settings menu, and under the Users area, you can restrict sign-in on the device to only specific accounts.

Do a barrel roll

This one serves no purpose except to have fun. Open a window or two on your Chromebook and press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Reload.

All work and no play something something.

Take a screenshot

You can take a screenshot on a Chromebook just as easily as you can on any other computer. Whether you need to save a piece of information for reference or just need to help someone out by showing something visually, it's extremely simple. Hold the control key and hit the task switching key []]] to capture the screen.

You'll get a desktop notification to click and view the screenshot, or you can always find later it by opening the Files app.

More: How to take a screenshot on a Chromebook

See all of your nerdy system info

In the Omnibox type chrome://system to see a GUI filled with system information. You'll find everything there is to know about your CPU, your memory, your current X-session and more here. It's all laid out in an easy-to-read fashion, and you'll know everything there is to know about your Chromebook's insides.

We can't promise you'll understand everything you see in there, but whatever you need (or want) to know is given to you. Since it opens in a browser tab, searching Google for the parts you don't understand is easy!

Use Powerwash to clean up

Powerwash

If you want to completely remove your Google account and information from your Chromebook and reset it to a "like new" state, it only takes two clicks of the mouse in the settings to use a feature called "Powerwash." Go into your settings and search for Powerwash in the search bar, or go to advanced settings and find it at the bottom. Click the button, then confirm, and your Chromebook will reboot momentarily looking just as it did the day you took it out of the box.

Hopefully, after mastering these few tips and tricks you'll be using your Chromebook like a pro, and can maybe even help out another person or two who are getting acquainted with their own Chromebook!

Updated November 2017: Updated with the latest information and fresh tips!

Chromebooks

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1 month ago

How to use the alert slider in OxygenOS on the OnePlus 5T

5

How do I use the alert slider on my OnePlus phone?

OnePlus has a knack for leaving the best parts of Android alone while adding small conveniences here and there, and that's not just true of its software. Ever since the OnePlus 2, a small alert slider has resided above the volume buttons on every OnePlus device, and it's easily become one of the company's most unique and useful features.

Similar to the iPhone's hardware switch, OnePlus's alert slider allows the user to quickly jump between different audio profiles. There are three positions for the slider, and each can be customized to your liking.

Note: This feature is available on all OnePlus devices, starting with the OnePlus 2.

Why would you want to use the alert slider?

By default, the three positions from top to bottom represent the Silent, Do Not Disturb, and Ring profiles respectively, but the alert slider isn't just great for changing the behavior of your notifications.

I use the alert slider all the time (seriously, dozens of times a day) to adjust my media volume. Save for Silent, which always defaults to muting media, each audio profile remembers your most recent volume setting for media, making it incredibly easy to quickly jump from max volume to something more fitting for a quiet room.

OnePlus 5T review: Come for the value, not the excitement

How to configure the alert slider

It's easy to fine-tune each position of the alert slider in the settings.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap Alert slider.
  3. Tap one of the three audio profiles to adjust its settings.

The settings for Silent and Ring are pretty straightforward — just a couple of switches for you to toggle vibration and media volume on or off. Do Not Disturb mode has quite a few more in-depth options, however.

Configuring Do Not Disturb mode

Each option in Do Not Disturb mode establishes exceptions for the audio profile, which generally silences ringtones and vibrations from any incoming notifications. For example, sliding the Repeat callers toggle to its on position will cause the phone to override Do Not Disturb mode and ring in the event of a person calling twice within three minutes.

You can also manage favorite contacts, who will always override Do Not Disturb mode, or allow incoming calls and/or messages from anyone in your contacts list.

If calls and texts aren't your primary concern with Do Not Disturb mode, there's the option to allow notifications for reminders and events, as well, and you can even decide whether or not you want the notification light to pulse in the event of a notification (this applies to silenced notifications and allowed notifications alike).

That's it! Once you start using the alert slider throughout your day, you'll wonder why it isn't a standard feature on every Android device.

Questions? Comments?

Got any burning questions about the alert slider, or want to share something we might've left out? Let us know in the comments below!

OnePlus 5T and OnePlus 5

OnePlus Amazon

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1 month ago

How to change the screen refresh rate on the Razer Phone

1

How to turn your Razer Phone up to 120(Hz).

The Razer Phone comes with an astonishing 120Hz display, capable of offering high frame-rate gaming like we've never seen before in a smartphone. However, by default, it's not 120Hz, and if you want that high refresh rate you'll need to enable it yourself.

Fortunately it's ridiculously easy:

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1 month ago

You can use the Pixel Buds without a Pixel phone — but should you?

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Google Pixel Buds with OnePlus 5T and Galaxy S8

Just about everyone's looking for a great pair of Bluetooth headphones.

Some people think that Google's new Pixel Buds headphones are designed to only work with Pixel phones. That's reasonable on account of the naming convention, but it's not actually the case! At their core the Pixel Buds are just Bluetooth headphones, and that means they can easily pair to any phone (or heck, computer) with Bluetooth for audio.

Unfortunately, Google has kept some parts of the Pixel Buds experience exclusive to its own Pixel phones. Here's a breakdown of what you get when you pair the Pixel Buds to a non-Pixel phone.

Most things work just fine!

Google Pixel Buds with OnePlus 5T

The Pixel Buds have a new style of form factor without any buttons and use a case for both pairing and charging, but there's nothing particularly fancy at play here. The first time you open the Pixel Buds case, it enters a pairing mode — any phone with Bluetooth turned on can pair to the headphones right away, just as you would with any other pair of "normal" Bluetooth headphones. You can select which profiles you want to use (music, calls, etc.) from the phone's settings.

All of the basics work on any modern Android phone.

The way the Pixel Buds connect and disconnect with your phone remains unchanged as well. Pop open the case and remove the headphones, and they'll connect to your phone provided it's in range and has Bluetooth turned on. Put the headphones back in their case, and the Bluetooth will disconnect in short order. And if you want to switch the headphones to a different device, just forget the Pixel Buds on the current device, place them in their case and hold the multifunction button in the case for about 15 seconds — they'll be ready to pair again.

Google Assistant also works just fine on non-Pixel phones. You can press and hold the right earbud to invoke the Assistant, and it will pass audio both to and from the phone without hassle. The (limited) Pixel Buds settings are also found in the Assistant interface when you launch it with the earbuds connected to the phone.

A couple missing features

So most of the Pixel Buds experience transfers perfectly from a Pixel to a non-Pixel phone. But you do miss out on a couple of features. The big one is the "real time" translation feature, which is only available when paired to a Pixel phone on account of the advanced audio routing that needs to happen. But don't get too discouraged here — the same Google Translate quality is still available on any phone using the app, it just won't be piped through your Pixel Buds in the same way.

You miss out on Google Translate, but maybe that isn't such a big deal.

The other missing features are more of edge cases, and they'll both improve with time. The first is the new "Fast Pair" system that Google introduced at the same time as the Pixel 2 and 2 XL. It makes the initial pairing process with any headphones that support the protocol (including the Pixel Buds) extremely simple — and though it's supposed to be available for any device on Android 6.0 and later with Google Play Services version 11.7 or later ... but it just isn't rolling out everywhere just yet.

Then we have to wonder about new Assistant features in the future taking time to hit other devices. Right now the Pixel Buds hook into Google Assistant on any modern phone and work just fine, but there's a chance that Google could roll out new features in Assistant only on Pixel phones much like it has done with Translate — we just don't know.

Should you buy the Pixel Buds at all?

Google Pixel Buds

Knowing that the Pixel Buds work pretty darn well with a non-Pixel phone, you then have to ask yourself whether the Pixel Buds make sense for you at all.

The real question is whether you should buy the Pixel Buds at all.

The Pixel Buds definitely sound great for their size, have good battery life and though the design takes time to get used to they're comfortable for long periods of listening. As basic Bluetooth headphones, they get the job done whether you have a Pixel or not. But doing the basics alone doesn't justify the $159 price — and this is where the questions really come in.

Missing out on translation functionality isn't really a big loss, so we can skip over that as a selling point. Google Assistant works just fine on any modern Android phone, but it has a whole lot of room to improve on the Pixel Buds to the point where you feel like you have to have it in your daily life. The case works, but we have concerns about the fabric's long term durability and it's a bit too big to easily fit in a pocket. And some simple core issues like not being able to easily switch between paired devices just limits the usefulness of the Pixel Buds as daily use headphones.

Yes the Pixel Buds will work just fine with a non-Pixel phone. But that doesn't necessarily make them worth spending $159 on.

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1 month ago

AT&T outage? Here's what you need to do!

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Noticing some issues with the AT&T network? Here's what to do to determine if there's an outage in your area.

Unlike the other major wireless carriers, mobile service is but one piece of AT&T's business, which also includes DirectTV, home internet, and digital home phone. Managing such a massive nationwide network that handles so much data on a daily basis is no small feat, so there's inevitably going to be the occasional technical hiccup.

But when you notice an issue with your cellular service, how can you be sure whether the problem is on AT&T's side, or if it's your phone that's on the fritz? Here's a quick troubleshooting guide for determining if there's an outage in your area.

Could it be your phone causing the problem?

If you're having trouble with your AT&T device and are thinking of calling technical support, you should save yourself some time and be sure that it isn't a setting on your phone that's causing the connectivity issues.

AT&T has a support page for troubleshooting issues with specific phones and it's a pretty good resource for troubleshooting both network issues as well as any device-specific problems you may be having. If you're having some trouble connecting to the AT&T network, here are the first things you should try:

  • Be sure to check your device settings to make sure Airplane mode is off and Data Roaming is turned on. In network settings, the Network mode should be set to auto.
  • Tap the Mobile data icon in your notification shade twice to
  • Remove any cases or covers from the device.
  • Try turning off your device, wait five seconds, and then turn your device on again.

Sometimes it's a simple fix to get your phone's connectivity back, but if it's not a setting on your phone the next step is check for a reported AT&T outage in your area.

Check out AT&T's outage report

If your usual AT&T service is being interrupted, there might be an outage in your area. Outage Report is a great resource that tracks outages reported across the country for all major carriers, but especially AT&T. Outages are tracked as individuals report issues with their service and then conveniently mapped in real-time on a map.

At a glance, you'll be able to see the frequency of outage reports in the last 20 minutes, a color-coded history of network problems reported over the last few months, along with a heat map showing areas currently experiencing service issues. It's an incredibly handy site worth bookmarking if you're an AT&T customer. Also, If you think you're experiencing an outage make sure to click the "Not working for me" button and report it!

Learn more

Time to check in on AT&T's website

Nobody likes calling in to talk to tech support, so AT&T has done their part make things way easier when help you troubleshoot and resolve any issues. Simply log into the AT&T support site and you can start troubleshooting based on your account specifics. AT&T will automatically start running tests to determine the status of your service, and you can also go in and sign up for notifications to alert you if AT&T notices any issues with your services.

Alternatively, you can browse or search for help and how-to articles for common issues for all the services AT&T provides.

Learn more

Still need help?

If you've done everything on your end to ensure your phone is operating correctly, and you've checked to ensure that there's no outage in your area, it's time to speak with an AT&T customer service rep.

You can call AT&T Wireless customer service anytime by dialing 611 from an AT&T mobile device or at 1-800-331-0500, but from the looks of AT&T's contact us page they'd rather have you chat online with one of their tech support agents.

Carriers

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1 month ago

How to make your phone look like a Pixel 2

20

The Pixel 2 is a distinctive phone with a distinctive home screen.

Every phone from Google debuts with a home screen that shares Google's vision of a launcher. The Google Now Launcher that shipped with the Nexus line is still one of the most popular launchers on Android, even though it was supposed to be retired over six months ago. The Pixel Launcher that ships with Google's Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL has not been published to Google Play for all of us to enjoy, but never fear! We can make use third-party launchers to get the same look — or even better versions of it.

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1 month ago

How to enable the FPS counter on the Razer Phone

1

Razer built an FPS counter into its first Android phone so you can see exactly what's going on with that 120Hz display.

120 FPS. That's the boast from Razer about how fast games can run on its first Android phone. The 120Hz display with UltraMotion sync is one of the centerpieces of the Razer Phone, and while not everything will push it to its limits, there are games that do.

Some games have a built-in FPS counter to tell you what's going on. But Razer didn't leave it to chance and included one buried away that anyone can turn on. Here's how you do it.

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1 month ago

What color Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL should you buy: Black, White, or Kinda Blue?

56
Google Pixel 2

Which Pixel 2 color will you pick?

Before you buy a Google Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL, you need to make a very important decision — what color should you get? With options for both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, there are definitely a few things to consider before you make your final decision. We aren't here to make that decision for you, but we have laid out the details of each of these colors.

There are three colors to choose from with the Pixel 2, and two choices if you opt for the Pixel 2 XL, and we've got the details on all of them for you here!

Pixel 2 in Clearly White

Google Pixel 2 in white

Google Pixel 2 in whiteGoogle Pixel 2 in white

The Pixel 2 is going back to the color scheme of the original Pixel with its Clearly White coloring. It's a gorgeous white, with a slightly darker top third on the back. The white color catches the light and makes for a classy, understated color for your phone. It should be noted that the Clearly White model does have a black front, which can be less distracting when using the AMOLED display — definitely a bonus.

Who is it for?

The Pixel 2 in Clearly White is definitely for those who like to make a statement when they pull their phone out, and like a classier look for their pocket computer. It does pick up scratches and buffs more noticeably, which is something to remember, but it also looks great in transparent cases.

Pixel 2 in Just Black

Google Pixel 2 in black

Google Pixel 2 in blackGoogle Pixel 2 in black

When it comes to colors for your phone, it's hard to go wrong with black — clean, and simple. Just like the Pixel, the Pixel 2 comes in a black variant that gives the phone a sleek profile. While the upper third is glossy and noticeably darker than the rest of the phone, which is a lighter matte, the entire design blends together in a classic finish that looks sleek and professional.

Who is it for?

If you're clumsy, or you aren't particularly attached to a specific color, then black is definitely a solid choice. Black means that minor scuffs or scratches won't show up quite so easily, and matching your case to your phone is a simple process. This also means that this is the best color to go for if you don't plan on snagging a case at all.

Pixel 2 in Kinda Blue

Google Pixel 2 in blue

Google Pixel 2 in blueGoogle Pixel 2 in blue

The Kinda Blue Pixel 2 is a toned-down version of last year's Very Blue Pixel. It's a nice mellow pale blue that also has hints of grey and silver in it. It's also the most color you'll see on a Pixel 2 at release — especially with its very cool mint green power button.

Who is it for?

If you like to make a statement with your phone, but you prefer something a bit more toned down, then this is definitely the right choice. The pale grey-blue color isn't you other folks are going to be used to seeing, although any scratches or buffs are definitely going to be noticeable. It lets you stand out in a world filled with black or white phones, but it's also subtle enough that you can keep it from drawing attention at all by throwing a case onto it.

Pixel 2 XL in Just Black

The Pixel 2 XL in Just Black is sleek, simple, and utilitarian. Black is always a solid color, and it works well for the Pixel 2 XL giving it a low profile that won't look too flashy, especially since the front bezels are smaller than that of the Pixel 2.

Who is it for?

The Pixel 2 XL is definitely for those who like a professional look when they pull out their phones, or for those who know that they don't plan to get a case. Just Black is definitely best color for hiding scuffs and scratches on your phone and is easily the most understated color available.

Pixel 2 XL in Black and White

The Pixel 2 XL in Black and White takes the best of both black and white worlds and brings them together. It's got a black front, stretched around to the top third of the back of the phone, and the rest of the phone is white — a "dunk of chocolate". It offers a great contrast and color that you aren't likely to see elsewhere. Oh, and that orange power button is going to be very divisive.

Who is it for?

The Black and White Pixel 2 XL is going to be a very popular option, mainly because of that orange power button and its two-toned color scheme. It's for people who want to stand out without shouting that fact and is going to appeal to anyone who can't decide whether black or white is the right way to go. Of course, if you're clumsy, it's worth remembering that the white portions of the phone are going to pick up scratches and buffs more noticeably.



November 20, 2017: We've updated this post with new details to make sure that you can easily make the choice of what color Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL you're going to pick up!

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

Best Buy Verizon Google Store Project Fi

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1 month ago

Chromecast vs. Chromecast Ultra: Which should you buy?

75

If you're looking to buy a Chromecast, here's what you need to know.

Google unveiled the new Chromecast Ultra at its October 2016 event in San Francisco, and while it doubles the price of the original Chromecast at $69, it packs quite a punch when it comes to its capabilities. It's still the small, easy to use, and affordable media streamer that people love, only designed for folks who want all the high-end features when they stream their media.

That means it might be one of those products that offer things you won't need or can't use, and the "regular" Chromecast may be a better fit. Here's everything you need to know to pick the right Chromecast for you.

What exactly is a Chromecast?

A Chromecast is a small device that plugs into an open HDMI port on your TV, A/V receiver, or any other display that can playback video and audio. There is a Chromecast that's built for audio only, too, if that's what you're looking for and it makes building a great whole-house audio system easy.

Once in place you use an app for your phone (Android and iOS only) or through Google Chrome to set it up, give it a name, and get it ready to receive a movie or TV show or anything else you want to see on a bigger screen. To send the media there, you first open it on your phone or in Google Chrome and "cast" it to the Chromecast receiver. Your stream will start playing on your TV and you're free to do other things on your phone or in Chrome while it plays.

The features and price make a Chromecast the best way to stream your media.

A Chromecast can stream local content like pictures or video you took yourself, but when you're streaming from an online source like Netflix, it doesn't go through your phone. Instead, it makes a connection with the source and streams directly, saving battery and not using your phone's network bandwidth. You can still use your phone or Chrome to control the stream and do things like pause playback or change volume, but the actual transmission from Netflix (in our example) goes to the Chromecast. Think of your phone as the remote.

There are hundreds of apps in Google Play or the App Store that are Chromecast-enabled, and we see more and more every day. The Chromecast is simple to set up and use, is very inexpensive, and does a great job, This is why it's one of Google's best selling products, and why we think it's the best way to stream the media you enjoy watching.

The 'regular' Chromecast

This $35 HDMI puck (it's often on sale, too) is the basic media streamer many of us want. It handles 1080p video streams really well, is very small and can be powered by your TV if you have a suitably powered USB port on the back. It supports 802.11ac Wi-Fi at both 2.4GHz and 5GHz and is powered with a Micro-USB cable connected to a 5V/1A power source. If your TV can't provide the power, there is an adapter included along with a 1.75-meter cable.

If you like, you can buy an ethernet adapter built for the Chromecast instead of using Wi-Fi. It replaces the power cord and has a standard RJ-45 socket (the one that looks like a great big telephone plug) where you plug in a 10/100 ethernet cable. The power cord on the ethernet adapter is 2-meters long to make sure you can position it where you need it. Everything else works the same — you cast from your phone or the Chrome browser and watch the streaming media on your TV — but you're using a faster and more stable network connection.

  • If you don't have a 4K television or won't be streaming any 4K content, the Chromecast is for you.

See Chromecast at Best Buy See Chromecast Ethernet Adapter at Google Store

The Chromecast Ultra

The Chromecast Ultra offers a step up from the regular version. When provided with a suitable broadband connection, it can stream 4K Ultra HD and HDR content. The hardware inside the Chromecast Ultra is fast and powerful enough to do things on the fly without a lot of buffering or skipping. It's more expensive at $69 but can stream the highest quality content with ease.

Of course, to stream UHD or HDR content you need a fast network. The Chromecast Ultra connects to 802.11ac 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi with a 1x2 SIMO (Single Input Multi Output) antenna for fast network speeds and low latency. It also comes standard with an ethernet port built into the power supply if you want to plug it into a wired network switch instead of using Wi-Fi.

  • If you have a 4K or HDR TV (or plan to have one soon) and want to stream at a quality that can match its capabilities, the Chromecast Ultra is for you.

See Chromecast Ultra at Best Buy

Of course either Chromecast will work to stream 1080p media or with a 4K display. To stream UHD HDR media you need the Ultra, but if what you're streaming isn't in 4K or you just don't have the network speed to stream at that quality, the "regular" Chromecast will still work and save you a few dollars. Also, if you plan on upgrading to a newer TV or monitor that will display UHD HDR content you can buy a Chromecast Ultra and use it for HD streaming on your current display.

No matter which Chromecast you choose you'll enjoy great movies and shows from hundreds of apps, and you won't have to figure out any cryptic software or network settings to get started.

Chromecast

Chromecast:

Google Store Best Buy

Chromecast Audio:

Google Store Best Buy

Chromecast Ultra:

Google Store Best Buy

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1 month ago

Google Home vs. Google Home Mini: Which should you buy?

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Should you buy a Google Home or a Google Home Mini?

Big in importance but small in stature, the Home Mini was overshadowed by the Pixel 2 announcement at Google's recent hardware event. But it's an important addition to the company's hardware canon.

At just $49, the rounded plastic puck, covered in fabric, is an inexpensive entry into Google's burgeoning smart home ecosystem. It offers a speaker that while lacking in bass is adequate for most voice-based tasks. As it sits, its microphones listen for the "OK Google" hotword and, offers a growing number of commands through the Google Assistant, a cloud-based AI that hooks deep into Google's Knowledge Graph — the same back-end that powers the company's ubiquitous search engine.

For many people, the $49 price is right, and will likely prove to be an excellent holiday gift. But is it worth springing the extra $80 (when not on sale) for the larger, better-sounding Google Home? Let's discuss.


Capabilities

Google Home is the company's flagship smart speaker (for now, until the $399 Home Max comes out) and it was built with Google Assistant in mind. It has two far-field microphones that are designed to pick up one's voice even when there is ambient noise around it. It has a touch-sensitive top area with four colored LEDs that light up and dance when activated. It's powered by a proprietary DC power connection and a has a mute button on the back for times you don't want the microphone to listen.

For some reason, Google chose Micro-USB instead of the more-versatile USB-C to charge the Home Mini.

The Home Mini is significantly smaller and doesn't have the same number of features — for obvious reasons. It lacks the top touch controls of the Google Home (which turned out to be a critical design flaw in the hardware itself, forcing Google to permanently disable the feature), and has neither the absolute volume nor the microphone sensitivity of its larger counterpart.

It also charges with Micro-USB instead of a more power-hungry DC plug, and the mute function is a switch, not a button. Finally, changing the volume on the Home Mini involves tapping on the left or right edge of the front instead of the more tactile and, ultimately, functional way of moving one's finger over the Home's top touch panel.

At the same time, the units are functionally identical where it counts: Google Assistant. Each improvement made to Assistant — from supporting new smart home products to being better able to answer direct questions using the "OK Google" hotword — is rolled out to every unit. Both the Home and Home Mini will grow and improve in abilities over time, and neither should benefit disproportionately from software improvements made over time.

Sound quality

The main difference between the two speakers isn't functionality but sound quality. Google Home has a 2-inch driver and dual 2-inch passive radiators, which drive a tremendous amount of low-end for a speaker of this size. It's certainly better than the first-generation Amazon Echo, and very enjoyable to listen to when jamming to hip-hop, rock, or even jazz.

The Google Home Mini is a circumaural (or 360-degree) speaker, and lacks the size for a bass-generating woofer. As you can see in the video below, both sound good, but the larger Home definitely has a wider range and emphatic low-end.

Still, the Home Mini holds its own, and does so in a form factor that is less than a quarter the size of the Google Home itself. And if the sound quality from the Home Mini isn't good enough, it supports outputting music to a Chromecast Audio-connected speaker system.

Which should you buy?

At $49, you can buy two Home Minis for the price of a single Home, with money to spare. Given that Google's Home ecosystem supports multi-speaker groupings, for people with a large house it may be a better idea to purchase a duo of Home Minis over a single Home, especially if they're going to work in conjunction with a Chromecast Audio-enabled speaker.

See Home Mini at Google Store

But for a smaller apartment, or the sake of simplicity, a Google Home is the right answer. It has the perfect balance of volume, sound fidelity, and bass for a small to medium-sized room, and its microphones are scary-accurate, even when music is blaring or the room is full of other sounds.

See Home at Google Store

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