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1 week ago

Sony Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact: Everything you need to know!

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Sony's late 2017 flagships come with a familiar design, the latest internals and completely up-to-date software.

For 2017, Sony has decided to stick with its classic design, while making meaningful improvements on the inside. This is everything you need to know about the Xperia XZ1 and its kid brother, the XZ1 Compact!

Check out the full review

We've had the Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact in-house for the past few months, and we have a review chocked full of the good things and not-so-good things for these phones. The only differences between the two models are the physical size of the phone, screen and battery, and the price, so almost everything we said about the larger phone will carry over to the smaller version.

Sony Xperia XZ1 review: Solid, opinionated, and lovably flawed

The design is classic Sony

If you've used a Sony phone since 2013, you'll be intimately familiar with the design of Sony's latest phones. While it's true there are only so many ways to make a glass slab, Sony's external design language is starting look dated, especially next to more minimalist competitors. That may be changing soon though, with Sony India's managing director Kenichiro Kibi stating the company will introduce an "all-new design language" soon.

More: Sony's next-gen phone will finally feature an 'all new design language'

The specs

There aren't too many surprises for these phones, given that they are flagships released in late 2017. Sony still isn't enabling the fingerprint sensor for the U.S. version of these phones, which is just ridiculous at this point.

Category Xperia XZ1 Xperia XZ1 Compact Operating System Android 8.0 Oreo Android 8.0 Oreo Display 5.2-inch LCD, 1920x1080
Gorilla Glass 5 4.6-inch LCD, 1280x720
Gorilla Glass 5 Processor Snapdragon 835 64-bit
Adreno 540 Snapdragon 835 64-bit
Adreno 540 Storage 64GB 32GB Expandable microSD microSD RAM 4GB 4GB Rear Camera 19MP Exmor RS, hybrid AF
960 fps slow-mo, 4K video 19MP Exmor RS, hybrid AF
960 fps slow-mo, 4K video Front Camera 13MP f/2.0 22mm wide-angle 8MP f/2.4 18mm super wide-angle Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, USB 3.1, GPS Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, USB 3.1, GPS Battery 2700mAh 2700mAh Charging USB-C
Quick Charge 3.0
Qnovo Adaptive Charging USB-C
Quick Charge 3.0
Qnovo Adaptive Charging Water resistance IP68 IP68 Security Fingerprint sensor (except U.S.) Fingerprint sensor (except U.S.) Dimensions 148 x 73.4 x 7.4 mm 129 x 65 x 9.3 mm Weight 155 g 143 g Network 1Gbps (Cat16 LTE) 800Mbps (Cat15 LTE) Colors Black, Warm Silver, Moonlit Blue, Venus Pink White, Silver, Black, Blue, Twilight Pink

More: Sony Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact hands-on: Tiny upgrades

The camera is surprisingly good

Sony has long supplied the camera hardware for other manufacturers, but when it came to photos from its own cameras...the less said the better. That's finally changed with the XZ1 line: Sony has made notable improvements to its post-processing algorithms, resulting in photos that look much better than those from previous Sony smartphones. Pictures are still not quite as good as those from other smartphones in this price range, but they're certainly a step in the right direction.

More: The Sony Xperia XZ1's camera has pleasantly surprised me

It's shipping with Oreo

It typically takes a while after a new Android release for new phones to begin using the latest version of the software, but not so with the XZ1 line: Sony is shipping the phones with Android 8.0 Oreo.

More: Android Oreo: Everything you need to know

In Canada, it comes with a fingerprint sensor

The Xperia XZ1 is a great phone let down by lack of access to the all-important fingerprint sensor. But in Canada, where it's sold at Bell and Freedom Mobile, users get the whole package. As a result, there's nothing standing in the way of the Xperia XZ1 being one of the best phones of the year so far.

Except all of the competition.

Sony's Xperia XZ1 gets most everything right

Check out our forums!

Want to know more about the Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact, or want to chat with your fellow owners? Be sure to check out our forums!.

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1 week ago

Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Specs, pricing, best features, and problems

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Samsung Galaxy Note 8

What are the top things I need to know about the Note 8?

The Galaxy Note 8 is here. It's the biggest phone Samsung makes, and expectations for it are just as big to match. And rightfully so, as it has a hefty price tag if you're interested in buying one for yourself. Before you make that decision, you'll want to do your research, and that's why we have one handy guide with all of the information you need to know before choosing to buy a Galaxy Note 8.

Read (and watch) our Note 8 review

To kick things off, you'll want to get the top-level view and see the Note 8 in action with some context in our full video review. When you want more, you can read our complete Note 8 review as well!

More: Samsung Galaxy Note 8 review: An expression of dominance

So the Note 8 is big

Samsug Galaxy Note 8, Galaxy S8+ and S8

"Galaxy Note" has always been synonymous with "big phone," and that's still very much true today. Taking on the Galaxy S8's proportions of being tall and skinny, but applying them to a 6.3-inch display, the Note 8 is very tall indeed. At 162.5 mm, it's notably taller than the LG V30 (151.7 mm), Note 5 (153.2 mm) and iPhone 8 Plus (158.4 mm) — all while also being wider and heavier as well.

The Note 8 is huge, there's no way to get around it.

Even with very small bezels around the screen, that big footprint makes it rather tough to reach the top of the display or even reach across for a slide-in gesture from the edge. In many cases you'll have to awkwardly shift your hand, or just wait until you have both hands available to get everything done. In a pinch, you can use the one-handed mode, which shrinks the screen down to the corner so you can actually use it without fear of dropping the phone.

Some people love the big screen — that is, after all, often why they bough a Note in the first place. But if you aren't committed to it, and think you may be able to figure it out in the future, consider getting a smaller phone.

Two cameras are better than one

Galaxy Note 8 cameras

Part of what you get for that added size is two rear cameras rather than one. Samsung is using the most popular formula of two sensors with the same resolution behind lenses of different focal lengths — one "standard" field of view, and another that's roughly twice the length with a narrower field of view. They aren't the same sensor, though, and the longer lens has a narrower aperture of f/2.4 to the main camera's f/1.7 — that means it lets in less light.

Two cameras ... and not quite twice the capabilities.

In practice, the second camera offers you an extra shooting option and some more utility. As you zoom in, whether you're shooting photos or video, the software will automatically switch to the longer lens so you don't lose resolution. The result? Better photos and video with less noise. You can also just tap the "2X" button to switch to the long lens, giving you a narrower field of view and an altogether different look from a "normal" smartphone shot. It works particularly well for macros, provided you have enough light.

Samsung has also developed a "Live Focus" mode that lets you take photos with both cameras at once, and use that extra data to artificially blur the background ... or at least, what the camera thinks is the background. It doesn't always get that calculation right, and when it misses the mark it looks kind of funny. Thankfully the camera also saves the standard photo from the main camera every time you take a Live Focus shot — an escape hatch, of sorts. Live Focus is worth trying out, and it's capable of excellent results sometimes provided the conditions are all right, but this feature alone isn't enough to differentiate this camera from the Galaxy S8+'s single sensor and lens.

It's very similar to the Galaxy S8+

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and Galaxy S8+

Chances are you've gathered the fact that the Galaxy Note 8 is extremely similar to the Galaxy S8+ released earlier this year. That's definitely true. The Note 8 is just a couple millimeters larger in its overall external dimensions, and its 6.3-inch display is barely larger than the 6.2-inch of the GS8+ — though the Note 8's display does get a bit brighter. Internally, the only change is the Note 8's extra RAM, now up to 6GB from 4GB, and its smaller battery at 3300mAh to the GS8+'s 3500mAh. Of course there are two rear cameras on the Note 8 — but we already covered that.

Everything else is identical. The materials and build quality, while excellent, are unchanged. The Galaxy Note 8 has a bit sharper corners that give it a more blocky look, but that's pretty minor. The charging technology, ports, speaker and call quality are all the same. So if you have a Galaxy S8+, you shouldn't be considering an upgrade to the Galaxy Note 8. But if you're on a different phone and you want a top-end Galaxy, these phones should be head-to-head in your consideration — just know that you get about 90% the same phone in either case.

More: Galaxy Note 8 vs. Galaxy S8: Which should you buy?

What's new with the S Pen

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 S Pen

Several generations in, the existence of the S Pen nestled inside the phone is what gives the Galaxy Note its name. This is, of course, the best and most capable S Pen yet — but it isn't much different from what we saw debut on the Note 7, nor is it dramatically different from the Note 5's.

The S Pen is fantastic, if that's the sort of tool you need.

The new S Pen has higher sensitivity of 4096 levels, which is fantastic when paired up with the very fine 0.7 mm stylus tip, and together you continue to have a very accurate instrument for writing and drawing. The S Pen-focused software is basically the same as far as the core features of Samsung Notes, Screen write, Smart select and Translate go. You get a new "Live message" feature that lets you write out and send animated gifs, and the "Screen off memo" feature has been improved, but that's about it.

The S Pen is still a super effective tool for getting all of the fine control work done on your Note 8, and it brings those extra utilities that you can't just get on any other phone (even a Galaxy S8+) — but it won't be a game-changer for everyone. If the idea of the S Pen doesn't immediately speak to you when you test it out before buying, that's the best indication yet that you should consider the Galaxy S8+.

How about battery life?

Galaxy Note 8 on wireless charger

For all of that massive size, the Note 8's battery capacity is rather conservative at 3300mAh. As noted that's actually smaller than the Galaxy S8+ and Note 7 (ahem), and the same size as smaller phones like the LG G6 and OnePlus 5. With a super-efficient processor and display, the Note 8's battery life is good; but it isn't necessarily great.

In our testing as part of our review, we found the Note 8 could get you through a full day, even with pretty heavy use, but it wouldn't have anything left in the tank in doing so. Getting upwards of 16 hours of use out of the phone with just a 3300mAh battery is quite good, and probably enough for most people given their typical usage. But not getting exceptional battery life out of a Note, something the line's long been known for, can be a bit disappointing to those who are upgrading from a prior model.

Yup, it's expensive

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

The Note 8 is very clearly the top-end device in Samsung's flagship lineup, and it has all of the best technology the company has to offer. It also has the highest price, retailing around $950, give or take a few depending on the market and carrier. While you can find some good deals out there, if you just walk into a store today and want to buy one it's going to be very costly.

So is the phone worth the money? Well, that's a personal decision — everyone has a different threshold for what they are willing to pay for a phone. If you want the absolute biggest and best Samsung has to offer, you're going to have to pay up. But if the idea of a $900+ smartphone makes your eyes water, know that you can save $100-200 by getting a Galaxy S8+ or the small-but-capable Galaxy S8 and still get the core experience that makes the Galaxy Note 8 great.

More: Where to buy the Galaxy Note 8


There are four colors to choose from — sort of

Galaxy Note 8 color choices

The Galaxy Note 8 is offered in four different gorgeous colors: midnight black, orchid grey, maple gold and deep sea blue. But unfortunately you won't have your choice of all four in all areas around the world. The U.S., for example, only has the black and grey models available at carrier stores — while Best Buy will be the exclusive retailer for the deep sea blue variant for AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and the unlocked model. Head up to Canada and you get black and blue ... but not the other two.

Internationally you'll have a better shot at choosing between more colors, but you, unfortunately, can't always count on having all four. Be sure to read our take on the colors and see which one is right for you ... then filter things down by country and go from there.

More: Which color Galaxy Note 8 should I buy?

Bixby is slowly getting better

Bixby was a bit of a mixed bag when it debuted on the Galaxy S8, but it's grown up since then. Rather than compete with Google Assistant with cloud knowledge, Bixby is geared more towards local interactions on the phone itself. This ranges from mundane tasks like toggling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on and off to setting up elaborate chain reactions rivaling Tasker. For those that don't like Bixby, fear not: the Bixby button can now be completely disabled.

More: Samsung Bixby: Everything you need to know!

DeX is also improving

Another feature announced with the Galaxy S8 was DeX: Hook the DeX dock up to a monitor, keyboard and mouse, then plop the Galaxy phone into the dock, and a full desktop interface will show up on the monitor. It's not going to replace your desktop, and shouldn't replace your laptop, but it's there. Recently, Samsung announced DeX would be improving in a huge way: full-blown Linux. The upcoming "Linux on Galaxy" app will let developers use whatever build of Linux they'd like within DeX. It's still a long way to go before replacing a full computer, but it's a big step in the right direction.

More: Linux on Galaxy is Samsung's most impressive DeX app yet

It has a pretty cool coloring book

All work and no play makes for a dull user. As awesome as the S Pen is for signing documents or annotating notes, it's also a great way to unwind. While there are plenty of coloring book apps in the Play Store, Samsung has included its own (hidden) coloring feature of the Galaxy Note 8. Once you've finished your masterpiece, it can be downloaded to either serve as a wallpaper or to be stuck on the refrigerator where it belongs.

More: How to use the Coloring feature on the Galaxy Note 8

Any more questions?

If you have any other questions you need answering, we hope you drop a comment down below or hop into our Galaxy Note 8 forums!

Updated November 2017 with the latest information.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

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1 week ago

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

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Google Pixel Buds

Can these headphones really be worth $159?

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

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

See at Google Store

The fit is comfortable, but has trade-offs

Google Pixel Buds

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

Easily the most comfortable wireless earbuds I've used.

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

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

Sound quality is surprisingly good

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

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

Bluetooth 'Fast Pair' is amazing

Google Pixel Buds

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

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

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

Google Assistant is FAST ... and needs some polish

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

Google Assistant on Pixel Buds

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

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

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

I'm probably going to turn off notifications

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

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

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

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

A fabric charging case?

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

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

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

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

TBD — voice translation

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

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

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

See at Google Store

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

Google Store Project Fi Verizon Best Buy

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1 week ago

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

20

Questing for Bluegleam is the way to new equipment.

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

See at PlayStation Store

Quests are your friends

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

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

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

Bluegleam deposits

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

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

A special quest for to modify your spear

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

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

Is the new equipment worth the wait?

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

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

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

Are you playing?

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

Why are we reviewing PlayStation 4 games on Android Central? Let us explain.

See at PlayStation Store

PlayStation 4

Amazon

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1 week ago

Pixelbook will soon do split-screen multitasking in tablet mode

3

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

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

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

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

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

Split View in tablet mode on a Pixelbook.

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

Chromebooks

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1 week ago

Best Cases for the OnePlus 5

16

Keep your OnePlus 5 protected in a case!

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

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

OnePlus protective cases

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

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

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

See at OnePlus

Otterbox Achiever Case

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

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

See at OnePlus

Spigen Ultra Hybrid

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

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

Get yours for just $13!

See at Amazon

Poetic Nubuck Credit Card Case

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

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

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

See at Amazon

SUPCASE Unicord Beetle Pro Case

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

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

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

See at Amazon

Orzly FlexiCase

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

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

See at Amazon

We want to hear from you!

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

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

OnePlus 5T and OnePlus 5

OnePlus Amazon

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1 week ago

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

20

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

Is this deal for me?

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

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

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

TL;DR

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

See at Amazon

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1 week ago

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

33

The hits keep on coming.

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

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

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

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

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

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

Google Store Project Fi Verizon Best Buy

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1 week ago

Nova Launcher: Everything you need to know!

52

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

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

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

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1 week ago

Google Pixel Buds shipping now to early buyers

11

Estimated delivery is set for sometime next week.

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

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

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

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

See at Google Store

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1 week ago

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

4

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

Is this deal for me?

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

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

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

TL;DR

What excites us about this deal

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

Things to know before buying

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

See at Amazon

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1 week ago

Deal: Jaybird Freedom wireless headphones are just $49

6

The headphones usually cost $149

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

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

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

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

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

See at Best Buy

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1 week ago

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

1

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

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

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

See at Amazon

What is it?

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

Who's it for?

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

What can you do with it?

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

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

I heard you can program with it, too

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

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

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

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

See at Amazon

2017 Holiday Gift Guide

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1 week ago

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

6

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

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

Bell

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

TELUS

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

Koodo

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

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

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

BlackBerry Motion Specs and Features

More BlackBerry Motion First Look Videos

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1 week ago

Take better photos with the RevolCam lens accessory!

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

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

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

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

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

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

See at Android Central Digital Offers

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