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1 week ago

Samsung thinks iPhone owners need to 'grow up' and get a Galaxy

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This one cuts pretty deep.

Samsung and Apple will always throw shade at one another, but the former has always been a bit more on the nose about it. Samsung's commercials have often chastised Apple for what it sees as bad product decisions, and even poked fun at iPhone owners at the same time. If you think that's a good strategy for Samsung to take, you'll find its latest 1-minute commercial to be a thing of beauty.

It's a pretty simple story to follow, and one that cuts pretty deep if you've seen anyone live through years of using an iPhone. The excitement of a new model time after time, followed by several examples of new iPhones coming up short on features while showing how Samsung handled the situation better. Running out of storage. Not having a big screen or stylus. Not being waterproof. Not having a headphone jack. And ... that was one hell of a dig at the iPhone X at the end.

You could easily see these sorts of commercials as being quite petty on Samsung's part, particularly as it isn't much of an underdog when you look at global sales numbers. But you can't argue that Samsung is still trying to convince many longtime iPhone users to at least look at a Galaxy, and there's no better way to do that than a commercial that points out some of the more absurd realities of using an iPhone compared to its phones over the years.

Samsung doesn't really have much to lose here, I don't think. What's your view?

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Best Buy

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1 week ago

The state of original content for Google Daydream

Sometimes "Original" doesn't mean good.

Google has been partnering with assorted production and sporting companies to produce VR content for its Daydream Viewer. I think the idea is to show what can be done to improve on normal TV formulas and how companies can enhance peoples viewing with VR. Some of their attempts fall wildly short of "enhancing". Let's take a look at some of the examples.

Note: I will be critiquing this content by its use of VR first and foremost. The actual content is secondary to how the content uses VR to enhance the experience. If it wasn't then all the sportsball stuff would instantly be the worst, I don't like sport so will concentrate on the VR instead.

Read more at VRHeads

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1 week ago

Unpacking the doomed T-Mobile / Sprint merger

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The T-Mobile / Sprint merger isn't going forward ... for now.

For what appears to be the third time in under four years, a proposed T-Mobile / Sprint merger has fallen apart, leaving the U.S. wireless market in the same confused state it's been in for a long time. According to a press release issued by T-Mobile, "the prospect of combining with Sprint has been compelling for a variety of reasons, including the potential to create significant benefits for consumers and value for shareholders," but those reasons were not elaborated upon.

The truth is that U.S. mobile customers have never had it better: T-Mobile's 'unlimited' gambit in February largely upended the way AT&T, Sprint and Verizon do business, putting pressure on all three to offer more value for its users' monthly fees, or risk them leaving for pinker pastures. And, as true competition tends to do, that's exactly what happened: T-Mobile has led the industry in net smartphone additions throughout 2017 (and for many quarters before that), while Verizon and AT&T have been forced to match it feature for feature.

But T-Mobile's success has not precluded the advancement of its biggest rivals. While AT&T struggled to add new wireless customers in the third quarter, its wireless business is very healthy, and its churn (the number of customers that leave for another carrier) remains quite low at 0.84%. Verizon added far more postpaid smartphone customers (the ones that pay more per month) than AT&T in the third quarter, and earned a tidy sum of money in the process, but it too is struggling against the unceasing momentum of T-Mobile.

Sprint also added more postpaid wireless subscribers than analysts expected (PDF), but that's because it's been undercutting everyone else by a considerable margin, a move that's not sustainable in the long-run.

So, yeah, a lot of numbers and stats to throw at you on a Sunday, but the upside is this: competition is good for the whole industry, and the more T-Mobile does to entice wireless customers to sign up for its compelling T-Mobile ONE unlimited plan, the harder the other three will work to prevent that from happening.

A T-Mobile / Sprint merger wouldn't have automatically killed competition in the U.S., but it would have had major implications in the long-term. Many analysts that supported the merger used other countries like Canada and Australia to show that three wireless providers can still foster healthy competition, but as someone who lives in Canada I can tell you that's not necessarily true. A lot depends on the country's size, the regulatory environment, and the way that people buy their phones.

A study conducted in late 2016 by Nordicity Group on behalf of the Canadian telecom regulator, the CRTC, found that Americans (and Canadians) pay among the highest costs for mobile service in the developed world, and while the unlimited plans that debuted in early 2017 increase the amount of data available per dollar spent, cheap high-speed data is still out of reach for many Americans. Those who don't need unlimited plans have access to MVNOs, or alternative carriers, either owned by the Big Four carriers themselves (Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless, MetroPCS) or licensed out through a network sharing agreement.

It's never been better to be a wireless customer in the U.S.

Consolidation in the wireless market would not only eliminate choice in the high end, reducing the number of unlimited data providers from four to three, but it would have major implications for the dozens of MVNOs that rely on T-Mobile and Sprint — and their fierce pricing war — to balance out the prepaid market.

At the same time, consolidation may be good for those less price-sensitive; a combined T-Mo/Sprint would offer an incredible amount of capacity, bringing together a treasure trove of low- and high-band spectrum that would give the combined entity the strongest LTE network position in the country. With both companies moving towards 5G, capacity is going to be more important than ever.

Some MVNOs, like AC favorite Project Fi, which relies on both T-Mobile and Sprint, would likely benefit in both speed and coverage from a combined SprinT-mo, even though wholesale costs per gigabyte would rise in the long-term. And it's important to realize that, even together, the two carriers would still be behind AT&T and Verizon in terms of total subscribers — Verizon and AT&T have around 148 and 139 million subs, respectively, while SprinT-mo would have a combined 125 million or so.

The network nerd in me is kind of sad to see this merger fall apart — I think it would have been very interesting to see just how much better T-Mobile's network would become with Sprint's incredible capacity. But the consumer in me, the Canadian that knows how disastrous a three-carrier system has been for the country to America's north, is relieved.

A few more thoughts on this week:

  • I picked up an iPhone X. It's the best iPhone by a mile, and the notch stops being distracting after an hour or so. The hardware is unimpeachable — Apple and Samsung are really the leaders in this regard. I'm a big fan of the stainless steel band, and the OLED screen is fantastic.
  • Moreover, I think Face ID is transformational; this is nothing like Samsung's eye-scanning half-measures. It's not "accurate most of the time" the way it is on the Galaxy S8 or Note 8 — it's 100% accurate in basically every lighting situation. And it's fast; I barely even realize I'm being authenticated since I just swipe as soon as I pick up the phone and it usually lets me right in. Every Android user should want something like Face ID.
  • Before I get murdered in the comments, I'm not suggesting that Android OEMs get rid of the fingerprint sensor; there are numerous situations where a finger is both faster and more subtle than sticking your face in the path of a camera. But I hope Face ID forces Samsung to overhaul the way it approaches facial biometrics, because this year's phones don't even come close to the iPhone X.
  • I am so ready to give the Essential Phone another try. At $499, this thing is a deal.
  • I'm totally smitten with the HTC U11+, which probably won't come to North America in any official capacity. Shame, though: it's exactly what I wanted the U11 to be.
  • I'm using the Pixel 2 XL as my daily driver, and I think the attention being paid to the screen is ridiculous. The OLED issues come nowhere close to overshadowing the phone's numerous upsides.
  • As for the Razer Phone? Yeah, no.

Take care of yourselves.

-Daniel

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1 week ago

Best Google Pixel 2 Deals for November 2017

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Where should you buy a Google Pixel 2 from in order to get the best deal?

Shopping for a new phone, like the Google Pixel 2 and Google Pixel 2 XL can be an expensive proposition, but there are ways that you can make it a little easier on your budget. Hunting down the best deals can be difficult since most retailers change them weekly — but don't worry, we've got you covered. Whether you are looking to finance your purchase, get some freebies with it, or try and save some money on the purchase there are a few places to check out.

Let's take a look at some of the best deals on Google's Pixel and Pixel XL that are available right now.

Check out the best deals on the original Pixel and Pixel XL

Google Pixel 2

Want to pick up the smaller of the two Pixels but avoid paying full price? It's not extemely often to find great deals on the Pixel phones. Google hardly ever discounts them, and sometimes you'll see a few dollars off each month through Verizon, or a random deal at a retailer. Here's all the best deals right now.


Google Pixel 2 XL

If you are looking for the larger version, you'll want to check out the deals on the Pixel 2 XL. Most of the time you'll find the a similar deal on the Pixel 2 XL as you would on the Pixel 2, but somtimes the discounts are a little larger because it costs more. The current deals include:


Other deals

As time passes you'll start to see these appear on other sites like eBay and Swappa, offering great deals on second-hand units. Some people may turn around and sell theirs at launch for a profit, but if you are looking to save you'll have to wait a bit longer.

Have you noticed any other deals on the Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL? If so, be sure to drop a line in the comments letting us know where the deal is and why other people may be interested.

Google Pixel + Pixel XL

Google Store Verizon

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1 week ago

Relieve stress and anxiety with this top-rated meditation app

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We're living in anxious times where it can be tough to take the time to reflect and relax your mind with some mindful meditation. There are many mindfulness apps available out there, but not all are created equal. You'll want to find one that's been thoughtfully designed and optimized for personalization.

Aura Premium is a highly-rated meditation app that's been developed by top meditation teachers and therapists that's been built around a groundbreaking AI that learns how to provide more specific meditation for your feelings the more you use it. It takes as little as three minutes of meditation every day to help relieve stress and anxiety, so you'll be able to get in a quick session before starting work.

Android Central Digital Offers has a great deal on Aura subscriptions — you can get a lifetime subscription for just $59.99, a savings of 84% off the $399 regular price. Don't know if you want to commit to a lifetime subscription? You also have options to get a 1-year subscription for $29.99 or a 2-year subscription for $49.99](https://digitaloffers.androidcentral.com/sales/aura-premium-2-year-subscription). It's a great deal that only gets better when you use coupon code AURA15 at checkout to get an additional 15% off

If you've never used a meditation app before you can check it out from the app store and see if it's right for you. If this is something that will improve your life, be sure to jump on this deal soon before it passes.

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1 week ago

Will my phone adjust to Daylight Saving Time automatically?

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Date and time settings

Let's do the timewarp again ...

Twice a year the clocks change (for most of us). We "spring forward" and "fall back," and depending on where we live that happens on a different day. It's all sort of convoluted. And this inevitably leads to folks wondering what they have to do to their Android phone so things work right after the switch. If this sounds like you, we've got good news:

You don't have to do anything.

This is the best thing you'll never have to do for your phone!

Unless you've went into your phone's settings and switched away from the automatic network time (in which case you already know what to do), you won't have to do a thing. Your Android will check the network for the correct date and time and switch itself on it's own, changing the system time so that things like calendars and alarms will still be right. The same thing applies when other parts of the world move an hour forward or back on their schedule, and still apply in six months when we change again. And more practically, it's also what lets our phones know the right time when we fly or drive to a different time zone.

If you're worried about your phone's ability to switch the time automatically, go double check your "date & time" settings and make sure your time zone is set properly and that you have "automatic date & time" turned on. The network and phone will handle the rest while you sleep.

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1 week ago

It's time to stop being afraid of new technology

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Concerns about how A.I. will affect our lives are necessary, but so is properly talking about them.

We're on the cusp of a major change in the way our gadgets do things. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are no longer something you would see in a science fiction novel, and smart machines are being deployed to do even the most mundane tasks, as well as more high-profile things that catch our attention. While I think we're still at least a few years away from the point where we all have our own robotic butlers and flying cars, the possibilities are no longer in doubt.

Nobody wants computers that are evil and nobody is building them.

Along with the breakthroughs that enable machines to make real decisions comes an inherent fear of the consequences. Some are valid, many are silly, but every one of them makes for a great headline. Whether reporting that Elon Musk's billion-dollar crusade to stop the A.I. Apocalypse (a real headline) or reminding us how everyone is one breath away from stealing our identity, reporters and publications need to provide both sides of every issue and point us towards resources where we can learn more. Doing neither makes us unnecessarily suspicious of the tech breakthroughs that will be a part of our future.

I'm going to pick on the iPhone X today. Before anyone gets upset, I'll tell you my impression of the iPhone X without ever having touched one — too bad the cool stuff it can do came from Apple first, because I really don't want to use an iPhone every day. It's an iPhone in the Essential Phone's body with some excellent tech at the top that can do some really interesting things. If you like the iOS ecosystem, it seems like it's the phone you want to buy. And because of the fascination with all things Apple, it's getting the lion's share of attention by the western press. That might be a good thing for other companies though, as much of the press surrounding the things that make it special isn't necessarily the good kind.

Two recent articles stand out about today's new smart tech, how it's used by Apple, and why it's something to be concerned about, but I'm sure there are countless others. In October, Wired talked about how machine learning "COULD SURFACE YOUR IPHONE'S SECRETS" (yes, in all caps) and Reuters told us how facial recognition "spooks" privacy experts. Both need a very critical eye when reading.

Rene Ritchie did an excellent job discussing the problems with Wired's article which basically claims that machine learning can find your nude photos and do something nefarious with them, but I still need to point out a bit of text from the article itself.

Researchers are quick to note that while Core ML introduces important nuances—particularly to the app-vetting process—it doesn't necessarily represent a fundamentally new threat. "I suppose CoreML could be abused, but as it stands apps can already get full photo access," says Will Strafach, an iOS security researcher and the president of Sudo Security Group. "So if they wanted to grab and upload your full photo library, that is already possible if permission is granted."

Essentially, Apple's Core ML system (their machine learning algorithms and the hardware that can process the data) cannot do anything that any other app isn't able to do. Even if you tell the system to root out photos that appear to be of naked people, it can't do anything with them if it finds any. Yet the article and it's alarmist title is there for everyone to see.

Reuters poses the premise that security researchers are afraid of what Apple's facial recognition means for our data privacy. Specifically, that a third-party developer can somehow use the data from the iPhone X's camera in ways that intrude into our lives or even use the data as identification credentials. It's good that security researchers and privacy advocates worry about these things. That's what they are supposed to be doing. It's not as good when Reuters doesn't explain what data is shared with third parties and what can be done with it once they let us know that the ACLU is taking a close look.

The iPhone X is getting the attention but these are the new technologies that every company is using in what comes next.

This isn't an Apple problem even though it's their product in the spotlight. We've all seen or read about the things Google can do with their advanced machine learning algorithms, whether that means making a better camera and gallery to take and view your photos or diagnosing disease earlier so treatment can begin when it's most needed. But machine learning plays a big part of things we wouldn't associate with tech, like disposable pens or tomatoes.

Entire industries already use machines that make rudimentary decisions and will be deploying even smarter ones as they are developed. Many products you use (or even eat!) every day were processed through an automation line that manufactured, sorted and inspected them using cameras and smart computer systems. Then they were packaged using machines that knew what size box to use based on what was dumped into a hopper and put on the right pallet so they could be delivered by the right equipment to the right loading dock.

Sensationalism will lead to unnecessary and unwanted oversight. It always does.

Concern about what even more advancement might mean for unemployment is something that laymen should be discussing, but inherent safety and privacy concerns are best left to the experts until actual problems are found. Sensationalism at this stage will only lead to regulations enacted by people wholly unqualified. Imagine your senator or member of parliament trying to dissect Tensorflow or Cloud ML and find ways to "protect" us from them.

We need highly qualified people to look long and hard at machines that can think. We also need responsible reporting on what those researchers have to say instead of clickbait. Remember, every headline you can see is also one that members of the United States Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law can see. It's very important that all of us get the facts without the hyperbole. Let's not kill the next big thing before it gets off the ground.

Space X photograph courtesy of Pushkr - https://www.flickr.com/photos/pushkargujar/23791728242/, Creative Commons 2.0

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1 week ago

Your weekend comments are slow and easy

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The best 48 hours of the week, every week.

Another weekend is here, and this time of the year means an outdoors weekend for some and a weekend by the fireplace for others. Here in DC area this one will be glorious and could be the last glorious one for a while. That means making the most out of it!

I'll probably just sit around and do a lot of nothing while my wife does some early holiday shopping; Hanukkah and Christmas are closing in and both can be a pretty big deal around my house. And since I mostly suck at shopping for, well, anything I get to stay home and babysit the dogs. Not complaining, not even one little bit.

Of course, the big holiday spending spree is yet to come and there's always a chance I'll get drafted to be chauffeur and doorman and anything else that doesn't involve gift decisions except for my dad, who wants a pair of headers for his El Camino. I totally have that one under control.

One thing that's not on anyone's list this year is a new phone. Everyone in the family is set for a while and while the new iPhone X is one I want some time with, I'm still not into the prices new phones have attached to them. $1,000 buys like five sets of headers for pop's 396 and won't be nearly as fun to use once set up. Vroom vroom.

Hopefully, your weekend is nice and relaxed or exciting and hectic — whichever way you like it. Take a few and share what's going on with you this weekend!

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1 week ago

The T-Mobile and Sprint merger talks are officially laid to rest

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Back to business as usual.

For the past week, everyone with an ear on the industry has said that plans for a Sprint and T-Mobile merger were done and the whole idea was scrapped and rumors from Japan suggested that Softbank (Sprint's parent company) head Masayoshi Son ended talks at the end of October.

Today that becomes official, per the T-Mobile Newsroom.

T-Mobile (NASDAQ: TMUS) today announced that it has ceased talks to merge with Sprint, as the companies were unable to find mutually agreeable terms.

T-Mobile says that while the idea of a merger between the two smaller carriers was a compelling idea, it could only happen if there was a clear long-term benefit to T-Mobile shareholders and consumers. We're not told anything that came out of the talks which would mean it wasn't in T-Mobile's best interests, only that the two companies were unable to come to an agreement and T-Mobile will continue on the path they've been walking for the past 15 quarters of record growth.

We're not surprised or saddened by this news, as our opinion has remained that more choice is always better for customers and the industry as a whole. The full, but brief, press release is below in full.

Bellevue, Washington — November 4, 2017 — T-Mobile (NASDAQ: TMUS) today announced that it has ceased talks to merge with Sprint, as the companies were unable to find mutually agreeable terms.

"The prospect of combining with Sprint has been compelling for a variety of reasons, including the potential to create significant benefits for consumers and value for shareholders. However, we have been clear all along that a deal with anyone will have to result in superior long-term value for T-Mobile's shareholders compared to our outstanding stand-alone performance and track record," said John Legere, President and CEO of T-Mobile US, Inc. "Going forward, T-Mobile will continue disrupting this industry and bringing our proven Un-carrier strategy to more customers and new categories – ultimately redefining the mobile Internet as we know it. We've been out-growing this industry for the last 15 quarters, delivering outstanding value for shareholders, and driving significant change across wireless. We won't stop now."

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1 week ago

Save 60% on the Activeon CX 1080p Action Cam!

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Sure, we always have a camera on us in the form of a phone, but if you want to set it up somewhere to capture all the action, then how are you supposed to text and Snapchat everything? Nah, you need something sturdy that can withstand the rough and tumble. You need a camera that can go with you to places you wouldn't necessarily bring your phone.

The Activeon CX 1080p Wi-Fi Action Camera is a compact camera that lets you get all the action shots and timelapses you want, and on Android Central Digital Offers, it's only $39.99, 60% off the regular retail price of $99. The Activeon CX records in 1080p at 30FPS, and it's even waterproof to a depth of 196 feet!

Yeah, almost 200 feet down. And Aqua Mode lets you record underwater, so the next time you're snorkeling and come across sunken treasure you can document everything. The Activeon app lets you remotely record video right from your phone, and you can then quickly upload it to social media to show everyone how rad doubloons look under water.

The Activeon CX has a built-in 1200mAh battery, an ƒ/2.0 lens for great low-light shots, and LCD display on the back, and built-in Wi-Fi. If you need an action camera that can go everywhere you go, then check out the Activeon CX at Android Central Digital Offers and save 60% off retail.

See at Android Central Digital Offers

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2 weeks ago

Best Android Tablets of 2017

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

See at Best Buy

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

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

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

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

Why the Galaxy Tab S3 is the best

It's exactly what we want from a tablet.

In 2017, a tablet is no longer just a bigger version of a phone. They have to pull extra duty and be a media player, a book reader, a web browser, and a work tool without any complaints or complications. Some tablets are great at some of these things, but the Tabs S3 is great at all of them.

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

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

Best smaller tablet

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

See at Amazon

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

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

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

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

Best on a budget

Amazon Fire HD 10

See at Amazon

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

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

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

For the enthusiast

Pixel C

See at Google

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

See at Best Buy

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

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

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

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

Update, November 2017: The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 remains the best Android tablet you can buy right now, but we've replaced the Amazon Fire HD 8 with its newer, better HD 10 counterpart.

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2 weeks ago

Hidden Agenda for PS4 PlayLink review: Choose carefully or suffer the consequences

4

An innocent man might be put to death for a crime he didn't commit. Unless you can find the truth.

A convicted serial killer says that he didn't commit the crimes that he confessed to 5 years ago. First responders are being murdered via booby traps left on bodies. And a corrupted city that has too many secrets to keep. Hidden Agenda is a cinematic adventure game that has you unraveling interconnected mysteries to get to the truth about a serial killer. It's also one of the first Sony PlayLink titles, which requires a companion smartphone app to play.

Will you make the right choices to find the truth?

See at PlayStation

Gripping story

While you control a variety of different characters during the events of Hidden Agenda, they're all following clues of the story. Five years ago a serial killer was caught red-handed with a victim and put behind bars. With only 48 hours until his execution though, the convicted murderer is claiming that he didn't actually do any of what he had confessed to.

Your job is to try and hunt down the truth and figure out what was actually going on five years ago. Hidden Agenda is a cinematic adventure game, which means that your choices in investigation and conversation will set the story on its path. In many games from this genre, not every choice matters so much.

Every choice that you make will affect what comes next.

That isn't the case here though. Every choice that you make, from whether you are aggressive in conversation to which locales you investigate first, will affect what comes next. Depending on these choices, you may end up skipping entire chunks of the game, or even ending the game early. There are multiple endings, and while I've beaten the game in about 90 minutes I know for a fact that I ended it early with a bad choice.

The story is gripping, weaving together a tragic past, human errors, and a corrupt city into a tale that will have you trying to figure out exactly what is going on while you play.

Fun mechanics

While a significant amount of the gameplay in Hidden Agenda is based on conversation choices, there are also two different type of mini-games that you'll run into. When investigating scenes related to the crimes in the game, there is a hidden object game, and you'll run into quick time events that require you to react quickly to avoid unpleasant consequences.

Searching for clues in crime scenes is easily one of the most important aspects of the game. When this feature triggers, you'll see three items at the top of the screen that you ought to be aiming to find. These clues can be photos of characters, pieces of technology, and in one case, the way into a hidden room. These clues are important to uncovering exactly what is going on in the city, and while not finding one doesn't mean that the game is over, they are handy for picking away at the threads that connect everyone in the story.

There are many ways to play, and to end the game.

The quick time events will trigger on your screen when certain things happen. You might need to avoid a punch from a suspect, vault over a table, or block an attack from an intruder. In all of these cases, you'll see a box appear on the screen, and need to move your cursor inside of it in order to succeed. You'll also see this square appear when you are given the chance to shoot as suspects, although shooting isn't always the correct path to take if you want the truth.

In all of these cases, the controls for the game are located on your phone. This is a Sony PlayLink game, which means that your phone is your controller for all of the action. Thankfully the controls are pretty easy to grasp, and primarily consist of moving your cursor into the appropriate place on the screen in a short amount of time. It makes things a bit more challenging, but still, plenty of fun, making this a game that is easy to pick up whether you are a gamer or not.

Great solo or in a group

While PlayLink games are really made for a group environment, Hidden Agenda was a ton of fun both solo and with other players. In Solo mode, it's much closer to a movie experience, while playing with your friends makes it much more competitive.

With other players that are added features like knocking the choices of other players out of the running by using a Takedown. You earn these in-game by completing actions such as finding clues during minigame sessions. When there are multiple players each person will also receive a Hidden Agenda which they must try to complete by steering the choices that are undertaken in the game.

Fun and replayable

Hidden Agenda deliver a fun game whether you're playing solo for the story, or with a group for a more competitive experience. It delivers a great story, beautiful visuals, and gameplay that is easy to control with your phone. If you enjoy cinematic games or choose your own adventure style stories, then this is a game that ought to be right up your alley. Best of all it's available for just $19.99 which means it's well worth the price tag.

See at PlayStation

Pros

  • Gorgeous realistic graphics
  • Easy to understand controls
  • Plenty of access to in-game information via the companion

Cons:

  • Replay value can get frustrating when trying to reach a specific result.
  • Lag on your wi-fi network can cause issues in game
  • Get your cursor to smaller quick time events can be frustratingly difficult

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

PlayStation 4

Amazon

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2 weeks ago

The CrackBerry Tour is coming (back) to Canada this December — RSVP now!

16

The CrackBerry tour is going full-on maple.

Canadian? Sad you're missing out on the super fun CrackBerry Tour of Europe this month? Well, I have bon news for you.

The CrackBerry UNSTOPPABLE (yes, all caps!) Tour is coming to Canada this December, and with it a chance to hang out with like-minded BlackBerry fans and fanatics, meet the CrackBerry team, and play with the KEYone and Motion phones. You'll even get a chance to buy one if you've been on the fence.

The tour brings us into early December, and into five cities:

RSVP at the addresses above, and we'll see you there!

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2 weeks ago

Broadcom interested in buying Qualcomm for over $100 billion

23

We could be looking at the largest chip-maker takeover in history.

At this point, chances are you've heard a thing or two about Qualcomm and Apple's dispute between one another throughout the year. Apple initially claimed that Qualcomm was charging too much for its mobile modems and taking advantage of its place in the market, and as a result of this, we've seen Qualcomm request that Apple stops all iPhone manufacturing and sales in China, a report that Apple shared classified Qualcomm information with Intel, and much more.

Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs.

Following this ongoing contention, it's now being reported that Broadcom is interested in acquiring Qualcomm for more than $100 billion.

At $70 per share, Broadcom would pay over $100 billion to acquire Qualcomm.

Bloomberg initially reported this news on Friday, November 3, and should the deal go through, Broadcom would purchase Qualcomm at around $70 per share with a deal that includes both cash and stock options. Broadcom will reportedly make Qualcomm the offer within the coming days, but at this time, no final decision has been made.

Most of our readers are probably familiar with Qualcomm and know that the company's modems are used in just about every smartphone on the market, but what about Broadcom? Just like Qualcomm is the largest manufacturer of mobile modems for data connections, Broadcom is the largest manufacturer for mobile Wi-Fi chipsets.

Both Broadcom and Qualcomm declined to comment on this when asked about it, but should this deal actually go through, we'd be looking at the largest takeover for a chip-maker that the world's ever seen. This has potential to be huge, so we'll keep an ear to the ground over the next few days and see if anything comes of this.

Qualcomm sues Apple for giving rival Intel classified information

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2 weeks ago

Google served a hamburger with cheese on the bottom to its employees

76

Cheese-gate

Towards the end of last month, one Twitter user discovered something deeply troubling – Google's emoji for a hamburger on Android has cheese underneath the patty on the very bottom. As one might expect in 2017, this caused outrage.

Why was the cheese on the bottom? Why not just put it on top where it's supposed to be? Why, Google? WHY?

Google CEO Sundar Pichai quickly responded with a light-hearted message to say that the company would drop everything it was doing to fix this, and along with getting a few good laughs, it also put the matter to bed. Google was aware of this monstrosity, it would soon be resolved, and all was right with the world.

Or so we thought.

Brad Fitzpatrick, an employee at Google's campus in Seattle, recently shared an image on Twitter of what the company was serving for lunch on November 3. A new addition called the "Android Burger" included a beef burger, brioche bun, cheddar cheese, lettuce, and tomato. Sounds pretty good, right?

Wrong.

The Android Burger, just like its emoji cousin, is made with cheese on the bottom. Just look at that mess. What could have been a perfectly good lunch has been tainted with the improper placement of one of its most important ingredients.

Sound off in the comments below so we can work through these trouble times together. Godspeed, friends.

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