Unfortunately, you can’t 3D print your own furniture quite yet — at least not easily. Unless you have access to industrial-level machinery or are willing to print a gazillion pieces on your Makerbot, printing home furnishings on demand just isn’t possible for most of us. However, despite the fact that printing an entire coffee table or lounge chair is currently out of reach, the internet is brimming with 3D printable joints and connectors that make building your own furniture a snap. In this article, we’ll highlight one such piece, and show you how to build a nifty little end table using a 3D printed part and a few basic building materials.
Tools & Materials
Here’s everything you’ll need to make this project come to life Riley Young/Digital Trends
- Router (optional)
- 24″ x 24″ wood panel
- 7/8 inch dowel rods (3)
- 1/4 inch plank of any length
- Double-sided tape
- Finishing nails
- Tape measure
*Note: To complete this project, you’ll also need access to a 3D printer with a build envelope that’s at least 105mm wide and 130mm tall. This doesn’t mean you need to own one though!
Step 1: Make the 3D printed joint
Before you do anything else, you should fabricate the 3D printed tripod joint. This part is the keystone of the entire table, so it’s crucial that you get it right. By printing it first, you’ll be able to take it with you when you head out to buy materials, and make sure that all the dowels and screws you get will fit properly. Don’t worry if you don’t have a 3D printer — we’ll show you how to get around that in a moment (skip to the last paragraph of this section for details).
Don’t have a 3D printer? Don’t worry. There are tons of online services that allow you to order 3D printed parts.
The first step is to download the 3D model, which was designed by a guy named Alejandro Macias. It’s a wonderfully simple design, but you’ll need to tweak it a bit before you print — otherwise the dowels won’t fit, and your table won’t have legs. After you’ve downloaded the print file and loaded it into your slicer program, the next step is to scale the part up to around 106 percent of its original size. Feel free to go 107 if you want to be extra safe.
Once that’s done, you’re ready to print — but for best results, you should take a moment to ensure the printer’s settings dialed in properly first. After printing a few of these suckers, we determined that you need to bump up the number of shells (the outer layers of the print) and the amount of infill (the interior of the print) considerably in order to give the completed part more structural integrity. We printed ours with six shells and 40 percent infill, but you might want to kick it up even more (say, 8 shells and 50 percent infill) if you plan on putting heavier items on the table.
Riley Young/Digital Trends
Finally, you’ll also want to print with supports in the interior, since there’s a tricky unsupported stalactite in the middle of the model that could cause the print to fail.
Don’t have a 3D printer? Don’t worry. There are tons of online services that allow you to order 3D printed parts that are tailored to the exact specifications you need. We recommend using 3DHubs (a service that puts you in touch with local 3D printer owners in your area), instead of more expensive services like Shapeways and Sculpteo. Just make sure that whatever service you end up using knows your parameters (scaled to 106 percent, extra shells and infill, supports in the interior) before they get started.
Step 2: Prepare the table legs
As we said up front, we scaled up the 3D-printed flange to fit commonly available 7/8-inch wood dowels. If you scale the part to 106 percent, those dowels will slide right in for a perfect fit, and there are small holes in the sides of the tubes to fix them in place. We cut our dowels to about 18 inches long, resulting in a roughly 20-inch high tabletop, which is nice for a small side table like this one.
Riley Young/Digital Trends
Knowing the legs would be round dowels and the top would be round too, we decided to continue the round, modern theme throughout the table. Therefore, we rounded the ends of the dowels where they hit the floor and used a router to round over the edges of the tabletop to match.
Pro tip: The secret to round feet
There are lots of ways to turn the ends of the dowels into a nice little orb. We went with the simplest: rolling the dowel on our worktable as we held a sanding block against the end at and angle. You could also roll the dowels against a disc or belt sander to make the process faster.
Shoot for three bevels that are roughly even all around.
In any case, the secret to a perfect roundover is to start with a big, even, 45-degree bevel. Do this on all three legs before moving on, to be sure the bevel is similar on all three. You want the bevel to cover about half of the diameter on the end of the leg, and be even all around.
Just keep checking it as you work it, hitting the areas that are a little thin until the whole bevel is even.
Next, you change the angle of the leg as you sand, to make new, smaller bevels on the two points created by the first bevel. Shoot for three bevels that are roughly even all around. Finally, hit the last, tiny points created by the first three bevels and you should be very close to a perfect roundover. You can finish smoothing it by holding the sandpaper in your hands.
Step 3: Cut and smooth the tabletop
The biggest tabletop this small plastic flange can support is about 18 inches in diameter. We wanted the top to be solid wood, not plywood, so we started with a big, edge-glued craft panel from Lowes. It’s challenging to glue solid boards into a panel and smooth them flat and level, so these pre-made panels are a great shortcut. Our panel was made from pine (as are most pre-made panels) which matches the dowels nicely.
Riley Young/Digital Trends
To cut out the round top we could have created a large compass from a strip of wood, with a nail stuck through one end and a pencil point coming through a small hole at the other, and then attempted to follow the line with a jigsaw (or a bandsaw if you have one). But we went with a slick trick that guarantees a smooth, accurate cut and a perfectly round top.
Using a 1/4-inch thick piece of wood (plywood, MDF, or even solid wood will work), we created a compass jig for our jigsaw. At one end of the strip we drilled a small hole that fits a nail. That nail goes into a center hole on the bottom side of the panel. About nine inches away from the nail hole we drilled a 1/4-inch hole for the jigsaw blade.
Keep your eye on the blade as it cuts.
The first step is to attach the compass jig to the bottom of your panel, and insert a pencil in the blade hole to draw an 18-inch circle on the bottom of the panel.
After that, you can cut away the wood in front of the blade hole, and then use double-sided tape to attach the base of the jigsaw to the jig, with the blade poking through the blade hole.
It’s really important that the jigsaw be square to the line of the cut so the blade doesn’t try to wander sideways. The way to do this is draw a line between the nail hole and blade hole, and then make sure the base of the jigsaw is square to that line when you attach it.
Now, to use the jig, put the nail loosely in the nail hole without putting it into its hole in the bottom of the tabletop. Turn on the jigsaw and cut toward the circle you drew earlier. The goal is to end up cutting in the same path as the circle.
Riley Young/Digital Trends
As you get close, keep pausing and checking to see if you can drop the nail in its center hole yet. As you get close to the pencil line with the saw, you should be able to drop the nail in. At that point the magic happens.
Pivoting on the nail, the compass jig will guide the jigsaw in a perfect circle. Keep your eye on the blade as it cuts. If it starts flexing left or right away from the line, pivot the the jigsaw a little in the other direction as you cut to bring the blade back toward the line. The double-sided tape has enough flex to allow that.
Extra credit: Round the table edges too
To complete our round theme we rounded the edges of the table with a small router and a 3/8-inch roundover bit, guided by a small bearing that rides the table edge. The trick here is to create a partial roundover on each side of the table. If you do a full 3/8-inch roundover on a 3/4-inch thick tabletop, when you flip it to rout the opposite edge, there won’t be a flat surface for the bearing to ride on. So raise the bit a little so part of the bearing catches the centerline on each pass. That leaves a mostly rounded edge with a hard line on the top and bottom side, which looks nice. Feel free to blend the curves with sandpaper but try not to dull that hard line.
Step 4: Throw on some finish and screw it all together
Before attaching the wood parts, we applied some Watco Teak Oil on ours, but practically any wipe-on oil finish will do. Sand the parts up to 220-grit and then flood on the oil with a rag. Let it soak in for a few minutes before wiping off the excess.
Riley Young/Digital Trends
The surface will be a little rough after the first coat, but here’s an easy way to smooth it. Just tear pieces off a brown paper grocery bag, and use those to rub all of the surfaces. The grocery bag paper is a subtle abrasive that burnishes wood nicely. Finally, apply another coat just like the first one for a low-key finish that brings out the beauty of the wood and adds a little protection.
As for attaching the parts, you’ll notice that the 3D printed flange has small screw holes built into it. You’ll likely need to drill these a little larger to allow the screws to pass through freely, without stressing or breaking the plastic.
To attach the tabletop, we drew criss-crossing pencil lines through the nail hole on the bottom, to help us place the flange in the center. Use screws that are 3/4-inches long or less to be sure they won’t pop out the top side of the table.
We did the same for the legs, opening up the screw holes in the plastic a little to prevent cracking. You’ll notice that one of the legs will go deeper into the flange while the other two will be blocked by the first and not go as deep.
1 of 3
Riley Young/Digital Trends
Riley Young/Digital Trends
Riley Young/Digital Trends
To make sure you don’t create the Leaning Table of Pisa, draw a light pencil line about 1.5 inches from the end of each leg before inserting it, to help you insert them all the same amount. Once you do, use the screw holes in the flange to locate and drill small pilot holes in the sides of the dowels before driving the screws. There isn’t much danger of the screws cracking the tabletop, but they could split the dowels if you don’t drill pilot holes.
After that, you’re done! Plop this sucker in your living room and enjoy!
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Newly proposed U.S. trade tariffs on $200 billion of goods made in China could result in price bumps for a wide range of electronic devices. Digital products currently on the list include the Apple Watch and specific Fitbit and Sonos models, Reuters reports.
The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol listed products affected by the trade tariffs. In each case, the agency determined the device fits within a specific product category included in the tariffs.
The products potentially subject to the tariffs include the original model Apple Watch; Fitbit Charge, Charge HR, and Surge activity trackers; and Sonos Play 3, Play:5, and Sub speakers.
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The tariff structure consists of thousands of code headings and subheadings. The Apple, Fitbit, and Sonos products listed by the Customs and Border Patrol are considered “data transmission machines” and will be subject to 10 percent tariffs if the proposal is approved, according to Reuters.
If you’re considering buying any of the listed products, the proposed tariffs could drive up their prices in two ways. In addition to the added tax, manufacturers may decide to cut back on production in the expectation of fewer sales due to inevitably higher prices. If the supply is cut back, the upward price pressure from limited availability could mean you pay more at checkout, despite lower demand.
Sonos mentioned higher product prices related to tariffs in a recent filing, Reuters reported. In the filing Sonos said, “the imposition of tariffs and other trade barriers, as well as retaliatory trade measures, could require us to raise the prices of our products and harm our sales.”
Products from other companies not listed publicly by the regulators could be subject to the tariffs. Apple, Fitbit, and Sonos asked for rulings on their devices, so the agency was required to make the call for the Apple Watch and other products.
It’s not a done deal that any of the products mentioned will be subject to tariffs, even assuming the tariffs are approved. Once a ruling places products on the list, companies can ask for exclusions, try to have the products classified differently, or make a case to have the specific code dropped from the proposed list.
Smartphones and laptop computers do not appear on any current or proposed lists of goods subject to trade tariffs. Other mobile devices that fall within U.S. tariff codes are vulnerable, however.
With the current list of tariffs set to take effect just before or during the holiday buying season, buyers may be in for sticker shock.
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Tomas Patlan/Digital Trends
Whether your old monitor has died or you finally decided you need to upgrade for the latest movies or games, buying a new computer monitor is a big decision.
You can get a great screen for several hundred dollars, pay through the nose for some incredible tech, or save a lot of money by focusing on the monitor features most important to you. We’re here to help you out with the information on just what to look for.
Going big is a good idea
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
How big is big enough? When it comes to computer monitors, you want something that can fit comfortably on your desk while giving you plenty of screen real estate. While in the past sub-20-inch monitors were common place, today unless you’re really constrained for space, there’s no real need to buy anything under 22-inches. For most, 24-inches is going to be a baseline as you can pick up a number of screens at that size for around $100.
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For those who want more than that though, there are plenty of sizes to choose from. Monitors that stretch 27-inches diagonally are increasingly popular and there are plenty of options beyond 30-inches that are affordable. If you want to go extreme, we’ve even seen some great computer monitors that get close to 50-inches. While you’ll need to sit well back from those, there’s no denying that they look amazing. They tend to be rather expensive though and certainly for most users would be complete overkill.
Anywhere between 24 and 30-inches is going to be perfectly fine for most users. They let you make the most of modern resolutions and color clarity, and they also fit a couple different web pages open at the same time without needing to use two monitors, which is handy for many professionals.
Resolution and screen type
We’ve been waiting years for OLED technology to make the transition to PC monitors, and it’s still over the horizon somewhere — especially when it comes to mainstream options. Today all the best screens are still LCD monitors that use LED technology for a slim product that saves energy while providing ideal backlighting.
One aspect of PC monitors that you do need to consider though, is resolution. While 1080p was once the gold standard, today it’s just the baseline. If you’re happy to spend a little more, there are a few other options worth considering, especially if you want to improve screen space or gaming visuals. Resolution isn’t the be-all and end-all of monitor features, though. In fact, too much resolution on too small of a screen can often be annoying, because it shrinks all images down and forces you to enlarge everything to easily read it.
- 1080p: If you want reasonable clarity, but want to save on cost or focus on other, more important features, 1080p is where it’s at — as long as the monitor you’re buying isn’t extremely large. 1080p is ideal for 21-inch to 24-inch displays. These monitors offer great picture quality, and now that they are competing with 4K the prices are rock-bottom. If you want to go larger than 24 inches, though, you should consider 2,560 x 1,440 resolution at the least, and perhaps 4K.
- 1440p: The oft-forgotten step-child in the gradual marriage of consumers and 4K, 1440p is still the suggested resolution for gamers, as it offers a noticeable improvement in visuals over 1080p, but doesn’t overly tax your graphics card. It’s also far more affordable if you’re interested in extra features like high refresh rates.
- 4K: 4K is the resolution that the industry is most keen to drive consumers towards. It looks much more detailed than 1080p, with 3,840 x 2,160 pixels and prices have come down substantially in the past few years. That said, gamers will need a powerful graphics card to run a system at this resolution and finding affordable monitors with full suites of frame synching support or high-refresh rates is still difficult. Getting the most out of a 4K monitor is improving, though content can still be harder to find than it should be.
- 5K: This resolution made headlines when Apple debuted it on its iMac, but it’s far from a common resolution even years later. Dell’s UP2715K is a great looking display, but we would recommend many high-end 4K monitors before it as you won’t be able to see too much difference between them.
While the above are the most common resolutions you’ll find on monitors, there are some that fall into more niche categories. The best ultrawide monitors offer unique aspect ratios and resolutions with broad horizontal pixel counts, but less on the vertical dimension. Then there are curved monitors to consider. They don’t have different resolutions than their flat counterparts, but they are noticeably different. Curved screens aren’t a necessity by any means, but they have their uses, and we certainly have our favorites.
Panel type, contrast, refresh rates and more
Several other aspects of a monitor’s display contribute to just how awesome of an image it can produce. Here are some other commonly used stats to help you compare
- Aspect Ratio is the aspect the screen shows images in (length compared to height). A common standard, and your best bet, is 16:9. It works with plenty of content and it’s great for movies or games. Some fancy monitors like to stretch things out with ratios like 21:9, but that is more suitable for unusual work situations or hardcore gaming. Another common format, 16:10, provides slightly more vertical space for viewing multiple open documents or images,
- Brightness: High-end monitors these days have brightness around 300 to 350 cd/m2. Extra brightness may be handy if you work in a well-lit room or next to large windows. However, too much brightness is a recipe for eye strain. As long as brightness options reach 250 cd/m2, your monitor is good to go.
- Contrast ratio: Contrast ratios tell you the difference between how white and how black a monitor screen can get. Higher contrast ratios are a good sign, because that means colors will be more differentiated. However, multiple measurements for contrast ratios exist and stated specs aren’t very reliable, so take it all with a grain of salt.
- HDR: High Dynamic Range, or HDR, is a recent addition to the PC monitor space and can have a dramatic impact on visuals. However, most PC monitors lack the brightness needed to take full advantage of it and even the best ones don’t look as good as they should.
- Refresh rate: Rated in hertz (Hz) a monitor’s refresh rate is how often it updates the image on your screen. While most support up to 60Hz, some displays now offer much higher refresh rates. That can result in smoother movements on your desktop and support for higher frame rates in games which can make a big difference in high-paced titles.
- Response time: Response time indicates how quickly the monitor shows image transitions. A low response time is good for fast-paced action video, twitchy gameplay, and similar activities. Response times are measured in milliseconds, with the best screens able to switch pixels at only a couple ms, but not everyone needs such fast reactions.
- Viewing angle: Viewing angle isn’t as important for a monitor as it is for a TV screen, but if you like to watch shows on your computer with groups of friends, aim for a larger viewing angle so people at the sides can see easily. Anything above 170 degrees is good news here.
The type of panel used to make your new display can have a major impact on what it looks like and how it performs. They all have their strengths and their weaknesses, making them better suited to different sorts of PC users. While manufacturers have made valiant attempts to bridge the gaps between the types, each tends to still have their evangelists and depending on what you spend most of your time doing while on your PC, you’ll likely want to opt for one over the other. There can be a cost to pay for certain features though.
- TN: The most common panel type, Twisted Nematic, or TN panel displays offer good visuals and some of the fastest response times making them great for gamers. But colors can look a little washed out and viewing angles aren’t great. Displays with TN panels tend to be the most affordable.
- VA: VA panels, sometimes referred to as MVA or PVA, have slightly better colors and good viewing angles, but can suffer from ghosting. While their response times can be good on paper, they don’t always translate well into real world usage.
- IPS: Displays with IPS panels tend to be the most expensive of the bunch, but what you get for your money is much richer colors and clear viewing angles that are near horizontal. The downside of IPS panels is that they don’t tend to have as fast response times as TN displays, so some consider them inferior for gaming. There are, however, gaming IPS displays which make good ground on their TN counterparts. Some IPS monitors suffer from quality control issues though and most IPS display shave a telltale “glow” when displaying dark images.
There are a few different ports you should look for on your monitor. Where VGA and DVI were standards of yesteryear, today new displays ship with HDMI, DisplayPort, and USB-C connections most commonly. To make things more confusing, each of those has their own multitude of generations which you need to be aware of if you’re planning on running a high-resolution or high-refresh-rate display.
To run a display at 4K resolution, you’ll need to use HDMI 1.4 at the very least, though HDMI 2.0 would be required if you want to support a refresh rate of 60Hz, which should be a bare minimum unless all you do is watch movies on it. If you want to do high refresh-rate gaming, especially at higher resolutions, DisplayPort 1.4 monitors can handle up to 8K at 60Hz and 4K at up to 200Hz, so is better suited than HDMI in that regard.
The slightly older, DisplayPort 1.2 connector can handle 1440p and 1080p at high-refresh-rates too, so if you’re not opting for 4K, that port option should suffice for lower-resolution monitors. USB-C is an option, as it can support up to 4K resolution, but it’s not as capable as DisplayPort connections.
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Yeah, it was all about Amazon Prime Day. And other stuff.
Amazon Prime Day has come and gone. (Though some deals definitely are lingering.) Did you buy anything? Did you stick your head in the sand and pretend that uncontrolled amounts of consumerism aren’t actually a thing?
Doesn’t matter, really — because billions and billions of people (OK, probably more like millions) did take advantage of Prime day.
And it should be no surprise that the Amazon Fire TV Stick led the way, followed by Fire TV 4K pendant. Personally I’d stay away from the underpowered sticks, but it’s hard to argue with a $39 streaming device.
The 50-inch Toshiba Fire TV Edition came in fifth — again, not a huge surprise given the price.
No Fire TV Cube in the Top 10? That’s not overly surprising, either, given how new it is. (And that it’s the most expensive, even on Prime Day.) If you’re still deciding whether to pick one up, check out our video review:
So, yeah. Maybe Prime Day was a little ridiculous. (Or ridiculously awesome!) But there’s no doubt about it — streaming led the way.
Here’s what else you missed this week at CordCutters.com:
- A reader asked for a chart showing which streaming services are available on which devices — so we delivered!
- We’re still kind of wrapping our collective head around these new wireless speakers that only work with Roku boxes.
- Android TV’s “Live TV” app is a great thing you’re probably not even using.
- The Sinclair/Tribune deal might not go through? We’re hopeful, but not holding our breath.
- We put Roku Ultra up against Apple TV 4K. It ended about how you’d expect.
- Netflix’s TV interface is getting a pretty big overhaul. And it’s very cool.
- Speaking of Netflix — it’s bringing The Boss in December! (Which will be here before you know it.)
- The new season of Doctor Who is breaking all the rules — and it’s going to be awesome.
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- All about streaming services
- What channels are on which service
- FREE over-the-air TV
- How to watch sports
- Join the discussion
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Gaming on your Amazon Fire TV? You have more controller options than you might think.
Looking to invite friends over for a multiplayer session on your Amazon Fire TV but not sure what controllers are compatible with it? Whether you have a first-generation Fire TV, a 4K Fire TV dongle, or the new Fire TV Cube there are a variety of Bluetooth game controllers available.
We’ve broken out a list the best controller options for the Amazon Fire TV — and chances are you may already own one that’s perfectly compatible.
- Amazon Fire TV Gaming Controller
- SteelSeries Stratus XL
- Mad Catz Micro C.T.R.L.R. Mobile Gamepad
- Xbox 360 Wired Controller
- DualShock 4 Bluetooth Controller (for PS4)
- Matricom G-Pad BX Wireless Gamepad
- Logitech Gamepad F310
Amazon Fire TV Gaming Controller
An obvious but necessary inclusion on this list, if you enjoy the gaming controller that came with your Amazon Fire TV Gaming Edition, you can buy extra controllers from — where else — Amazon.
The Amazon Fire TV controller connects via Bluetooth and has a number of features specifically designed to get the most out of your Amazon Fire TV box. For starters, it includes a built-in microphone, which gives you full access to Alexa features and allows you to search for games, movies, music, and more information, using only your voice.
The controllers also feature a headphone jack, so you can fully immerse yourself in a movie or game without bothering the people around you. This will also be your best option if you have a second generation Fire TV, as support for third-party game controllers with the newer Amazon box is spotty at best compared to its predecessor.
The Amazon Fire TV controller takes two AA batteries, so you should stock up on those if you plan on becoming a heavy gamer. Get yours for just $49.99 from Amazon (where else?).
See at Amazon
SteelSeries Stratus XL
The SteelSeries Stratus XL is a great controller that works for gaming on your Windows PC, Android phone, and Amazon Fire TV. SteelSeries has basically taken the best features from the DualShock and Xbox 360 controllers and combined them to create the Stratus XL.
It connects via Bluetooth and plays for up to 40 hours on two AA batteries. It’s perfectly weighted and has been designed to fit comfortably in your hands for marathon gaming sessions.
Best of all you can get this great controller for just $40. This is a great controller for any Android gamers so you won’t want to miss out on a good deal.
See at Amazon
Xbox 360 Wired Controller
The wired version of the Xbox 360 controller works nearly flawlessly with the first generation of Amazon Fire TV. Simply plug in the controller to the USB port on the back of your Amazon Fire TV and you’re good to go. With the second generation, you may need to go into settings and ensure that USB debugging is turned off before the system will find the controller.
Looking to attach more than one USB controller? It’s as simple as first plugging in a USB hub then plugging in up to four controllers. If you’ve got a couple plugged in, you’ll even notice the player indicator lights will light up properly — a small but reassuring feature.
There’s a whole bunch of third-party controllers that work with the Amazon Fire, including the wireless versions of the Xbox 360 controllers, but the reason why we’re not recommending the wireless variant is that you’ll also need to own Microsoft’s Xbox 360 Wireless Receiver for Windows.
If you happen to already have a few of the wireless Xbox 360 controllers around, the dongle receiver may be the better option. If you don’t, the wired variety is your best bet, as you won’t have to worry about batteries or connectivity issues. At this point, they must be considered collector’s item because Amazon is selling them for $65.
See on Amazon
DualShock 4 Bluetooth Controller (for PS4)
The DualShock controller has been an industry standard and trailblazer since first being introduced for the original PlayStation back in 1998. While the technology inside the controller has improved, the overall design has remained largely unchanged and it’s clear to see why — it’s incredibly comfortable to hold.
Sony’s DualShock 4 Bluetooth Controller is a great option that’s compatible with your Amazon Fire TV. It’s quick to pair — simply go into the Amazon Fire TV’s Bluetooth controller settings, then hold down the Share and PS button on the DualShock controller to start the pairing.
The DualShock 4 controller is a surprisingly versatile controller; beyond using it with your PS4 and Amazon Fire TV, it’s also compatible with Windows for PC gaming. Get yours for $57 on Amazon.
See at Amazon
Matricom G-Pad BX Wireless Gamepad
There’s a number of features that make the Matricom G-Pad a compelling third-party Bluetooth controller to buy for your Amazon Fire. For starters, it’s powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery which means you won’t need to stock up on AA batteries, and if you’re running low you can plug the mini-USB cable to your Amazon Fire and play wired.
Since it’s Bluetooth, it’ll work just fine with your Samsung Gear VR, other Android devices and, of course, Matricom’s own G-Box Android TV box. It features dual modes for control, so you can switch over to mouse emulation whenever you may need it. Best of all, it’s the cheapest controller on the list offering at just $17.50, yet is quite comfortable and lightweight for a budget price. Given its near-universal compatibility and simple-yet-conventional design, Matricom’s G-Pad Wireless gamepad is worth your attention.
See at Amazon
Logitech Gamepad F310
If you’re looking for a cheaper USB controller option, the Gamepad F310 from Logitech is a good choice.
It features the same analog stick layout as the DualShock and a cord that should be long enough to reach from the Amazon Fire TV to the couch. This one is also plug-and-play, meaning you shouldn’t have to worry about setting things up.
And since this is a cheaper option, starting at around $25, you could stock up on a couple of them, along with a decent USB hub and always be prepared for some multiplayer action.
See at Amazon
What’s your preferred controller?
Do you have a favorite Amazon Fire TV gaming controller that didn’t make our list? Tell us about it in the comments!
Update July 2018: Updated pricing information and reordered our list. These are still the best options for the Amazon Fire TV.
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How we’re spending our leisure time.
Everyone has a bit of quiet downtime once in a while. Whether you’re sitting quietly at home or trying to relax on a plane or just giving your busy mind and hands a break, it’s important to relax.
A good way to do that is to read a book, listen to some music or watch a movie or show. See what’s caught our attention for the week of July 21st.
I’m a sucker for an enchanting fantasy anime, and Kakuriyo has me hooked as we head into the second half of the season. The full title is Kakuriyo -Bed and Breakfast for Spirits- and it weaves a bewitching story around a young woman who gets swept up in the affairs of a hidden realm of spirits and monsters because of her dead grandfather’s debts. It’s a story of patience, perseverance, the magic of good food! The music, art style, and the character dynamics make it easy to get swept away, which has led me to binge the first 13 episodes more than once the last week.
Kakuriyo is available both dubbed on Funimation and subbed on Crunchyroll.
I’m having a kid in a couple months — seven weeks, actually — so I’ve been reading about, and listening to, how they work. You know, babies.
One book my wife had recommended to her was Brain Rules for Babies: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five, which has proven a fascinating study into how our brains develop from conception to the early years of childhood. While I knew that babies were pretty helpless straight out of the womb, I didn’t realize it was because they come into this world before what scientists consider to be their “infant maturity.” That’s not to say they should be ready to walk and talk right away, but scientists believe that, once born, babies go through a “fourth trimester” that represents a further period of intense neural growth and brain development. It’s a fascinating look at how we, as adults, get to where we are, and how the early months and years of our lives have tremendous impact on the people we eventually become. Anecdotally I knew this, but it’s really interesting to see all the science behind it.
The second expansion for Far Cry 5 — Lost on Mars — was released this week, and it’s some good old-fashioned sci-fi fun. You get a jetpack to blast around the Martian terrain, you blast alien Xenomorphs arachnids in the face, and you collect body parts to put your best friend back together. Okay, that last bit may not be standard, but it’s still a fun goal to make the player explore the map. Far Cry 5 got stale for me after completing the story (which was too short in my opinion), and the Lost on Mars expansion is a great way to extend that.
Elsewhere, a good friend of mine, Jake Schlegel played at an album release party for his very first album. I love seeing friends of mine succeed, especially when it’s as tricky as being an independent musician. If you’re into folk, blues or country, give his album a preview.
I finally finished playing through Batman: Arkham Knight this past week after it sat on my shelf for two years. Unpopular opinion, judging by reviews: I didn’t really like it. Without giving too much away (although, if you don’t know by now, then what are you waiting for?), there’s just way too much Batmobile stuff. For one, the Batmobile is ridiculously hard to control when you’re just driving. I get it; it’s realistic that an overpowered tank of a car would be difficult to steer down narrow streets at full tilt, but still — there’s also a dude running around in a bat outfit chasing a dude in a gas mask and needle claws; let’s suspend disbelief for everything that matters, shall we?
I also, maybe for the first time ever, found Kevin Conroy’s voice acting wooden. All of his dialogue was delivered very matter-of-factly, and oh man — don’t even get me started on all the dialogue. Every 5 seconds Batman is telling you exactly what you need to do to get past a certain obstacle or not get killed. There was way too much hand-holding throughout the entire game. All that said, the story was quite good, and there are a couple of great twists that I genuinely didn’t see coming (even though I was spoiled for the Arkham Knight reveal because I was late to the party).
This week I’m diving right back into my Fallout 4 addiction. Right now I’m mostly playing it on my PlayStation 4 but, with the new Fallout 4-76 mod, I’ve reinstalled it to my computer as well. With over 300+ hours logged on my Steam, and God knows how many logged on my PS4, it might be a good time to I admit I have a problem. Maybe tomorrow. I can stop anytime I want to!
As the time passes I am getting more and more excited for Fallout 76 to release. I am absolutely vibrating with excitement to grab a team of friends and wreak havoc on these wastelands. Goodbye Commonwealth, hello mountain Momma West Virginia! I want to get my hands on that new Pip-Boy! Plus, I’m only mildly ashamed to admit I’m looking forward to a Fallout game with a massive amount of green foliage and not just the trash rubbish of the wastes.
(P.S. Dear Bethesda, please finally tell us who sang that cover of Country Roads for your teaser-trailer. Thanks.)
So I never made it to The Defenders, because just as Luke Cage was ending, Power started back up. This season is drumming up toward an exciting conclusion that should finally reveal the true intentions of all the main characters involved. (And it also means a whole extra season of laughing at 50 Cent’s character and the ways in which he manipulates people.) Beyond that, my colleagues have rightfully shamed me for having yet to see a single Star Wars film, so after some cool suggestions on which order to watch them in (and after finishing the Darth Bane trilogy novels) I’ll be looking to get myself more cultured.
On the gaming side of things, I’m still running around the digital version of Bolivia in Ghost Recon: Wildlands trying to take down a fictional drug kingpin. You know, it’s not quite as exciting as you might think — most of it is just getting untrustworthy underlings to squeal on their boss. Regardless, I still can’t get enough of the want-to-be-tactical-but-it’s-also-fun-to-blow-things-up gameplay that this title has to offer.
What are YOU reading, watching, or listening to this week? Let us know in the comments!
Update, July 21st, 2018: This is a bi-weekly series where we tell you what we’re into, so check back every other weekend!
Whether you’re looking for new tech gear or household items, we’ve got you covered.
We found plenty of great deals today that include big discounts on Shark’s popular multi-floor vacuum, Philips Hue Starter Kits, DNA testing kits and more! Time’s running out to take advantage of these prices, so hurry!
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You should hurry up.
Ah, Nintendo, breaker of hearts and crusher of dreams. How can one company be so good at releasing such limited quantities of the coolest items ever?!
The Nintendo NES Classic Mini has been hard to nab from the get-go. When it was first released, people waited in line for hours in the hopes of snatching one up — myself included. This little gadget hit the reseller market fast after stock was depleted, selling for up to $1,000. Seriously. It was once thought to be gone forever, and it left thousands of fans upset, knowing that they may never have the chance to revisit their childhood favorites on an actual Nintendo machine. (Yes, you can emulate retro games. No, it isn’t the same. Don’t @ me.)
Thankfully, you don’t have to wait for six hours in the freezing Wisconsin snow to get yours like I did. You don’t even have to leave your house. Amazon has the Nintendo NES Classic Mini console in stock for the MSRP of $59.99. No markups, no hassle, and no blood, sweat, or tears. Except for maybe tears of joy.
This thing is awesome. It has the look and feel of the original console, although it is slightly smaller and sleeker. It includes an old-school controller and it’s packed with 30 games, including Super Marios Bros., Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, Mega Man, and more. It’s worth noting that the controller cord is pretty short, but extenders are available for cheap or you could even pre-order a wireless controller. If you were inclined to do some web searching, you may also find that rumor has it you can hack the console to include hundreds of other games, although you run the risk of bricking your machine, among other things, and an editor such as myself couldn’t possibly suggest that you do such a thing.
This is the first major restock of this console since it was released. If you’re interested, trust me: there are thousands of other interested people, too. Hop to it and beat them to the punch before it sells out again.
See at Amazon
Have a question about the HomePod?
Apple announced that it will be hosting a HomePod live event in its Support Communities on Wednesday, July 25, providing customers with an opportunity to ask Apple support representatives questions about the Siri-enabled speaker.
Specialists will be on hand between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Pacific Time, answering questions about a variety of topics in real time:
Discover how to make HomePod your own: use AirPlay 2, create a stereo pair, personalize your setup and settings, ask Siri, and more. During this live event, Apple HomePod Specialists will be available to help you get the most from your HomePod.
To participate in the event when it goes live, head to the HomePod Community on the Apple Support Communities, sign in to or create an Apple ID account, click Post > Discussion in the upper-right corner, and submit a question.
Specialists already monitor the Apple Support Communities, and occasionally answer questions, but this event should lead to faster answers.
It’ll be interesting to see how this goes.
Related Roundup: HomePodTag: Apple Support CommunitiesBuyer’s Guide: HomePod (Buy Now)
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Blast zombies and rescue survivors in The Walking Dead: Our World!
It seems we can’t go a full month without another augmented reality mobile game launch. The latest franchise to try its hand at the AR craze is The Walking Dead: Our World, a game developed by Next Games based around the popular post-apocalyptic zombie drama on AMC.
An augmented reality game for fans of zombies survival
For the hardcore fans of The Walking Dead franchise, this game is pretty cool and delivers a ton of zombie survival awesomeness. Using Google Maps, the game has you set up sheltered havens for survivors around your city, which has been overrun by hordes of zombies.
This is a game you can technically play from your sofa seat (or at least regularly check into the app during your day) but there are loot crates and events scattered everywhere if you’re willing to go out exploring your city. You’ll find Encounters with walkers which require you to shoot down a horde of zombies for a reward, and Infestations which are rarer and offer a three-part challenge for a bigger reward.
Along the way, you will collect weapons and hero cards featuring characters from the TV series who will help you out in your battles. Those cards are also key to collecting XP and leveling up, and you’ll need to reach level 6 to unlock the Raiders, which add an additional event that has you battling against armed opponents.
You’ll also need to build an maintain shelters, which require survivors to level them up and reset the defenses. By rescuing survivors, you also unlock new Hero cards.
Where is the AR camera mode?
Currently, the ability to battle in AR or use the Photo Booth to take photos of your heroes or weapons in the real world is currently only available for iPhones with ARKit.
There’s no date set on when Android will get the full AR features, but support documents state that the developers will be using Google’s ARCore, which is only available on a limited number of supported devices.
Tips for starting out
- You can change your weapons and heroes in the pre-mission screen: This is a sort of weird game quirk that isn’t explained anywhere and can be quite frustrating to figure out on your own. As you play and collect new weapon and hero cards, you might think you can go into your card collection and set a new weapon or hero for your missions. This is not the case. The only place you can swap out weapons or heroes is on the briefing screen before you jump into the mission. Tap the weapon or hero card to swap in the one you want. This is done, in part, because you’ll want to see the zombie types you’re facing so you can choose weapons and heroes that give you an advantage against the zombie horde.
- Joining a group is very advantageous: It’s a good idea to join a group early on. You can create a group with some friends but you’re best off trying to find a big group that’s nearly full and join them to Get in on the weekly challenges. You’ll get a bunch of coins if you complete tiers, which will help you level up. As such, you don’t need to be playing with local players necessarily but I did find that the game recommended local groups. Playing with local players might be important to keep your structures up and running, as you need to constantly rescue survivors to level them up and reset the defense timer to 10 days.
- The XP leveling system is designed to be a major grind or pay-to-win: The XP system for leveling up in TWD: Our World is pretty confusing, to say the least. You only gain XP by upgrading cards or completing some challenges and gain no experience from the direct action of shooting down zombies in Encounters or Infestations. From those interactions you collect cards or rescue survivors which eventually lets you upgrade cards, and you’ll need a steady supply of coins to upgrade cards. Once you inevitably run out of coins, you’re stuck with either going for a walk and finding zombie events to raid and collect coins, spend some in-game gold to buy some coins, or spend your own cash and just spend your way to the top. The journey may be worth it for some, but it’s
Will it work on my phone?
The Walking Dead: Our World for Android requires a device with “more than 2GB” of RAM and running on Android 5.0 or later. Not all phones will support the AR functionality and there have been some reports of the app crashing on phones that should certainly support it — I had it crash a couple times on a Galaxy S8.
Other than those first few hiccups during setup, I’ve had no issues running the game since.
Ready for a zombie walk?
Are you excited about this new take on AR mobile gaming? Let us know in the comments!
Download: The Walking Dead: Our World (Free w/IAPs)