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16
Jul

Plex app updates for Android, Android TV and Chromecast, brings new requested goodies






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The Plex team has pushed out an update to their app today for both Android and Android TV. The main topic is a more Material Design makeover to the UI of the app with a top-to-bottom redesign.

Plex Material Design

While I am all for an update that makes an app look better, I am more about the functionality of an app. With the update we now have multi-part video play back ability. I know some of you have movies that are split into two different files, so that is a good thing. As for Android TV, the big change comes with the added ability to search channels with rich sorting and filtering capabilities.


For those of us that cast, new Chromecast options let us change the quality, select the audio and subtitles during playback. Saves us from having to stop the show and alter settings and resume again.

Users might see some issues they might have been having gone as well since the update carries a number of unlisted bug fixes too. The official update blog post also states that the changes are heading to Amazon soon. For those with the app on Android, hit the link below to get straight to the app in the Play Store and snag the update.

The post Plex app updates for Android, Android TV and Chromecast, brings new requested goodies appeared first on AndroidSPIN.

16
Jul

SanDisk launches new wireless flash drive


If you’re one of the many who values phone storage and upset over the disappearing microSD card slots, SanDisk may have a viable alternative for you.  They have just reinvented the flash drive, that works in our wireless era.

The SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick comes in 4 different capacities, starting at 16GB and doubling up to 128GB.  Prices range from $30-$100, respectively.  It communicates with any Wifi-enabled device via 802.11 b/g/n connectivity (up to three devices simultaneously), but can also plug in a USB port the traditional way.

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The Connect Wireless Stick of course has a battery, which is rated to support a ‘single stream’ of transfer for up to 4.5 hours on a single charge.  To manage all the content zipping around, SanDisk has developed a Connect app, compatible with Android, iOS, Mac, and PC platforms.  You can find the Connect Wireless Stick right now on Amazon or Best Buy.

Are you open to this solution for your deteriorating on-board storage space?  I can see it being a double-edge sword.  It’s super nice that you can access files and media from a distance, but what if you forgot to charge it?  Also, it’s another device that you have to remember to carry around.

The post SanDisk launches new wireless flash drive appeared first on AndroidGuys.

16
Jul

Plex gets updated with new features, bug fixes, and Material Design makeover


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Plex for Android has received a major update today, bringing with it the Material Design makeover and a handful of new features. Plex is one of many Android apps to see the move to Material Design as of late.

Here’s the full change log of features from Plex’s forums:

  • [Android TV] Add the ability to filter and sort items within a library section
  • Update quality selection to allow selection of “Original” quality, as well as only showing valid qualities during video playback.
  • Detect and warn about buffer underflows during video playback.
  • Improve playback of MP4s when using the Experimental Player.
  • Add the ability to select a specific version of a video, if multiple different quality versions are available.
  • Add support for multi-part video playback.
  • [Chromecast] Add ability to change quality and audio/subtitle during playback.
  • [Android TV] Enable support for searching channels.

In addition to features, Plex has knocked out a handful of bugs and performance issues plaguing the app. There’s been a lot of fixes to Android TV issues, along with some issues resolved where the app would crash during certain actions. Users experiencing these bugs should see a noticeable difference. You can check out the full change log of features and bugs here.

Plex migrated to a single app and updated its music platform to be your “go to” music player earlier this year.

If you haven’t received the update yet, scan the QR code or hit the download link below. Alternatively, you can grab the APK straight from Plex here.

qr code

Play Store Download Link

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Come comment on this article: Plex gets updated with new features, bug fixes, and Material Design makeover

16
Jul

US Cellular guaruntees lower bill than AT&T and Verizon, or a $50 gift card


 

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In a bid to poach customer from other networks, US Cellular has launched a promotion that guarantees lower bills to new customers who move from Verizon and AT&T. In case, it fails to deliver on the aforementioned promise, US Cellular will give you a $50 gift card absolutely free.

However, to be eligible for this promotional offer, customers are required to port their number from Verizon or AT&T and choose one of U.S. Cellular’s Shared Connect plans with installment pricing. The guarantee applies to the monthly recurring price of the plan only and not the installments.

The trend of customer poaching is not new in the United States cellular network war. Earlier, we witnessed a similar campaign by Sprint that tried to lure Verizon customers with promises of lower bills.

Press release:

CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–U.S. Cellular (NYSE: USM) is so confident that it provides the best value in wireless that beginning today, the company is offering a guarantee that it can offer a better plan than Verizon and AT&T or it will give people $50. Consumers and businesses can bring their current Verizon or AT&T bill to any U.S. Cellular retail store, and if their current plan can’t be outdone, they will receive a $50 promotional card.

“At U.S. Cellular, we’re confident that we offer the best shared data plans available for a wide variety of customer needs, so we wanted to go a step farther and guarantee it,” said Joe Settimi, vice president of marketing for U.S. Cellular. “When you combine these unbeatable plans with our high-quality network that offers national coverage along with the finest devices available, the customer experience we provide is second to none.”

To qualify for the guarantee, customers must port their number from Verizon or AT&T and choose one of U.S. Cellular’s Shared Connect plans with installment pricing. The guarantee applies to the monthly recurring price plan only. With U.S. Cellular’s $0 down, 0% APR installment pricing, qualified customers pay tax on a new device at the point of sale, and then make 20 monthly payments that are conveniently added to their wireless bill. Customers can upgrade this device in as little as 12 months if they trade it in for the latest model. They can also choose to pay off the full balance of their device anytime they want.

In addition to the plan guarantee, U.S. Cellular is also offering an unlimited contract payoff, which covers customers’ early termination fee or remaining device balance with their current carrier, no matter the cost. Anyone who ports their number from another carrier, chooses a Shared Connect plan with installment pricing and Device Protection+, turns in their current working device, and sends in their final bill with the early termination fee or remaining device balance on it will receive a prepaid debit card for that amount.

New Retail Installment Contract, Shared Connect Plan, $25 Activation Fee, and credit approval required. Guarantee: Must port-in number from Verizon or AT&T on comparable Shared Data Plan. $50 U.S. Cellular Promo Card issued by Metabank® member FDIC. Valid for purchase in-store or online. Contract Payoff: Customer must register for My Account, Device Protection+ and turn-in all active devices from former carriers plan. Customer will be reimbursed for the ETF or remaining device balance reflected on the final bill. Reimbursement in the form of a U.S. Cellular MasterCard® Debit Card issued by MetaBank® Member FDIC, pursuant to license from MasterCard International Incorporated. This card does not have cash access and can be used at any merchant location that accepts MasterCard Debit Cards within the U.S. only. Card valid through expiration date shown on front of card. Valid for up to six Consumer lines and 25 Business lines. Other restrictions apply. See store for details.

About U.S. Cellular

U.S. Cellular is the fifth-largest full-service wireless carrier in the United States, providing national network coverage and industry-leading innovations designed to elevate the customer experience. The Chicago-based carrier has a strong line-up of cutting-edge devices that are all backed by a high-quality network in big and small cities and rural communities. Currently, 94 percent of U.S. Cellular customers have access to 4G LTE speeds, and 98 percent will have access by the end of 2015. U.S. Cellular was named a J.D. Power and Associates Customer Champion in 2014 for the third time in four years. To learn more about U.S. Cellular, visit one of its retail stores or uscellular.com. To get the latest news, promos and videos, connect with U.S. Cellular on Facebook.com/uscellular, Twitter.com/uscellular and YouTube.com/uscellularcorp.

Come comment on this article: US Cellular guaruntees lower bill than AT&T and Verizon, or a $50 gift card

16
Jul

[Deal] Acer 11.6″ Chromebook Laptop 2GB 16GB for only $109


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There are many different types of Chromebooks out there all with different features and price points. Today Amazon is having a great sale on the Acer 11.6″ Chromebook Laptop 2GB 16GB for only $109.99. They are certified refurbished from Acer and also sold directly from Acer. Anyone worried about refurbished products will be happy to know they offer a 90 warranty free of charge.

At this price you really can’t go wrong. Regular price is listed at $199 making this a 45% discount. I have never seen a Chromebook sold for so cheap before. It would be great as a second computer or something to let your kids play around with. Get it while supplies last.

The specs are not great, but also pretty good just to run Google Chrome at this price:

  • This Certified Refurbished product is manufacturer refurbished, shows limited or no wear, and includes all original accessories plus a 90-day limited hardware warranty.

  • Intel Celeron processor N2830. Features a 2MB L2 cache and 2.16GHz processor speed with Intel Burst Technology up to 2.41GHz.

  • An HDMI output with HDCP support enables simple connection to an HDTV or other high-definition display for expansive viewing options.

  • 11.6″ LED-backlit high-definition widescreen display With 1366 x 768 resolution and an antiglare finish showcases visuals in crisp, easy-to-see detail, even in direct sunlight.

  • Google Chrome operating system preinstalled.

Source: Amazon

Come comment on this article: [Deal] Acer 11.6″ Chromebook Laptop 2GB 16GB for only $109

16
Jul

Toshiba accounting scandal may lead to CEO’s ouster


Toshiba CEO Hisao Tanaka using smart glasses

Toshiba might be in for a rough, rough ride. Reuters sources claim that the tech giant is going to rack up the equivalent of $2.4 billion to $3.2 billion in charges due to “overstated profits” over the past six years. Investigators are still trying to determine whether or not executives played a role, and they won’t reveal the extent of what went wrong until sometime next week. However, their findings may not matter much for CEO Hisao Tanaka — he’ll reportedly have little choice but to resign for letting this scandal happen on his watch. More than half of the board of directors may get the boot, too.

If the reports of bad accounting are accurate, they show that Japan still has a ways to go in its bid to improve the occasionally shaky leadership of its local tech giants. While Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is backing a corporate reform campaign, there haven’t been many revelations yet. It’s not clear whether Toshiba will be the most prominent example, or if it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

[Image credit: Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images]

Filed under: Misc

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Source: Reuters

16
Jul

US Cellular will give you a $50 gift card if it can’t beat your Verizon or AT&T bill


U.S. Cellular logo

U.S. Cellular, currently the nation’s fifth largest mobile service provider, has just announced a “challenge” of sorts that may end up scoring you $50. Starting today, U.S. Cellular is guaranteeing it can offer consumers a lower price than their current Verizon or AT&T bills. If the carrier can’t beat the price, consumers will receive a $50 promotional card.

While this sounds like a great promotion at the start, unfortunately the fine print reveals a few caveats that come along with the deal. In order to qualify for this guarantee, you’ll need to port your Verizon or AT&T phone number to U.S. Cellular, then choose one of the carrier’s shared connect plans with installment pricing. The guarantee applies to the monthly recurring price only, not the installment fees or anything else that normally makes up your bill.

To sweeten this deal, though, U.S. Cellular is offering an unlimited contract payoff which will cover consumers’ early termination fee (ETF) or remaining device balance with their current carrier, not matter how much it costs. In order to take advantage of this promotion, you’ll need to port your number, choose a Shared Connect plan, sign up for Device Protection+, turn in your working device, and send in your final bill (with ETF). Only then can you receive a prepaid debit card with that amount.

If you’re thinking of switching to U.S. Cellular, perhaps this deal will help push you along. However, for those who are a bit weary about jumping carriers, maybe this promotion isn’t for you. If you’d like some more information, head to the link below to shop plans and phones from U.S. Cellular.

16
Jul

littleBits is opening its first retail location in NYC this month


If you’ve been itchin’ for a chance to take littleBits’ collection of electronic blocks for a spin before handing over funds, you’ll soon get a chance. Well, so long as you’re planning a trip to NYC. The company is opening its first retail shop on July 31st on West Broadway in SoHo, giving eager DIYers a chance to take a closer look during the week. littleBits is taking a different approach to the buying experience as well. Sure, you’ll be able to test drive the pieces and kits before making a purchase, but you’ll also be given the option of buying what you’ve made or leaving it for someone else to fiddle with. It sounds like you’ll be charged for what you use rather than having to splurge for an entire kit. In addition to being able to create your own gadgets, there’s a photo booth so you can remember your time as an inventor, too. There’s no exact date for how long the location will remain open, but it’s scheduled to stay through the holidays.

Filed under: Misc

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Source: littleBits (Business Wire)

16
Jul

Surely someone cares about the official ‘Angry Birds’ sequel


Angry Birds revolutionized the mobile gaming market after its launch in 2009, and developer Rovio has since released numerous off-shoots, follow-up games and bits of retail merchandise, plus it’s working on an animated film due in theaters next April, starring Peter Dinklage and Maya Rudolph. Now, six years and 3 billion series downloads later, Angry Birds 2 is officially on its way. The sequel is due to hit app stores worldwide on July 30th and, yes, it seems the game will still feature exploding crates, a bunch of pigs and some deeply upset birds.

Rovio doesn’t specify which app stores Angry Birds 2 is coming to, but it’s safe to expect a fairly comprehensive, simultaneous launch across iOS, Android, Amazon and Windows app stores. While Angry Birds remains a ubiquitous name in mainstream mobile-gaming conversations, it now operates in a crowded marketplace filled with fresh experiences such as Monument Valley, Device 6, Minecraft, Crossy Road, Goat Simulator, Five Nights at Freddy’s and thousands more. Surely Rovio wants excitement for Angry Birds to remain high ahead of its theatrical debut in April, so expect more announcements from the company after the launch of this month’s full-fledged sequel.

Filed under: Gaming, HD

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Source: Rovio

16
Jul

Sony Xperia Z3+ review


It’s no secret that Sony has a had a tough go of it in the smartphone market, even giving rise to rumors of Sony withdrawing from the smartphone game entirely. A categorical denial of this rumor was followed up by the launch of the company’s latest flagship, the Sony Xperia Z4, in Japan. The device saw its global launch with a change in designation in tow, while otherwise completely identical to the original.

Does Sony manage to step up with their latest flagship offering? We find out, in this Sony Xperia Z3+ review!

Design

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At first glance, you’d be hard pressed to find a whole lot different between this device and its predecessor, the Xperia Z3. It is slightly thinner and lighter than the latter, but the difference isn’t discernible easily. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as Sony devices do have some the best designs around, despite the way they tend to feel in the hand.

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The phone’s exterior has everything you’d expect to find, with the buttons and ports in the usual places. Most of the buttons offer a nice, solid tactile feedback, apart from the standby button, which has a sense of looseness to it. Of note is the dedicated camera shutter button, which is always a much appreciated addition, and something we surprisingly don’t see enough of. Simply put, it changes the way you use the phone to take pictures, and what’s best, is that a half press can be used to focus, which is brilliant.

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Sony’s signature design language and build quality returns with the Xperia Z3+, with its sharp and angular looks with slightly rounded corners and sides. Love it or hate it, this is a style that is very unique to Sony, and feels unlike much else. As far as the construction is concerned, the body contains a metal trim, but the retention of a glass back remains a questionable one. There’s no denying that the device looks great of course, but the use of glass means that there is a higher risk of damaging the device from accidental drops and bumps, further alleviated by the fact the glass makes for a very slippery device. You have to be very careful about the device slipping out of your hand, and even off of some flat surfaces.

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Depending on what kind of device size you’re used to, the Xperia Z3+ can feel quite compact, with its angular design and thin profile lending to an awkward handling experience. The device falls within the realm of comfortable one-handed use as far as the size is concerned, but you then do have to be extra careful to avoid it slipping out of your hand. The other slight oddity comes with regards to the SIM card tray. Getting it out involves yanking it out using your fingernails, and if you tend to keep your nails trim, you may have a tough time with it, requiring you to depend on using a pin.

Display

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The Sony Xperia Z3+ retains the same display as its predecessor, featuring a 5.2-inch IPS LCD display with a 1080p resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 424 ppi. The panel covers 130% of the sRGB spectrum, according to Sony, courtesy of their Triluminos technology. The display also comes with the X-Reality engine, that analyzes the image and adds contrast, saturation, sharpness, and more. This can help enhance the display viewing experience, but I did find it to get a little heavy handed.

Performance

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Under the hood, the Sony Xperia Z3+ packs an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, clocked at 2 GHz, and backed by the Adreno 430 GPU and 3 GB of RAM. As far as the performance is concerned, things remain as good as you’d expect from a current generation Android flagship. The device flies through the various elements of the UI, opening, closing, and switching between applications is smooth and snappy, multi-tasking is a breeze, and the device handles gaming incredibly well.

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In my usage, the phone never skipped a bit, but unfortunately, there has been one standout issue as far as performance is concerned, and that is with regards to overheating. The overheating issues with the Snapdragon 810 are well documented, but it is disappointing to see that there isn’t a fix of some sort in place yet. Just browsing the net resulted in the device getting uncomfortably warm, but doing something strenuous results in very high temperatures of close to 70 degrees celsius.

Hardware

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The Xperia Z3+ comes with 32 GB of on-board storage, which is further expandable via microSD card by up to 128 GB. The device also comes with the standard suite of connectivity options, including 4G LTE support, but it is recommended to check for compatibility with your network carrier before picking up the phone.

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Of course, one of the highlights of the Xperia flagship line is the protection level it affords users with its IP68 rating, which means that apart from being resistant to dust, the device is water resistant, and can be submerged in up to 1 meter of water for as long as 30 minutes, without a negative effect on performance.

Sony is one of the very few manufacturers who also pay attention to audio, which is also featured with the Xperia Z3+, with its support for high-res audio. Basically, this allows for support of high-resolution audio formats that are encoded and sampled at a higher rate. There are various audio enhancers such as Clear Audio+, surround sound effects, and a plugin to help compressed audio sound as good as hi-res audio. However, it is okay to stay away from these, as they do tend to change the sound stage a little too much. Besides the HTC One series, the Sony Xperia Z3+ is one of the best devices I’ve used for audio.

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The Xperia Z3+ packs a large 2,930 mAh battery, but the battery doesn’t impress quite as much. With heavy use, the device struggles to last a full day, and allows for around 3 hours of screen-on time. With lighter use, the battery life can be pushed to a full day, and maybe even further. There are a few battery saving features baked in, but it does cut down on the smartphone experience quite a lot, and is only something you can rely on in an emergency.

Camera

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Nowadays, we all tend to end up using our phones as our primary imaging device, and as such, smartphones with a great camera experience are usually the preferred choice for a lot of users. The Sony Xperia Z3+ retains the same camera hardware as previous generations, with its 20.7 MP rear shooter with an Exmor RS sensor. Technical details aside, taking photos with this device is a dream, courtesy of the dedicated camera shutter button with its half press to focus function.

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Looking at the images though, the quality isn’t going to blow you out of the water. Photos look good in adequate light, but things fall apart completely in poor lighting conditions, or when you zoom in. However, the color reproduction is accurate, and there doesn’t seem to be too much post-processing going on. Detail is impressive in well-lit shots, and the camera doesn’t continuously hunt for focus.

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The camera software is one of the better implementations I’ve used, and is light years ahead when compared to stock Android. There is a manual mode available for both images and videos which includes some, but not a whole lot, of controls for adjustment. There are a few novelty modes available like AR, Sound Photo, Timeshift video, and more, which are fun to use and easily accessible for those who want it. A software-based image stabilization is available, called Steady Shot, which also works really well.

The Xperia Z3+ is capable of recording video in 4K, which is a fantastic feature to have, but unfortunately doesn’t work very often, because of the overheating issues with the device. Recording in 4K recorded at most around 20 seconds before the camera shut down automatically to help the device cool down.

Software

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While everything the Sony Xperia Z3+ has to offer can be considered at par with the current crop of flagship smartphones, what makes Sony devices stand out in general is when it comes to the software experience. The best thing about using a phone from Sony is the integration across all of its services, which has been taken to a whole other level following the introduction of the PlayStation integration.

Custom applications like Music, Video, Social Life, and more, are all great, but one that I’m quite fond of is Lifelog. What this essentially does is catalogs and quantifies your day, and if you let it, it will give you data ranging from your calories and step count, to even how much time you’ve spent socializing, watching tv, and more. In typical Sony fashion though, the app doesn’t go as deep as it could, and there’s not a lot of information regarding how everything actually works.

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If you have a PlayStation 4, you’ll definitely appreciate the inclusion of Remote Play, which allows you to use your phone to stream games. It works decently over a good Wi-Fi connection, even if playing first person shooters isn’t recommended. Making the experience even better is the ability to pair your DualShock controller with your phone, which is fantastic inclusion that is obviously unmatched by any other device.

All of this is wrapped in Sony’s minimalistic UI on top of Android 5.0.2 Lollipop, which makes for a very smooth and snappy software experience. Some features are available though, such as the gesture based Smart Call, that lets you answer a call by bringing it up to your ear, flip to silence, a theme engine, a customizable app drawer, and a lot more, which can prove to be very useful.

Specifications

Display 5.2 inch IPS LCD
Full HD, 424 ppi
Processor 2.0 GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810
Adreno 430 GPU
Storage 32GB, expandable via microSD up to 128 GB
RAM 3 GB
Networks Cat 6 (300Mbps DL, 50Mbps UL)
Software Android 5.0.2 Lollipop
Camera 20.7 MP rear camera with LED flash
5.1 MP front-facing camera
Battery 2,930 mAh
Dimensions 146 x 72 x 6.9 mm
144 grams

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Pricing and final thoughts

The Xperia Z3+ is currently available in various markets around the world, and has recently made its way to the US, available on Amazon for around $710, even though that price does tend to fluctuate.

So there you have it for this in-depth look at the Sony Xperia Z3+! Nowadays, it takes quite a lot to push a high-end smartphone to another level without doing completely different. Unfortunately, Sony may not do as well as the other Android OEMs out there, and that is really a shame, since there are quite a few die-hard fans of Sony devices. Their products are fantastic, but they just don’t seem to appeal to the mass market. That is something they can capitalize on though by catering to the niche market, by focusing on features such as audio, and the IP certification. There are some issues with this device, but it is nothing that cannot be fixed by future software updates, so if you are invested in the Sony ecosystem, then this phone could be great for you.

Buy now on Amazon!

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