Verizon LG G3, G4, and HTC One M9 get Marshmallow update
While a few users on the web claimed to receive an update to Marshmallow on the LG G3 back in January, the rollout seemingly never surfaced on a wider scale – until now. The LG G3, LG G4, and HTC One M9 are all starting public rollouts of Marshmallow today on Verizon’s network.
- HTC One M9 review
- LG G4 review
As you’d expect, all the Marshmallow staple features like Doze and Google Now on Tap are present and accounted for with all three devices. How much a difference the former makes on battery life remains to be seen, though I can tell you the update has noticeably increased standby time on my Nexus 5 and Nexus 6, so I’d expect at least some visible improvement.
LG G4 review
HTC One M9 Review!
LG G3 Review!
As you’d expect, the rollout will happen slowly over the next few weeks, so don’t be too surprised if you have yet to receive an update notification. You can always attempt to manually check for the update by going into Settings, but there’s no guarantees with this method either.
Have any of our readers received an update for their Verizon-branded One M9, LG G4, or LG G3 yet? If so, let us know about your experience (installation, aftermath, etc) in the comments below.
5 ways to keep your personal stuff private when lending a smartphone
“Don’t you dare swipe through my pictures!” – I have no idea how many times I have heard that, and I am sure you have too. It’s an ongoing problem trying to keep your files private when lending your phone to others, even if for a few seconds.
And the picture swiping is just one factor, there is so much more stuff in there we would not trust to even our closest family members. I have actually gone as far as factory resetting my phone when lending a device, of course only if it’s for a few hours or more.
Is hovering over your friend’s shoulder the only way to stay safe, though? Not really, there are some great tools that can help you keep your data away from prying eyes. Let’s show you some of our favorite methods for keeping private things… private.
No, we are not asking you to simply pay attention (though you should do that too). Focus is actually a gallery app, but it does more than just organize pictures and display them (which, by the way, it also does very well).
What we are focusing on today (no pun intended) is the app’s ability to hide images. Let your friends swipe left and right, because they will find nothing after you have set everything up with Focus. There is one catch, though, not all features are free. It costs a bit over $3 to get the premium features.
Once you have paid your way in you will be set. The most relevant to this post is ‘The Vault’. Users can easily pick which pictures are in this vault, which only the owner can access by using a PIN code of his/her choosing.
See also: Focus: a complete gallery app that prioritizes ease of use, organization and security4
But maybe you still don’t want people swiping left and right. In this case, there is also a feature to lock your Focus gallery, effectively stopping friends from swiping left or right. Simply tap on the image you want to display; once you have accessed it, tap the 3-dot menu button and select “Lock”. You will then need a pass code to unlock the gallery.
You are set! No one will be snooping through your pictures anymore.
How about other files?
It’s not only images and videos you want to keep secret, right? Remember our digital life is now in our smartphones. We have all kinds of files in here, so let’s make sure they are safe. Whether it’s documents, videos, audio files or anything else, using a third-party app like File Hide Expert will be your best bet for keeping things private.
File Hide Expert is free and works like a charm. And it helps that the app is actually very easy to use. It pretty much works like a file manager, but gives you the option to hide any documents or files on your smartphone. Alternatively, you can also hide them all. Seems pretty extreme, but you may like that; and it’s just as easy to restore them all by pressing a single button.
See also: 13 best Android file explorer apps, file browser apps, and file manager apps106
Those who need an extra layer of security will also like the fact that there is a password protection option. Because, you know, otherwise anyone could go into the app and just restore all your private files.
Download File Hide Expert
You can also do it manually
An app like File Hide Expert makes things easier on you, but the truth is you don’t really need it to hide files. You can make documents private manually, but it’s more of a workaround, as opposed to a solution.
All you need to do is use a file manager (if you don’t have one, there’s plenty on the Google Play Store) to rename any file and put a “.” at the beginning of the existing title. In essence, you are not really hiding the file. You are just naming it in a way that the Android operating system will ignore it.
Apps are important. After all, these are really what will make or break a platform. There are well over 1.6 million apps in the Google Play Store (as of July 2015), so it’s only obvious some of these are not for everyone’s eyes to see.
Some manufacturers will give you the option to hide apps in your app drawer. Those of us who are not so lucky have to rely on a third-party launcher. A couple popular ones that sport this feature are Apex Launcher and Nova launcher.
Download Nova Launcher
Download Apex Launcher
Use a separate profile!
Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean brought forth one of the most requested features the most popular mobile OS was missing – user profiles. This was great for families and other people who enjoy shared devices, but it also marked another step in mobile privacy. Sharing all your files and settings is now a thing of the past.
The best part is that you don’t really need to create a whole other Profile. simply use Guest mode if you need to keep things secure and let your buddy borrow the phone for a while. And since your personal profile can stay secured with a password, PIN, fingerprint or pattern, you don’t need to worry about them going into your stuff. Piece of cake!
There you have it, guys. There are more than enough ways to keep your goodies (or naughty secrets) away from strangers’ eyes. You just need to grab some tools and know the right information. What other methods do you guys use to keep your files safe from pesky intruders who want to keep swiping through your private stuff?
Best Android tablets (February 2016)
Android tablets make great gifts, and the best thing about them is that everyone can use them, from a three-year-old to your grandma. But with so many devices out there, how can you make sure you get the best Android tablet for your money? There are probably hundreds of Android tablets on Amazon, and avoiding the overpriced and the plain bad can be daunting. But it doesn’t have to be that hard.
You might also like:
- Best tablets for kids
- Best Windows tablets
Just take a look at the tablets below – they are the very best Android has to offer, and you really can’t go wrong with any of them. Without further ado, here’s our list of the best Android tablets available so far in the year 2016.
See also: Best cheap Android tablets (January 2015)85
Editor’s note – We will be updating this list as more devices hit the market.
Update, February 2016: We did not make any changes this month.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 was one of our tablets of choice in the past, and its successor is here to make it an even better option. The Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 comes with a smaller 8.0-inch display, which makes it more portable without sacrificing too much on screen real estate. It’s also only 5.6 mm thick and 265 grams.
Don’t mistake it for the “little guy” in the playground, though. It has plenty of power to keep you going through all your tasks. It may be a bit too similar to an iPad, but it’s still a great Android tablet that many of you will enjoy.
- 8.0-inch Super AMOLED display with 1536 x 2048 resolution, 320ppi
- 1.9Ghz octa-core Samsung Exynos 5433 processor
- 3GB of RAM
- 32/64GB of-on board storage, microSD expansion up to 128GB
- 8MP rear camera, 2.1MP front camera
- Non-removable 4000mAh battery
- Android 5.1.1 Lollipop
- 198.6 x 134.8 x 5.6mm, 265g
- Opinion: Does the Galaxy Tab S2 have things going for it… or against?
- Impressions: the Galaxy Tab S2 is a curious “top-tier” tablet
- Galaxy Tab S2 vs Galaxy Tab S: what’s changed?
Buy now from Amazon
NVIDIA Shield Tablet K1
Did you love the original NVIDIA Shield Tablet? Well, you’ll probably feel just the same about the Shield Tablet K1, its direct successor. The specifications and design are pretty much the same with both tablets, aside from the addition of a rubberized surface next to the speakers and brushed metal lettering on the back of the K1.
NVIDIA also removed the stylus holder on the K1, which brings us to our next point – the stylus is gone! So are the charging cable and wall adaptor. The big news here is that NVIDIA is trying to cut costs, and they did just that by not including a stylus or charger. With that said, this tablet is now only $200, which makes it not only one of the best Android tablets out there, but also one of the most affordable.
- 8.0-inch LCD display with 1920 x 1200 resolution, 283ppi
- 2.2GHz quad-core NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor
- 2GB of RAM
- 16GB of on-board storage, microSD card expansion available
- 5MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
- Non-removable 19.75WHr battery
- Android 5.1.1 Lollipop
- 221 x 126 x 9.2mm, 390g
- NVIDIA Shield K1 announced (quick hands on)
Buy now from Amazon
Google Pixel C
Google surprised many of us at its 2015 Nexus event when it unveiled the Pixel C, an in-house built tablet that’s made for productivity. While it may be a tad overpriced, the Pixel C does a lot right. It comes with a big 10.2-inch display, a 34.2WHr battery and Android 6.0 Marshmallow, all powered by NVIDIA’s Tegra X1 processor and 3 gigabytes of RAM. There are quite a few decent official accessories available for the tablet, too, like the official keyboard or folio keyboard.
Like we mentioned earlier, the Pixel C is overpriced for what it offers, though it’s still a great Android tablet if you have the extra money to spend. It’s available now from the Google Store starting at $499, with official accessories adding an extra $149 to your purchase.
- 10.2-inch LTPS LCD display with 2560 x 1800 resolution, 308ppi
- 64-bit 1.9GHz octa-core NVIDIA Tegra X1 processor
- 3GB of RAM
- 32/64GB of on-board storage, no microSD expansion
- 8MP rear camera, 2MP front camera
- Non-removable 34.2WHr battery
- Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
- 242 x 179 x 7mm, 517g
- Google Pixel C review
- Google Pixel C hands-on and first look
- Google Pixel C officially announced
Buy now from the Google Store
While it’s a little dated at this point, the Nexus 9 is still a great Android tablet. It was created by Google and built by HTC, which is basically an Android lover’s dream. It runs the latest version of Android, and will continue to receive timely software updates for another year or so.
The specs aren’t bad, either. It comes with an 8.9-inch display, a NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor, either 16 or 32GB of on-board storage, a big 6700mAh battery and weighs only 436 grams. Thanks to this device’s specifications, navigating around the device, switching applications, playing games and streaming movies or videos is a breeze. It also has a nice soft touch material on the back (similar to the original Nexus 5) that makes this tablet easy to hold, as well.
- 8.9-inch IPS LCD display with 1536 x 2048 resolution, 281ppi
- 64-bit 2.3GHz NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor
- 2GB of RAM
- 16/32GB of on-board storage, no microSD card expansion
- 8MP rear camera, 1.6MP front camera
- Non-removable 6700mAh battery
- Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
- 228.2 x 153.7 x 8mm, 436g
- Nexus 9 review
- Best Nexus 9 cases
Buy now from Amazon
Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet
Sony may be struggling in the mobile device market, but that’s certainly not because of a lack of good products. The company has always done quite well in the high-end smartphone market, and that carries over to the tablet market as well. The latest flagship tablet to come from the company is the Xperia Z4 Tablet.
This is a sleek, thin and very attractive tablet offering from the company. It comes with a 10.1-inch display, a Snapdragon 810 processor, 3 gigabytes of RAM, plenty of on-board storage and microSD expansion up to 128 gigabytes. It also comes with a big 6000mAh battery that should be able to last a very long time on just a single charge. It should be noted that while this tablet still runs Android 5.0 Lollipop, Sony has plans to skip the 5.1.1 update and roll out Android 6.0 Marshmallow as soon as it’s ready. This isn’t the best news for some folks, as 5.1.1 brings many great bug fixes and performance improvements over 5.0. Still, a promised upgrade to Android 6 is the best Sony can do at this point, which is definitely more than what some other tablet makers can say about their devices.
- 10.1-inch IPS LCD display with 2560 x 1600 resolution, 299ppi
- 2.0GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor
- 3GB of RAM
- 32GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 128GB
- 8.1MP rear camera, 5.1MP front camera
- Non-removable 6000mAh battery
- Android 5.0 Lollipop
- 254 x 167 x 6.1mm, 389g
- Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet review
- Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet hands-on and first impressions
- Best Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet cases
Buy now from Amazon
Dell Venue 8 7000
Dell may not be the first name that comes to mind when talking about Android tablet OEMs, but the company really impressed us with its Venue 8 7000 series tablet. It’s one of the thinnest tablets available right now, measuring just 6.1mm thick. You’d think that in order to make a tablet this thin, Dell would need to sacrifice in the battery life department. However, we can honestly say that the Venue 8 7000 is really great with battery consumption.
Additional specs include an 8.4-inch OLED display, an Intel Atom Z3580 processor, microSD expansion and two really great cameras for taking quick shots. It’s also running Android 5.1 Lollipop, which may not be the latest version, but is definitely a sizable step above Android 5.0. It’s a tad awkward to hold, but that’s honestly one of the only downsides of this tablet. With an impressive performance and even better battery life, the Dell Venue 8 7000 manages to provide a lot, without the premium price point that would usually be associated with such a package.
- 8.4-inch OLED display with 1600 x 2560 resolution, 359ppi
- 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Atom Z3580 processor
- 2GB of RAM
- 16GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 512GB
- 8MP rear camera, 2MP front camera
- Non-removable 5900mAh battery
- Android 5.1 Lollipop
- 215.9 x 124.2 x 6.1mm, 305g
- Dell Venue 8 7000 review
Buy now from Amazon
Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro
In an age where tablets are starting to get as little more boring, it’s manufacturers like Lenovo that we need in order to push things into new directions. The Yoga Tab 3 Pro is unique, much like other Lenovo devices, but this one is special. You see that hinge? We have seen it before, but this time around Lenovo added a full-blown projector and stand. It is truly a media powerhouse, too. Just look at the specs below to see what this tablet is all about.
The Yoga Tab 3 Pro is a tad expensive, but considering the big display, projector, built-in stand and decent software experience, this tablet might be worth every penny to some folks out there.
- 10.1-inch IPS LCD display with 2560 x 1600 resolution, 298ppi
- 2.24 GHz quad-core Intel Atom x5-Z8500 processor
- 2GB of RAM
- 32GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 128GB
- 13MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
- Non-removable 10200mAh battery
- Android 5.1 Lollipop
- 247 x 179 x 4.68mm, 667g
- Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro review
- Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro hands-on and first impressions
Buy now from Lenovo
There you have it – our picks from the best Android has to offer right now. Missed anything? Tell us in the comments!
For more tablet information, head on over to the TabTimes blog for more tablet news, reviews and information.
Next: Best Android phones (February 2016)440
Google I/O 2016: our early predictions for Google’s big event
Update: We’ve added new details regarding Google VR, Android VR, Google [x] jobs for the self-driving car project, Project Tango and the Android N update below.
Google’s annual developer conference is one of the most exclusive must-attend events on the Android calendar. It’s not always easy to get in, but if you can, it’s definitely worth it. I was lucky enough to go last year and got to meet Sundar Pichai and Larry Page for the effort. Rubbing shoulders with CEOs, engineers, developers and enthusiasts aside, though, what else can you expect from Google I/O 2016?
Google I/O 2016 dates and location
Back on January 12, freshly minted Google CEO Sundar Pichai tweeted the dates and location for Google I/O 2016: May 18-20 at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California. For those unfamiliar with the location, it’s a long way away from any hotels and doesn’t exactly feature great public transport options, sparking widespread speculation that it might have been chosen to provide Google the opportunity to show off its self-driving cars…
Google I/O 2016 app
The official Google I/O 2016 app isn’t in Google Play yet, but each year the old app gets replaced with the new one, so when the new one goes live you can grab it via the button below. The Google I/O app includes live streams for the keynote and major sessions, schedules, maps, reminders and some fun stuff.
Install Google I/O app
What to expect from Google I/O 2016
This one is a given, because Google announced a while back that annual developer previews of the next major Android release will be presented at each year’s I/O conference. 2016 will be no different, with the Android N developer preview making its first appearance. The preview will receive regular updates for the remainder of the year before being released in its final form at Nexus time in late September or early October.
As far as what Android N will deliver at I/O, there are a few things confirmed already: multi-window mode, better tablet support and a shift to OpenJDK. Major rumors point to stock stylus support, a new messaging app, Chrome OS integration of some form or another and Google may also try to make Doze functional even when the device is in motion. Check out the link below for the full breakdown.
It’s probably still too early to see Force Touch baked into stock Android yet, so that will likely have to wait at least until the Android O release and there’s still time for the dark theme and advanced power menu options to appear in an upcoming Marshmallow update.
See also: Android N features: everything confirmed, rumored and expected88
Google announced at Google I/O 2015 that the first self-driving cars would be released on the streets of Mountain View in 2016. So what better time to demo what they’re capable of than at Google I/O 2016? It may be a little far-fetched to expect Google to arrange transport for thousands of I/O attendees via its tiny autonomous vehicles, but the event will definitely give everyone the chance to take a ride in one. However, Google has recently advertised 36 jobs in the self-driving car project, so things are definitely gathering steam…
The Google division in charge of self-driving cars formerly known as Google[x] – and now simply known as X – has just received a new CEO who is, incidentally, a former Ford and Hyundai exec. We can expect to see John Krafcik take the stage with all the latest on Google’s autonomous vehicles and their expected commercial release in 2020.
A massive shake up of Android Wear is long overdue. The mobile platform came out early, moved sluggishly, and has now been surpassed by both Apple’s wearable platform and even Samsung’s Tizen OS. With multiple OEMs grumbling last year that if Google didn’t start pushing the wearable platform more aggressively they would consider developing their own, it’s now crunch time for Android Wear. I can’t tell you what will be announced, but I sure hope something significant is.
I was at the ATAP session last year and witnessed a fully functional Project Ara prototype get assembled on stage in seconds. The camera module was left out until the device had booted up, then it was inserted, runtime detected and working within seconds. Pretty impressive stuff. With the official trial of Project Ara being delayed until 2016 you know there will be some stage time dedicated to it. Unfortunately, we’ve seen no evidence that project Ara will be making an appearance at MWC 2016, although a bizarre 13.8-inch Project Ara tablet recently appeared on GFXBench.
See also: Lenovo launching Project Tango phone1
Yet again we’re expecting Android Auto to be front and center at I/O 2016. Android Auto is really starting to enter the mainstream and the first sub-$20,000 vehicle was just announced last week: the Hyundai Elantra. 2016 may well be the year that Android Auto stops being something only geeks talk about and starts being something everyone talks about. Considering Android Auto didn’t rate a mention at I/O 2015, it should definitely get some stage time this year. Let’s hope there’s lots more third-party apps coming.
Project Aura is Google Glass 2.0. At least it would be if the original Glass had ever gone anywhere other than the Explorer Edition. Aura is supposedly the Enterprise Edition that recently showed up in FCC documents, showing a slightly revised design with a hinge and larger prism. The consumer version of Glass may well be dead and buried now, but what final form Project Aura will take and when it will be available is anyone’s guess.
The recently announced Project Tango smartphone from Google and Lenovo will be shown off at MWC 2016, but we’re pretty sure it will also get some more advanced air time at I/O. Depending on how far along the device is, it may just make its way into the 2016 I/O goodie bag for attendees. The official announcement of the Google/Lenovo partnership said the device would be available in “summer of 2016”.
Following Google’s creation of a new virtual reality division called, creatively enough, Virtual Reality, a recent story from the Financial Times has Google baking Android VR into stock Android and producing a slightly higher-end Cardboard viewer made out of plastic that will work will all smartphones. Yet another report, this time from The Wall Street Journal, has Google making a new standalone VR headset that doesn’t require any smartphone, PC or games console to operate, with a chip sourced from a Dublin-based chip maker by the name of Movidius.
With all these stories appearing in major outlets, big things are clearly afoot at Google VR. Keep an eye out at I/O 2016 for the possibility of two new VR products, an Android VR announcement, more on 360 video, YouTube quality, Cardboard partnerships and Expeditions. Google may have been a little late to the VR game, but at this rate, Facebook and Oculus are about to get some pretty serious competition in 2016.
HTC Vive Pre Reactions
Oculus Touch Demo Reaction a…
New Samsung Gear VR Reaction…
HTC Vive Demo Reaction
I actually don’t think there will be any major Chrome OS announcement at I/O 2016, unless they are related to the arrival of Material Design. Despite the recent rumor that Chrome OS would be folded into Android, Google officially denied the claim. Furthermore, Google’s SVP of Android, Chrome OS and Chromecast, Hiroshi Lockheimer, has assured everyone that there will be a range of new Chromebooks in 2016, but we probably won’t see them until Nexus time. However, we will probably see some kind of Chrome OS integration demoed in Android N.
Considering Google’s excellent carrier-switching Project Fi is still only available for Nexus users, Google I/O 2016 would be a great time to announce the service is available for more smartphone owners. We can’t say we’ve seen any evidence of this ourselves, but there are a few rumors pointing to this possibility. If you know something we don’t feel free to share your evidence in the comments below.
There’s also sure to be more on Nest, GoogleOn and smart home integration, the Internet of Things generally and project Brillo specifically, and maybe even something about a commercial application for Project Soli’s radar sensor for wearables.
What do you expect to see at Google I/O 2016? Will you be there?
Samsung Galaxy S7 gets unboxed by… a llama
If you had millions of dollars to spend on marketing for your next big smartphone, what would you spend it on? Emotional advertisements that pull on the heart strings of a wide user base? What about a commercial that shows off some of the device’s new and innovative features? Those might be good ideas, but they’ve both been done before. You know what hasn’t been done? Llamas.
In an effort to build up hype for the new Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge, that will both be announced on Sunday, February 21st at MWC, Samsung has launched its new “Seven Days of Unboxing” promotion. From now until the 21st, Samsung will release a new unboxing video every day. Two videos have already been released, and they don’t really tell us anything about the device at all.
The first unboxing video is brought to us by a small child named Tyson. The second, and arguably the more entertaining one, features our good old friend, the llama. I’ve attached the video below for your viewing pleasure.
We have five more days to go until Samsung announces the S7 and S7 Edge, and that also means five more unboxings. If you’d like to keep tabs on all of the videos, you can head to the official Seven Days of Unboxings website for more information. And if you’re interested in getting more details on the two upcoming flagships, be sure to check out our Samsung Galaxy S7 rumor roundup.
Next: Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge leaked and listed for sale online20
Toshiba, VAIO, and Fujitsu decide it’s Morphin’ Time, to combine into single PC Megazord
It appears the Japanese tech companies Toshiba, VAIO, and Fujitsu have decided that it’s time to ban together to stand up against Lenovo NEC. Bloomberg News is reporting that VAIO is nearing the final stages of a series of negotiations which would merge itself into both Toshiba and Fujitsu. The resulting super-company might just give Lenovo NEC a run for its money.
See also: Toshiba CEO resigns amid $1.2B false accounting scandal8
If you’ve been keeping tabs on these PC rangers, you might remember that Toshiba took a hard hit in December, cutting 7,800 jobs in the fallout of an accounting scandal. Rumors circulated that the company might be withdrawing from the PC making business entirely, but Toshiba is nothing if not scrappy. Last week’s announcement that the company would be sticking to their guns in spite of their struggling electronics division left some scratching their heads, but word of this merger casts their strategy in a new light.
The PC landscape in general is becoming a battleground of titans. Smaller companies are beginning to fuse together to remain competitive with powerhouses HP, Dell, and Lenovo. If Toshiba, VAIO and Fujitsu carry out this merger successfully, they may rise as one of leading competitors in this brutal market. We don’t have any word yet regarding branding or products, and the deal has yet to be officially announced. Hidemi Moue, chief executive officer of Japan Industrial Partners has said that we can expect a formal press release by the end of Q1.
What are your thoughts regarding the combining of these PC giants? Will the resulting merged company be able to find footing on the global playing field? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Next: 6 best Android emulators for PC13
Apple Pay hits China on February 18
After months of rumors, it looks like Apple Pay will finally be launching in China on February 18, according to social media posts from the country’s largest bank, Industrial and Commerical Bank of China (ICBC). Up until now, we’ve been hearing that the mobile payments platform would hit China in “early 2016.” While Apple hasn’t confirmed the launch, China’s state press notes that two other banks would be launching the service on the same date, Reuters reports. Altogether, Apple currently lists 19 banks as its launch partners in the country.
China is a particularly important market for Apple Pay: It’s the largest smartphone market in the world, but it also already has several big mobile payments players, including Tencent’s WeChat Payment. Unlike the US and other countries, where paying for things with your phone is a relatively new concept, Apple’s big problem in China will be proving that its mobile payments platform is actually better than the competition.
Doctors reveal they can 3D print body parts and tissue
3D printing isn’t just for toys and models — doctors at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine announced yesterday that they’ve managed to 3D print “living” tissue and organs that functioned properly when implanted in animals. The team, led by Anthony Atala, is already renowned for printing the building blocks for human bladders. But now they’ve reached another level entirely: They say it’s possible to print structures large and strong enough for humans. They’ve printed muscle structures, bone and ear tissue so far, according to Nature. With a little more work, the technology could revolutionize the way we approach surgical replacements (and finally make plenty of sci-fi biotechnology scenarios a reality).
At the heart of the discovery is the Integrated Organ and Printing System (ITOP), which is unlike any 3D printer we’ve seen so far. It uses “biodegradable, plastic-like material” to form the shape of tissues, as well as water-based ink to hold cells and a series of microchannels to allow oxygen and nutrients to flow through. The idea is to make strong tissue that effectively integrates into animals and humans.
Sure, we’ve been hearing about 3D printed organs for years, but this announcement is notable for several reasons. Atala’s team used the ITOP to print human-sized ears that were implanted under the skin of mice and, over the course of two months, managed to form cartilage and blood vessels. They’ve also seen similar progress when implanting muscle tissue and skull bone in rats. At this rate, it might not be too long before we start seeing human trials.
The best label maker
By Marisa McClellan
This post was done in partnership with The Sweethome, a buyer’s guide to the best things for your home. Read the full article here.
After 25 hours of research (including talking to small-business owners, kitchen managers, professional organizers, and home users) and 15 hours spent testing eight popular models, we’ve determined that the Brother PT-D210 is the best label maker for most people. The easiest model to use, it printed consistently high-quality labels despite being one of the cheapest label makers we tested. Plus, its replacement cartridges are more affordable than those of the competition.
How we tested
Labels from the Epson models we tested weren’t as durable after repeated removals and applications. Note how the corners curl up. Photo: Marisa McClellan
I took a systematic approach to evaluating each label maker. One at a time, I unpacked each label maker and loaded it with batteries and the enclosed label tape. I took note of how easy the battery and tape-cartridge installation was, where the compartments for each were located, and whether any special tools were required. Then, I started using the label maker, noting the ease of typing, the clarity of the screen, the ease of moving from lowercase to uppercase, how smoothly the tape cutter sliced the labels, and generally how the label maker felt in the hand.
Finally, I looked at the labels themselves. While they were all easy to read, legibility isn’t useful if the label itself degrades too easily or proves to be too difficult to apply—and reapply. I covered a glass jar with labels and peeled them off to see how well the adhesive removed. Then I put them back on. After torturing the labels like this for a while, I ran the jar through the dishwasher to see how the labels would stand up to water, heat, and detergent.
The Brother keyboard layout is straightforward for anyone who has used a computer or smartphone. Photo: Marisa McClellan
We chose the Brother PT-D210. It’s comfortable in the hands, and it works nicely when positioned on a desk, table, or countertop as well. Among our test group, it has the most intuitive interface, which makes it immediately accessible to someone who has never used a label maker before. It also produces durable, reusable labels with up to two lines of text that can survive a trip through a dishwasher. Our only gripe is that it uses six AAA batteries instead of a rechargeable battery pack and doesn’t come with an AC adapter (though you can purchase one separately). Replacement tape is affordable, especially compared with Epson’s, and widely available in stores and online.
A runner-up that’s better for business
The PT-D400 (right) is significantly larger than the PT-D210 (left), so it’s more at home on a desk than in your hands. But the two have similarly intuitive keyboard layouts. Photo: Marisa McClellan
If you’re planning on giving your label maker heavy use, or if you want one for a busy office environment, consider upgrading to the Brother PT-D400AD instead. It does everything the PT-D210 does and has the same easy-to-use keyboard layout, but it adds the ability to print barcodes. It accepts tape up to ¾ inch and can print up to seven lines of text per label instead of the PT-D210’s two lines. It also comes with an AC adapter, which helps to offset its higher price.
The slimmer Epson LW-400 (left) is more comfortable to hold than the older LW-300 (right). Photo: Marisa McClellan
Overall, Brother label makers are better for most people because the replacement cartridges are more affordable and the keyboard layouts are more intuitive. But if crafting is your primary goal, Epson’s label options come in a wider variety of media, including iron-on fabric versions that have fewer complaints of washing off than Brother’s, as well as ribbons for customized gift wrapping or other projects. However, Epson labels are a bit more expensive per foot. We considered Epson’s LW-400 and LW-300 label makers, but we prefer the LW-400 because of its slimmer, more ergonomic body and its ability to print barcodes.
Wrapping it up
After 40 hours of research and testing, we think the Brother PT-D210 is the best label maker for most people. Despite being one of the cheapest models we tested, it printed consistently high-quality labels and was the easiest to use. It also has more-affordable replacement cartridges than the competition.
This guide may have been updated by The Sweethome. To see the current recommendation, please go here.
There’s a battle brewing over one-wheeled skateboards
At January’s Consumer Electronics Show, US Marshals raided and shut down a booth hawking the Trotter, a one-wheeled electric skateboard. Officials were told that the device violated patents owned by Future Motion, makers of the rival OneWheel self-balancing board. Bloomberg, however, is reporting that Future Motion has now withdrawn its infringement lawsuit against the Trotter. It’s suggested that the company mislead the courts about the strength of its patents, tricking authorities into taking out a legitimate rival.
According to the newswire, the Trotter’s maker is looking for a cash settlement to recoup its losses from the CES raid. The firm wants $100,000 to cover the loss of business and reputation after it was publicly humiliated at the trade show. In addition, the company is seeking a substantial quantity of legal fees that it’s had to incur in order to fight the initial action. Future Motion’s representatives told Bloomberg that its case is legitimate, but it simply doesn’t have the cash to sustain a war of attrition in the patent courts.
When you’ve been to a few trade shows, you’ll quite frequently spot booths getting raided by authorities for various infringement actions. Robotic vacuum cleaners that are suspiciously close to iRobot’s products are a common target, as are companies looking to clone Apple devices. There are plenty of questions left unanswered about what’s going to happen now — but this could have ramifications beyond a couple of companies trying to sell electric skateboards.
Update: Future Motion and its CEO, Kyle Doerkson, responded to our request for comment with the following statements.
“We would much rather be innovating than litigating. Our California-based team of designers and engineers are focused on delivering great products and experiences. However, we will continue to fully defend our innovations through our intellectual property rights in ways that make strategic sense for our company.”
“After considering the economics of the litigation, Future Motion has voluntarily dismissed its patent infringement lawsuit against Changzhou First International Trading Co. Ltd. (“CZ-First”). Specifically, in view of apparently minimal U.S. sales of the accused CZ-First product, Future Motion determined that the likely costs of continuing litigation would outweigh the potential benefits, and dismissed the action without prejudice. Future Motion will continue to monitor competing products and to enforce its intellectual property rights when necessary.”