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24
Jun

Genes, germs and bacon: A look inside my own DNA


There are times in your life when bad news smashes into your gut like a sledgehammer into the solar plexus. “You’ve got those double dots next to your CYP1A2*F, which means that we class you as a fast metabolizer.” But the man on the other end of the phone was not complimenting me. Rather, he was explaining that my body can’t cope with the chemicals produced by smoked or chargrilled meat. It meant that, despite my love of meat, I would have to limit myself to “just one or two servings of grilled or smoked meat per week,” and even that was excessive. The news got worse when I was told that, for a similar reason, I should also avoid fried bacon — which I eat every morning to pep up my protein-and-fat rich breakfast of eggs. My genetic makeup, the bastard, has rendered me incapable of enjoying bacon, which is a hard way to be introduced into the world of DNA fitness testing.

Every cell in your body contains DNA, a series of instructions, like computer code, that tell your body how to behave. It dictates everything from the color of your eyes and height through to how long you’ve got left to live. Between 1990 and 2013, a coalition of countries mapped the human genome, opening new frontiers into biological research. Companies such as 23andMe and DNAFit are then able to leverage this knowledge to bring nuggets of insight out of the lab and into our homes. DNAFit’s service is primarily designed for athletic types looking to secure those mythical marginal gains; small improvements that give you an edge over your competitors. But there’s no rule against schlubby tech journalists trying it out, so I signed up with DNAFit to find out if my genes held the key to me becoming a healthier person.

The process begins with you rubbing a cotton swab inside your cheek for a minute, sealing it in a plastic tube and sending it off to the lab. After a few weeks, you’ll receive a link to the company’s website that, depending on the package you choose, offers insights into your diet and/or exercise. I opted for a package that included an analysis of both, as well as a consultation with one of the company’s experts. Specifically, Craig Pickering, a former international athlete who has represented Great Britain as both a sprinter and a bobsledder. Previously considered a hot prospect for medals at both London 2012 and Sochi 2014, a series of back injuries forced him to retire in 2014.

Image Credit: DNAFit.

Pickering patiently went through my results, explaining what they mean and what I can do differently. I learned that there are roughly three types of athlete that a person can be: endurance, power or mixed. About 25 percent of DNAFit’s clients turn out to be endurance athletes: people whose bodies can deal with the lengthy pain of climbing a mountain or running a marathon. Another 25 percent are power athletes, better at sprinting over short distances and power lifting. The remaining 50 percent are more balanced, with my makeup coming out at 45.5 percent power and 54.5 percent endurance. It meant that my weight-heavy workout was good, but I needed to work with my personal trainer to get in more endurance exercises.

In other areas, my body is crushingly middle of the road, with a normal lung capacity and a fairly standard 48-hour turnaround on post-exercise recovery. As for injury risk, my genes suggested that I was at greater risk of soft-tissue damage. But beyond that, I shouldn’t have to worry about devoting lots of time towards injury-prevention work, simply because I’m quite robust. That was in stark contrast to Pickering himself, whose own injury results were some of the most extensive the company had ever seen. But I was safe to do three intensive workouts a week, with at least a day of rest between each one.

We then moved on to my diet profile, which is where the bad news kicked in, since my body is deficient in a wide variety of areas. For instance, I have a predisposition to Coeliac disease, with a 1 in 35 chance of actually suffering from the condition — greater than the average of 1 in 100. It’s a similar situation with carbohydrates, with both my ACE and PPARG genes showing signs of extra sensitivity. If that wasn’t bad enough, I lack the gene that produces the GSTM1 enzyme, meaning that I struggle to process carcinogens and free radicals, making me prone to oxidative stress. Which, in layman’s terms, means that I’m more likely to get Parkinson’s, Alzheimers and cancers than other people.

The section in my DNAFit report explaining my genetic failings with regards to meat.

Writer Michael Pollan once coined a very brief, useful manifesto for how one should go about dieting. “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” It’s the rule of thumb that everyone in the world knows to be true, and yet so many of us struggle with. If you’ve read Engadget over the last five years, you may have followed my journey from being a 20-stone lump to a slightly thinner lump. But despite knowing that there was more that I could be doing, when it’s laid out in front of you it’s hard to take.

So, I resolved that I need to make some severe lifestyle changes in order to compensate for my body’s staggering flaws. The advice here was, perhaps, a little more generic than genetic, since around 98 percent of DNAFit’s customers are recommended one of two diets. Either they’re prescribed a Low Carbohydrate plan, or a Mediterranean, both of which recommend a low-carb, low-meat diet and lots of fresh vegetables and, especially in my case, cruciferous greens to fill in on what my body doesn’t produce.

I had to ask Pickering what the justification is for splashing out on a DNAFit test when I could just as easily have binged on kale. His response was that, when it comes to genetically matched diets, “people find them slightly easier to stick to.” He says that’s mostly because they feel that the diet has been “personalized to them,” although really it’s the opposite. Diet advice like this is available in plenty of other books, but it’s the warning of what happens if you don’t change that’s more compelling.

“It’s the warning of what happens if you don’t change that’s more compelling.”

A few days later, I sat down with DNAFit’s founder, Avi Lasarow, who said that the diet advice isn’t as generic as I’d suspected. After all, the company predominantly operates in the United Kingdom, where genetic factors would be common to British caucasians. In other locations where there are cultural variations in diet, such as Holland and Latin America, Lasarow told me that the eating advice would be different.

I also wanted to ask what he’d say to people who are skeptical about the potential for genetic science to impact people’s dieting. His commitment to pushing his business includes the publishing of clinical trials and funding research into furthering the technology. He’s also certain that it won’t be long before DNAFit can offer a much broader quantity of tests in the hope of saving people the “tedious trial and error” inherent in working out what’s best for you.

At the moment, DNAFit tests for a limited number of “snips,” or single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). These tiny variations in our DNA are key markers that show our vulnerability to various conditions like sickle-cell anaemia. But Lasarow says that eventually his company, and others like partner firm 23andMe, will be able to examine 800,000 of these characteristics at a time. That opens up a whole new frontier of testing opportunities, and those who have already been tested will be able to learn more things about themselves for an additional cost.

AVIVA International Match

DNAFit advisor Craig Pickering after winning the 60-meter sprint in 2010 (Julian Finney / Getty).

Few have heard of DNAFit right now, but it’s entirely likely that it’ll become well known in sporting circles in the near future. Lasarow is a “proud South African” who has been in talks with the government in teaming up with his country’s Olympic athletes. “We’ve averaged seven medals at the last three games,” he tells me, “and this is a real opportunity to increase the medal count.” After all, in his mind, “the difference between getting the bronze medal and no medal at all is so minute,” that squeezing an athlete’s DNA for marginal gains is worth the effort.

As for me, I’m not expecting to win any medals any time soon, but I am going to try and ditch my morning bacon for something involving kale. An effort which, believe you me, will be on a par with winning gold at the Olympics.

Source: DNAFit

24
Jun

New Thunderbolt Display With Integrated GPU Still in the Works


Apple yesterday announced plans to discontinue the 5-year-old Thunderbolt Display, leaving it unclear if Apple’s display business is coming to an end or if another model is in the works for a future release. According to BuzzFeed’s John Paczkowski, Apple isn’t done with Thunderbolt displays.

In a tweet shared this morning, Paczkowski said he’s heard from unspecified sources that a next-generation display will feature an integrated GPU, a possibility that was first bandied about in early June, ahead of WWDC.

Thunderbolt Display takes dirt nap as expected. Sources telling me next-gen display will indeed have integrated GPU https://t.co/kx6n0vQGMf

— John Paczkowski (@JohnPaczkowski) June 24, 2016

A Thunderbolt Display with a built-in graphics card would be able to work with almost any Mac because it would be driven by an internal graphics card rather than the machine it’s connected to.

It’s believed Apple has not introduced a 5K display to match the 5K iMac because there are no machines that could run it over a single stream cable, a fact that will remain true even in upcoming machines like a rumored Skylake Retina MacBook Pro.

Paczkowski doesn’t include other details about the display Apple has in the works, but rumors have suggested it will feature a resolution of 5120 x 2880 and it’s also likely to include USB-C ports that support Thunderbolt 3.

Stock shortages ahead of the Worldwide Developers Conference led to speculation that Apple could refresh the Thunderbolt Display at the event, but that did not end up happening. There is no word on when Apple might release a new display, but with an integrated GPU, it would not have any specific requirements and could theoretically debut at any time.

If a new Thunderbolt Display is planned for 2016, a logical guess at a release date might be in the fall alongside rumored redesigned Retina MacBook Pros.

Related Roundup: Thunderbolt Display
Buyer’s Guide: Displays (Don’t Buy)
Discuss this article in our forums

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24
Jun

​7 surefire ways to annoy your Instagram followers – CNET


With so many fun filters and editing tools, it’s easy to get carried away on Instagram. And while most of our “gramming” habits are harmless, too many of these may end up costing you friends.

1. Insta-lying

We’re probably all guilty of staging a photo once in a while to be a more interesting depiction of what actually happened. But if you’re going out of your way to lie about what you’re doing on a daily basis, there may be a problem.

After all, there’s only so much of your perfectly curated life that people can stand to look at, especially if your entire feed is too good to be true.

2. Selfie overload

Nothing wrong with a flattering selfie once in a while, or a group-shot selfie when there’s no one around to take it. But if your feed has become an ode to your face, it may be time to rethink your strategy.

Also, be aware of your surroundings when taking a selfie. Bathroom selfies with the toilet in the background are not appealing.

3. Post before every meal

There are some culinary experiences that genuinely warrant a post, but save it for the ones that resemble art or homemade dishes that truly make your mouth water. Most meals are not worthy of the “food porn” hashtag and are probably best savored in private.

4. Load up on #Hashtags

Hashtags are incredibly useful tools to crowdsource pictures from specific places or events, and a pretty well known tactic to get more followers. But use them wisely and in moderation. Excessive hashtagging can seem desperate and often won’t add value to a post. Also, never comment with more hashtags. Caption limits are there for a reason.

5. Retouch until unrecognizable

Smartphones have made it possible for anyone to have celebrity-worthy photoshopping features at their fingertips.

Most new Android phones come with a “beauty” feature on the front camera allowing you to even out skin, slim the jawline or even make your eyes appear wider on the fly. Or you can retouch after the shot with apps like Facetune and CreamCam. But just because they’re out there doesn’t mean you should abuse them.

Minor tweaks are fine, but a heavy finger on the smoothing feature may leave you looking like a wax figure. And it won’t be long until your followers catch on.

6. Excessive use of filters

Filters are what brought us to Instagram in the first place. The ability to make a landscape look like a scene from an old western film, or a page right out of a storybook.

But you can have too much of a good thing. And if your landscapes start to look psychedelic from oversaturation, you may want to dial it back.

7. Spamming

One picture is great, two is fine, but more than that can start to get tricky. Posting 20 images of the same birthday party back to back will saturate your friends’ feeds and likely garner some animosity. If you have 100 amazing shots of your birthday bash, spread them out over a couple of posts, create a collage, or post an album on Facebook. Instagram “purists” will argue that you only need a few good ones per event.

24
Jun

6 location-specific IFTTT recipes you should be using – CNET


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Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

Once you get the hang of it, automation service IFTTT (which stands for “If This, Then That”) is incredibly convenient. There’s nothing quite like automating stupid little everyday tasks — such as turning off the lights at a specific time, or cross-posting Facebook posts to multiple social networks — to help you reclaim your valuable time and sanity. And the only thing more convenient than standard-issue IFTTT recipes are location-based IFTTT recipes.

IFTTT connects to both Android’s and iOS’ location channel, which means that you can use your phone’s location — which, for all intents and purposes, is your location — to trigger automated actions. You can set up location-based triggers to fire whenever you exit a defined area (such as your home, your office or the gym), whenever you enter a defined area or when you enter or exit a defined area. If you have a smart home setup, the possibilities are endless — but even if you don’t, there are plenty of IFTTT recipes that will help streamline your life.

Turn the lights off when you leave home

You didn’t invest in smart lightbulbs such as the Philips Hue White Ambiance Starter Kit just to leave them on all day long. You can open up the Hue app and turn your lights off (or on) remotely with just a couple of taps, but it’s even easier to let IFTTT’s location-based recipes do that for you. This recipe switches off your Hue bulbs whenever your phone leaves the area you’ve defined as your home.

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There are lots of versions of this recipe for different smart home setups. Here’s one for WeMo Insight Switch users (and WeMo Light Switch users), here’s one for D-Link Smart Plug users, and here’s one for Lutron users.

Mute your phone when you leave the house

If you’re like me, your phone is almost always on silent mode — except when you’re sitting at home playing Yo-Kai Watch Wibble Wobble. Instead of manually switching your phone back to silent mode whenever you leave the house to do real-world things (like go to work), use this recipe to automatically change your phone’s volume settings.

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This only works with Android phones, because iOS doesn’t allow IFTTT to change phone settings. However, you can use this recipe to send yourself a reminder to mute your phone whenever you leave your home.

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Track how much time you spend at the office

Are you staying too late at work? This recipe tracks how much time you spend hanging out at work, and logs the hours in a Google Doc.

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Meanwhile, this recipe logs each of your gym visits in a Google Doc.

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Text your significant other when you leave the office

Assuming you don’t spend all your time at work, this recipe sends your significant other (or roommate, or dog) a text or an email when you leave the office to come home.

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Let friends know when you’re back in town

Have you been traveling? This recipe automatically posts a Facebook post when you get back in town. You can customize your city, so this will also let people know when you get back to your hometown.

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24
Jun

Your router isn’t as fast as you think it is. Here’s why. – CNET


Let’s cut to the chase: Wired network connections will always be faster, more secure and more reliable than wireless.

If you want top speeds in your home, you’ll want to save room in your remodeling budget for running gigabit Ethernet network cables (CAT5e or better yet CAT6) to every room in your home. Ethernet is the only connection standard where the real-world speeds are very close to, or in some cases match, the lofty theoretical speeds.

Of course, wired networking has several drawbacks. Wires are a pain to install, they’re unsightly — and it’s just not fun to be tethered. And, of course, not every device is even compatible with wired Ethernet. For your tablet and smartphone, your streaming stick and even many newer printers, you will have to use Wi-Fi. But that’s when you may find yourself poking along at slower speeds than you’d like.

So, why the slowdown? You need to be aware of the huge gap among these three different attributes: real-world speed, ceiling speed and the advertised speed. (By the way, if you’re really want to dive in on networking, I’d recommend reading my in-depth look at networking basics.)

Ceiling speed vs. real-world speed

The ceiling speed is the maximum theoretical speed of a connection standard determined in a controlled environment, without factors that would adversely affect the connection’s throughput data rate. For example, the ceiling speed of a Gigabit Ethernet connection is 1,000Mbps, fast enough to transfer a Blu-ray disk worth of data (25GB) in less than 3.5 minutes. And in this case, the wiring that delivers this speed is protected inside your network cable by a layer of plastic, isolating it from outside environment. This is why an Ethernet connection is able to deliver real-world speeds close to or on par with the ceiling speed of the standard.

Note, however, the network speed’s rule of thumb: The ceiling speed of a connection is that of the slowest device in the chain. In other words, a connection is only as fast as its weakest link. So if you connect an Fast Ethernet device (100Mbps), like a Roku 3, to a Gigabit Ethernet (1,000Mbps) router using a network cable, the connection speed between the two (and only those two) will be capped at 100Mbps.

Wi-Fi, however, is totally different since it uses radio waves to transfer data. Wi-Fi devices share the same airspace not only with each other, but other home appliances as well. That means the speed of a Wi-Fi connection is subject to the Wi-Fi environment it’s operating in. That’s why your wireless speeds can flatline when you (or a nearby apartment) fires up the microwave.

Here are the main factors that adversely affect Wi-Fi speed:

  • Distance: The farther out, the slower the connection gets.
  • Obstacles: Walls and large objects will block the signals and shorten the Wi-Fi range.
  • Interference: The more devices of the same radio frequencies being used in the same area, the slower they get.
  • Compatibility: When devices of different Wi-Fi speed tiers, standards and manufacturers are used together, they must adhere to a lower speed standard in order to all function together properly.

This is why the real-world speed of a Wi-Fi connection is always significantly lower than the ceiling speed of the Wi-Fi standard being used. In my experience, at best, the actual sustained speed of a Wi-Fi connection is between a third and a half of its ceiling speed.

Take the Asus RT-AC68U, for example. It’s a dual-band router, which means that it can operate on the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz wireless band. (The latter one is far less prone to interference from household items.) The top ceiling speeds on those bands in this case are 600Mbps and 1,300Mbps, respectively. That means the real-world speeds are closer to 300Mbps and 550Mbps, at best.

Advertised vs. ceiling vs. real-world speeds of popular Wi-Fi routers

Advertised speed Max ceiling speed Max real-world speed (tested by CNET Labs using optimal settings)
1,000 Mbps 1,000 Mbps 1,000 Mbps
5,400 Mbps 2,167 Mbps 685.2 Mbps
3,100 Mbps 2,167Mbps 643.6 Mbps
2,533 Mbps 1733 Mbps 437.8 Mbps
2,400 Mbps 1,733 Mbps 504.4 Mbps
1,900 Mbps 1,300 Mbps 521.4 Mbps
3,200 Mbps 1,300 Mbps 601.7 Mbps
3,200 Mbps 1,300 Mbps 482.2 Mbps
2,350 Mbps 1,733 Mbps 381.7 Mbps
1,900 Mbps 1,300 Mbps 520 Mbps
900Mbps 450 Mbps 131.9 Mbps
1,000 Mbps 100 Mbps 100 Mbps

Advertised speed: The art of marketing

The question is why all networking vendors always use the unachievably high numbers for the Wi-Fi ceiling speeds? That’s because, as inaccurate as it is when it comes to the real-world speed capabilities of Wi-Fi devices, the ceiling speed is constant and therefore can be used to differentiate one Wi-Fi standard from another. However, to cover their asses, all networking manufacturers precede the top Wi-Fi speed number with “up to.” It’s kind of like the speedometer on your car: it may top out at 160 mph or 260 km/h. And maybe the engine is capable at driving at that speed. But you’re not going to be going anywhere near that fast in real life.

Take, again, the Asus RT-AC68U. It’s classified as an AC1900 product because it uses the latest 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard. The 1900 is derived by adding the router’s top speeds on both of its bands: 2.4GHz at 600Mbps and 5GHz at 1,300Mbps. But that implication of “1,900Mbps” is completely misleading, because a Wi-Fi connection takes place on one band at a time (the router itself can work on both bands simultaneously but each client can only connect to one of the two bands at a time) so at most the ceiling speed of this router would be 1,300Mbps.

But the good news is that even those “slower” real-world speeds are often more 2 to 10 times faster (or more) than you need on many residential internet connections, which generally range from 20Mbps to 150Mbps (download) and 2Mbps to 20Mbps (upload). Netflix, for example, recommends 5Mbps for HD video streaming and 25Mbps for Ultra HD (4K) streaming. And this also means, getting even the most expensive router won’t necessarily improve your online experience, if you have a slow internet connection.

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The notion that this AC5400 router has the Wi-Fi speed of 5.3Gbps (or 5,400Mbps) is completely false.


Dong Ngo/CNET

But adding up the numbers is a networking manufacturer’s favorite way of naming its routers. For this reason, a router with three Wi-Fi bands (two 5GHz bands and a single 2.4GHz band) can have an outrageously high number after “AC.” Tri-band routers are only necessary when you have a lot of 5Ghz clients (a dozen or more) being used at the same time. The D-Link DIR-890L/R for example, is a tri-band AC3200 router, suggesting a speed of 3,200Mbps. Completely untrue. The router has two 5GHz bands each caps at 1,300Mbps and one 2.4GHz band that tops at 600Mbps. Add those numbers together and you get 3200. In reality however, at best, the fastest connection you can get from this router is the same as that of any AC1900 router, like the Asus above.

This kind of naming convention is also confusing because a dual-band AC2400 router (1,733Mbps on 5GHz band and 600Mbps on 2.4GHz band) or an AC2600 router (1,733Mbps on 5GHz and 800Mbps on 2.4GHz) are actually faster than a tri-band AC3200 router, though it supports fewer concurrent 5GHz clients before slowing down.

And, again, two caveats apply:

Cut all of those ceiling speeds in half anyway to account for real-world performance.
Your AC speeds will drop to the maximum Wi-Fi speed of the connected device — so if you’re using a phone or tablet with 802.11g or 11n limits, expect even slower speeds.

Best practices

Now that you know what to expect out of a Wi-Fi router, here are some tips on how to get the fastest home network. These are what I do for my own home.

Run network cables when possible: I actually have CAT6 cables running to every room in my house with all of them converging in a single room where my internet comes into the house. This one-time time-consuming investment pays off big in the long run since allows all stationary devices (servers, network media streamer, game consoles, etc.) to connect via wired Gigabit connections, giving them the fastest network speed possible.

Use extra access points (or routers running in access point mode): Access points connected to the main router via Ethernet cables is the best way to extend your Wi-Fi network while maintaining the best Wi-Fi speed. You can name the access point’s Wi-Fi network the same as that of the main router (with the same password and other settings) if you want devices to move from one network to another automatically. If you’ve run network cables (given each room a super-fast wired connection,) adding access points is super easy.

Get a router and access point of the just-right standard: Currently AC1900 is the sweet spot for Wi-Fi. AC1900 routers are affordable and support the speed the fastest Wi-Fi clients on the market, which is 1,300Mbps. If you have many Wi-Fi clients being used at a time, a tri-band AC3200 router will do, since you can can have multiple devices connected to each of its bands without adversely affecting performance too much. While it doesn’t hurt to get a router with a higher ceiling speed (AC5300, AC2600, etc.) that won’t result in faster Wi-Fi speeds. Routers with a ceiling speed faster than 1,300Mbps might be appealing thanks to new features (such as extra network ports, security and so on), but their Wi-Fi speeds are only for future-proof purposes.

24
Jun

What you need to know about using two SIM cards on the OnePlus 3 – CNET


dual-sim-oneplus-3.jpgEnlarge Image


Jason Cipriani/CNET

After unboxing the OnePlus 3 and sliding the SIM card tray out, you may have been met with a surprise: As with the OnePlus 2, the company’s latest phone supports dual SIMs, which means you can put two active SIM cards in the phone and use either one at will.

Why would you want to do that? There’s a couple of reasons. When traveling, for example, where prepaid plans and data services are the easiest way to remain connected, you may want to add your prepaid SIM to the phone, letting it handle the data connection.

Another reason you might find yourself taking advantage of the OnePlus 3’s dual-SIM capabilities comes down to being tired of carrying a work and personal phone; insert the SIM card from your work phone, then send and receive incoming calls and text messages from either number.

Should you find yourself using two SIM cards in the OnePlus 3, there’s a few things you’ll need to set up and know:

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Enlarge Image


Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

  • With both SIM cards inserted into the phone, open Settings > SIM Cards. Here you can set which card you want the phone to default to for Data, SMS and phone calls.
  • It’s a good idea to set a name and custom color for each SIM. Anytime you receive a text message or phone call, this name (and color) will be used to help you quickly identify which number is being used. Otherwise you’ll need to remember what number is associated with the default names of CARD 1 and CARD 2.
  • You can go into SIM settings and turn off either SIM card at any time.
24
Jun

The importance of a OnePlus phone you can actually buy


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What happens when OnePlus competes on something other than making noise.

Like its two predecessors, the OnePlus 3 offers a lot of phone for not a lot of money. But there’s a crucial distinction this year, as arguably the biggest barrier to entry no longer applies — you can purchase a OnePlus 3, from launch day, without an invite. And that’s huge for a bunch of reasons, some of them more obvious than others.

Firstly, let’s look the positives of the invite system from OnePlus’s perspective. As a smaller manufacturer, limiting sales through invites lets it trickle out phones over weeks and months, and avoid immediately selling out or (worse) being left with a bunch of unsold inventory. Supplies can then be adjusted accordingly. Those who persevere and end up with a phone likely are enthusiasts who’ll continue to spread the message through word of mouth. And ensuring everyone who wants one can’t get one right away helps maintain consumer and press interest over a longer period of time, as outlets and fans spread word of the latest ways to get hold of an invite.

The invite system has done its job. Now it’s time to just let people buy the damn phone.

Though undeniably annoying at times, the invite system has done its job. Going into the OnePlus 3 launch, consumers and media know and care about the phone even in the absence of any obnoxious marketing tricks. What’s more, the benefit of three release cycles under the invite system has surely allowed OnePlus to more accurately judge demand for its latest phone. And we also shouldn’t underestimate the goodwill generated by day-one, invite-free sales among core fans who’ve dealt with this frustration over the past couple of years.

It’s all part of the narrative of OnePlus growing up as a brand. No more apologies for an invite system creaking under the pressure of millions of requests.
No more cringey marketing blnders. No more disingenuous claims that this year’s phone will somehow kill next year’s flagships. No more delaying your phone because you couldn’t print the CE logo correctly.

Just a really good phone at a really competitive price, with no hoops to jump through.

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Stupider times: The OnePlus of 2014.

It also means no more asterisks next to any recommendations to buy the OnePlus 3. In years past we’ve hesitated to include phones like the OnePlus One and OnePlus 2 in our list of “best” unlocked Android phones, simply because the average phone buyer shouldn’t be expected to deal with these kinds of hurdles. There was also the implication that any direct price comparison was unfair on the competition, because you couldn’t just go and buy the phone. Now you can.

The new center of gravity for mainstream high-end Android phones.

That’s got to be cause for concern for some competitors. OnePlus isn’t playing the carrier game, but consider a company like HTC or LG, selling its flagships unlocked for $150-250 more than OnePlus. You could argue that the HTC 10 or LG G5 are better in a some areas than the OnePlus 3, but are they several hundred dollars better? Suddenly, paying full retail for anything but the very best — say, a Galaxy S7 or iPhone — becomes a really hard to justify. There’s a strong case for saying he OnePlus 3 is the kind of phone that’ll represent the center of gravity, price-wise, for mainstream high-end Android phones going forwards, leaving the Samsung and Apple at the top and budget contenders like the Moto G and Huawei’s Honor phones further down the scale.

Also consider the Sony Xperia X Performance, a $700 phone with basically nothing going for it over the $400 OnePlus 3. Sony Mobile US’s unlocked, online, direct-to-consumer price structure is so utterly undermined by phones like the OnePlus 3 that it’s almost comical.

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With its immediate availability and $400 price point, OnePlus also puts the squeeze on unlocked phones around the $300 level — older flagships like the LG G4 and Moto X Pure Edition look much less attractive when for $50-$100 more you can get current specs and superior build quality. Even the affordable Nextbit Robin, with its standard price of $399, looks a little inflated by comparison.

As the U.S. market trends away from carrier subsidies, eventually the established players will have to sit up and take notice of these kinds of handsets. OnePlus might lack the scale of an HTC or a Motorola, but it also doesn’t have an enormous global corporate structure to support. Thus the savings, as they say, are passed onto you.

None of these arguments would be as compelling were OnePlus not letting consumers simply hand over their cash and get their phone. Phone nerds have short attention spans, and if we had to wait a few months to buy the OnePlus 3 unlocked, many of us might have by then moved onto newer and shiner things.

Instead, OnePlus’s latest could turn out to be a pivotal device for this fledgeling manufacturer — and a milestone for affordability in a high-end phone.

OnePlus 3

  • OnePlus 3 review: Finally, all grown up
  • OnePlus 3 specs
  • OnePlus 3 vs. the flagship competition
  • Latest OnePlus 3 news
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24
Jun

How to try ChromeOS on a virtual machine before you buy a Chromebook


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Seeing what Chrome is like without spending a penny is easy on Windows, Mac or Linux with a virtual machine.

I like to tell people that they should try a Chromebook. I think it’s simply the best platform for a laptop for most home-users, and the price-point is perfect. But saying something is easy — it’s the believing part that is a little harder. Taking a gamble by spending $200 or more based on what other people think can be difficult. I feel you because I’m a bit of a tightwad myself and while I’m not from Missouri I usually need to see something for myself before I make a decision.

If that sounds like you, too, this is something you’ll need to try.

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The picture above is Chrome OS (technically Chromium) running on top of Windows 10, and it was as easy as downloading two free files and opening them. Using VirtualBox — software that creates a virtual machine on Windows, Mac or Linux — and a build of Chromium from the folks at NeverWare you really can see what using a Chromebook is like. You’ll need a computer with an x86 processor (if you don’t know what this is, then you have one) and enough RAM to run your normal operating system while reserving 2GB for the Chromium virtual machine. You’ll also need an internet connection to download the files and to connect your virtual Chromebook with your Google Account.

  • NeverWare is part of CloudReady. They are a cloud software company who happens to provide builds of Chromium — the open source software that is used to build Chrome OS. Think of Chromium as AOSP for Android. The code is what Google maintains and uses to build their software. NeverWare also builds the software and includes hardware support that your virtual machine will need. All you need to do is download the pre-built file right here. Find the file labeled for VirtualBox and save it to your desktop.

Download: Chromium VM from CloudReady

  • NeverWare provides the operating system for our virtual machine, but we need the software to create them. That’s where VirtualBox comes in. The software is free, and the installation is simple. Download the correct version for your system and install it like you would any other program. Linux users — they have packages for Debian, SUSE, Fedora and Ubuntu prebuilt to save you some trouble. If you use Gentoo or Slackware, you should compile from source anyway because you are one with your machine.

Download: VirtualBox from Oracle

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  • Once you have VirtualBox installed, run it once. read and agree to the terms and let the VM manager open. Then close the program completely. Next, go back to your desktop and double-click on the file you downloaded from NeverWare (it has a .ova file extension). Give it a few seconds, and you’ll see the screen above. All you need to do is click the button that says “Import” at the bottom. It will install itself into VirtualBox — this takes about a minute and you’ll see the progress bar. When that’s done, highlight the new machine you just imported in your list and click the green arrow at the top that says “Start.”

Things will take a bit to load the first time, but when it’s done you’ll see exactly what you would see if you powered up a Chromebook for the first time. It runs the same apps from the Chrome Store and syncs with your Google account. You’ll get the full Chrome experience so you can decide if you want to buy a Chromebook.

The best Chromebooks

Chromebooks

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  • The best Chromebooks
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  • Google Play is coming to Chromebooks
  • Acer Chromebook 14 review
  • Join our Chromebook forums

24
Jun

You won’t want to miss this Nexus 5X deal


If you happened to miss the last deal on the 32GB Nexus 5X, you won’t want to miss out on this one. This time around, DailySteals is offering an additional $10 off the price with coupon code NexusEmail10, dropping the price all the way down to just $259. The deal is only available for the black variant of the phone, but it is still a great deal.

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All you have to do is enter coupon code NexusEmail10 at checkout to get the additional savings. If you are in the market for a Nexus 5X, this deal is one you won’t want to pass up.

See at DailySteals

24
Jun

Adele’s 25 lands on Spotify and Google Play Music


Seven months after its initial release, Adele has brought her latest album, 25, to major streaming service. The album is now available in its entirety on Spotify, Google Play Music, and more for subscribers.

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Released in November 2015, 25 is Adele’s third studio album. Along with albums 19 and 21, the album forms a sort of trilogy about the singers young adulthood. Adele has previously stated that 25 would be her last album titled after her age.

If purchasing music is more your speed, you can of course still buy 25 from the Google Play Store.

Check out 25 on Google Play Music

Check out 25 on Spotify

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