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28
Feb

Cues is a simple but clever puzzle game (review)


Some mobile games try to create multiple levels of depth in the player’s experience, requiring long tutorials, along with a big investment in experience in order to gain true ability.
Others go the other direction, giving you an extremely simple premise while keeping you on your toes throughout the experience. Such is the case with Cues, from the developer Third State Studios. Cues is a very family-friendly game (my kiddos & I have both spent hours playing this title), and is extremely easy to pick up and learn, but doesn’t get boring after a while, either.

Setup & Gameplay

Setup for this game is super-simple; just download from the Play Store and open. Upon opening you are greeted with a single-screen tutorial on how to play. Think of this game a geometric billiards.
You are presented with a 5×5 grid of tiles, with three items located on three separate tiles: a cue, a ball, and a pocket. The objective is simple enough: you tap the cue to hit the ball into the pocket. If you’ve played pool/billiards before you already know what to do.

You’re probably wondering…what’s the twist? The twist is in the math of this game. You see, the ball will travel the same number of tiles that the cue’s distance is to the ball. If the cue is 2 tiles away, then upon being struck the ball will travel 2 tiles itself. Again, the first couple of levels bear this out and make the objective very clear.

But they also introduce another wrinkle: in subsequent levels the number of cues on the grid vary; and they require you to figure the correct combination of cue strikes in order to get the ball in the pocket. This includes using the same cue more than once, and sometimes using the same more than once in a row. With these multiple cues also comes a shot limit per level, so you are confined to a finite number of shots to succeed.

If you do fail (either by maxing out on your shot count, or by shooting the ball clear off the grid), you simply start over on that level. You get unlimited retries, and boy sometimes you feel like you may need them. Again, the thinking required here isn’t extremely strenuous, but you also aren’t going to breeze through these, either.

As you move along, you are introduced to other added ‘features’, including what I’m calling “bot tiles”, that have a number and direction imprinted on them. Upon striking the ball to these tiles, the ball is redirected in the direction and distance as shown.

Another cool feature of Cues is the Level Maker. Level Maker is exactly what it sounds like; allowing you to create your own playable levels. After playing the game for a while the kiddos would love to take on the grid themselves, and challenge siblings, friends, and parents to solve their diabolical creations. 🙂

Visuals

Cues has a very clean interface, with spotty white background that slowly and continuously moves….this actually helps with eye strain, in my non-professional opinion. It’s strange to say, but this small detail allows for longer playing time I believe. Other than that the screen is pretty nondescript.

Along the bottom you have a settings button (audio, volume, vibration, buy options), and a level menu in which to pick from any level you’ve previously beaten. You can also pick from several themes: light & dark are free, but others such as ‘daisy’ and ‘graphite’ are $1 each.

Sounds & Effects

The game runs a continuous zen-type of musical background, with a metronome ticking sound to help settle you into a focused state. The music doesn’t blow you away, but it’s also neither annoying nor totally flat. It’s just, nice.

When winning a level, you are greeted with a sudden change to a piano-like melody, while the screen animates to feel like you’re flying into the same pocket the ball just entered, going to white and then fading directly into the next level.
If you lose a level (again, by maxing out your move count or shooting the ball off the grid), you just get a simple message with a vibration in your device, and are quickly taken to the beginning of the level once again….no animation or screen change.

Overall

I really enjoy Cues. I say ‘enjoy’ as it is still on my phone for my kiddos & I to play. Even though we’re pretty high on the level list (there are 75 total plus any you make yourself) and each one is fairly taxing to solve, that next level still appears very approachable and therefore solve-able. It keeps us coming back for more.

Download Cues from the Play Store here.

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28
Feb

The Nexus workbench packs all the features a tinkerer could ever dream of


Why it matters to you

If you’re a home tinkerer with limited space to work, the Nexus workbench may be the high-tech answer to your prayers.

Are you a maker, tinkerer or some other word that ends in “er,” who requires a garage workstation to do your thing?

Do you occasionally look at existing workbenches and find yourself wishing they would borrow a bit more of their design language from the 1982 movie Tron?

If you answered yes to both of these questions, you will probably fall head over heels in love with the Nexus workbench, a new Kickstarter project which launched on Tuesday.

More: Motion-sensing LED light will banish memories of dingy garages forever

“The Nexus workbench is a game-changer for the home garage, solving these problems with unique storing capabilities and a plethora of features,” Zeb Fish, founder and CEO of Garage Mastermind, told Digital Trends. “Using linear actuators, the Nexus effortlessly transforms from its generous 3-foot by 8-foot workspace position into its storage position, sitting less than six inches from the wall. This means when you’re not working on a project, you can tuck the Nexus out of the way with just the flip of a switch.”

Of course, the foldaway element is not the only exciting aspect of the Nexus. As well as space issues, most garages also lack adequate lighting and electrical outlets — which is where the workbench’s bright LED lights on its flex arms come into play. There are also eight integrated electrical outlets and the same number of USB charging ports, so you can charge batteries, power devices, and run your assorted power tools without having to stop to switch cords.

In addition, you get a ton of other nifty features — ranging from magnetic trays and a T-track accessory system for holding tools to integrated Bluetooth stereo and hands-free calling, a laser-etched ruler, and more.

In terms of pricing, the workbench will set you back $899 for the basic model, while the fully kitted-out Nexus Complete — with airgun hook, rifle mount, fly-tying mount, bike vise, magnifying lens, and tablet stand — adds $100  on top of that. Shipping is scheduled for October.

We guess that leaves you with around eight months to figure out what you will build with it.

28
Feb

Microsoft will discontinue Skype Wi-Fi hot spot service on March 31


Why it matters to you

If you use Skype Wi-Fi to source internet access when you’re out and about, you’ll need to find a replacement.

Microsoft has announced plans to discontinue its Skype Wi-Fi service, which will go into effect at the end of next month. The application will be delisted, and the service itself will no longer function after March 31, 2017.

Skype Wi-Fi gave users the option to connect to one of over 2 million hot spots around the world, paying for their usage with Skype Credit. The app was available across Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, and iOS, and served as a convenient alternative to signing up with different Wi-Fi providers for Skype users who were on the move.

Microsoft is apparently retiring Skype Wi-Fi so that it can focus its efforts on core Skype features, according to a report from MS Power User. It remains to be seen whether its hot spot functionality will be reinstated elsewhere in the Windows ecosystem.

More: Skype is jazzing up its app with four new features to help you ‘express yourself’

The company already offers a very similar service in the form of Microsoft Wi-Fi, an app that’s exclusive to Windows 10 PCs. While there’s a slim chance that both services are set to be retired, it seems more likely that Skype Wi-Fi is being phased out in favor of Microsoft Wi-Fi.

This would allow Microsoft to retain its existing relationships with hot spot operators, while culling one of two very similar services. The fact that Microsoft Wi-Fi is branded with the company’s name rather than Windows suggests that the services could be offered to users on various devices, much like Skype Wi-Fi.

Skype Wi-Fi users with leftover Skype Credit will be able to use any remaining funds to make calls and send text messages using the standard Skype app. However, if they’re not interested in using their credit on anything other than internet access, they can also contact Skype customer service to get a full refund.

28
Feb

Microsoft will discontinue Skype Wi-Fi hot spot service on March 31


Why it matters to you

If you use Skype Wi-Fi to source internet access when you’re out and about, you’ll need to find a replacement.

Microsoft has announced plans to discontinue its Skype Wi-Fi service, which will go into effect at the end of next month. The application will be delisted, and the service itself will no longer function after March 31, 2017.

Skype Wi-Fi gave users the option to connect to one of over 2 million hot spots around the world, paying for their usage with Skype Credit. The app was available across Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, and iOS, and served as a convenient alternative to signing up with different Wi-Fi providers for Skype users who were on the move.

Microsoft is apparently retiring Skype Wi-Fi so that it can focus its efforts on core Skype features, according to a report from MS Power User. It remains to be seen whether its hot spot functionality will be reinstated elsewhere in the Windows ecosystem.

More: Skype is jazzing up its app with four new features to help you ‘express yourself’

The company already offers a very similar service in the form of Microsoft Wi-Fi, an app that’s exclusive to Windows 10 PCs. While there’s a slim chance that both services are set to be retired, it seems more likely that Skype Wi-Fi is being phased out in favor of Microsoft Wi-Fi.

This would allow Microsoft to retain its existing relationships with hot spot operators, while culling one of two very similar services. The fact that Microsoft Wi-Fi is branded with the company’s name rather than Windows suggests that the services could be offered to users on various devices, much like Skype Wi-Fi.

Skype Wi-Fi users with leftover Skype Credit will be able to use any remaining funds to make calls and send text messages using the standard Skype app. However, if they’re not interested in using their credit on anything other than internet access, they can also contact Skype customer service to get a full refund.

28
Feb

Oculus Rift review


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Research Center:
Oculus Rift

On the first day of August, 2012, Oculus launched its Kickstarter. In doing so it started not one, but two revolutions. The project’s massive success proved people wanted to give virtual reality another shot, and showed Kickstarter can lift the fortunes of not just an entire company, but an entire category of products. The 2.4 million dollars raised by Oculus seems paltry compared to more recent crowd-funded projects, but it put the company on sound footing, and led to its eventual acquisition by Facebook for a cool two billion.

Oculus needed the backing. Its Kickstarter was launched almost four years ago. That’s a long time for a product to be in development, and in that time Oculus launched several developer kits. Now, the final, retail edition is here, and anyone can buy it – if you have $600, or $800, should you want to pick up the Oculus Touch controllers as well.

But the Rift’s long development has given the competition a chance to strike. HTC’s Vive is a strong competitor, and there’s a number of less expensive headsets based on mobile hardware, including the Samsung Gear VR, which was built in partnership with Oculus and is now on its second iteration. Has the Rift’s development resulted in a well-thought out headset, or have the delays shot it past its time to shine?’

A work of art

You’d expect almost four years of development to result in a refined product. And that certainly describes the Rift. HTC’s Vive looks like a prop designed for a B-list cyberpunk film. The Rift is something you’d be proud to have on your desk.

The Rift’s hardware quality and design surpasses even HTC’s Vive.

Fabric is the key to its design. It covers almost the entirely of the head-mounted display, as well as a triangle on the rear of the headband. The fabric looks opaque, but is transparent to infrared light, which lets Oculus hide its internal sensors. While the Rift appears sleek, with few individual components, it’s crammed full of hardware.

Its hardware quality is on par with the design, and surpasses even HTC’s Vive. Every part feels light, yet durable, and seems tightly screwed together. The straps are more rugged than with competitors, though they’re also smaller, and even the padding seems more rugged. Some testers found that last point a problem, because the Rift feels rougher and tighter than competing headsets. But the padding holds up better than the Vive’s, which became discolored almost immediately.

Designed for comfort

The broad strokes of the headband’s design are similar to other headsets. There are two side straps, and one over-head strap, which connect to a triangular support that grips the rear of your head. But the Rift’s straps operate more smoothly than most, which means adjustments require little force, and strap tension is better tuned to make the Rift simple to put on or take off.

Most testers found it more comfortable than HTC’s Vive, though there was some dissent. Those who liked the Rift better unanimously cited its weight. It felt like less of a burden than any VR headset we’ve tested, including the Samsung Gear VR, and shifted little when testers moved to and fro.

oculus rift reviewBill Roberson/Digital Trends

oculus rift reviewBill Roberson/Digital Trends

oculus rift reviewBill Roberson/Digital Trends

oculus rift reviewBill Roberson/Digital Trends

Those who disagreed about the Rift’s comfort felt it was too narrow, or sat awkwardly. One tester remarked the Rift “feels more like a hat, while the Vive felt more like a helmet.” Everyone agree that the Rift’s face padding felt unforgiving, and most testers noticed light leaking in from the bottom of the headset.

Just one cord connects the Rift to the PC. It’s shorter than the Vive’s cord, since the Rift is designed for a seated experience in a smaller area. Strangely, the cord shoots off to the left, rather than off the center. That’s probably meant to make the run towards the PC shorter, but it only really pays off if you normally have your computer sitting to your left. It also feels less natural to have a cord dangling across one shoulder rather than straight down your back.

That’s a minor miss, though, and ultimately a single cord (which splits at the end into two – one HDMI, one USB) is far easier to manage than the Vive’s massive cord bundle. The Rift also has just one external IR sensor, a small device that sits on a desk. It’s a cinch to set up and doesn’t demand you re-arrange your entire room to accommodate it (yes, technically you can use the Vive as a sitting headset — but that’s missing the point).

A good first impression, but get a bucket ready

While the Rift’s initial comfort was excellent, motion sickness quickly became a problem. All six of our testers reported discomfort. For some, it was little more than a lingering sense of vertigo. For others, the problem was so bad it meant putting the headset down after a few minutes of play.

No one threw up, but a couple players went pale and had to quit within minutes.

Lucky’s Tale, a platformer played from a god-like perspective, was the most comfortable. Eve: Valkyrie upset a few stomachs, but half of our testers had no issue. Over the months, we’ve also tested many other experiences ranging from Serious Sam VR to Rescuties. The general rule is this; games that attempt to move the player, and especially those that flip or turn the player’s perspective quickly, are likely to cause trouble. Other games smartly leave the player in a relatively static position, or find other ways to move them, which means motion sickness is very unlikely.

Oculus tries to remind players of this with a “comfort” rating on each game or experience. We’re not sure who sets this, and it didn’t provide a useful warning. We found The Climb comfortable, despite its “intense” rating. Minecraft Windows 10 Edition, rated as “moderate,” is the most uncomfortable VR game we’ve ever played.

Out of control

The Xbox controller caused some complaints. It’s a great gamepad, but it doesn’t always fit the situation well in VR. Grasping a control in Eve: Valkyrie feels odd when your virtual avatar is clearly grasping a pair of joysticks. Users without previous experience with it will run into major problems, since there’s no way to see the controller while using it in most games. The Rift assumes a certain level of muscle memory, and if you don’t have it, you’ll be fumbling at the buttons hoping to find what works.

While all VR headsets cause some disorientation, the Rift is the worst we’ve tested. The problem seems to be the combination of fast-paced, visually stimulating titles, and a seated experience.

oculus rift review touchBill Roberson/Digital Trends

oculus rift review touchBill Roberson/Digital Trends

Oculus released its new Oculus Touch controllers, which lets users interact directly with VR games and experiences, in December of 2016. They work in conjunction with a second sensor station, also provided with the controllers. Adding Touch, which sells at $200 for two controllers and the additional sensor, helps to mitigate the motion sickness issues.

Though easier to set up than the HTC Vive’s controllers, and a bit more comfortable, Touch suffers from poor tracking and lackluster room-scale. The problem is the sensor technology, which is easier to obstruct and confuse than the Vive’s Lighthouse sensors.  Check out our full review.

Like a cat stuck behind a screen door

The Rift has an effective total resolution of 2,160 x 1,200 pixels. That sounds like a lot. But a VR headset places the screen just one or two inches away from your eyes, which makes pixels easy to pick out. Some companies, like AMD, say fully immersive VR must pack up to 116 megapixels into a phone-sized display. We’re a long ways from that standard.

Related: Trash your Rift: HTC’s Vive is the true leader of the VR revolution

Clarity, while far from perfect, wasn’t a major issue. Most games looked crisp enough to remain impressive, though the overall effect was more akin to playing on a weaker 720p monitor than a modern 1440p or 4K display. But what it lacked in sharpness it makes up for with a 90Hz refresh rate and extremely effective stereoscopic 3D. The display provided an excellent sense of depth in every game and experience we tried.

The real problem was the dreaded “screen door effect,” a pattern of visible lines in the picture. Pixels have gaps between them, and when the gaps are too large (relative to viewing distance), they’re visible. Old computer displays often had this problem, but it went away as pixel density increased. Now, it’s back.

Oculus Rift
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

The “screen door” was especially distracting in bright scenes. To be fair, though, every current VR headset suffers the problem to some degree. It just comes with the territory, and will remain ever-present until screen resolution improves.

And we noticed another problem, one we’ve not witnessed elsewhere. In dark scenes the Rift’s display had a distracting “sparkling” effect, which seems to be caused by uneven pixel brightness. A black scene is never dark, nor evenly lit; instead, multiple grainy points of light appear. It looks a bit like a bad film-grain Photoshop filter.

Oculus Rift Compared To

oculus rift review touch product

Oculus Touch

oculus rift review google daydream view vr product

Google Daydream View

oculus rift review sony playstation vr product

Sony PlayStation VR

oculus rift review  glasses d vanguard edition product

3Glasses D2 Vanguard Edition

oculus rift review htc vive

HTC Vive

oculus rift review samsung gear vr headset

Samsung Gear VR

oculus rift review homido vr headset

Homido

Your ears are treated better. The Rift’s built-in headphones are comfortable, reasonably loud, and not in-ear. That latter point is a benefit. With in-ear headphones, as used with some competitors, it’s hard to hear what’s nearby. A rabid badger could attack your friend just a few feet away, but you’d never know. Over-ear headphones provide a better sense of what’s nearby in real life without ruining your virtual immersion.

Just what you wanted – another software storefront

Setting up the Oculus couldn’t be easier. A card in the box directs you to the Oculus website, where you can download the installer. Once launched, a slick visual wizard guides you through each step. The process takes less than 10 minutes.

After setup, you’re directed to a few brief demos before you’re plopped into your Oculus Home – which is basically the Oculus Store. As with the Gear VR and the Vive, the Rift goes hand-in-hand with a specific digital storefront. Technically, it can be used outside of it. You can use the Rift with a SteamVR copy of Elite: Dangerous, for example. But the Rift is built for the Oculus Store, and you’ll have an easier time if you stay within it.

The Oculus Home menus are intuitive. Your gaze acts as a mouse cursor while the gamepad buttons are used to select or retreat from menu screens. A selection of three buttons always hovers at the bottom of the viewing area, ready to send you to your library, home screen, or the store. This gets even better if you have the Touch controllers, which let you directly point to and select menu items.

Related: Samsung’s outstanding new Gear VR is a virtual revelation for virtual reality

SteamVR isn’t confusing, but it’s not quite as easy to navigate. The difference probably has more to do with design than with execution. Oculus Home is smaller in scope. It’s not hooked into a wider ecosystem of desktop games, and doesn’t have as many features in Steam, though Oculus has improved the Rift’s social features since launch, and will be adding more features in 2017.

The in-headset Home interface isn’t the only way to interact with the store and library, either. There’s also a sleek, simple desktop application. It’s as limited as Home, but at least provides a way to view the store, purchases, settings, and downloads outside of the headset. Being forced to slip on the headset just to shop would’ve been a pain.

There’s nothing wrong with Home, but there could be more right with it. Steam is familiar, and it’s the de-facto gaming platform for a lot of gamers. Oculus’ decision to ignore it for a less functional proprietary alternative is sure to annoy gamers already tired of managing a roster of logins for various hardware platforms and game publishers. Despite improvements since launch, Home still doesn’t quite feel like, well, Home.

The games are coming

Both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive dealt with unimpressive launch games. We saw a few standout titles, like Fantastic Contraption, but the biggest games were simple ports of titles previously available on desktop PCs.

That’s no longer true. Several appealing games have been developed either exclusively for VR, or with VR as the primary platform. Examples include Arizona Sunshine, Robinson: The Journey, The Climb, Superhot VR, and I Expect You To Die.

The broad strokes of the headband’s design are similar to other headsets.

There’s still a gap between the quality of VR titles and mainstream AAA games, and there’s still no virtual reality equivalent to The Witcher 3 or Halo. Even these games are limited in focus, and most offer perhaps 10 to 20 hours of content. Arcade-style games that rely on a satisfying gameplay hook are more common than games that attempt a deep story.

The variety of titles available for Rift has benefited from the introduction of the Touch controllers. Though not identical to the Vive’s controllers, they’re similar enough to make porting from Rift to Vive, or the opposite, relatively simple. A number of Vive-only games have appeared on Rift in recent months, and that has nicely bolstered the headset’s selection. It now has access both to Oculus exclusives and many successful Vive games.

And note, we’re not talking about using the Rift with SteamVR. Many games have been ported right into the Oculus Store, making them simple to install and play.

Warranty

The Oculus Rift ships with the usual one-year warranty, which is the same as every other VR headset so far.

Our Take

Oculus’ Rift is the realization of a dream for many geeks. Virtual Reality headsets are finally available for purchase. All you need is a powerful computer. Yet the Rift still needs to mature. Technical quibbles and controller limitations hold it back from greatness.

Is there a better alternative?

Yes, the HTC Vive. It offers a similar library of games and superior motion controllers that can be used in larger spaces, though it can also be used while sitting.

How long will it last?

The shelf life of the Oculus Rift isn’t likely to be long. No successor has been announced, but there’s clear room for improvement, so the Rift 2 will likely be out within two years. Once released, it will thoroughly obsolete the original Rift.

Should you buy it?

No. The Rift is well engineered, but it has serious limitations that hold back the experience. The price is also a major obstacle. It’s $600 for the Rift, and $200 more for the Touch controllers – which you really should buy if you decide, for whatever reason, to choose the Rift over the HTC Vive. That’s a lot of money, and the Rift isn’t worth it.

28
Feb

Samsung doubles down on RCS, brings next-gen messaging to Marshmallow devices


Why it matters to you

RCS boasts many advances over SMS and MMS, and Samsung’s work to bring it to as many networks and devices as possible will help establish the standard more quickly.

Add Samsung to the list of mobile technology companies embracing RCS in a big way. The South Korean firm laid out its plans for its adoption of the new messaging format on Tuesday, saying it will leverage its acquisition of NewNet Communications Technologies to deliver a service compliant with the latest GSMA global standards on devices running at least Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

RCS, or Rich Communication Services, is the successor to SMS and MMS, and as such brings a number of improvements found in modern instant messaging services, like group chat, video calling, location sharing, large file transfers, and high-quality images. Last week, Google announced its plan to fully integrate RCS into its Messenger app, which it has renamed Android Messages.

More: Texting 2.0: Google rebrands Messenger to support next-gen SMS

One of the major roadblocks to widespread adoption at this time is carrier support. RCS must be activated by the network operator, and while many carriers have implemented the technology in some fashion within their own bespoke messaging services, they haven’t adhered to the universal standard. Samsung and Google have each announced they are working closely with carriers around the globe to advance availability, with Samsung in particular saying it has already partnered with Deutsche Telekom, KT, SK Telecom, T-Mobile, and Vodafone.

Samsung is counting on its cloud-based RCS servers and interconnectivity hub to make the switch as painless as possible for service providers. The company says the cloud “will allow mobile network operators to quickly launch the service and avoid the costly and time-consuming efforts of building their own network infrastructure.” The hub will ideally support and simplify compatibility between carriers, helping to make RCS as ubiquitous as its predecessors.

Additionally, Samsung has recognized that each carrier has its own specific, unique needs. To this end, the company plans to offer its RCS solution as a complete package, or piecemeal through modular options, so networks can integrate RCS however they wish while ensuring that the implementation stays consistent with the global standard.

28
Feb

Apple promises LG UltraFine 5K displays will arrive by March 8


Why it matters to you

If you wisely held off buying an LG UltraFine 5K display, you may want to reconsider in the wake of its added shielding, as the heavy discount period ends on March 31.

For those irked at the stock recall caused by design defects in LG’s UltraFine 5K displays, Apple is looking to ease the pain with the news that they are closer to re-release than you might think. The previously flawed, now purportedly fixed displays, may be shipped out to customers as soon as March 8.

LG’s Apple-endorsed, Retina resolution monitors were originally released alongside the new line of MacBook Pros in October 2016, but a flaw was quickly discovered in their design. Due to poor shielding, when placed near an active wireless router, the displays would become unusable: flickering to black at around four feet, and going completely black if moved much closer in some cases.

LG confirmed the problem in discussions with 9to5Mac, which originally broke the story, and Apple quickly pulled remaining stock of the monitors from the shelves. However now it seems like the problem may have been rectified, as Apple has pledged that any new deliveries of the LG UltraFine 5K displays will arrive between March 8 and 15 for the fastest delivery option.

More: The best computer monitor you can buy

The new version of the 27-inch displays will still benefit from the significant price reduction offered as part of Apple’s limited Thunderbolt 3 discount period and is, therefore, available at the original $974.

That’s not likely to be particularly comforting for those who shelled out for one of the monitors initially, though we’re told that those affected by the issues with the initial batch of displays can contact LG’s support for a fix. While it’s not clear whether that will involve some sort of hardware modification of the monitor itself, the most likely advice will be to move the problematic display away from your router, or vice versa, as that has proved an effective fix for most users.

Did any of you run into the shielding problem that seemed to be rife in the first iteration of these displays?

28
Feb

Google I/O 2017 confirmation emails are now going out!


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I/O confirmations are hitting inboxes, so check your email!

As promised, Google has begun sending successful Google I/O 2017 applicants emails confirming their place at the event. The conference kicks off at Shoreline Amphitheater in Google’s hometown of Mountain View, Calif. from May 17, with tickets prices having increased to $1150 for general attendees, and $375 for students.

This year we’re expecting to hear what’s next from the Android team in the upcoming O release, as well as what might be next for Google’s tablet and convertible plans in the rumored “Andromeda” offshoot. We’ll be live from Mountain View this May to bring you full coverage of everything that’s announced.

In the meantime, hit the comments and let us know if you’re going! Confirmations should be rolling out throughout the day, so don’t fret if you’re not seeing anything just yet.

28
Feb

Best Leather Cases for Google Pixel


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What are the best leather cases for my Google Pixel?

Slapping a case on your Google Pixel is always a smart idea to protect it from general wear as well as any accidental drops. But not everyone likes the plastic brick look that most cases offer.

Fortunately, you do have more stylish options. Whether you’re looking for a functional wallet case or just prefer a more premium look for your phone, check out these great leather cases for your phone.

  • BELK Retro Slim Wallet Case
  • LK Luxury PU Leather Wallet Case
  • X-Level PU Leather Luxury Back Cover
  • Abacus24-7 Slim Wallet Bumper Cover
  • DavisCase Genuine Leather Case

BELK Retro Slim Wallet Case

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This stylish folio case lets you keep your phone, cards, and cash all in one place making it ideal for a night on the town or travelling. Your phone is kept secure and protected by the flexible TPU sleeve built into the interior of the phone, and stitched into the faux leather exterior.

There’s ample cutouts for the ports, speaker and fingerprint scanner, although the cutout around the camera seems slightly too small and might make an appearance in your photos or videos. This might be a deal breaker for some. There’s a magnetic clasp that keeps the front flap closed when in your pocket, which also folds over to double as a kickstand for hands-free media viewing. There are six different color options available, so you can find the case that best fits your style.

See at Amazon

LK Luxury PU Leather Wallet Case

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This wallet case option features a front cover with three card slots (including a see-through slot for your ID) as well as a pocket for some cash. It’s not real leather — if the budget price wasn’t a dead giveaway — but it does come in four bold color options to choose from.

This case also might be susceptible to the same flaw for photography as the BELK case — which seems to be a common issue with wallet cases for the Pixel in general. Other than that, you’ll get a secure fit for your phone and ample cutouts for your phone’s ports and the fingerprint scanner on the back.

See at Amazon

X-Level PU Leather Luxury Back Cover

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For a case that has all the look and feel of a leather case for a budget price, check out the X-Level Vintage Series PU Leather case. This bumper case provides adequate protection, though it does leave the bottom of your phone wide open. It’s available in black, brown or pink-colored synthetic leather.

It’s a very sleek option that keeps your Pixel’s profile slim while providing a premium leather look and feel.

See at Amazon

Abacus 24-7 Slim Wallet Bumper Cover

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If you’re looking for a more minimalistic option with leather accents, you might want to consider this case. It’s a simple wallet case that offers a card slot on the back panel which you might be able to squeeze two cards into if you try really hard. It’s an unobtrusive bumper case that incorporates some leather for a classy and functional addition.

It’s available in four color options, with the black case featuring stylish red stitching.

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DavisCase Genuine Leather Case

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If your leather case just has to be genuine leather, prepare to pay for the premium materials. DavisCase makes a collection of great wallet-style leather cases for your Google Pixel. Handmade with oiled vintage leather, this is truly the real deal and features four card slots including one with a clear window for your ID. You’ll also be able to fit some folded bills into the cash pocket.

You can browse through the varieties available on Amazon and take advantage of Amazon Prime shipping.

See at Amazon

Google Pixel + Pixel XL

  • Google Pixel and Pixel XL review
  • Google Pixel XL review: A U.S. perspective
  • Google Pixel FAQ: Should you upgrade?
  • Pixel + Pixel XL specs
  • Understanding Android 7.1 Nougat
  • Join the discussion in the forums!

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28
Feb

Video: Watch LG engineers tear down an LG G6


It’s easy to forget just how much of a marvel of engineering modern smartphones are. A modern flagship like the LG G6 is the culmination of years of design engineering effort, bringing an expansive feature set and a ton of computing power into a tiny form factor.

So it’s always fun to watch gadgets like these being torn apart, and seeing how everything on the inside fits together. That’s exactly what we were able to witness at LG HQ in Seoul, Korea shortly ahead of the G6’s announcement. Engineers involved in the creation of the phone cracked open the phone and, using nothing but a handheld screwdriver and a little ingenuity, laid bare its components. Check out our teardown video for a closer look at what’s going on inside LG’s latest flagship!

  • LG G6 initial review
  • Alex and Andrew talk LG G6 in Korea
  • More from Android Central at MWC!
  • Android Central on YouTube

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