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22
Nov

Best iOS app deals of the day! 6 paid iPhone apps for free for a limited time


Everyone likes Apple apps, but sometimes the best ones are a bit expensive. Now and then, developers put paid apps on sale for free for a limited time, but you have to snatch them up while you have the chance. Here are the latest and greatest iOS app deals available from the iOS App Store.

These apps normally cost money and this sale lasts for a limited time only. If you go to the App Store and it says the app costs money, that means the deal has expired and you will be charged. 

Meditation Time

The “Meditation Time App” is a simple and clean timer for your meditation session. It lets you set the duration of your meditation and offers a mindfulness bell that rings in an adjustable interval. Choose from a wide variety of Tibetan singing bowls for the gong.

Available on:

iOS

Stopwatch+

Stopwatch Plus is a professional and beautiful mechanical stopwatch app. Whether you need it for timing your laps or just want to keep more precise time, this app can help.

Available on:

iOS

Coyn

Coyn is the most powerful tool for anyone who uses cash for daily expenses or even has cash incomes (gift cards, pocket money, etc.). It helps you to track your cash activities and keep the records only to yourself.

Available on:

iOS

iScan Pro

iScan Pro turns your iPhone into a multipage scanner for documents, receipts, notes, invoices, whiteboards, and other text. With Fast Scanner, you can quickly scan your documents, then print or email them as PDF or JPEG files.

Available on:

iOS

Full Screen Private Browser

View all your websites privately and in full screen with this secure iPhone browser. Protect your iPhone from prying eyes on the street, train, or anywhere else.

Available on:

iOS

Best Greeting Cards Maker

Create unlimited eCards for any occasion with just one single app. Whether you need to send one for the holidays, a birthday, or just because, this app can help.

Available on:

iOS

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Best iOS app deals of the day! 6 paid iPhone apps for free for a limited time
  • Best iOS app deals of the day! 6 paid iPhone apps for free for a limited time
  • Best iOS app deals of the day! 6 paid iPhone apps for free for a limited time
  • Best iOS app deals of the day! 6 paid iPhone apps for free for a limited time
  • Best iOS app deals of the day! 6 paid iPhone apps for free for a limited time




22
Nov

Acer Chromebook 15 review


Research Center:
Acer Chromebook 15 (2017)

With Google’s new Pixelbook now hitting the Chromebook scene, Acer continues to push on to provide solutions to meet every budget. The company has eight different models in its portfolio, one of which is the Chromebook 15, first introduced at the beginning of 2015. It’s the company’s largest Chromebook — and two years later, has returned with refreshed hardware for improved performance.

Our Acer Chromebook 15 review unit was the CB515-1HT-P39B, a $400 thin and light notebook based on Google’s Chrome OS operating system. It also supports Google Play, meaning you can download and install Android apps directly to the machine, while also enjoying web-based apps served up through Google’s Chrome Web Store.

The new Chromebook has a 15.3-inch screen based that promises brilliant colors and wide viewing angles. Its screen includes touch input, something we didn’t see in the earlier model, and a default resolution of 1,920 x 1,080.

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Backing this screen is Intel’s Pentium N4200 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage. That may sound like inadequate storage space for a laptop, but Chromebooks aren’t designed to install local applications that eat up gigabytes of space, but instead rely on web-based apps and cloud storage. Still, with the added Android apps, you will need to keep an eye on storage capacity like any other Android-based device.

It came from outer space

Save for the keyboard keycaps and the bottom of the device, Acer’s Chromebook sports a Pure Silver finish. It’s a gorgeous laptop and the metallic “spaceman” exterior does a great job covering your ugly fingerprints. A reflective metallic trim outlines the base and touchpad while a dull black strip borders the display frame and spills down into a dark hinge.

This hinge turns a full 180 degrees, enabling the Chromebook to lie completely flat and face up, so you can share the screen with anyone. But that also means there’s no cool Tent or Stand mode like the Google Pixelbook and Samsung’s Chromebook Pro. Aesthetically, the hinge’s dull-black color does a good job visually obscuring the gap between it and the base, unless you pull the Chromebook up close to your eyeballs.

It’s a gorgeous laptop and the “spaceman” metallic exterior does a great job concealing fingerprints.

Typically, we see laptops with screen borders in a dark color to provide the illusion of an edge-to-edge screen. Acer isn’t hiding anything here with the Chomebook 15: all four bezels match the Pure Silver theme seen throughout the design. The bezels on the sides are a decent 0.5 inches wide, so you’re mostly not seeing the framework. The Chromebook’s 0.9MP camera (720p) is a back “eye” residing in the silver bezel just above the center of the screen.

Overall, the Chromebook measures 14.9 inches wide, 10.1 inches from front to back, and 0.75 inches high. By comparison, it’s thinner than Lenovo’s ThinkPad 13 Chromebook (0.78 inches) despite its larger screen, but thicker than Google’s Pixelbook (0.4 inches) and the Chromebook Flip C302CA manufactured by Asus (0.54 inches).

The Acer Chromebook 15 remains the only choice if you want Chrome OS on a 15-inch laptop. HP and Acer make 14-inch models, and the rest have 13-inch screens – or smaller.

USB-C from another dimension

On the left side you’ll find a USB-C port (USB 3.1 Gen1) that supports power input, and a USB-A port (USB 3.1 Gen1). On the right you’ll find a headphone/microphone combo jack, one microSD card reader, one more USB-A port, and an additional USB-C port that also supports power input.

What you won’t find here is dedicated video output, such as HDMI or DisplayPort, but those can be piped through the USB ports with the correct adapter. This isn’t anything new with Chromebooks, but with the larger 15.6-inch form factor, you would assume there’s enough space for Acer to install dedicated video output. Maybe this is a hidden restriction for Chrome OS devices to push sales of Google’s Chromecast.

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

What you also won’t find is an Ethernet port for wired networking. Instead, the Chromebook relies on a 2×2 Wireless AC component supporting Wi-Fi connections up to 867Mbps. It also includes Bluetooth 4.2, so you can wirelessly connect compatible headphones, peripherals, Android-based devices, and more.

Compared to other Chromebooks, Acer’s port selection isn’t bad. For instance, Lenovo’s ThinkPad 13 Chromebook provides two USB-C ports, two USB-A ports, and a microphone/headphone combo jack. This Acer provides the same, but with an additional microSD card slot. If you shrink down to Google’s Pixelbook and Samsung’s Chromebook Pro, the port arsenal is reduced to just two USB-C ports and a microphone/headphone combo jack.

The night the atomic keys arrived

As stated, Acer ripped out the number pad to install the two facing speakers. But that also meant the keyboard needed to be compacted to a small degree, taking up around 11 inches of space from left to right. This doesn’t affect typing whatsoever even if you come off a wide mechanical keyboard, as our experience felt quite comfortable and natural. The key caps felt plenty wide too, and each key press was firm and quiet. The keyboard includes a white backlighting that’s better seen in dark environments than in well-lit spaces.

Acer Chromebook 15 (2017) Compared To

Google Pixelbook

HP ZBook Studio G4

Acer Aspire VX 5-591G 5652

Dell XPS 15 9560

Dell Inspiron 15 7000 (2017)

Dell Precision 15 3510

Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Chromebook

LG Gram 15 Z960

Asus Zenbook UX501VW-DS71T

Toshiba Chromebook 2

Samsung ATIV Book 9 (2014)

Dell XPS 15 (2012)

Toshiba Satellite P755

HP Pavilion g6

Lenovo IdeaPad U550

Meanwhile, the touchpad felt super responsive, and moved the curser at the lightest touch. It supports Chrome OS features such as scrolling with two fingers, swiping left and right using two fingers, right-clicking tapping with two fingers, and more. The touchpad itself matches the Pure Silver screen while feeling glass-like to your fingertips.

A display from a not-so-another world

As previously mentioned, the screen is based on IPS technology, which promises rich colors and wide viewing angles compared to older displays. But the viewing quality depends on the content. For instance, the backgrounds provided on the Chromebook are gorgeous, vibrant, and sharp. The Chrome OS interface is just as pretty, with deep blacks and sharp, highly-colorful icons. But when we pulled up our favorite movies on Google Play, colors looked slightly washed out.

Backing the visual clarity is a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution, a seemingly new standard in Chromebooks. The Google Pixelbook and the Samsung Chromebook Pro actually break the 2,400 x 1,600 barrier, but those two sacrifice physical screen size (12.3 inches) for the higher resolution. Even more, Acer’s Chromebook can go higher than its default with a weird 2,160 x 1,215 resolution although it’s not a “recommended” setting.

The final piece of the presentation is Acer’s brilliant speaker placement. In most cases when speakers are mounted on the bottom of the laptop, you can still hear the audio bouncing off the surface underneath the laptop, and up through the keyboard. The result can be metallic, muffled, and distant to a degree because the audio isn’t directed towards your ears.

But in this case, the two speakers are pointed directly at your face. The sound is crisp and “holy cow it’s loud,” free to penetrate your ears without obstructions. But what’s missing here is a bass component for adding audible “depth” as Loki explodes through New York City in The Avengers. As it stands now, the sound is very treble-centric while the bass-heavy explosions can at times result in a distorted mess. Still, you get big sound with this Chromebook, and we love it.

Journey to the center of the Chromebook

The Acer Chromebook 15 is powered by Intel’s Pentium N4200 processor. It consists of four cores with a base speed of 1.10GHz, and a boost speed of 2.50GHz. The N4200 is not meant to be a powerhouse, but a chip with great performance while only eating six watts of power. It’s at best a sideways move from the Celeron 3205U processor in the previous Chromebook 15. Though it has more cores, the architecture inside the Pentium N4200 is not as modern as that in the Celeron 3205U, which is a barebones fifth-generation Intel Core in disguise.

We experienced a lot Android weirdness that forced us to re-install Google Play and its apps.

Using Geekbench for Android, the Pentium N4200 scored a 1,559 in the single-core test, and a 4,884 in the multi-core test. Those scores appear to be better than average when compared to scores of other laptops using the same chip, including the Acer Switch 3. The Celeron 3205U chip used in the previous Acer Chromebook 15, and the currently available base model, has a better single-core score. However, the Pentium N4200’s two added cores predictably lead to better multi-core results.

Compared to other Chromebooks we’ve recently reviewed, the Pentium N4200 falls behind Intel’s M3-6Y30 chip used in the Samsung Chromebook Pro, and the Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA. The Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Chromebook we reviewed relies on a faster Core i5-6300U processor, and Google’s new Pixelbook is even faster with its Core i5-7Y57 chip.

The Chromebook 15 feels extremely zippy when navigating through Chrome OS, loading applications, surfing the web, and streaming video. This perky attitude is partly due to the operating system itself, which isn’t quite as “heavy” as Microsoft’s Windows platform. Chrome OS mostly relies on web-based apps, although it now supports Google Play Android-apps as well.

On that front, we experienced enough weirdness that we decided to completely uninstall Google Play, all the associated apps, and then re-install the Android-based platform. That’s because Google Play would produce a blank, white screen, even after clearing out its cache and associated data. Android apps also took an extremely long time to load, or wouldn’t load at all.

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Uninstalling and reinstalling Google Play fixed most Android-based issues save for the Epic Citadel graphics benchmark, which wouldn’t run at all on this machine  — possibly due to the processor. Still, we don’t necessarily blame the Chromebook 15 for these issues. We’ve seen similar oddities on every Android-compatible model we’ve tested. Google needs to do more work if it wants Chrome OS users to frequently dip into the Google Play store.

Attack of the space-eating Androids

Backing the Pentium processor is an embedded SSD with 32GB of storage capacity. After Chrome OS and Google Play, you only get to use 24.45GB of that capacity, which isn’t bad for a web-based laptop. After all, the point of Chrome OS is to have a lightweight operating system that relies on web-based apps.

Although many web-based apps can now be used offline, Google Play adds an additional app layer that downloads and installs all apps locally. You’ll see that storage space quickly fill up when installing large games on top of housing your documents, downloaded video, and so on. Acer offloads this problem to the included microSD card slot, providing up to 2TB of additional storage.

The creature from planet 505

Intel’s processor includes Intel HD Graphics 505. It’s not designed for high-resolution gaming, but we can use game-related benchmarks to see how well Intel’s graphics can perform. Because we’re testing a Chromebook, running our usual Battlefield 1 and For Honor benchmarks isn’t possible, so we rely on Android-based solutions instead.

When we ran AnTuTu Benchmark 6.2.7 at the native 1,920 x 1,080 resolution, Acer’s Chromebook scored 96,301 points, meaning it can run games at this resolution smoothly using mid-quality settings.

Acer’s Chromebook is capable of 1080p gaming, but you’ll get better framerates at a lower resolution.

Next, in 3DMark, the Chromebook scored 2,829 points in the Sling Shot benchmark running at 1,920 x 1,080, managing 17.2 frames per second in the first test, and 11.7 frames per second in the second test. But in the Ice Storm benchmark, the tested resolution automatically drops down to 1,280 x 720, producing higher performance with 59.9 frames per second in the first test, and 58.5 frames per second in the second test. Overall, the Chromebook 15 scored 13,936 in 3DMark’s Ice Storm benchmark.

You can see where this is going. Acer’s Chromebook is capable of 1080p gaming, but you will see better framerates when the display is set to a lower resolution than the default. It performs far better than what we saw with the Rockchip RK3399 processer in the Asus Chromebook Flip C101P in both the Sling Shot and Ice Storm benchmarks, but without a dedicated, discrete graphics chip or a beefier Intel processor, the Chromebook 15’s display will be best enjoyed when watching video.

The silver alien that wouldn’t die

Acer’s product page lists two different maximum durations for the Chromebook 15’s battery: 13 hours, and 14 hours. Meanwhile, a label on the actual device lists the maximum battery duration at 12 hours. We contacted Acer to get the correct number, and were told it has a 3220 mAh battery with a maximum duration is 12 hours as indicated on the Chromebook. That matches with our benchmarks, as our video loop test using the original The Avengers trailer killed the battery in 710 minutes, and our looping Chrome web macro test drained the battery in 690 minutes. The Basemark browser benchmark drained the battery in 530 minutes.

By comparison, the Chromebook 15 lasted longer in our video loop test than the Samsung Chromebook Pro, the Asus Chromebook Flip C101PA, and the Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA. That can be attributed to Intel’s power-sipping Pentium processor, the lightweight operating system, and an optimized Chromebook design. However, it falls behind several Windows-based solutions such as the HP Spectre x360 13, the Lenovo Yoga 920, and Microsoft’s Surface Laptop.

Physically, Acer’s Chromebook is a joy to carry despite its 15.6-inch form factor. It measures just 0.75 inches thick when closed, and weighs a mere 4.30 pounds. That puts it surprisingly close to other 15-inch systems like the Apple MacBook Pro and Microsoft Surface Book 2. Acer’s Chromebook 15 is the largest Chromebook you can buy right now, but it’s not too burdensome.

Chrome vs. the bloatware monsters

The beauty of Chrome OS is that you won’t find any additional software loaded onto your Chromebook out of the box. Even more, the Android-based Google Play isn’t completely installed, requiring you to agree to Google’s terms before setting up shop. Only then will Google Play begin downloading and installing apps if you’re moving from another Chromebook. If anything, the only “software” that’s involved after purchasing revolves around Google’s offline and online services.

Attack of the one-year warranty

Acer’s Chromebook 15 ships with a one-year limited warranty covering defects in materials and workmanship. That includes providing replacement parts, repairing the unit, or replacing it with an identical machine. If it can’t be repaired or replaced, Acer has an option to refund your money less depreciation once it acquires the broken Chromebook.

Our Take

Acer’s latest Chromebook 15 serves as a larger, cheaper alternative to Google’s Pixelbook, and should please diehard fans of the Chrome OS platform. The inclusion of Google Play is great, but it’s a quirky addition that still has a few issues to iron out. Outside the Google Play weirdness, you get solid, zippy performance backed by a thin and light form factor, and a great battery.

Is there a better alternative?

The Chromebook 15 is the largest Chrome OS device you can buy right now. The closest competitor that comes to mind is the Lenovo Thinkpad 13, which at the time of its review was criticized for its price, battery life, and not having a TrackPoint. There’s also the Acer Chromebook 14 (CB3-431-C5FM), which landed a high score when we reviewed it last summer. Another great Chromebook is the Toshiba Chromebook 2, although it has a smaller screen.

These competitors have their own merits, but we hesitate to call them alternatives. We think readers shopping for a 15-inch laptop want a large screen. If that’s true for you, no other Chromebook will do.

How long will it last?

There’s lots of decent hardware packed inside to keep the Chromebook 15 feeling modern for years to come. There’s nothing about this Chromebook that feels cheap. Our only concern is Google Play. It’s a new ingredient added to Chrome OS, and backed by developers who typically target Android-based smartphones and tablets. You’ll have to play the wait-and-see-game regarding how these developers will embrace Chromebook compatibility.

Should you buy it?

If you’re looking to jump on the Chromebook bandwagon, Acer’s latest 15.6-inch model is a great place to start. At $400 it’s a solid value and, unlike its smaller peers, it can easily work as either a portable companion or your only home PC.

22
Nov

35 helpful Galaxy S7 tips and tricks to master your Samsung smartphone


The Samsung Galaxy S7 is a beautiful smartphone with all kinds of hidden depths that may not be immediately obvious. We’re here to help you unlock the true potential of this excellent phone with advice on the core basics, the essential functions and some of the more obscure capabilities. Don’t be content to own a great phone, make sure you’re getting the most out of it with our tempting menu of Galaxy S7 tips and tricks. These tips will also work on the S7 Edge, but if you opted for the curved cousin, then check out our Galaxy S7 Edge tips and tricks as well.

Our first tip is to snag one of the best Galaxy S7 cases to keep your phone protected. If you do encounter an issue with your S7, then check out our guide to Galaxy S7 problems and how to fix them.

How to customize your S7

How to customize your home screens

Just tap and hold on any empty space on your home screen to bring up the customization menu. You can actually tap and hold, then drag whole home screens into the recycle bin at the top to get rid of them. You can also add more home screens, tweak your screen grid size to fit more on, or make it smaller to get bigger icons, plus change themes, pick wallpapers, and set up widgets. Scroll over to the left and you’ll find the option to turn the Flipboard briefing page on or off. Long pressing on a widget will often let you resize it.

How to customize your settings

It will save you a lot of time if you customize your settings. Swipe down from the top to open the notification shade and tap the wee arrow at the top right, then tap Edit to decide on the Quick settings toggles you want displayed and in what order they’re shown.

You can do the same thing in the standard settings menu to ensure your most commonly accessed settings are the first thing you see. Open up Settings and tap Edit at the top right, and you can choose what gets displayed at the top.

How to use Always On Display

If you go to Settings > Display, you’ll find that you can turn on Always On Display and decide what content it should show. This means that things like the time, date, battery level, incoming emails, and missed calls can be displayed on the screen, even when the screen is off and your phone is locked. Unfortunately, it can’t display notifications from third-party apps, only Samsung apps, so it won’t show notifications from things like Hangouts, Facebook, or Snapchat.

How to set multiple Lock screen wallpapers

You can actually set up multiple images to act as your lock screen wallpaper on the S7 and have them rotate. Go to Settings > Wallpaper and select Lock screen from the drop down menu at the top, then tap From Gallery and you can pick up to 30 different photos. Alternatively, you might want to check out the best wallpaper apps for some inspiration.

How to use Do not disturb

You can schedule times when your S7 should remain quiet, so as not to wake you or disturb when you’re busy. Go to Settings > Do not disturb and you can set a schedule for different days so that your S7 will remain silent during specific hours. Tap on Allow exceptions at the bottom to find more handy options, such as making sure calls from specific loved ones or repeat callers who may be trying to reach you with important news will get through, even when Do not disturb is turned on. You can also access Do not disturb in the quick settings in your notification shade.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Master your new Google phone with these handy Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL tips and tricks
  • Master your new iPhone with these helpful iPhone X tips and tricks
  • Win the game with these handy Razer Phone tips and tricks
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro tips and tricks to turn you into a professional
  • 30 iPhone 7 tips, tricks, and features that will make you adore it even more
22
Nov

Yes, the Surface Book 2 can drain its battery while gaming, but does it matter?


Microsoft’s new Surface Book 2 finally made the leap that Surface fans were hoping for. It elevates the Surface Book form factor from just interesting to something truly unique — a 2-in-1 notebook that’s both amazingly flexible and truly high-performance. Unfortunately, there’s a catch. The power supply on the 15-inch Surface Book 2 holds it back from being the dedicated gaming system it seemed to be at first glance.

The situation is really pretty simple. As it ships today, the Surface Book 2 15-inch comes with a 95-watt power supply. The notebook’s components, however, can consume more power than that when they’re running at full speed. The Intel Core i7-8550U CPU, for example, can use 25 watts (or even more, at times) all by itself, and the GeForce GTX 1060 GPU can draw up to 80 watts. Simple math puts those two components alone at 105 watts or more, and that’s not accounting for the display, RAM, solid-state drive (SSD), and other electronics.

What this means in practice is that if a user is really pushing the Surface Book 2’s CPU and GPU, then the power draw can exceed the power supply’s capacity. In those instances, the machine taps and drains the battery to make up the difference and eventually throttles performance, potentially leaving users with depleted batteries for mobile productivity or creating poor gaming experiences. And it’s during the most intense gaming sessions with today’s most demanding gaming titles when this scenario is likely to occur.

We asked about the situation while we were completing our review, and a Microsoft spokesperson sent us this reply:

“Surface Book 2 was designed to deliver unmatched power and performance for anyone who needs a powerful machine to work and create, making it a great option for STEM professionals (designers, developers, engineers). The Surface Book 2 Power Mode Slider is provided as a means to give the user control over the range of performance and battery life. In some intense, prolonged gaming scenarios with Power Mode Slider set to ‘best performance,’ the battery may discharge while connected to the power supply provided in-box with Surface Book 2. However, through power management design, the battery will never drain entirely, ensuring that users are able to keep working, creating, or gaming.”

In layman’s terms, this means that if you crank the machine up to its highest performance setting and play Destiny 2, for example, at 1080p and at a high graphics setting, then you’re going to start depleting the battery. Do it long enough, and the machine is going to throttle the CPU and GPU to stop the battery drain. In no case will the battery deplete completely, though.

The question then becomes: Just how big of a deal is this? In our opinion, it’s not that big of a deal at all. That is, it’s not a big deal if you accept the premise that the Surface Book 2 is many great things — the most powerful 2-in-1 on the market, the most flexible and feature-laden notebook you can buy, and a portable dream machine for creative professionals. But at the same time, it’s simply not a hardcore, dedicated gaming machine.

Yes, the battery will drain if you game on the Surface Book 2 for too long. And you won’t want to do that, because after a certain amount of time, the machine will throttle back and significantly limit your gaming experience. Just how long before that happens depends on the game, the room temperature and display brightness, what other peripherals are plugged in, and myriad other factors. Our unscientific guess puts it at somewhere between a couple of hours and all day.

In the end, this doesn’t change our impression of the Surface Book 2 at all. As we noted in our review, the machine is a creative powerhouse that can provide a very good gaming experience. You can run AutoCAD, Sketchup, and other demanding creative applications all day long, but if you want to engage in 24-hour gaming competitions, then you’ll want to buy a dedicated gaming machine instead.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • HP Omen 15 review
  • Asus Strix doubles down on AMD with first eight-core Ryzen laptop
  • Motorola Moto Gamepad review
  • The best N64 games of all time (ranked)
  • ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’: Everything we know




22
Nov

Best Fitbit Tracker


  • Best overall
  • Best for athletes
  • Best for beginners
  • Best for fashion

Best overall

Fitbit Charge 2

fitbit-charge2-flex2-7.jpg?itok=sb5mbUJX

See at Amazon

The Fitbit Charge 2 is the best Fitbit for more people (and the best fitness tracker in general) because it does almost everything well, and is comfortable to wear for long periods of time. Like all Fitbit products, it tracks steps, sleep, and, if you want, workouts, but the Charge 2 does it in style. Not only does it improve upon its predecessor with a relatively high-density OLED display, but because it’s not a touchscreen, it will operate properly when wet or sweaty. Its always-on heart rate sensor is accurate and doesn’t eat into the battery, which, in our tests, lasted longer than the advertised five days. And it’s relatively inexpensive at just $150 (though you can find it for $130 fairly easily).

Bottom line: The Fitbit Charge 2 strikes the right balance of style, performance, accuracy, features, and price, and is the best option for those who don’t require smartwatch features.

One more thing: It may not be a smartwatch, but the Charge 2 can display incoming call and text notifications from an Android phone.

Why the Fitbit Charge 2 is the best

The best Fitbit is the one you’re most likely to wear.

I’ve often heard that people love their Fitbits — until they break or stop working. It’s often something to do with the band or the charger or both, and with the Charge 2, Fitbit is addressing those two major issues.

The Charge 2 tracks steps, sleep, workouts, and food through its excellent Android app, automatically adding them to the cloud through a sustained Bluetooth connection that, like the heart rate monitor, doesn’t seem to negatively affect battery life. But the main improvements in the Charge 2 come from the replaceable straps, which range from sporty rubber to elegant leather and stainless steel, along with the much more robust claw charger — of which I was admittedly skeptical at first.

It also lasts more than the company’s advertised five days of battery life, going as long as seven days in my tests. And while it’s not totally waterproof, it never balked at my sweaty fingers or wrist after a workout, and a damp cloth cleaned the top and bottom of the core charger with no ill effects. And how ’bout those workouts? The Charge 2 accurately detected walking, running, and biking, and let me easily correct it when it couldn’t tell my downward dog was a poor attempt at yoga.

For most people, the Charge 2 will be sufficient on its own, but for those who want to dress it up, the leather bands are lovely and not too expensive.

Best for athletes

Fitbit Ionic

fitbit-ionic-3-7zqe.jpg?itok=k-hDR8jP

See at Amazon

The Ionic is Fitbit’s first smartwatch, and it gets a lot of things right. From notifications to payments and a few apps, Ionic has a beautiful OLED touchscreen that makes navigating a breeze, and tracking workouts even breezier. At a hair under $300, it’s not cheap, and Fitbit still has a long way to go to mastering the smartwatch experience, but with a GPS radio, plenty of battery life, waterproofing, and personal coaching sessions, it’s an excellent value.

Bottom line: At twice the price of the Charge 2, it’s not twice as good, but it’s an essential tool for athletes.

One more thing: Ionic comes in three colors and has interchangeable bands for any activity or function.

Best for beginners (and swimmers)

Fitbit Flex 2

fitbit-charge2-flex2-16.jpg?itok=_7lKz2y

See at Amazon

The Flex 2 is Fitbit’s sequel to its most popular fitness band ever, and it’s a huge improvement in almost every way. It still doesn’t have a display — five LEDs, now colored, convey the number of steps taken during a day — but it is waterproof, allowing (for the first time) a Fitbit to be used while swimming.

While the Flex 2 is still a tiny module that fits into a small “pouch” in a replaceable band, Fitbit has augmented the standard rubber sports bands with metal bangle and necklace options, giving the wearable an aesthetic diversity it lacked in the previous version. And then there are the standard features: step and exercise tracking; sleep tracking; reminders to move every hour; and automatic synchronization to an excellent Android app, along with ample five-day battery. All it lacks is a heart rate monitor.

At just under $100, the Flex 2 is a great way to get indoctrinated into Fitbit’s excellent ecosystem and popular social network, and is comfortable to wear all day. Even better, even though it supports call and text notifications (though without a screen you can’t see who it is or what they’re saying), it can be worn alongside another smartwatch or analog timepiece. Best of both worlds.

Bottom line: A fantastic entry into the fitness wearable world, and one of the best deals around.

One more thing: Flex 2 is the first Fitbit that’s completely waterproof, so you can wear it in the shower or take it swimming.

Best for fashion

Fitbit Alta HR

fitbit-alta-hr.jpg?itok=HQBq0DNE

See at Amazon

The Alta HR is sleek and attractive and fits in with any outfit. That’s essentially how Fitbit is marketing the tracker next to the larger, more feature-filled Charge 2. The Alta HR gets a nice boost from the original thanks to all-day heart rate monitoring, but it also lasts over five days on a charge and arrives with a bevy of strap options, from leather to glamor, that keep it both unassuming and fashionable. At $150, it’s pricey, but you can easily find it for less if you look.

Bottom line: It’s the same price as the Charge 2, but the Alta HR is much smaller and more attractive.

One more thing: The Alta HR’s leather and metal replacement straps are of very high quality and are definitely worth a look.

Conclusion

These days, there are no bad Fitbits. The company has overcome many of the hardware quality issues and software bugginess that plagued early models, and newer hardware like the Ionic prove that Fitbit can properly compete with the Apples and Samsungs of the world when it comes to smartwatches. But fitness tracking and guidance is still Fitbit’s bread and butter, and no ecosystem does it better. The best Fitbit for most people is the Charge 2 because it does most things well but doesn’t overachieve — and it’s affordable. The Flex 2 is stupid simple and lasts forever, while the Ionic has an overwhelming number of features.

Best overall

Fitbit Charge 2

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See at Amazon

The Fitbit Charge 2 is the best Fitbit for more people (and the best fitness tracker in general) because it does almost everything well, and is comfortable to wear for long periods of time. Like all Fitbit products, it tracks steps, sleep, and, if you want, workouts, but the Charge 2 does it in style. Not only does it improve upon its predecessor with a relatively high-density OLED display, but because it’s not a touchscreen, it will operate properly when wet or sweaty. Its always-on heart rate sensor is accurate, and doesn’t eat into the battery, which in our tests lasted longer than the the advertised five days.

Bottom line: The Fitbit Charge 2 strikes the right balance of style, performance, accuracy, features, and price, and is the best option for those who don’t require smartwatch features.

One more thing: It may not be a smartwatch, but the Charge 2 can display incoming call and text notifications from an Android phone.

Update, November 2017: This article was last updated in November 2017. We added the Ionic and Alta HR and removed the Surge and Blaze.

22
Nov

Watch your favorite shows in 4K with the $48 Roku Streaming Stick+ player


The most affordable way to stream in 4K. You don’t say? Hit play! Yay!

Add 4K streaming to your daily routine with the Roku Streaming Stick+ for $48 on Amazon. This is part of Roku’s newest lineup of products and just released at $70 in October. It has never sold lower than that. Not only is this its first major price drop, it’s a really steep discount.

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Roku’s newest lineup includes five different products. In the heirarchy of awesomeness that is Roku, the Streaming Stick+ is second from the top. The absolute best is the Roku Ultra, but all it does is add luxury features you might not necessarily need. The Ultra adds things like private listening, through a headphone jack, an Ethernet port if you prefer a wired connection for the best streaming quality, and a microSD card slot. You can upgrade to the Ultra for $99 if you want, but you’ll still get Roku’s entire content library and 4K shows with the Streaming Stick+.

Features include:

  • Powerful, portable, exceptional wireless
  • Advanced wireless receiver for 4x the range
  • Brilliant 4K, HDR, and HD streaming.
  • Optional wall outlet power adapter for USB ports that can’t power the device
  • Voice remote with TV Power and volume
  • 500, 000 Plus movies and TV episodes, easy-to-use remote, intuitive navigation, search across top channels

This device has 4.6 stars based on 133 user reviews.

See at Amazon

22
Nov

Take to the skies with this sweet mini drone for just $64


Drones are some of the coolest gadget toys to come out over the last couple years, and their applications are wonderful. You can shoot stellar aerial footage, race them, train up on them, and even deliver packages. But high-end drones can be incredibly expensive and it’s a hobby where price is certainly the biggest barrier to entry. So you start off small with a smaller drone, but you don’t want to buy cheap crap.

That’s where the SKEYE Nano 2 FPV Drone comes in. It’s a compact drone that comes with its own controller and a built-in camera. The SKEYE Nano 2 regularly retails for $99, but Android Central Digital Offers lets you save 35% and grab yours for only $64.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! With Black Friday upon us, you can save an additional 20% using coupon code BFRIDAY20 and pay just $51.20!

One of the coolest features of the SKEYE Nano 2 is that your phone sits in the controller and you get to control your drone from a first-person view. You’re in full control, with 6-axis stability and adjustable gyro sensitivity, so you can get the feel that’s just right for you.

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You can even pull off flips and other stunts, and thanks to SKEYE’s “Ready to Fly” technology, you can turn everything on and fly immediately. Record all of the videos you take in HD and control everything via Wi-Fi. If you’re a bit of a novice, the Nano 2 also has built-in automatic functions so that you can take off, land, and hover easily.

If you’re looking to get into drones, don’t want to spend a fortune, and want to try your hand at shooting some aerial HD footage, then check out the SKEYE Nano 2 and Android Central Digital Offers and Save 35% off retail.

See at Android Central Digital Offers

22
Nov

Verizon outage? Here’s what you need to do!


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Calls not going through? Texts not sending? Here’s what to do in the event of a Verizon outage.

If you’re with Verizon in the U.S., then you know it’s one of the nation’s largest networks, so when there’s an outage, for whatever reason, it affects a lot of people in a given area.

If your Verizon service isn’t working as it should, whether it’s LTE, phone calls, texts, or whatever, then here’s what you can do to relieve it or at least figure out what’s going on.

First off, sign up for outage alerts

By signing into your Verizon account you can change preferences for various notifications, including service outage alerts for your area. Depending on what the outage is, you’ll receive SMS notifications or email notifications.

Have your tried turning it off and on again?

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Always check the device that’s acting up first. Whatever it happens to be, power it down, wait a few seconds, and turn it back on again. If you’re experience outage issues on multiple devices, then you know something’s up with your network (though it could still be isolated to your home’s connection).

Check Verizon’s ‘Help with a Service Outage’ page

Verizon’s own resource for service outages is one of the first stops your should make in your research, since it can also help with potential troubleshooting tips, just in case it’s not a service outage for your area and it’s actually an issue that’s affecting your specific device or connection.

There are then links to resources that can help you diagnose your problem and then decide whether you need an in-home technician’s help or if simple online troubleshooting can help you out (if your area isn’t actually experiencing an outage).

Verizon also has an FAQ page that can help you with various troubleshooting tips and any questions you might have.

Get help with a Verizon service outage

Check out an outage website

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There are many websites that will report carrier outages and where you can report an outage if you think you’re facing one in your area. Outage.Report is a great service because it shows you an outage map for the entire U.S., so you can see where the outage hotspots might be and whether or not a reported outage is affecting your area.

You can also check out downdetector.com, which will show you instances of outages over the last 24 hours, so you can see if problems you’re having have been reported or are residual from an earlier outage.

Contact Verizon

If you can’t figure out what’s going on and your service outage persists, contact Verizon directly.

Call 1-800-922-0204 or dial *611 from your Verizon phone (unless of course calls aren’t working on your mobile network).

Contact Verizon online

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22
Nov

‘Gran Turismo Sport’ brings back a classic solo racing mode


As good as it was for Polyphony Digital to finally reach the PS4 with Gran Turismo Sport, its game modes were a bit of a shock for long-time fans. What about those old-fashioned cups? You’re about to get them back. The developers are releasing an update in December that will introduce GT League, a single-player mode which resurrects the classic GT modes of earlier games. True to form, you have to compete in a series of cup competitions, some of which require certain cars. You may need a car with a boxer engine, for example, or you might have to own a specific model.

The mode isn’t going to be as fleshed out as it was in previous titles, but there are promises of more races in GT League in 2018. Also, you can expect the company to flesh out the car list — there are three free cars coming on November 27th (you’re looking at one above), 12 more in December (including Ferrari’s F40 and Enzo) and a total of 50 new vehicles by March. While Sport certainly won’t recreate the feeling you had playing the classic GT games, it may end up feeling more like a direct successor.

Source: PlayStation Blog

22
Nov

‘Pokémon Go’ is making major changes to raids


Niantic has announced big changes to Pokémon Go raids, designed to even the playing field for trainers at all levels — and pleasing Magikarp fans in the process. The raid system, particularly EX Raids, has faced criticism because of the way it seems to favor certain players and locations, but the changes — a result of field-testing and feedback — should rectify things.

First up, there’s a big jump in the quality of rewards for raid participation. Trainers will get Golden Razz Berries for completing raid battles, and while the number of potions and revives awarded for completion will decrease, their quality will improve. Trainers will receive stardust for taking part in a raid battle whether they win or lose, and the likelihood of getting fast and charged technical machines for tier 3+ raid battles has increased. But the best news? Magikarp is making a triumphant return to tier 1 raid battles!

Niantic has also made clear the guidelines for future EX Raids, with the key takeaway being a focus on EX Raids taking place at sponsored locations — battles will most commonly happen here and at gyms found in parks. Trainers with a high-level gym badge are more likely to be invited to EX Raids happening at that gym, just as trainers who have a higher number of battles under their belt are more likely to be invited to EX Raid battles. And good news for players who have IRL commitments, EX Raid battle start times now take into account popular raid times at that gym – so you probably won’t miss battles because of work or, you know, sleeping. Plus as an added bonus, trainers will get stardust and premium raid passes when an EX Raid battle is canceled.

Niantic’s blog post confirmed that EX Raids are finished in their test phase, so all EX Raids will be official going forwards. The company also hasn’t ruled out expanding the number of EX Raid locations in the future, but that, like other potential updates, is in the works. A lot of the game’s features bring inherent frustration — missing an EX raid battle, getting lousy potions or gearing up to fight raid bosses only for them to run away, for example — so these changes should iron out these irritations and put the focus back on the task at hand, catching ’em all.

Source: Pokemon Go

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