These days, it seems that virtual currency is more enticing than the real thing. Between the meteoric rise of Bitcoin and Sprint’s decision to reward folks with PokéCoins instead of, you know, real coins, we may soon be crying out for the days of cold hard cash. But until then, we’ll have to satisfy ourselves with $100 worth of in-game money.
On Friday, Sprint announced that its holiday plans include giving folks a bonus for signing up for Sprint Unlimited. The company is planning on giving folks $100, but you can’t take that to the bank. Rather, you’ll have to spend it in Pokémon Go. Intended to celebrate the recent release of 50 more Pokémon from the Hoenn region, the $100 sum can be exchanged for 3,600 Poké Balls, 480 Max Revives, 145 Premium Raid Passes, or 96 Incubators. Or if you’re really savvy, you can mix and match to your heart’s content. Really, you can buy anything up to 14,500 PokéCoins, which is what $100 is equal to in this fantastical gaming world.
Of course, outside of Pokémon incentives, Sprint is attempting to push its actual offerings, too. People who choose to give themselves the gift of a new network provider can get four lines of unlimited data, talk, and text for $25 per month, as well as a fifth line for free. So if you have a serious Pokémon Go gamer in your midst, you may want to consider this offer. The unlimited data plan also comes with Hulu and a six-month trial of Tidal, which has been known to offer some exclusives to Sprint customers.
How did Sprint manage to score a deal with Pokémon Go? Last year, the carrier became the exclusive U.S. wireless partner of the game, and turned a number of stores into PokéStops and Gyms. And if you want to get another $100 in PokéCoins from the company, you’ll need to activate a new line of service at your local store, and then remember to ask a sales representative for your gift. From there, you should receive a text message with redemption instructions.
So happy holidays, friends. While you can’t exactly stuff someone’s stocking with $100 in PokéCoins, you may still be able to spread holiday cheer.
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Do you ever find yourself reading through a scientific article and feeling like your brain is imploding as you try to wrap your head around some of its heavy-duty concepts? It may be the fact that you spend too much time staring at screens!
According to a new piece of research coming out of Pennsylvania State University, adult readers who spend a lot of time using electronic devices turn out to be less adept at understanding scientific texts. Compared to folks who read on paper (which, we believe, is a kind of high-res display made out of wood pulp), people who look at screens for hours each day — whether it’s reading articles, texting, or playing games — find that they pick up only short fragments of information, as opposed to incorporating the information in a more thorough manner.
“Scientific reading is different from casual reading, and it requires the reader to put the science concepts together in a way different from putting stories and plots together,” Ping Li, professor of psychology and linguistics at Penn State, told Digital Trends.
The researchers based their conclusions on studies involving hundreds of participants, recruited via Amazon Mechanical Turk. Participants were asked to read eight different scientific articles, covering topics including electrical circuits, permutation, GPS, Mars, and supertankers. After reading each article, the participants were then quizzed on 10 multiple choice questions about the article, as well as being asked to sort key terms from the articles into groups. These questions were designed to test both facts and relations between the scientific concepts. The participants additionally provided background information about themselves, such as how often they were engaged in using electronic devices per day for reading and non-reading activities, such as gaming. Their comprehension scores on the questions were then predicted by factors such as the difficulty of the text and their reading habits, using correlation and multiple regression analyses.
But Li isn’t as depressed about schools’ ever-growing focus on using tools like iPads as you might expect. “I’m a big advocate of digital learning using cyber-enabled technologies, so this particular work does not imply that we should not read science on e-devices,” he said. “We could combat some of the negative effects of e-devices by making smart use of them. One example, from our own research, is that 3D-visualization tools provide an excellent platform for understanding scientific concepts.”
Next up, he says he would like the team to drill down on how reading on different electronic devices affects readers. “My hypothesis is that Kindle will yield more similar results as a print book, as compared with reading on an iPhone or iPad,” he told us.
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Available only on Friday, December 8.
Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and Note 8 are two of the best phones released in 2017, and while the devices are solid enough on their own, one of the big draws for buying Samsung over other brands is that you get access to the company’s ‘galaxy’ of compatible accessories.
The Gear 360 and Gear VR received hardware updates this year, and as part of its ongoing “12 days of joy” promotion, Samsung is letting buyers snag both accessories for just $199.
To get the deal, head to Samsung’s site and you’ll see that you can now buy the Gear 360 for $199 compared to its regular price of $229. When you add the 360 to your cart, you’ll be able to get the Gear VR for free – a value on its own of $129. The Gear VR comes with an included controller, and you can use it to view any photos or videos that you capture with the Gear 360 in addition to any other virtual reality content that’s available for it.
This deal is only available for today, December 8, so make sure you act fast if you want to get in on it before it’s gone.
See at Samsung
Get up to $50 off the Moto X4, LG G6+, and others.
If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber and shopping around for an unlocked Android handset, it’s hard to do much better than Amazon’s Prime Exclusive Phones. The lineup of devices offered as part of this program has become rather attractive throughout 2017, and Amazon’s now announced heavy discounts on some of the top phones offered through it.
Most of the phones will be discounted on December 10, but starting today, December 8, you can pick up the Nokia 6 for just $149 thanks to a discount of $30.
Starting December 10 at 12:01 AM and going until December 23, you’ll be able to get the following deals:
- Moto G5 Plus w/ 64GB storage for $199 ($40 off)
- Moto X4 for $279 ($50 off)
- LG X Charge for $119 ($30 off)
- LG Q6 for $179 ($50 off)
Lastly, on December 17 until December 23, you’ll be able to purchase the LG G6+ for just $449 with a discount of $50.
All of these handsets will come with advertisements on the lock screen as part of Amazon’s Prime Exclusive program, but for prices this low, it’s kind of impossible to complain about that.
See at Amazon
There are some great mesh systems to choose from; which is the right one for you?
Most people don’t put enough thought into their wireless router. The way your house is laid out and how its built matter, as do things like spreading the signal across multiple floors or if you have to plug things in at one end but need good Wi-Fi at the other. Of course, we all want our Wi-Fi to be fast and are quick to fuss when it’s not, even if it’s our own fault.
This is where Wireless Mesh networking comes into play. While there are cases where one central wireless access point that sends out a powerful signal in all directions is perfect, there are also plenty of cases where a mesh system is better. Here are some tips to help you decide if you’re not yet sure which way to go:
Router vs. Mesh Networking: What’s best for your home Wi-Fi network?
If you’re going to go with a mesh system, you’re then faced with the question of which you should buy. None of them are cheap and most of us don’t want to perform a few multiple-hundred dollar experiments. We’re going to look at four popular models and give you some information so you can make the right choice.
Google has a vested interest in everyone being on the internet, and they’ve made a great wireless mesh system to help make it happen no matter where in your house you happen to be sitting. Google Wifi is fast, easy to setup, and even easier to get into the settings thanks to their smartphone app.
- It looks good — this matters because ideally, you’ll have the satellites out in the open where everyone can see them.
- Constant updates
- Setup is so easy it’s almost automatic
- Few advanced features
- Requires a Google account and a smartphone to set up and use
- If you lose a connection to the internet, settings and options are very limited
If you use Google products, you’ll probably love Google Wifi. Everything about the product will be familiar, from the way it looks to the way the app works.
Setup is simple. Power up one of the units and connect it to your modem, then download the app (there’s a card enclosed in the box that points you in the right direction). You’ll get a notification that starts the process with a single tap, then walks you through setting up the other two and gives performance tips.
Each unit covers about 1,200 square feet with a strong signal and moving through your house switches you from one to the next seamlessly. The app has some features like being able to prioritize one device over the others for a set amount of time (perfect for streaming HD video) or parental controls but lacks advanced networking features like dedicated port forwarding. The biggest drawback is what happens if you lose your internet connection — you have very limited access to the settings as they are hosted on your online Google account.
Perhaps the biggest draw of Google Wifi is the prompt updates. They’re seamless and a proper update schedule means your network is more secure even if they aren’t always filled with new features. Check it out at Best Buy for $299.
See at Best Buy
Netgear’s Orbi isn’t really a mesh wireless system, but it acts the same way and extends your network by using satellite units. Those sattellites just aren’t connected to each other, only the base. It is a tri-band system that will give you fast newtork speeds everywhere in your house, which is what really matters.
- No account required
- No speed loss from mesh forwarding
- The base and satellitle are pre-programmed to work together
- It’s big
- It’s expensive if you need a second sattellite
- Setup can be confusing because there are so many options
First things first — if you need advanced settings on your Wi-Fi network and want a mesh(-like) system, Orbi is the one you want to buy no questions asked. Using your web browser to log into the router brings you to the familiar Netgear setup and admin page that you’re probably already familiar with, including options that no other consumer mesh product offers like advanced QoS and forwarding.
With that out of the way, the Orbi system has one other thing going for it that might make a difference — no speed loss because of bi-directional communication. Orbi uses a dedicated band for communication between the units, while some other consumer mesh products use the same band your network data does, which causes a 50% loss in throughput for each “hop.” This isn’t noticeable for most of us as it’s still faster than data can be processed after the loss, but it could make a difference when transferring large files or streaming data insde your network.
There are also two things that aren’t great — the sheer size of each unit (easily 3 times bigger than the others on this list) and the price. A two-pack costs about $300, and if you need another satellite for a large home, it will cost about $150.
See at Amazon
eero was one of the first consumer-grade mesh wireless systems, and it’s even better with the 2017 revision for most people. Like the Orbi, it’s a true tri-band mesh system with a dedicated band for communication between devices, but the units themselves are small and look good.
- Can use an unlimited amount of beacons
- Each beacon looks great
- Easy and secure setup
- Beacons have no Ethernet ports
- Requires a smartphone to set up
- Limited settings
The eero system is my personal favorite, even though I’m embedded in the Google ecosystem. I’m not recommending it over any of the others, though, because what I liked was the polish of the app and the hardware compared to the competition while using the 2016 model. Things have come a long way for all manufacturers since.
With that out of the way, there is a lot to like about eero. It delivers a fast network even at an extreme distance due to it’s dedicated communication band and ability to use as many beacons as you need, and it still looks great with a wonderful smartphone app. Though we do need to mention (once again) that the potential speed loss of not having a tri-band system isn’t something you’re ever likely to notice. But the great app is.
Set up is also a breeze, and almost as easy as Google Wifi’s method. Install the app (and you have to use an app) and it walks you through the entire process using friendly, easy to understand language. If you aren’t familiar with networking terms you’ll appreciate the friendly touch, and if you are, you’ll appreciate how well the company breaks it down for those that aren’t.
An eero system is a little more expensive though, with a three-pack (one base and two beacons) costing about $350. And like Google Wifi, there aren’t enough settings to satisfy extreme users. One other thing — the beacons don’t have any Ethernet ports so if you were planning to run a cable to your entertainment stand or game console, you’ll need to run it back the base where there is one spare. Pricing starts around $349.
See at Amazon
The Amplifi HD looks different from the other products on this list and installs a little differently — each satellite plugs directly into a wall outlet rather than use a cord and plug. This makes is easier to find a place for them or harder, depending on where you need them. It delivers good, strong whole-house Wi-Fi like the other products on this list.
- Five Gigabit Ethernet ports on the base like a traditional router
- Smartphone app or account not required
- More advanced settings than eero or Google Wifi
- Satellites are large and require mounting on a wall outlet
- Satellites have no Ethernet ports
- Satellites aren’t as attractive as the competition (but are interesting to some)
The Amplifi HD boasts a 20,000-square-foot coverage area from a single base and two satellites. Our testing leads us to believe it, as a usable signal extended further down the street than we thought possible. That’s enough reason for some of us to buy it — you might also be able to have great Wi-Fi in your workshop or any outbuilding (or share Wi-Fi with your neighbor). Part of this is because of the unique satellite configuration. Rather than a smallish puck designed to sit on a table somewhere, each is a tall, two-piece wand that needs to be plugged directly into an outlet.
There’s also a coolness factor missing from the others on our list with Amplifi’s touchscreen display on the base that can monitor network speeds or show the time (it can also be shut off). This can be quite handy if the base is set somewhere like a desk in a home office and can double as a clock, besides having access to some user settings. Speaking of settings, you’ll find more advanced ones on the Amplifi HD than you will on Google Wifi or eero, but not as many as the Orbi. It’s a good balance for the average home user with something like a dedicated media server.
One thing to consider here is that the Amplifi HD isn’t exactly childproof. The satellites will be plugged in where a curious little one can reach them and look interesting enough to make sure they notice them. The are two-piece units held together by a strong magnet so they won’t be harmed if someone grabs the antenna and tugs on it, but electricity and toddlers don’t mix. If you don’t have little ones crawling or walking around you might like the look, though. Pricing starts around $311.
See at Amazon
It depends a lot on what you’re looking for. If you want the most plug-and-play model, Google Wifi is one of those gems that anyone can install. It’s also the cheapest option, though a Google account is required and internet access almost a must (and absolutely required for setup). Eero is what you’ll need if you need extra beacons, but while they look great there don’t have any Ethernet ports for your TV or Xbox. Orbi is great for someone running a server or has other needs for advanced QoS and forwarding options, but is big, bulky and expensive. Finally, Amplifi covers your house, yard and maybe even your neighbor but isn’t perfect for homes with small children.
Each has plenty going for it, as well as some drawbacks. Most things are that way. Hopefully this helps you make the right decision and you’ll just be able to enjoy the great Wi-Fi all over your house.
You never have to worry about personal space while playing Rec Room on PlayStation VR!
Rec Room is a free Virtual Reality game for the PlayStation that allows you to enjoy a number of different fun activities with your friends or even strangers across the world. This game acts as a social hub for you to interact with other players, enjoying silly games like charades and paintball. Thankfully, you never have to worry about another player getting inside your space. That’s because there is an adjustable personal space bubble that ensures that players are never made to feel uncomfortable with someone else getting too close.
Read more at VRHeads
Treat your phone or tablet to a new stand today!
How many times have you set your phone down on your desk, only to bury it under some papers and waste five minutes trying to find it? Stop doing this to yourself and pick up one of iXCC’s portable aluminum phone stands for just $5.99 at Amazon. You’ll need to use coupon code HWHWODI2 to save $4 on the purchase, dropping it from its regular $10 price.
The stand is fully foldable, so you can pack it with you in your bag and it will take up next to no space. The aluminum used is super durable, and this thing is built to last.
- Fully Foldable – With fully foldable design, it’ll save you plenty of space and make it easy to carry with in travel
- Universal Compatibility – Compatible with 4 to 10 Inches devices like iPhone 6 6S 7/7 Plus, Galaxy S8/S7/S6/Note6, LG, Sony, Google Nexus, iPad mini/pro/Air/Air 2, Samsung Tab , Kindle, even in some protect case
- Multi-Angle adjustment – This multi-angle stand holds device in best position for you which is ideal for watching videos, reading, video recording, facetime or hands-free operation
- Anti-Slip Silicone Pad – The whole body is built solid and durable with aerospace aluminum. The anti-slip pad and feet works perfectly to keep your devices in place while in use and protect your devices from daily scratches and sliding
You may want to consider picking up a few of these for your friends and family. They make great gifts, regardless of which phone or tablet they are using.
See at Amazon
Time shift master.
Plex is arguably the best service around for storing and watching all of your local media files, and earlier this year, expanded to offer live TV features as well with Plex Live TV. The Plex app for Android on phones and televisions is receiving a new update, and the focus is on expanding DVR capabilities within Plex Live TV.
One of the biggest highlights of the update is being able to watch a live show while it’s actively being recorded to your DVR at the same time. This is a process that typically requires dual tuners from your cable company, and it’s something that we’re pretty excited to see.
Along with this, Plex is also letting people pause, play, rewind, and fast-forward shows up until their live broadcast time as they’re being recorded. And, if you get tired of the show you’re watching that’s already been recorded, you can jump to the live broadcast on the same channel without skipping a beat.
These features are available for Android TV and mobile devices now, and Plex says it’ll be rolling them out to Amazon hardware soon.
Beginner’s guide to Plex
The watch has been discontinued, but c’mon – it’s $75!
This time of year is one of the better ones for finding deals on all of the hottest and latest gadgets, and we’ve seen more than a few of them so far in 2017. Woot is one of those sites where you can find sales on just about everything, and one that’s peaked our interest is the Wear 24 Android Wear smartwatch for just $75.
If you don’t remember the Wear24, we honestly don’t blame you. The watch was released on Verizon Wireless in May, but just four months later in September, it was already discontinued. We typically don’t recommend buying products that won’t receive any sort of support down the road, but for $75, well, that’s more complicated.
For that price, you’re getting a smartwatch that runs Android Wear 2.0, has a 1.39-inch AMOLED display, 450 mAh battery, IP67 dust/water resistance, built-in GPS, and even LTE connectivity if you want to use it as a standalone communicator without relying on a connection to your phone.
The Wear24 likely won’t ever see another software update due to Verizon axing it so soon, but for just $75, we don’t blame you for picking one up.
Woot is limiting customers to buying three Wear24s per order, both black and silver color options are available, and with standard shipping, estimated delivery is between December 19 and 26.
See at Woot
Facebook has been publicly searching for a solution to harassment, hate speech and bullying on the site for years — and at the same time, less publicly, the company has been honing its internal approach to these subjects. Today, Facebook published its US harassment policy, in full, in an attempt to “be as transparent as possible, share best practices, and learn from one another — recognizing that policies will evolve as we gain experience,” according to COO Sheryl Sandberg and VP of People Lori Goler.
Executives decided to publish the policy now because there’s a broader conversation happening in Silicon Valley, Hollywood and across the nation about the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace, Goler told TechCrunch.
“Lots of really brave women have raised their hands recently to take a stand to begin the process of changing culture and raising awareness,” she said. “I think this a moment where, together, companies can create lasting change. It seems like a good time to foster the conversation.”
Facebook’s policies note that it doesn’t restrict the definition of harassment by legal terms: The company may find an employee violates its rules even if he or she isn’t engaging in unlawful harassment. “We consider whether a reasonable person could conclude that the conduct created an intimidating, hostile, degrading, or demeaning environment,” the policy reads.
Examples of harassment, according to Facebook, include making derogatory or insensitive jokes, using slurs or epithets, leering or making inappropriate gestures, initiating unwelcome sexual advances and intentionally excluding someone from normal workplace conversations. The policy also makes it clear that rationalizations like “I was joking” or “I didn’t mean it that way” are not adequate defenses against claims of harassment, nor is being under the influence of alcohol.
Facebook looks like a lot of tech companies in the Bay Area: It’s mostly white and male. No employees have come forward with stories of rampant harassment at the company, though in May The Wall Street Journal reported female-authored code at Facebook was rejected more often than men’s by 35 percent.