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25
Jan

Blu R2 Plus review: The budget line gets a timely and worthwhile refresh


Arriving roughly eight months after the R1 Plus, Blu’s newest phone, the R2 Plus serves as a worthy update with improvements in a handful of key spots. While it’s not an outright successor with spec change across the board, it’s timely and worth your attention.

As we approach the second anniversary of the “$50 phone”, the R1 HD, we’ve seen the line evolve a little. It has now become quite clear that this isn’t just an Amazon or Amazon Prime series of devices. In other words, we don’t expect that an “R” model phone will be cheap or offered as an Amazon exclusive.

Even before spending time with the phone we were impressed at the speed at which Blu released a follow-up device. As customers we are conditioned to look for successors roughly once per year. On the other hand, we wondered whether there would be enough “new” here to justify its launch.

Similar to its predecessor, the R1 Plus, the R2 Plus puts the entry level experience squarely in its sites. Specifically, it takes on the likes of Motorola and its G5 Plus. For the 2018 iteration we have a $179.99 price tag ($129.99 at launch) so it’s definitely on the less expensive side of things.

As an unlocked handset, the R1 Plus works with either AT&T or T-Mobile’s networks as well as any of their respective MVNO brands. For those of you living outside of the US, the globally unlocked device works with Orange, Vodafone, and many others. This is  a dual-SIM device which means you can actually pull service from two carriers at once. It’s also a bit of breathing room for when you might travel to another country and need a local SIM card for a short while.

General Impressions

As was the case with its R1 models, Blu has cut the corners in a couple of places, but nothing that gives us pause for concern. The packaging isn’t glamorous but you don’t care about what is on the box so much as to what’s inside.

Getting into the box we find there are no headphones but there is a microUSB charger, a silicon protective case, and a screen protector. Again, nothing special or noteworthy but they are a nice gesture; most consumers buy these things anyhow.

Hardware

Whereas the R1 HD was a good 15-18 months behind the curve for low end devices, the R2 Plus continues to close the gap. It builds on things in a few key areas and comprises an all around solid package for those not looking to spend much money.

First time smartphone users may not realize it, or likely even care all that much about the hardware, but these are what you’d get in a mid-range and upper end phone from 2016. Seasoned users coming from a higher end or flagship phone from the last year or two might consider this one more of a sidestep than a step forward.

Those of you who have ever owned, or spent a moderate amount of time, with a flagship phone from the last few years will likely be familiar with the “premium” experience. This is generally comprised of, but not limited to, glass on one or both sides, metal housing, and/or expensive build materials.

Despite Blu’s billing of the sleek metal body housing, the R2 Plus is not a premium device.  You’ve still got a protective shell to remove for access to the SIM card(s) and microSD card slot. On a more positive note, the case itself doesn’t feel as pliable or plastic as what you might have seen in cheaper phones from days gone by. Indeed, the R2 Plus is rather utilitarian by today’s standards and probably won’t draw the admiration of others.

Key Specifications

  • Android v7.0 Nougat
  • Mediatek 6753 | 1.3GHz Quad Core Processor with Mali-T720
  • 32GB Internal Storage with microSD (up to 64GB)
  • 3GB RAM Memory
  • 5.5-inch 1920 x 1280 pixel display
  • 13-megapixel rear camera
  • 5-megapixel front-facing camera
  • 4,000mAh battery
  • Network:

    • 3G: 850/900/1700/1900/2100
    • 4G LTE: 1/2/3/4/7/12/17/28

Build & Design

The R2 Plus delivers the same 5.5-inch display as its predecessor; however, this time the resolution has been bumped from 1280 x 720 pixels to 1920 x 1080. It’s somewhat noticeable when you compare the two, but it’s hard to truly discern much higher than this. Would a 2K screen be great? Sure, but we like money, too. The target user will appreciate the display here and text, pictures, and video look just fine for our needs.

We’ve said it many times, but you truly don’t see the differences or where corners are cut as much until you compare it to a pricier or bigger named counterpart. On their own, phones like the R2 Plus are perfectly good for most, especially the buying demographic. Shine a light on them, though, and you can see where someone like Samsung or LG might command a bigger price tag. Blu’s first phone of the year is nothing special on the outside, but it never pretends to be anything more, either.

Whereas last year’s model felt a little thicker than some of the other 5.5-inch phones of the time, this year’s model doesn’t. Perhaps this is due to having a battery that’s 1/4 the capacity: R1 Plus has 4,000mAh, R2 Plus has 3,000mAh. Whatever it is, the phone feels good to hold, even with a smaller, single hand.

The curved display is something we’ve come to expect in phones in 2018 so it was nice to see that present on the Blu R2 Plus. It’s a nice aesthetic choice that rounds off the overall experience and also helps in the event of an accidental drop.

Holding the phone and spending a few minutes taking things in, you don’t get the impression that you have a “no-name” or “off-brand” device. We’ve liked watching Blu evolve over the years; its phones tend to keep pace well with most OEMs and never try to punch above their weight. Suffice it to say, this certainly doesn’t feel cheap or inexpensive.

The model we were sent is black, however you can also purchase the R2 Plus in gold. We suspect it looks a little more polished and eye-catching but that’s not to suggest the black is ugly. The aluminum battery cover has a flat, almost matte finish but it does register fingerprints and oily touches rather easily. Not to worry, though, as it’s easy to clean up.

As for the general configuration of the phone, the volume rocker and power buttons are on the right side of the display. The power button carries over the knurling from its predecessor, as do the volume buttons. It’s very minor, but you can feel it nicely when fumbling for the phone in the dark. All three deliver feedback and response in line within our expectations.

The headphone jack is found at the top side, toward the left of the phone and the microUSB port is at the top, too. Yes. At the top. And it’s still microUSB. Given the overall packager here we’re okay giving a pass on the charging port, but the placement leaves us scratching our head. For the R3 Plus we expect to see USB Type C.

One of the biggest missing pieces from last generation is present for the 2018 model. Since Android 6.0, the platform has supported fingerprint readers at the OS level. And, while it was not in the R1 Plus, it’s here. We like the added layer of security and verification and certainly recommend using it where possible.

Our review unit was responsive and picked up fingerprints quickly. Surely there’s some chart somewhere that ranks response times and measures them in fractions of a second. Let’s just say that there was never a problem with registering touch and leave it at that.

Battery

The rear cover is removable, opening up access to the microSD card slot and dual microSIM card slots. It’s worth noting that the battery is not removable. At 3,000mAh it’s in line with most devices on the market, but it’s actually quite a step down from the R1 Plus.

We tend to charge phones at night out of habit just to be safe; we never really ran into a problem with battery that wasn’t solved with a few (10-15) minutes on the charger.

We were really happy to see that Blu didn’t keep the same type of battery cover that was found on last year’s model. That was truly one of the hardest cases we could get to remove. The R2 Plus is much easier and comes off without much fuss.

Camera

Like the R1 Plus, the R2 Plus features a 13-megapixel rear camera but this time we get a slightly better f/2.0 aperture. This was noticeable right away when we started shooting pics in the dreary Ohio winter evenings. The R2 Plus handled indoor and low lighting conditions better and the shutter responded quicker.

Around front we have another 13-megapixel camera, and again the same aperture settings. This is remarkably better than the 5-megapixel selfie camera on the previous edition. Both cameras include an LED flash and a handful of shooting modes.

There’s not a lot happening in the actual camera app so we might suggest downloading something else from the Play Store. It’s okay to get you started, but you will want to spread your wings if you’re looking for additional settings and configurations.

Given the cost of the R2 Plus, we were pleased with the pictures. As we’ve noted in other reviews, a lot of what we do with our photos tends to live in the cloud or are often viewed from mobile devices, it’s really tough to find fault with the quality. A lot of people just throw a filter on a pic, upload to social media, and call it a day. The R2 HD works more than sufficiently.

HDR pictures took a little bit longer to snap and process so keep that in mind when selecting your subject. If you’re shooting still images, nature, or slow moving subjects, it’s fine. But, throw a cat or a child in the mix and you’re not going to keep up very well. Toggle off HDR and grab those sort of shots, just be prepared for lesser quality color, vibrancy, or accuracy.

Software

If you’ve ever read our reviews on Blu, one of things we’ve come to appreciate in its devices is that they’re pretty much unadulterated versions of Android. In most cases this means almost strictly Google apps with a small mix of apps sprinkled in. Other than that, it’s just about the same look and feel that you’d get directly from Google.

The R2 Plus keeps the tradition alive and doesn’t have much at all. Our review unit had Amazon, Prime Video, Opera, and Next Radio. There’s a full suite of Google apps and services present, too. Titles include Drive, Calendar, Gmail, Messages, Maps, Photos, YouTube, Play Music, Play Movies & TV, and the Play Store.

Interestingly enough, Blu doesn’t offer the same software experience from one phone to the next. Be it tiny changes in what can be configured, the pre-loaded apps, and/or the camera application, it’s always a surprise. By and large, though, Blu does stick to a pretty lean UI and configuration.

The R2 Plus runs Android 7.0 Nougat, which is technically only one full version behind what’s available today. We’re seeing quite a few new models running 8.0 Oreo out of the box so it would have been nice to have here. How much does that matter to the target demographic? Probably not as much as it does to fanboys and loyalists.

One feeling we often echo for low-cost devices, or those from Blu, is that you might want to consider the device “as is” when it comes to software. More specifically, you ought not look for Android updates.

 

In most cases, the users for these sort of phones is not demanding and cares little of the actual version of Android so much as to how it works. And, given that the overall look and feel has not changed drastically in the last generation or two, this works in Blu’s favor. Still, we would have liked to see Android 8.0 Oreo; it’s been available for more than a few months to OEMs.

Android 7.0 means still have some of the latest in protection from Google, plus all of the recent design principles. The stuff in 8.0 is more finely tuned and a little more customizable, sure, but it’s not necessary. Truth be told, it’s still newer than what a lot of current Android users have today.

For what it’s worth, we noticed that this had the Android security patch dated from October 5, 2017. As long as security, malware, and other threats are dealt with in a timely or orderly fashion it shouldn’t prove to be much of an issue.

Performance

We didn’t use the R2 Plus as a daily driver as much of our time over the last ten days (post-CES) has been hectic. But, we did throw on a handful of games that we’ve been playing and we did sync up a few of our accounts.

We’re used to having phones with 4GB of memory and a generally more robust set of hardware. Does this make the R2 Plus noticeably slower or laggy? Not for what we threw at it.

The R2 Plus handles typical daily tasks without any issue. Be it browsing Facebook and other social media, Reddit, casual gaming, messaging, and daily tasks, it took things in stride. Having said that, the R3 Plus will need 4GB RAM if it hopes to catch our eye next generation.

Conclusion

Blu continues to walk the line of affordability and performance, especially along the lower end of the spectrum. The R2 Plus is a solid unit that should work well for its intended uses.

For someone who is just getting into smartphones and doesn’t want to commit to long-term financing or expensive devices, this is a good start. Likewise, it’s a decent sidestep or “band aid” phone should you have dropped or lost your current phone.

We have no issues with recommending the R2 Plus. There are a few quibbles and questionable choices, but nothing to the point of telling you to avoid the phone. Why is a microUSB charging port on the top of the phone? Why are we still using microUSB? Why doesn’t Blu have the exact same software suite and configuration on all of its phones?

You can purchase the R2 Plus through Amazon for $179.99 starting immediately. As an incentive, you can save $50 with an early adopter discount. At $129.99 this is an really interesting device and one to consider for your GSM needs.

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25
Jan

Security flaw in Prime Exclusive Moto G5 allows access to anyone


There’s no doubt in many people’s minds that the Amazon Prime exclusive version of certain smartphones offers a pretty good bargain — but it has been reported that a security flaw is affecting its Moto G5 version.

If you’re already an Amazon Prime member (or have access to the free trial), then you have the option of picking up certain mobile phones with a hefty discount on the recommended retail price. What’s the catch? You have to deal with lockscreen ads and “offers” from Amazon.  So if you can live with your recent Amazon searches popping up on your lockscreen when you use your phone, then you’ve got a bargain.

That’s the way it is with the Moto G5, which can be picked up for just $240 with Amazon’s Prime Exclusive deal, a bargain for most. However, some users have noticed that Amazon’s lockscreen ads have created a pretty significant security hole that means anyone can access your phone — even if you’ve enabled the fingerprint scanner.

Hey @amazon @MotorolaUS. I found a security flaw in my Amazon motot g5. Hit fingerprint sensor (it says fingerprint not recognized), then press power button, then click view ad on the lockscreen. This gives you 100% access to the phone. pic.twitter.com/eqLWLn34pD

— Jaraszski Colliefox (@jaraszski) January 22, 2018

In the example above, one Twitter user shows how his Moto G5 can be accessed by tapping on a lockscreen ad after the phone’s screen is awoken. The ad then bypasses the fingerprint scanner, taking him straight to the ad’s target page. From there, accessing the device’s home page — and the rest of the phone’s info, pictures, and personal data — is as simple as hitting the home button at the bottom of the screen.

Reddit users on /r/Android were quick to try and replicate the flaw, and it was discovered that Moto Display needed to be turned on, and the flaw doesn’t replicate if the phone has been turned off for a significant amount of time. The description of a replication video says that duration is around 30 seconds, which doesn’t sound too bad until you realise that’s 30 seconds during which anyone can access your phone. There’s some paranoia fuel for you right there.

At this moment, it seems that other Prime Exclusive phones are immune to the bug. Android Police has reported that its Prime Exclusive Nokia 8 can’t be accessed in the same way, so the flaw is likely rooted in some of Motorola’s software on the Moto G5 and G5 Plus.

We contacted Motorola to find out when a fix is likely. Motorola’s Support page said “our developer is currently coordinating with the developer from Google to address this issue.” While Motorola wasn’t willing to share a timeline on the fix, it said that it would be keeping members of the Motorola Community forum updated, and that a fix would be published on the Motorola website as soon as it was ready.


25
Jan

Apple’s 32-bit app warnings are death rattle of aging standard on MacOS


Apple is moving forward with its plan to phase out support for 32-bit applications on MacOS, beginning with the upcoming High Sierra 10.13.4 update. Beta testers now using it,and mainstream users in the near future, will find a warning appear about future compatibility problems whenever they launch a 32-bit app on the operating system.

32-bit applications differentiate themselves from more modern, 64-bit apps by their support for a shorter data width. In practical terms, it means they can’t leverage as much memory, which, as applications become more complicated, can limit performance.

In many ways, 32-bit applications have been on their way out since the early 2000s, with the introduction of the first 64-bit consumer processors. However, legacy software support has meant they have been maintained by modern operating systems and hardware. Apple is now taking steps to reduce that in the future, with plans to eventually phase them out entirely.

That begins with High Sierra 10.13.4, where users launching 32-bit apps will be informed that it will be the “last MacOS release to support 32-bit apps without compromises.” It will only be shown one time for each application, according to MacRumors, but future warnings will double down on the advice that 32-bit apps’ days are numbered. Apple suggests messages will become increasingly “aggressive,” before support is cut entirely.

Alongside the warnings, Apple has also begun restricting its App Store, where any new application must be submitted in 64-bit form. 32-bit iterations will no longer be accepted. When MacOS does officially drop support for 32-bit apps, existing applications built on that standard will no longer be able to function, forcing users to find an alternative means of completing those tasks.

None of this is unprecedented on Apple systems. It previously took similar steps when phasing out support for 32-bit applications on iOS. iOS 10 began the warnings, with Apple officially cutting the cord for the aging standard with iOS 11.

Other changes coming with the High Sierra 10.13.4 update to MacOS include an updated version of Safari, version 11.1, which adds a number of new features including new web APIs and security improvements, according to MacRumors. The browser will also automatically convert animated GIFs into silent videos in order to cut back on data usage.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Nvidia will no longer publish new drivers for 32-bit systems
  • BenQ PD3200U review
  • Want the best MacBook for your money? You can forget the Touch Bar
  • How to replace your iPhone’s battery
  • These Terminal commands will take your MacOS skills to the next level


25
Jan

You can now mute more annoying ads with Google’s new ad controls


There’s not much worse than a specific ad following you around the internet. We’ve all been there; you search “left handed weed wackers” once, for your great uncle at Thanksgiving, and suddenly you’re seeing them on every website you visit. Thankfully, your weed-whacking hell may be over, as Google is rolling out even more ways for users to control the ads they see, and to mute annoying ads from specific advertisers.

Announced via a post on Google’s safety & security blog, the Mute This Ad feature launched way back in 2012 has been buffed up, giving users the option to mute specific “reminder” ads — the ones that remind you to go back to a store you’d previously visited. While those ads may function well when someone does genuinely need reminding of a purchase, it can also be rather annoying to be constantly reminded of something you have no intention of buying. From today, users will be able to mute specific ads from specific advertisers to ensure unnecessary ads won’t inflict themselves on you again. And thanks to another small change, your preferences will be carried over to any other devices, so any ads you mute on your laptop also won’t show on your tablet, smartphone, or desktop PC.

It’s the latest in Google’s ongoing drive to ensure that users are only seeing the ads that they want to see. While an ad-free existence might be tempting to some (and attainable), Google would obviously prefer it if we choose to live with them. For that reason, the search giant has been quite liberal with ad preferences, launching Google Dashboard back in 2009, and consistently improving it so everyone has access to the same data that Google holds on them. From the dashboard, users can view and turn off access to Google searches, viewed YouTube videos, and more — it all comes down to how happy you are to let Google have your data.

It’s a win-win for Google — more relevant ads means that Google’s ad algorithms can really zero in what each user really wants, which means a better return on investment for anyone looking to invest in Google’ ad services. Because the only thing worse than an unwanted ad, is an unneeded ad.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • The best ad blockers for Chrome
  • Pandora opens its Premium features to all in exchange for watching a short ad
  • Facebook will soon make it easier to see who paid for political ads
  • 8 things you need to know about the Russian social media election ads
  • Is Facebook spying on your conversations to target you with ads?


25
Jan

You can now mute more annoying ads with Google’s new ad controls


There’s not much worse than a specific ad following you around the internet. We’ve all been there; you search “left handed weed wackers” once, for your great uncle at Thanksgiving, and suddenly you’re seeing them on every website you visit. Thankfully, your weed-whacking hell may be over, as Google is rolling out even more ways for users to control the ads they see, and to mute annoying ads from specific advertisers.

Announced via a post on Google’s safety & security blog, the Mute This Ad feature launched way back in 2012 has been buffed up, giving users the option to mute specific “reminder” ads — the ones that remind you to go back to a store you’d previously visited. While those ads may function well when someone does genuinely need reminding of a purchase, it can also be rather annoying to be constantly reminded of something you have no intention of buying. From today, users will be able to mute specific ads from specific advertisers to ensure unnecessary ads won’t inflict themselves on you again. And thanks to another small change, your preferences will be carried over to any other devices, so any ads you mute on your laptop also won’t show on your tablet, smartphone, or desktop PC.

It’s the latest in Google’s ongoing drive to ensure that users are only seeing the ads that they want to see. While an ad-free existence might be tempting to some (and attainable), Google would obviously prefer it if we choose to live with them. For that reason, the search giant has been quite liberal with ad preferences, launching Google Dashboard back in 2009, and consistently improving it so everyone has access to the same data that Google holds on them. From the dashboard, users can view and turn off access to Google searches, viewed YouTube videos, and more — it all comes down to how happy you are to let Google have your data.

It’s a win-win for Google — more relevant ads means that Google’s ad algorithms can really zero in what each user really wants, which means a better return on investment for anyone looking to invest in Google’ ad services. Because the only thing worse than an unwanted ad, is an unneeded ad.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • The best ad blockers for Chrome
  • Pandora opens its Premium features to all in exchange for watching a short ad
  • Facebook will soon make it easier to see who paid for political ads
  • 8 things you need to know about the Russian social media election ads
  • Is Facebook spying on your conversations to target you with ads?


25
Jan

Grovemade Wireless Charging Pad review


Relying on organic materials like American walnut and vegetable-tanned leather, Grovemade’s accessories are both stunning and understated. The company is known for its wooden iPhone chargers, monitor and laptop stands, and other accessories for electronic devices. That makes its latest product a natural follow up: A wireless charging pad for smartphones. In our Grovemade Wireless Charging Pad review, we take a look at whether the circular puck is worth its hefty price tag.

The pad supports the Qi wireless charging standard, which means it can charge the latest iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus, as well as a wide variety of Android devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S8, Note 8, and the LG V30. All you need to do is place your phone down, and it will start charging.

Blends into your home

Unlike most wireless charging pads, Grovemade’s pad doesn’t look like a tech product. At a first glance, the natural cork top reminds us of a coaster placed under a mug or cup. It quickly blends into the home, and if you look closely, it’s easy to see how the company sweats over the details.

Steven Winkelman/Digital Trends

Steven Winkelman/Digital Trends

Steven Winkelman/Digital Trends

Steven Winkelman/Digital Trends

Steven Winkelman/Digital Trends

Instead of opting for a glossy base, the company went with a brushed stainless steel finish. We think it’s  attractive, and it’s less likely to show nicks and scratches. The natural cork top is completely flat, creating a beautiful and slip-resistant surface for your phone. We especially like its size, providing enough space that you don’t need to double check you’re placing the phone in the correct spot.

The cork top comes in both a light and dark option, with the latter being hand-stained with Japanese Sumi calligraphy ink. Though we tested the light option, we think the dark would be even more subtle, and it likely won’t show minor blemishes as easily as the natural cork color.

The dark option is hand-stained with Japanese Sumi calligraphy ink.

If you flip the pad over, you’ll see three cork pads on the base to prevent slips. It keeps the pad in place when you place your phone down. There’s also a circular gap under the base so you can wrap the six foot-long cord that attaches to the wall outlet, allowing you to choose your desired cord length.

Oddly enough, the cord itself doesn’t try to blend with your furniture. It’s a thick, nylon-wrapped cord in a very vibrant red. It’s a nice accent for the pad, but it may be a little too flashy for some.

Charge output is disappointing

While the aesthetics of the Grovemade Wireless Charging Pad is spot on, the charging speed is puzzling given the price of the pad. Instead of opting for 7.5 or 10 watts of output, Grovemade’s pad has a paltry 5W output. That means your phone won’t charge as fast as it can wirelessly.

Although the pad is marketed for iPhone users, we tested it with both an iPhone 8 Plus and a Samsung Galaxy S8. We tested to see how long it would take to charge a depleted battery to 50 percent.

The iPhone 8 Plus took about two hours and twenty minutes to charge to 50 percent. The phone did not heat up much as it charged. The Galaxy S8 took about two hours and five minutes to charge to 50 percent. This result is a little surprising since the S8 has a bigger battery than the iPhone 8 Plus. With the Galaxy S8, however, we did notice the phone heated a little.

Design is a priority

The point of wireless charging is convenience. You can place your phone on a pad beside your bed, without having to fuss with cables in the dark, or you place it by your computer, so it’s constantly charging up when you’re not using it. How the charger looks may be a bigger priority for some, and if that’s the case, the $79 Grovemade pad is easily the most attractive wireless charger on the market. But if you want something that will top up your phone faster at a cheaper price, there are plenty of other options.

The Nomad Wireless Charging Hub is an excellent alternative, with an output of 7.5W. That means your iPhone will charge faster, and better yet, it comes with 3 additional USB-A ports, and one USB-C port, so you can charge multiple devices. It doesn’t look as attractive, but the $80 Nomad is far more about utility than style.

The absolute fastest charger we’ve tested for the iPhone is the 10W RAVPower Alpha Series Fast Charge Wireless Charging Pad, which costs $45. It’s also a great choice for Android phones that support wireless charging. Mophie and Belkin also have cheaper options over the Grovemade, and they also will charge your phone slightly faster. You can check out our guide to the best wireless phone chargers for more.

If the natural cork pad is appealing to you, then you won’t be dissatisfied with the Grovemade Wireless Charging Pad.

DT Editors’ Rating: 3/5

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Grovemade unveils a beautiful new Wireless Charging Pad
  • Charge up your iPhone or Android with the best wireless phone chargers
  • From Belkin to iOttie, these are the best wireless chargers at CES 2018
  • Apple iPhone 8 review
  • Apple iPhone X review


25
Jan

Dell teases new rugged Chromebooks, daring young students to roughen them up


Dell introduced a new “5000 Series” family of Chromebooks during the Bett Show 2018 education-themed convention. The first model in the series is the Chromebook 5190 packing an 11.6-inch screen relying on the traditional clamshell hinge, or a 360-degree 2-in-1 hinge enabling notebook, tent, stand, and tablet modes. Both are designed to specifically withstand the rough handling of students. 

“Dell is the first Chromebook manufacturer with the ability to claim its devices can withstand 10,000 micro-drops,” the company boasts. “With 4-inch drops performed in multiple angles, Dell could replicate student device damage seen at two to four-year usage.” 

Dell essentially applied what it’s learned and designed over the years with its “ruggedized” laptops and tablets for business to its new line of Chromebooks. Dell says the main ingredients include scratch-resistant screens, spill-resistant keyboards, sturdy hinges, and a solid shell to help protect the innards from frequent drops. 

Unfortunately, we don’t have any hardware specifics for now. The company merely states that its new Chromebooks feature a world-facing camera on some configurations, USB-C connectivity, a battery promising up to 13 hours, and support for electro-magnetic resonance pens. These peripherals support direct input on the screen without the need for cables or a battery. 

According to Dell, all units will be based on two- and four-core Intel Celeron processors. Again, we don’t have any specifics, but Dell’s older 11.6-inch Chromebook 3180 relies on the two-core Celeron N3060 chip with a base speed of 1.6GHz and a maximum boost speed of 2.48GHz. Dell may stay within the Celeron “N” processor series by possibly using the recently released four-core N4100 and two-core N4000 chips. 

Dell serves up the current Chromebook 3180 with four customization starting points. Options include 2GB or 4GB of system memory, 16GB or 32GB of storage, and a 42WHr battery. The port complement consists of two USB-A 3.1 Gen1 ports, a full HDMI port, a headphone/microphone combo jack, and a Micro SD card slot for additional storage.  

Dell will likely offer a 13.3-inch 5000 Series Chromebook in the near future, too. Dell’s current model, the Chromebook 3380, relies on an older two-core Intel Celeron C855U chip, 4GB of system memory, and between 16GB and 64GB of storage. This larger unit includes the same port count as the 3180 but relies on a larger 56WHr battery.  The updated version will likely be the Chromebook 5390 if and when it hits the market this year. 

Finally, Dell says Google will automatically keep the Chrome OS platform up to date until November 2023. Dell’s new Chromebook will also likely support Google Play and Android-based apps given the 3180 and 3380 Chromebooks reside on Google’s Chrome OS “Stable Channel” list regarding Android support. That means the Chromebook may offer up to 64GB of storage, and a Micro SD card slot if the internal capacity isn’t enough for your student’s needs. 

The various Chromebook 5190 configurations will be made available sometime in February for a starting price of $289. 

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Eight new Intel Coffee Lake CPUs could replace chocolate this Valentine’s Day
  • HP embraces USB-C with the new Chromebook 14 G5 and Chromebox G2
  • Lenovo’s updated ThinkPads include T480s with Nvidia MX150, affordable X-Series
  • Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 vs. Microsoft Surface Book 2
  • Asus Zenbook UX330UA review


25
Jan

Google introduces new controls for muting and blocking online ads


Now, muting an ad on your phone will also mute it on your desktop.

Online advertisements are essential for keeping the internet free to use, and while this is important to keep in mind, there’s no doubt that they can sometimes become an annoyance. Google first started offering users controls over the ads that they see back in 2009, and now it’s kicking things up a notch with a couple key improvements.

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For starters, Google now lets you mute reminder ads. Reminder ads are advertisements that encourage you to revisit a website you were previously on, and while these can be legitimately useful, they can also be a pain in the rear if you’re getting bombarded with reminders to visit a website you have no intentions of going to ever again.

The ability to mute reminder ads is first being introduced with apps and website that have partnered with Google to use this tool, but there are plans to expand this to YouTube, Search, and Gmail over the coming months.

In addition to this, Google is also making its Mute This Ad feature more powerful. Along with Mute This Ad being used by even more apps and websites, muting an advertisement on your phone will now also mute that same ad on your tablet, laptop, and desktop (as long as you’re signed into the same Google account).

Security flaw lets anyone access a locked Prime Exclusive Moto G5 Plus

25
Jan

Best Leather Bands for Samsung Gear S3


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Looking for the perfect leather band for your Samsung Gear S3? Then look no further than this list!

Having a Samsung Gear S3 means that you can do a ton of awesome things with your fancy-schmancy wearable, but you know what you can’t do straight out of the box?

Look stylin’ with a leather band.

Luckily for you, there are a couple of leather bands for your Samsung Gear S3 that are totally worth picking up and putting on your wrist!

Here are the best leather bands out there for your Samsung Gear S3.

  • KADES Genuine Leather Retro Cowhide Smart Watch Band
  • Austrake Replacement Leather Strap Classic
  • TOROTOP Leather Strap Replacement Band
  • Katrice Genuine Leather Strap
  • Swees Classic Genuine Leather Band with Buckle

KADES Genuine Leather Retro Cowhide Smart Watch Band

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Keep it stylish, comfortable, durable, and most importantly, 100% genuine cowhide leather with the KADES Genuine Leather Retro Cowhide Smart Watch Band.

This particular replacement band for your Samsung Gear S3 can easily be installed with quick-release pins, while the timeless, classic look makes it perfect for a day at the office, a night out on the town, or a quick run at the gym.

You can pick up your KADES Genuine Leather Retro Cowhide Smart Watch Band for between $10 to $14 depending on the type of style.

See at Amazon

Austrake Replacement Leather Strap Classic

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Looking to add a bit of class n’ leather to your Samsung Gear S3? Then look no further than the highly rated Austrake Replacement Leather Strap Classic.

The Austrake Replacement Leather Strap Classic is made from a super comfortable leather, meaning that you can wear it throughout the day without any rubbing or chaffing (plus you can easily adjust the band based on your wrist size).

This specific band comes with a stainless steel buckle, meaning you don’t have to worry about it snapping off if you’re doing some more rigorous activity, like travelling or hiking.

The Austrake Replacement Leather Strap Classic comes in five different color combinations, including a black band with a black buckle, a black band with a silver buckle, a brown band with a silver buckle, a brown band with a black buckle, and a gray band with a silver buckle for between $12 to $13.

See at Amazon

TOROTOP Leather Strap Replacement Band

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Adding a leather strap to your Samsung Gear S3 is one way to turn heads and take away from that chunky, clunky, techy, wearable vibe: and the TOROTOP Leather Strap Replacement Band does a great job helping with that look!

The TOROTOP Leather Strap Replacement Band is a band that’s made to easily be adjusted, so whether you have really large wrists of smaller wrists, this band’s got your back — er, wrist.

This leather band is made from a soft, genuine leather, and is also super easy to install and uninstall with its one button removal.

You can pick up the TOROTOP Leather Strap Replacement Band in a number of colors and patterns including crocodile skin red, plain black, plain brown, crocodile skin white, plain red, and plain navy blue for between $6 to $16, or you could pick up a duo pack of the black and brown for $26.

See at Amazon

Katrice Genuine Leather Strap

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Super highly rated, beautiful to look at, affordable, and designed to be worn through a plethora of situations, the Katrice Genuine Leather Strap is a phenomenal leather strap option for your Samsung Gear S3.

This specific watch band has nearly 250 5-star reviews on Amazon, so you know there’s gotta be something good there: with its stainless steel buckle and genuine leather design, the Katrice Genuine Leather Strap combines both form and function into one fabulous package.

The Katrice Genuine Leather Strap makes adjusting the strap easy depending on the size of your wrist, while easy to remove pins make it simple to install and reinstall this particular watch band.

You can pick up your very own Katrice Genuine Leather Strap in a number of different varieties and styles, including black braided leather, coffee, brown leather with rainbow stitching, black, black with white stitching, plain brown leather, brown leather with white stitching, and orange leather with white stitching for between $16 to $18.

See at Amazon

Swees Classic Genuine Leather Band with Buckle

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Swees up your life with this genuine leather replacement band for your Samsung Gear S3 that’ll deliver the comfort, the style, and the function you deserve in a watch band.

The Swees Classic Genuine Leather Band with Buckle is designed to be adjusted to fit a variety of wrist sizes, so whether you have a larger wrist or a smaller one, you won’t have to worry about this band slipping off you as you go about your busy day.

This particular band is made from a soft, comfortable genuine leather, while the strap is designed from a tough stainless steel. You can you quick release pins on both ends to clip the band on and off your S3 without a tool.

You can pick up the Swees Classic Genuine Leather Band with Buckle in a number of colors, including black, brown, coffee, dark brown, alligator skin black, alligator skin blue, and alligator skin coffee for between $15 to $17.

See at Amazon

What are your top picks?

Is there a particular leather band that you have in mind that didn’t quite make my list?

Let me know what your top options are in the comments below and I’ll be sure to take a peek at ’em!

25
Jan

Eufy’s Alexa-compatible smart plugs are down to their lowest price yet


Can’t go wrong with either option!

Eufy’s basic smart plug is down to just $19.54 when you clip the on-page coupon for 15% off. This plug has more of a square shape and in some situations can prevent something else from being plugged into the other outlet at the same time. To avoid this issue, you’ll need to spend a little more and go for the company’s compact smart plug, which will set you back $25.49 with the discount. You can stack two of these on top of each other without any issue, which is something you’ll probably end up doing at some point down the road.

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You can control either of these using the free Eufy Life app on iOS or Android, and you can also use your voice to control them through something like the Echo Dot or Eufy Genie.

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