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30
Apr

I purposely sent electricity to my head with the Kortex, and I entered Nirvana


Steven Winkelman/Digital Trends

It’s a pretty familiar scenario: You lay down at night, absolutely exhausted, and find your mind is still moving at 100 miles per hour. As you try to wind down you start thinking about what you need to do, and what you didn’t do, and struggle to fall asleep. The next morning, you wake up unrested and on edge. 

If you’ve tried meditation, improving your sleep hygiene, or any other number of holistic treatments without success, it may be time to up the ante. Kortex is a health wearable that claims it will help alleviate stress as well as improve your sleep, using low-dose, non-invasive electrotherapy. The device consists of two sponges that attach to a box containing the electronics, via removable wires; each sponge is attached to the temple area on the sides of your head, behind the eyes, and the whole thing can then be worn on your head. The company claims that by using its neurostimulation technology twice a day for 20 minutes, Kortex will improve your overall well-being. We tried the Kortex for a month, and despite some initial concerns about its gimmicky appearance, it actually delivers on its claims. But before we talk about our experience, let us explain what neurostimulation is.

Modern technology based on ancient therapy

Kortex is a product designed for neurostimulation therapy. It uses a small amount of pulsating electrical current (1-4 milliamperes) to modulate nervous system activity. That disruption in the nervous system is believed to help the body release certain neurotransmitters and hormones in the brain that may help you feel more balanced and relaxed.  

Steven Winkelman/Digital Trends

While some may joke that Kortex is an at-home electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) kit, nothing could be further from the truth. ECT relies upon a massive amount of electrical current (up to 460 volts) to induce a brief seizure in individuals with chronic and debilitating mental illnesses,  who have not responded to other treatments. Kortex, on the other hand, stimulates the brain with a minuscule amount of electricity in an effort to increase serotonin and melatonin production while reducing cortisol levels.

For $500, Kortex looks a little cheap.

Kortex was invented by the same company that manufactures the Fisher Wallace Stimulator, an FDA-cleared device that’s been used for decades to treat anxiety, depression, insomnia, and chronic pain. And while the both devices have the same internal technology, Kortex is categorized as a general-wellness device by the FCC to help reduce stress and improve sleep. Even though the devices are largely the same, Kortex is not recommend to treat psychiatric conditions. (FDA-cleared defines products that pose a lower risk and don’t require clinical testing, versus FDA-approved which goes through more stringent testing.)

Electrotherapy is not a new idea; it’s been used for millennia to treat a variety of ailments. The technology is used in a number of medical use cases, from over the counter TENS units for minor pain to implantable devices such as the cochlear implant for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. In a recent study, scientists at the University of California in Los Angeles used electric stimulation to help people with severe spinal cord injuries to regain control of their hands and fingers. And the market for home devices is growing: by 2023 it’s estimated that the neurostimulation device market will be worth more than $13 billion dollars.

Cheap look and feel, but high priced

For $500, Kortex looks a little cheap. The main component of the device is a chunky, 6-inch plastic unit with a dial and a few indicator lights. On the back you’ll find a battery compartment and two clips that can affix to the Velcro strap that is included. 

There are two leads that come out of either side of the device and snap onto rubberized electrodes. Inside the electrodes are two small sponges that need to be moistened before using.

Steven Winkelman/Digital Trends

In addition to the actual device itself, Kortex ships with six electrode sponges as well as a nylon case. Since the sponges only last a few weeks with daily use, you may want to order replacements or set up auto-shipments.

While the Kortex seems a little flimsy, it’s unlikely you’ll be carrying the device around on a daily basis, so it’s not too concerning. It does, however, ship with a one-year warranty should you have any problems. And since its parent company, Fisher Wallace, has been around for a long time, we doubt you’ll have difficulty getting any replacement sponges or parts should you need them in the future.

Surprise! It actually works

I first tried Kortex at a press event in January. A representative placed me in an office chair, gave me a Samsung Gear VR headset to strap on, and then gently placed moist sponge electrodes on each temple. I was told to work my way through the first level of the VR game Land’s End while the Kortex gently delivered a minuscule amount of electricity to my brain for 20 minutes. 

Sleep became a little more restful. I was able to better focus on tasks.

At the end of the first session I was not left with a sensation of calm or mental clarity. Instead, I left with a minor headache. As I shared my experience with the Kortex representative, he explained I’d need to use the device consistently for at least a few weeks to see results. I decided to take the bait and committed to using Kortex twice a day, for a month.

The overall experience is a little disconcerting at first. The very act of just placing a wet spongy electrode against each temple is not something most people will want to do voluntarily. And when you turn the device on, things get a little more worrisome: There’s a small, almost imperceptible, shock and flickering in your peripheral vision that occurs throughout the entire 20-minute session. While it’s optional, Kortex suggests using the device in conjunction with a VR headset, as I did during the press briefing (Kortex provides a free copy of Land’s End, but the headset is a separate purchase).

I’m not going to lie: My first week using Kortex was rough. Every time I’d strap those spongy electrodes to the skin of my skull, I’d end up with a minor headache. I also stopped using the VR headset because together with the Kortex, it was uncomfortable to use. While there are two settings on the Kortex, I didn’t notice much of a difference in terms of side effects, so I decided to power through — in the name of science, or journalism, or whatever it is that I’ve gotten myself into — hoping they would subside. And they did. 

Steven Winkelman/Digital Trends

During the second week the side effects largely disappeared and it became easier to notice what the Kortex was actually doing. The changes were relatively minor and short-lived, at first: my mind began to slow down for a few hours. Sleep became a little more restful. I was able to better focus on tasks. 

Throughout the rest of my month with Kortex, I noticed those short-lived benefits started to carry on throughout most of the day. By the end of the month, the changes were consistent and constant.

Bring back the noise

As I neared the end of my month-long Kortex experiment, I began to notice another change that was unexpected: I actually missed some of that mental clutter that had become so familiar pre-Kortex. While it’s nice to turn off the noise sometimes, I don’t think I’d ever want to live in silence. Therefore, I’m not sure if I would continue using it.

While I entered the Kortex experiment with a healthy dose of skepticism, I admit that I’m leaving a reluctant convert. By no means am I certified to give anyone medical advice, but I believe that, with consistent use, Kortex can help reduce stress and improve sleep. At $500, however, Kortex is a pretty significant investment.

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30
Apr

Google Home and Google Assistant finally offer the same experience


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After years of feedback, Google has fulfilled its promise of a consistent Assistant across phones and Google Home.

Once upon a time in 2016, Google announced their next foray into a connected home and an AI assistant with the Google Home featuring Google Assistant. Google Home was shiny and offered hands-free commands that would work across a crowded room and give us control of our media and services, but they made an even more tantalizing proposition. Google promised that the same AI magic would be available in each of our pockets with Google Assistant, offering the same features and functions as the homebound Google Home.

And at long, long last, they’ve finally given it to us.

When Google Assistant debuted with the Google Home, the features were quite different between the shiny new home speaker and the phones that it became available on. Google Assistant on phones felt hobbled, with many of the most practical and desired features being reserved for the Google Home.

tichhome-mini-shower-google-assistant.jp Shower music is the primary duty of my TicHome Mini aka the portable Google Home Mini.

This was particularly painful with respect to media controls. For a time Google Assistant on phones couldn’t even turn on songs or albums the way Google Now had allowed users to do for years. Meanwhile, Google Home allowed users to call up most any song, playlist, or album we wanted, and to not only change tracks but to fast-forward and rewind within tracks, hands-free. I confess that the primary reason for purchasing a Google Home was this media control, which allowed me to control my music while I was in the shower, with Google’s voice recognition prowess making out my commands over the sounds of the shower over 90% of the time.

It took far longer than I would’ve liked, but this control — along with so many other features — has finally made its way to Google Assistant on phones. This is a major feat for Google to produce consistent commands across a wide array of devices, and with that feature parity comes another fun idea: if we all have the same Google Assistant as a Google Home in our pockets, what fun things could we use it to do while we’re away from Google’s smart little air freshener lookalike?

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For instance, Google Home has advertised telling stories to our kids, even going on Disney adventures with Mickey Mouse or Lightning McQueen, but we don’t all need or want a Google Home in our kids’ bedrooms. Using Google Assistant on phones, we can still take them on adventures and Google can tell them wonderful stories, and even better, we can take it anywhere, from the bedroom to backyard camping to long car rides.

We can ask Google Home about calorie counts and recipes in our kitchen, but with the parity of Google Assistant on phones, we can also ask it about calorie counts while we try to figure out what to order for lunch, or while grocery shopping. Hey, if people can talk on their phones through the whole store, what’s wrong with you talking to your phone while you shop?

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Now, admittedly, there are still few holdouts here and there. New features, like waking up to music instead of a generic alarm seem to start on Google Home as a test group before coming to other platforms. Think of Google Home as the Google Assistant text bed before features come to millions of phones. That said, Assistant is improving and updating all the time, and these few holdouts will hopefully come around soon.

What Google Home tricks have you enjoyed bringing to your phone? Are you still waiting for more feature parity on watches or Chromebooks? What features are you hoping Google announces for Assistant at Google I/O? Share with us in the comments.

30
Apr

How and when to use Dolby Atmos sound on the Galaxy S9


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Can you hear the difference?

The Galaxy S9 introduced a dual speaker system, providing stereo separation when watching video and also simply higher volumes. And it came without an increase in bezel size, which is a total win-win. But Samsung added another wrinkle to the whole audio experience: Dolby Atmos sound, which is processing that’s supposed to provide an enhanced audio experience on all sorts of content.

If you’ve been staring at that Dolby toggle in your settings since you got your Galaxy S9, unsure what it actually does, we have you covered.

How to turn on Dolby Atmos on the Galaxy S9

Head into your Settings and scroll down to Sounds and vibration.
Scroll down and tap on Sound quality and effects.
Tap on Dolby Atmos to enter the settings.

  • You don’t have to tap the toggle to turn it on yet.

Tap the toggle at the top to make Dolby Atmos active.
You’ll see four choices for Atmos sound modes, each of which is pretty self explanatory

  • To start off, the best setting to leave it on is “Auto” as you get a feel for how it sounds.

You’ll also notice that there’s a Dolby Atmos toggle in your notification shade quick settings for easy access.

  • Tap it once to turn on Atmos to the previously-chosen sound profile, or press-and-hold to enter the Atmos settings.

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When to use Dolby Atmos and what it does

The bigger question is what exactly Dolby Atmos does. Ostensibly, this mode is designed for when you’re playing back any content that was specifically mixed for Atmos — typically full-length movie. With Atmos turned on and watching a movie mixed for Atmos, you’ll get a far more immersive audio experience — particularly if you’re wearing quality headphones.

But most of us aren’t watching full movies on our phones, and to be honest most movies don’t have an Atmos audio profile (or don’t make it available on phones). So instead, we’re all more likely to use Atmos with the “regular” audio that comes out of our phones every day. Whether you’re using speakers or wired (or Bluetooth) headphones, turning on Atmos you’ll immediately notice everything get louder. In situations where you used to max out the Galaxy S9’s volume slider, you’ll be able to back it off by about 25%. That’s because Atmos is effectively passing the audio through an equalizer to massage it and provide what it thinks is a better overall sound — and the result is you hear more of what you want to hear without maxing the volume.

This is no silver bullet — things sound different, but maybe not better.

When you’re wearing headphones, you’ll also notice more of a spacial sound — i.e., you hear a little echo and width that makes it sound like you’re listening to speakers in a large room, rather than having headphones directly on your ears. If you change the Atmos sound profile to “Voice,” you’ll notice a massive difference that really focuses on voices at the expense of everything else. Unless you’re listening to an audiobook or something of the sort, chances are you won’t like this sound profile. The “Movie” and “Music” profiles are a bit closer to “Auto” — they sound fine, and are definitely louder, but you’d be hard-pressed to find the results better than applying some minor tweaks to an equalizer on the phone. But then again, this happens automatically.

So even if you’re not watching a “Dolby Atmos” enabled movie, give the toggle a shot and see how it sounds. Even if you just use it for a little volume boost when you need to hear something quiet without headphones, it’s worth checking out. But if you’re an audiophile, you’re better off plugging in some headphones and managing an equalizer yourself.

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30
Apr

Best Racing Games for VR


What are the best racing games for VR?

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If you’ve invested in a VR setup and haven’t yet tried a racing game, you owe it to yourself to at least experience it once. The speed, combined with the feeling of actually sitting in the driver’s seat, delivers an unmatched experience. Here are the best racing games you can grab right now.

  • Driveclub
  • Gran Turismo Sport
  • Dirt Rally
  • Trackmania Turbo
  • Wipeout Omega

Driveclub

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If you’re looking for a VR game that will make you feel like you’re in the Fast and Furious, then this is the game you’re looking for. Driveclub takes you to the streets as you race against others to be the best. With over 80 cars and 100 tracks, you will never get bored when racing in this VR game.

See at the PlayStation Store

Gran Turismo Sport

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If you’re looking for more of the classic sport of racing, then Gran Turismo is the game that you’re looking for. With classic sportscars and different suits for your character, you’ll be driving alongside other great racers. The VR experience hosts most cars and all the tracks available for this game, so enjoy racing!

See at the PlayStation Store

Dirt Rally

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Take the racing off road with Dirt Rally, a racing game that really mixes mud and metal. Enjoy the elements in this game as you race on official and unofficial tracks throughout the game. Whether it’s winter. spring, or summer, you’ll be making mud no matter where you’re racing.

See at the PlayStation Store

Trackmania Turbo

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More stunts means more fun, especially in Trackmania Turbo which has 4 death-defying tracks to choose from. You can choose from the pre-made tracks or you can create your own track. Take on other drivers and prove that you’re the best driver out there.

See at the PlayStation Store

Wipeout Omega

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This game brings racing to the future with ships, which are essentially hovering race cars, and futuristic tracks. Originally just a stand-alone PlayStation 4 game, you can now take the tracks in VR with Wipeout. Take on other futuristic drivers and beat them all in the best ship out there.

See at the PlayStation Store

What’s your favorite racing game for PlayStation VR?

Let us know which one you’re hooked on down in the comments!

PlayStation 4

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Amazon

30
Apr

Protect your favorite gear with these water-resistant Pelican cases on sale today


One of Amazon’s daily Gold Box deals features a selection Pelican cases and luggage. These cases come in a variety of sizes, prices, and purposes. Some are waterproof dry boxes, some are filled with foam for tight packing, and some are designed to fit in standard overhead bins. This is a one-day only sale.

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Here’s a few of the ones on sale:

  • Pelicase 1610 for $202.49 (from $270)
  • 1300 Camera Case for $37.54 (from $50)
  • 1510 Case with Foam for $119.96 (from $160)

No matter the case, Pelican covers them all with a lifetime warranty. Check out the full sale for all the other possibilities.

See on Amazon

30
Apr

T-Mobile and Sprint Merger FAQ: The good, the bad, and the ugly


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This move affects millions of customers and we have a lot of questions.

It appears that T-Mobile and Sprint will become one company under the T-Mobile name if regulators approve the pending merger. We heard rumors of this happening renewed recently, and T-Mobile CEO John Legere and Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure held a joint Sunday press call to announce their intent. You can find our take on all the news right here.

It’s going to be a big change for millions of customers. We’ve seen plenty of smaller carriers get pulled into the fold of a larger, but when two of the Big Four are set to combine their networks things are a little different and there will be more questions. We have those same questions, too, and have been busy looking into the details ourselves so we can get everything sorted out. Should this merger gets the required approval from government agencies, we need to know what to expect!

What’s the big deal?

We’re seeing Sprint, a company with 55 million customers, becoming part of a new T-Mobile (which has 73 million customers) to form what amounts to a new company under a familiar name. That means a lot of people are directly affected and because AT&T and Verizon will react to the news, everyone will see something new from their carrier. We always tend to brace ourselves for the worst, but there is a lot of good news here for everyone.

This $26 billion deal will affect all of us when other carriers react. And they will.

We never like to see choices get fewer. With Sprint out of the picture, there will be three major carrier choices in the U.S. for wireless customers and that makes it easier for the companies to raise rates or diminish service quality in some way. It’s especially worrying when one of the companies is T-Mobile, which revitalized itself in the past two years because it was able to offer lower rates and more benefits. We don’t want to see that go away. Legere and Claure feel that it won’t, and even think that having cable operators like Comcast and Charter offering wireless service means 5G wireless will have more competition even with the two companies merged.

Maybe the most important thing here is the future of 5G. As the two CEOs were happy to point out, a combined Sprint and T-Mobile will have the best foundation for a new 5G network out of any wireless provider in North America. Verizon and AT&T may have more available wireless spectrum but most of it is in use for existing 3G and LTE networks. This spectrum will have to be repurposed without service interruption to current customers which will be an expensive and slow affair. The “new” T-Mobile has a huge swath of available spectrum it can use to build a nationwide 5G network from scratch, provided it isn’t forced to relinquish any of it to achieve regulatory approval.

I’m a T-Mobile customer, what will happen to my service?

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Right now, nothing. This deal isn’t final just yet and won’t be until it’s approved by federal agencies. We saw an AT&T – T-Mobile deal fall through because it couldn’t get that approval and nothing here is a given. If and when it is approved, it will still be a while until any significant changes can happen. These two companies are huge and steering a ship that big takes a long time.

Don’t expect any significant improvements any time soon.

We expect T-Mobile service to improve once this becomes a reality. And not just a little bit. T-Mobile has an excellent network at the consumer-facing end points with plenty of available bandwidth and fast speeds, but the total coverage footprint is lacking. If you’re a current customer who sees a stretch with no service on your commute to and from work, for example, this deal is what T-Mobile needs to make that go away. And from what the company has said, it plans to build a 5G-ready network to fill in those gaps.

Don’t expect your current service to get faster any time soon, but if you’re on the fringes it will get better. You’ll have a stronger connection in more places and spots that can currently get congested because there are so many users will have more bandwidth available so it can be improved. In the long-term, expect to have better service in more places on a newer network.

I’m a Sprint customer, what will happen to my service?

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Most of what applies to T-Mobile customers also applies here, but for the opposite reasons! Sprint has what it needs to build a network with a giant footprint but struggles at the end delivery. Where the company was able to spend resources to roll out a large network, users see great service, but Sprint generally delivers a connection that’s barely acceptable across a fairly wide area.

Sprint has only lacked one piece of the puzzle for years: money.

If granted approval, Sprint customers that become part of a new T-Mobile network should expect to see improvements where they have mediocre service right now in the short-term. The two companies’ assets combined will get you onto a network that has what it needs to deliver service from the tower to your phone, not just from tower to tower.

Long-term goals align with the promises Sprint has been making for the past few years — a very fast high-capacity network that works almost everywhere. Sprint has always had what it needed on the technical side but poor financial results kept company management from making the huge financial investment needed to put it to use. T-Mobile has an innate ability to fix that and the company’s knack for attracting customers means investors and executives aren’t afraid to sink money into equipment that makes the difference.

Will my prices increase or decrease?

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Maybe, but we don’t expect to see any big change in the near future.

Maintaining a nationwide wireless network takes a lot of money and so does building a new one. A new T-Mobile will see plenty of short-term cost benefits compared to running two separate companies. Stocks are already rising based on the rumors that this merger would happen and investors will be bullish because of the combined assets and how they fit into a 5G network plan and we don’t expect that to change unless AT&T or Verizon reveals something even more attractive.

The “new” T-Mobile won’t go very far if all the customers leave. Don’t expect to see any big change in your monthly bill.

We’ve seen costs rise for some plans from both companies, but their hallmark packages for consumer service tends to stay around the same price over the past few years. Both Sprint and T-Mobile use low prices on unlimited or large family data plans as a selling point and we don’t think that’s going to change right away. One of the new company’s goals is to have enough customers to make AT&T and Verizon (and Comcast and Charter) nervous, and raising prices in any dramatic fashion isn’t going to help there. We know what we have been told a new network will be like on T-Mobile, but we actually know what service is like on Verizon or AT&T so if rates get higher customers may start to make the switch.

We do expect Sprint’s penchant for eternal promotional plan pricing to go away, so plans that would normally be $120 per month for three users but are now $80 will probably become unavailable for new customers. And who knows, there may be some great deal for new subscribers from the newly merged company, too.

Are a lot of people going to lose their jobs?

The two companies say no. On a conference call John Legere stated that the merger will create more jobs, both in the immediate future as well as year-over-year. He gave the T-Mobile purchase of MetroPCS as an example, which caused an increase in employees that the Metro PCS assets provided than worked for the company originally. Sprint was forced to lay off a large number of employees in early 2018, and this merger should help stave off another round of large-scale layoffs.

A move like this will both create and eliminate jobs. Let’s hope the result is a net positive.

The CTIA forecasts that 5G technology could create up to three million new jobs and $500 billion in economic growth. Planning and deploying a 5G network the way this merger allows will create more American jobs and bring some of that $5 billion to American pockets. Separately the two companies wouldn’t be able to create nearly as many jobs than it can together here.

But there will almost certainly be some people who find themselves out of work. It will take time for the two companies to consolidate things like customer service and billing departments, but there will be overlap and some positions will be no longer needed. Those will be offset by the need for more engineers and field technicians as the network expands, but usually few people can transition from the former to the latter. T-Mobile will hopefully offer training and anything else needed to make internal transfers where it can, but it’s unrealistic to think that nobody loses their job when two companies this big combine.

Should I leave for AT&T?

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That depends on why you are leaving.

If you like the service you have now you should probably keep it. Your current Sprint or T-Mobile service isn’t going to get any worse and we doubt prices are going to rise any time soon. The new T-Mobile really wants you to stay so it won’t be doing anything stupid when it comes to the quality of service or the price.

If you’ve been thinking of switching to AT&T because the service is better right now, this merger may turn out to be a great way for AT&T to lower its prices or offer some sort of incentive to get you to switch. If you know you’ll have a better connection where you need it with AT&T, jump over! Just don’t sign any long-term contracts in case you want to move back once a new network begins to roll out.

Should I leave for Verizon?

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Again, it depends on why you’re thinking of doing it. And mostly for the same reasons.

Verizon has a very good network in almost every place you’ll ever be inside the United States. That’s not going to change because of this news. Once we see a true 5G network landscape begin to evolve, Verizon will have a tougher time putting it in place than the competition will. This is because of the same reasons the network is currently great — it uses the assets it has to build out a strong LTE network so there isn’t a ton of spare bandwidth laying unused. I’m certain that Verizon has a plan to address this and I imagine we’ll be hearing more about it from the company now that a potential merger between Sprint and T-Mobile has been announced.

If the service you have now with Sprint or T-Mobile is bad, go ahead and switch. Just remember that you might want to switch back once T-Mobile starts to do the things ti say it wants to do. Let the future be the future and use what works best for you right now.

When should we expect to see any changes?

Regulatory approval may take months to obtain, if it is even granted at all. It likely won’t happen before mid-2019, though I do expect both parties have been advised that it will be approved.

Things will stay mostly the same for several years.

Once approval is given, it’s going to take a few months for the details to get ironed out and execs to move their desks. Then there will be lots of meetings and busy accountants so expect another month or two before any changes can even be talked about. Under perfect conditions, customers might see a change in service — hopefully for the better — late next year.

The long-term plan is to have all Sprint customers moved to the new T-Mobile within three years — that’s 2021. I expect that means the company plans to have the 2.5GHz and 600MHz spectrum it would hold should the merger be finalized deployed by then and T-Mobile customers would also be on what’s essentially a new network.

Will I need a new phone?

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Probably not.

When 5G is deployed everywhere, we all will need new phones, but since that’s years away we will all have one by then. This merger is kind of the same situation — the phone you have in your hands will probably work just fine throughout its normal life even if the name of the company you pay each month changes.

By the time you need a new phone you will have already bought one.

A joint press release from the companies says that over 20 million Sprint customers currently have a phone that will work on T-Mobile with no issues. What that means is late-model Galaxy phones and iPhones plus a few others like the Essential phone, which are or can be SIM unlocked and work if you were to switch right now. Sprint isn’t selling phones with the expectation that customers want to use them on T-Mobile.

Phones like this should be able to take advantage of any improvements in the network while large-scale deployment is happening, but by the time everything is in place, you won’t be using them. Newer models will be built to use the network the company is planning and unless you found something really exotic to use on Sprint a new model of your favorite phone will be built to work everywhere there is “new” T-Mobile service.

Both companies have been through this before when T-Mobile bought MetroPCS and Sprint bought Nextel. If you were around for either event and your phone company got bought out by a larger one, you know there weren’t any changes that required a new phone for quite some time. And phones today are built to work in more places with more network bands so it will be an even easier transition.

What else do you want to know?

This FAQ is 🧟‍♂️ *alive 🧟‍♀️, so let us know what you want to know about the merger and we’ll add it to the list!

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30
Apr

What do you think about the T-Mobile + Sprint merger?


T-Mobile says this will be good for consumers, but is that true?

On Sunday, April 29, 2018, T-Mobile and Sprint announced that they had finally come to agreeable terms and will be joining forces as a single company. Rumors regarding a merger between these two carriers have been floating around for years, but no one thought it would ever happen.

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Now that we’re officially living in a T-Mobile + Sprint world, the wireless industry in the United States will likely be changing a lot over the coming months and years. It’s still unclear if those changes will be for better or worse for consumers, but in the meantime, our Android Central forum users have plenty to say on the matter.

Here are some of the initial reactions to the merger announcement.

avatar1623218_2.gifmogelijk
04-29-2018 01:24 PM

I’d say not enough information yet, particularly if the FCC and FTC will let the deal go through — though it is good Legere and Sievert will head the new company.

Reply

default.jpghallux
04-29-2018 02:34 PM

We’ve heard the same story before – “It’ll be good for consumer”, last time was with the Charter/Time Warner merger. As a customer impacted by that merger I can say it overall was BAD for the customer. Yes, we’re now getting 100 Mb base internet speeds but I’m paying a higher bill and getting fewer TV channels as a result, and I was paying extra for upgraded download speeds compared to base…

Reply

avatar2759113_1.gifNick Pirce
04-29-2018 03:12 PM

Sprint and t-mobile merging together was a good business move

Reply

avatar758074_109.gifAlmeuit
04-29-2018 05:08 PM

I can say they will have a serious amount of spectrum. I am sure that makes AT&T / Verizon worried.

Reply

Even though we’re still in the very early days of this deal, we’d love to hear from you – What are your thoughts on the T-Mobile and Sprint merger?

Join the conversation in the forums!

Carriers

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  • Verizon’s Unlimited plans: Everything you need to know
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30
Apr

Amazon’s one-day sale on PC gear has low prices on mice, keyboards, and more


Get what you need.

Amazon has a huge selection of PC components down to low prices for one day only. The sale features a variety of major brands like Toshiba, HyperX, Logitech, and more. The gear includes both internal parts, like the Seagate 1TB solid state hybrid drive for $60.99, and external peripherals, the Razer DeathAdder gaming mouse for $54.99

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Here’s a few of the other items on sale:

  • Razer BlackWidow Chroma V2 RGB mechanical keyboard for $129.99 (from $170)
  • TP-Link Archer C2300 wireless router for $79.99 (from $150)
  • WD My Passport 2TB portable hard drive for $62.99 (from $100)
  • Acer Predator Helios 300 15.6-inch gaming laptop for $949 (from $1,050)

The full sale has even more awesome stuff on sale.

See on Amazon

30
Apr

Best credit monitoring apps for Android


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Your credit score can help you buy a house, get a loan, or even just finance a new phone. Here are a few ways to keep track of it.

There are few things more important to maintain than your credit score. Whether you’re applying a new credit card, a house, or a phone line, your credit score will be an instrumental factor in your approval odds. If your credit score is too low, you may have to pay an astronomical security deposit — if you’re able to get approved at all.

Needless to say, a poor credit score can be hugely detrimental, so save yourself some trouble and start monitoring your credit so you can take control of your score. Whether you have outstanding credit or you just went through your third bankruptcy, it never hurts to have an idea of your credit situation, and it’s never too late to start working to improve it.

Credit Karma

If there’s any one app you should use to monitor your credit score, it’s without a doubt Credit Karma. This free service shows your TransUnion and Equifax scores, along with breakdowns of any credit lines on your record — that includes credit cards, auto loans, personal loans, and more. It also provides tools to help you improve your credit, as well as suggestions for new loans and credit cards you might qualify for.

While it’s a bit late in the year, you can even file your taxes through Credit Karma. Unlike Intuit (who makes TurboTax), Credit Karma doesn’t charge any fees for filing through its services — that means it also doesn’t bug you to try a paid version half a dozen times when you’re trying to file. I opted to try Credit Karma’s filing service for the first time this year after comparing results with TurboTax, and it worked just as well as you would expect.

Download: Credit Karma (free)

Credit Sesame

If you don’t mind paying a bit for a premium membership, Credit Sesame can offer more information than Credit Karma, pulling credit reports from all three bureaus with a paid account. You can still see your Vantage 3.0 score with a free membership, however, and Credit Sesame has the added benefit of identity protection — even providing up to a million dollars of identity theft coverage at higher paid tiers. Even with a free account, though, you get $50,000 in coverage.

Download: Credit Sesame (free)

Mint

Mint is another great service that helps you keep track of all of your finances in one place. It’s made by Intuit, so you can sign in with your TurboTax info, and you can link any of your financial accounts (banking, credit cards, utilities and bills, etc.) to Mint to monitor your spending. It breaks your monthly spending into a pie chart, and displays your cash flow in and out.

Like Credit Karma, Mint shows you your Vantage 3.0 credit score as provided by TransUnion, and offers suggestions for various credit cards and loans. You can customize your Overview page in the settings to only display the information you care about, and set up push notifications or emails for upcoming bill alerts — you can even use Mint to create a calendar for your bills.

Download: Mint (free)

Your credit card

Most credit card companies these days offer free credit monitoring from within their apps. Most will display your FICO score, but it can vary from bank to bank. In fact, some banks don’t even require that you be a customer to get a free credit report — Discover is a prime example with its popular Credit Scorecard service.

Plenty of other banks do this, as well. Chase provides you with your Vantage 3.0 score, as does Capital One (you don’t have to be a customer of either bank to check your score), while banks like American Express, Citibank, and Wells Fargo all display your FICO score.

What do you use?

Do you use one of the apps mentioned here, or is there another app you depend on for monitoring your credit score? Let us know in the comments below!

30
Apr

CamSoda starts livestreaming erotic fitness classes


Plenty of companies are getting in on the live-streamed fitness class thing, so it’s no surprise to see CamSoda leaping on the bandwagon. The webcam platform is launching CamSoda Fit, a way for folks to partake in hour-long, live fitness classes to help them get, or stay, trim and slim. Except, and you might have already guessed the twist here, the trainers featured are also webcam performers.

The rosters of instructors include Fitprincess and Kelsi Monroe, who have experience (and credentials) in health and fitness outside of their CamSoda careers. These trainers will host three classes a week, covering Yoga, Bodyweight and HIIT, and will be entirely free of charge. If you enjoy those, and want a more intimate class with the trainer of your choice, you can pony up for a one-to-one session afterward.

“Ever take a class at the gym and wish your instructor would teach you with her clothes off,” explains CamSoda’s Daryn Parker. “By leveraging our cam models, many of whom are workout gurus,” he added, “we figured out a way to offer our fans a convenient, fun and effective way to get in shape for summer.” Although we have to wonder if folks aren’t risking serious injury by attempting high-intensity routines while tumescent.

Source: CamSoda Fit

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