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19
May

House Appropriations Committee stops President Trump from helping ZTE


ZTE’s light at the end of the tunnel has vanished.

Last Sunday, President Donald Trump took to Twitter saying that he was working with President Xi in China to help dig ZTE out of the hole it’s been in for the past few weeks. Now, the House Appropriations Committee has issued an order preventing Trump from doing anything.

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According to Democratic Representative Dutch Ruppersberger —

This amendment would prevent the Commerce Department from renegotiation of the sanctions it just enacted last month on ZTE.

Ruppersberger continued with —

Supporting this amendment will show that the U.S. government stands behind the sanctions that it enacts, and will enforce them. It also further prevents foreign companies beholden to their governments from further infiltrating our U.S. networks

Those “sanctions” Ruppersberger mentions refer to the Denial Order the U.S. Department of Commerce issued against ZTE in mid-April. This decision eventually led to ZTE stopping all main business operations on May 9, effectively putting the company on hold until it can figure out what to do.

Rumors have been circulating that Samsung will supply ZTE with its Exynos processors since the Denial Order prevents ZTE from buying Snapdragon ones from U.S.-based Qualcomm, and while that could help ZTE with its operations in other parts of the world, this most recent move by the House Appropriations Committee makes it look near impossible for ZTE to have any presence in the United States for the foreseeable future.

ZTE is DOA, but has the U.S. government gone too far?

19
May

Best multiplayer games on PlayStation 4


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Get your party going with the best of the best

Sometimes games are that much better when you’ve got your favorite people, or even a couple of strangers online, playing with you! If you and your buds are looking for a new game to get into, these are bound to spark an interest in your heart!

This list isn’t in order of best to least because all of these titles are pretty stellar!

  • Warframe
  • Overwatch
  • Minecraft
  • Smite
  • DC Universe Online
  • Lego Games
  • Overcooked
  • Final Fantasy XIV Online
  • Destiny
  • 7 Days to Die
  • Fornite Battle Royale
  • Rocket League

Warframe

Warframe brings an interesting switch to third-person shooters by introducing the concept of all the powers coming from specific space suits as opposed to natural talents. It brings a game within a game by having you control a boy who controls the Warframe.

In this multiplayer game, you will all allow Lotus to guide you through defeating your enemies on the opposing teams. Lose yourself in this free game in a Sci-Fi world as you shoot each other in fun obstacles that pretty much resemble capture the flag.

See on Playstation Store

Overwatch

After winning a number of awards at the Game Awards 2018, including best on-going game, Overwatch is a title you hear frequently online and amongst your friends.

The best part about this game is that it’s just as fun in story mode as it is multiplayer! Each character you can choose from has a different number of special moves, creating an interesting balance in the world between teams. So, for only $43 join the crowds of people obsessed with the game and prove to the population that, “Heros never die!”

See on Amazon

Minecraft

Since 2009 Minecraft has captivated the hearts of children and adults alike. Despite the graphics looking like they belong on a Windows XP desktop, it’s easy to lose track of hours while playing. With a PlayStation Plus account you can create a world together with your friends.

You could also set your friends on fire or push them into vats of home-made volcanos, dealers choice! For $18 on Amazon, you can create your own adventure with your friends and explore the endless possibilities of pixels.

See on Amazon

Smite

Smite has taken the concept of DOTA or League of Legends and put it into a third-person fighting game. Here you’ll choose your champion and attempt to overthrow the enemy base by destroying their beacons.

The shop combos are significantly easier to master than DOTA itself, making this game easy to learn and therefore quicker to enjoy! Just like DOTA or League of Legends, this game is also free to play!

See on PlayStation Store

DC Universe Online

It’s time to take on an apprenticeship under your favorite hero or villain. You can even choose your power pool based on your favorite archetype, and build from that! From there you get a secret base you can design as you please and take jobs from your favorite idols.

I personally combined Mr. Freezes ice powers with Poison Ivy’s natural powers and a base in Gotham City, what would you choose? DC Universe Online is free massively multiplayer online (MMO) to download from the PlayStation store, but there are in-game purchases to enhance gameplay.

See on PlayStation Store

Any of the Lego games, really

The Lego series is one you can turn off your brain to play and still have an amazing time. It brings a sarcastic and sassy sense of humor to some of our favorite titles like Batman.

The fun is great for all audiences, children and adult alike, to enjoy and laugh while solving the various puzzles. Besides, what better way to get revenge on all the Legos you have ever stepped on than to turn it into dust in this silly adventure? So grab your best friends, your children or even your little siblings and pick up a copy of any of the Lego games, ranging from $15-$40, and show those bag of blocks who’s boss!

See on Amazon

Overcooked

I was first introduced to Overcooked when some friends and I were sitting in their basement trying to decide which board game to play. One of them jokingly turned to me and asked, “Do you want to play a friendship ending game?” Thinking she was talking about Sorry or Monopoly I agreed, and then we were all handed controllers.

The next 6 hours were spent yelling orders at each other, laughing, pushing each other off edges, laughing, then screaming, “NO. THAT WAS THE WRONG INGREDIENT HELP!” and, you guessed it, laughing, Overcooked was such a “time is moving too fast” kind of game that you want to play over and over again. From the adorable graphics to the hilarious gameplay, I promise you will never get enough. Overcooked goes for $20 on Amazon, and I’ll always recommend it.

See on Amazon

Final Fantasy XIV Online

Finally, a massively multiplayer online MMO where you do not have to chose a single class and stick to it the whole game. Unlike the most common MMOs instead of having just one class and having to create character alts, in Final Fantasy XIV (FFXIV) you can master all the classes and play as you choose when you choose to.

The game is free to download and free to play, with in-game purchases. Or, you could buy the starter edition from the PlayStation Store to get a head start. Now we all have the change to play our favorite FF games without having to make our friends sit and watch the show. So, embark on your quest in this gorgeous world that Square Enix continues to create for us, but this time turn on your Wi-Fi and encourage your friends to join the epic battles with you.

See on PlayStation Store

Destiny

Destiny 1&2 have gathered a great following in the past few years, and it’s all due to the multiplayer option of both of the games. While story-mode is quick to master and complete, there are still battles to be completed online.

There is an ever-changing update to the types of new and improved loot you can earn by the multiplayer challenges, so the feeling of your character ever-evolving feels very real. For about $30 you too can join this beautiful Sci-Fi adventure in a galaxy overrun by different aliens and sentient computers alike.

See on Amazon

7 Days to Die

Take a moment to remember how much you loved Nazi Zombies when Call of Duty: World at War came out. Now imagine that instead of a fun side piece for a bigger game, there was an entire game built specifically for all the things you loved.

Here in 7 Days to Die you will not only survive the invasion by killing the zombies, but you will also craft your base and play everything smart. For $27 on Amazon, you can find yourself in the apocalypse and see how many days you can survive with the help of your friends. Do you have what it takes?

See on Amazon

Fortnite Battle Royale

It’s hard to argue with the popularity of Fornite. It’s also hard to argue with the price tag of Fornite Battle Royale.

Fornite was developed by Epic games and initially published in 2017. The free-to-play Battle Royale mode is incredibly popular. The story is largely irrelevant. What’s important to know is that you are airdropped onto an island where it’s your job to take out every other player on the map. If you’re looking for a battle royale experience, this is your go to, at least until PUBG comes to PS4. The Battle Royale mode is free or you can buy the whole thing for $60.

See at Amazon

Rocket League

Rocket League offers a very specific experience that you can’t really find in other games. If you have been dying to see soccer and cars combined into a high-speed sport, Rocket League is the game for you.

The game allows you to join with seven of your friends to populate two teams and take each other on in a frenetic automotive based soccer game. In 2015 Rocket League was nominated for Best Multiplayer Game so you can be sure that you are in store for some quality multiplayer gaming. You can pick up the collector’s edition for $27.

See at Amazon

If your favorite multiplayer game for the PlayStation 4 wasn’t mentioned, tell us what it was and why in the comments below! Better yet, share your favorite game experience with your friends below!

Updated May 2018: Added some fresh titles to quench your multiplayer thirst!

PlayStation 4

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  • PS4 vs. PS4 Slim vs. PS4 Pro: Which should you buy?
  • PlayStation VR Review
  • Playing PS4 games through your phone is awesome

Amazon

19
May

Today’s best deals you won’t want to miss


Whether you’re looking for new tech gear or household items, we’ve got you covered.

Today you can get big discounts on the DJI Phantom 3 quadcopter, the HP ProBook x360, the Garmin Fenix 5X fitness watch, and more! Don’t pass these up.

View the rest of the deals

If you want to know about the deals as soon as they are happening, you’ll want to follow Thrifter on Twitter, and sign up for the newsletter, because missing out on a great deal stinks!

19
May

Google News for Android: Everything you need to know


From national publications to local stories, Google News has you covered.

Way back in 2002, Google launched the very first version of Google News — a news aggregator that was designed to make it easy to find the stories you care about. Google News got a huge redesign at Google’s 2018 I/O developer conference, with the majority of the company’s efforts put into an all-new Android app.

There’s a lot going on with the latest Google News app, and to help make sense of all the goodies you’ll find in it, here’s everything you need to know.

For You is a collection of articles Google thinks you’re interested in

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Every time you open Google News, you’ll be taken to the For You page. This is your central hub for Google News, highlighting the top 5 stories the app thinks you’ll be the most interested in, a collection of other local/national stories, and a simple 6-day weather forecast.

The articles that appear in For You are personalized to your interests, with Google using machine learning and AI to tailor them specifically to you as best as possible. The more you use the app and interact with certain articles, the better Google News will get at showing you content you care about.

Headlines houses the world’s biggest stories

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Next to For You is a page called Headlines. Here, you’ll see everything that’s happening in the world. The latest stories are shown at first, but you can filter these by U.S., World, Business, Technology, Entertainment, Sports, Science, and Health.

Many of these stories feature videos as well as Newscasts — a collection of articles and tweets about an event/story to give you a quick insight into what’s going on if you’re short on time.

Specify the topics and sources you like the most in the Favorites tab

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If you’re looking to catch up on a specific topic or source you’re particularly interested in, you’ll want to make sure you check out the Favorites tab.

After adding a few topics/sources you like the most, you’ll slowly start to help Google News give you better recommendations in the For You section. Additionally, you can just tap on a topic or source to browse through content that’s related only to it.

Newsstand is where you can subscribe to newspapers and magazines

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The last section in Google News is titled Newsstand, and as the name suggests, this is where you can find newspapers and magazines to subscribe to.

You can browse through items in Newsstand by Featured and Popular, and scrolling down far enough in the Popular section will allow you to filter through publications by category, including Entertainment, Food & Drink, Health & Fitness, Home & Garden, News & Politics, and Science & Technology.

After finding a newspaper or magazine you like, you can choose to purchase just one issue, sign up for a monthly subscription, or go all the way with a yearly one. Additionally, if you’re already a paying customer for a certain title, you can enter your account details to start digitally reading it in the Google News app.

Dive deeper into the settings

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Google News offers a pretty great experience out of the box, but there are a few controls you can take advantage of to fine-tune it to your exact liking.

If you look hard enough, you’ll find settings for changing the appearance of stories to see more on your screen at once, tools for conserving your mobile data, and much more.

Check out our 5 favorite tips/tricks for getting the most out of Google News

Google News replaces the Play Newsstand and News & Weather apps

Now that we’ve got Google News, Google’s axing two of its older apps — Play Newsstand and News & Weather. The Play Newsstand listing on the Play Store is gradually being replaced with Google News (similar to how Google Pay replaced Android Pay) while News & Weather is simply nowhere to be found anymore.

Play Newsstand and News & Weather had quite a few overlapping features, so getting rid of them in favor of one, simplified app is a welcome change.

Download: Google News (free)

What do you like?

Have you upgraded to Google News yet? What do you think? Let us know in the comments!

19
May

Around 200 million people had their real-time location exposed by LocationSmart


A bug allowed you to track someone’s location without obtaining their consent.

Earlier this week, it was reported that a company called LocationSmart partners with U.S. carriers to sell people’s real-time location to all sorts of third parties. This news came as a rather unpleasant surprise on its own, but it’s now been discovered that a bug on LocationSmart’s website exposed the real-time location for around 200 million individuals.

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According to ZDNet, LocationSmart used to feature a tool on its website that allowed you to try its tracking service before you bought it. With the consent of a friend or colleague, you could use LocationSmart’s system to track their location for free. After entering your friend’s number, they’d receive a text to confirm it was okay for their location to be tracked, and you’d be able to see where in the world they’re at.

However, as noted by Robert Xiao, a Ph.D. student at Carnegie Mellon University —

Due to a very elementary bug in the website, you can just skip that consent part and go straight to the location. The implication of this is that LocationSmart never required consent in the first place.

What sort of bug are we talking about? Per ZDNet —

Xiao said one of the APIs used in the “try” page that allowed users to try the location feature out was not validating the consent response properly. Xiao said it was “trivially easy” to skip the part where the API sends the text message to the user to obtain their consent.

That “try” page has since been removed from LocationSmart’s site, and according to a spokesperson from the company, “the vulnerability was not exploited prior to May 16, and did not result in any customer information being obtained without their permission.”

Even so, this exploit potentially exposed the real-time location for around 200 million people in the United States and Canada and LocationSmart hasn’t provided any evidence to back up its claim that no info was stolen.

All major U.S. carriers give your real-time location info to third parties

19
May

Shop Amazon’s Thule sale for low prices on everything from bike racks to jogging strollers


This stylish travel gear can save you from so much hassle.

Amazon has hundreds of Thule products on sale right now. Think of Thule gear as designed to carry anything you need to transport safely and easily. That includes backpacks for camping, bike racks for your car, and strollers for your children.

thule-sale-74vg.jpg?itok=EgI1cdroThe Thule EnRoute Backpack is down to $78.95 right now from an average price around $100. Every color is available at this price, too. This backpack can hold a 15.6-inch laptop and 10-inch tablet in dedicated pockets. It can also keep your phone, sunglasses, and other smaller accessories safe in a hard shell compartment.

If you’re a parent looking to go jogging with your kid, the Thule Glide 2.0 jogging stroller is $358.95 during this sale, which is a huge drop from its regular $450 price. It has never gone this low before, either. The stroller is designed to fold easily with just one hand. It’s ergonomic with an adjustable handlebar for comfort for the parent and a multi-position canopy with side windows for your child.

You can also get the Thule Raceway Pro Trunk Mount Bike Rack for $278.95 from $350. This is its lowest price since last year. The bike rack is designed to fit securely to any vehicle. It has a system to prevent multiple bikes from swinging into each other, and you can lock your bikes securely to the vehicle.

These are just some of the products on sale, so check out everything else you can get right now.

See at Amazon

19
May

Chromecast Buyer’s Guide


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Chromecasts are cheap enough to get them all, but we can guide you to make sure you get the one you need.

Streaming media isn’t a new idea. Internet radio and video sharing sites have been around for over a decade, and smartphones might not have become as popular (some say necessary) as they are today had Apple and Google not worked together in 2007 to bring H.264 YouTube streaming to the first iPhone. We want to watch and listen to the things we like on our own schedule, and we all want it to be easy to do while still looking and sounding great.

While there are dozens of different ways to stream media from the internet to your TV or stereo, Chromecast remains one of the most popular options because of the way you initiate things. Clunky and slow user interfaces are replaced by your phone or your web browser with the ability to handoff control between devices and to allow multiple people to get in on the fun. You are comfortable with the way your phone works, and you know how to use the tools it has. Adding in one button to send media streams to the television is just better than most anything else. Add in a low cost of entry and you have a recipe for success.

If you’re thinking of buying a Chromecast, the first thing you’ll want to do is make sure you pick the right one. That’s where the Chromecast buyer’s guide comes in. In five minutes you’ll be able to make the right choice and get the device that suits your needs the best.

May 18, 2018 — You can now skip Netflix intros when using Chromecast

Ever since last year, Netflix has allowed you to easily skip the intros of TV shows when watching content on your computer, phone, or via an app on your smart TV. Now, as spotted by Android Police, that functionality is rolling out to Chromecast.

While casting Netflix to your TV, you’ll see a button on the cast screen on your phone titled “skip intro.” Upon pressing it, the intro will be skipped and you’ll be taken to the next part of the show. This is currently only available when casting from an Android phone, but it should roll out to iOS handsets at some point soon.

Chromecast Audio

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If you are looking for a way to get music from the internet — whether it be a subscription service like Spotify or Google Play Music or audio from YouTube or even music stored on your phone — the Chromecast Audio is a great way to do it.

It’s an audio-only device, so if you want to send video or images you’ll need to look at other options in our guide. But it’s a dedicated audio streamer done right. With a 24-bit audio decoder and both 3.5 mm and optical audio output through the mini toslink jack, you’ll be able to send high-quality audio to just about any speaker setup available. Setup is easy — provide power and plug an audio cable from the Chromecast output to the input jack on your receiver or powered speakers and you’re done. You can even run the output through a small bookshelf amplifier to create a complete stand-alone audio system that sounds a lot better than the price tag would suggest.

Best cheap Chromecast Audio speakers

The Chromecast Audio is small and lightweight, uses very little power and delivers premium sound to almost any speaker or stereo system. If you’re looking for a way to play music from the internet on the system you have now or just plugging into the back of a small stand-alone speaker the Chromecast Audio is the best way to do it.

See at Google
See at Best Buy

Chromecast

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The Chromecast is the device that started Google down the path of streaming media. We’re currently at version two of the hardware, and there isn’t another way to get online video onto your TV screen that’s this easy or this inexpensive.

Setup is simple. Plug the Chromecast into an available HDMI port on your TV or receiver, provide USB input for power (either directly from the TV or through the included power adapter) and use the Google Home app to get your Chromecast onto your Wi-Fi and able to be seen from your phone or laptop. Speedy and robust 5GHz ac Wi-Fi means you’ll be able to stream HD content (up to 1080p) smoothly and easily. Fallback to 2.4GHz Wi-Fi is available if you have a lot of interference on your network so you won’t miss a thing. And as mentioned, watching a movie or show on the best screen in your house is as easy as tapping a button on your phone screen.

More: Chromecast vs. Chromecast Ultra. Which should you buy?

Unless you have a 4K TV and a fast connection to the internet to stream UHD HDR content, the Chromecast is the right tool to get the job done cheaply and easily.

See at Google
See at Best Buy

Chromecast Ultra

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The premium offering in Google’s Chromecast lineup, the Chromecast Ultra can deliver full UHD (4K) content in HDR to your high-end television, and it’s as easy to set up and use as the rest of the Chromecast family.

The Ultra costs a little more, but everything about it is an improvement over the regular Chromecast. You’ll need a better processor and more power to deliver demanding UHD HDR content and the Chromecast Ultra has that covered. The standard 5GHz/2.4GHz Wi-Fi option is available, but the Ultra also has a Gigabit Ethernet port built into the power supply (which you’ll need to use because your TV can’t deliver enough power for the Ultra) if you want the backhaul and speed a wire can offer. You’ll also need to have a fast connection — 20Mbs sustained not peak — and have a service like Netflix that can deliver UHD content. Using the Ultra is the same as the regular Chromecast — as easy as tapping a button.

Everything you need to know about 4K streaming on Chromecast Ultra

The Chromecast Ultra is for people who have high-end equipment and the internet speed to bring 4K streams to their television. But it’s also a great way to be “future-proof” because your next TV will be 4K.

See at Google
See at Best Buy

No matter what your needs are, there’s a Chromecast that can fill them and is in your budget!

Update August 2017: This post was updated with the latest information about Chromecast devices.

Chromecast

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  • Chromecast vs. Chromecast Ultra: Which should you buy?
  • Chromecast and Chromecast Audio review
  • Chromecast Ultra vs. Roku
  • Join the discussion in our forums

Chromecast:

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Chromecast Audio:

Google Store
Best Buy

Chromecast Ultra:

Google Store
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19
May

MacRumors Giveaway: Win an Apple Watch Band From Southern Straps


For this week’s giveaway, we’ve teamed up with Southern Straps to offer MacRumors readers a chance to win a high-quality leather or nylon watch band for the Apple Watch.

Southern Straps has a wide selection of nylon Apple Watch bands, which are similar in style and design to the Woven Nylon bands that Apple sells, but in unique color combinations. Bands are available in one, two, or three colors, and each comes equipped with lugs to match gold, silver, and black Apple Watch models.

All of the nylon bands from Southern Straps are made from a single piece of nylon that’s been carefully doubled over, sealed, and stitched for an ultra durable construction that’s still comfortable on the wrist. A buckle that matches the lugs is included with each band to keep it tight on the wrist.


The nylon bands, which are all priced at $35, are available in both 38mm and 42mm sizes and are able to fit nearly all wrist sizes, from 14 to 25cm.


Southern Strap’s leather bands are a bit more expensive at $75, but each one is made from a single piece of full-grain Italian leather that’s been vegetable dyed for a rich color that will gain a unique patina with wear.


The leather straps, available in black or brown, are hand stitched with a durable wax cord in San Francisco. Like the woven bands, the leather bands are available for 38 and 42mm Apple Watch models to fit wrists sized 14cm to 25cm, with several lug colors available.


Each Southern Strap leather and nylon band is equipped with pegged spring bars to make it easier to swap out your watch band or clean it. Using this system, bands can be taken apart and rebuilt in just a few seconds. Woven bands have a lifetime warranty, while leather bands have a two-year warranty.


We have 10 Apple Watch bands to give away to MacRumors readers, with winners able to choose the band, band size, color, and lug color to match their Apple Watches. To enter to win, use the Rafflecopter widget below and enter an email address. Email addresses will be used solely for contact purposes to reach the winners and send the prizes. You can earn additional entries by subscribing to our weekly newsletter, subscribing to our YouTube channel, following us on Twitter, or visiting the MacRumors Facebook page.

Due to the complexities of international laws regarding giveaways, only U.S. residents who are 18 years or older and Canadian residents (excluding Quebec) who have reached the age of majority in their province or territory are eligible to enter. To offer feedback or get more information on the giveaway restrictions, please refer to our Site Feedback section, as that is where discussion of the rules will be redirected.

a Rafflecopter giveawayThe contest will run from today (May 18) at 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time through 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time on May 25. The winners will be chosen randomly on May 25 and will be contacted by email. The winners will have 48 hours to respond and provide a shipping address before new winners are chosen.

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19
May

Apple Reintroduces Financing Options in the United Kingdom


Apple has resumed offering financing options in the United Kingdom after eliminating the option earlier this year. Apple has a new financing page on its UK website, outlining its Barclays financing plan.

While the financing page specifically focuses on the Barclays financing options, when checking out, customers can choose installment payments through Barclays or PayPal Credit.


To use the Barclays financing option, customers in the UK must make a purchase over £399. There is no interest for the first 12 months, with purchases split into reasonable monthly payments. PayPal Credit is available for purchases over £99, but there is no interest free option.

It is not clear why Apple temporarily stopped offering financing in the United Kingdom, but full financing is now available once again. The company made the same change to financing in Canada in June of 2017, but has not yet reimplemented the financing options in that country.

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19
May

Grab a 4K LG Ultrafine IPS monitor for just $350 with limited-time deal


While 4K monitors may be cheaper today than they’ve ever been, they’re still normally not this cheap. At just $350, the certified refurbished UltraFine 4K monitor is one of the most affordable out there, and with a USB-C port, it makes it a great option for those wanting additional detail for a MacBook.

Typically when buying some of the best 4K monitors, you need to spend upward of $400, or even $500 to get something good. That’s not the case with this new Amazon deal, where the $450 price tag of the LG Ultrafine 4K has been reduced significantly. Unfortunately, we’re coming to this deal a little late, as there were a handful of refurbished monitors going at $200 earlier on, but $350 is still a great price for this ultra-high-definition display.

It is important to highlight, however, that this is a refurbished model, which means that it’s not brand new. As a certified refurbishment though, it is sold with a 90-day manufacturer warranty, so if there are any immediate problems, you can get your money back or a replacement model.

With that caveat out of the way though, the LG Ultrafine is an intriguing 4K display, in that it’s not the typical 4K resolution of 3840 x 2160, nor the projectionist 4K that’s sometimes touted — 4096 × 2160. The LG display is instead 4096 x 2305, which gives it a pixel density of 219 per inch.

That’s on the high-end of most 4K displays, but that’s because this is actually a relatively small monitor by modern standards, at just 21.5 inches diagonally. That’s not to say it’s antiquated. Alongside its impressive resolution, this Ultrafine display also sports a USB-C port, which makes it capable of acting as an external monitor for modern MacBooks, as KnowTechnie highlights. Its bigger brother, the Ultrafine 5K was listed as one of our favorite monitors for MacBooks in our guide, so it’s in good company.

Other notable features of this display include its impressive brightness of  500cd/m², a versatile display stand that can be adjusted to give you the best viewing angle and height for your everyday use, and good color support with 99 percent of the DCI-P3 gamut supported.

Buy it

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