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18
Jun

Three reasons the RED Hydrogen One could be the most interesting phone of 2018


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This is gonna be one hell of a phone.

For a company that’s never made a smartphone before, RED is sure getting a lot of attention with its upcoming debut phone, the Hydrogen One. That’s thanks in part to RED’s massive brand recognition outside of the smartphone space, where it’s known as a leading name in cinematography. Whether you were aware of it or not, most of your favorite movies were likely shot on RED’s digital cinema cameras, along with videos from some popular YouTubers.

Of course, it takes more than a fancy name to sell a phone — especially when that phone starts at $1200. On top of its unique design, featuring ribbed sides for easy grip and premium materials like titanium and kevlar, the Hydrogen One is full of features that you won’t find on any other phones. Here are a few reasons why, good or bad, the Hydrogen One is likely one of the most interesting phones we’ll see all year.

See at Verizon

The holographic display

Everybody loves a bit of mystery, right? Though RED has been teasing its glasses-free holographic display since it originally announced the Hydrogen One, only a few people have gotten to actually see and use it — none of whom were allowed to take photos or videos of it, though they’ve all seemed to come away impressed. Here’s the main idea: the Hydrogen One will be able to switch between the normal “2D” display mode and what RED is calling “4V” (or “4-view”) mode.

4V is RED’s glasses-free 3D technology — a category we haven’t seen much development on in years. You’ll need special, 4V-specific content to take advantage of this feature; the Hydrogen One can capture 4V video natively, and RED is creating a content hub called the HYDROGEN Network where you can view and share 4V content with other Hydrogen One owners.

The cameras

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RED has already claimed that the camera experience on the Hydrogen One is so good that it can only be bested by the company’s own production-grade cinema cameras, beating out other phones and even DSLR and mirrorless cameras. I’m … weary of that, to say the least, but such a bold claim definitely has me interested in seeing photo and video comparisons against other cameras. If even remotely true, the buyer’s perspective could shift from the Hydrogen One being a gratuitously expensive phone, to being a relatively inexpensive, pocketable camera with cellular capabilities — just think about the excitement the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K caused amongst videographers for roughly the same price.

By default, the Hydrogen One has two rear cameras in a circular housing, capable of shooting RED’s 4V format natively. It’ll simultaneously save a 2D version so you can still share your videos to your non-Hydrogen One touting friends (aka all of them), and the dual front cameras mean that you’ll be able to shoot in 4V in either direction. While I’m doubtful that a phone could possibly outshoot dedicated cameras like the Panasonic GH5 and Sony a7III, RED’s legendary sensors and color science will likely give it an edge over other smartphones.

The modularity

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Just like Motorola’s Moto Z lineup, the Hydrogen One features a series of magnetic pin connectors that allow for a collection of hardware mods to expand the phone’s capabilities. It goes without saying that the majority of these attachments will augment the cameras; we’ve already seen an attachment that adds a lens mount to the Hydrogen One, meaning you’ll be able to add real lenses meant for dedicated cameras to the Hydrogen One, undoubtedly improving optics.

We’ve also seen the patents to an entire video rig for the Hydrogen One, adding shoulder mounts, rails, a follow focus, and so on. If you happen to own a RED camera like the Raven or the Epic-W, you can even use the Hydrogen One as an external monitor. We’ll have to wait and see what else RED adds to its mod lineup, but the hardware we’ve seen so far makes it clear that the company is serious about the Hydrogen One as a production tool.

Would you buy one?

It goes without saying that the Hydrogen One’s unique features are as of yet unproven. For all we know, the phone could be full of bugs that ruin the overall experience and fill the few people who order one with regret — or they might all work flawlessly and the Hydrogen One could end up being a sleeper hit for 2018.

Okay, that may be a little overly optimistic, especially considering how few manufacturers manage to pull off a great phone on their first attempt. But RED is no stranger to ambitious hardware, quickly dominating the cinema field in its short 19 years of business. While I didn’t pre-order a unit myself, I’m extremely excited to get my hands on a Hydrogen One when it’s finally released this summer — even if only in the AT&T and Verizon carrier stores it’ll be available at.

Did you pre-order a Hydrogen One? Are you waiting out for the subsequent model once RED irons out the potential bugs, or is the Hydrogen One not even a consideration for you in the first place? I want to know — sound off in the comments below!

See at Verizon

18
Jun

The Sidekick Remote control, as reviewed by CordCutters.com


sideclick-universal-remote.jpg?itok=AZdB The Sideclick Universal Remote Control ($29 at Amazon.)

Because your remote control doesn’t have to suck. Or cost a fortune.

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Let’s face it — there’s a pretty good chance that the remote control that came with your Fire TV — or your Apple TV, or your Roku, or even a Mi Box or Nexus Player — just doesn’t cut it. Too few buttons, too few functions.

But you don’t want to spring a hundred dollars or more on a proper remote control. So what to do?

Enter the Sidelick. It’s a little clip-on with programable buttons that can add a great deal of functionality for just a few bucks. (About $30, actually.)

Read the full Sideclick Remote review at CordCutters.com

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18
Jun

Eufy’s $17 mini smart plug is perfect for a smart home beginner or expert


This is the smart plug to buy.

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Eufy, a sub-brand of Anker, makes some great home accessories, and the company’s smart outlets are no exception. Mini smart plugs are some of the most popular options because they don’t take up much space and you can stack two of them on top of each other without any issue. For a limited time, you can pick up Eufy’s mini smart plug for $16.99 at Amazon with coupon code PLUGS123, which is the lowest it’s ever sold for.

You can control the outlet using the free iOS or Android app or with your voice through Amazon’s Alexa. Smart plugs are great to have around to control lamps, small appliances, scent warmers, and so much more.

Ready to go all-in on some new smart home gear? Be sure to check out Eufy’s Lumos smart bulb for $20.99 and its ZOLO Halo Bluetooth speaker with Alexa built-in for $29.99 with coupon ZOLOHALO.

See at Amazon

18
Jun

Best photo editor for your Chromebook in 2018


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Polarr Photo Editor is the best way to edit pictures on your Chromebook.

One of the most often asked questions about Chromebooks we get is how to edit photos. You see the same questions in the comments of Chromebook posts and in forums and everywhere else. It’s a valid question.

One of the biggest holes in the Chromebook toolbox has always been content creation apps and utilities. If you need to edit video or audio or do more than some quick touch up work on photos, you likely looked towards a Windows or Mac laptop instead of a Chromebook because the tools were few and far between and many of the available ones were little more than a link to an online utility.

That’s starting to change. The old adage of “if you build it they will come” rings a little true. Chromebooks are selling well even with a down market for traditional computers, and more and more schools are giving students a Chromebook to help them with their schoolwork and get them ready for the “outside world.” This puts more eyeballs on great apps, and developers like to have eyeballs on their stuff. Add in Android app support through Google Play and you have a ton of choices to sift through to find the best. We did it for you.

If you’re looking for the best photo editor for your Chromebook you should install Polarr Photo Editor.

Polarr is a stand-alone program developed for Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chrome. There is even an online version you can use through your web browser. It’s a full-featured program, and not what many people imagine when they think of a Chrome app.

Simply put, it’s the real deal. In fact, it’s one of the best Chrome apps you’ll find and an example of just how good things can be.

Polarr is one of the first Chromebook apps that’s as good as anything on Windows or the Mac.

The feature set is the perfect mix for casual to advanced work, which is exactly where a Chromebook shines. If you just want to add a filter so your photo stands out a little on Instagram, they are there and can be applied with one click. If you just want to let the app do some automatic magic fixes, Polarr can do that, too, and it does a great job smoothing out the noise and sharpening your photo while not destroying the color balance. When you want or need to do more, Polarr has you covered there, too.

You can adjust the color, lighting, detail, vignetting, HSL (hue, saturation, and luminance), RGB channel curves, toning, and distortion. You can even apply photo effects like fringing or film grain. And you can do this on a RAW file up to 40MP in size.

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The controls are simple and perfect for anyone who doesn’t have to use Photoshop five days a week to earn a paycheck. All adjustments are in real time so you can see what effect each has and you have a full history panel to undo any or all the changes. You can even drag and drop the controls so the toolboxes work the way you want them to.

Polarr on my Chromebook makes my workflow easy again.

Here at AC taking photos is part of the job, and a big part of that is trying to make sure the stray piece of dust or eyelash doesn’t ruin a photo and the bright screen on Android phones isn’t washed out. That means most of the time our pictures of phones need run through an editing program. I’ve been using Polarr on my Chromebook to do it without any problems. In a lot of ways, I prefer Polarr to Lightroom — I like the tools interface better and the file handling is much better if you only have a few pictures to work on. Most importantly, Polarr does a good job balancing the exposure and cleaning up the noise that gets left behind when your adjusting it.

If you have a Chromebook or Chromebox — especially if you’re all-in and it’s your only computer — you need to try it. You can install Polarr for free from the Chrome Web Store and get most of the experience. All the tool features are available but some of the advanced adjustments are locked. What you get for free is very usable and works great. If you like what you see and want to go pro, Polarr uses a subscription model and costs $24 per year for the pro version. That’s about $100 per year cheaper than Lightroom ($9.99 per month) and the things most people who don’t need Lightroom would want to do are easy with Polarr. I feel like I got my money’s worth.

Download from the Chrome Web Store

Updated June 2018: Polarr is still the best photo editor for your Chromebook, regardless of your skill level.

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18
Jun

Google’s investing $550 million into Chinese shopping site JD.com


This is part of a new “strategic partnership” Google’s starting with JD.

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Similar to how Amazon is the go-to online retailer in the United States, JD.com is China’s second-largest website for buying everything from smartphones to soda. On June 18, Google announced that it’s partnering with JD.com and plans to invest $550 million in the company.

Per Karim Temsamani, Google’s President of Asia-Pacific Operations:

We want to accelerate how retail ecosystems deliver consumer experiences that are helpful, personalized and offer high quality service in a range of countries around the world, including in Southeast Asia. By applying JD.com’s supply chain and logistics expertise and our technology strengths, we’re going to explore new ways retailers can make shopping effortless for their consumers, giving them the power to shop wherever and however they want.

Temsamani calls this a “strategic partnership” with JD.com, and in addition to the monetary investment, JD.com will also be included as a merchant on Google Shopping in multiple regions

E-commerce is currently exploding in the Asia-Pacific region, with people expected to spend an upwards of $88.1 billion by 2025 on online purchases.

A partnership with one of the world’s largest companies is a huge win for JD.com, and it’ll be interesting to see if Google buddies up with any other shopping brands going forward.

Demystifying Xiaomi’s budget lineup: Should you buy the Redmi Y2, Redmi Note 5, or the Mi A1?

18
Jun

Best USB-C Portable Battery Power Packs in 2018


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Keep all your devices charged with the right power pack to fit your needs!

We’re still waiting on USB-C to fully live up to the lofty expectations the tech industry has hyped it to be. In most ways, USB-C does a great job of improving the ease of use and effectiveness of charging our devices. In 2018, all the latest tech products worth buying has shifted over to the new standard — from the latest Android smartphones to Chromebooks other laptops, and a bunch of other accessories.

One of the most convenient ways to keep your phone charged on the go is with a reliable battery pack. These are the best USB-C battery packs you should consider.

  • Ventev Powercell 6010+
  • Anker PowerCore 13000 USB-C
  • Mophie Powerstation Plus XL USB-C
  • Anker PowerCore+ 20100 USB-C
  • Aukey USB-C 30000mAh Power Bank

Ventev Powercell 6010+

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Why will you love this battery pack? For starters, it has a built-in USB-C cable that tucks neatly into the side of the pack itself so you’re never left to deal with keeping an extra charging cable on you at all times. With a 6,000mAh lithium polymer battery, you’ll be able to fully recharge any smartphone or accessories you need along with the second USB-A port that allows you to charge two devices at once. But the best feature is how you recharge the pack itself — simply fold out the outlet prongs and plug it into the wall.

You’re also able to keep charging your device while the pack itself is plugged into the wall, and your device will be topped up before the internal battery does — essentially this is a USB-C cable, battery pack, and wall charger all-in-one. Get this while you can for just $47.

See at Amazon

Anker PowerCore 13000 USB-C

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Moving up in battery capacity is this compact power bank from Anker.

Anker is one of those brands that have become ubiquitous with charging accessories, trusted by many of the Android Central staff and millions of people from around the world to keep our phones and devices running. This 13,000mAh battery pack is one of the latest to feature USB-C input to let you charge the pack itself more conveniently. It also features Anker’s PowerIQ charging technology to assure that all your devices are charged as fast as possible and comes with a USB-A to USB-C cable for charging your devices and the pack itself.

Get this portable power pack for just $34 on Amazon.

See at Amazon

Mophie Powerstation Plus XL USB-C

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Mophie is a brand synonymous with high-quality batteries, and the Powerstation Plus XL USB-C is no exception. With a built-in 12,000mAh battery attached USB-C cable rated for 18W of charging using the USB-PD standard, this $100 accessory may be on the pricey side, but you get all of Mophie’s beautiful design and proven quality. A USB-C port enables passthrough charging for a second device, and to charge the battery itself, while a USB-A port lets you charge practically any device in your collection at up to 15W.

Mophie also has a series of higher-capacity (and more expensive) USB-C battery packs, incluing the felt-covered 19,000mAh monster Powerstation XXL, for $150.

See at Amazon

Anker PowerCore+ 20100 USB-C

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Another very popular battery pack from Anker is it’s larger 20,100mAh PowerCore+. This product includes two USB-A ports that feature the PowerIQ technology, along with a USB-C port that can be used as a third port for delivering power to a phone or laptop if needed.

With its larger battery capacity, Anker says you should be able to fully recharge a laptop, smartphone, and tablet all on a single charge. It’s also got a tall design that lends itself well for travel — simply slip it into your bag and you won’t have to worry about your phone dying on you at an inopportune moment.

This pack comes with a USB to USB-C cable, a Micro-USB cable, and a USB-C to USB-C cable along with a travel pouch, which helps to justify the $66 price on Amazon.

See at Amazon

Aukey USB-C 30000mAh Portable Charger

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The folks at Aukey must live by the motto “go big or go home” because this battery pack is massive — both in battery capacity and size.

You get a 30,000mAh internal battery that’s capable of charging all of your USB-C devices multiple times over or charge multiple devices at one time. There are two standard USB ports for plugging in a device, a micro USB port for charging the battery pack itself, and a USB-C port that goes both ways and lets you charge up to three devices simultaneously.

At nearly six inches long and over an inch thick, this thing is an absolute brick of power. If that’s exactly what you need, you can get yours for $77

See at Amazon

18
Jun

Pokémon Go Gaining Ability to Trade Pokémon With Nearby Friends This Week


Two years after its release in the summer of 2016, Pokémon Go will officially add Pokémon trading between friends within the app later this week. The feature is coming via a new “Friends” area, allowing players to connect to real-life friends and trade Pokémon, keep track of their status in the game, and send them items and gifts.

Friends will now get “Trainer Codes” to share with one another, which can be entered to become friends in the app. Once you’re friends with someone there are multiple actions you can perform to increase your Friendship Level, like sending them gifts or participating in raids and gym battles with them. As this level grows, bonuses can be unlocked when you play together, so “Great Friends” can gain in-battle advantages, like attack bonuses.

Friendship Levels can be increased once per day per friend, and the new friend-based mechanics lead into the game’s trading system. If you are near your friend (within 100 meters) and have reached a Trainer Level of 10 or higher, the game will let you trade Pokémon that you’ve caught. Trades cost Stardust, and Niantic says that once your Friendship Level increases players will be able to complete trades “with much less Stardust.”

Special Pokémon like a legendary, shiny, or any Pokémon not in your Pokédex will have their own “Special Trade” rules: they can only occur once per day with a Great Friend or Best Friend, and cost “a lot of Stardust.” Every trade also earns players bonus candy for the Pokémon that has been traded away, and the amount of candy increases if the Pokémon being traded were captured in regions far apart from each other.

Pokémon trading was one of the missing features of Pokémon Go that players asked for after the game launched in July 2016. Months later in early 2017, Niantic CEO John Hanke said that trading would be coming “soon.” Speaking with The Verge, Niantic software engineer Kirsten Koa explained that the nearby trading mechanic has been a focus of development since the game launched: “We wanted to make sure we got this right… It took two years for us to build that feature — that’s how hard it was.”

Tag: Pokémon GO
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18
Jun

U.S. Supreme Court to Review Whether Lawsuit Accusing Apple of App Store Monopoly Should Proceed


In 2011, a class action lawsuit filed against Apple accused the company of operating an illegal monopoly by not allowing iPhone users to download mobile apps outside of its own App Store, reducing consumer choice.

The antitrust case was eventually dismissed in 2013 by a U.S. district court in Northern California, due to errors in the complaint, leading to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit allowing it to proceed in 2017.

That decision led to Apple’s petition for a writ of certiorari, which was granted today, meaning that the U.S. Supreme Court will now review the appeals court’s decision to reinstate the case last year, according to Reuters.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice filed an amicus brief in support of Apple, urging the Supreme Court to reverse the Ninth Circuit’s decision, arguing that it misapplied precedent from Illinois Brick Co. v. Illinois.

From the start, Apple has argued that it doesn’t set prices for paid apps, and that charging a 30 percent commission on the distribution of paid apps and in-app purchases does not violate antitrust laws in the United States.

Apple will now hope that the Supreme Court agrees that the case should be dismissed for good. No date has been disclosed for the hearing.

Tags: App Store, lawsuit
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18
Jun

Apple Camp Registration Now Open for Summer 2018 Programs


As it does every year, Apple today opened registration for its annual three-day “Apple Camp” event. At Apple Camp, kids between the ages of 8 and 12 can partake in hands-on projects at Apple retail locations by choosing one of three tracks and spending 90 minutes per day for three days “immersed in their chosen subject.”

The three programs include “Coding with Sphero Robots”, “Beat Making and Songwriting with GarageBand”, and “Telling Stories with Clips.” Apple broke down what each program is about on the registration page for Apple Camp:

Coding with Sphero Robots – In this three-day session for kids ages 8-12, we’ll introduce the fundamentals of coding using Sphero robots. Each day Campers will learn a new coding concept and practice problem-solving skills. They’ll partner up for fun activities to program their Sphero to change colors, create sounds, complete challenges, and more. Then they’ll apply their coding skills to design their own games.

Beat Making and Songwriting with GarageBand – In this three-day session, kids ages 8-12 will discover the magic of beat making and songwriting. They’ll start by exploring basic elements of song structure and how beats create the foundation of a song. Campers will get hands-on as they create music using Touch Instruments, add vocals, and fine-tune their creations with GarageBand on iPad. On day 3, they’ll share their songs with the group.

Telling Stories with Clips – Future filmmakers ages 8-12 will explore the creative process of telling stories using video, photos, and music. Campers will brainstorm and storyboard their ideas. They’ll get hands-on in groups to capture short videos, edit and enhance their shots with fun graphics and filters, and add opening and closing titles in the Clips app on iPad. On the final day, they’ll present their video stories.

The days of the week and time for each program varies by region, with some classes taking place on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule and others organized on a Tuesday-Thursday-Friday schedule. Classes typically begin at around 9:30 a.m. ET and stop around 5:30 p.m. ET.

The free Apple Camp sessions will kick off on July 9 and run through July 27, and parents interested can register their kids now on Apple.com in the United States, Canada, France, Italy, and more. In the United Kingdom and Germany, registration will open next Monday, June 25. Like previous years, parents or a legal guardian must accompany any child participating in the 90-minute sessions every day, and those kids who do participate will get a free Apple Camp t-shirt.

Tag: Apple Camp
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18
Jun

Some folks still think it’s a good idea to fly drones over wildfires


“If you fly, we can’t.” That’s the slogan used by the U.S. Forest Service in a bid to deter owners of hobby drones from flying them close to wildfires.

But at least a few people in Colorado have been unable to resist powering up their quadcopters and flying them over burning land in the past few days, apparently to capture video footage of the smoke-filled landscape.

A number of wildfires are currently scorching parts of the state, with the authorities pointing out how the unauthorized drones are hampering efforts to contain the fires using manned aircraft.

“[It’s] not a distraction anybody needs,” Steve Hall of the Colorado Bureau of Land Management told the Denver Channel. “[We] had to shut down operations because somebody had flown a drone into restricted airspace.”

Firefighting aircraft were unable to take off for at least an hour last week while officials tried to track down those responsible for the drone flights. No arrests have so far been reported.

Spelling out the danger, Hall said: “If you have aviation equipment moving quickly and they hit a drone, that’s going to cause significant damage and really be a safety issue for that pilot.”

He added that grounding aircraft could mean “10 fewer tanker drops [and] bucket drops,” explaining that while that may not sound like much, “that can make a huge difference in a wildfire.”

Drones caused multiple problems for firefighters tackling the damaging wildfires in California last year. A range of manned aircraft is used to fight such fires, with helicopters and air tankers of various sizes dropping water and fire retardant to combat blazes.

There’s also the SuperTanker. Dubbed “the world’s biggest fire extinguisher,” the SuperTanker is a modified Boeing 747 aircraft capable of dropping up to 20,000 gallons of fire retardant in one go. If drones are sighted during an operation, none of these aircraft can fly until the airspace is deemed safe.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) warns drone operators that they could be hit with “significant” fines if they disrupt emergency response efforts with their flying machines.

“Flying a drone without authorization in or near the disaster area may violate federal, state, or local laws and ordinances, even if a Temporary Flight Restriction is not in place,” the FAA says on its website, adding, “Allow first responders to save lives and property without interference.

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