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24
Jul

The Looking Glass brings us closer than ever to Star Wars-like holograms



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looking glass holographic display

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

looking glass holographic display

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

looking glass holographic display

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

looking glass holographic display

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

looking glass holographic display

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

There are several reasons why 3D televisions failed, and one of them was the lack of 3D content. Well, there’s a new 3D “holographic display” in town — the Looking Glass — and the company behind it is following quite a different strategy. Instead of delivering content-less hardware to consumers, the Looking Glass is designed by and for 3D creators.

Looking Glass Factory is a Brooklyn-based company founded in 2013 that has been tinkering with hologram technology for the past five years. It has produced and sold several products since, including L3D cubes, the Looking Glass Volume, and the HoloPlayer One, but it’s clear everything has been leading up to the new Looking Glass.

looking glass holographic display Looking Glass Factory

The Looking Glass is a heavy, glass box that’s available in 8-inch and 15-inch sizes. It can display 3D holographic content — which looks like it’s floating in air — and you don’t need any kind of headset for it to work. It’s meant to sit on a desk because it needs to be connected to a relatively powerful PC or laptop.

We had a chance to check it out, and we can easily confirm the Looking Glass produces the most lifelike 3D content we’ve ever seen. Animations ported into the Looking Glass — which is easy to do since the platform supports Unity — are fluid, and they look sharp from various angles. You can also interact with the holographic interface, as the Looking Glass supports a variety of peripherals such as the Leap Motion Controller, and even the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controllers. We tossed around an animated dancing figure with just our hands thanks to the hand-tracking Leap Motion controller, and we also lit up a scene of a frog with our finger acting as a torch.

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The idea is to get the Looking Glass into the hands of 3D creators around the world. These creators can then see what their creations look like through this holographic display, which can even help influence the design process. For example, pulling a 3D model into the Looking Glass and then casting artificial light to it can help animators see exactly where the shadows land quickly.

This will eventually lead to creators populating a 3D App Library, which currently houses dozens of apps from Looking Glass Factory. Once there’s plenty of content, co-founder and CEO Shawn Frayne told Digital Trends consumers will follow — they’ll want the Looking Glass in their homes.

“It’s one of our theories that a few years from now in people’s homes, they do have several Looking Glasses in each of their rooms that has an Alexa or some other voice A.I. running with it,” Frayne said. “There’s a virtual character that speaks with the voice of Alexa, and then she or he will bring up anything you ask for. In that sense, it would start to become a centerpiece of media and communication and creation in the home.”

How it works

looking glass holographic display

looking glass holographic display

looking glass holographic display

looking glass holographic display

The Looking Glass is made up of a combination of light-field and volumetric display technology. The light-field display recreates the rays of light that bounce off the 3D content, which helps you visualize it, and the volumetric display helps create these animated objects in three dimensions. Frayne said the Looking Glass generates 45 views of 3D content, so a group of people can huddle around the device and see the scene without any problems. We didn’t find ourselves feeling any eye strain or nausea after staring at the Looking Glass for quite some time.

With these holographic objects, Frayne believes we will see more data that our brains will prefer over standard 2D screens. For example, looking at map data of Mars through the Looking Glass will provide a better understanding of the terrain than if we simply looked at them on a 2D screen.

“The hope is that at first people get the system because the content feels more alive.”

“The hope is that at first people get the system because the content feels more alive, and then they realize, ‘Oh I can design my characters faster and better in this system,’” Frayne said. “Then it’s this virtuous cycle of the designers creating new media for this system, and then people consuming that and enjoying it and learning from it.”

The Looking Glass starts at $600 for the smaller version, but the price jumps up to $3,000 for the larger model. You’ll be able to nab them for deeply discounted prices through Kickstarter, which is simply where the company is taking its pre-orders. About a 100 units will ship in September, and the rest will follow in December.

It looks like 2018 is shaping up to be the year of holographic displays. RED, the company behind professional video cameras, is working to bring a smartphone with a holographic display later this summer.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • AT&T to sell the Magic Leap One Creator Edition AR headset in U.S. this summer
  • We tried some of the RED Hydrogen One’s crazy tech: Here’s what you need to know
  • Google Home review
  • Samsung tapped Hollywood talent to bring AR Emoji to life
  • How broke college grads made animation software used in Jurassic Park and Iron Man



24
Jul

Can I use my old SD card on a new phone?


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SD cards aren’t tied to any particular device, but the files on them might be. Just clean ’em up!

SD cards are fairly cheap. That’s part of the reason they get used so much. But if you have a new-ish one, especially an expensive high-capacity card, and you switch phones, you’ll probably want to reuse it. I don’t blame ya one bit, and all you really need to do is clean them up a little and they will drop right in. Here’s what you need to know.

More: Best microSD Card for Android in 2018

About those old files

An SD card you’ve used in an Android phone will have a bunch of files on it. Some of them you might have put there, like things you’ve downloaded; others are placed there by apps like your camera, and others just pop up and might have weird names you don’t recognize. Those are all files your old phone needed, but your new phone doesn’t.

Taking care of the files you saved to the card and media in folders like Pictures or Ringtones is simple. I’d suggest you copy them somewhere else like your Google Drive storage, so you can reformat the card (that’s just easier), but if you want them on your new phone, you can leave them right where they are. Just remember that if you do format the card in your new phone, they are gone forever. Services with storage like Google Photos and Google Drive come free with your Google account — don’t be afraid to use them!

Old files can be useful, but just remember that when you format the card, they’re gone forever.

You might have a folder called DCIM if you’ve told the camera in your old phone to save photos to the SD card. You can take a peek inside of it and you’ll see that it’s filled with your photos, but can also have what appear to be duplicates of photos with a name that’s almost the same. Depending on the camera app on your old phone, those are from things like portrait mode shots, panoramas, photospheres, or any other type of photo that’s not a “regular” picture.

Your new phone might not be able to understand what to do with those, especially if you’re moving from one brand to another. But Google Photos does. I’d recommend you upload every photo on your phone to Google Photos, and use the Photos app to delete the ones you don’t want in the cloud. But don’t delete the rest just yet, because Google Photos doesn’t save the full resolution and quality of your pictures unless you tell it to do so. Take the whole folder and upload it somewhere the same as you might have done with documents or other things you wanted to keep from the step above. This is actually a great place to keep the original copies if you use an app from the Play Store to create a .zip file from them all.

The important part is to make sure you’ve saved them somewhere so you can have your new phone format the SD card. That erases everything.

The other files — ones in the Android folder or nested inside another folder are fine to delete. Some may be encrypted and can’t be read by any other phone; others might not be. But every one of them was created by an application and will be recreated and populated once an apps need to do so. If you plan to format the card in the new phone as suggested, ignore them. Otherwise, delete them.

Adoptable storage and App Lockers

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None of this applies if you used your SD card as an adoptable storage device in your old phone. When you do that, the card is formatted as an encrypted drive and can’t be read by any other device except the phone that encrypted it.

To reuse the card, you’ll need to reformat it. If your new phone allows you to use an SD card as an adoptable storage drive, you’ll still need to reformat it. You do this through the dialog when you first insert the card and the system asks you what you want to do with it.

More: Everything you need to know about your SD card and Adoptable storage

This same advice probably goes for any type of App Locker app you might have used. An App Locker takes applications and “hides” them or can hide specific content like risque photos or private documents. You need a password to see these hidden apps and media files. If you use the same App Locker app on your new phone it might be able to retrieve those files, so check before you format anything. I’d suggest you unlock any media files you want to keep and back them up somewhere, then lock them back up once you’re done.

Do you really want to reuse your SD card?

SD cards aren’t super expensive, but if you’re like me, you want to use anything you’ve bought until it falls apart. That’s not the best idea when it comes to SD cards.

Unless your old SD card is Class 10 or faster, you don’t probably don’t want to reuse it. It will make apps that use the SD card for data run slower, it will take longer to copy files that you like, and your new camera probably can’t even use it for things like burst photos or 4K video. Technology moves fast and cards that were fine just two or three years ago when you bought your old phone are too slow by today’s standards.

More: Everything you need to know about SD card speeds and your phone

Thankfully, SD cards aren’t nearly as expensive as other types of computer storage. The very best high-capacity card is only going to set you back about $100, and you can get a high-quality, fast SD card for your phone for about $30. If your new phone has a camera that can take HD video, you’ll be very glad you sprung for a new card.

More: Best microSD Card for Android in 2018

If you followed this advice, you can pop your old card in your new phone and say yes when it asks if you want to format it. Once that’s finished it’s ready to go with your new phone and you can start filling it up again. Remember though, SD cards don’t live forever so always be sure to back up your important files regurlarly!

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+

  • Galaxy S9 and S9+: Everything you need to know!
  • Galaxy S9 review: A great phone for the masses
  • Complete Galaxy S9 and S9+ specs
  • Galaxy S9 vs. Galaxy S8: Should you upgrade?
  • Join our Galaxy S9 forums

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Sprint

24
Jul

These discounts make Philips Hue lights far more affordable


Light up your room with some colorful lights.

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Philips Hue is one of the most well-known smart light makers, and people tend to fall in love with the bulbs once they try them out. Amazon currently has a whole bunch of Philips Hue products on sale, from single bulbs to multipacks, and even bundles.

Whether you’re looking to kickstart an obsession or scratch an itch and add a few more bulbs, you’re going to want to check out these great offers before they sell out. Many of these prices are the same or within a few dollars of what they were on Prime Day.

The deals you won’t want to miss include:

  • 2-Bulb White & Color Ambiance Starter Kit – $99.99 (Was $150)
  • 2-Bulb Starter Kit with Echo Dot Bundle – $129.99 (Was $200)
  • 2-Pack White Dimmable LED Bulbs – $39.99 (Was $50)
  • 4-Pack White Dimmable LED Bulbs – $41.99 (Was $50)
  • White & Color Ambiance Bulbs – $39.99 (Was $50)
  • White Candle LED Lights – $23.99 (Was $30)
  • Color Candle LED Lights – $39.99 (Was $50)
  • White & Color Ambiance LightStrip+ – $69.99 (Was $90)

There are a few other discounts available as well, so be sure to check them out. You can also check out more smart home-related deals here.

24
Jul

Best PlayStation 4 Accessories as of July 2018


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Your PS4 is fine on its own, but these accessories can help complete the experience!

My mama told me that the key to any good outfit is the right accessories.

That’s not true. She never said that, but it sounds like the sort of thing that some mom somewhere said. The same, however, is certainly true for gaming setups. The right gaming accessories can spell the difference between just playing video games and having a gaming experience.

There are so many options when it comes to accessories for the PlayStation 4. We’ve curated the best of the best to help take your PS4 experience to the next level!

  • Headset
  • Charger
  • VR
  • Fighting Stick
  • Steering Wheel
  • Dualshock
  • Camera

Headset

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So the kids or the roommates are sound asleep and you’re ready to blast some baddies with a rocket launcher. The only problem is that you want to blast the volume while you do it. There is a solution to your woes. Pick up an Arctis 7 Steel Series headset and you’ll never have to worry about waking people up again. It has everything you might want from a gaming headset for your PS4: great sound, good comfort level, lag-free wireless audio, and a killer battery life. Happy silent gaming for $144!

See at Amazon

Charger

charger.jpg?itok=xyfyRRN5

I know what you’re thinking and yes there is a way to charge your PS4 controllers and display them stylishly. When you’re kicked back on the couch with your feet up you can look over and rest easy knowing that your controllers are charging and lookin’ sweet when you see the soft blue glow of this dual controller charging stand. Pick up yours for only $16.

See at Amazon

VR

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File this under pricey but game-changing. Are you ready to take PlayStation gaming to the next level? If the answer is yes then you might as well consider the accessory to beat all accessories. The PlayStation VR will afford you the opportunity to at last take the helm of a Starfleet ship, climb the mountains of Skyrim, or get the pants scared off of you in Resident Evil. The world of VR is yours for the taking for $330.

See at Amazon

Fighting Stick

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Maybe VR isn’t right for you. Maybe you like your gaming experience to feel more like an evening playing Streetfighter 2 Turbo: Hyper Fighting at the local pizza parlor. The problem is that you’ll never come close to that experience with the standard PlayStation 4 controller. What you need is a real deal fighting stick. Pick up this Qanba Obsidian fighting stick and you will be ready to take on all comers. And with the satisfying click of Sanwa buttons, you’ll be in fighting game heaven for $200.

See at Amazon

Steering Wheel

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All right, all right, so maybe fighting games are not your raison d’etre. You’re more of a pedal to the metal, rubber meets the road sort of gamer. You love racing games and much like your fighting game loving cousins, it’s all about the controller. If you’re going to go all in with racing games you might as well go all in with your controller and pick up a Driving Force G29 racing wheel. At last, you’ll be able to brake and hit the gas with your feet the way good ol’ Hank Ford intended. Start burning rubber for $252.

See at Amazon

Dualshock

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Sure, the PlayStation 4 comes right out of the box with at least one Dualshock controller. However, it’s never a bad idea to have a backup. In addition, one of the tenants of customization is to make something your own. That can be done with one of the many versions of Dualshock controllers that are available to you. You can pick up an alternate color version or you can get yourself one of those newfangled Soft Touch models. Prices can vary anywhere from $40 to $70 depending on what you’re after.

See at Amazon

Camera

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Maybe you’re not entirely interested in owning a PSVR. Or maybe you just find it to be downright cost prohibitive. The PlayStation camera does have other uses aside from just VR. If you are a Twitch streamer or planning on becoming one, then you might want people to see your beautiful face while you no scope noobz. As it stands right now, if you intend on streaming directly from your PS4 then you are going to need to pick up a PlayStation camera. You can get your very own PS4 camera for around $60.

See at BestBuy

The great part about accessories is that it allows you to make the game experience unique to you. If you’re looking for something more then you don’t have to live with what comes out of the box. Happy gaming and happy accessorizing!

Updated July 2018: Updated pricing.

PlayStation 4

ps4-controllers.jpg

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

Amazon

24
Jul

5 years on, the Chromecast still has frustrating flaws that detract from the magic


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We were caught off guard by how great the first Chromecast was — now, we expect more consistency from this streamer.

The original Google Chromecast was announced just over five years ago. Three generations and tens of millions of sales later, it’s hard to believe this idea originally blindsided us, accompanying the launch of the second-generation Nexus 7 tablet. The idea was ever-so-simple: use your phone to control a TV-based streaming device, but let the controls happen over the internet rather than on the same old buggy direct wireless display protocols of the time.

In a perfect world, the Chromecast works amazingly and is just as magical as it was on Day 1. You open up an app and without connecting directly to the Chromecast it starts to play from the cloud. You can still use your phone as a remote while you continue to browse content and use it for other things. You can Cast from hundreds of different apps across various genres, as well as send content directly from your computer’s browser. It’s a fantastic technology that Google has improved on over the years, both in hardware and software.

However, for as much progress as Google has made, the Chromecast experience still has some dark spots that show up on a regular basis and it completely befuddles me. It really detracts from what’s typically — but not consistently — a great experience.

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The whole Cast system is still filled with instability — and it doesn’t help that every app displays it all differently.

There are two distinct flavors of problems with the Chromecast. The first is the inexplicable bugginess of the whole system. When the Cast system works, it’s truly magical … and when it doesn’t, you don’t really have any troubleshooting steps or process to figure it out. Every few times I Cast from an app on my phone to my Chromecast or NVIDIA Shield Android TV, the app loses its link with the Cast target — the content keeps playing, but now I have no way to play/pause/rewind or adjust volume.

My only fix here is to tap that Cast button again in the app — will it reconnect? Who knows. Sometimes it reconnects and lets me control what’s already playing. Most of the time it reconnects and has no idea what the Cast target is doing. In bad cases it requires force closing the app, re-connecting the Cast session and starting to play the content all over again (and not from where it was last playing, of course).

The other main problem is the inconsistency of Cast experience between apps. Google built a standard for having an app use the Cast protocol to send media to a Cast target, but was implemented with dramatic irregularity. Every app has a different-looking interface for starting a Cast session, and even further differentiation in how ongoing controls are handled. The only thing that’s consistent between apps is the Cast button itself — everything after that point is fair game to be different and confusing. Things go even further when you talk about the differences between audio and video casting. Then you get back to the performance irregularities. Some apps, like Google’s own and Netflix, are really good about keeping the Cast session alive — others, like ESPN+ and NBC Sports (to name two of many), are horrendous at keeping that Cast session active.

chromecast-ultra-with-cables-back-of-tv.

The increased power of the latest Casting devices has somewhat eased the frustration. The newest Chromecast Ultra is powerful enough to swap between streams relatively quickly, as are the high-end Android TV boxes and even the latest TVs that have Cast built in. A Chromecast Ultra can re-acquire a stream and start playing far faster than a first-generation Chromecast, but it hasn’t eliminated the bugginess that causes it to drop that connection in the first place.

If you’re going to have the ‘it just works’ mentality, you need to make it just work.

Google is constantly evolving the Cast protocol to handle higher quality streams, enhanced two-way communication, and of course more consistency. However, it also needs to go back and look at the core tenets of the experience to really lock them down. The app-provided interface for Casting needs to be tightened up with some consistency, and the whole system needs to have more redundancy or checks or something so that it doesn’t so often lose its connection between the Cast sender and Cast receiver.

People complain about the lack of a true navigable interface for the Chromecast, and I honestly don’t have a problem in principle with not having one — that is, so long as the Cast system works as intended. As soon as the wheels start to come off, you’re left in a weird place of having no idea what’s wrong with the system, and that’s a bad user experience all around. If you’re going to stick with the “it just works” mentality, you need to make it just work.

What do you think of the Chromecast?

Do you have similar issues? Let us know in the comments below.

Chromecast

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  • Chromecast buyer’s guide: Which should you get?
  • Chromecast vs. Chromecast Ultra: Which should you buy?
  • Chromecast Audio: Everything you need to know
  • Chromecast Ultra vs. Roku
  • Join the discussion in our forums!

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B&H

24
Jul

How to turn off auto updates for games on PlayStation 4


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Not everyone wants games to update automatically, so here’s how to turn that feature off

Auto updates for games make life a lot more convenient when you don’t need to manually keep track of them, but a lot of people still would rather this feature be turned off completely. Whether it’s because a new update causes a game to unintentionally crash or you don’t want to go over your data cap, here’s how to turn off auto updates on PlayStation 4.

From the home screen (as seen above), navigate nearly all the way to the right to Settings, just before the Power options.

Then scroll all the way down to the bottom and choose System (NOT System Software Updates).

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Now choose Automatic Downloads.

Finally, uncheck the box next to Application Update Files.

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This will stop all automatic updates for games and apps. Once this is done you can turn off your PlayStation 4 or put it in Rest Mode. Updates should no longer download without your knowledge.

Updating manually

Now if you want to choose exactly when your games update and do it manually, go to your notifications, hit options on your controller, and then scroll to downloads. From here you can see what games and apps are installed and which have updates ready for them. You can then choose to update as you see fit.

Anything to add?

Did we forget something? Let us know in the comments below.

PlayStation 4

ps4-controllers.jpg

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

Amazon

24
Jul

HTC U12+ is receiving button-fixing update, and everything else you need to know


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This is HTC’s big flagship for 2018. Thinking about picking it up? Here’s what you should know!

HTC may not be that well-known in the U.S., but if you ever take some time to look at what the company’s kicking out, you’ll see that it knows how to make an excellent phone. There’s a reason it was chosen to create the first-ever Android device, after all!

HTC’s last two flagships, the 10 and U11, were both top-notch phones that flew under the radar for a lot of people. The same will likely be the case for the U12+, and should you decide to pick it up, this is what you can expect.

Latest HTC U12+ news

July 24, 2018 — The U12+’s buttons are getting fixed

Ffffffffffuuuuuuuuuuf i n a l l y . . pic.twitter.com/r43yzfskjz

— Alex Dobie (@alexdobie) July 24, 2018

The HTC U12 is receiving an update in Europe, a few weeks after the same one was released in parts of Asia, to fix the unreliable volume and power buttons on the phone’s frame. These buttons were largely the reason the phone was lambasted in our review, and a primary purchase concern for many people.

According to AC’s Alex Dobie, who has been using the phone over the past few weeks, the buttons are “noticeably improved.” There’s no word when the update will hit U.S. units, but we’ll keep an eye out for it.

We’ll be updating our review soon, but in the meantime, take a gander at what else it can do.

Read and watch our review!

The HTC U12+, when it was released, was a beautiful, feature-rich phone with one major drawback: its capacitive buttons were bad. And that’s being generous.

But in the vein of other 2018 flagships, the phone had other benefits, including one of the best cameras on the market.

Now that there’s an update to fix the phone’s button problems, we’ll be re-evaluating our review, but in the meantime, read up on the phone.

HTC U12+ review: Buttonless blunder

Take a gander at the specs

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The U12+ is HTC’s flagship phone for 2018, and as such, it’s equipped with some of the best tech around.

Between the blazing-fast Snapdragon 845, an impressive set of dual cameras, IP68 dust/water resistance, and a large 3,500 mAh battery, the U12+ has everything you could ask for in a 2018 flagship.

HTC U12+ specifications: Dual cameras, BoomSound, Edge Sense 2 for $800

HTC’s got three colors to choose from

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If you like to make sure your phone stands out from the crowd, HTC’s got you covered with the U12+.

The phone’s available in three colors, including Ceramic Black, Flame Red, and Translucent Blue.

Ceramic Black is the most subdued of the trio, looking more gray than anything else. However, if you want something that really sticks out, the color-changing Flame Red and see-through Translucent Blue will be right up your alley.

There’s no wireless charging despite the glass back

You might think the U12+ supports wireless charging thanks to its glass back, but similar to the OnePlus 6, wireless charging is nowhere to be seen.

Thankfully, HTC does offer Qualcomm QuickCharge 4.0 to help you refuel the U12+ in no time at all. We certainly would have liked to see wireless charging make an appearance, but c’est la vie.

A word on the U12+’s “buttons”

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The power button and volume rocker on smartphones haven’t really changed that much over the years, but for whatever reason, HTC decided to shake things up by removing physical buttons altogether and replace them with button-shaped nobs that don’t actually move at all.

Similar to the Force Touch trackpad on Apple’s recent MacBooks and the home button on the iPhone 7 and 8 series, putting force on the U12+’s “buttons” will trigger a vibration through the phone and perform the desired action — such as turning the screen off or changing the volume.

HTC says they made the change to help with the phone’s IP68 rating, but we came away less than impressed with their performance during our hands-on preview. Thankfully, there’s an update to fix some of the buttons’ most glaring problems.

How does the U12+ stack up against the competition?

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In a bubble, the HTC U12+ would easily be the best phone you could buy. However, the Android space is anything but.

We’ve seen a lot of excellent smartphones so far this year, and with prices creeping up all the time, it’s important you spend your money wisely on something that’s going to serve your needs as best as possible.

Here are the most recent phones we’ve put against the U12+:

HTC U12+ vs. Samsung Galaxy S9+: Which should you buy?

HTC U12+ vs. LG G7 ThinQ: Which should you buy?

Edge Sense is more powerful and customizable than ever before

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The U11 was the first gadget to tout HTC Edge Sense, allowing you to squeeze the phone to open apps, take pictures, and more.

With Edge Sense 2, HTC made using your phone while laying in bed less of a hassle.

That functionality makes a return on the U12+ in the form of Edge Sense 2, and as the name suggests, lets you do even more than you could on the U11.

Most notably, Edge Sense 2 allows you to trigger certain actions with other gestures instead of hard squeezes, such as light taps. On the U12+, you can double-tap the left or right side of the phone to shrink the UI down to a one-handed mode. Double-tap the right, the screen goes to the right. Double-tap the left, it goes to the left. That might not sound very impressive, but it should prove to be incredibly useful in day-to-day use.

Something else we’re excited about is a sub-feature of Edge Sense 2 called “Smart Rotate.” The sides of the phone can detect how you’re holding it, meaning that even if auto-rotate is on, the screen won’t flip horizontally by accident. If you’ve ever been frustrated by your phone’s UI flipping all over the place while trying to use it while you lie in bed, the U12+ just solved that problem once and for all.

The U12+ is expensive

There’s a lot to like about what HTC’s done with the U12+, but one aspect you may not be too keen about is the price.

If you’d like to own the U12+, you’ll need to cough up a hefty $799 in the U.S. for the model with 64GB storage. Want more room with 128GB? Get ready to pay $849.

HTC does offer 0% interest financing through its website to stretch that price over the course of 24 months, but even so, this is a phone that’s going to put a big dent in your wallet.

See at HTC

To make matters worse, you can’t buy it on any U.S. carrier

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The U12+ is being sold through HTC’s own website in the States, but that’s it. Unlike phones from Samsung, LG, and just about everyone else, you won’t find this thing in your local carrier store.

HTC fans or people that want the U12+ bad enough will be able to purchase it just fine, but that lacking carrier support means HTC isn’t getting the U12+ in front of eyes of potential customers that may not even know the phone exists.

Speaking of carriers, the U12+ works on AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon

On the plus side, folks that purchase the U12+ shouldn’t have any trouble getting it to work on the carrier of their choice.

The U12+ is compatible with AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and any MVNO that uses those carrier’s networks (such as Cricket Wireless, MetroPCS, etc.)

There’s no support for Sprint, however, so Big Yellow subscribers are going to have to sit this one out.

Updated July 2018: This guide has been updated to reflect an important update for the U12’s buttons.

24
Jul

Amazon Prime Video finally will have Dolby Atmos content on Aug. 31


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Whether you’re actually ready for it is another matter.

You soon will be able to watch Amazon Prime Video in 4K resolution and listen to it with Dolby Atmos. That may sound strange, given that the Amazon Fire TV 4K released in 2017 was Atmos-ready from the start. So, too, is the newer Fire TV Cube. But here’s the thing — Amazon didn’t actually have any content that supported Atmos.

That apparently will change starting with the new Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, which premieres on Aug. 31. Dolby itself is connecting the dots on its website, and Techradar apparently got an Amazon rep on record confirming things.

What is Dolby Atmos and why should you care? Think of it like this: Instead of speakers being positioned around you and shooting sound in a linear direction — left, right, center, rear — aimed toward the center and the person watching the show, Atmos instead creates “objections.” Picture points in space where sound will be focused, rather than just sound coming from a general direction.

The catch to all this? You’ll need a sound system that supports Atmos. And we’re still very much in the early days of that.

But, still, this is a big leap for for Amazon, and one we’re very much looking forward to.

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24
Jul

Best Chrome apps to use with a stylus pen


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Whether your doodling or writing up notes, the right app can make your pen experience so much better.

While styli are fun for doodling, there are also some serious productivity cases for using a pen on your gadget. You can draw diagrams, write out phone numbers, or just jot down a note, which may be faster or easier with a pen than it would with a keyboard. While not every Chromebook includes a pen or digitizer, there are plenty to choose from if you desire.

Here are the best Chrome apps to use with a pen!

  • The keyboard
  • Google Keep
  • Squid
  • Adobe Fill & Sign
  • OneNote
  • Infinite Painter
  • Brain it On

The keyboard

The software keyboard on Chromebooks supports swipe typing, so you can swipe away with your pen and have the keyboard automatically correct your input. The keyboard isn’t officially the same Gboard as it is on Android (yet), but it’s close enough and swiping is just as accurate as it is on your phone. It won’t be as quick as typing on the keyboard, but it’s plenty fast enough if you want to stay in tablet mode.

Google Keep

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Google Keep’s website and Android application both support pen input. You can doodle superhero logos, write phone numbers, or do anything you’d want to with a pen. Even on the website, writing is smooth and lag free. Because Keep synchronizes with your Google account, you’ll be able to open up your drawings on any of your Android or iOS devices, as well as opening the Keep website on another device.

Download: Google Keep (Free)

Squid

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If you work with a lot of PDFs — or just want more note-taking features than Keep provides — Squid is the option for you. It existed on Android phones long before Android apps came to Chromebooks, and the Squid team worked closely with Google to optimize for the Chromebooks’ larger screens.

That hard work paid off: Squid runs wonderfully on Chrome OS, and if you’re a frequent pen user you’ll come to love it. It has a special trick that sets it apart from other note-taking apps: you can draw with the pen, and erase with your finger. You can also Cast a note to a Miracast- or Chromecast-compatible display. Finally, you can back your notes up to cloud storage so you never lose them. You get some basic features like Casting, local backups and more for free, but the premium tier is only $1 per month or $10 per year.

Download: Squid (free, in-app purchases)

Adobe Fill & Sign

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For better or worse, Adobe pretty much owns the corporate market for filling out PDFs. If your enterprise has been using Adobe Reader forms forever, you’ll have a much easier time filling those forms out with an official Adobe application. Fill and Sign lets you do just that, and you can even take a picture of a paper form, fill that form out on your Chromebook, and email the completed form to wherever it needs to go. You get autocomplete as well to quickly fill in your name, address and other common details. Another great time-saving feature is that it saves your signature, so you don’t need to draw it out for each and every form.

Download: Adobe Fill & Sign (free)

OneNote

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If you use more of Microsoft’s software than Google’s, that’s okay, we still love you. Microsoft still loves you too, since you can use almost all of its services on Android and Chrome OS. OneNote integrates right alongside the rest of your Office 365 applications, and notes you take are automatically backed up to your OneDrive storage. You can easily paste images into your notes, markup said images, or just create diagrams of your own. You can also share your notebook with anyone, and collaborate on the same note as someone else.

Download: OneNote (free)

Infinite Painter

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Relaxation is a fundamental part of letting your mind rest when you’re not working, and drawing can be very therapeutic. While most of the other apps will let you draw, they aren’t really designed for complex pieces of artwork. For that, you’ll want something like Infinite Painter. You can import PSD layers from Photoshop, export as JPG, PNG, PSD or ZIP files, use over 80 preset brushes, create your own brushes, use built-in tools for filling, gradients, and more. Infinite Painter will look familiar to Pixelbook owners since it’s installed out of the box. If it’s excellent enough for Google to include in the flagship Chromebook, it’s excellent enough for you to take a look at. Infinite Painter is free for the first seven days, then a cool $5.99 afterward.

Download: Infinite Painter (free, in-app purchases)

Brain it On

Another great way to unwind is with some games. There aren’t too many pen-optimized games out there, but Brain it On works well. The basic premise is this: you draw shapes with your stylus (or finger, if you want to be a hater) to make pieces move and solve puzzles. It doesn’t take long to learn the game’s physics, and the game gets addicting quickly. It takes some creativity to solve some of these puzzles, so this would be a great game for your kids as well. The game itself is free with ads, but there’s an in-app purchase to remove the advertisements.

Download: Brain it On (free, in-app purchases)

What say you?

Which apps do you use with a pen on your Chromebook? Let us know down below!

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24
Jul

Nomad fixes Tesla 3’s obvious omission with wireless charging deck


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Tesla may be the king of electric cars, but they forgot to put in a wireless charger. Nomad fixes that!

Nomad has just launched a fancy new wireless charging deck specifically designed for the Tesla. It’s called the Tesla Wireless Charger – Model 3 Edition and it’s a dock that connects to the Model 3’s two USB-A port so you can wirelessly charge your device while you’re on the road.

See at Nomad

It is designed to fit into the Tesla 3’s charging dash and has an internal 6000 mAh battery to send fast charging of 1A to 2A to supported devices.

The powerful dual-charging pad supports 7.5 w output and yes, it can juice up two devices at the same time. How is that possible? It connects to both of the Tesla 3’s USB-A ports to beef up its charging capabilities.

The anti-slip rubber mat, combined with raised support dividers, will keep your phone from sliding around while its tucked away in the charging compartment.

It’s also got some fancy LED status lights built right into it. If your phone is charging, the light will glow amber. If it’s fully charged, it’ll be white. You don’t have to wake your phone to see if it’s ready for use.

I don’t own a Tesla but if I did, I’d love to have a wireless charging deck designed to look like it came with the car.

Nomad’s Tesla Wireless Charger – Model 3 Edition is regularly priced at $149.95, but you can preorder one now with an estimated shipping date of September 1 for $20 off at $129.95.

See at Nomad

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