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Aug

4 reasons I want a Lenovo Smart Display over a Google Home


The Google Home has finally met its match.

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Ever since Google first announced its Smart Display platform back at CES in January, I’ve been more than eager to get my hands on one to experience the future of living with the Google Assistant in my home. I use my Google Home and Home Mini every day for a variety of things, and as much as I love them, the idea of essentially having one with a screen slapped on top sounds like a dream come true.

There are a few Smart Displays that have been announced, but so far, the one that’s peeked my interest the most is Lenovo’s.

The Lenovo Smart Display is the very first one to hit the market, and even though it’s a bit more expensive and has a few kinks to work out compared to the tried and true Google Home, there are a few reasons why I’d like to have it over Google’s iconic speaker.

Video support

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The screen on the Lenovo Smart Display is obviously the biggest draw to it over the Google Home, and one of the reasons I’m most excited for this new addition is that it means I’ll have a new screen for watching videos on.

Like most people, I spend a lot of my time in the kitchen. Whether I’m cooking dinner, unloading the dishwasher, or scrubbing down the counters, there’s a lot of time spent in that room of my apartment. I typically play a YouTube video on my phone for some background noise while going about these tasks, and while that’s fine, it means having to move my phone around the kitchen with me so I can hear it and glance at what’s on its screen.

With the Lenovo Smart Display, I’ll be able to just ask the Google Assistant to play a YouTube video and have it showcased on a large 10.1-inch display with speakers that are far better than what’s on my OnePlus 6.

I don’t think I’ll be sitting down around a Smart Display anytime soon to watch full-length movies, but for those times when I want something to glance at every now and then while doing chores or preparing dinner for the night, I’m ecstatic to have something that’s been designed with that sort of use in mind.

Deeper control of apps/services

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Video support is one feature the Lenovo Smart Displays offer that’s completely nonexistent on the Google Home, but along with charting unexplored frontiers, the use of a screen on Lenovo’s machine also allows for richer experiences that are already available with audio-only Assistant speakers.

For example, I can talk to my Google Home and ask it to dim my Hue Lights or change the temperature with a Nest thermostat all day long. The same exact thing can be done with the Lenovo Smart Display, but after that first command is given, you’ve got access to on-screen controls to fine-tune your lights or AC even more.

The Lenovo Smart Display is taking existing Google Home features and making them ten-times better.

Another way this can come in handy is with music. With the Lenovo Smart Display, you can actually browse through various playlists and decide which one you’d like without having to pick something specifically with just your voice. Once a song is playing, you can quickly glance at the screen to see what it’s called, fast forward, or see how much time is left with that particular track.

The Google Home can read aloud recipes, but with the Lenovo Smart Display, you get visual step-by-step directions and pictures of the dish you’re making to make the experience even more helpful. You can set timers on Google Home without any trouble, but on the Lenovo Smart Display, watch the seconds tick by without having to constantly ask “Hey, Google, how much time if left on my timer.”

You get my point.

A lot of what the Lenovo Smart Display does you can already do on Google Home, but because of the screen, the way you interact with these commands/questions is much more useful and seamless compared to an audio-only experience.

It’s a digital photo frame for the modern era

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Along with all of the smart home control, powerful speakers, and everything else the Lenovo Smart Display has to offer, it’s also the best digital picture frame you can buy in 2018.

Digital picture frames have been around for years, but whether it was due to low-resolution screens, huge bezels, wonky controls, etc., the execution of them has always left something to be desired. The Lenovo Smart Display fixes all of that.

The HD or Full HD panels on the 8-inch and 10.1-inch models, respectively, look great, the bezels aren’t overly large, and best of all, your pictures are seamlessly added through your Google Photos account.

In addition to being able to pull up specific photos with just your voice, you can also set certain albums/pictures to regularly cycle through to ensure you’ve always got a memory to look at when walking by your Smart Display. And, since these are all pulled in from the cloud, you don’t have to mess with loading photos on an SD card.

The price is right

Last but certainly not least, the Lenovo Smart Display absolutely kills it when it comes to price.

For the 8-inch model, you’ll need to hand over just $199. On its own, that’s already a good price. When you compare it to the Google Home and realize it’s just $50 more than Google’s screenless-speaker and $30 less than the Echo Show, it becomes an even better deal.

$199 is the perfect entry price for a product like this.

The larger 10.1-inch variant is more expensive at $249, but it’s still a much better purchase than the Echo Show despite the $20 price increase.

The 10.1-inch screen is certainly nice to have, but for most people, the $199 model offers the same experience in a more compact form factor. And, for technically less than $200, I can see a lot of folks picking this up as a Christmas present come the holiday season this year.

Why do you want the Lenovo Smart Display?

Those are the reasons why I think the Lenovo Smart Display is a better purchase over the Google Home, but what about you? Are you excited for the Smart Display future or are you perfectly happy not having a screen for the Google Assistant? Let me know in the comments below!

See at Best Buy

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1
Aug

Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 rumors: Release date, specs, price, and features!


This will probably be the Android tablet to buy in 2018.

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Android tablets are pretty much MIA in 2018. Huawei’s got a few different models to check out and Amazon’s still pushing its Fire lineup, but that’s about it.

Within the next couple of months or so, however, Samsung will once again throw its hat in this ring with the Galaxy Tab S4 — a successor to last year’s Galaxy Tab S3. Here’s what we know about the device so far!

The latest Galaxy Tab S4 news

August 1, 2018 — Best Buy listing confirms Tab S4 specs and $650 starting price

The motherload has arrived! It’s still unclear when exactly the Tab S4 will be announced/launched, but in the meantime, Best Buy’s accidentally published its official product page for the tablet with full pricing and spec info.

Around front, you’ll find a 10.5-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 2560 x 1600. The Snapdragon 835 powers the Tab S4 along with 4GB RAM, and a 7,300 mAh battery should provide for plenty of juice.

Other specs include a USB-C port, 3.5mm headphone jack, Android 8.0 Oreo, microSD support, 13MP rear camera, and an 8MP selfie camera. Samsung’s S Pen is included with the Tab S4 and, thanks to “far-field mics”, Best Buy’s listing notes that you’ll be able to “control your Tab S4 from a distance with Google Assistant.” There’s also mention of a DeX desktop interface that appears to run directly on the Tab S4’s screen when using the official keyboard cover.

The Galaxy Tab S4 will have a starting price of $649.99 for the model with 64GB of internal storage, and if you step up to 256GB, you’ll need to cough up $749.99.

July 17, 2018 — Snapdragon 835, 10.5-inch 16:10 display, and more revealed in full spec leak

If you’ve been waiting for a huge Galaxy Tab S4 spec dump, today’s your lucky day.

The folks at SamMobile recently got their hands on a full specification lowdown for the tablet, and as we were expecting, this will be one of the most powerful Android tablets you can buy in 2018.

Starting first with the display, the Tab S4 will have a 10.5-inch Super AMOLED panel with a 16:10 aspect ratio and 2560 x 1600 resolution. Under the hood is the Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB RAM, 64GB of storage, and a 7,300 mAh battery.

Other specs include Bluetooth 5.0, 13MP rear camera, 8MP front camera, Samsung DeX support, and Android 8.1 Oreo.

All the big details

What specs are we anticipating?

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab tablets typically come equipped with top-of-the-line specifications, and with the tab S4, that’s no different.

The below specs are what we’re anticipating thanks to the rumor mill and Best Buy’s product page that went up ahead of the tablet’s launch, and while Samsung has confirmed none of them, we’re reasonably sure this is what we’ll be seeing when the Tab S4 is announced.

Dimensions 9.81-inches tall 6.47-inches wide 0.28-inches thick 17-ounce weight
Operating system Android 8.0 Oreo
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
Screen 10.5-inch 2560 x 1600 Super AMOLED panel 16:10 aspect ratio
RAM 4GB LPDDR4X
Storage 64GB or 256 GB Expandable via microSD card
Cameras 13MP rear 8MP front
Battery 7,300 mAh
Connectivity USB Type-C 3.5mm headphone jack Bluetooth 5.0 Wi-Fi 802.11 ac
Security Iris scanning

When will the Galaxy Tab S4 be released?

Similar to the upcoming Galaxy Watch, there are two possibilities as to when we’ll get our first official look at the Galaxy Tab S4.

Samsung’s holding an event on August 9 to announce the Note 9, and while there’s a chance we could see the Tab S4 here, I bet that Samsung will keep this event exclusive for Note 9 talk.

Instead, I think it’s more likely that the Tab S4 will be unveiled during IFA. This is also where Samsung will probably announce the Galaxy Watch and the trade show’s scheduled to take place between August 31 and September 5.

How much will it cost?

According to the Best Buy product page mentioned above, the Galaxy Tab S4 will have a starting price of $649.99 for the base model with 64GB of internal storage.

If you’d like, you can step up to the 256GB variant for $749.99.

Updated August 1, 2018: Updated specs and pricing sections with the latest available info.

1
Aug

Nerf Laser Ops Pro review: Laser Tag, AR, and Nerf gloriously combined


This is my blaster. There are many like it, but this one has my phone mounted on the barrel.

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When you hear the name Nerf, there’s only a couple of things that come to mind. Most of the time, it means foam projectiles and lots of giggling from everyone involved. Sometimes it also means swords and axes and shields clashing in various forms of themed combat. Last week, a different experience with the Nerf branding on it crossed my desk. Laser Tag, in packages that look and feel just like many of the classic Nerf blaster I’ve used all my life. And perhaps coolest of all, an Augmented Reality add-on which lets you use your phone for both solo and multiplayer gameplay.

It couldn’t be more clear these were not average Nerf toys, which is exciting. Here’s a quick look at the new Alphapoint ad Deltaburst blasters from Nerf.

Nerf Laser Ops Pro



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Price: $45

Bottom line: It’s Nerf, but laser tag. And Augmented Reality. There’s a lot to like here.

The Good

  • Look and feel just like Nerf blasters
  • Multiple blaster options at decent prices
  • Laser Tag system works great
  • One app can run multiple blasters

The Bad

  • Deltaburst blaster is LOUD
  • AR is kind of basic
  • Gummy phone strap gets gross FAST

See at Amazon

Nerf Laser Ops Pro: What I like

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Out of the box, Nerf offers you either a 2-pack of single-hand blasters or a single larger two-handed blaster, dubbed Alphapoint and Deltaburst respectively. These are simple Laser Tag blasters, with emitters in the barrel and receivers on the top. There’s no chest piece to be worn; everything is contained within the blaster itself. With the Alphapoint blasters, as soon as you drop four AA batteries in you’re ready to start playing. Powering the blasters up lets you choose between the red team or the blue team, and once sides have been chosen you play until someone loses. Simple, straightforward gameplay enhanced by a light up display on the back of the blaster. You have a simple health and ammo indicator. When you’re running low on ammo, there’s a button under the trigger you can press with your hand or slam dramatically against another surface and suddenly you have more energy to blast at your opponent.

Nerf has done a great job making sure the Laser Ops Pro blasters work basically everywhere.

Deltaburst is a little more advanced. It has an LCD screen on the back to give you specific numeric ammo count, as well as more detailed information for your remaining health. It’s also not a single shot like the Alphapoint’s, but instead defaults to a three-round burst every time you pull the trigger. To help simulate this semi-automatic fire, there’s a bolt in the back of the blaster that slams back and forth three times with lots of noise and vibration. The reload button for this blaster is located closer to the front but also positioned for dramatic-looking reload sequences when necessary. While this is a larger blaster, it works just as well as the Alphapoint blasters indoor and outdoor. Which is to say, they all work surprisingly well in both environments.

While it’s easy to jump into a game and just play, the Laser Ops Pro blasters are also designed to pair with a phone app to deliver more elaborate experiences. Through the app, players can gain experience and level up just like a console game. Experience earns you upgrades like more ammo per reload or more health as you continue to play, giving your blaster a competitive advantage as long as your phone is attached. Each kit comes with an armband to mount the phone to your forearm, so you can glance down as you play with friends, but the Deltaburst kit also comes with a mount on the barrel of the blaster. While it’s certainly possible to have the phone mounted here for multiplayer gameplay, doing so partially covers the receiver and gives you a bit of an unfair advantage. Instead, you use this mount for single-player gameplay.

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The Nerf app single player mode is an Augmented Reality gallery shooter. Wave after wave of spaceships fly towards you through the display on the phone, and you take them out until you eventually fail. As you do this, you gain the same kind of experience you gain in multiplayer combat. It’s a simple AR game, but as you go deeper into the waves proves to be an impressive challenge. And if you’re playing with friends on a regular basis, a few rounds of this mode will earn you plenty of experience to gain a serious advantage in multiplayer combat.

Nerf Laser Ops Pro: What I don’t like

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Nerf has done a great job making sure the Laser Ops Pro blasters work basically everywhere, but by design, I am less likely to want to use them indoors. The Deltaburst blaster, in particular, is always loud, no matter what. The plastic bolt action is terribly loud and there’s no way to turn it off. The Alphapoint blasters don’t have this feature and aren’t as uncomfortable to use indoors, but they also lack the detailed data readout on the back display and don’t come with the single-player mount for the AR phone game.

After a few days of use, this phone mount thing looks like those gumball machine sticky hands every parent on the planet secretly hates.

The AR game itself is also very basic. It’s clear none of the more advanced AR tools are being used for depth management or occlusion detection, so if you’re in a smaller room the illusion is broken with relative ease. On the one hand, adding these tools would have increased the complexity of the app and made it more difficult for younger users to just pick up and use. On the other hand, added realism keeps people playing for longer. It would be cool to see Nerf continue to evolve this feature.

I’m also not thrilled about the mechanism used to strap the phone down to the wrist or the blaster. It’s a sticky, rubbery material that picks up dust and hair from everything it touches. The stretchy material is a good choice for making sure you can put any kind of phone in this set up to ensure it is held firmly in place, but there’s very little you can do to keep this thing clean. After a few days of use, this phone mount thing looks like those gumball machine sticky hands every parent on the planet secretly hates.

Nerf Laser Ops Pro: Should you buy it?

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Overall, I’m pretty excited to see Nerf step into the Laser Tag world with a simple set of blasters that anyone can use and enjoy. And the blasters are priced great. The $45 Alphapoint kit lets you get started for just over $20 per blaster, and the $50 Deltaburst blaster gives people who want a larger experience something to be excited about. But most important of all, these blasters grow and change as you continue playing thanks to the app. I’m able to play two-on-one matches with my kids with the simple set up, and because they have taken the time to upgrade through the app, I’m at a huge disadvantage even though I technically have superior firepower. The dynamic is constantly changing, making these more than simple toys.

If you’re a fan of Laser Tag at all, these are well worth taking a look at.

See at Amazon

1
Aug

Facebook and Instagram apps updated with tools to help you use them less


You can set usage limits, mute notifications, and more.

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Similar to what we’ve seen from Google and Apple over the last couple months, Facebook just announced new tools coming to the Facebook and Instagram apps that are designed to help you use them less.

Each app is getting a new usage page that aims to make you more self-aware of how much time you’re spending on them. The main page shows how much time you’ve spent on Facebook/Instagram over the last week, as well as your daily average for the past seven days.

Below the graph, you’ll find a couple buttons to help you reduce your usage of the apps.

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The first, called “Set Daily Reminder”, will allow you to set a limit for how long you want to use either app during a single day. Once you hit that limit, you’ll get a notification letting you know you’ve reached your allotted time. There’s nothing stopping you from swiping this away and continuing to look at endless corgi pictures, but if you’ve got enough self-control, it could be the reminder you need to put the phone down and do something else with the rest of your day.

Lastly, you can also use this page to mute any and all push notifications for 15 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, 4 hours, or 8 hours.

In Facebook, you can access these features by going to Settings and tapping on the new “Your Time on Facebook” tab. In Instagram, go to Settings and then “Your Activity.”

These tools are rolling out to both apps today and should be available for all users soon.

The Android P feature I’m most excited for will actually help me use my phone less

1
Aug

Best racing games for Android


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Speed your way past the competition in these outstanding racers for Android!

We’ve rounded up the best racing games found in the Google Play Store. With so many options to choose from, we’ve compiled a list that covers a whole slew of sub-genres — from stylized arcade racing to highly realistic racing sims — so no matter your preference, you should find an outstanding game that’s right for you. Let’s hit the road!

  • Asphalt 9: Airborne
  • Riptide GP: Renegade
  • Beach Buggy Blitz
  • Horizon Chase: World Tour
  • Red Bull Air Race The Game
  • Repulze
  • Colin McRae Rally
  • Thumb Drift
  • Real Racing 3
  • Fast & Furious Legacy
  • Death Rally
  • CSR Racing

Asphalt 9: Legends

Asphalt 9: Legends is the latest entry in one of the most popular racing game available in the Google Play Store. It skips all pretensions of realism and provides an over-the-top, high-octane game with all the fixings. Players can work (or pay) their way through the career mode to unlock new rides or upgrade the ones they have. You can race against online opponents in eight car races that are wild and fast.

The controls default to “TouchDrive,” which allows you to focus on shifting lanes to hit specific jumps or routes, drifting and using nitro while the game itself handles your acceleration and steering. There are other control options available including on-screen controls and tilt-steering, but honestly, you’re best off playing with TouchDrive on to start until you get a handle on the game.

The incredibly polished graphics and outstanding soundtrack make Asphalt 9 an adrenaline trip you won’t soon forget.

Download Asphalt 9: Legends (Free w/IAPs)

Riptide GP: Renegade

Riptide GP: Renegade is the latest and greatest in futuristic jet ski racing franchise on Android. Harkening back to memories of games like Jet Moto or Wave Race 64, Riptide GP: Renegade features a story-driven career mode alongside options to run a quick race or battle against online opponents. The graphics are top notch, with water and motion blur effects, giving the game a good sense of speed.

It uses tilt-steering to control your hydro jet, which is less than ideal, but Bluetooth gamepads are also supported and make things smoother. Speaking of controls, one key aspect of the game is pulling off insane stunts, which are easy to do with quick swipes. There’s plenty to unlock and upgrade as you play through the career mode, and the AI is top notch, providing a real challenge compared to other racing games for Android. You’ll need a pretty good phone to handle the graphics and gameplay, and also plays great on the NVIDIA Shield tablet and Android TV box.

If you’re looking for some tips before diving in, check out our Beginner’s Guide for Riptide GP: Renegade.

Download Riptide GP: Renegade ($2.99)

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Beach Buggy Racing

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Beach Buggy Racing is the sequel to Beach Buggy Blitz and is another easy-going racing game where players cruise along the coast of a tropical beach, trying to hit progressive checkpoints before the timer runs out. Gathering coins along the way helps fund your buggy upgrades, but make sure to avoid the various huts, animals, and fellow racers strewn about the course — impacts will slow you down. The graphics are colorful and smooth, including some nice water, dust, and lighting effects, and there are multiple control options available including support for Bluetooth controllers.

Hop into Beach Buggy Racing if you’re looking for something light and kid-friendly.

Download Beach Buggy Racing (Free w/Ads, IAPs)

Horizon Chase – World Tour

Horizon Chase is a fun retro-style racer with gameplay reminiscent of the of the classic 80s arcade racer Pole Position. Featuring bright and colorful retro graphics over 70 tracks spanning 32 cities, there’s plenty of fun to be had here. You start each race from the back of a 20 car pack and must weave your way past your opponents to take the crown. Keep winning to upgrade and unlock up 16 available cars.

You get to play the San Francisco tracks but then must pay to unlock the full game. Given how beautiful and fun this game is, we bet you will.

Download Horizon Chase: World Tour (Free, $0.99 to unlock full game)

Red Bull Air Race 2: the Mobile Game

Red Bull Air Race 2 is the latest mobile game that recreates the real-life air races that Red Bull holds around the world. Jump behind the controls of your very own plane as you start down your career path to becoming a Master Class pilot. Courses are based on their real-life counterparts and span the globe.

Whether you’re a fan of the race series, or just want to live the dream of being a pilot, this game is legit.

Download Red Bull Air Race The Game (Free w/IAPs)

Repulze

Repulze is proof that not all great racing games require wheels. If you’re a fan of the F-Zero or Wipeout franchises, you’ll love Repulze. Race through 24 winding, gravity-defying tracks in experimental hovercrafts. Another thing that sets Repulze apart from other games is the way you collect turbo boosts. Based on your craft’s polarity, you either aim to go through green or red gates, which unlock boosts. And the whole game is wrapped up in an overarching storyline about the evil corporation controlling everything from the shadows.

Repulze is a fantastic, futuristic racer that’s definitely worth the $0.99 price tag.

Download Repulze ($0.99)

Colin McRae Rally

I recently rediscovered the port of this classic PC game from way back in 1998. Rally car racing is all about whipping your car down gravel and dirt roads while trying to set the fasted time on the course. This offline racer is a great option if you’re less interested in street racing games.

The controls are tight with on-screen and motion-based options available, and the game has a good grasp on real-life physics, which is crucial for rally racing. You’ll need to learn how to follow the on-screen and audio directions given by your co-driver so that you keep your car on the road and avoid smashing into trees. If you do, your car will take damage, which stacks up quick when you’re trying to compete for a championship. There are many tracks to unlock, and all the iconic rally car brands are included.

Despite the lengthy loading times, this is still the best rally car game you’ll find on Android.

Download Colin McRae Rally ($0.99)

Thumb Drift – Furious Racing

Want to race, but only have one hand free? Thumb Drift is the perfect game for you! Featuring charming graphics and a simple premise, your goal is to drift sideways through four increasingly challenging courses. With over 70 cars to buy via in-app purchases, or unlock randomly using coins collected on the track, there are hours of mindless fun to be had here.

Thumb Drift is the casual, endless racer you’ve been waiting for.

Download Thumb Drift (free)

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Real Racing 3




Real Racing 3 is bound to keep gearheads entertained. It puts real brand-name cars on real-world tracks – hence the name. It features an interesting asynchronous multiplayer system whereby lap times are recorded from your friends, and you race against a bot that’s driving at that time. Of course, you can bump them out and affect their track time, and there’s a single-player career worth playing through too. Over time, players earn new cars and can upgrade various mechanical bits with their winnings, but make sure you take it easy on your car — you’ll have to keep your ride in good condition to avoid repair costs.

Real Racing 3 is gorgeous, and the white-knuckled racing action will keep you coming back for more.

Download Real Racing 3 (Free)

Fast & Furious Legacy

Fast & Furious Legacy is a racing game based on the popular action movies. The game features a good mix of different races and missions. Hit the nitro and blast past your opponents in street races, drag races, drift races. Winnings are spent on upgrading rides to take on bigger and badder challenges as you progress through the story mode, featuring all your favorite characters from the film franchise.

Fast & Furious Legacy offers bite-sized racing with varied gameplay and beautiful graphics.

Download Fast & Furious Legacy (Free)

Death Rally

Death Rally is a gritty, combat-heavy top-down racing title. Players deck out their ride with all manner of Mad Max-style weaponry and eliminate competitors in races and straight-up death matches. Weapon parts litter every battlefield, as well as cash bonuses and nitro speed boosts. The nice thing about Death Rally is that even if you don’t place first in a race, you can still walk away with a fair bit of cash just from blowing up opponents.

Death Rally is a great title for those looking to unload a bit of road rage.



Download Death Rally (Free)

CSR Racing



CSR Racing is a clean-cut drag racing game. Players needn’t worry about steering — all you have to do is perfectly time your gear changes. Indicators tell when to make your next shift, and assuming your timing is up to snuff and your ride is amply upgraded, you should pull across the finish line before your opponent, and earn some winnings. Premium currency can be used to buy high-end cars, while the standard currency can be used to buy the others, as well as upgrade specific parts such as the gearbox, engine, intake, and body.



CSR Racing boils down the racing experience to pure twitch reflexes.

Download CSR Racing (Free)

Your turn

What’s your go-to racing game of choice? Let us know in the comments!

Update July 2018: Updated our list for 2018 with Asphalt 9, Beach Buggy Racing, and Red Bull Air Race 2.

Android Gaming

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  • Best Android games
  • Best free Android games
  • Best games with no in-app purchases
  • Best action games for Android
  • Best RPGs for Android
  • All the Android gaming news!

1
Aug

Amazon Prime Exclusive Phones: Everything you need to know


Prime Exclusive Phones consist of quality handsets at discounted prices — exclusively for Amazon Prime subscribers.

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It’s hard to keep track of all the perks that come with an Amazon Prime membership, but if you’re an Android fan, one of the best ones is easily Amazon’s Prime Exclusive Phones.

Prime Exclusive Phones are sold exclusively to Amazon Prime members, and this program allows you to purchase quality phones from LG, Motorola, and others at discounted rates. Here’s everything you need to know!

The latest Prime Exclusive news

August 1, 2018 — LG Stylo 4 now available for $249.99

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For folks that are in the market for a stylus-equipped Android phone but don’t want to shell out $700-$900 for the upcoming Galaxy Note 9, LG’s got a solid alternative with its Stylo 4.

Launching as a rebranded version of the Q Stylus that was announced in early June, the Stylo 4 is equipped with a 6.2-inch 18:9 display with a 2160 x 1080 resolution. There’s a 13MP camera on the back, 5MP wide-angle camera up front, and a 3,300 mAh battery that’s charged via USB Type-C.

Also included is the Snapdragon 450, 3GB RAM, 32GB of expandable storage (up to 2TB), Android 8.1 Oreo, and a stylus that can be housed inside the Stylo 4 when you aren’t using it.

The LG Stylo 4 is available through the Prime Exclusive program right now for just $249.99 ($50 off its MSRP of $299.99)

See at Amazon

June 21, 2018 — Moto Z3 Play and Moto G6 Play are now in the Prime Exclusive lineup

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The Moto Z3 Play is a solid upgrade to last year’s Z2 Play, but the $499 retail price doesn’t really make it stand out in this segment. Thankfully, Amazon is now making the Z3 Play available via its Prime Exclusive lineup, knocking $50 off the price of the device. The Prime variant of the Z3 Play retails for $449, and is now up for sale for Prime subscribers.

The Z3 Play offers a 6.0-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED screen, Snapdragon 636, dual 12MP + 5MP cameras at the back, 8MP front shooter, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of internal memory, microSD slot, and a 3000mAh battery. Motorola is bundling a Moto Power Pack with every unit for free, with the Moto Mod offering a 2200mAh battery capacity.

And for a limited time, Amazon will throw in a Moto Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa for free with every purchase of the Moto Z3 Play. The Moto Mod by itself retails for $149, so combine that with the $50 discount and the Prime variant of the Moto Z3 Play is a pretty great deal.

Prime members can now pick up the Moto Z3 Play from Amazon, with the phone set for an official release on June 29.

See at Amazon

As for the Moto G6 Play, it is the more affordable variant of the Moto G6, and Prime members can get their hands on the device for $189, $10 off its retail price.

As a refresher, the Moto G6 Play features a 5.7-inch HD+ 18:9 panel, and is powered by the Snapdragon 427. You also get 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, a microSD slot, 13MP rear camera, 5MP front camera, and a massive 4000mAh battery.

Both phones come with a host of Amazon apps pre-installed, including the Amazon Widget, Amazon Shopping, and Amazon Alexa. You’ll also be able to set Alexa as the default voice assistant on either device should you wish to do so.

See at Amazon

All the big details

What phones are available?

Amazon’s list of Prime Exclusive Phones is always changing, and as it does, we’ll be updating this list to reflect the most current lineup. As it stands right now, these are the phones you can get through the Prime Exclusive program —

  • LG G6+ ($519.99)
  • LG G6 ($419.99)
  • LG Stylo 4 ($249.99)
  • LG Q6 ($189.99)
  • LG K30 ($139.99)
  • LG X Charge ($169.99)
  • Moto E4 ($119.99)
  • Moto X4 ($279.99)
  • Moto G5 Plus ($204.99)
  • Moto G6 ($234.99)
  • Moto G6 Play ($189)
  • Moto Z3 Play ($449)

Can anyone buy the phones?

Nope.

In order to purchase Prime Exclusive Phones, you’ll need to have an active subscription to Amazon Prime.

Amazon Prime costs $119 for 12 months or $39 for 3 months, and along with access to these phones, you also get free two-day shipping, access to shows/movies on Prime Video, free Kindle e-books, and much, much more.

How are they so much cheaper?

Prime Exclusive Phones are considerably cheaper than their non-Prime counterparts, but how can this be?

No matter which one you choose, all Prime Exclusive Phones come with pre-installed Amazon apps, including Amazon Shopping, Prime Video, Amazon Kindle, Amazon Music, etc.

There used to be advertisements on the lock screen of every Prime Exclusive phone, too, but Amazon changed this is February by simply kicking the price up of all its phones by $20 and removed the ads.

Amazon Echo vs. Dot vs. Tap vs. Spot vs. Show: Which should you buy?

Updated August 1, 2018 — Add the LG Stylo 4 to the list!

1
Aug

Give your Chromebook the ventilation it needs with this AmazonBasics stand for $12


Simple but effective.

The AmazonBasics ventilated laptop stand is down to $12.22, which is the lowest price we’ve ever seen. This stand normally sells for around $20 and hasn’t dropped below $16 in more than seven months.

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This laptop stand features a metal-mesh platform which draws heat away from your laptop and allows for ventilation, keeping your laptop cooler while in use. Its height is adjustable giving you a lot of viewing options, and it also features a cord organizer on the back which will seriously help tidy up your desk. This product comes with a one-year limited warranty and has 4.5 stars on Amazon with 2,151 user reviews.

See on Amazon

1
Aug

You probably shouldn’t buy the Oppo Find X yet — but not for the reasons you think


The Oppo Find X is the most interesting Android smartphone of the year thus far, thanks entirely to its one-of-a-kind hardware. As you’ve no doubt already heard, though, that hardware makes it a more fragile phone than the competition, with a motorized camera module that seems fated to eventual failure. To quote the great Montgomery Scott, “The more they overtake the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain.”

That’s not the reason you shouldn’t buy it, though. To me, carrying a phone as beautiful and unique as the Oppo Find X is worth the durability tradeoff. After all, not every device is meant to hold up to the rigors of carelessness, and you’ve got to expect some compromises in a device made to stand out in 2018. However well-founded they may be, those durability concerns obscure what I think is the more pressing problem with the Oppo Find X: ColorOS. Oppo’s custom Android interface insists upon itself so aggressively that it actively prevents the user from installing a custom launcher. To be clear, I didn’t expect a cakewalk when trying to adapt an overseas smartphone for North American use – but this is the first Android phone in memory that actively prevents the user from enjoying one of the key benefits of Android: the ability to customize the interface to suit their needs. Oppo tells me a software update is due to fix some of the bugs complained of in the above video, and I’ll look forward to seeing those. But until this launcher lockdown policy is lifted (or at least explained), I won’t be dropping this phone in my pocket.

Agree? Disagree? Just want to watch a cool camera module do some jumping jacks? Click on through to the video above to go hands-on with the Oppo Find X – and stay tuned for more coverage here on AC!

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1
Aug

Google is reportedly planning to launch a censored search app in China


This would mark the first time Google Search has been in China since 2010.

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While going to Google to search for virtually anything is a common practice for many of us, the same isn’t true for people in China. The Chinese government’s strict censorship rules ban a regular version of Google Search from operating in the country, and while that won’t be changing anytime soon, a new report from The Intercept claims that Google’s working with the government to launch a censored, stripped down version of its search engine.

The project is currently codenamed as “Dragonfly” and would bring Google Search to China in the form of an Android app. While there aren’t any plans for a desktop version quite yet, that shouldn’t pose a real issue as 95% of users in China access the internet through a mobile device with Android holding a market share of 80%.

However, if/when that Android app launches, it won’t be the same version of Google Search you and I are familiar with.

As reported by The Intercept —

Google’s Chinese search app will automatically identify and filter websites blocked by the Great Firewall. When a person carries out a search, banned websites will be removed from the first page of results, and a disclaimer will be displayed stating that “some results may have been removed due to statutory requirements.” Examples cited in the documents of websites that will be subject to the censorship include those of British news broadcaster BBC and the online encyclopedia Wikipedia.

The “Great Firewall” mentioned above is China’s internet censorship program and blocks individuals from seeing online content relating to free speech, certain news topics, sex, and more.

Furthermore, The Intercept also notes that Google’s app won’t show any results for specific words and phrases that have been banned by the government.

The censorship will apply across the platform: Google’s image search, automatic spell check and suggested search features will incorporate the blacklists, meaning that they will not recommend people information or photographs the government has banned.

Assuming the Chinese government approves Google’s app, we could see it launch within the next six to nine months.

Google had a similar version of its search engine available in China between 2006 and 2010, but eventually decided to retreat from the country following harsh criticism from the United States for its compliance with the government’s censorship.

The EU Antitrust case against Android sucks for everyone, especially you

1
Aug

Apple Sold Fewest Macs in Any Quarter Since 2010 as Nearly Entire Lineup Was Outdated


Apple on Tuesday reported that it sold 3.72 million Macs in its third quarter, which spanned April 1 through June 30, the fewest in any single quarter since it sold 3.47 million in the third quarter of 2010.

It’s also the first time Apple has sold fewer than four million Macs in a quarter since the third quarter of 2013, a span of five years.

Apple reported sales of 4.29 million Macs in the same quarter a year ago, so this is a pretty significant 13 percent decline on a year-over-year basis. Mac revenue also dropped five percent over the year-ago quarter.

There are a number of possible explanations for the decline, including consumers increasingly shifting towards the iPhone and iPad. Together, those devices accounted for 65 percent of Apple’s revenue last quarter, compared to just 10 percent for the Mac. Apple even markets the iPad as a computer replacement.


The bigger reason, however, may have been that nearly the entire Mac lineup was outdated last quarter. Beyond the iMac Pro, released four months before the quarter began, no other Mac had been updated since 2017 or earlier.

Apple hasn’t updated its 12-inch MacBook and iMac lines since June 2017, while the MacBook Air has gone unchanged since March 2015, except for a minor increase in clock speed on the base model last year. Worse, the Mac mini hasn’t been refreshed since October 2014, and the Mac Pro has gone unchanged since December 2013 while Apple works on a new modular version for 2019.

While the MacBook Pro was recently updated, the new models didn’t launch until 12 days after the third quarter ended. Last year, new MacBook Pro models launched at WWDC in early June, well within the third quarter.

Apple’s financial chief Luca Maestri highlighted this “difficult launch comparison” in the company’s earnings call on Tuesday:

Our year-over-year sales performance was impacted by the different timing of the MacBook Pro launch, which did not occur until early Q4 this year as opposed to June last year.

The month-later MacBook Pro refresh isn’t enough to justify Apple’s fewest Mac sales in any quarter since 2010, however, as the notebook has been updated at various times over the years. 2016 models were released in October of that year, for example, while 2013 models launched in February of that year.

Mac sales were the lowest in a quarter since 2010 – hard to blame the MacBook Pro coming out in July versus June. https://t.co/E6QDBJ9VYd

— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) August 1, 2018

Apple said it still recorded double-digit year-over-year growth in its active installed base of Macs last quarter, reaching a new all-time high, with nearly 60 percent of purchases coming from customers who are new to the Mac.

Fortunately, updates to the rest of the Mac lineup should be on the horizon. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo expects the 12-inch MacBook, Mac mini, and iMac to be refreshed later this year, while a new entry-level notebook could replace the MacBook Air. And, as mentioned, Apple says a new Mac Pro is coming in 2019.

Related Roundup: MacBook ProBuyer’s Guide: MacBook Pro (Buy Now)
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