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9
Oct

Live updates: Google’s October 9 event as it happens


Speculation that Google is gearing up to release new tech has been rife for the last couple of months, and rumors have grown to a fever pitch in the last week. While no-one knows exactly what Google’s planning (and it’s been teasing us a little too), we fully expect to see a variety of new hardware unveiled, including two new models of the Pixel phone, two new Pixelbook laptops, as well as some other goodies. Check out what we expect to see at Google’s October 9 event for the full breakdown.

Google’s October 9 event kicks off today, in new York City at 11 a.m. ET, and you can watch it live, as well as follow our folks on the ground, Julian Chokkattu and Luke Larsen, or Digital Trends en Español‘s Juan Garcia, and Juliana Jara.

But what if you’re too busy to keep an eye on a livestream, or it’s simply not feasible for you to do so? Don’t worry, we’ve been thinking of you, and you can tune in here for live text updates as the main event goes on.

It all kicks off at 11 a.m. ET (8 a.m. PT/4 p.m. BST), so we’ll see you there for all the thrilling reveals and terrible jokes.

Introduction

  • Help is the central theme of today’s conference
  • Google’s 20th anniversary this year
  • Google is now translating 143 billion words a day

Editors’ Recommendations

  • How to watch the October 9 ‘Made by Google’ event
  • What to expect from Google’s October 9 event in New York City
  • How to watch Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked August 2018 event
  • How to watch Intel’s Fall desktop event live from NYC
  • Samsung drops lots of hints about upcoming Note 9 in trio of teaser videos



9
Oct

Amazon Echo Plus (2nd gen) vs. Google Home: Which should you buy?


We’re a virtual company made up of tech experts from across the globe. We live and breathe smart home technology, so if you’re just stepping into this exciting new tech space we’re here to help set you in the right direction.

Amazon Echo Plus (2nd gen)

Got it all

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$149.99 at Amazon

Pros

  • Half the size of the previous generation
  • Fresh design with a fabric finish
  • Built-in Zigbee hub
  • Bluetooth and line-out for speakers

Cons

  • Costs as much as three Echo Dots
  • Lacks Google Assistant’s expansive knowledge base

The new Echo Plus is shorter and more compact while still packing in the all-important Zigbee hub that makes it the best starting point for converting your house into a smart home.

Google Home

Google’s first

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$129 at Best Buy

Pros

  • Works with Chromecast-enabled devices
  • Syncs well with Google Assistant on your phone
  • A very Google-y design

Cons

  • No support for connecting external speakers
  • Likely need to invest in a smart home hub

In the same way that the first Echo Plus offered more functionality and features than the Google Home, the Echo Plus (2nd gen) has doubled-down by offering the same great features in a more compact and visually appealing package. With the Echo Plus, you can start connecting Zigbee-compatible bulbs, switches, outlets, and other smart home products right out of the box without needing to invest in a dedicated smart home hub.

The answer is clear for first-time buyers in 2018

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You’re interested in upgrading your home with a ton of cool connected tech, but you’ve waited a few years just to let all the early bugs get ironed out. Now, it’s 2018 and you’re ready to start upgrading your house to smart home status.

If this describes you, your patience has rewarded you with the second generation Echo Plus.

For anyone who’s already invested in Google products, whether we’re talking Android or Chromecast devices, the appeal of the Google Home is that it’s another Google product that, unsurprisingly, works really well with other Google products. The choice between Google Assistant and Alexa largely comes down to personal preference and brand loyalty, but in terms of pure functionality and style, the second generation Echo Plus straight up outclasses Google’s first smart speaker in almost every aspect.

Size 5.8″ x 3.9″ x 3.9″ 5.6″ x 3.8″ x 3.8″
Weight 27.5oz 16.8oz
Microphones 7 2
Speakers 3″ woofer and 0.8″ tweeter 2″ driver and dual 2″ passive radiators
Smart hub Yes No
Bluetooth Yes No
3.5mm audio output Yes No

Pressure is really on Google to deliver an outstanding and affordable follow up to Alexa’s smart home offerings because Amazon has been going full tilt on the hardware side of things. There are so many first-party Alexa-enabled products coming out in the next month coming later this year that makes Amazon’s smart home ecosystem very inviting.

Both Amazon and Google offer great support for an ever-growing list of connected smart home device to control your lights, lock your doors, and control appliances around your home, but the Echo Plus gets the advantage for including a Zigbee hub built right in. That means you can forgo buying an extra hub device to start building out your smart home and can spend your money on bulbs, switches, and whatever else.

Amazon Echo Plus (2nd gen)

Best gets better

amazon-echo-plus-2018-press.jpg

$149.99 at Amazon

The best option for smart speaker newcomers

The Amazon Echo Plus is the easiest recommendation to make for someone just starting to invest in a connected home. Sure, you spend a bit more but as long as you’re intrigued by Amazon’s other product offerings, Alexa will be your best artificially-intelligent friend in no time. Be sure to select the option that includes a free Philips Hue smart bulb!

Google Home

First generation

google-home-product-press.jpg

Google Home is only for Google fanatics

$129 at Best Buy

The Google Home speaker almost feels like a prototype compared to its competition at this point. It’s still a functional smart home accessory but simply lacks some hardware features found in Amazon’s premiere smart speaker. Best Buy appears to be bundling in a Google Home Mini with each Google Home — a good deal for sure — but even two first-gen Google devices can’t top an Echo Plus, so you’re probably best off waiting for Google Home 2.0.

9
Oct

What mobile ecosystem are you a part of?


All your devices make up a bigger picture.

There are a lot of deciding factors that come into play when choosing which gadgets to use, and for a lot of people, the ecosystem certain devices belong to makes a big difference when it comes time to buy a new toy.

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Samsung’s Galaxy phones work seamlessly with Galaxy and Gear wearables, the Google Pixel 2 can tether instantly to the Pixelbook, and over in Camp Apple, the iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, and more all sync up with one another in a truly magical way.

These added benefits you get by using various products from the same company can be really fantastic, and looking through the AC forums, there’s a lot of variety when it comes to the ecosystems our forum members are invested in.

avatar936725_8.gifmonicakm
10-08-2018 03:14 PM

I started out by just following the lead of my daughter and son-in-law. I liked what I saw in their Android phones. At the time, I knew very little about Apple. As the years went on and the more I studied both ecosystems (before they were called ecosystems LOL) I became more educated on Apple as a business and their products. Their phones seemed to never change/grow…literally. And it was…

Reply

avatar112083_3.gifjmorris1974
10-08-2018 04:41 PM

I started off my journey with the Droid X. that phone died on me and I was forced into a Samsung Fascinate. Android at that time was fairly buggy and not that reliable from my experience. When the iPhone 5S came out, I decided to jump to iOS. I stayed there for three years, and then moved back to Android with the LG v20. The LG was so buggy that I almost went back to iOS. I would have to, had I…

Reply

avatar120122_43.gifLaura Knotek
10-08-2018 07:26 PM

I got started with Symbian on the Nokia E61, had another Symbian device (Nokia E71), and then switched to BlackBerry (9000 and then 9700). Next, I went to Windows Phone (Nokia Lumia 900 and 920). When it was evident that Windows Phone was on its way out (apps being pulled and Microsoft giving up support), I needed a new platform.

I have family and friends who use iPhones and Android devices….

Reply

avatar2586091_12.gifgendo667
10-08-2018 07:36 PM

I don’t know that I chose Android necessarily. More like it just stuck. I had the iPhone 3G and the iPhone 4. Not only were they my first smartphones, they were my first phones, period. I never wanted a flip phone. I never wanted a little brick phone. But as phones turned into computers, that piqued my interest. While owning those two phones I was totally become a phone nerd. Reading info, taking…

Reply

What about you? What mobile tech ecosystem are you in?

Join the conversation in the forums!

9
Oct

NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 builds on classic arcade-style basketball


Slam. Jam. Thank You Ma’am.

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If you’re tired of the accurate simulation that NBA 2K19 provides and you favor something that will allow you to suspend your disbelief, you might want to pay attention to NBA 2K Playgrounds 2. Fly high and slam your eyes down below — here’s everything you need to know.

What is NBA 2K Playgrounds 2?

A little-known company named Saber Interactive sought to bring back the over-the-top arcade-style basketball genre. Their vehicle for doing so was a game called NBA Playgrounds.

Playgrounds offered that fast-paced action popularized by games like NBA Jam and NBA Street, though the game launched to mixed reception. Namely, its lack of big-name legends and a lack of depth in the gameplay department made the title forgettable.

But it caught the attention of 2K Sports, with the longstanding veteran of the basketball genre reaching a publishing deal to produce the next game in the series. That game is the newly-titled NBA 2K Playgrounds 2.

This is an area 2K has yet to dive into, with the company preferring simulation-style development more than anything. Its partnership with Saber Interactive shows 2K has real interest in this area and thinks there could be potential for this thing to become a hit.

As is usually the case with 2K, is contributions to the cause are said to have been quite immediate, with help in both development and licensing being the two biggest examples of that. Let’s start with what the game will offer at its core.

Ridiculous basketball fun

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Sticking with the spirit and theme of the original game, NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 is doing everything it can to bring that ridiculous form of basketball where everyone can defy the laws of physics, gravity, and everything else that should make sense.

You’ll often find yourself flipping and flying higher than the courts, and maybe even higher than the Ferris wheel in the background of the peer you’re playing on. Look for 2K to tighten up the gameplay and button things up with new moves, animations, and abilities.

That comes with new modes, including four-player online matches, three-point shootout contests, and 10 new playgrounds to play at. You’ll be able to hop all over the globe with courts in California, Seoul, and Australia. There are also seasonal and championship play modes for those who want to compete in leagues for glory.

Alongside general gameplay improvements, 2K is shoring things up on the infrastructure side of things. Matchmaking will be better and games will be smoother thanks to the usage of dedicated servers. You’ll also be able to set up custom matches for you and your friends to enjoy.

A much better roster

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This is another area where 2K is bringing its power to the franchise. The original NBA Playgrounds had a good mix of both past and present stars to play with, but NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 is bringing the number of playable stars up to over 400.

What’s more, that roster consists of some much bigger names in the legend department. Names like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant were missing before, but 2K used its connections to seal the deal.

Saber says it never would have gotten some of these names without 2K. It figures to be an important deal, as playable stars like those are crucial to attracting interest in these sports games.

As far as all the other stars are concerned, 2K’s extensive work in replicating player likenesses and styles will find their way into Playgrounds 2. We get the sense that we won’t see the entirety of the roster get complete overhauls right away, but be sure 2K is planting a firm flag in the ground for some of the bigger names of the NBA.

When can you play it?

NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 is out October 16th, 2018 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch. You can pre-order the game today to guarantee it by launch.

$30 at Amazon

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

9
Oct

What is the biggest external hard drive PlayStation 4 supports?


wd-my-passport-and-wd-easy-store-ext-hdd

Best answer: The biggest external hard drive that the PS4 supports can be up to 8TB, which is the console’s maximum external storage capacity. Seagate has the perfect HDD for the job.

Amazon: Seagate Expansion 8TB Desktop External Hard ($140)

Why do I even need more storage?

Games are bigger than they’ve ever been, whether in terms of the sheer size of their worlds or the amount of content packed into them. This holds doubly true for the amount of space they take up on your hard drive.

At the beginning of the generation, Sony and Microsoft quickly found out that 500GB just wasn’t enough to include on their systems’ internal storage. Fast forward to today, and your standard PlayStation 4 console holds up to 1TB of storage, minus a small percentage that’s dedicated to running the console itself. You’d be surprised at how quickly the internal HDD fills up. If you do so without breaking a sweat, it’s time to upgrade to an external HDD.

Why should I purchase an 8TB HDD when others are smaller?

According to PlayStation Support, “You can use only one device for extended storage at a time. Even if you have connected two devices that are formatted for use as extended storage, only one can be active as extended storage.”

What this means is that while the PS4 unfortunately does not support the use of multiple external hard drives simultaneously, you can use more than one external hard drive and flip between them if 8TB isn’t enough.

Since it’s not ideal to swap between multiple hard drives unless you need to, it’s best to pick up the largest possible. You are already going to be spending close to $100 if you shell out for a 4TB external HDD. For a little more you can pick up an 8TB so you won’t need to worry about losing money on several purchases.

Our pick

Seagate Expansion 8TB Desktop External Hard

seagate-8tb-external-hdd.jpg?itok=81FTa7

$140 at Amazon

Most bang for your buck

Seagate is a reliable brand frequently used for gaming, and its 8TB HDD is perfect to get the job done fast for the best price possible. Just plug it in, format it to your PS4, and you’re ready to play.

9
Oct

UK Daily Deals: Anova sous vide cookers, Anker power banks, and more


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

We found plenty of great deals today on Anova sous vide precision cookers, Anker power banks, Nest Outdoor security cameras, SIMBA upholstered bed frames, Philips 4K UHD TVs, and much more!

View the rest of the deals

Each day, the Thrifter UK team scouts out and shares amazing deals on products you know and love, helping you find the best prices on the ‘net.

For more UK deals coverage, be sure to keep an eye on Thrifter UK and follow the team on Twitter for the most up-to-the-minute coverage.

9
Oct

Is the Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro waterproof?


samsung-gear-fit-2-pro-12.jpg?itok=ZUszN

Best answer: Yes, the Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro is waterproof. Its 5 ATM rating means it can survive up to 50 meters of water submersion and can be used while swimming.

Amazon: Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro ($149)

The GearFit2 Pro has a 5 ATM waterproof rating

Every waterproof/water-resistant gadget comes with a rating that defines what exactly it can withstand, and with the Gear Fit2 Pro, Samsung outfitted it with a 5 ATM one.

5ATM means that the Fit2 Pro is guaranteed to survive up to 50 meters of non-moving water. This rating is plenty high for taking the Fit2 Pro on a swim, but exposing it to high amounts of water pressure could result in some issues.

In other words, the Fit2 Pro can easily sustain water splashes, being in the shower, light snorkeling, and a few laps at the pool.

This makes it great for swim-tracking

To make sure you get the most out of that 5 ATM rating, the Gear Fit2 Pro comes with the Speedo On swim-tracking app that was designed just for it. With the Speedo On app, you can track all of your swimming stats and then view them in simple, easy-to-read layouts.

A case gives you even more protection

While the Gear Fit2 Pro can handle water just fine on its own, it can still get banged up pretty easily in a fall or drop. To keep it safe against other elements, we recommend picking up a Moretek rugged case.

This case outfits the Gear Fit2 Pro with shock-resistance, keeps it away from dust, and has a high-quality silicone that’s incredibly resilient against UV rays.

Take the plunge!

Whether you’re a hardcore swimmer or don’t want to worry about babying your smart wearable if you get caught out in a rainstorm, the Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro is an excellent fitness band that offers great waterproofing.

Our pick

Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro

samsung-gear-fit2-pro-red-render.jpg?ito

$149 at Amazon

A waterproof fitness band that does it all.

The Gear Fit2 Pro is one of the best fitness bands you can buy. Along with being waterproof, it also has a heart-rate sensor, a gorgeous OLED display, and built-in GPS.

Extra protection

Moretek GearFit2 Pro Case

moretek-gear-fit2-pro-case.jpg?itok=0FWV

$10 at Amazon

Take your Gear Fit2 Pro to the next level.

If you want an extra layer of protection for your Gear Fit2 Pro, it’s a good idea to pick up this rugged case from Moretek. It protects the Fit2 Pro from unwanted drops, dust, and more.

9
Oct

Samsung’s $34 fast wireless charging stand works with Qi compatible devices


Set it and forget it.

The Samsung Qi-certified fast charge wireless charger is down to $34.50 on Amazon. While we have seen it drop to $40 in the past, this is the first time we’ve seen it go this low. The charger normally sells for around $45. The price is only good on the black version of the charger, since blue and white are $42 or more.

fast-charge-samsung-3dfj.jpg?itok=EeyehP
This is Samsung’s 2018 version of the charging pad, which only just hit the market back in February. It is compatible with all Qi devices, including Samsung’s Galaxy S8, S9, Note 8, and other devices like the iPhone 8, iPhone X and more. The multi-colored LED halo shows off the charging status. It comes with a fast charge wall charger as well, which many other options don’t.

See on Amazon

9
Oct

Your Google Wifi can be hidden or shown off with the right wall mount


The Google Wifi isn’t a bad looking router (or three) on its own, and it’s pretty easy to stick it anywhere in your house without offending anyone. However, every home is different and you might want something a little more elegant and organized than just plonking a node down on a window sill.

Thanks to its popularity and the fact it’s a pretty simple shape, there are plenty of options out there for mounting the Google Wifi to a wall or even a ceiling. None are very expensive and there’s something out there to suit all tastes.

These are the best mounts for the Google Wifi!

Easy peasy

Wall Mount Holder for Google Wifi by Koroao

koroao-mount-gwifi.jpg?itok=rJ8w2Utj

This mount makes it super easy to hang your router on a wall or ceiling, and you can still route in an Ethernet cable to hard-wire devices. The mount comes in a single-, two- or three-pack, and it includes screws for installation.

$9 at Amazon

Power up

Dot Genie Google Wifi Outlet Holder

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If you want your router flush with your power plug, this mount is for you. You can wrap and hide the power cable around the inside of the mount so it isn’t seen, and the weight of the router is easily supported by the power plug and your wall. Finally, there’s an opening at the bottom for plugging in an Ethernet cable.

$10 at Amazon

Save space

ECHOGEAR Outlet Shelf

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This product is great for your Google Wifi, but also for other small gadgets weighing less than ten pounds. There’s a small channel at the back of the shelf where you can route your power and Ethernet cables, and installing the shelf is as easy as unscrewing your existing wall plate and screwing on the new one.

$20 at Amazon

Super minimal

Mrount Google Wifi Wall Mount

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This may be the most minimal option of this list: you just screw the mount on the wall, and sort of drop the Google Wifi in. You also get a channel for routing the power cable, and enough clearance for Ethernet cables. The screws and drywall sockets you need are included, and the kit comes in single-, two- and three-packs.

$10 at Amazon

In between

LykusSource Wall Mount Bracket

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This is a middle step between the more minimal options and the full brackets. The mount attaches to your wall with four screws, and you can organize the power and Ethernet cables easily. Your router just rests on the shelf, so there’s nothing obstructing it. The kit comes in single-, two- and three-packs.

$9 at Amazon

Super precise

Anco Precision Wall Mount

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Another minimal option is this mount from Anco. Again, you screw the mount itself on the wall, then the router drops on top. There aren’t any cable management options on the mount itself, so this would be a better fit for some who can route power and Ethernet through their wall. This mount is available in a single-, two- and three-pack.

$10 at Amazon

Totally secure

HumanCentric Google Wifi Mount

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If you want your router to be as secure as it possibly can be, this mount is for you. Again, there aren’t any cable management options on the mount itself, so you’ll want to measure your cables to keep them from looking sloppy on your wall.

$10 at Amazon

All of these mounts would be great, but my personal favorite is the ECHOGEAR Outlet Shelf, since I could use that for another gadget if need be and it’s really easy to install.

9
Oct

Apple Pencil 2 With AirPods-Like Pairing Expected to Launch Alongside iPad Pro With Face ID


A new version of the Apple Pencil with an AirPods-like pairing process will be released for the rumored iPad Pro with Face ID, expected to be announced later this month, according to 9to5Mac’s Guilherme Rambo:

The new Apple Pencil will be paired with iPad Pro by proximity, much like AirPods or HomePod. Switching between devices will be possible without connecting the Apple Pencil to the charging port. It’s unclear whether the current model of Apple Pencil will work with the new iPad.

It’s unclear if the new Apple Pencil will be compatible with previous iPad Pro models or the sixth-generation iPad.

iPad Pro with edge-to-edge display mockup via iDropNews
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman said Apple was working on a new Apple Pencil and new software tools for using the stylus back in November 2017, but few details have surfaced until now, beyond a patent filing for a more precise version of the drawing tool that would incorporate ultrasonic technology.

The current Apple Pencil launched alongside the original iPad Pro in November 2015, and hasn’t been refreshed since. The $99 drawing tool gained support for the sixth-generation 9.7-inch iPad earlier this year.

Rambo said the new iPad Pro will have an edge-to-edge display without a home button, as rumored several times. Unlike the iPhone X, he said the new iPad Pro will not have a notch, as the bezels are said to be wide enough to accommodate the TrueDepth camera and sensor array necessary for Face ID.

Face ID on the new iPad Pro will work in both portrait and landscape orientations, according to the report.

Rambo also corroborates rumors about the iPad Pro with Face ID having a new rear-facing Magnetic Connector for connecting accessories, such as a new Smart Keyboard. Earlier this year, rumors and a CAD drawing suggested the Smart Connector will be relocated to the lower back side of the device.

Possible CAD of 2018 iPad Pro via Steve Hemmerstoffer/OnLeaks
The report also corroborates Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo’s claim that the new iPad Pro will have a USB-C port. The new connector will enable 4K HDR video output to external displays, with new settings to control resolution, HDR, and brightness on connected external displays, according to Rambo.

Apple will likely unveil the iPad Pro with Face ID and the new Apple Pencil at a media event later this month, although no date has been announced as of yet. Apple is also expected to announce updates to several Mac models at the event, including the MacBook and/or MacBook Air, iMac, and Mac mini.

Apple’s event could take place on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday of next week, in which case invitations should go out within the next few days. The next option would likely be Tuesday, October 30, as Apple CEO Tim Cook will be in Brussels on Wednesday, October 24, likely ruling out an event that week.

Related Roundup: iPad ProTag: Apple PencilBuyer’s Guide: 10.5″ iPad Pro (Don’t Buy), 12.9″ iPad Pro (Don’t Buy)
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