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Posts from the ‘News’ Category

21
Feb

Pixel 3 wish list: What we want to see from Google’s 2018 flagship


The Pixel 2 is already the best Android phone you can buy, but it can always be better. Here are the things I would like to see in the Pixel 3.

I’ve had my Pixel 2 XL since a week after release, and while a small number of early units had some issues, most owners have reported being happy with their device. I didn’t encounter any of the hardware issues that other early owners experienced, and I’ve been enjoying the phone quite a bit since receiving in the mail.

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Having said that, there are some things I would change about the phone. Nothing major, but a few little things that would add up to a better device (in my eyes). I know the Pixel 3 will feature the newest processor, an even better camera, and whatever software features come in Android P. But some pieces aren’t certain, and I hope these all make it into the Pixel 3.

Broader retail availability

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This one doesn’t matter much for me, since I’ve been buying my phones unlocked for years. But I’m not most people. Most consumers — at least in North America — still go to their cellular carrier’s stores to play with a device in hand before buying it. Which mostly means those consumers are buying iPhones and Galaxies. That’s not to say those are bad choices, but if Google wants to improve the Pixel line’s sales numbers, the phone will need to be sold by all carriers. I’m not sure how long Verizon has a retail exclusive for the Pixel phones, but hopefully 2018 is the year they will be available in more stores.

Wireless charging

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Way back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, Google’s Nexus line featured Qi charging fairly consistently. That changed when the Nexus 6P debuted with a metal body, and the Pixel line has continued the exclusion of any wireless charging. With the latest iPhones popularizing wireless charging more than ever and the wireless charging standards settling, I’d really like the next Pixels to bring back Qi charging. This will necessitate moving away from the metal back to using glass, but I think the tradeoff would be well worth it. There are some Qi charging adapters that would work with the current Pixels, but that would mean I couldn’t use the USB port to connect to my Android Auto head unit.

Faster wired charging

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Wireless charging is for when my phone would sit overnight, but when I need to charge in a hurry, nothing works better than just plugging in a cable. While the Pixels currently charge fairly quickly with the right charger, there have a few instances — entirely of my own making — where I’ve needed the phone to top up sooner. The Essential Phone can recharge at a blistering 27 watts, while the Pixels don’t charge any faster than 18 watts. That’s still plenty fast for most situations, but not all.

iPhone X-style gesture navigation

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I haven’t had a chance to use an iPhone X, but it seems like everyone who has used one has loved the gesture navigation. OnePlus has started experimenting with similar gestures, which serve as a proof of concept for how gestures could work with Android’s back and multitask system. This is something that would probably come to older phones with the Android P update, so if this is something Google is working on, we’ll probably see it at this year’s Google I/O.

Some sort of secure face unlock

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This isn’t something I’m likely to use if a fingerprint sensor is also present, but it’d be a good option nonetheless. A secure face unlock system would be great when using gloves during the winter months, especially if it can tie into Google Pay. I still want a fingerprint sensor present, either remaining on the back or built into the screen. Giving users a choice on which biometric system to use would be perfect for me. Android has had insecure Face Unlock for years, but a native solution that plugs into the same APIs that are used for fingerprint sensors would be the best thing for the platform going forward.

Honorable mention: A 3.5mm headphone jack

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Pretty please?

How about you?

What would you like to see in the Pixel 3? Let us know down below!

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

  • Pixel 2 FAQ: Everything you need to know!
  • Google Pixel 2 and 2 XL review: The new standard
  • Google Pixel 2 specs
  • Google Pixel 2 vs. Pixel 2 XL: What’s the difference?
  • Join our Pixel 2 forums

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21
Feb

Qualcomm teases what its Snapdragon 845 can do for VR


The 845 is virtual reality’s new best friend.

Samsung’s Galaxy S9 will be one of the first smartphones powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845, and it’ll have a lot of key advantages over the 835. According to a new reference device that was just announced, we’ll be seeing a similar story when it comes to virtual reality.

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The reference device in question is the headset you see above, and it’s based on the latest version of the Snapdragon Mobile VR platform that’s powered by the Snapdragon 845. The headset offers “more than twice as much display throughput” when compared to Qualcomm’s VR platform based on the 835, offers 30% faster performance, and uses 30% less power.

In other words, the 845 is a big deal for standalone VR headsets.

Additionally, the 845 will enable standalone VR headsets (like the Mirage Solo and Vive Focus) to ship with higher-res dual displays that each has a 2K resolution.

The reference headset also has a new feature called “Adreno Foveation.” By taking information from the four cameras on the reference headset, the Adreno GPU will be able to produce sharper graphics depending on where the headset detects you’re looking. Along with this, “Roomscale” tracking will be able to map your body movements and the area around you so you can easily avoid any obstacles in the real-world for a more enjoyable VR experience.

Qualcomm will be showing off this latest reference headset at MWC, and while it won’t be available for consumers to purchase, it should give us a clear picture of what to expect from VR as we make our way through 2018.

Qualcomm announces new AI Engine ahead of MWC 2018

21
Feb

What to do when you see green dots on your PlayStation screen


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Are there green dots all over your screen when you turn on your PS4? Here’s what to do first.

Every now and then in the life of an electronic device, things can go sideways. It is an undoubtedly horrifying experience when you find that your very expensive piece of technology is doing something entirely wrong. One issue that is seen on a PlayStation 4 on occasion is green dots smattered across your display. Imagine that the universe of stars that you see in the night sky was superimposed on your display but every star was a green point of light. If you’re experiencing this issue with your PS4, here are some things you can do.

The first thing you need to do is take a deep breath. I understand how you’re feeling. I have been there.

HDMI issues

This is not a problem that is only seen on PlayStation consoles. Any device that uses HDMI for video output can be subject to this issue. Fortunately, the solution is often quite simple.

The first thing to do is ensure that the HDMI cable is firmly seated both into the PS4 and your TV. Sometimes it’s as simple as your HDMI cable not getting a proper connection to your devices. Unplug the cable and plug it back in firmly.

If that doesn’t solve your issues, try using an HDMI cable that is known to be functioning properly. If the known functional HDMI alleviates the issue then you know it’s as simple as replacing your cable.

There is a slight possibility that your HDMI ports have accumulated some debris that is causing a poor connection. Blasting the HDMI ports with compressed air just may be enough to solve your problem.

Call the pros

The PlayStation comes with a one year warranty. If your system falls within that window then, by all means, send that baby back and get it taken care of by the mothership. If your system is no longer under warranty then you can still create a service request with Sony to have your system repaired. In all likelihood, it won’t be free but it will be cheaper than a brand new system. You can create a service request for your system here and you can always call the Sony support line at 1-800-345-7669.

Hopefully, your green dot issue is a simple problem to resolve. We are all thinking good thoughts for you in your time of need. If all goes well you will back playing games in no time.

Why are we talking about PlayStation 4 stuff on Android Central? Let us explain.

PlayStation 4

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

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21
Feb

These are three of the cities where AT&T’s 5G network will launch in 2018


Everything’s faster in Texas.

In early January, AT&T announced plans for launching a legit 5G network in twelve different markets by the end of 2018. The carrier remained tight-lipped at the time about which markets would be graced with this early access, but now we have the names of three of those twelve.

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According to a post on AT&T’s newsroom, “parts of” Dallas, Atlanta, and Waco, Texas will be among the first cities to be serviced with true 5G speeds. Other supported cities will be announced over the next few months, and following these early tests, AT&T will expand its lineup of 5G-capable smartphones in 2019.

Commenting on this announcement, AT&T’s Senior Vice President of Wireless Network Architecture and Design, Igal Elbaz, said:

After significantly contributing to the first phase of 5G standards, conducting multi-city trials, and literally transforming our network for the future, we’re planning to be the first carrier to deliver standards-based mobile 5G – and do it much sooner than most people thought possible.

AT&T will initially offer 5G using the 3GPP standards and mmWave spectrum, but as it’s expanded, 5G will be integrated into other spectrum types as well. AT&T expects its 5G network to offer multiple gigabits per second of speed with low latency, and to help ensure everything stays on track, the carrier is opening a 5G lab in Austin where it’ll be able to run stress tests of the network and really put it through its paces.

AT&T will release true 5G service by late 2018

Carriers

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  • Which unlimited plan should you buy?
  • Verizon’s Unlimited plans: Everything you need to know
  • Everything you need to know about the T-Mobile ONE unlimited plan
  • Everything you need to know about the AT&T Unlimited plan
  • Everything you need to know about Sprint’s Unlimited Freedom plan
  • Join the Discussion

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21
Feb

Best Cases for the Huawei Mate 10 Pro


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Need a case for your new Mate 10 Pro? These should be on your shortlist.

The Mate 10 Pro is a powerful flagship and a battery champ, and it’s finally launching in the U.S. in just a few days! If you’re planning on picking one up, you’ll probably also want to get a case to keep it safe.

While there aren’t too many cases for the phone just yet, we’ve compiled a short list of some of our favorites you might want to check out.

  • Ringke Fusion
  • Incipio NGP Pure
  • Vinve Slim
  • Spigen Rugged Armor
  • UAG Plasma Series
  • Nillkin Super Frosted Shield

Ringke Fusion

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If you like the thin clear case that comes with the Mate 10 Pro but want a bit more protection, the Ringke Fusion could be the answer. It’s a two-part case, with a hard polycarbonate panel protecting the back and TPU around the sides for an easy grip.

Despite a relatively slim profile, the Fusion is MIL-STD 810G certified, meaning your Mate 10 Pro should be safe and sound. It even has a removable cover for the USB port to protect it from the elements.

The Ringke Fusion is one of the cheaper cases on our list at around $12, and you can choose from a few color options for the TPU bumper.

See at Amazon

Incipio NGP Pure

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Inicio has always been a popular brand when it comes to phone cases, and for good reason. The NGP Pure is a simple case meant to add a bit of drop protection without all the bulk.

It’s made out of Incipio’s Flex2O polymer material, which is designed to hold up against stretching and tearing, meaning this case is built to last along with your phone.

You can pick up the NGP Pure from Incipio’s site for fairly cheap at just $20.

See at Incipio

Vinve Slim

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If you really like the camera strip on the back of the Mate 10 Pro, you’ll likely appreciate the Slim case from Vinve. Like the Ringke Fusion, this case features a dual-layer design with TPU and polycarbonate, and mimics the camera strip with an extension of the bumper.

Because of its dual layer construction, the Vinve Slim is as protective as it is stylish, and the grippy TPU bumper should keep you from dropping it in the first place.

Should you decide to pick up the Vinve Slim, it’s available for about $9 on Amazon.

See at Amazon

Spigen Rugged Armor

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Thin, clear cases are great for showing off your phone, but sometimes you need something a bit more protective. That’s where Spigen’s Rugged Armor case comes in.

The Rugged Armor adds a small bit of thickness to the Mate 10 Pro (but don’t worry — it’s no Otterbox), but in exchange you get shock absorption through Spigen’s Air Cushion technology. The volume and power buttons and easy to press, and you trade the phone’s aesthetic strip around the cameras for carbon fiber styling.

Spigen sells the Rugged Armor for $19.99, but you can get it for only $13 or so from Amazon.

See at Amazon

UAG Plasma Series

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Another great option for the particularly clumsy is the Plasma Series case from Urban Armor Gear. This case takes special care to protect the Mate 10 Pro from fall damage with special lining inside and added thickness on the corners.

The rubberized grip keeps the phone from slipping out of your hand, and the cutouts still allow for easy access to the fingerprint sensor around back.

The Plasma Series is a bit pricy at about $40, but it could be well worth it to protect your $800 phone.

See at Amazon

Nillkin Super Frosted Shield

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Some people just want a shell-style case that protects the back of the phone from scratches without adding bulk. For them, Nillkin’s Super Frosted Shield case is worth a look.

It’s made of a hard polycarbonate with a grippy texture, and the top and bottom are left open, meaning you won’t have to worry about your USB cables fitting into a tight port cutout.

The best thing about the Super Frosted Shield? It’s only about $9 on Amazon — and it even includes a screen protector in the box!

See at Amazon

Which one are you going to buy?

Are you planning on buying one of the cases we mentioned, or are you waiting on something different to come out? Let us know in the comments!

Huawei Mate 10

  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro review
  • Huawei Mate 10 series specs
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro U.S. review: Close to greatness
  • Join the discussion in the forums
  • More on 2016’s Mate 9

21
Feb

Get a free Amazon Fire TV 4K when you prepay for a month of DirecTV Now


Don’t pass this up.

DirecTV Now is offering a free Amazon Fire TV 4K when you sign up for its service and prepay for just one month of service, even if you pick the $35 a month plan. The company previously required you to prepay for two months of service to get the free Fire TV (which Amazon charges $70 for), but now has slashed that down to just one. For $35 you now get access to a full month of the streaming service and some new hardware to watch it on.

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You will need to be a new customer to take advantage of this offer and the Fire TV 4K will be shipped to you via FedEx within 2 to 3 weeks from the time you sign up. The offer is a little hidden, as usual, so to take advantage of it you’ll need to begin the account creation process. Once you input your email and create a password you’ll select a channel package and any add-ons that you may want, and then it will offer you the free Fire TV 4K promotion.

DirecTV Now does automatically bill each month, so if you only want to do one month for this promotion be sure to cancel the renewal once you complete the checkout process. If you’d prefer an Apple TV 4K, you can get one for free when you prepay for three months of service.

See at DirecTV Now

21
Feb

Google’s Reply app is here and works surprisingly well


Earlier this month, Google’s Area 120 experimental division announced its latest creation – an Android app called “Reply.” Reply essentially brings Allo’s Smart Reply feature to all of your communication apps, and it’s now available for anyone to download.

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Reply is still in beta, and if you want to download it, you’ll need to sideload the APK file as it isn’t available on the Play Store. Assuming you’re comfortable doing this and have a phone running Android 7.0 or later, getting Reply is just a few taps away.

Once you open the app, sign in with your Google account, and enable notification access, you’ll get a quick rundown of all the features Reply has to offer. In addition to automated responses based on the context of a conversation you’re having, Reply can also generate responses using your location data, send a heap of automatic replies based on your work calendar and certain keywords, and more.

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I tested out Reply for a few minutes on my Pixel 2, and whether I was using Android Messages, Hangouts, or Facebook Messenger, it worked just as it’s advertised. The suggested replies are certainly what users will interact with the most, but if you take some time to set up all the automation features Reply has to offer, you could turn it into a really powerful tool.

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There are still some bugs here and there (I personally wasn’t able to set my home or work address), but even so, it’s remarkable how well Reply works in such an early form. If you want to give it a try, you can download it here.

Reply wants to add Smart Replies to all your messaging apps

21
Feb

Spotify’s ‘Add to Queue’ is a lie


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When you see Add to Queue in Spotify, think Play Next instead.

Sometimes you don’t want to hassle with playlists or radio stations; you just want to throw a few songs together in the queue and get the tunes flowing. Unfortunately for Spotify users, the queue behaves differently — and awkwardly — in ways that can make simple tasks difficult, if not impossible. Chief among the awkward and different ways Spotify’s queue works is “Add to Queue,” which should really be called something else.

When you add a song to your queue using Add to Queue, rather than adding it to the main queue, it’s added to a special sub-queue called “Next in Queue.” Next in Queue behaves drastically different than the regular queue:

  • Next in Queue remains next in queue, even if you move to another location in the queue. So if you skip to the end of an album, use Add to Queue on an album, and then skip back to the beginning of the album you were listening to, it won’t play the album in the queue and then the second album. It will play the first track of the first album, then the entirety of the second album, then the rest of the first album.
  • Once a track in Next in Queue is played, it vanishes from the playback order. If a song in Next in Queue ends and you hit previous track, it won’t be the song that just played, but the last song from the regular queue that played. Tracks can’t be replayed unless you restart them before the end of the song.
  • Tracks in Next in Queue do not shuffle when a queue is on Shuffle play. Tracks are played in the order they were added to Next in Queue, and then shuffle will resume in the regular queue.

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These deviations may seem minor, but they can add up to a major impact when attempting basic tasks. Want to listen to three albums in a row on Spotify? Well, you need to start with a pre-existing queue, use Add to Queue to put all three albums in Next in Queue in order, then skip the current track in the pre-existing queue to start the three-album mini-queue. Want to shuffle three albums while you listen to them? Well, you’ll have to add the albums to a playlist and shuffle them there.

Trying to build a playlist by adding songs to the queue and seeing how they sound in the mix? You’ll have to evaluate them before the song ends or drag each one from Play in Next to the regular queue in order to have them not vanish the second the song’s over.

Queue management in Spotify is a little bit like playlist management for Spotify: confusingly limited for what seem like simple operations. You can’t save a currently playing queue as a playlist either the way many music players do, but given that building a playlist in the queue is next to impossible anyway with Play in Next’s behavior, it’s a small loss.

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Have you experienced an of these frustrations in Spotify while trying to play a particular mix of albums or songs? Do you just start a new queue or playlist every time you want to heard something? Tell us how you manage it in the comments below, and tell us: should Add to Queue get a different name?

21
Feb

Arizona Sunshine tips and tricks for PlayStation VR


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We can help you git gud at one of the best zombie shooters on PSVR.

Arizona Sunshine, available for PlayStation VR (PSVR) as well as HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Windows Mixed Reality, sends you out into the bleak, dry desert to complete a campaign mode before enjoying it all over again online with a friend or up against hordes of enemies that don’t stop coming until you run out of ammo. To help you get the most out of this zombie shooter, I’ve put together a list of tips and tricks.

See at PlayStation Store

Sort out your controllers

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The aged PS Move controllers that go along with the PSVR are undoubtedly its weakest point, and the poor tracking and controls are only magnified once you’re forced into a tense situation where precise movement is required to survive.

You get the highest level of immersion when using the two Move controllers — you feel like you’re actually using the virtual hands — but unfortunately, you also get the clunkiest control scheme and poorest aim.

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Coupled with a big update that brought a bunch of two-handed weapons to Arizona Sunshine, the PSVR Aim controller (about $60) will likely be your best bet when it comes to shooting and combat movement. It simulates an actual two-handed gun stock, and it has a couple of joysticks that let you move around freely and without hassle. The biggest issue is that opening doors and interacting with some other objects feels weird.

See at Amazon

If dropping that extra cash on the Aim controller isn’t an option right now, you can always try out the regular DualShock 4 controller that came with your PlayStation 4 (PS4). It might take a little bit of getting used to, but the general consensus seems to be that it’s still better than using the Move controllers.

Improve PSVR tracking

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PSVR relies on bright lights mounted on the headset and controllers to track movement, and you might be having some issues with unstable wobbling or tearing if you’re playing in a room bathed in sunlight. I’ve had best tracking with the blinds closed and lights out, but at least removing any direct glare should help a lot.

When aiming down the sight with Move or Aim controller, try holding it further away from your face. This way, the camera has a better chance of distinguishing headset and controller lights, resulting in better tracking.

You can also get creative with your camera’s physical placement in the room. Some claim that setting it at a 45-degree angle across the room helps since the camera again has an easier time telling the difference between controller and headset lights when you have a weapon raised.

Others still have tried mounting the camera straight down on the ceiling. This keeps the controller and headset lights apart, even with a gun held out straight in front of your face. It won’t hurt to try different orientations, and when you find one you like, stick with it.

Arizona Sunshine PSVR gameplay tips and tricks

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Once you’ve chosen a controller and have tracking nailed down, it’s time to get into the meat of Arizona Sunshine.

Choose locomotion you’re comfortable with

While smooth movement — the kind that simulates natural walking and turning — is more immersive, you might find that it makes your legs shake and head spin. Though teleporting and snap turning might make you feel more like a superhero than a ragged survivor, you’ll be able to enjoy the game without worrying about falling flat on your face.

Treat gunplay as realistic

Some great PSVR games are more on the arcade-y side of things, letting you run and gun with a souped-up shotgun while demons erupt in blood (looking at you, DOOM VFR). However, Arizona Sunshine is more realistic and should be treated so. It might seem natural to stay far away from zombies, but if you want to pull off headshots with amazing accuracy, chances are you’ll have to get close.

On a related note, it’s not a bad idea to take that extra second to line up a shot properly (if you aren’t using a shotgun and aren’t surrounding in walkers). Ammo gets real scarce in the later levels, so every shot really does count.

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Collect ammo faster

See a box of ammo sitting on the seat of a car? Unless you’re working on a stealthy run, just shoot out the window and reach into the car instead of opening the door. This is much faster and you’ll be reloading at the same time you’d otherwise still be fiddling the with handle.

Conserve ammo

When you reload a gun that has an unfinished magazine, those extra bullets fall to the ground with the expended clip. To save wasting those precious bullets, grab the ejected magazine from off of the ground and replace it in your belt. The ammo will be re-added to your total.

Reload comfortably

VR games often make reloading a gun a challenge, and while Arizona Sunshine definitely isn’t the worst offender, you’ll want to get used to the mechanic before getting into any tense situation. Since you can pick up your magazines and not lose bullets, go through the motions a bunch of times when you aren’t already under attack.

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Plan your defense

One of the scariest parts of Arizona Sunshine is when you’ve attracted a horde of shambling, rotting corpses. Once you know you’re about to be sieged, find a good place from which you can defend. Don’t get caught out in the open, and don’t leave your back unprotected!

Don’t be afraid to retreat

Once you’ve put in some time, you should be able to get a sense for when the zombies are about to overwhelm you. Sure, your skills will keep improving and you’ll be able to dispatch them easier, but there will still be times when high-tailing it out of a situation is a better strategy than sticking around to become dinner.

See at PlayStation Store

More resources

  • How to locate and fix tracking issues for your PlayStation VR
  • Best place to buy your PlayStation Aim controller
  • How high should your PS camera be for VR?

21
Feb

Best External Monitors for your Chromebook


Because sometimes you just want to go big; plug into one of these monitors for that desktop feeling.

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Chromebooks are perfect on-the-go computers for a lot of people, but sometimes you just want to sit down, relax, and do your thing with a big display. That’s why almost every laptop, regardless of what software is running on it, has some sort of port to send video out to an external display.

And connecting it all together really couldn’t be easier. You really only need three things: your Chromebook, your monitor, and a cable that can plug into each. Chrome makes using desktop peripherals dead simple, and we’ve had a close look at exactly what you need to do and how you can get started.

Using your Chromebook with an external monitor, mouse and keyboard

That’s the easy part. Sometimes making sure you buy the right thing is the hard part. Nobody wants to spend money they didn’t need to spend or find out there was a better option or even the “perfect” option out there and they didn’t see it. We can help! Here’s a rundown of the best monitors for your Chromebook no matter what or how you need it.

  • Best 4K monitor: BenQ PD3200U
  • Best 1080p monitor: ASUS VE278H
  • Best smaller monitor: Acer G226HQL
  • Best budget monitor: ASUS VS247H-P

Best 4K monitor: BenQ PD3200U

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You’ll find monitors from BenQ on any best of list even if you’re not completely familiar with the name, and the PD3200U is one of the best displays the company has ever built.

Designed for digital content creation, the PD3200U has a 20 million:1 dynamic contrast ratio, to give you the blackest blacks and the whitest whites and specialized display modes with tools like Darkroom mode or Low-Blue light mode to make sure the screen looks exactly how you want it. The monitor can even act as a KVM switch if you need to connect more than one computer of any kind.

The BenQ PD3200U comes in around $800, which isn’t a bad price for a 32-inch 4K display with all these features.

See at Amazon

Best 1080p monitor: ASUS VE278H

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Manufacturers can do amazing things with the tried and true 1080p panel and the ASUS VE278H is a testament to that. An amazing 50,000,000:1 contrast ratio starts the list of great features, as well as Video Intelligence Technology, an ASUS feature that lets you connect just about any multimedia device as an input rounds it up.

The best feature of a 1080p monitor is the price and you’ll love what you get for just $180 with the ASUS VE278H.

See at Amazon

Best smaller monitor: Acer G226HQL

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Don’t have a lot of space on your desk but still want something bigger than the 12-inch display on your Chromebook? Acer’s G226HQL can help.

Its 21-inch footprint means it won’t take up a lot of space and the 1080p panel looks incredibly sharp at this smaller size. The Acer G226HQL doesn’t have the most features of any monitor out there, but the size is right if you’re short on room and the price is perfect at $90.

See at Amazon

Best budget monitor: ASUS VS247H-P

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You don’t have to spend a lot to get a great monitor and ASUS proves it with the VS247H.

This 24-inch 1080p monitor has the same features as its 32-inch cousin that was our best overall 1080p choice, but when they are packed into the 24-inch size, you will save a lot of money.

The ASUS VS247H-P comes in right around $140, and it’s a heck of a lot of monitor at the price.

See at Amazon

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