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hands-on

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Acer Chromebook 15 hands-on: One big Chromebook

Chromebooks are mostly clustered toward the bottom of the market, and that often means the materials are unimpressive, features are lacking, and the build quality is mediocre. Acer has announced an updated version of its 15-inch Chromebook at IFA 2017 and it's none of that. This device has been slimmed down compared to the last Acer CB15, it has better battery life (up to 12 hours), and it's gained an aluminum frame. You're still not going to get the best hardware out there, but this Chromebook could be just what some people want.

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Sony Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact hands-on: Sony still doing Sony

Sony doesn't have much of a presence in the US, but it's still working hard to make appealing Android phones in other parts of the world. Case in point, the new Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact have been unveiled at IFA 2017. Despite looking and feeling a lot like other recent Sony handsets, there's something notable—they're launching with Android 8.0 Oreo, which is still just rolling out to Google devices. As for the rest of the phones, well, it's pretty much what you'd expect from Sony.

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Moto X4 hands-on: No relation

The Moto X was the beginning of the Google-fueled turnaround for the company, earning it plenty of fans and positive reviews. The Moto X refresh each year became something Android fans looked forward to, but the Google era didn't last long. Under Lenovo's leadership, the Moto X went away in favor of the Moto Z family of devices with their ecosystem of modular accessories. The last Moto X launched in 2015 as the "Moto X Pure," but now it's coming back. After months of leaks, the Moto X4 is official. It's not the same phone we remember, but it might be interesting in its own way.

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Samsung Gear Sport hands-on: A smaller, more durable Gear smartwatch

Samsung is still steering well clear of Android Wear at IFA 2017 with both of its new wearables. The larger of the two is the Samsung Gear Sport, a follow-up to last year's Gear S3. It's not intended to replace that watch, but it's a smaller and you might say more fun wearable with an assortment of band options and many of the features that have made Samsung's wearables notable. The most important thing here; the Gear Sport fits wonderfully, and that makes me happy.

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Allo for web hands-on: Works well enough, as long as you like Chrome

Google's newest messenger app, Allo, was released about a year ago. The app's momentum dropped shortly after release, but that hasn't stopped Google from continuing to improve it. At long last, Allo has gained a web client, but has it been worth the wait?

Setting it up

Unlike Hangouts and similar cloud-based messaging services, your phone acts as the intermediary between your computer and Allo. Anything you do (send/receive a message, start a new chat, etc) is actually performed by your phone, which sends the response back to your computer. As such, your phone will need a working internet connection for the Allo web client to work.

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The Moto Z2 Force's 'unbreakable' screen may be a deal breaker

Motorola is set to launch the Moto Z2 Force in a few weeks on all major US carriers. Those carriers are doing their part to make the launch a success with various promos, but you ought to look upon these deals with skepticism. Our full Moto Z2 Force review will be ready in a few days, but I thought it would be prudent to expand on something I touched on in the hands-on: the ShatterShield display. I'm afraid this screen will be a deal breaker for many people. While it doesn't crack, there are plenty of other issues with it.

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Hands-on: Moto Z2 Force and 360 Camera Moto Mod

Motorola is now into its second generation of Mod-enabled phones with the release of the Moto Z2 Play a few weeks ago and now the Moto Z2 Force. As far as we know, there won't be a regular Z2 variant this year, so Moto seems to have split the difference between the last-gen Z and Z Force. The Z2 Force is a bit slimmer than its predecessor with a smaller battery, but it still has the shatter-proof POLED display.

We'll have a full review later, but let's see if this phone makes a good first impression. There's also that new 360 Camera Mod launching on the same day.

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YouTube TV hands-on: Google's off to a good start

The expansion of services like Netflix and Hulu has led to fewer people subscribing to traditional cable. Still, there are some things you can't get with those streaming services, most notably live TV feeds. That's what Google aims to offer with YouTube TV. Google announced the service a few months ago, and it went live in a handful of cities yesterday. I haven't had a cable subscription in years, so I was anxious to try it out. YouTube TV seems like an excellent start, but there are definitely some pain points.

The Basics

YouTube TV is currently only available in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, and the San Francisco Bay Area.

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LeEco Le Pro3 hands-on: Fantastic value with some big drawbacks

As a foothold into the American smartphone market, or perhaps a first step in what LeEco sees as a long, protracted climb to the top, the Le Pro3 is an impressive device. Both it and its less powerful variant the Le S3 (yes, we've passed the Pepe Le Pew jokes around the Android Police office plenty already) are exceptional values at their mid-range price points, and the fit and finish of both phones are approaching some of the bigger players. The device meets or beats its most direct competition, the OnePlus 3, at almost every corner. On paper, the Le Pro3 is great.

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Google Pixel and Pixel XL hands-on: Google takes on the iPhone... by becoming the iPhone

Google's new smartphones were, well, exactly what we expected. They're expensive, they have high-end components, and they feature industrial design by Google. There's a big one and a small one, and the only real differences between the two are those of proportion (battery size and pixel density).

Pricing for the 5" Pixel starts at $649 with 32GB of storage, and the 128GB Pixel XL runs all the way up to $869. They can be substantially more expensive depending on where you live, too. As such, there is no doubt that Google is uninterested in being a champion of the "phone of the people" pricing model in 2016.

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