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Reviews

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HTC U11+ hands-on: HTC steps into the modern smartphone era

Six months have passed since HTC launched its 2017 flagship, the U11, and although that phone was a significant improvement over the Taiwanese company's recent high-end efforts, some may not have thought it captured the imagination when compared to competing devices from rivals like Samsung and LG. There's plenty of work to be done if HTC wants to get anywhere near back to the lofty position it once held in the Android smartphone landscape, and an upgrade to the U11 six months later is probably not the worst place to start.

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HTC U11 Life review: A "value" U11 that isn't much of a value at all

The HTC U11 Life is one of two new smartphones announced by HTC today. I've been using it for over a week already, though, getting to know HTC's latest attempt to penetrate the ever-elusive premium midrange segment. At $349, the Life is positioned to do battle against the likes of the Moto X4 and, I guess, the 64GB Moto G5S Plus. That's really kind of it.

You see, here in America there are very few premium midrange phones on the market because, quite frankly, they don't sell. The reason they don't sell is simple: monthly installment plans make more expensive, better smartphones affordable for most people.

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ASUS Zenfone 4 Max review: Not a shining example of a good budget phone

Asus just announced its Zenfone 4 family of devices a couple of months ago, creating a convoluted and confusing portfolio. To kick things off, we have the Zenfone 4 Max on the lower end of the group. For $199, you get budget-level specs, except for the massive 5,000mAh battery. Besides it just being large and providing a lot of life, the Zenfone 4 Max's battery can also charge other devices. Cool, right?

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Samsung Gear Sport review: A smartwatch regular people might actually buy

Smartwatches were supposed to be the Next Big ThingTM a few years ago when Samsung launched the original Android-powered Galaxy Gear. That device came with a laundry list of problems, but the company quickly reassessed and got on board with Android Wear while also dabbling with the Tizen wearable OS. When Samsung quietly stepped back from Android Wear, many of us thought it was a mistake. With the release of the Gear Sport, it's looking like Samsung made the right call.

The Gear Sport is a followup to last year's Gear S3. Like that watch, the Sport has a round Super AMOLED display, a rotating bezel, and the Tizen wearable OS.

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Acer Chromebook 15 (2017) review: Continuing to make a strong case for Chromebooks

Chromebooks compose an interesting product category and provide a new perspective on the question "What do I need my laptop to do?" While I've been a fan of Chrome OS and its accompanying hardware since its inception, I have not been able to convince myself to buy one in recent years. Part of this has been due to the fact that Chromebooks typically don't come in larger screen sizes.

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Jensen JSB-1000 review: Compact and powerful Chromecast speaker, with a high price tag

The Jensen brand might evoke a lot of nostalgia for many of you, but the company isn't stuck in the past. One of its recent forays into modern audio tech is the JSB-1000, which was announced earlier this year, and is its first Chromecast built-in speaker. But that's not the only notable feature of the JSB-1000. For the past few months, the JSB-1000 has been blaring in my kitchen as part of my whole-home Chromecast speakers + Google Homes setup and it has quickly become an integral part of our daily lives. I love the JSB-1000, but each time I think about its current price and competition, I put a question mark around my recommendation of it.

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JBL Everest Elite 750NC review: A very compelling set of noise cancelling Bluetooth headphones

Noise cancelling headphones rank high on my list of essential items to bring on a flight. By dampening the sounds of crying kids, chatty passengers, and the dull throbbing roar of the jet engines, NC headphones can transform a miserable travel experience into a tolerable one.

The headphones pictured above are the JBL Everest Elite 750NC, and I'm pretty impressed with them. With an MSRP of $299 and a current street price of $229 they aren't cheap, but they deliver in the critical areas of noise cancellation, comfort, and sound quality, which helps to justify their lofty price. I've got a couple of small issues with the headphones, but you can decide for yourself if they are significant enough concerns to keep you from considering a pair.

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Google Pixelbook review: The laptop Chrome OS needs, but maybe doesn't yet deserve

Chromebooks have come a long way from the dark, buggy days of the CR-48 and laggardly Intel Atom processors. Back when Chrome OS really was just a browser, it was fairly easy to write off as just another strange Google experiment, unlikely to succeed and conceptually far ahead of its time. Who could get by on a laptop with just the web? I, like many people, thought Chromebooks wouldn't appeal to anyone.

But 7 years after the first Chromebook, Google's browser-based OS is still with us. And, much to everyone's surprise, it's going stronger than ever.

The reason for that, primarily, is the browser-focused laptops turned out to be ideal terminals for students accessing web applications.

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AAXA P2-A portable smart projector review: Too many compromises

You might recall that I reviewed Anker's first portable projector back in August. While it was sold under the company's 'Nebula' sub-brand, the Nebula Mars retained Anker's top-notch build quality and premium design. It certainly had a few problems, like the lack of a Google Play Store, but overall it was a good product.

A few weeks ago, AAXA Technologies contacted me, asking if I wanted to try out their P2-A portable projector. Like the Nebula Mars, it runs Android (a newer version, at that), but it's even smaller and less than half the price. I agreed, and not long after, the P2-A arrived at my front door.

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SmartThings Link hands-on: Turning your SHIELD TV into a smart home hub

Connected home items are becoming more and more common, from light bulbs to doorbells and so on. Since the beginning of it all, I've really wanted to join in the smart home thing, mostly because I am lazy and want to control my house with my voice. Cost to entry has been rather prohibitive and I've always rented places, so I figured most of my options would be limited.

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