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CES 2018 wrap-up: Alexa continues its smart home dominance

Every year at CES, there is always a dominating theme showcased by electronics manufacturers. 3D TVs, wearables, health, crazy smartphones, and connected appliances are just a few examples. CES 2018 saw the continuing domination of Amazon's Alexa voice assistant, though Google Assistant put up a fair fight.

Alexa isn't confined to audio products either - we've seen her on appliances, robots, and other tech. There were so many products announced at CES with Alexa that it was impossible to give all of them separate posts (and if we're being honest, some of them don't really deserve one). Now that the show is over, here's a summary of all the new devices with Alexa or Alexa integration from CES 2018.

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[Deal Alert] Buy a new Pixelbook, get a free Pixelbook Pen ($99 off)

Until February 1, U.S. customers can get a free Pixelbook Pen with the purchase of a new Pixelbook at the Google Store, Amazon, or Best Buy.

Integrated stylus functionality has become one of the big selling points for high-end portable devices, but the big players in this space, Apple, Microsoft, and Google, each charge $99 for their device-specific styluses. That's on top of the many, many hundreds of dollars they already charge for the iPad Pro, Surface, or Pixelbook devices themselves. So this is a risk-free opportunity for would-be stylus slingers to see if they would find such an accessory useful.

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Action Launcher updated to v33 with 'AdaptiveZoom' app opening animation, return of the Accessibility API, and more

Action Launcher embraced adaptive icons several versions ago, and the latest update makes use of this feature in an interesting way. The new AdaptiveZoom option is an alternative to the other app opening animations included in Action Launcher. It looks pretty fancy, but this update is about more than looking good.

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CES 2018 wrap-up: Even more things to connect to Assistant

Two of the big trends at CES 2018 were AI and smart home stuff. The former was actually a major buzzword, and it became so overused that I stopped caring (thanks, Huawei/Honor). However, the smart home ecosystem continues to thrive and we saw a ton of new products that are launching with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. This post will focus on Assistant; you can expect the Alexa wrap-up a little bit later.

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Android Automotive updates from CES 2018: 8.0 Oreo, Google Assistant, fancy head units, and more

Android Automotive remains something of an obscurity, but companies are still happy to tout their latest progress with the platform (or something like it), especially on a stage as large as CES 2018. Before we get to that, it's probably worthwhile to distinguish between Android Automotive and Android Auto: Android Automotive is a standalone, in-vehicle infotainment and control system running Android — basically Android OS for your car. This is a more appealing proposition than the rather laggy experience that is Android Auto, which just projects what's on your phone to an interface that sits in your car.

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30 days later, Chromecasts still aren't available on Amazon

30 days ago, Amazon announced that it was in the process of assorting Apple TVs and Chromecasts to start selling them again. Since then, the Apple TV and Apple TV 4K have been available and sold on the site, but the Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra are still showing as "Currently unavailable" from Amazon, with no third-party sellers at all. Even searching for "Chromecast" on Amazon doesn't bring up the product pages linked above, you'd have to know the URL to see them. We've reached out to Amazon several times over the past weeks to ask about this and to inquire about an exact availability date, but were told there were no details to share.

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[Update: Pricing] French music service Qobuz bringing 24-bit streaming audio to the US later this year

Streaming music is usually dominated by large names like Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play Music, but there are some smaller services out there. Tidal might be having a tough time recently, but it's popular among those looking for higher-quality music, and now another name is entering the US audiophile-grade streaming market. Qobuz (don't ask us how to pronounce it) is bringing its high-resolution 40-million track audio library stateside later this year. 

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[Deal Alert] T-Mobile Galaxy S7 refurb is $214.99 on eBay

It's not often that an eBay seller offers better deals that can be found on sites like eBay, Swappa, or Craigslist, but that's the case with this refurbished Galaxy S7. For just $214.99, you can have a 2016 flagship with very little to no damage that many people still use today. Just make sure that you're on T-Mobile.

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Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ pass through FCC, confirming some minor details about the duo

Hot on the heels of last night's Galaxy S9 box leak, the S9/S9+ duo has passed through the US's FCC. Unfortunately, since these major companies know how impatient and clever us tech nerds can be, most of the information necessary to make it through the FCC has been obscured from the eyes of the common folk. There's still some information to be gleaned here, though.

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[Hands-on] Facebook Messenger Kids comes to Amazon's Fire tablets

Facebook has released its new Messenger Kids app to the Amazon App Store, making the service available to owners of its Fire line of tablets. So I grabbed one of the Fire 7 tablets we have for our kids and installed the app to see what it was all about, and just how well it works on Amazon's lowest-end hardware.

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