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Reviews

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Samsung's excellent Galaxy Buds hit all the right notes at the right price

True wireless earbuds are big business these days, and they’re especially popular since Apple released its to-be-seen-with AirPods. Samsung's first attempt at this product category in 2016 was a little disappointing, but the updated Gear IconX that came out the following year offered improved battery life, a redesigned case, and better connectivity. The $200 price tag was too high for what you got, but frequent discounts made them a slightly more viable prospect.

Fast-forward to 2019 and Samsung is back with its latest iteration. Galaxy Buds is already a far more appealing and marketable name. They also cost much less than their predecessors at $130, even undercutting the AirPods by a full $30.

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Google Pixel 3 / Pixel 3 XL case reviews: Because breaking an $800+ phone would really suck [Updated continuously]

If you thought the Pixel 2 and 2 XL were expensive, you probably weren't very happy when you saw the Pixel 3's $799 and Pixel 3 XL's $899 MSRPs. The Pixel 3 XL received a modest $50 jump in price from the 2 XL, but the Pixel 3 went up by a whopping $150 when compared to the Pixel 2. In other words, those who've purchased a new Pixel, regardless of the model, are probably going to want to protect it.

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Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630 (4K) review: A powerhouse with mediocre battery life

Back at IFA 2018, we managed to grab a quick hands-on with Lenovo's Yoga Chromebook 4K. Intended for those who like large 15.6" laptops and want an ultra high-res display, the Yoga Chromebook C630 packs some impressive specs that put it right up there with the Acer Spin 13 and Pixelbook. All of that comes in a beautiful chassis for under $1,000. Suffice to say, we were impressed.

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The Galaxy S10e is Samsung’s answer to the iPhone XR, and it offers a ton for $749

At today's glitzy Unpacked event in San Francisco, Samsung unveiled a raft of new products, some of which are mostly aspirational for the time being. One device the company will hope to sell a boatload of in the coming months is the Galaxy S10e, a new cheaper variant in the popular series. It's a departure from the norm for Samsung, and a response to growing consumer unrest at the rising price of high-end flagship phones. It also serves to counter Apple's more affordable iPhone XR, obvious from the identical $749 starting price and variety of bright colors being made available.

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Soma smart shades review: Retrofitting your blinds for Google Assistant requires many compromises

Automating the light in your home is easy if you only consider getting some smart bulbs or switches or plugs. But once it comes to natural light, the equation gets a bit more complicated. Smart shades/blinds/curtains aren't as ubiquitous, and the current solutions aren't ideal. You either have to replace your entire shades (Ikea, Lutron), the motor (Neo Smart Blinds), or if you're not feeling particularly adventurous, you can try to retrofit your existing window coverings.

The solution for that is both a little genius and ridiculous: there's a cord to control your shades, so how about adding a motor that just pulls on that cord instead of you?

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Satechi 75W dual USB-C PD charging hub hands-on: Great for the home, office, and travel

We would love for USB-C to be as ubiquitous as possible, and to avoid using USB-A and MicroUSB cables and ports, but the truth of the matter is that we're still in a transition phase where smartphones have adopted the standard, computers are moving in that direction, and accessories are still (generally) lagging behind. If you have multiple devices that can charge over USB-C, a hub that only provides one C port isn't ideal. But those with two ports or more are still a rarity.

Aukey had the PA-Y6, but it turned out to be not up to specZeroLemon and Scoche have some options, but their low output makes them less ideal for charging laptops; and Anker just announced the 100W PowerPort Atom PD 4, but it's not yet available and should cost about $100 when it does come to market.

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The newest, fastest "app class" microSD cards are still not very good for apps

There are plenty of reasons to pick up a microSD card, should your phone support one. It can be a lot cheaper to get a phone with less storage and plan to add more. Media maniacs and data hoarders can also make use of the super cheap extra space. But if you think SanDisk's new A1 and A2-rated microSD cards are going to provide anywhere near the experience of your phone's built-in storage, think again.

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Moshi's combo USB-C audio & power dongle is a must-buy for charging while listening — especially in the car

I will never change my opinion when it comes to the headphone jack: Taking it away was a terrible, consumer-unfriendly decision. Thanks to Google, Essential, OnePlus, and other OEMs, that means I have to work a bit harder to accommodate new devices into my firmly, happily tangled life, and one of the most annoying sacrifices up until now was using my phone in the car. The standalone Android Auto app actually works great just on your phone's screen, but having to choose between charging and audio was a major bummer.

Thanks to Moshi's power/3.5mm splitter dongle, that's not an issue for me anymore.

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Nokia 3.1 Plus for Cricket review: Returning to US carriers with a decent budget option

Nokia's nothing short of a legend when it comes to mobile phones, having been responsible for some of the most iconic handsets of all time. Over the years we've seen the brand change hands numerous times, reinventing itself and crossing platform lines in the process, but it's always been a survivor, managing to find its next niche. Most recently that's meant creating some no-nonsense, streamlined Android handsets under the direction of HMD Global. Now HMD is finally making inroads onto the US carrier marketplace, bringing Nokia handsets to both Cricket and Verizon. Today we're taking a look at what that Cricket option has to offer as we review the Nokia 3.1 Plus.

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Review: The GE C-Life is an affordable smart light bulb perfect for Google Home, no Wi-Fi necessary

Most smart home products use one of four connectivity options — WiFi, Zigbee, Z-Wave, or Bluetooth Low Energy. Bluetooth products are a little less popular, because they can only be controlled locally via a smartphone, or remotely if the company makes its own Bluetooth to WiFi hub. General Electric's C-Life A19 bulbs use Bluetooth too, but they're special because they're one of the few products that can use a Google Home speaker as their hub.

The C-Life Smart Bulb has no separate account to manage, no additional hubs to plug into your router, and no Wi-Fi connections to deal with. All you need is a Google Home, the Home app, and you're set.

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