Nest kicked off the era of smart thermostats in 2011, and since then, there have been improved thermostats, new products, and a Google acquisition. Through all that, Nest's thermostats have remained at the premium end of the market. The company's previous "budget" thermostat was still $180 at launch. The new Nest Thermostat, however, is undeniably a budget device. There's the price, of course, at a mere $130. The hardware also looks much cheaper in real life, but that's not totally unsurprising given the price.
The bounty of budget Chromebooks continues to grow year by year, but most of them aren’t worth your time or money. Lenovo recently launched its C340 Chromebook, which shook up the budget segment by offering great specs at a low price. Now, Acer has a similar offering, the Chromebook Spin 311 (CP311-3H-K5GD), offering decent hardware and incredible battery life for just $320. The mediocre touchpad and disappointing display keep me from whole-heartedly recommending this device for everyone, but in broad strokes, the Spin 311 is a fantastic value for students and basic personal use if you're not too picky.
I've always been really interested in fun products — even if the product isn't remotely practical or "good" in the traditional sense. Sometimes a truly bleeding-edge device can give us a glimpse of the future, regardless of its flaws. That's what made me interested in the new Bose Frames when they were released a few weeks ago.
The idea of Bose Frames is to combine sunglasses and earbuds into one product by putting directional speakers in the temple of the shades right above the ear. They are the most unusual audio gimmick I've seen in a long time, and the interesting design and genuine enjoyment I get from this product makes it hard to regret my purchase.
This story was originally published and last updated .
It wasn't long ago that we were lamenting the "5G tax" in high-end devices. As recently as this summer, many phones were launching at astronomical prices, solely because they were able to pull marginally faster mobile data speeds in certain markets (in theory, at least). Today, 5G is still dubiously useful to most consumers, but a series of competent, competitively-priced 5G phones like the Samsung Galaxy A71, Galaxy S20 FE, Pixel 4a 5G, and, to an extent, even the Pixel 5 have changed our thinking about what 5G access has to cost.
The new Verizon-exclusive TCL 10 5G UW pushes the affordable 5G envelope even further.
Google has announced a new streaming dongle, and it comes with perhaps the best evidence yet that time is cyclical: the new Chromecast runs "Google TV." No, not that Google TV—a new thing that's based on Android but designed for TVs. No, not that Android TV. I know, it's confusing. What's not confusing is that the dongle is essentially a better version of the Chromecast Ultra. It streams 4K video, has a remote, and there are some new features in Google TV. Granted, the new Google TV isn't perfect, but at $50, it's hard to complain.
The Lenovo Smart Clock Essential is a clock radio. A glorified clock radio. A more sensible, smart clock radio. But a clock radio nonetheless. It tells the time and weather and it's a Google Assistant speaker to boot. I'll even go out to say that it's a well-made, well-intentioned product. But is it one you'd want to bring home? That depends on what you want out of your Assistant devices, but I like the Smart Clock Essential.
Google's first Assistant speaker, Google Home, turns four this year. The company says that device was designed primarily as a means to access the Google Assistant, and music playback was secondary. But the de facto second generation, the new Nest Audio, was purpose-built as a media device — and boy, does it ever show.
Phones have gotten boring in the last few years, but things are getting weird again, and thank goodness. I have been doing this long enough to remember the last time phones got weird—I've reviewed phones with spring-loaded keyboards, tablet docks, curved bodies, and all manner of multi-screen configurations. After settling on the flat glass slab form factor, OEMs are finally starting to take more risks. No phone better exemplifies this trend than the LG Wing. While LG has been pushing dual-screen accessories for a while, the Wing is the first modern LG phone that integrates a second screen in the handset.
In the era before modern smartwatches, Fitbit's name became synonymous with wearable fitness trackers. Full-fledged smartwatches have become the norm as consumers have demanded more and more from wearables, and Fitbit stepped in with the Ionic and Versa smartwatches a few years ago. I had high hopes that Fitbit would continue to improve and provide Android users a viable alternative to the increasingly frustrating Wear OS experience, but the Sense has some of the same shortcomings and bugs I remember from the Ionic. The Sense also has its own raft of new glitches that I find equally annoying. At the same time, Fitbit promises this watch can do so many things!
The processing power common to flagship phones means you can expect mobile games to run smoothly on them, but for most devices, that gaming prowess is an afterthought or an added bonus. The ROG Phone 3, launching soon in the US, pairs top-shelf internals with custom hardware and software tailored to creating an excellent gaming experience — and that laser focus on performance means it's great at other things we all use our phones for, too. But nagging flaws more expected from budget phones make it hard to recommend to any but the most ardent mobile gamer.