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The best smart home devices you can buy right now (Winter 2018)

Worldwide sales of voice assistant smart speakers have seen tremendous growth in the last year alone, and the same can be said of the smart home sector as a whole. The technology underpinning the products will continue to get better as prices come down, and new categories will keep springing up, but there’s a lot out there worth investing in right at this moment.

With that in mind, and to ensure you won’t end up gifting (or being gifted) a dud this holiday season, we’ve put together a list of the best smart home devices you can buy. Whether you want to just dip your toes in the water with a cheap Google Home Mini or dive into the deep end with smart lights, cameras, thermostats, and doorbells, we’ve got you covered.

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Essential Audio Adapter HD review: High-end sound for the PH-1 won't do jack to help Essential

Essential's PH-1 was criticized at launch for some valid reasons, like a mediocre camera, high price tag, and lack of a headphone jack. But great software and a falling price have earned it a small but impassioned cult following. Now the high-end niche phone from 2017 has a high-end niche audio accessory to go with it: the Audio Adapter HD. But a single-device, $150 external DAC/amp might be a bit too niche.

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Review: The Google Pixel Slate is a beautiful mess - but mostly just a mess

The Pixel Slate is, in a word, flawed. It’s not a very good laptop; the official keyboard case is nigh-unusable on anything but a completely flat surface, far too bulky for most airline trays, and the folding fabric kickstand can make balancing it a precarious affair. Nor is it an especially good tablet, with Chrome OS’s full-touch experience making it feel more like an unfinished software science experiment than a real first generation product.

Buggy Bluetooth, strange screen tearing, and frustrating tablet web browsing take what has already been a disappointing experience and make it downright frustrating. How can a product so closely related to Google’s wonderful Pixelbook - and in many real ways, superior to it - be so much worse?

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Mophie Powerstation USB-C 3XL: Lots of power for lots of money, but device compatibility is a deal-breaker

It's weird to think that there's a high-end power accessory market, but there is. Mophie pretty much dominates it with just a few special characteristics: a slightly more premium build quality, better materials, and high-end specs. Of course, Mophie's products also typically come with a sky-high price tag, and that's the case here with the Powerstation USB-C 3 XL. You get 45W of power on both USB-C input and output (with pass-through and different ports for each, too), a voluminous 26,000mAh capacity, and an exorbitant $200 MSRP to go with it. Unfortunately, it refused to work with any Chromebook I tested it with.

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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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Fossil Sport review: The best Wear OS has to offer

I have been a user of Android Wear/Wear OS practically since it was released. I bought a Samsung Gear Live a few months after it became available, followed by a Moto 360 and an original LG G Watch. When those models became unusable for one reason or another, I purchased a refurbished Huawei Watch that I use to this day.

I've wanted to upgrade for a while now, but once rumors of a Pixel Watch subsided, I decided to get the first affordable watch with the fancy new Wear 3100 processor. That turned out to be the Fossil Sport, which dropped to $180 this past Black Friday.

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Rowkin Ascent Charge+ review: Affordable but frustrating truly wireless earbuds

If you peruse our Winter 2018 Most Wanted audio guide (and you should — good stuff in there), you'll notice an unfortunate trend. With few exceptions, manufacturers of wireless audio gear seem timid about adopting USB Type-C charging. So I was excited to get my hands on the Rowkin Ascent Charge: they're fully wireless earbuds whose case is decked out with not only the increasingly standard USB-C, but also Qi wireless charging. And after using the buds for a couple of weeks, I like them a lot, but a few grating flaws are stopping me from loving them.

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Vinpok Split review: An undeniably neat and totally overpriced portable touchscreen monitor

Like an increasing number of people, I do all my work on a laptop. When I'm at home, it's generally docked at my desk, attached to a large, stationary monitor. When I take the show on the road, I find I miss the convenience of having two screens at my disposal. Less real estate to work with means more switching between tabs and windows, making for a workflow that's less productive overall.

So conceptually, I find the Vinpok Split enticing. It's a portable, 15.6-inch, 1080p touchscreen monitor that connects to your laptop over either HDMI or USB-C. I'm not the only one intrigued: the product's Indiegogo campaign, which initially set out to raise $5,000, has collected nearly $2 million since October.

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Asus Chromebook C423NA review: A cheap, big laptop with some obvious caveats

We've said before here at Android Police that Asus makes some of the best Chromebooks on the market, but bumps in the road are inevitable. Take the last one we reviewed, the C223NA. Corbin came away under-impressed, so we hoped that Asus' next offering would hearken back to what made us fall in love in with the Flip C302. Unfortunately, what I have here, the C423, does not accomplish that.

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NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV re-review: Not the box you bought three years ago

The device we currently know as the "NVIDIA SHIELD" is not the first one to carry the name. That honor goes to the handheld device launched in 2013, later renamed SHIELD Portable. After that came the SHIELD Tablet, and finally the SHIELD Android TV in 2015. It was not the only way to get Android TV, but NVIDIA's box is the only one that had any staying power. Three years on, this device has gotten 20 updates across three major Android versions. I can't think of another Android device that offers so much value after more than three years of use. That's why we're taking another look at the SHIELD—it's changed quite a lot.

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