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Telltale Games releases first trailer and cast list for Minecraft: Story Mode

Posted by wicked July - 6 - 2015 - Monday Comments Off

Back in December, Telltale Games announced its new point-and-click game Minecraft: Story Mode, which is being developed in partnership with Mojang. We’re still not sure when the game will be released to the public, but we’re finally getting a good look at what exactly it will entail.

Telltale has just released the first trailer for the game, which you can find attached above. From what we can tell so far, Minecraft: Story Mode looks to feature great graphics, a dark storyline and a ton of fun characters, all voiced by popular actors. The main characters will be voiced by Patton Oswalt, Brian Posehn, Ashley Johnson, Scott Porter, Martha Plimpton, Dave Fennoy, Corey Feldman, Billy West and Paul Reubens.

Here’s a brief description of what we can expect to see in the new Minecraft game:

You’ll control protagonist Jesse throughout the season, as portrayed by actor Patton Oswalt. Jesse and his group of friends revere the legendary Order of the Stone; four adventurers who slayed an Ender Dragon. The Order are the very best at what they do: Warrior, Redstone Engineer, Griefer, and Architect. While at EnderCon, Jesse and his friends discover that something is wrong… something dreadful. Terror is unleashed, and they must set out on a journey to find The Order of the Stone if they are to save their world from oblivion.

Again, we’re not entirely sure when it will be released, but we do know it’s coming sometime this year. The game will be launched on Android, iOS, PC/Mac, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One and Xbox 360.

So what do you think? Will you be downloading the game when it becomes available?

Most unconventional Android devices of all time

Posted by wicked July - 4 - 2015 - Saturday Comments Off
Android

Android fans are all about choice, so we like when manufacturers build unique, innovative products with a slightly crazy touch. Who doesn’t marvel over geeky technology?! Of course sometimes they think so outside of the box they get totally lost in some weird alternate reality.

We have seen plenty of crazy smartphones and tablets in the Android realm, but some of them are just so nuts we thought it would be good to create a list of smartphones we could marvel over. Now bear in mind, this list is far from complete. Additionally, some devices that were considered unusual at the time they were released have also become fairly commonplace today (such as the Note series). For this list, we are focusing on devices that are still considered at least somewhat unconventional. Some of these are amazing. Others are funny, while a select few are downright dumb.

Let’s take a look!

Kyocera Echo

The Kyocera Echo is by far the most ridiculous Android phone I have seen. It was a total abomination. Sure, some of us may have totally geeked out over it and liked the idea at first, but in practice this phone was the biggest mess! And it sure was big for its time. The Echo featured a set of two 3.5-inch screens, which could be folded out and used in tablet mode, making for a 4.7-inch screen… a square one… with a big black stripe in the middle.

Kyocera_Echo

Let’s look past that mistake, though. The phone could be operated in dual window mode, giving users the ability to operate a couple apps at once. The lower screen could also display a keyboard or controller, freeing up the space for more content to be displayed on the top screen. In theory this sounded amazing, but the functionality was so limited. It only worked with some core apps and pretty much no developer supported it, because no one really bought the phone to begin with!

Also – a silly 1370 mAh battery to power two screens at once? What a joke! This thing was a total fail, and it did take its rightful spot at our feature post “The worst Android phones of all time“. Now we are pointing out it was also one of the most unique ones.

Sony Tablet P

The Sony Tablet P is an interesting one, as it uses the same concept we saw with the Kyocera Echo. The Japanese manufacturer seems to have taken the idea and polished it. And they did very well, as this product actually doesn’t seem as ridiculous and horrible as the Kyocera Echo!

Sony Tablet P

Sony Tablet P

This device featured a couple 5.5-inch displays with a 1024 x 480p resolution (each). It was essentially a tablet that could be folded in half to offer superior portability. It’s specs were pretty good for the time, too. The user experience was still affected by the dreaded black strip we also saw on the Kyocera Echo, but at least Sony did everything else right. Because data can also be a limitation, this foldable tablet could also take advantage of AT&T’s network for data, so it was a pretty good road warrior.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Play

While we are on the topic of interesting Sony devices, let’s touch on that “PlayStation phone” the world was begging for at one point. Sony catered to our wants by releasing the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, an Android smartphone that doubled as a portable gaming console. What made it unique was the slide-out gaming pad you could use when you really wanted to get some serious gaming done (the handset resembled a PSP Go, but ran Android and made calls).

While most “out of the box” gaming smartphones are pretty horrible, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play proved to be a remarkable phone. It was powerful enough for its time and offered a solid build, along with recent software. Now, the real question is whether it was a good gaming device or not. The issue was that there wasn’t much support in terms of gaming, and the PlayStation Classic titles list was very limited.

Xperia-PLAY-S..product-1

I owned the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play for about half a year, so I am telling you all this from my own perspective. The phone was good, it just needed more support for gaming. Having a quality gamepad at all times made a huge difference, and I was boss at the few online multiplayer games that were supported. I wish they would have released more successors, as support would have likely improved.

Notion Ink Adam

I wouldn’t take an article serious if it focused on innovating mobile devices and didn’t mention the Notion Ink Adam. Back when Android phones were all the hype and Android tablets were nothing but rumors, Notion Ink made rounds around the internet by showing off the Notion Ink Adam. This pad was built from the ground up to offer a true mobile tablet experience!

The Adam had a larger screen, great specs and a UI that was actually tailored for the larger display it touted. It was a total hit and something we hadn’t seen before. The only reason it failed was that Samsung beat them to the curve when they released the first Samsung Galaxy Tab, which was pretty much a larger smartphone… a very popular one. Cheers to Notion Ink for realizing a UI optimized for the screen is a necessity. And they thought of this way long before everyone else.

NotionInkAdamPixelQiTablet

LG Optimus Vu

When the LG Optimus Vu (LG Intuition for Verizon users) was announced in 2012, super-sized smartphones were starting to become popular; the phablet era was upon us, and LG really didn’t want to fall behind. They also wanted to be unique, though, so they went ahead and decided to go nuts with design.

The LG Optimus Vu was fun and… weird. It stood out from the crowd by featuring a 5-inch display. That’s reasonable, but things got weird when you took a look at the shape of the display. The thing was nearly square!

The panel rocked a 4×3 aspect ratio, which looked very odd and made it so the phone didn’t fit in one’s pocket very well. There were some benefits to it, though. Web browsing is much more natural with this aspect ratio, as you can see much more content at once. Not to mention, phones weren’t very wide back then, and because the LG Optimus Vu was insanely wide compared to the competition, it made for much more comfortable and faster typing.

LG DoublePlay

I suppose everyone was trying to make the whole dual-screen thing happen back in the day. Now it’s LG’s turn and we are taking a look at the infamous LG DoublePlay. This thing had a slide-out keyboard, a feature that was very popular at the time. But that keyboard wasn’t alone. Oh no! LG decided to cram a secondary 2-inch screen right in the middle of it.

As if the phone’s keyboard wasn’t small enough with that 3.5-inch form-factor, they go on and make it unusable by sacrificing precious keyboard space in lieu of a screen that served very little purpose. It was pretty much a glorified customizable shortcut list.

Was it unique? Sure. And it was very much outside the box, which is appreciated. The problem is the idea wasn’t applied well.

LG-Doubleplay

Samsung Galaxy Beam

Taking the large screen experience wherever you go is not easy. Projectors can be bulky and expensive, televisions are definitely out of the question and not always do you want to carry your laptop or tablet around. As a ‘solution’, Samsung came up with the Galaxy Beam, an Android smartphone with an integrated 15-lumen pico projector. It could project a mirror image of your screen at a 640x360p resolution. Not the best quality, but it was nice to have and served its purpose pretty well – especially for a mid-range smartphone.

Ultimately though, this phone concept failed to really catch on.

Samsung-Galaxy-Beam

Zettaly Avy

There’s a clear issue with Android devices when it comes to sound quality. Pretty much no Android product offers a true high-quality sound experience through its integrated speakers. We have a few exceptions that go above and beyond (like the HTC One M9 and BoomSound), but that is only relatively speaking. These dual-speaker handsets offer great sound compared to other phones, but they still pale against full-on speakers.

Enter Zettaly Avy, an Android device which truly focuses on sound. It’s best feature is probably those powerful (and large) 5W stereo speakers, which add quite a bit of bulk to the device, but will sound heavenly. The Avy also sports a 7-inch 1024x600p display, which works very well for watching videos and shows, but the true focus is on sound quality, not video.

It runs Android 4.4 KitKat, so it’s amazingly easy to access all your favorite apps and store your media right into its 8 GB internal storage. You can also use a microSD card, though, just in case that’s not enough. This is really a full-featured Android tablet, with a front-facing camera, microphone, touch screen, HDMI, micro-USB, a 3.5 mm headset jack and more. It even sorts a 2000 mAh battery for when you want to take your music on-the-go!

It’s not exactly the cheapest at $200, but Zettaly gets props for thinking outside of the box. Plus, some of you may really be looking for a quality speaker that needs no other device to operate.

Zettaly Avy Android speaker product kitchen

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge

Now, not all devices that thought of outside the box were unsuccessful or bad. The Samsung Galaxy Note Edge is pure testament of this argument. The over-sized smartphone offered an Edge curved display with added functionality, and it proved to be a hit among techies.

The Edge display was able to showcase app shortcuts, the time, notifications and more. It served its purpose very well and was a handy tool. The only downside is it didn’t get too much support, but the concept was great, and it translated very well into theory. Not to mention, it set a standard for things to come.

samsung galaxy note edge first look aa (1 of 18)

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

Samsung figured their Edge screen functionality wasn’t taking off so fast, so they decided to backpedal a bit and make this flexible side screen purely aesthetic with its flagship smartphone. The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge offers two Edge displays instead of one. They do almost nothing in terms of added functionality, but they sure look gorgeous and very unique. Not to mention, the phone is a beast and the design does help make it a bit easier to hold.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge-4

Samsung Galaxy Round

The world has never been more about curvatures than when the Samsung Galaxy Round was announced, in October 2013. The phone’s main selling point was the fact that it wasn’t a black slab, like every other smartphone was. This one had a curve to it, feat which was accomplished by using a flexible OLED display.

The curve really had no functionality, but Samsung swore the phone was more comfortable to keep in your pocket. I guess the ability to roll the device to wake it (while it was laying on a flat surface) was pretty cool. Other than that, making this phone was more abut showcasing their manufacturing abilities and creating different products.

Samsung Galaxy Round Hands On AA  (18 of 19)

LG G Flex

Samsung wasn’t jumping on this round hype alone. LG joined the party by introducing the LG G Flex, a phone that proved to be much more popular than the Galaxy Round. How was it different? Instead of curving from side to side, it curved from top to bottom (mind-blown!).

The phone was great, even if plagued by screen ghosting issues. LG didn’t only implement a flexible screen, the whole darn thing could be bent to a certain extent! To make matters even more unique, the back was made out of this self-healing material that could make slight scratches disappear in a matter of minutes. It was truly out of this world… and the box. It also sparked a continued push into flexible displays from LG that we’ve seen with the LG G Flex 2 and even newer flagships like the LG G4 which features a subtly curved screen.

LG G Flex Hands on AA (6 of 19)

Conclusion and honorable mentions

The Android ecosystem is all about being open, so it’s a pleasure to see manufacturers not losing their innovative touch (even if sometimes they go totally nuts). At least it keeps the market full of options and the ecosystem fresh. It seems Samsung is especially brave about experimenting with their devices, though. Maybe that is part of why they are where they are. They really do have something for everyone.

We wanted to touch on some other devices that didn’t make it to the top list, but definitely deserved at least a mention. The Samsung Galaxy Continuum was another one of those weird phones with a secondary screen, for example. And who can forget the HTC Evo 3D and LG Optimus 3D?

I also had a love/hate relationship with those phones that had odd keyboards, like the Motorola Flipout, Motorola Backflip, HTC ChaCha and the Samsung DoubleTime (which also had a secondary screen). We can’t forget home phones deserve some love too! Do any of you remember the Motorola HS100? It was pretty much a home phone running the Android OS on a tiny screen.

It would be interesting to hear your opinion on all these phones, so please hit the comments and share your thoughts. Which one is the craziest? Which one is the one you actually like the most? I have to say I am a fan of the LG G Flex and Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, in terms of innovation and “thinking outside of the box”, and obviously these are the most commerically successful of the phones mentioned above.

Samsung cuts $30 off the Galaxy Tab A 8.0 and 9.7 in the USA

Posted by wicked July - 2 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off

Samsung Galaxy Tab A - Android Authority

The Galaxy Tab A series is a curious product line to say the least: it’s the first non-Note to include the S-Pen (on some models), it makes use of the “A” series lettering yet is neither made or metal nor mid-range, and it’s apparently not exactly flying off the shelves. In a move that comes a bit of a surprise given the fact the product pair released less than 3 months ago, Samsung has decided to drop $30 off both the Tab A 8.0 and the Tab A 9.7, bringing the new totals to $199.99 and $269.99 respectively. It is unclear as to just how long this sale will last.

The Tab A series are the first Samsung tablets to make use of a 4:3 aspect ratio, something that we expect to see carry over onto Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S2. As nice as that might sound for those looking for an “Android iPad”, consider the remainder of the specs: a 1024X768 resolution display, a quad-core Snapdragon 410, 16GB of on-board storage, 1.5GB of RAM, a 5-megapixel rear and 2-megapixel front camera. Rounding out the specs, the Tab A 8.0 includes a 4,200 mAh battery and the Tab A 9.7 comes with a larger 6,000 mAh power cell. Android Lollipop is pre-installed, though when the OS build will be upgraded to 5.1.x is a mystery.

This sale pertains only to the models without the S-Pen: those interested in some Note-like functionality will still need to cough up the (extra) cash. While Best Buy’s inventory reflects the current discounted prices (check the source link below), Samsung’s official website also deals with the discount.

 

Google and Yubico offering Security Key USB drives for 50% off!

Posted by wicked July - 2 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off
Google for Work Security Key

Google and Yubico are partnering up to offer eligible customers a 50% discount on Yubico’s U2F Security Keys. This would bring the price down to $9, which is a significant discount over the original $18 price point. It sure is a good deal, especially when considering some companies buy these for many of their employees.

The offer is only applicable to Google for Work users, who happen to be the main target for Google’s Security Key USB thumb drives. Not sure what Security Keys are? These USB drives offer a stronger 2-step verification process that doesn’t sacrifice your precious time.

No longer do Google for Work users need to enter a password and a code sent to their smartphones every time they want to log into a secure document or account. With Security Keys, Google allows users to replace the smartphone code with hardware verification. Simply plug in a USB thumb drive into the computer and press a button when prompted. The system then recognizes your credentials and grants you access.

It’s a simple concept that also manages to keep your account secure. We all know password security is flawed in most cases, as intruders can sometimes steal your credentials with amazing ease. Not to mention, IT departments have complete control of these Security Keys. Managers can track when and where members used their Security Keys; they can also revoke the key if needed.

It’s truly a great product for those who care about security and use Google for Work. Interested customers can go to Yubico’s website and see if their Google account is supported. If it is, simply order as many Yubico U2F Security Keys as you want and go through the purchasing process as one normally would. The discount will be applied during checkout – no codes or coupons needed.

fido-u2f-usb

We are also not sure how long this deal will be around, so you may want to act quickly. By the way, this special edition Security Key only supports FIDO U2F. Those who need additional protocol support will have to dig deeper into the Yubico store, and this discount won’t apply then.

How many of you guys have used one of these Security Keys? Are they really as awesome as they seem? Let us know in the comments! I also have to wonder if we will ever see consumer versions of these coming to the market. I wouldn’t mind trying one of these out!

Updated Android 5.1.1 factory image with build LMY48G arrives for the Nexus 7 (2013)

Posted by wicked June - 29 - 2015 - Monday Comments Off

Nexus 7 2013 camera buttons tt

Google has just released an updated factory image for the Wi-Fi Nexus 7 (2013), which was posted earlier today as Android 5.1.1_r6 carrying build LMY48G. While no exact changelog has been posted at this time, this minor update will likely only contain a few small bug fixes. The update is only available for the Nexus 7 (2013) for right now, but this might mean that more Nexus devices will see this small update in the future.

Related Videos

As always, we’ll be sure to let you know if this build makes its way to any other device. For now, if you absolutely need this new version running on your device as soon as possible, you can head to the source link below to download the new factory image. If you aren’t sure how to flash a factory image, though, be sure to check out our walkthrough. The guide was designed specifically for Android 5.0 Lollipop, but the same overall process should apply. Just remember that things can go wrong, so be sure to flash at your own risk.

Lenovo Tab 2 A8 review: great sound on a tight budget

Posted by wicked June - 29 - 2015 - Monday Comments Off

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Over the last year or so, budget-friendly device manufacturers have been focusing on a particular key aspect, in order to help their device stand out in the over-crowded and highly competitive market. Some offer fantastic battery life, some attempt to provide a great camera, and some, like in the case of Lenovo’s latest budget-friendly tablet, are focused on the audio experience. Does Lenovo deliver with regards to audio quality, and what else does the Lenovo Tab 2 A8 bring to the table? We find out, in this Lenovo Tab 2 A8 review!

Design

Lenovo-Tab-2-A8-review-15

The design of the Lenovo Tab 2 A8 can best be described as simple, but elegant. The rear plastic panel with a matte finish wraps around the sides of the tablet to meet the display frame, and this device is available with navy blue as the color option, which is a pleasant change from the default black that is sported by many devices in this class.

Lenovo-Tab-2-A8-review-3

Going around the device, the power button and volume rocker are on the right side, and while neither is exactly within easy reach, it doesn’t take a lot of hand gymnastics to get to them. The disappointing thing about the buttons is the fact that they do sit quite flush with the body of the tablet, and don’t offer much tactile feedback when pressed. At the back is a flap that houses the microSD card slot, and has an additional space, presumably for a SIM card for those that opt for the LTE version of the device. The front-facing stereo speakers are above and below the display, and both the headphone jack and the microUSB port are at the top.

Lenovo-Tab-2-A8-review-8

The tablet has a thickness of 8.9 mm and weighs 360 grams, and while it is a little too wide for comfortable one-handed use, the handling experience is standard for a tablet in this size category. Overall, the Lenovo Tab 2 A8 does feel really good in the hand, and features a build quality that goes beyond what its extremely budget-friendly price point would suggest.

Display

Lenovo-Tab-2-A8-review-14

The Lenovo Tab 2 A8 comes with an 8-inch IPS LCD display with a 1280 x 800 resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 184 ppi. The display is certainly capable and colors on the screen do look quite good, but the viewing angles aren’t the best, and the low resolution does make for a display that is average at best. That said, this resolution is standard at this price range, and while this display doesn’t stand out, it isn’t any worse than even some more expensive devices out there.

Performance and Hardware

Lenovo-Tab-2-A8-review-6

Under the hood, the Lenovo Tab 2 A8 packs a 64-bit quad-core MT8161 processor for the Wi-Fi-only model, and a 64-bit quad-core MT8735 for the LTE model, both clocked at 1.3 GHz, and backed by the Mali-T720 GPU (Wi-Fi-only model) and 1 GB of RAM.

While the processing package leans towards the lower-end, it does handle tasks quite well, with no obvious issues in performance. Understandably, it can feel a little slow at times, but not when doing what you might want a tablet for, which is watching a video or listening to music. 1 GB of RAM is somewhat limiting when it comes to multi-tasking though, but at least the device handles gaming very well, including some popular titles like Need for Speed – Most Wanted.

Lenovo-Tab-2-A8-review-18

The Tab 2 A8 comes with 8 or 16 GB of internal storage, further expandable via microSD card, but only by up to a further 32 GB. The standard suite of connectivity options is available, including GPS, which is great to see, given that it isn’t available with some other budget-friendly tablets. Being able to use the tablet for offline navigation is certainly a big plus, and something that can be useful for a lot of users.

Lenovo-Tab-2-A8-review-16

Coming to what is the biggest selling point of the Lenovo Tab 2 A8, the front-facing stereo speakers: featuring Dolby Atmos Cinematic Moving Audio, the fantastic quality of these speakers is very apparent when listening to any audio. This speaker setup allows for a truly immersive experience when watching a movie or playing a game, and is huge plus when it comes to the media consumption experience.

On the battery front, the Tab 2 A8 packs a non-removable 4,290 mAh battery, that provides a battery life that’s better than average. In my usage, the battery lasted for about 7 hours with over 5 hours of screen-on time, and usage that consistently mostly of watching videos or writing, with very little standby time, while using Wi-Fi, and with the display brightness set to 100%. Overall, most users shouldn’t have too difficult a time getting a full day of use out of this device.

Camera

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The Lenovo Tab 2 A8 comes with a 5 MP rear camera and a 2 MP front-facing camera. Being able to take pictures isn’t really a part of the tablet experience, and as such, very rarely will you find a tablet with a good camera. While some do allow for decent shots in a pinch though, that is unfortunately not the case here. The shots taken by the rear camera lack sharpness, color, and detail, and are basically just not very good. Overall, the camera feels like quite an unnecessary addition.

Software

Lenovo-Tab-2-A8-review-9

The Lenovo Tab 2 A8 comes with a very slightly customized version of Android 5.0 Lollipop. The only noticeable changes in the user interface are in the form of custom icons, a few changes to status bar and Quick Settings menu, and the presence of an the actual representation of a home button, instead of just a circle.

Lenovo-Tab-2-A8-review-10

A big change that has been made to the software experience is with regards to the animations, which have been disabled, making transitioning between various elements seem very abrupt. This has likely been done to accommodate the lower-end processing package, but you do have the option enable animations in the Android Developer options.

There’s not a lot in terms of additional features, but one that can be quite useful for some is Notification Log, which, as the name suggests, provides a log of dismissed notifications. Things otherwise remain close to stock Android with only minor modifications to be seen here and there, which is a very nice change from the quite heavy Vibe UI that Lenovo uses.

Specifications

Display 8-inch IPS LCD, 1280 x 800 resolution
184 ppi
Processor 1.3 GHz 64-bit quad-core MediaTek MT8161
Mali-T720 GPU
RAM 1 GB
Storage 8 GB/ 16 GB
expandable up to 32 GB
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0
GPS
microUSB 2.0
Camera 5 MP rear camera
2 MP front-facing camera
Software Android 5.0 Lollipop
Battery 4,290 mAh
Dimensions 210 x 125 x 8.9 mm
360 grams

Gallery

Pricing and Final Thoughts

The Lenovo Tab 2 A8 is available for $130 for the 16 GB model, and currently, the only color option available is navy blue. That is an extremely impressive price tag, and there’s not a lot of devices at this price range of a similar caliber.

Lenovo-Tab-2-A8-review-17

So there you have it for this closer look at the Lenovo Tab 2 A8! Lenovo has undoubtedly built a very solid tablet that goes beyond what its very budget-friendly price point would suggest. While not without its flaws, with its slower processor, the availability of just 1 GB of RAM, mediocre display, and bad camera, the Tab 2 does deliver in the area it was meant to, and that is in the audio experience. You’ll be hard-pressed to find such an excellent speaker setup with even a twice as expensive tablet, and to be able to have that with a device that is priced at just $130 is amazing. If media-consumption is the primary objective, and you are on a budget, the Lenovo Tab 2 A8 should be under consideration.

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New Chromebox for meetings tailored for larger conference rooms

Posted by wicked June - 25 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off
chromebox for meetings

It has been over a year since Chromebox for Meetings was introduced. Google’s enterprise solution for conference video calls has served its purpose like a champ. Not much has changed, but the Search Giant figures it’s now time to expand. They have announced a new Chromebox for Meetings bundle targeted at bigger companies with larger conference rooms and more users.

For those who have been living under a rock, Chromebox for meeting pretty much uses Hangouts and the simplicity of Chrome OS to put together a simple, fast and affordable conference call system for businesses (starts at only $999). Chrome OS is super easy to manage, as it’s a cloud-based OS. Not to mention Google has great support for enterprise.

chromebox-meetings-bundle-large

There’s multiple reasons why this new Chromebox for Meetings hardware is better. For starters, Google is offering a pan-tilt-zoom USB camera that captures live video at 1080p and can really take a look at everyone in a large conference room. Because people can sit pretty far from each other at sizable environments, Google also found the need to include an extra speaker. Now you can conveniently place a couple speaker/microphone devices where you see best fit.

Aside from the hardware improvements, the Search Giant is also catering to big businesses by improving dual-screen support, allowing you to connect two monitors for a much richer experience. Full-screen mode and extra management controls have also been included in the software side of things.

for-meetings

You can’t expect all this extra bang for no extra buck, especially in the enterprise market. These video call hardware bundles are to cost a hefty $1999. It sure isn’t cheap, but some companies spend fortunes in similar solutions, and nothing really beats the simplicity of Chrome OS.

This large room bundle is said to serve up to 20 people, whereas the previous iteration only covered up to 8 users. That is a huge difference, and we can see some of you business people taking good advantage of this. You can always go to the official Chromebox for Meetings website to learn more and sign up to use this with your team. Have any of you tested Chromebox for Meetings? What do you think of it?

Best Android compatible car accessories

Posted by wicked June - 25 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off

GM Chevrolet Chevy Volt 2016 Android Auto-11

Google may be making a big push cars with Android Auto, but not everyone wants or needs a brand new car. Thankfully there are plenty of ways to bring at least parts of your Android experience into your car, including 3rd party Android Auto in-dash units, newer smartphone-compatible in-dash units, cables for connecting your phone to your stereo, or even just convenient mounts and chargers.

With this in mind, here is a roundup of some of the best Android-related accessories for your car!

Android Auto in-dash units

Pioneer

best-car-accessories-pioneer-nex

If you really want Android Auto but aren’t looking to buy a new car in the near future, you do have a few options when it comes installing after market Android Auto in-dash units. Starting with Pioneer and their NEX line of infotainment systems. These systems come with Android Auto compatibility, letting you plug your smartphone to the device to enjoy the full Android Auto experience, while also being compatible with Apple CarPlay.  Three models that are available include the AVIC-8100NEX, the AVIC-7100NEX, and the AVH-4100NEX, priced at $1300, $1100, and $600 respectively.

The most expensive of the lot comes with a capacitive touch screen, that allows for pinch-to-zoom navigation, and 16 GB of storage, with the other two coming with resistive touch systems. All the devices feature 7-inch displays with a 800 x 480 resolution, as well as built-in Bluetooth support for hands-free calling and audio streaming. All units also feature built-in HD Radio, an HDMI input with MHL support, and DVD playback, allowing for a slew of options as far as connectivity is concerned. Finally, all three devices allow for rear seat passengers to enjoy audio or video content on additional rear seat monitors and headphones, even while the front passenger and driver listen to audio from other sources or operate navigation functions simultaneously.

Kenwood

best-car-accessories-kenwood

Kenwood also has a couple of options in this category, and offer a very similar set of features when compared to the Pioneer NEX systems, including built-in Bluetooth, HD radio, an HDMI input with MHL support, and DVD playback. Of course, these two systems are also compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and Kenwood also claims that these are the only after market in-dash units currently available that allow for a seamless transition between Android Auto and Apple CarPlay without needing to reset the system or change any settings. Instead users can just switch the device that is plugged in, allowing for a seamless transition. Both options come with 6.95-inch resistive touch displays with a resolution of 800 x 480. The two units, called the DDX9902S and the DDX9702S are priced at $750 and $700 respectively.


Smartphone-compatible automobile in-dash units

Pioneer DEH-X4700BT

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Looking for a new in-dash unit that integrates with your Android device, without paying top dollar? While it’s not Android Auto by any means, the Pioneer DEH-X4700BT Single-DIN In-Dash CD Receiver features Pioneer’s MIXTRAX technology, built-in Bluetooth for hands-free calling and audio streaming, USB direct control of an iPod or iPhone, USB access to music on Android devices running Android 4.0 or later, and Pandora radio ready for both iPhone and Android. In addition to an updated cosmetic design, these new model CD receivers include updated feature enhancements like Bluetooth USB pairing. The Pioneer DEH-X4700BT is available on Amazon, priced at $92.95.

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Pioneer AVH270BT

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The interface of the NEX line makes its way to a far cheaper system in the Pioneer AVH270BT. Featuring a 6.2-inch resistive touch display, this device comes with built-in Bluetooth support for hands-free calling and audio streaming, and DVD playback capabilities, along with the usual USB and Aux support as well. Even though the suggested retail price is $280, the Pioneer AVH270BT is available for as low as $199 on Amazon.

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BOSS Audio BV9976B

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The BOSS Audio in-dash unit comes with a motorized 7-inch widescreen touchscreen digital TFT monitor that slides out and up from inside the unit with a high quality 800 x 400 pixel resolution. The device offers built-in Bluetooth support for hands-free calling and audio streaming, as well as USB and Aux support, along with DVD playback. A remote is available to control the system, and depending on your vehicle type, is also compatible with the controls available on your steering wheel. The BOSS Audio BV9976B is available on Amazon, priced at $127.99.

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Pyle PLDNB78i Headunit receiver

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The Pyle Headunit receiver comes with a motorized fold down 7-inch HD touchscreen, and offers built-in Bluetooth support for hands-free calling and audio streaming. There is also an integrated GPS navigation system with features such as text-to-speech and turn-by-turn voice prompts, as well as a CD/DVD player. Apart from Aux support, the device also comes with a built-in SD card reader, giving you an additional media storage option. The Pyle PLDN78i can be found an Amazon for $212.19.

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Easy solutions for phone audio playback

Nyrius Songo wireless Bluetooth receiver adapter

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The Nyrius Songo Wireless Bluetooth Receiver Adapter allows you to wireless stream music instantly from your smartphone, tablet, or other Bluetooth audio device to your car speaker by simply plugging the device into your car Aux port. Simple to set up and very easy to use, you can easily enjoy audio in your car without worrying about needing to dock your smartphone anywhere. The device also stores up to eight paired mobile devices, making it very easy to switch between them all. The Nyrius Songo wireless bluetooth receiver adapter is available for $24.99 on Amazon.

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Etekcity Roverbeats Unify

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The Roverbeats Unify wireless receiver by Etekcity connects to any powered speakers or even your A/V receiver with a 3.5mm to 3.5mm or 3.5mm to 2RCA audio cable. Enabling Bluetooth capabilities in traditional speakers, the Roverbeats Unify allows users to stream music directly from Bluetooth devices to their favorite speaker. Any Bluetooth device, including tablets, smartphones, and computers, can play and control music on a sound system. Setting up a connection is very easy, and from then on, re-pairing is automatic and hassle-free. For phones with NFC, holding it to the Multi-Functional Button also allows for an instant connection. This device is available on Amazon, priced at just $19.49.

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Keedox FM wireless radio transmitter

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If you’re looking for an option that doesn’t require Bluetooth, or if your vehicle doesn’t have an aux port, the Keedox FM wireless radio transmitter is the device for you. The device has to be plugged into the lighter socket for power, and then all you have to do is connect it to your mobile device using the headphone jack. Select the right FM channel and then you can transmit audio from your mobile device to your car speaker system. The device also comes with an additional USB port to simultaneously charge your device as well. The Keedox FM wireless radio transmitter is available on Amazon, priced at just $13.99.

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iXCC auxiliary cable

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The iXCC auxiliary cable is a sturdy 3.5 mm Aux stereo cable wire that is ideal and convenient for connecting portable audio devices, smartphones, tablets, and MP3 players, to a car stereo (with AUX port), portable speaker system or other 3.5mm-compatible output devices. Built with dual-shielding, high-quality polished metal connectors, and corrosion-resistant gold-plated 3.5mm connectors, the plugs are durable enough to withstand heavy usage. The design prevents tangling, which makes it easy to store without worrying about knots or kinks. Available lengths include 3 feet, 6 feet, and 10 feet, and can be found on Amazon, starting at $4.99. 

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RCA car cassette adapter

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Just because your car is getting up there in age, doesn’t mean you can’t easily hook up your phone for listening to your favorite tunes. As the name suggest, the RCA car cassette adapter lets you play audio from any mobile device or portable audio player with a 3.5 mm headphone jack using the convenience of the cassette deck in your older car. All you need to do is plug the device into the cassette deck to enjoy your music. The RCA car cassette adapter is available on Amazon $6.35.

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Phone craddles

Mountek nGroove CD slot mount

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If you’re looking for a reliable high-quality mount and have a CD slot in your vehicle, the Mountek nGroove Mount is a great choice. This mount installs directly into the CD player slot, and doesn’t use any suction cups, clips, screws, and is therefore very easy to install, and is perfectly calibrated to snugly fit without damaging your vehicle. Firmly mounts most current smartphones, but it always a good idea to check for size compatibility, especially if you use a large device like the Nexus 6. The holder can also be rotated to any angle, depending on your convenience. The Mountek nGroove CD slot mount is available on Amazon, priced at $19.95.

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Kenu Airframe

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The Kenu Airframe is an ultra-portable car mount that weighs under an ounce and is small enough to fit in your pocket. The device fits into the vents in your car, and the clip can be rotated to securely fit onto any vent, be it horizontal, vertical, or angled. Given its rather small frame, the only limitation with the Kenu Airframe is that it can accommodate smartphones with a display size up to 5-inches, and you will have to check for compatibility with your smartphone first. The Kenu Airframe is available on Amazon for $24.95.

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Aduro U-Grip Plus

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The Aduro U-Grip Plus is a car mount that uses a suction cup to hold on to either the dashboard or the windshield of your vehicle, and does not leave any residue when removing the mount. The device holder can accommodate devices with a display size up to 5.5-inches, but seems to also be able to manage slightly larger smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. The holder can be rotated by a 360 degree angle, allowing you to adjust the angle to your liking. The Aduro U-Grip Plus is available on Amazon, priced at just $9.99.

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Best Bluetooth speaker systems

Jabra DRIVE

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The Jabra Drive is a wireless bluetooth speakerphone for your car that can be clipped on to the sun visor. No setup is required, and it is very easy to operate. Voice guidance talks you through as you pair it up with your mobile for the first time, and after that, it will connect automatically whenever you get into the car, and is a great way for hands-free calling. The device also features A2DP technology, which allows you to stream music from a smartphone or Bluetooth-enabled MP3 player, listen to directions from your GPS applications, and more. The Jabra Drive is available for $36.99 on Amazon.

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Kinivo BTC450

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The Kinivo BTC450 Bluetooth Car Kit is designed to provide a simple hands-free solution for answering and receiving phone calls while on the go, and also allows you to stream stereo music from your smartphone, tablet or other Bluetooth capable devices. The device provides audio through your 3.5 mm input in the car stereo when playing music and answering phone calls, and so requires a car that has one. There is also an additional USB port available to charge your smartphone or tablet simultaneously while using the device. The Kinivo BTC450 can be found on Amazon, priced at $35. 

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Belkin AirCast Auto

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The Belkin AirCast Auto lets you easily connects your smartphone to your car stereo without the need for any professional installation. All you have to do is simply plug the device into the aux port of your car and use Bluetooth to pair it with your smartphone or tablet. A convenient light ring makes it visible at all hours and blinks when calls come in. The power adapter comes with an USB port that lets you charge your smartphone while you drive. After an initial pairing process, just push the AirCast Auto button to reconnect, even if your smartphone is in your pocket or a bag. Wth built-in echo cancellation technology specifically designed for in-car use, this device ensures that you get optimal sound during calls. The Belkin AirCast Auto is priced at $47.99 on Amazon.

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Car chargers

AmazonBasics car charger

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This AmazonBasics device is a handy car charger that features a dual-port design, which allows for charging two devices at the same time. Each USB port delivers a 2 amps of power (4 amps max total) for safe, high-speed charging of any 5V device. There is a discrete and non-distracting LED light to indicate when a connection is established and the device is charging. The AmazonBasics car charger is available for $9.99.

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BESTEK Dual AC outlets and USB charging ports

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This 300W device comes with dual AC outlets and two USB charging ports that should cover all your charging needs while on the road. It is quite compact, and there are no loose parts to worry about, with the plug that connects to the lighter port permanently attached to the device. The device allows for a maximum of 3.1 amps when charging mobile devices using the USB charging ports, and can charge two devices simultaneously. The Bestek charger is available on Amazon for $32.99.

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Anker 4-port USB car charger

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This Anker car charger not only allows for the charging of up to 4 devices simultaneously, but its exclusive Power IQ technology detects your device to deliver its fastest possible speed, up to 2.4 amps per port. Built with industry grade materials and premium circuitry, this product is CE and FCC certified to ensure complete safety and reliability. Keep in mind though that this device is not compatible with Qualcomm QuickCharge 2.0 technology. The Anker 4-port car charger is priced at $14.99 on Amazon.

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Any other accessories you recommend for making the most out of your Android device while in your automobile? Let us know about it in the comments!

Gameloft’s new strategy game Siegefall is now available in the Google Play Store

Posted by wicked June - 24 - 2015 - Wednesday Comments Off

Siegefall, the recently-announced strategy game from popular developer Gameloft, is now available in the Google Play Store. This game in particular caught our eye at E3 2015 due to its impressive graphics and long campaign mode.

In Siegefall, the aim of the game is to control your army of specialized troops to try to take over as many regions on the map as you can. Your army can consist of sneaky rogues, horrifying trolls, heavy-fisted knights and even a ‘Hero’, which is basically a giant that’s much more powerful than everyone else in the army. Not only will you need to attack other regions, you also need to defend your own kingdom while building mines, sawmills and farms within your castle to keep your kingdom’s war effort running.

Check out the official launch trailer below for more details.

The game is free to download from the Google Play Store, and offers some in-app purchases to help advance your characters more quickly. If you’re interested, you can head to the Play Store link below to try it for yourself.

Download Siegefall from Google Play

In case you haven’t heard, Android Authority is now on Twitch! Our very own Joe Hindy will be streaming Siegefall later today on our new Twitch channel at 5:30PM EST (4:30PM CST, 2:30PM PST). If you’re interested in joining the party, be sure to download the Twitch app from Google Play to watch on mobile, and head on over to this link to check out the official Android Authority channel.

Can’t wait to see you all there!

Ily is a smart home phone to stay connected with your family

Posted by wicked June - 24 - 2015 - Wednesday Comments Off
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We have a plethora of smart devices all over the house, all of which can do a million things. You can use smartphones and tablets to call people, check social networks, read the news, watch your movies and much more, but sometimes all this clutter can keep you away from what really matters. This is why New York-based startup Insensi created the Ily, a communication device that makes sure you can stay connected with your family; and it does so very well.

This is not really a smartphone, tablet or even a wireless device. It’s meant to stay at your home, always powered and available whenever you need it. I like to call it a smart home phone, because it pretty much replaces your traditional phone with a system that is worthy of this technologically advanced age.

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Ily can work as your regular landline service, or you can connect it to your smartphone via Bluetooth so it may act as a headset of sorts. You can communicate via the integrated speakers and microphone, or you can simply pick up the wireless handset and talk your way around the house. But the real fun begins when you start using the internet-based features.

The camera can be used for online voice, text and video calls with other family members (or friends) using Ily. This gadget has an 8-inch 1024x768p touchscreen that will display icons with images of your family members and friends (these need to be approved by parents). Any user can then easily tap on these faces and tell Ily what method of communication is best at the moment.

People are often on the go, though, which is why Ily does offer a completely free Android (and iOS) app so users can reach family members when they are not within reach of an Ily phone.

Now, just because this is mostly a communication device, it doesn’t mean Insensi didn’t add some cool secondary features. You can draw for each other, share images and even access apps like Spotify so that you may set the mood with some good tunes.

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This is all free, unless you want to rent a local phone number, purchase minutes and set up a voicemail. The company mentions you don’t need to pay for these, but those who need it can get it for a “small fee”. Otherwise, the only cash you will need to fork out is to buy the actual equipment.

You can buy the Ily for $199 if you pre-order it right now, but that price will raise to $299 once the device launches, this Fall. It’s also possible to get multiple device bundles for a discount. Insensi sells 2 for $189 each, or 3 for $185 each.

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This is an interesting concept, to say the least. I can see how it could be beneficial to some families, especially because it gets rid of all the confusion involved with using an actual smart device. Also, not everyone wants to give their kids expensive tablets or smartphones, which also happen to be unsafe (the internet is a wild place).

How many of you would spend this much money on an Ily (or multiple)? Will something like this help your family better stay in touch? There’s definitely a demand for it, as the company claims to have raised $2.4 million so far. That sure is no easy feat.

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