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13 Essential Apps Every College Student Needs

Students walking outdoors on university campus while using phoneMonkey Business Images/Shutterstock.com

Whether you’re a brand-new college student just entering your first year or a jaded senior, college is tough. But if you’re equipped with the right apps, you won’t have a hard time keeping things organized or understanding what your professor was talking about. You’ll survive college in one piece and graduate in no time.

It can be tough to find an app when you need it most, and having to spend an hour in the app store digging through irrelevant apps is just a frustrating waste of time. Lucky for you, we found some free apps that’ll make studying easier, help you take notes, type up papers, stay in shape, balance your budget, and stay relaxed while focusing on your classes.

Learn (or Better Understand) Concepts: Khan Academy

Khan Academy app for learning school courses onlineKhan Academy

Sometimes, you just end up with a professor who doesn’t do a good job of explaining things. Or maybe you’re just taking a course with crazy difficult material that just isn’t sinking in. With Khan Academy (free), you can brush up on all kinds of subjects, from physics to art history on your own time, as many times as you need. The site is packed with excellent video tutorials for topics and offers exercises for you to work through to ensure you understand things.

You don’t need to create an account on Khan Academy to access the content, but doing so will allow you to save your progress and bookmark courses for easy reference in the future. The site is the perfect complement to school and will help you survive difficult courses and professors alike without breaking a sweat.

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Brush Up on Literature: SparkNotes

SparkNotes app for studying chapter summaries for literatureSparkNotes

If you’re struggling to understand a particular book or you just don’t have time to read, digest, and analyze the entire thing in a week, SparkNotes (free, with in-app purchases) has your back. In the app, you can find chapter summaries and study questions for common books, and even take quizzes to see how well you understand the material. You can search for SparkNotes literature guides by author name or title.

SparkNotes is free for one month, then to keep accessing its guides you’ll need to pay $0.99 per month, or $4.99 per year. The paid version is ad-free, supports dark mode and customizable text sizes, and gives you full access to all content even if you don’t have an internet connection.

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Study for Your STEM Courses: Wolfram Alpha

Learn how to solve math problems and study other topics with Wolfram Alpha's appWolfram Alpha

Another great resource for helping you with your homework (especially for STEM courses) is Wolfram Alpha (free), which is a computational search engine. The program uses artificial intelligence to solve difficult math problems, like plotting a function or computing a statistical quantity. It’s also a vast knowledge base for all kinds of other things, like finding out when a particular video game was released, learning about an artistic sculpture, or figuring out how to split a bill three ways with a 15% tip.

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Learn a Language: Duolingo

Use Duolingo to help you study for your languages courses, with short lessons and vocab helpDuolingo

Learning a new language is fun and will look terrific on your resume. That being said, sometimes elements like verb conjugation can be totally confusing. With Duolingo (free, with in-app purchases), you can learn a language through simple bite-sized lessons. Duolingo also makes it easy to review vocab and see things like conjugated verbs used in everyday sentences. The app uses listening and writing exercises to help cement concepts, and you can even test-in if you already know a good portion of a language and don’t want to start from scratch.

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Free Email, Calendar, & Word Processor: Google

A Google account gets you free email and other useful apps you can access anywhereGoogle

Google (Free) is more than a search engine—it has tons of other tools that are perfect for students. If you create a free Google Account, you’ll get Gmail and access to Google’s other free apps: Photos, Keep, Translate, Calendar, Maps, Messages, Meet, Books, Podcasts, and more. You’ll also get access to Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides, which are the company’s free equivalent of Microsoft Office—perfect for reports and presentations.

The best thing about a Google Account? Everything is saved in the cloud, so no more jump drives. Log on from any device to access your emails, files, and documents, no matter where you are. The apps are fully integrated with each other, so you can schedule meetings from Gmail and have the details show up automatically in Calendar and Google Maps, for example. Logging in on a browser also syncs your bookmarks and extensions, so they’re always at the ready, too.

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Take Notes and Make To-Do Lists: Evernote

Evernote app for taking notes, or photographing and digitizing notesEvernote

You can easily take notes in class and review them later on with Evernote (Free, with in-app purchases). Beyond note-taking, the app is also great for creating to-do lists and keeping your projects organized. It can even clip and save web pages, scan and store documents, and keep your files synced across all of your devices.

Evernote’s note-taking technology is terrific. It can search your handwritten notes for a keyword, so you can find important information when you need it most, or capture notes taken on a whiteboard, sticky note, or other surfaces and save them. Evernote can also search for keywords in PDF and DOC files. Having a single place for your notes, to-do lists, projects, and deadlines will keep you organized and on top of everything.

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Fantastic Helpful Flashcards: StudyBlue

StudyBlue app for creating and studying flashcards, or crowdsourcing course material from other students on the appStudyBlue

Flashcards are a quintessential college supply. They help you learn vocab words or study and memorize important concepts for a test. StudyBlue (free, with in-app purchases) is a digital flashcards app, which means your flashcards will always be on hand, and you won’t have to worry about leaving them somewhere or losing one.

You can create your own flashcards with StudyBlue, or review information on the 400 million flashcards already in the StudyBlue database, which will save you all kinds of time if you don’t have to input questions and answers yourself. The app can also track your study progress, set reminders for you to study, create custom quizzes, and connect you with your classmates so you can study together.

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Improve Your Writing: Grammarly

Grammarly app to help you avoid spelling errors and write strongerGrammarly

Whether it’s on a simple quiz or a daunting academic paper, getting marked down for typos and other grammatical errors always sucks. It can be embarrassing if you frequently make mistakes in your writing, or can never find the best word to use when expressing yourself. Grammarly (free) can help you with all of that, and it’s also available as a browser extension, so you can get help with your writing no matter which device you use.

Grammarly catches spelling and punctuation errors, but can also help you find stronger or more accurate words, write more concisely, and help you sound more confident and knowledgeable. It’s the perfect companion to have while writing a paper, chatting with classmates, or sending an email to an intimidating professor.

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Log Calories and Exercise: MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal for logging caloric intake and exerciseMyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal (free, with in-app purchases) does a great job of helping you log food intake and workouts, and can help you set both diet and exercise goals if you’re trying to stay in shape during the school year. The app’s huge database has over 11 million food items in it, including many from popular restaurants, so logging is super easy. It also has a barcode scanner and recipes you can use for your own meals.

Best of all, MyFitnessPal has a terrific community. You can connect with other users to get (or share) advice on dieting and exercise, or get support when you’re struggling. It also has integration with over 50 apps, like Apple Health and Fitbit, for easy logging of your exercise and other metrics.

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For Budgeting Your Money: Mint

Mint app that helps you budget money and remember to pay billsMint

When you’re living on your own away from the parents, it’s tempting to spend all of your money on food, drinks, games, and other fun things. But creating and sticking to a budget means you’ll always be able to responsibly pay your bills, cover unforeseen expenses, and occasionally have some fun with. Mint (free, with in-app purchases) makes budgeting easy and offers simple easy-to-understand budget tracking tools. With it, you’ll always know exactly what you’ve spent money on, and how much money you currently have available.

Mint brings all of your accounts to one central location, so you can manage all of your finances at a glance. This makes it much easier to note upcoming bills and pay them, and even create a budget based on your personal spending habits. The app also lets you check your credit score whenever you want, which is a must-have if you’re working on building up your credit. Mint can even send you reminders for upcoming bills or when your funds are running low.

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Scan and Digitize Your Documents: Adobe Scan

Adobe Scan app for scanning physical documents or notesAdobe

Having a good scanner app is essential for submitting important paperwork to your department’s dean or to the registrar. They’re also great for capturing, digitizing, and sharing notes or other physical projects. Adobe Scan (free) produces high-quality scans, and also lets you edit and share files easily. It can scan a variety of physical surfaces, from whiteboards to magazines to complex forms, and remove blemishes or wonky shadows.

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Fast Food (and More) Delivered: Postmates

Postmates app for ordering delivery of food and suppliesPostmates

You can get food delivered right to your dorm with Postmates (free, with in-app purchases), leaving you more time for studying. The service can also deliver other things like groceries, beer, or party supplies. Through Postmates, you can order from over 500,000 restaurants and stores. Postmates also has an Unlimited plan ($9.99 per month), which gives you free delivery on every order over $12, no blitz peak-hour pricing, and other special offers.

You can easily order food from popular national chains, as well as Postmates-exclusive brands like Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles, KazuNori, Sugarfish, Blaze Pizza, Alfred Coffee, Backyard Bowls, and Salt & Straw. The service is available in over 4,200 cities across the United States, and has over 650,000 associates ready to quickly deliver you food and more.

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Free Emotional Support and Counseling: 7 Cups

7 Cups with emotional support and counseling resources7 Cups

College is often exciting and fun, but it can feel incredibly stressful or overwhelming at times, too. When you’re feeling down, having someone to talk to can help put things in perspective and help you stay motivated and focused on the future. With 7 Cups (free, with in-app purchases), you can find free anonymous emotional support and counseling at any time of day.

7 Cups allows you to chat with a listener, calm your mind with one of over 300 mindfulness exercises, take a free wellness test, boost your mood with simple activities and videos, and connect with others in the community forums and chat rooms. It also has resources for finding online message-based therapy with licensed therapists.

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Source: https://www.reviewgeek.com/53488/13-essential-apps-every-college-student-needs/
Proactive Computing found this story and shared it with you.
The Article Was Written/Published By: Suzanne Humphries

The 6 Best Google Assistant Speakers You Can Buy in 2020

Person carrying Bose Portable Home SpeakerBose

If you’re heavily invested in the Google ecosystem, using Google Assistant is likely second nature for you at this point. Whether it’s smart home commands or listening to music, Google Assistant is just useful to have around. So, why not have it around everywhere and the addition of great audio quality with a Bluetooth speaker that has Google Assistant built-in?

What to Look for in a Google Assistant Speaker

When it comes to selecting your speaker, there are a few things you should consider.

  • Audio Quality: Obviously, this is the most important part of any speaker. You might have your preferences on how you like your audio to be tuned, but regardless of that, the speaker you buy should output audio worth its price tag.
  • Connection Requirements: Google Assistant requires an internet connection for most features. You can still use the Bluetooth functionality without the internet, but if you want full access to Google Assistant, you’ll need to be connected to some form of network (whether that’s from the local coffee shop or your mobile hotspot).
  • Build-Quality: You don’t want your expensive new speaker breaking within the first week. The speaker should be durable—able to survive a drop or two. After all, these speakers are built to be taken out of the house.
  • Waterproofing vs. Water Resistance: Going along with build quality, it’s important to understand the difference between a speaker being waterproof and being water-resistant. A waterproof speaker can safely survive being submerged in shallow water for short periods of time. Meanwhile, a water-resistant speaker can only survive splashes of water and rain. Some manufacturers may also provide an Ingress Protection rating, which can clue you in to how waterproof the speakers are.
  • On-Device Inputs: While you can use voice commands to control your speaker, that doesn’t mean it can’t be useful to have some tangible buttons to manage things as well.
  • Size and Weight: If you’re packing a speaker in a bag, you want it to be fairly compact. Even cutting an inch or two can make a surprising difference, and the same goes for how much it weighs. It is worth noting that, generally speaking, smaller speakers have to make the trade-off of lesser sound quality to achieve their compact size, though.
  • Battery Life: An obvious factor for sure, but you want your speaker to last a decent amount of time before dying.

A Line with Options: JBL Link Portable and Link 20

JBL is probably the most well-known for producing these sorts of speakers, and for good reason. Its lineup balances price, audio quality, and portability insanely well, and you even have a couple of options to choose between in the Link Portable and the Link 20.

JBL Link PortableJBL

Starting at the smaller option, the JBL Link Portable is built for, well, portability. It’s fully waterproof, lasts for about eight hours on a full charge, and still features the quality sound JBL is known for. Naturally, as a fairly small speaker, the audio quality can’t match larger speakers like the Link 20, but it’s still great for the size. The on-device inputs on the Link Portable are pretty simple, with a Google-Assistant button and volume controls on the top of the speaker.

The Link Portable comes in three colors: grey, blue, and black (pictured above).

JBL Link 20JBL

If audio quality is your main concern, then the JBL Link 20 is the way to go. It’s significantly taller than the Portable at 8.26 inches, but in exchange for that increased height, you’re getting better audio quality. And, just like the Link Portable, the on-device inputs can be found on the top of the Link 20.

Alongside portability though, you’re also making a couple of other tradeoffs with the Link 20. It’s only water-resistant (Ingress Protection rating of IPX7) instead of waterproof like the Portable, and it only lasts for five hours on a full charge. There is also the Link 10, which is a smaller version of the Link 20 and is around the same size as the Portable. It has the same features and battery life of the Link 20, but when it comes to that size,  the Portable is the better option.

The Link 20 comes in either black or white (pictured above).

You can’t go wrong with either of these speakers; it just depends on whether you prioritize audio quality or portability.

The Premium Option: Sonos Move

Sonos MoveSonos

If having the highest quality audio possible is what matters the most to you, then the Sonos Move is the speaker to buy. It’s not cheap by any means, but the premium audio quality it delivers for that premium price makes it all worth it. The speaker is fairly large and heavy at six pounds, which can be a pain when it comes to packing, but that’s just a sacrifice you have to make for superior sound.

The Move is also fairly durable as well. It’s rated with an Ingress Protection rating of IP56, meaning it can survive most forms of tame weather (rain and wind mostly). Do note though, the Move is merely water-resistant, not waterproof—don’t want to get that mixed up on a $400 speaker.

All the controls you’d expect are found on the top of the Move, and it can last for about 10 hours on a full charge. The Sonos Move comes in either white or black (pictured above).

The Premium Option

Premium Portability: Bose Portable Home Speaker

Bose Portable Home SpeakerBose

The Bose Portable Home Speaker is your best bet if you want premium audio quality with better portability. Being from Bose, you know that you can expect high-quality audio (even if it does come at a high price), but besides that, the speaker’s small build and handle make it ideal for travel. It’s water-resistant and features a durable build, so you can feel good about taking it out of the house.

Alongside the portable-friendly build, you’ll also find your typical media controls and buttons all placed on the top of the speaker for easy access. This speaker lasts for 12 hours on a full charge, and you can get it in either silver (pictured above) or black.

Premium Portability

Super Small: TicHome Mini

TicHome Minimobvoi

When it comes to portability, the TicHome Mini reigns supreme. This speaker is small and light (0.6 pounds) enough to never be a concern when packing. And while larger speakers may be able to give you better sound, if portability is your main concern, the Mini is the speaker to go with.

Besides that, it’s a fairly basic speaker with some simple media controls on top and a hanging strap. The battery lasts about six hours, and it’s rated with an Ingress Protection rating of IPX6, which means it should handle rain and splashes just fine.

You can get the TicHome Mini in black (pictured above), white, or teal.

And Finally: Some Battery Bases

If you’re on a budget, getting a speaker like this that’s friendly to the wallet can be a hard task. However, if you already have a Google Home or Google Home Mini lying around, you can actually convert those into portable Bluetooth speakers with a simple battery base. Google added Bluetooth audio support to the Home line a while ago, and these battery bases make sure the speaker keeps running even when away from an outlet.

It is important to note that neither the Home nor the Home Mini is built to be portable, so you’ll have to be more careful with them than the other speakers here.

Ninety7 Battery BaseNinety7

This base from Ninety7 is pretty simple, but it’ll keep your standard Google Home running for about eight hours. It also comes in three colors: black (pictured above), bronze, and white.

KIWI Design Rechargeable Battery BaseKIWI Design

Another simple base, this time from KIWI Design. It fits your Google Home Mini nice and snug and can protect it from minor bumps and falls, too. This base will keep your Mini running for about 12 hours and comes in three colors as well: Light Stone Gray (pictured above), orange, and dark gray.

We want to make it clear that this base is for the Google Home Mini, not the Nest Mini. The Nest Mini would be a fantastic speaker for this as well, but, unfortunately, neither Google nor any third-party vendors produce battery bases for it. You could always rely on an external battery pack and MicroUSB cable to keep your Nest Mini running out of the house, but that’s a pretty lame option and far from elegant.

Source: https://www.reviewgeek.com/46760/the-6-best-google-assistant-speakers-you-can-buy-today/
Proactive Computing found this story and shared it with you.
The Article Was Written/Published By: Eric Schoon

These Free Stock Image Sites Are Picture Perfect

Free Stock Image Sites heroRawpixel.com/Shutterstock.com

Stock images are handy resources for bloggers, news agencies, geeky tech review sites, and a lot more, with ready-to-use images spanning general topics and niche needs alike. The fact that many of them are free is just icing on the cake! Here’s a look at the best free stock image sites around today.

Stock Image License Types

It’s a common misconception that all stock photos are free to use and don’t require you to ever credit the artist, which isn’t always the case. There are several licensing options pertaining to stock images—each with their own restrictions and rules—and learning about them can help you steer clear of lawsuits and other legal trouble. Copyright laws vary by country, so we’ll just briefly discuss the stock image licensing within the United States.

  • Public Domain: Images that are public domain are free to use and have no intellectual property law protection (think: trademarks, copyrights, or patents). Typically, these are either older images with expired rights, or images of any age with rights that have been forfeited by their owner. The Creative Commons license is a subset of public domain images, which may require photo attribution (i.e., crediting the artist) if you want to use them. Public domain images can be modified, copied, and distributed without creator permission. All of the sites listed in this article are public domain and free for you to use.
  • Royalty Free: Images with a royalty-free license are those typically offered by paid stock photography agencies like Shutterstock. Royalty-free images require you to pay a one-time flat fee to be granted the right to use the photo (but not ownership rights to the photo itself). This type of license also gives you permission to use that image again in the future if you want. Some content creators or specific websites may also require attribution if you use an image.
  • Rights Managed: Images with Rights Managed are under a limited-usage license, and are restricted to an exclusive aone-time use basis, with details like usage purpose, size, time in use, and others agreed upon beforehand between the customer and the owner. This purpose cannot be changed, and if you want to use one of these images a second (or third) time, you’ll have to pay for additional licensing. Rights Managed images typically cost more than those that are royalty free.

As stated earlier, we’re only focusing on sites with public domain images that are free to use.

Professional Photos on the Regular: Unsplash

Unsplash stock imagesUnsplash

Unsplash (Free) is a great place to find high-quality photos taken by both professional and semi-professional photographers. There’s a search bar right on the Home page where you can type in specific keywords, or you can opt to browse through over a million images covering a variety of topics, from technology and architecture to nature and mobile wallpapers.

If you hover over a photo, you’ll see a few basic options like favoriting, adding to a collection, or downloading the image. Clicking on it gives you more options like information about the image or options for sharing it, along with size options for downloading. Unsplash’s photos are beautiful, the website is easy to use, and new photos are added weekly.

Fresh and Popular Vibes: StockSnap.io

StockSnap.io stock imagesStockSnap.io

If you need bold photos that look fresh (and aren’t on everyone else’s websites), StockSnap.io (Free) is a great resource. From the homepage, you can search for photos, scroll through the entire gallery, or click on the Categories or Trending pages. Be aware that the top images in each category are often dog-eared with a star, meaning they’re actually sponsored pay-to-access photos from Shutterstock, but below those are images you can get free from StockSnap.

StockSnap also keeps track of individual image views and downloads, which makes it easy for you to see which images are currently the most popular. Hovering over a photo shows you its view, favorite, and download counts, and clicking on a photo shows a bit more information and lets you download the image.

A Vibrant Photo Community: Pexels

Pexels stock imagesPexels

Pexels (Free) is a community-loving stock image site known for taking submissions from artists around the world. Its wide variety of beautiful photos each have relevant tags, so it’s easy to find similar photos or search new categories. You can look at all of Pexels’ image collections from the Discover tab, and even search through their massive collection of stock videos.

Hovering over the Explore tab lets you refine your image search by image popularity, color, and even community-centric choices like artist leaderboards. Pexel doesn’t give much information when hovering over a photo, but clicking on one shows you all of its relevant details, and even the option to follow a particular creator if you like their work. Pexels isn’t quite as easy to use as Unsplash, but its images are beautiful and fun (and it’s a great website if you’re interested in contributing photos and participating in regular artist challenges).

Quirky and Creative: Gratisography

Gratisography stock imagesGratisography

Created by one guy, Ryan McGuire, Gratisography (Free) prides itself on being the home for quirky, creative, and un-boring stock images. You can find images by browsing large generic categories like animals, fashion, business, and urban; or get lost in curated collections about goofy grownups, funky food, or virtual backgrounds. The site does have a few sponsored third-party photos across it, however, so be aware as you browse.

Of course, Gratisography lets you search with more traditional keywords as well like nature and animals. If you’re fed up with seeing the same old stock images everywhere and you don’t want to perpetuate that cycle, let Gratisography help you connect with your inner weirdo.

Power to the People: Pikwizard

Pikwizard stock imagesPikwizard

Sometimes, it’s nice to have resources that cater to your specific niche, and Pikwizard (Free) excels at this. Pikwizard has some of the most authentic-feeling stock images of people just being people—working out, getting their hair done, or hugging a family member. Of course, Pikwizard has tons of photos from other super-specific categories as well like Baby Cats, Street Lamps, Black and White Pics, and Stack of Books, so whatever your creative needs are, you can probably find the perfect image with Pikwizard.

Hovering over a photo shows you how many times it’s been favorited or downloaded, and clicking on it shows you options for downloading and sharing, and provides a link for crediting the artist. Pikwizard’s built-in editing tool is actually pretty robust, too. It lets you apply filters; adjust transparency; crop, resize, add text, or shapes; work with templates; and more.

A Smorgasbord of Food Photos: Foodiesfeed

Foodiesfeed stock imagesFoodiesfeed

Food is one of those topics that has always been and will always be talked about, so it’s a good thing that Foodiesfeed (Free) is stocked up on all kinds of food images. From the Home page, you can search for one of the site’s more than 1,500 photos, or browse by categories like cake, coffee, pizza, or even healthy foods.

You can get something as simple as a picture of tomatoes or a bowl of berries, to beautifully staged photos of summer barbeque feasts or produce at a vibrant Asian market. The images look bright and exciting, and are perfect for blogs and business websites alike. You can download an image simply by hovering over it and clicking the download button.

Vintage Images: New Old Stock

New Old Stock stock images

Sometimes, a super old photo works just as well as a snazzy new one. The guy running New Old Stock (Free) understands that, and has scoured Flickr Commons to find actual vintage public domain images he then curates on this site. Clicking on an image takes you to its Flickr page, which should show all of its pertinent information, like format, rights, what collection it’s part of, how many views it has and so forth. You should link back to an image’s Flickr page to mention the institution who’s hosting it by name if you use it.

Unique, Not Stocky: Reshot

Reshot stock imagesReshot

Reshot (Free) embodies the saying “out with the old, in with the new” with its bold and unique collection of stock images. Its photos look more like a beautiful photo gallery or highly curated Instagram feed, not the same old dreary stock collection that’s smothering the rest of the internet. Typing in keywords to Reshot’s easy-to-use search bar brings up tons of fun photos that span a wide range of topics, so you can quickly and easily find one that’s perfect. Clicking on a photo shows you a photo’s info, like its resolution, title, download button, and a link to view its license agreement, plus you can scroll down to see related photos.

Source: https://www.reviewgeek.com/42589/these-free-stock-image-sites-are-picture-perfect/
Proactive Computing found this story and shared it with you.
The Article Was Written/Published By: Suzanne Humphries

Samsung’s Tab S6 Lite Is the Cheap Tablet You Need

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Let’s be honest: There’s nothing exciting about basic tablets anymore. I don’t mean those fancy (and pricey!) convertible tablets like the iPad Pro, which can double as a slate and a laptop. I’m talking about the kind of tablet that lives in your living room (probably on a coffee table) that you use to surf the web…

Read more…

Source: https://gizmodo.com/samsungs-tab-s6-lite-is-the-cheap-tablet-you-need-1843739056
Proactive Computing found this story and shared it with you.
The Article Was Written/Published By: Sam Rutherford