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5 Cool Things You Can Do With the Pixel 6

Back of the Pixel 6Justin Duino

If you just got the new Pixel 6 or Pixel 6 Pro, you’ll want to take advantage of all the cool new features it has to offer. The Pixel 6 Pro is Google’s best phone yet, with a bigger 120Hz display, triple rear cameras, and a slew of neat software features you’ll love.

Both smartphones come with several upgrades over previous models, new cameras, the Google Tensor chip, and Android 12. Plus, there are several cool features you won’t find on other phones. And while some of these are only on Pixel, many are exclusive to the new Pixel 6 line, and you’ll want to try them right away.

With that in mind, here are five cool things you can do with the Pixel 6 or Pixel 6 Pro.

Magic Eraser & Motion Mode Camera Tools

Pixel 6 Google Photos Magic Eraser toolJustin Duino

While Android 12’s Material You design and colors are great, the first thing we want to mention is the new Magic Eraser and Motion Mode camera features. The Magic Eraser tool is integrated into Google Photos on the Pixel 6 and makes photoshopping unwanted objects or people out of photos a breeze.

With the Pixel 6 and Magic Eraser, you’ll no longer need sophisticated software tools, fancy photoshop skills, or a bunch of time to get the best photo. Instead, open up an image in Google Photos, tap edit, and launch the Magic Eraser. From here, quickly circle that power line or bird in your shot or a photobomber person, hit erase, and let Google’s software do its magic. There’s even a new “Face Unblur” option that’s pretty amazing, too.

Pixel 6 Motion mode action blurGoogle

Speaking of camera magic, you’ll also want to fully take advantage of the new Motion Mode inside the camera app. Get amazing images of a moving car, waterfalls, sporting events, and more without spending thousands on a fancy lens and DSLR camera. Instead, fire up motion mode, follow the instructions, and let Google’s Tensor chip and the Pixel 6 help you create stunning photos for the Gram.

Call Screen, Hold For Me, & More

A picture of the Call Screen dialog on Pixel 5Cameron Summerson

If you’re one of those people that still answers calls and talks on the phone, instead of texting like the rest of us, you’ll love all of Google’s AI smarts built into the Pixel series. While the cameras are great, the real Pixel superpower is phone calls.

Whether that’s dealing with spam calls, sitting on hold to refill a prescription, or scheduling an appointment, all the phone call features on the Pixel 6 are life-changing. Of course, we’re talking about Call Screen, Hold for Me, and everything else integrated into Pixel’s phone app. 

Instead of answering that unknown number calling you, let the Google Assistant do it. You’ll see a live transcribe of the conversation, and if it looks real, take over and talk yourself. If you get put on hold, let the Assistant take over, which again will transcribe anything it hears. Then, when a real person gets on the line, you’re ready to go. The Assistant even lets the person know, so you don’t get hung up on and have to call back and start over. It’s a time and life-saver.

Oh yeah, don’t forget about visual voicemail either, because it’s fantastic.

Battery Share (Reverse Wireless Charging)

Pixel 6 battery share wireless chargingJustin Duino

This next feature isn’t unique to the Pixel 6, but many people don’t know it exists, and it’s super handy. We’re talking about reverse wireless charging, which Google calls Battery Share. Yes, you can share your battery and top off a friend’s phone or recharge your Pixel Buds A while you’re out and about.

Dig into the quick settings menu and turn on Battery Share, and it’ll reverse the wireless charging coil inside the phone. Flip your Pixel 6 screen down on a table and put another phone on its back, or drop some earbuds on it. It’ll instantly start sharing that big 5,000 mAh battery power to other devices — no cables required. You can wirelessly charge your headphones and more from the power inside the Pixel 6.

Now Playing (Song Recognition)

Now Playing on PixelGoogle

In case you didn’t already know, Pixel phones are pretty smart. Google uses the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning to do all sorts of things. From the cameras, phone calls to listening to music playing in the background.

If you’re like me and constantly want to know what song is playing at the bar or in a friend’s car, turn on the ‘Now Playing’ feature in settings. Then, whenever music is playing anywhere, your Pixel phone will display a small pop-up at the bottom of the lock screen telling you the song and artist.

You can find this in Settings > Sound & Vibration > Advanced > Now Playing. Your Pixel 6 will even keep a list of songs it recognizes in history. That way, you can look back later and find your jam. This happens automatically, with all the sounds and music data staying on the device. Google doesn’t need to send the sounds back to a server to recognize them. It might sound scary to have your phone always listening, but once you enable this feature, you’ll love it.

Quick Launch the Camera 

Pixel 6 camerasJustin Duino

Google’s new Pixel 6 phones have excellent cameras to help you capture life’s best moments. But as we all know, pets and kids never hold still long enough for us to unlock the phone, open the camera, and snap that perfect photo. That’s why Google added a “Quick Launch” camera shortcut to its phones.

This feature is by no means new, but I’m constantly showing friends or family members that don’t know it exists how to use it. It’s easy, too; double-click the power button on the side of the phone, and the camera will instantly open and be ready to go. It’s that fast and that easy.

You can double-click the power button whether the phone is off or if it’s on and you’re scrolling through Twitter or TikTok—it doesn’t matter. Just quickly hit the power button twice, and you’ll immediately be ready to start taking photos.

Now that we’ve told you about these excellent features, make sure you can enjoy them for as long as possible and get yourself a Pixel 6 case from our roundup.

The more you know, right?

Source: https://www.reviewgeek.com/102381/5-cool-things-you-can-do-with-the-pixel-6/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Cory Gunther

The 5 Best Over-Ear Headphones for Holiday 2021

74ed9fdf.jpg
Over-ear headphones are easily one of the best gifts you can get someone around the holidays. Even to the pickiest person, an awesome new pair of headphones is something they’ll get daily use out of and never want to leave the house without.

Read This Article on Review Geek ›

Source: https://www.reviewgeek.com/100994/the-best-over-ear-headphones/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Sarah Chaney

Oculus Quest Will Give the People What They Want … Eventually

Facebook

Needless to say, the Facebook 2021 Connect keynote was both weird and outrageous. It was an hour-long hypnotizing act where Facebook tried to convince customers that it isn’t Facebook anymore—the company even changed its name to Meta! But tucked within all the nonsense came a few things to look forward to, especially if you’re an Oculus user.

Remember when the Oculus Quest began requiring users to log in with a Facebook account? Yeah, that’s coming to an end next year. In an interview with Stratechery, Mark Zuckerberg explained that the sustained backlash to these account requirements was a leading factor in Facebook’s rebranding to Meta. It seems that Facebook (or Meta, whatever) only recently realized how people feel about its brand.

We aren’t sure how Facebook will implement this change. But it will supposedly rebrand Oculus Quest with the name Meta Quest. Knowing that, we expect the company to offer dedicated “Meta” accounts for its headsets (and maybe its smart home and wearable products).

As we’ve focused more on work, and as we’ve heard feedback from the VR community more broadly, we’re working on new ways to log into Quest that won’t require a Facebook account, landing sometime next year. This is one of our highest priority areas of work internally.

But as clarified by Andrew Bosworth, Quest users will gain the option to delete or disconnect from their Facebook account without losing all the apps they’ve downloaded. Previously, you would lose any apps you downloaded or purchased on Quest if you lost or unlinked your Facebook account.

Zuckerberg also announced some changes to the Quest sideloading process. He promises that Quest users will gain the ability to sideload VR apps from outside Meta’s official store without any weird workarounds. Ideally, this means that Meta will offer third-party app stores within its Meta store, but I have a feeling that Meta is simply removing login requirements for sideloading.

In the grand scheme of things, these changes only exist to separate Meta Quest headsets from the Facebook brand. They may improve your experience with VR, but they won’t keep Meta from collecting your personal data. Keep that in mind as the Oculus Quest slowly morphs into Meta Quest.

Source: Meta via The Verge, Android Central

Source: https://www.reviewgeek.com/101903/oculus-quest-will-give-the-people-what-they-want-eventually/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Andrew Heinzman

The 6 Best Android Smartphones for Holiday 2021

best android phones including samsung galaxy s21 ultra, google pixel 5a with 5g, and oneplus nord 10 5gSamsung/Google/OnePlus

It’s fun to see all the new Android phones hitting the market, full of spec improvements and even the occasional inventive design. Because a smartphone is something most of us use frequently throughout the day, a new Android phone makes a fantastic holiday gift for pretty much everyone.

But which one is the best you ask? Well, that depends entirely on what you’re looking to get out of a new Android phone. A few of the phones on this list prioritize budget over specs and features, while a few others optimize specs and produce an amazing phone that you pay a steep price for. Of course, that’s not to say that the more affordable options on this list are not worth buying. (They wouldn’t be on this list if they weren’t pretty dang good phones!)

Whether you’re looking for a new phone that has an awesome camera, a cool design, a long battery life, or something else, there’s something on this list that’ll suit you.

What to Look for in an Android Phone

There are so many awesome Android phone brands that come out with new phones every year, so how do you narrow it down? Here’s everything you need to consider before buying a new phone:

  • Specs: When buying a smartphone, you’ll need to consider how much storage you get, the amount of RAM, the processor, refresh rate, and battery life. With storage and RAM, you’ll end up paying more to get more. While you might think you don’t want more storage or RAM right now, you’ll be kicking yourself down the line if you change your mind a year into owning the phone. It’s usually easy to increase storage via a microSD card, but it’s pretty much impossible to increase available RAM. If you don’t think you’ll use up 512GB of storage in a phone, it’s perfectly fine to go with the 256GB storage option; but when it only adds a relatively low amount upfront and saves you hassle later on, it might be worth it to splurge now. Just make sure you thoroughly compare prices and specs before making your final decision.
  • Design: The biggest thing to think about with the design is screen size. Although the look of a phone is important, we often cover them up with a protective or decorative case anyway. Most phones nowadays have a display of about six inches, but that can vary from phone to phone. Even a difference of half an inch can make a phone feel too large or too small. Consider your current phone’s screen size and think about how it would feel to go smaller or larger.
  • Price: Smartphones are often expensive … like really expensive. Luckily, there are still quite a few phones that strike a balance between impressive specs and a decent price. When you’re considering how much to spend on a new smartphone, think about how long you intend to have it. Do you need something that’s just going to get you by with basic texts and calls? Do you want a phone that has fantastic specs and doubles as a powerful camera or mobile gaming device? Or do you want something in the middle? What you need from it ultimately affects how much you’ll need to pay for it.
  • Cameras: Smartphone cameras have drastically improved over the past few years, so all modern phones take pretty decent pictures. Most smartphones are equipped with a front-facing camera (aka a selfie camera) and a rear-facing camera. But a few smartphones on the market have extra lenses, like a telephoto lens or an ultra-wide lens that can take more unique photos. If you’re interested in taking cool pictures on your new phone, keep an eye out for these extra lenses.
  • Unlocked vs. Carrier: When you purchase a phone through your carrier (or even through a bigger retailer, but still for your specific carrier), you can sometimes get a discount on the phone in exchange for signing a contract. But, then, your phone is locked by that carrier, meaning you can’t switch to another carrier until you ask your current one to unlock it. When you buy an unlocked phone, it doesn’t belong to any carrier and you’re free to switch carriers however many times you want to. It can cost more to buy an unlocked phone, but it gives you more freedom to switch carriers if you’re getting bad service.

Best Overall: Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G

Samsung Galaxy S21+ Plus 5G Factory Unlocked Android Cell PhoneSamsung

Pros

  • Brilliant 120Hz AMOLED display
  • 64MP camera is pretty awesome
  • Great battery life

Cons

  • No audio jack or SD slot
  • Cameras are the same as the S20+

For most people in search of a great Android phone, that search can stop at the Samsung Galaxy S21+. It has a 6.7-inch AMOLED display with a 2400 x 1080 screen resolution and an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate. This high refresh rate and gorgeous screen make scrolling through social media or performing other tasks on your phone feel silky smooth and look fantastic.

It has 8GB of RAM, up to 256GB of storage, an IP68 water-resistant rating, 5G connectivity, and a battery that’ll last you all day. As if all of that isn’t already great enough, it also has a solid rear triple camera setup.

With the 64MP rear camera, you can capture quite a bit of detail and produce an (almost) professional-looking photo. Then, there are two additional 12MP cameras, the wide and ultra-wide. When all these cameras work together, you can get up to 30X Space Zoom and capture crisp detail from far away. You can also capture video footage in 8K at 24 frames per second, 4K at 60, or FHD at 120. And the Director’s View feature comes in handy when you’re trying to make a nice-looking video.

Samsung offers customers an unlocked version of their phone to make everyone’s lives easier. As soon as you get the phone, all you have to do is choose your carrier and data plan to make your phone completely yours and usable.

Best Overall

Samsung Galaxy S21+


The Samsung S21+ is an Android phone with awesome specs at a fairly good price, making it perfect for most people.

Amazon

$1049.99

Best Midrange: Google Pixel 5a with 5G

google pixel 5a with 5gGoogle

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Great cameras
  • Awesome battery life

Cons

  • No wireless charging
  • Design isn’t that impressive

Google’s Pixel 5a with 5G is an affordable option that falls somewhere in the middle of the pack when it comes to specs. It has 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor, and an Adreno 620 processor. It has a Titan M Security Module built-in as well.

The phone’s 6.34-inch OLED display with 2400 x 1080 resolution is the largest display of any phone in Google’s A-series so far. The Pixel 5a also has the largest battery of any A-series smartphone; it can last for up to 15 hours in between charges.

Taking great photos is an easy feat with the Pixel 5a. There’s an 8MP front-facing selfie camera and both a 12.2MP primary camera and a 16MP ultra-wide lens on the rear. A-series Pixel phones have always been able to take awesome photos, taking out a lot of the guesswork in focusing and perfecting the shot.

As its name implies, the Pixel 5a comes with 5G connectivity, helping you stay connected with fast speeds. And for the first time in Pixel history, a Pixel phone also has an IP67 water-resistance rating, which is great for any mishaps you might have near water.

Best Midrange

Google Pixel 5a 5G


If you don’t want a budget phone, but you also don’t want to spend an arm and a leg, check out the reliable Google Pixel 5a.

Best Budget: OnePlus Nord N10 5G

OnePlus - Nord N10 5G 128GB Midnight Ice (Unlocked) - Midnight IceOnePlus

Pros

  • Extremely affordable
  • Speedy 90Hz refresh rate
  • Warp Charge 30T

Cons

  • Specs aren’t super impressive
  • No IP water-resistance rating

The Nord 10 5G from OnePlus is an impressive phone set at an even more impressive price. It has a 6.49-inch FHD display with a 90Hz refresh rate, which isn’t even seen in all new phones from major brands. Inside, there’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 690 5G mobile platform, 6GB of RAM, built-in Google Assistant, and no current IP rating.

It features 128GB of built-in storage, which isn’t a whole lot to start with but you can expand storage up to 512GB with a microSD card. And surprisingly, the camera setup is pretty nice. The phone has a quad-rear camera setup with a 64MP main camera; the three cameras on top of the main camera include a 119-degree ultra-wide, macro, and monochrome lens.

You can expect battery life to last about a day, which is decent. What’s really special about OnePlus phones is the Warp Charge 30T feature, which charges your phone almost completely in about half an hour.

This smartphone comes unlocked and is compatible with all major U.S. carriers, including the big four (AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile) and quite a few prepaid carriers, like Cricket Wireless and MetroPCS.

Best Budget

OnePlus Nord N10 5G


This affordable OnePlus phone barely makes a dent in your bank account, but it’s built with some pretty awesome specs and features.

Best Premium: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G Factory Unlocked Android Cell PhoneSamsung

Pros

  • Super impressive camera setup
  • Speedy variable 120Hz refresh rate
  • Awesome specs

Cons

  • Pretty pricey
  • Screen may be too large for some

Although it comes with a pretty high price tag, Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra is one of the best premium Android phones out there right now, especially if you want an awesome camera setup. It has a large 6.8-inch AMOLED display with a striking 3200 x 1440 resolution and a variable 120Hz refresh rate.

Then, it has more RAM than most other smartphones out there. You can get 12GB of RAM with either 128GB or 256GB of storage. Or, you can get 16GB RAM with 512GB of storage. This boost in the amount of RAM makes for a speedier phone that can handle more tasks at once as well as processor-intensive tasks. But as mentioned above, the cameras are really where the Galaxy S21 Ultra shines.

On the front, there’s a 40MP selfie lens that captures impressive detail with clarity. On the back, there’s a stunning 108MP main rear-wide camera with three additional lenses: an ultra-wide lens, a 3X optical zoom lens, and a 10X optical zoom lens. When all of these are used together, you can get super up close and personal with 100X Space Zoom.

There are so many things that make the S21 Ultra a must-buy. You can record in 8K or 4K with Director’s View, it’s IP68 dust- and water-resistant, it has speedy 5G connectivity, and it’s unlocked so you can set your phone up with any carrier you want. Plus, with its 5000mAh battery, you can get up to two days worth of battery on a single charge.

Best Premium

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra


Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra is a beast of a phone, with the best cameras ever on an Android phone and specs that make the phone incredibly speedy.

Amazon

$1166.08

Best Small: Google Pixel 4a

Google - Pixel 4a 128GB (Unlocked) - Barely BlueGoogle

Pros

  • Super affordable
  • Universally unlocked
  • Smaller 5.8-inch screen

Cons

  • Underwhelming cameras
  • Only has 4G LTE coverage
  • Limited available storage

The Google Pixel 4a is the smallest phone on this list, yes, but it’s also another great affordable option. Despite that, however, the phone still delivers with a 5.8-inch OLED screen that’s clear with vivid colors; plus, the phone feels comfortable in your hand. And although this phone only supports 4G LTE speed (and not 5G), you shouldn’t notice too much of a difference when downloading apps, streaming content, or just browsing the web.

Because this is a Google phone, it’s no surprise that Google Assistant is built-in to help you out through voice commands. Inside, there’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 730 processor, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. On the back of the phone, there’s a 12.2MP with a few different features like Night Sight and Super Res Zoom, but the camera just isn’t powerful enough to take breathtaking photos that are on par with those of current-gen phones (if that’s what you’re after).

Google’s Pixel 4a is yet another Android phone that is universally unlocked. It’s compatible with the top four U.S. carriers (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile) as well as most prepaid carriers, including Google Fi, Total Wireless, and Cricket Wireless.

Best Small

Google Pixel 4a


If you’re looking for a smaller display that’s more comfortable to hold, Google’s Pixel 4a is a fantastic choice.

Best Foldable: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

Samsung - Galaxy Z Flip3 5G 256GB (Unlocked) - Phantom BlackSamsung

Pros

  • It’s a modern-day flip phone
  • Phone is functional when folded and when open

Cons

  • The foldable design isn’t for everyone
  • Specs aren’t the best
  • Cameras don’t produce good photos

Who would’ve thought we would go back to the days of folding phones? While the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 is certainly a nod to the past, the specs and features are updated for the modern world. Even though this section is titled as such, it’s worth mentioning that this is the best foldable phone for those who want a foldable phone; if you’re just looking for a new phone and you’re not picky, you might be better off sticking with the traditional smartphone design.

When the Galazy Z Flip 3 is folded, there’s a 1.9-inch AMOLED touchscreen that you can use as a quick access area without opening the phone. From here, you can check notifications, the time, the weather, and more. When you fully open the phone, you’ll see a 6.7-inch AMOLED display and use the phone just as you would any other smartphone. (Although you might be worried about the crease in the middle, it’s not too noticeable. Read more about that in our full review.)

As far as other specs go, this foldable smartphone is IPX8 water-resistant, has 128GB and 256GB storage options, and boasts speedy 5G connectivity. And though Samsung is often known for producing smartphones with great cameras, the cameras on the Z Flip 3 aren’t super great. But again, if you’re buying this phone, you’re likely buying it for the novelty of having a modern-day foldable phone.

Best Foldable

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3


Foldable phones are relatively new to the market, but Samsung outdid themselves with the Galaxy Z Flip 3.

Source: https://www.reviewgeek.com/100639/the-best-android-smartphones/
Proactive Computing found this story and shared it with you.
The Article Was Written/Published By: Sarah Chaney

DJI Action 2 camera goes modular in battle with GoPro

DJI today announced the DJI Action 2, a modular action camera that will serve as the successor to 2019’s Osmo Action. A lot is changing with this new camera, which features a very different design from its predecessor and supports a number of modular accessories. It certainly seems to be a refinement of DJI’s efforts to go toe-to-toe with the … Continue reading

Source: https://www.slashgear.com/dji-action-2-camera-goes-modular-in-battle-with-gopro-27696963/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Eric Abent

The Best Alternatives to Google Apps on Android

android-google-apps.png?width=600&height
Android and Google go together like peanut butter and jelly, but not everyone likes peanut butter. Avoiding Google’s prominent apps in Android is tough, but there are plenty of alternatives out there. We’ll show you the best of the bunch.

Read This Article on How-To Geek ›

Source: https://www.howtogeek.com/757732/the-best-alternatives-to-google-apps-on-android/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Joe Fedewa

The 6 Best Chromebooks for Holiday 2021

Acer Chromebook Spin 713 against orange backgroundAcer

ChromeOS has come a long way, but the hardware has also evolved a lot. Chromebooks are more varied today than ever before, so whether you’re looking for something cheap and to-the-point or expensive and powerful, there’s a Chromebook for you (or someone on your holiday shopping list).

What to Look for in a Chromebook

New Chromebooks aren’t all about being value-friendly (though they are certainly that). The versatile laptops also offer decent power paired with reliable components, making them a great choice for everyday use. Here are the things you’ll want to pay attention to when comparing Chromebooks:

  • Performance: If you know anything about ChromeOS—the operating system built by Google and used by all Chromebooks—you know that it’s pretty lightweight compared to Windows or macOS. Because of that, Chromebooks can get by being a lot less powerful than other laptops, but that doesn’t mean they need to be. There are still benefits to be gained from a faster CPU or more RAM in a Chromebook, especially as more intensive apps have found their way to the OS. You won’t need to pay for higher-end specs if you’ll only use the Chromebook for simple lightweight tasks, such as online classes, scrolling your socials, or writing up documents for work.
  • Display: Resolution, size, and whether or not it’s a touchscreen are all important factors to consider when it comes to a Chromebook’s display. While most of those are purely visual, touchscreen functionality, in particular, is extremely useful and allows Chromebooks to offer tablet modes as well.
  • Clamshell vs. 2-in-1: Speaking of tablet modes, there are two main types of Chromebooks you’ll find nowadays: clamshells and 2-in-1s. The former is the standard laptop design you’d expect, while 2-in-1s are more versatile. 2-in-1s can be converted into a tablet, usually by folding the keyboard behind the display. It’s a nice bonus feature, but if you’re not interested in a ChromeOS tablet, there’s no point in seeking it out.
  • Storage: While Chromebooks tend to rely on cloud storage more than most laptops, that doesn’t mean internal storage isn’t important. Besides storing files, the type of storage it is can also affect how well the computer runs. SSD storage is the fastest most Chromebooks will offer and it allows file transfer and general operation to run much quicker. eMMC is a cheaper and slower alternative but it still does a solid job—this is what you’ll see in the majority of Chromebooks.

Best Overall: Acer Chromebook Spin 713

Acer Chromebook Spin 713Acer

Pros

  • Great performance
  • 2-in-1
  • 1440p display

Cons

  • Limited battery life

Powered by an Intel Core i5 processor and 8GB of RAM, the Spin 713 has plenty of juice for ChromeOS no matter what you’re doing, and it’s an easy pick for the best Chromebook. Throw in 128GB of SSD storage, a flexible 2-in-1 design, a 13.3-inch 1440p display, and a good selection of ports (including two USB-C, one USB-A, and an HDMI) and the Spin 713 is a wonderfully versatile Chromebook that’s great for working, recreation, and anything in between. While the 10-hour battery life may not be worth writing home about, it’s still long enough to get through the day if you don’t push it.

Best Overall


Acer Chromebook Spin 713


A 2-in-1 Chromebook with great specs all-around.

Best Mid-Range: Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5

Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5Lenovo

Pros

  • Solid performance
  • 2-in-1
  • Good selection of ports

Cons

  • Middling display

Lenovo’s Flex 5 may not excel in any particular category, but it does well enough in all of them to be a viable Chromebook. The Core i3 processor, joined by 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, provides ChromeOS enough power to ensure you won’t experience any slowdown until you start pushing things. Add in the 13-inch 1080p HD display and a 2-in-1 design, and the Flex 5 is exactly what you’d expect out of a modern Chromebook: ideal for everyday use, but not much more. It also has a solid selection of ports including two USB-C, one USB-A 3.0, and a microSD card reader.

Best Mid-Range

Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5


This Chromebook may not wow in any particular category, but it’s still a solid all-around choice for the money.

Amazon

$329.99
$429.99 Save 23%

Best Display: Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2Samsung

Pros

  • Beautiful QLED panel
  • 2-in-1
  • Solid specs

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Limited ports

While the Galaxy Chromebook 2‘s display may only run at a basic 1080p, it’s the QLED panel that makes it so attractive. This means the screen does a much better job at displaying colors and contrast than most Chromebooks, and laptops in general. But it doesn’t stop there; It also features a Core i3 processor (or a less powerful Celeron processor for the cheaper model), four or eight gigabytes of RAM, and 128GB of internal storage. It’s also a 2-in-1, so you can make full use of the touch-screen in tablet mode.

All-in-all, it’s a great premium Chromebook that also sports a striking shade of “Fiesta Red” for its aluminum body (or you can get in the much more boring “Mercury Gray”). With 13 hours of battery life, you can safely rely on the Galaxy Chromebook 2 all day long as well. Be aware though, It’s fairly limited when it comes to ports, only offering a couple of USB-C ports and a microSD card reader.

Best Display

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2


An excellent display in an already great Chomebook.

Amazon

$599.00
$699.99 Save 14%

Best Budget: Acer Chromebook 314

Acer Chromebook 314Acer

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Good amount of ports

Cons

  • Slower than other Chromebooks

Acer’s 314 is a pretty basic Chromebook all things considered. Its clamshell design, 14-inch 1080p HD display (with touch functionality), and an Intel Celeron processor don’t make for the most exciting package, but considering the 314 is priced well into the budget bracket, it’s plenty appealing. This is a solid Chromebook if you’re tight on cash or just want a taste of ChromeOS before committing to something more expensive. It also has a good selection of ports, including multiple USB-A and USB-C, alongside a microSD card reader.

Acer Chromebook 314

Best Budget


While the 314 may not wow, it does deliver a solid user-experience for the money.

Amazon

$241.05
$309.99 Save 22%

Best for Performance: Google Pixelbook Go

Google Pixelbook GoGoogle

Pros

  • High-end specs
  • Clean design
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Limited ports (only two USB-C)
  • Expensive

If you’re after the fastest Chromebook on the market, the Pixelbook Go is for you. Straight from Google itself, the Go comes in a few different models; the most powerful of which is powered by an Intel Core i7 processor and 16GB of RAM. It may be a bit overkill for ChromeOS, but you can rest assured knowing your Chromebook can handle whatever you throw at it, whether it’s an intensive app or a few dozen tabs. It’s even made with portability in mind, so it’s extremely thin and lightweight despite its impressive list of specs. You can also get the Go with up to 256GB of SSD storage.

On top of this, the Go features a 13-inch 1080p touchscreen display, a backlit keyboard, and up to 12 hours of battery life. The only thing limiting about the Go is that it only has two USB-C ports and an aux port—no USB-A or HDMI to be seen, unfortunately. Overall, though it’s a great pick for anyone looking for a more robust Chromebook.

Best for Performance

Google Pixelbook Go


An extremely powerful Chromebook straight from Google.

Amazon

$1301.93
$1399.00 Save 7%

Best Tablet: Lenovo Chromebook Duet

Lenovo Chromebook DuetLenovo

Pros

  • Great for tablet users
  • Affordable
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • Keyboard isn’t ideal for intensive work
  • Weaker specs

The Lenovo Chromebook Duet is a fantastic value that, unlike the other Chromebooks here, almost exclusively focuses on the tablet experience. Sure, it has a detachable keyboard but this is no 2-in-1, the keyboard solely exists as an optional part of the tablet for when you need to type.

The low price does, likewise, result in fairly limited specs—Mediatek Helio P60T processor, 128GB of internal storage, and 4GB of RAM—but it’s still enough for lightweight users to get by on. The battery is long-lasting, it performs excellently for the money, and it can have up to 128GB of internal storage. If you’re interested in a ChromeOS tablet, this is easily the best option; if you prefer a more traditional laptop, however, then the detachable keyboard probably won’t cut it for you.

Best Tablet


Lenovo Chromebook Duet


ChromeOS tablets can be hit or miss, but the Duet is definitely a hit.

Source: https://www.reviewgeek.com/99936/the-best-chromebooks/
Proactive Computing found this story and shared it with you.
The Article Was Written/Published By: Eric Schoon

Google Assistant Should Be Ashamed of Its Smart Home Routines

For years I’ve said that automation is the key to great smart homes. Voice controls are nice, but a system that anticipates your needs is better. Despite preferring Google smart home devices, I can’t switch to them entirely. Why? Because Google Assistant routines are trash. Google should be ashamed.

Automation comes in several forms in the smart home world. Traditionally to get great automation, you’d want a smart home hub like Hubitat or Home Assistant. And while it’s true, Hubitat’s automation capabilities outstrip Google or Alexa by far; the truth is most average people don’t need a traditional smart home hub anymore.

Both Alexa and Google can serve as the “modern hub” and tie together smart home devices. In the past few years, I’ve noticed a trend towards Wi-Fi-powered smart home devices and away from ZigBee and Z-Wave (Philips Hue being the major holdout). That turn makes the idea of relying on traditional smart home hubs more difficult in the first place.

Both Alexa and Google offer smart home automation through routines—commands that run on their own based on a trigger your choose. It doesn’t have to be a voice; it could be controlled by schedules like at sunset or sunrise—or more.

What Routines Can Do

Smart blinds lower in a living room.Shade Shop

So why is automation essential, and what can routines do anyway? If you have a smart home now, think about how you primarily interact with it. Chances are, it’s probably by voice or through an app. If you need to turn a light on, you ask a smart speaker or pull out your phone. Some would argue that’s not much more convenient than flipping the light switch.

The same goes for smart plugs, blinds, locks, and more. Realistically speaking, with just voice or app control, the convenience level isn’t much better than the old-fashioned way of doing things. Automations, on the other hand, change the game. Instead of your home reacting to your commands, it can anticipate your needs.

In my home, I have scheduled automations that fire every day. In the morning, my coffee maker outlet turns on, the blinds in our two home offices rise to let in light. As evening approaches, the blinds lower automatically, and doors lock themselves. And the coffee outlet that turned on in the morning? That powered down before lunch.

The Alexa app showing many routines.I have at least two dozen routines with various triggers.

Speaking of the doors, we sometimes forget to lock them when we leave home. So four minutes after we unlock a door, it locks itself—no more forgetting. But we don’t just have automations on a schedule. When the sun sets, the lights in the dining room, kitchen, and elsewhere automatically turn themselves on when we enter a room. When we leave, they turn back off. My family doesn’t have to ask; it just happens based on our presence.

That’s thanks to motion sensors in each room and a routine that fires on some basic logic. If the sensor detects motion, it triggers a routine that turns on the lights in that room. When the sensor stops seeing motion, it triggers a second routine to turn the lights back off. Other routines occur when I leave home, or when I come back thanks to a location trigger.

When someone opens our mailbox, a sensor just inside triggers yet another routine to announce in the home that “the mail is here.” In my home, routines trigger due to schedules, voice commands, smart device functions, camera notifications, and more. We still use voice commands, but often we don’t have to because my smart home already did what I needed before I asked.

But that’s no thanks to Google.

Except Google Can’t Do Most Of That

Two lists, the one of the left much longer.Alexa’s Triggers on the left, Google’s Starters on the right.

When I’d advise most people exploring smart homes for the first time, I tell them to pick an ecosystem and stick with it. Choose Alexa or Google Assistant; most people don’t need both. I prefer Google Assistant for voice commands and Nest Hub displays for their fantastic photo capabilities. Despite that, I’m breaking my own advice and have Alexa and Echo smart speakers in my home.

Part of that is because of my job—I write about smart homes, so having a little of everything on hand is helpful. But the other part is because while I prefer Google’s smart home devices, its routines are astoundingly awful. I keep Alexa around for the routines.

The problem is, Google doesn’t approach routines the same way Amazon does with Alexa. Over on Alexa, routines are treated as a total smart home solution. But on Google Assistant, routines look more like a “voice command replacement.” You can create routines that fire off several functions from a single voice command, for instance. That can be handy if you want to turn off multiple lights throughout the home with a simple “good night” command.

But beyond that, your “starter” (Google’s equivalent to Alexa’s “trigger”) choices are limited. You can choose voice command, time, sunrise/sunset, and “dismiss an alarm.” That’s it. Compare that to Alexa, where you can select voice command, schedule, smart home devices, location, alarms, echo button, sound detection, and guard. All those extra choices add up quickly.

On Alexa, I can create routines that trigger from the smart sensors in my home. Confusingly those same sensors show in the Google Home app, but I can’t make routines for them or in the Google Assistant app. If converted over to a Google-powered smart home entirely, my smart lights would no longer turn on and off as I move through my home. My mailbox would stop telling me when the mail arrives. My smart locks wouldn’t even lock themselves anymore—unless I turned to another app.

Why Doesn’t Google Fix The Problem?

An illustration of the Google Home app and Nest devices.Google

If Google really wanted to, it could easily make its routines more powerful. This is a company that leads in voice assistant capabilities. The same company that turned photo storage on the side of its head and created a new A.I. that makes its smart displays the best smart displays. Google designed camera software that kicked off a new revolution in night photos. And at the same time, Google created a system that gave Pixel’s phone capabilities superpowers. It’s no stranger to advanced concepts in A.I., smart home, or advanced coding concepts.

Yet while Amazon continually adds to its routine options, like a recent new feature that triggers routines from the sound of a dog barking or a baby crying, while Google occasionally adds new features. Google only recently added basic scheduling and delay options, things Amazon added to Alexa years ago. Alexa will even act on “hunches” and turn off lights or other devices when the system notices you accidentally left things on overnight or when you aren’t home. Google doesn’t have anything like that.

In comparison, Google’s routines and automations are a joke. And it’s frustrating because it leaves me maintaining two smart home systems in my home: one for voice commands and the other for automation. In smart homes, that’s the opposite of what you want. And Google, through its drive with the Matter smart home initiative, talks a big game about a universal system where it won’t “matter” what devices you won.


Until Google’s smart home routines catch up to at least Amazon’s progress, it’s hard to see the truth in that at all. Right now, if you want the best smart home voice commands and the best accessible automations, then you need a home full of Google smart speakers and displays and one Amazon Echo. The Echo will get you the routines, and Google’s hardware can do the rest.

But that’s not the dream of the smart home. No one wants to maintain two systems and hop back and forth between apps. And frankly, that’s Google’s fault. It’s an unforced error that’s preventing Google from truly dominating in the smart home realm. And we’re worse off for it. Google should be ashamed. And the first step is admitting the problem. Google routines are inferior compared to the competition. The second step? Fix it. Sooner than later.

Source: https://www.reviewgeek.com/101223/google-assistant-should-be-ashamed-of-its-smart-home-routines/
Proactive Computing found this story and shared it with you.
The Article Was Written/Published By: Josh Hendrickson

Surface Duo 2: Why Reviews Are Mixed for Microsoft’s Dual-Screen Phone

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There’s a lot of talk over foldable phones and whether they’re the future of smartphones. Microsoft decided to go a slightly different route to get a giant screen phone in the Surface Duo 2. The phone is out now, and so are the mixed reviews for Microsoft’s dual-screen phone.

Read This Article on How-To Geek ›

Source: https://www.howtogeek.com/763596/surface-duo-2-why-reviews-are-mixed-for-microsofts-dual-screen-phone/
Proactive Computing found this story and shared it with you.
The Article Was Written/Published By: Dave LeClair

15 Things You Can Do in Android 12 That You Couldn’t Do Before

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Android 12 is here, rolling out first to Pixel devices and then to everyone else, depending on your phone manufacturer and carrier. The latest version of Google’s mobile operating system is packed with new stuff for you to explore, and these are the 15 features to check out first.

Read more…

Source: https://gizmodo.com/15-things-you-can-do-in-android-12-that-you-couldnt-do-1847598673
Proactive Computing found this story and shared it with you.
The Article Was Written/Published By: David Nield

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