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August 21 2018

I’m worried about Apple’s MacBook Air replacement

Security cameras, Amazon tablets, and more are discounted today

Whether you're looking for new tech gear or household items, we've got you covered.


We found plenty of great deals today that include big discounts on three generations of Netgear's Arlo security cameras, Amazon Fire HD tablets, the PlayStation headset, and more!

If you want to know about the deals as soon as they are happening, you'll want to follow Thrifter on Twitter, and sign up for the newsletter, because missing out on a great deal stinks!

iPhone 2018 release date and pre-order leaked

Top things you need to know about the Galaxy Note 9's SD card slot

Here's how you can make the most of your SD card slot.

One of Samsung's pillar features is the inclusion of a microSD card slot, which has stuck around as just about every other company eschewed the expansion slot. Those that have stuck with microSD card expansion have primarily only done so on low-end phones. So the fact that the Galaxy Note 9 still has a place for removable storage is extra-rare.

Yes you can get a Note 9 with up to 512GB of storage, but most people will be getting the base model with 128GB — and somewhere down the road they'll need more. That's where the SD card comes in. But before you go buy one, there are some basics you need to know in order to set your expectations for what the card can offer.

It's time to expand your knowledge about expandable storage.

Adoptable storage isn't here — and that's OK for most people

Samsung continues to use the SD card as removable storage only, rather than "adoptable storage" found on other phones. That means that instead of integrating the SD card as part of the internal storage, it operates as its own separate volume. You have to choose to put a file on the SD card or the internal storage — it won't be able to span the two seamlessly, which takes a little more management.

In practice, this has the benefit of being more familiar to those who used SD cards in previous Samsung phones or have used them typically with computers or cameras. You can remove the SD card from a Galaxy Note 9 without worrying about how it will affect the system, because you only lose the data files on the card. You can pop out the card, put it in your computer and transfer files to and from it, then put it back in the phone with no issues.

If you plan on keeping your SD card in the phone 100% of the time, you won't really know the difference. But if you take it out from time to time, it will be worth managing which files go on it.

Most apps can't be moved to the SD card

One downside of using the SD card as removable storage is that there are limitations on what files can be moved to it. For the most part, you can think of the SD card as a place to store big chunks of data, not live applications or high-performance data that you need to access quickly and regularly.

You can have photos, music, videos, podcasts, and documents all stored on your SD card without issue, and moving those files is a great way to free up space on the faster, more versatile internal storage. But you won't be able to move most apps or games to the SD card, as they need to be on the internal storage in order to run. You may find that some simple apps or assets for apps that don't need to be run on demand can be stored on the card — but as a rule, you shouldn't count on being able to move apps to the SD card.

But with 128GB (or more) of storage on the Note 9, this shouldn't be an issue for most people.

Buy a fast enough card so you don't have to worry about performance

One great thing that's happened in the world of SD cards is the proliferation of amazingly fast cards at reasonable prices that anyone can buy. Earlier on in the life of Android phones, it was rather hit or miss as to whether or not the card you bought was fast enough to consistently be used inside an Android phone, and now that's rarely the case.

Stick to big brands and look at ratings online before buying, but chances are if you find a modern card out there it's going to do what you need it to do in a Galaxy Note 9. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn't buy anything lower than a "Class 10" rated card. If you plan on running apps off of the card, making big file transfers or recording lots of video, you want to get a UHS-rated card — at least a U1, but ideally U3. There are also SD cards rated specifically for performance with apps, but as we covered above that isn't all that important on the Note 9.

Everything you need to know about SD card speeds and your phone

Where to find good SD cards

SD cards have improved dramatically across the board, but that doesn't mean every card is the same. You still want to make a well-educated decision about the SD card you buy, balancing speed, reliability, capacity and price. There are so many available and many places to buy, but we've narrowed down a few for you to choose from if you want to let us do some of the hard work for you.

Samsung's 256GB EVO microSD is under under $100, and offers fantastic speed and storage. Samsung's EVO Select microSD card is under $40 for a 128GB card, which is great if you're on a budget but still need that extra space. We also maintain a list of our favorite SD cards for Android phones so you'll never be left guessing.

Best microSD Card for Android in 2018

Pictures and video save to the card by default

Because the types of data you can put on an SD card are limited, the Galaxy Note 9 wants to take advantage of it right away for types of data it knows it can move there. The best example is the camera, which automatically starts saving photos and videos to the SD card. High-bandwidth capture like burst photos, high resolution video or high frame rate video are going to be saved directly to the internal storage rather than the SD card, but that's what you want in order to get the best possible performance.

If for whatever reason you don't want photos and videos to save to the SD card, you can head into the camera's settings, then storage location, and tap it to change back to device storage. You'll notice that the Gallery app will show photos on the SD card as being saved in a separate folder — this makes it completely clear which photos will be inaccessible when the card is removed.

You can encrypt your SD card for security

One of the problems with an easily removable SD card that's formatted as removable storage is the data on there can be easily accessed by anyone with a SIM tray tool — they don't have to unlock your phone to get it. Of course the best way to secure your phone is to not let anyone have it in the first place, but accidents happen — and the best way to secure the data is to encrypt the SD card. With encryption enabled, the data is only readable by the Galaxy Note 9 that encrypted it.

To encrypt your SD card, head into the phone's settings, biometrics and security, and encrypt SD card. The process will take anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes, depending on how much data is on the card.

Now, there's one big downside to this: when you encrypt the SD card, it also can't be read by any other devices you have. That means that if you pop out the SD card and put it in your computer, it won't be able to read the data. It also means if you break your phone beyond repair, you will lose the SD card data forever. If your intention is to use the SD card in your Galaxy Note 9 as a quick way to transfer large amounts of data between devices, you'll have to use a USB cable from your phone or decrypt the card first.

Removing your SD card also removes the SIM

It's a relatively trivial thing, but remember that your SD card lives in the same tray as your SIM card. So if you plan on using the removable storage capabilities of your SD card for transferring files back and forth with a computer, you're going to knock out your cellular service while you do it.

In some cases, removing the SIM card and reinserting it will require a full device reboot to get your mobile data back up and running. If you can't manage to wait a few minutes without data, wait to pull out your SD card until you're done with your mobile data usage.

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The best Android phones under $300 right now!

We're a virtual company made up of tech experts from across the globe. We live and breathe Android phones, and use nearly every one to find the best sub-$300 picks.

The Moto G6 offers the best bang for your buck around with great build quality, surprisingly decent dual cameras, and a super-clean build of Android Oreo. With support for all major U.S. carriers, it's also one of the most widely compatible phones you'll find in its price range.

Our Pick

Moto G6

$235 from Amazon

Well-rounded and afforable.

The Moto G6 has just about everything you could ask of a phone at this price. The software is clean yet clever with the addition of Moto Actions and Moto Display, and it's quick to recharge with Motorola's TurboPower charging.

Who should buy this phone?

Shoppers on any carrier looking for a clean software experience. The Moto G6 runs a virtually stock build of Android Oreo, with a few added conveniences from Motorola. It also has decent specs, including a Snapdragon 450, 32GB of expandable storage, and 3GB of RAM, and you can even upgrade to 64GB and 4GB of RAM without going over $300.

Is it a good time to buy this phone?

Definitely. The Moto G6 was just announced back in April, so we shouldn't expect to see another model for about eight months.

Reasons to buy

  • Clean, convenient software
  • Great build quality for the specs
  • Supports all major carriers
  • Upgraded model still costs less than $300
  • Large 18:9 display

Reasons not to buy

  • No NFC
  • Occasional software hiccups
  • Motorola has a terrible track record with software updates

There are other great sub-$300 options

The Moto G series is always a great value, but that doesn't mean the G6 is a perfect phone. It isn't likely to receive any major software updates in the near future, and its design still features a giant camera dome that makes the phone rock back and forth on a table like no other. Luckily, it isn't the only good deal around.

Modern chic

Huawei P20 Lite

$280 from Amazon

Taking design cues from 2018 flagships.

The P20 Lite has a gorgeous reflective glass-and-metal design with a high screen-to-body ratio and, yes, a notch. It won't work on CDMA carriers, but AT&T and T-Mobile customers can enjoy its speedy performance and eye-catching looks.

The P20 Lite certainly doesn't look like a phone that costs just $280, but here it is, available in four great colors. The Kirin 659 chipset is speedy and powerful, and the 3000mAh battery provides excellent longevity. Stock Android purists may not love its EMUI software, but it's at least running on top of Android 8.0 Oreo.

Android One

Nokia 6.1

$257 from Amazon

Motorola isn't the only one doing stock Android.

Nokia is back in the game with a refreshed Nokia 6 that offers far better performance and battery life. Because it runs Android One, the Nokia 6.1 runs delightfully barebones software with the promise of timely updates.

You can't ask for much more from a sub-$300 phone than the Nokia 6.1. The 5.5-inch 1080p LCD display looks fantastic, and it has one of the better cameras in its segment. On top of that, Nokia releases monthly security updates to keep its phones protected — a rarity for low-cost phones.

Bottom line

Phones are getting better for cheaper than ever before, and these three are some of the best you'll find under $300. The P20 Lite is designed like a 2018 flagship, and the Nokia 6.1 arguably offers the best experience of the bunch, though it's only available on GSM carriers.

For a great Android experience that will work on virtually any carrier, look no further than the long-lasting, widely available Moto G6.

Updated August 2018: Replaced the Moto G5S Plus with the Moto G6, and added the Huawei P20 Lite and Nokia 6.1.

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VRidge has added better Oculus Go controller support for SteamVR games

A major VRidge update has added extra support for using Oculus Go controllers with SteamVR.

Thanks to some savvy developers, it's possible to stream SteamVR games to mobile VR systems, like Oculus Go. I already wrote a guide on using Air Light VR (ALVR) to get this done, but a recent update to RiftCat's VRidge software, an alternative method for streaming, has added better controller support. This is key when trying to make up lost ground between the two motion controllers PC-based VR uses and the single controller used with the Oculus Go. Let's take a look at how to get everything set up, as well as what to expect when using a Go controller with SteamVR games.


Related: Best laptops for VR

How to install VRidge on your PC

First, you need to install VRidge on your PC. A free version is available, but it limits play time to 10 minutes per session. If you'd like, you can purchase a full version of VRidge for about $17.

  1. Navigate to the VRidge download webpage at RiftCat's website.
  2. Click Download.
  3. Click Save.

  4. Click Run.
  5. Click Accept.

  6. Click Install.
  7. Click Start RiftCat. You can leave the client running on your PC while you get VRidge set up on your Oculus Go.

How to install VRidge on your Oculus Go

Now you need to get VRidge set up on your Oculus Go.

  1. Navigate to the RiftCat key webpage.
  2. Click Register. If you already have a RiftCat account, enter your username and password to proceed.
  3. Type your email address.

  4. Type a password.
  5. Type your password again to confirm.

  6. Click the checkbox next to I accept Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.
  7. Click Register.

  8. Highlight and copy the unique Oculus key displayed on the page.
  9. Navigate to the Oculus key redeem webpage.

  10. Paste the RiftCat VRidge code into the field.
  11. Click Redeem.

The next time you start your Oculus Go, VRidge will show up in your library. If it doesn't check the Uninstalled section and select it to install.

How to stream SteamVR games to your Oculus Go

Now that everything is downloaded and installed, you can start streaming SteamVR games to your Oculus Go.

  1. Launch the VRidge app on your Oculus Go.
  2. Click Yes in the RiftCat client on your PC.
  3. Launch a SteamVR game on your PC.
  4. Click the Play button in the RiftCat client if it does not start automatically.

You should now be able to see the SteamVR game within your Oculus Go.

Using your Oculus Go controller with SteamVR

Most SteamVR games are designed to work with two motion controllers, each with six degrees of freedom (6DOF). Unfortunately, the Oculus Go only has a single controller with three degrees of freedom (3DOF), so you won't get the same experience, but VRidge has added better support for button mapping.

The Go controller's trigger remains the same, but the touchpad now has four extra inputs along its edges.

  • Menu: Press the upper part of the touchpad.
  • Grip: Press the left or right side of the touchpad.
  • System: Press the bottom part of the touchpad.

Running your thumb along the middle touchpad will still emulate a joystick, allowing you to move as normal. It will take a bit of getting used to, but tapping the edges for extra buttons does come in handy and should prove to make most SteamVR games a bit more accessible when streaming to the Oculus Go.

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The newest PlayStation 4 Gold wireless gaming headset is down to $80 today

This PlayStation accessory is just inches away from being an essential for gamers.

Sony's PlayStation Gold wireless headset is down to $79.99 via Amazon today. This headset was released in February earlier this year, and today's deal is just $5 above the lowest offer we've seen on it. It regularly sells for $100 at other retailers such as Best Buy.

The older version was a really well-liked gaming peripheral, but the new one is getting good critical reviews as well. PC Mag gave it 4 stars. The team here has a breakdown of the differences between the two and talks about whether or not you should upgrade.

The headset has 7.1 virtual surround sound, a noise-canceling microphone, a free companion app, and a comfortable feel for long-term gaming. You can even remove the faceplates and customize it according to your own style. It's still somehwat new so it doesn't have a huge amount of user reviews, but close to 150 users give it 3.8 stars out of 5 collectively at Amazon.

See at Amazon

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Lenovo Smart Display: Everything you need to know

The Echo Show is so 2017.

Ever since the Google Home came out in 2016, Google Assistant-powered smart speakers have been among the most popular smart home gadgets on the market.

We've seen these devices come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and now with the Lenovo Smart Display, we've got a Google Assistant speaker that comes with its own screen.

The Lenovo Smart Display is one of the most powerful (yet still rather affordable) smart speakers on the market right now, and if you're already sucked into the Google ecosystem, should make for a great addition to your home.

Here's everything you need to know!

It comes in two sizes

Unlike most other Smart Displays that have been announced, the Lenovo Smart Display is not a one-size-fits-all product. Instead, there are two different versions you can choose between.

The base model is the most affordable and comes with an 8-inch touchscreen and white plastic back. If you've got a bit more cash to spend, you can pick up the 10-inch model that also swaps out the plastic back for a gorgeous bamboo one.

Aside from the difference in screen size and back material, however, there's no functional difference between the two models.

All of your regular "Hey, Google" and "Ok, Google" commands work like you'd expect

Although the Lenovo Smart Display might look a lot different compared to the Google Home and Home Mini, all of the "Hey, Google" and "Ok, Google" commands you're familiar with work just like you'd expect.

You can ask the Smart Display for the weather, call your mom, get directions to work, play music on Spotify, control your smart bulbs, and so much more.

Thanks to the inclusion of the display, however, almost all of these commands now come with an extra visual element to take your experience a step further. For example, asking for the weather shows a forecast and setting a timer will keep that timer on the screen so you can look over at any time and see how much of it is remaining.

The display is a touchscreen

On top of those glanceable elements that provide more info with just a look, both versions of the Smart Display also come with touchscreens so you can manually control some elements without using your voice.

You'll still need to talk to the Smart Display for the majority of your interactions, but you can tap on the screen to skip a song on Spotify, adjust a slider to get the perfect temperature for your thermostat, scroll through your pictures on Google Photos, etc.

The touchscreen interactions are meant to supplement your voice commands rather than replace them, and while that might sound like a bit much at first, it's a really natural experience after using the Smart Display for just a few minutes.

It's the perfect kitchen TV

Being able to see the weather and your commute to work on the Lenovo Smart Display is incredibly helpful, but where this gadget's screen really shines is with video content.

Although this won't be replacing your home theater setup anytime soon, the Smart Display is a great supplementary TV for the kitchen or office.

More video sources should be coming in the future, but for the time being, you can watch YouTube, YouTube TV, and HBO Now.

How to watch YouTube videos on the Lenovo Smart Display

How's it compare to the Amazon Echo Show?

The Lenovo Smart Display may be the first of its kind for Google Assistant speakers, but it's certainly not the first smart speaker in the world to come equipped with a display.

Amazon beat Lenovo to the punch by an entire year, but that's not to say Lenovo's a year behind the Echo Show in regards to functionality and polish. In fact, the end result just might surprise you!

Lenovo Smart Display vs. Amazon Echo Show: Which should you buy?

There are still a few kinks here and there

While the Lenovo Smart Display does get a lot of things right, there are a few areas that would benefit from a software update or two.

Almost all of the day-to-day interactions work just fine, but there are some bugs that can make the experience a tad frustrating at times. To get a better idea of what I mean, check out the link below to see what 4 things we think would make the Smart Display even better.

4 things that'd make the Lenovo Smart Display even better

Pricing starts at $199

If you're interested, you can pick up the 8-inch Lenovo Smart Display for just $199.99. If you've got more cash to spend and want the larger screen, you can step up to the 10-inch version for $249.99.

The Lenovo Smart Display is available in the United States at Best Buy, B&H, Walmart, Lenovo's official website, and more.

See at Best Buy


MrMobile: The Galaxy Note 9 is a smartphone that's actually worth $1000


I get it, you guys: no one thinks smartphones should actually cost a thousand bucks. Motorola kicks out incredible quality on the low end with its Moto G series; the OnePlus 6 delivers a truly exceptional experience at under $550; and buying last year's flagships is another smart way to save coin. Given all these options, it seems ludicrous to drop ten Benjamins for any mobile device.

But the $1000 phone isn't going anywhere, folks – and not just because people like me are "saying it's okay," as I've read many times in the comments. Rising component costs, market forces like inflation, and (yes) good old-fashioned greed will ensure that four-figure phones remain a reality for years to come. Plus, in a country like the United States where four out of every five smartphones are sold by a carrier with a monthly installment plan, the sting of that spend is sufficiently dulled that people are still whipping out the wallets. Just ask Apple.

The question then becomes: if you're not in the market for an iPhone, but you're willing to spend four figures for a supreme experience, which phone is worth the cheddar? Probably not one of the indulgent Porsche Design-branded Huaweis, unless you really need to stand out. And importing an Oppo Find X will still run you more than you should spend (at least until the European model becomes more widely available).

No, for me it's Samsung's Galaxy Note 9, with its epic combination of near-flawless screen, large battery, top-shelf specs, and newly-revised S Pen stylus, that wins the day. Sure, it's still a glass sandwich, which I'm getting a little tired of, and I'm not getting the kind of endurance I think I should be from a power pack this robust ... but even after taking these compromises into account, the Galaxy Note 9 is still the only phone I'd willingly drop a thousand bucks on. Check out my in-depth thoughts in the Galaxy Note 9 review video above, then head over to Android Central's full review here ... and if you have a contrary opinion, feel free to @ me – by subscribing to the YouTube Channel and leaving a comment there!

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YouTube's Signature Devices highlights the best phones for watching YouTube

YouTube started as a simple video site, but today it's much, much more.

YouTube is so much more than cute cats and mindless pranks; it's where millions come for education, information, and live, late-breaking news. YouTube streams more than just Google keynotes; it streams important political debates and allows users to stream from almost anywhere in the world with an internet connection. It's important to understand YouTube and how to use it, and whether you're just looking to watch your videos without Autoplay plaguing you or you're looking to turn your feed into a legitimate cord-cutter cornucopia of enticing entertainment, we're here to help you get it done.


Finding your way around

First things first: let's find where we find videos on YouTube and how we start curating our content so that YouTube's algorithms can start working to bring us more of what we want. Want to get started with YouTube? Start here.

How to use YouTube for Android

Managing YouTube

YouTube can run away with you (and your mobile data) if you don't keep it in check. From managing what kinds of content can pop up in your results to what networks you use to stream in HD, these are settings you can use to keep YouTube manageable.

How to manage the YouTube app for Android

Saving YouTube videos

See a fun video that you want to watch later? We've all been there. Here's how to save videos for later — and to save them for watching offline, depending on where you live.

How to save videos in YouTube for Android

Managing your YouTube history

We all search for things we'd rather not fess up to. We stumble upon videos we wish we hadn't seen. It's okay, you don't have to burn your digital identity — we just need to clean up our YouTube histories.

How to pause and clear your YouTube history

Uploading videos

Making the jump from consumer to creator on YouTube is a breeze. Here's how to get videos from your Android phone onto YouTube. Getting them on the front page, however, is another matter entirely.

How to upload videos to YouTube

Taming YouTube's annoyances

Like any site or product, there are ways that YouTube can annoy and irritate. Luckily, here's the way to stop some of the more visible annoyances on the app.

Best tricks to fix YouTube's most annoying features

Signature Devices offer the best YouTube experience on Android

Piggybacking on the Note 9's announcement, Google ushered in a new program called "Signature Devices." Signature Devices are Android phones that YouTube deems as offering the best possible YouTube experience around thanks to their screen size, resolution, HDR support, and more.

This is a list that's constantly growing, and for the time being, these are the phones that are currently part of it:

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 9
  • Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium
  • HTC U12+
  • OnePlus 6
  • LG G7 ThinQ
  • Xiaomi Mi 8
  • Sony Xperia XZ2
  • Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact
  • Nokia 8 Sirocco
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
  • Samsung Galaxy S9 / S9+
  • Google Pixel 2 / 2 XL
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 8
  • LG V30
  • Samsung Galaxy S8 / S8+

How to sign up for YouTube Premium

As great as YouTube is on its own, the app's made even better when you sign up for YouTube Premium.

YouTube Premium gives you access to a heap of extra features, including the ability to download videos for offline viewing, not having to ever watch ads, access to all YouTube Originals content, and more. If you want to give the service a shot, it costs $11.99/month and signing up takes just a couple minutes.

How to sign up for YouTube Premium

How to get the most out of Premium

Once you're signed up for YouTube Premium, you'll want to make sure you tap into everything it has to offer!

It can be easy to overlook all of the benefits that come with your Premium subscription, so let us help you get the absolute most out of your money.

How to get the most from YouTube Premium: Top tips and tricks

Updated August 21, 2018: Added a new section for YouTube's Signature Devices list.

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