Smart light bulbs are here to stay with the likes of Philips Hue, LIFX, Koogeek, and more all vying for your dollars and attention. There’s more to them smart apps and the novelty of voice control. We’ve rounded up several things you should be using your smart bulbs for (but probably aren’t) to help you get the most from your bulbs.
Why worry about carrying around a wallet and a phone? If you have your phone on you 24/7—and we certainly do—you might as well combine the two. With the right case or accessory you can cut down on the clutter in your pocket.
Keen to use plenty of GIFs in your text conversations, social media interactions, or even your work? If you can’t find the the perfect one somewhere like Giphy, it’s pretty easy to make your own, providing you know how. We take a look at the best options out there for your smartphone.
If you just need to top off your phone halfway through the day, you can buy any of a dozen portable chargers. If you need a mega charger to power your phone five times, top off your tablet, or even fill a laptop battery—and do it all fast—you want Anker’s cumbersomely-named PowerCore Speed 20000 PD.
This Portable Charger Is Designed For the Future…
The PowerCore Speed 20000 PD ($99)—which we will henceforth refer to as the PowerCore for brevity (though there are many models of PowerCore so be careful when shopping)—is a massive charger that leaves some of the more outdated elements found in other chargers in the past.
Unlike most portable chargers, the PowerCore features one USB-C port (instead of the usual micro USB port) and one regular USB-A port. Both can be used to charge your gadgets, but the USB-C port is used to recharge the battery itself. This is the most immediately forward-looking feature found on this charger. If you have a recent Android phone (or even some modern laptops), you’re already in the process of switching to USB-C. The inclusion of USB-C makes for one fewer gadget you need to keep micro USB cables around for.
More importantly, this PowerCore supports fast-charging for compatible devices using USB Power Delivery (denoted by the “PD” in its extremely long name), outputting power at up to 22.5W. This is Google’s preferred fast charging method and it works with plenty of devices including phones like the Galaxy S8, Pixel 2, all the way up to newer laptops like the latest Macbook Pros. Unfortunately, the industry still hasn’t settled on a single fast charging standard for all devices, but USB-PD is looking like a strong contender for, at the very least, a solid fallback option on most modern devices.
A USB-C port and fast charging would already make the PowerCore a solid future-proof power bank, but the 20,100 mAh capacity makes it a beast. That’s enough capacity to completely recharge multiple phones (or one phone several times), or even fully charge a Macbook Pro once. With a fully charged PowerCore, you could be away from a power outlet for a long weekend and still keep your phone powered on. Great news for whatever camping spot you found with cell service but no power outlets.
…But It Comes At a Hefty Price
The PowerCore has a lot of advantages over the competition, but budget pricing is decidedly not one of them. At the time of this writing, it’s going for $79 on Amazon, but normally retails for $99. That’s tough to stomach when even Anker itself offers a similar 20,100 mAh battery for $42, without the USB-C or fast-charging features. Other manufacturers have batteries with massive capacities for even less.
However, that price tag has a small silver lining: the PowerCore includes a fast-charging wall block, which, naturally, it needs to quickly charge itself. Standalone fast wall chargers can already cost $20-30 and with that in mind, if you’re already in the market for a fast charger, you’re getting a two-for-one deal with this battery. That makes the price tag more appealing, especially if you buy one while it’s on sale. The current $79 sale price, minus the ~$30 you’d have to spend on a separate fast charger, means you can get a mega battery pack with fast charging and USB-PD for the price of a generic high-capacity battery back without those features.
Price tag critique aside, it’s really hard for a portable charger to impress the way this PowerCore does. Any battery can charge your phone, but fewer can also handle your tablet or your laptop, and do it fast. The ideal buyer for this one is someone who also needs a fast wall charger, but if you can get past the sticker price, you’ll have an excellent and strongly future-proofed power bank.
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Car technology is moving as rapidly as other tech, but that’s a little awkward considering cars are far more expensive to upgrade than a phone or tablet. Factor in the growing range of budget cars that offer no bells and whistles to speak of, and many of us will feel like we’re falling behind when it comes to the latest gadgets for our vehicles—but don’t worry, we’re here to help.
Google recently added audiobooks to Google Play, so you can listen to your books while near your Google Home. To get you started, the company is sending out emails offering a free audiobook for a short time. The deal doesn’t last long, so you might want to check for yours sooner rather than later.
If you subscribe to Amazon Prime, you can get certain food and items delivered to your home in under two hours. That’s well and good for the occasional last minute shopping trip, but it’s not always good enough to replace going grocery shopping. That will be changing soon when Amazon Prime Now starts delivering Whole Foods groceries.