President Obama just signed the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act into law, giving you the right to “unlock” your smartphone and use it with a different carrier once your current plan ends. Here are the ins and outs of the new law, and how to use them to your benefit.
How to use your sweet, sweet freedom
iOS or Android? Choose wisely -- or else
Your next phone decision is likely to play a role in everything from your next vehicle to your next home…so choose wisely.
No relation to one Katy Perry
Creative’s new Sound Blaster Roar SR20 boasts improved Bluetooth pairing, a sound-boosting “Roar” mode, and half the price of its Bose competitor.
We're Gonna Need a Bigger Wall
The home entertainment arms race has evolved to include factors like pixel counts, connectivity and even screen shape. But the importance of size…that will never change. Meet the TV heavyweights of 2014 that redefine big.
Sega vs. Nintendo
Nostalgia makes the original Sonic an appealing option for summer fun, but tracking down a Sega Genesis is easier said than done. We provide a few modern workarounds to help you play your favorite retro titles from the NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, Sega Master System, Dreamcast and Saturn.
A Comprehensive Guide to Ignoring Friends and Family
Consoles don’t provide much in the way of portability (anyone else ever own this masterpiece of engineering?), and grown men carrying Gameboys often attract the wrong kind of attention, but mobile games offer interactive experiences on the devices that most of us carry every day. They allow us a bit of serenity when we need it most — in the airport, on the subway, at a questionable mid-life Bris. Here, we’ve provided a list of 50 of the best games made for iOS. Play at the risk of your relationship.
Lighting the way, from Yellowstone to Haiti
Goal Zero’s latest rechargeable lantern, the LightHouse 250 ($80), is a versatile light source suited for all regions of the globe. But does its on-paper usefulness translate to the real world? We tested it, from hand-cranking to device charging.
Release the Titans
Titanfall starts with some 1960s stock footage of rockets. There is a voiceover. From what we can understand, a group called the militia is battling a group called the IMC. Then we’re in the game, running on walls, and that stuff doesn’t matter anymore. This is Titanfall‘s big bet: that players, so intent on shooting really big weapons at really big robots, won’t care that the game lacks any sort of discernible plot or campaign. And it works — to an extent.
From Delphi to Your Kitchen
Every once in a while, a product so revolutionizes your day that you feel compelled to brag to your friends about it. You fantasize about it throughout the day, and when you go to sleep, you can’t wait to get up, just so you can jump out of bed and use it. That good. Such is the case with the Breville Oracle, which promises — and delivers — high-quality, easily made espresso at home.
Five Oceans, Five Cameras
Nowadays, there are many options for underwater photography and videography available to the avid diver and occasional vacation snorkeler alike. These five underwater imaging options — everything from custom-machined metal housings to cameras that don’t need a housing at all — will serve you well on your next dive trip. What you shoot is up to you.
Anyone who followed CES this year saw the amount of new wireless Bluetooth speakers — an avalanche eclipsed only by the utter horde of new fitness trackers. Still, it’s clear when a winner emerges from the pack. While the fight for the best portable Bluetooth speaker continues, one high-end contender threatens to end the competition: the foxL DASH 7 ($219), produced by Soundmatters, the same company that originally provided components for the best-selling Jambox.
Two Toms, Three Sports
From the Pebble to the Toq, multi-tasking sports watches have recently gained popularity among the techie set. Among athletes, they’ve been used for over a decade. At their most basic functionality, athletic smart watches measure pace and distance, though most also have an optional heart rate monitor and offer enough technological bells and whistles to make Siri swoon. We got our hands on the TomTom Multisport GPS, an intuitive little offering that provides metrics for running, cycling and swimming.
Three Amateur Gamers Play for 14 Hours Straight
The Xbox One ($500), which comes out Friday, promises to be more entertaining, more immersive and more addictive than its predecessors. But how much more entertaining? Will all aspects of the game-rendering, movie-playing, internet-surfing, friend-connecting, shopping-enabling entertainment system pull their weight? Will the games serve as playable works of art? How much more immersive could they be? Will the Kinect 2.0 build upon the groundbreaking recognition technology of its predecessor? Will the machine seamlessly integrate all our disparate media and create a monster — an addictive one? Perhaps the last question is the most important, but really, at its current MSRP of $500, they all are.
Three GP staffers, all casual gamers, had the chance to test the Xbox One this weekend, and, in general, it lived up to expectations. We played it for over 14 hours straight; we came away with a severe lack of sleep and plenty of strong first impressions. Addicted? Clearly. Here’s what we remember.
Music to His Ears
Thought purchasing a Christmas gift for your in-laws was tough? Try shopping for someone who knows everything about media gadgetry and can’t abide anything but the best. The Mediaphile’s affinity for films, games, music, and yes, eBooks, goes beyond the bounds of reason and continues to expand as the consumer market welcomes the latest tech innovations daily. Best believe he’s on top of everything from next-gen gaming consoles to popular subscription-based apps. This presents a problem, because you think HDMI, DSLR, DAC and WAV are medical tests and/or prerequisite exams for grad school applications. Don’t run to the Geek Squad yet. We’ve pulled together some awesome media-primed options worth your coin this holiday. He’ll thank you — and then you won’t see him for a couple months, save for Doritos runs and the rare bathroom break.
Power to the people
Power was the single metric I was looking to improve during the lead-up to La Ruta. I became power savvy by establishing my baseline watts at lactate threshold and VO2 Max during the F.U.E.L. testing we covered in Part II and then had the next six months to train against these numbers to improve fitness and manage nutrition on long rides. Yet I still had just one gap in my arsenal of gear: a power meter for my mountain bike. The Stages Power X9 ($700) is both new and affordable relative to other power meters, so I decided to give it a test run.
The term “noise canceling headphones” almost always summons images of big puffy over-the-ear numbers. As wonderful as those can be, they’re bulky to pack if you’re traveling light, and during workouts, they suck — providing a feeling akin to sweating with scones strapped to your head. Austrian headphone maker AKG’s K391 NC offer up noise canceling features in a compact package. We tried out a pair.
This system is no P.O.S.
Brick-and-mortar merchants looking for a point of sale system that isn’t a POS can end their search here. Powered by Square’s mobile payment system, Business in a Box ($249+) is a point of sale solution designed to handle small business needs with ease while keeping the IRS at bay.
The good kind of cover up
Manufacturers would prefer to regularly pillage your wallet by selling you a screen for every situation — but it doesn’t have to be that way. The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover ($80+) can transform your favorite Apple tablet into a laptop-rivaling email burner — and spare you the hassle of lugging a Smart Cover too, since it doubles as a magnetic cover.
Compact price, mid-sized features
Compact cameras are in trouble. Smartphones continue to don sexier optics, allowing the photographer in all of us to carry one less item and still get decent shots of our lunches/cats/sunsets. Not content to just fade away, manufacturers are ramping up the quality and features of their compact cameras to stay relevant. Taking cues from its larger-framed and sensored older brother (The XZ-2), the Olympus Stylus XZ-10 ($351) emerges from this crucible as a true pocket rocket.
Terms like all-metal enclosure, analog, and hand-made may conjure up thoughts of exorbitant price tags — most often you’d be right — but Meridian proves that occasionally pigs do fly. The British audio stalwart, known for stratospheric priced speakers and components, has unveiled the Meridian Explorer ($299), a pocket-sized USB DAC and headphone amplifier, and we got to try it out.
Turn on the tube(s)
Looking more like a miniature robot monolith than audio componentry, the WOO Audio WA7 Fireflies ($999) is a convenient (ideal) solution to poor desktop sound. As both a high-grade vacuum tube headphone/speaker amplifier and a state-of-the-art USB digital to analog converter, the Fireflies puts everything serious audiophiles crave in a 5-inch cube.
Chargers without borders
During his 2011 WWDC keynote address, Steve Jobs, introducing the latest round of Cupertino gold, said over and over “It just works”, which is a pretty fair summation of what makes Apple products Apple products. But the problem with electronics, Apple or not, is they only work if they have power (your move, Tim Cook)….
Get... chained down?
We’ve never been inside the R&D division of Ion Audio, but based on what we’ve been seeing lately we have a sneaking suspicion that the department is comprised of a gaggle of bros sitting around on torn-up leather couches with some fairly potent recreational products at their disposal. How else to explain their Cordless Phone System?
The shortest of stacks
Leave it to those face-melting Brits over at Marshall to create something like the Hanwell ($800). Styled after the famed amps that have stuffed arenas with sound for half a century, the company’s first foray into home audio packs 200 watts of pure rock into one 25-pound body. Made of the same wooden construction and…
Great sound, bar none
The soundbar is increasingly gaining traction as the audio setup of choice for aesthetically minded sound junkies. It’s no wonder: discrete designs and all-in-one efficiency keep minimalist media centers clutter free while trumping the tinny transmitters of any TV. Their only shortcoming is a one-dimensional soundfield, often the result of simulated surround. To buck that…
The Grand S is ZTE’s first ultra-smart smartphone, entering a field peppered with rather esteemed — and, well, huge — company (the Grand S is over 5.5 inches tall and nearly 3 inches wide). Similar in most every specification to other biggies from Droid, Huawei and Sony, the Grand S boasts some serious kit. Its…
As if you needed more options
Tablets tablets everywhere — how’s a man to choose? Vizio’s MT11x Windows 8 slate adds another drop in the bucket of great selections. A full-HD 1080p capacitive touchscreen with 10-finger multi-touch gestures pleases eyeballs from the start; it’s the guts, however, that make the 11.6-inch device a top-line competitor. 64GB SSD storage, AMD’s Z-60 APU…
Cloudy with a chance of tunes
The damn Cloud. Everything’s going there. Pretty soon, you’ll have to go to the Cloud to change your underwear. But for now, you’ll have to settle for the OD-11, the world’s first Cloud speaker — just introduced at CES 2013 — by the incredible folks at Teenage Engineering. If the nomenclature and design look familiar,…
Cut the cord
Available with either 500GB or 1TB of storage, the Corsair Voyager Air ($199-$229) is a wi-fi wonder for media maniacs not content with cloudy reception. Dubbed the first all-in-one to combine the conveniences of being a USB drive, a wireless network drive and a hub, the Voyager Air is a potent portable of note. USB…
For the notary public and/or spy in your life
We have a ton of questions about the Ion Audio Air Copy, which was just announced at CES 2013. The primary one is, what’s a company most known for making inexpensive USB turntables doing throwing out a wireless scanner? More importantly, who actually needs — literally, needs — a wireless scanner? From our deep and…