How to shoot better slow motion video at 120fps, 240fps, and 960fps

Know when to go slow and when to go really slow when you’re taking slo-mo video.

Not too long ago you needed very expensive cameras and equally expensive desktop software to produce a good slow-motion video. Now we can grab slow-motion capture at up to 960 frames per second from a smartphone, and that means we can shoot video that’s about 32-times slower than real life. Isn’t technology grand? We don’t need to know how to build a smartphone that can shoot super slow-motion video or how the internal software works to use it, but it’s a good idea to know a little bit about the things you can do to make it better. Or worse.

The Galaxy S9+ can shoot slow-motion video at 240 fps (frames per second) in 1080p, or 960 fps in 720p. Sony’s latest, the Xperia XZ2, can shoot 960 fps video at 1080p! We expect to see a lot more companies building phones with cameras that can tackle the super slo-mo so no matter which brand you prefer you’ll probably get the feature. It sounds really cool, and it can be once you get a little bit of practice in and remember a few things about when it’s best to use it versus the still-impressive 240 fps slow-motion feature.

Resolution

Resolution is the biggest difference on paper, and the easiest to remember because the results are right there in front of you when you play it back. Super slo-mo shoots at 960 fps, but can only do so for less than a second (0.2 seconds in the Galaxy S9+) but that translates into about 6.5 seconds when you play it back at normal speeds. While that’s awesome, there are times when a 720p video just won’t cut it.

Don’t let 6 seconds of 720p footage ruin your video. If it will be a jarring switch, shoot at 240 fps instead.

The thing you’ll be playing the video back with very likely has a very high resolution. A computer monitor, television, or even the display on your smartphone falls into this category. You have to decide if 6 seconds of 720p footage right in the middle of an FHD video is going to work. The best way to decide is by trial and error.

Take your phone and shoot some video of anything that’s moving as a test. Play it back on the phone and upload it to YouTube where you can watch it on a bigger display so you get a feel for the way the switch to 720p looks when you’re watching. It can work sometimes, especially if you’re going to be editing the final product, but other times it isn’t going to cut it and the FHD 240 fps capture will work better, even if the footage isn’t quite as slow-motion.

Keeping the phone still

Slow-motion video is a bit blurry. It’s difficult for even the most expensive cameras to capture high-speed video and still get a great sharp image because it’s next to impossible to take enough samples to fine tune the focus. It’s not too bad looking, and it can even add to the effect, but only if it’s done right.

In this case, done right means the camera is held perfectly still. Especially if you’re going to use the Automatic capture feature in the Galaxy S9+, where it detects motion and grabs the super slo-mo footage when it sees something moving. Keeping your camera perfectly still is important.

Even the tiniest bit of shaking in your hands can look like an earthquake when you slow it down by a factor of 32.

In fact, it’s important enough to invest in a tripod or gimbal if you plan to shoot a lot of super slo-mo video. With the right equipment your phone can take some amazingly great video footage, and investing in some gear to make better use of it isn’t a bad idea at all.

We really like the DJI Osmo Mobile 2 gimbal here. it can account for any small hand motions (the smallest shake goes on f-o-r-e-v-e-r when shooting at 960fps) and can be programmed to enhance your video with other effects through the mobile app. It’s a handheld, but you can pick up a number of attachments that will let you place it on a flat surface on a tripod. And best of all, the $130 price is a lot cheaper than some others out there.

If you don’t have a way to keep your phone still while taking slo-mo video, shoot it at 240 fps if the video needs to be stable and level.

See at B&H photo

Know your lights

Lighting is the biggest thing to consider when you’re taking any photo or video. You need the right light in the right amount to properly expose whatever it is in front of the lens, and when shooting at high speeds you get another factor in the mix: pulse modulation.

We can see more things when they are slowed down. things like blinking lights.

Pulse modulation is how fluorescent lights and LED’s “work”. A “regular” light bulb has a filament inside of it that’s superheated in a sealed glass globe. It gets so hot it emits bright light and the sealed environment keeps it from catching fire and lets it last longer. It’s also a steady emission — it gets hot, puts out light, and stays in that state until you turn off the electricity and it cools down.

Fluorescent lamps are driven by a ballast that pulses high voltage through the contacts. This ionizes a small amount of metal (usually a mercury-based metal which is why you should never handle a broken fluorescent lamp) and causes it to emit a lot of UV radiation (the harmless type). A phosphor-based coating on the inside of the glass converts the UV radiation into visible spectrum radiation, which is light. Hot cathode fluorescents work a little differently and need a long arc to cause vapor in the sealed lamp to glow, but when it comes to the timing they are both the same — they turn on and off about 60 times each second.

LEDs use a driver to apply current to the leads of the lamp, and this causes electrons to move in a semiconductor inside the LED. When the right amount of current is applied, the electrons are converted into photons, which are tiny rays of light. Fluorescent lamps and LEDs don’t work quite the same way, but they have one thing in common: they aren’t a steady light source. LEDs can have an on/off cycle as slow as two times per second.

240 fps will make fluorescent lights and LEDs blink, but a lot less than 960 fps will. It makes a big difference.

This doesn’t matter to our eyes because we can’t see the darkness between pulses when they are that fast. But when you slow down your video by shooting at a very high frame rate, you see it in the end result. Sometimes, it can be so bad it ruins the footage. Shooting video under a normal fluorescent lamp at 240 fps the lamp “blinks” 7 times per second. Shooting at 960 fps it blinks a little less than 2 times per second. That’s easy to see, and there’s no way to edit it out.

Ideally, you want to shoot outside in the sun or using old-fashioned filament lighting. But if you can’t do that and are shooting video under fluorescent lights or LEDs, shoot at 240 fps to minimize the flickering.


The most important thing to know is that it gets better with practice, and practicing is pretty fun. Shoot video of all kinds of things and have fun while you’re figuring it all out!

Xiaomi Redmi 5 launches in India: Everything you need to know

Xiaomi’s latest budget phone brings the 18:9 form factor at an even more affordable price point.

After launching the Redmi Note 5 and the Redmi Note 5 Pro in India last month, Xiaomi is now introducing an entry-level option in the Redmi series that brings the 18:9 form factor to an even more affordable price point. The Redmi 5 comes with a 5.7-inch HD+ (1440×720) 18:9 display and is powered by the Snapdragon 450 chipset. The phone is set to go on sale starting March 20 for just ₹7,999 ($125).

The Redmi 5 is in fact the smaller variant of the Redmi Note 5, which is sold as the Redmi 5 Plus in China. As such, the phone shares the same design aesthetic as the Redmi Note 5 series. Here’s what you need to know about the Redmi 5 in India.

Xiaomi Redmi 5 Specs

Category Features
Operating System MIUI 9.2 based on Android 7.1.1 Nougat
Display 5.7-inch 18:9 HD+ (1440×720) IPS LCD panel
282ppi pixel density
Corning Gorilla Glass
SoC Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 450
Eight Cortex A53 cores at 1.8GHz
14nm
GPU Adreno 506 with Vulkan API, OpenCL 2.0, and OpenGL ES 3.1
650MHz
RAM 2GB/3GB/4GB
Storage 16GB/32GB/64GB
microSD slot up to 128GB
Rear camera 12MP with 1.25um pixel size and f/2.2 lens
PDAF, LED flash
1080p video recording
Front shooter 5MP with LED Selfie light
1080p video recording
Beautify 3.0
Connectivity LTE with VoLTE
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, GLONASS
Micro-USB, 3.5mm audio jack, IR blaster
Networks LTE: 1/3/5/40/41
GSM: 2/3/5/8
WCDMA: 1/2/5/8
Battery 3300mAh battery
Fast charging (5V/2A)
Fingerprint Rear fingerprint sensor
Dimensions 151.8 x 72.8 x 7.7mm
Weight 157g
Colors Gold, Rose Gold, Blue, Black

Xiaomi Redmi 5 Price in India

Xiaomi is going to sell the Redmi 5 in three variants in India, with prices starting off at just ₹7,999. That’s for the model with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. Here’s the breakdown of pricing of the Redmi 5 in India:

  • 2GB + 16GB: ₹7,999 ($125)
  • 3GB + 32GB: ₹8,999 ($140)
  • 4GB + 64GB: ₹10,999 ($170)

The Redmi 5 will go on sale starting March 20 at Xiaomi’s own portal as well as Amazon India and Mi Home retail stores across the country. Xiaomi has also stated that the Redmi 5 will go on sale through its offline partners in the coming weeks.

See at Amazon

Xiaomi Redmi 5 vs. Redmi Note 5

Xiaomi sells a lot of phones in the budget segment, creating a lot of overlap between models. The 2GB variant of the Redmi 5 is enticing considering it costs a mere ₹7,999, but it doesn’t make as much sense to go for the 32GB or 64GB models considering the Redmi Note 5 costs just ₹1,000 more.

The 32GB Redmi Note 5 is available for ₹9,999 ($155), and the 64GB model with 4GB of RAM is retailing for ₹11,999 ($185).

With the Redmi Note 5, you’re getting a larger 5.99-inch display with a resolution of 2160×1080, Snapdragon 625, and a huge 4000mAh battery that easily lasts two days on a full charge. Seeing as how it is just ₹1,000 more than the Redmi 5, the larger Redmi Note 5 is a much better option if you’re in the market for a new budget device.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 review: The best just got better

Google’s bringing free, high-speed Wi-Fi to 60+ locations across Mexico

Over 100 areas will be supported by the end of 2018.

After launching first in India and Indonesia, Google is now bringing its Google Station program to Mexico.

Google Station launched back in 2015, and its goal is to offer people Internet access that’s fast, free, and reliable. Google says it’ll first be rolling out its Station hotspots across 60 different venues in Mexico, including malls, airports, and public transit stations, but it hopes to expand this to over 100 locations by the end of 2018.

Stations will be available both in Mexico City and across the rest of the country, and Google’s partnering with local Wi-Fi provider Sitwifi to make this possible.

Although data plans for cell phone service are more affordable than ever in Mexico, Google says “access to information is still a challenge for many” in Mexico. Considering that Mexico is the third-highest Internet-dependent country in all of Latin America, this is big news.

Per Google’s announcement post:

Mexico is the first country in Latin America to launch Google Station, and the third country globally, after India and Indonesia. Google Station can be found in Mexico City and 44 more cities in the country, so if you’re near one of the locations, go watch a high-quality video (or maybe save some YouTube offline for later)!

Google’s free public Wi-Fi is now available at 100 railway stations across India

T-Mobile is finally adopting Google’s RCS Universal Profile

The Un-Carrier’s network will support the standard in Q2 of this year.

Over the last couple years, there’s been a lot of talk about Rich Communication Services — or RCS for short. RCS is the next evolution of traditional SMS texting, and it allows for advanced messaging features like high-quality image sharing, notifications when someone’s read your message, typing indicators, and more. On March 13, 2018, T-Mobile announced that it was officially joining Google and GSMA’s RCS Universal Profile.

For those that need a quick refresher, Google and GSMA got together back in 2016 to create the RCS Universal Profile — a system carriers and manufacturers could adopt to promote a seamless RCS messaging experience across different networks and hardware. This was a big step in the right direction, but it’s been held back from having any real impact thanks to the stubbornness of U.S. carriers.

Sprint was quick to join the RCS Universal Profile the same year it was announced, but none of the other networks followed. T-Mobile and Sprint have both been working on their own proprietary methods, and while Verizon said it would join the standard at some point, we’ve yet to see anything come to fruition there.

T-Mobile customers will soon be able to use RCS features in Android Messages.

However, with T-Mobile now announcing that its network will support the RCS Universal Profile beginning in Q2 of this year, we’re finally making some progress.

When this happens, T-Mobile customers will be able to use Google’s Android Messages app and send/receive powerful RCS texts to other T-Mobile subscribers and folks on Sprint. In other words, your regular SMS conversations will get many of the features you’ve come to know and love from the likes of WhatsApp, Telegram, etc.

AT&T and Verizon still need to commit to the RCS Universal Standard before this is a totally widespread thing across the United States, but even so, this is incredibly exciting.

If you’re on T-Mobile, are you looking forward to RCS conversations?

What is RCS and why is it important to Android?

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Best Android apps for connecting your phone and your Windows 10 PC

Windows 10 and Android can play nicely if you know which apps to use.

Last month we looked at apps that allow you to connect iOS devices to your Windows 10 PC. But if you’re on Android and Windows 10, you don’t need to feel left out. There are a number of ways to connect your Android devices to your PC. In fact, due to the open nature of Android, there are even more options.

While there are many Microsoft apps available for Android, this list is about apps that connect your phone and your PC, not just services that are available on both.

How Microsoft is turning Android into the mobile OS for Windows users

From mirroring your screen to connecting your devices through the web, these are the best apps to connect your Android phone to Windows 10.

AirDroid

AirDroid extends your Android phone experience to your PC. You can mirror the entire phone screen and control your phone through your PC or just sync specific aspects of the phone such as notifications. You can respond to messages from your PC through SMS, WhatsApp, Kik, and other messaging services and also have the option to send quick replies to someone who calls you on the phone.

You can also use it to transfer files between your phone and your PC and control your camera remotely.

Setting up AirDroid takes a little bit of work, you have to unlock developer options and turn on USB debugging, but the app and AirDroid’s website walk you through this.

There’s a basic free version of the app, or you can upgrade to pro for $1.99 per month or $19.99 per year. The pro version removes ads, allows you to transfer entire folders, and grants you access to more features broken down on their website.

I like the idea of AirDroid, and it worked fairly well in my testing, but screen mirroring did run into some glitches, as did notifications. This could be based on my hardware so it’s worth trying it out on your setup to see how it performs.

See in Google Play Store

Vysor

Vysor is another way to mirror your Android phone onto your PC. It also allows you to drag and drop files and take screenshots. You can also use Vysor to type into text boxes on your phone using your PCs keyboard.

One way it differs from AirDroid is that it allows you to use Vysor Share, though you need a Vysor Pro account, which lets you share your phone with people throughout your office.

There is a free version of Vysor but to unlock high quality mirroring, wireless connection, Vysor Share, and more features you’ll need to upgrade to Vysor Pro which costs $2.50 per month, $10 per year or $40 for a lifetime.

See in Google Play Store

Textto

Rather than mirroring your entire screen or all of your notifications, Textto specializes in allowing you to text from your PC. Setting it up is incredibly easy. You just need to sign up with a Gmail account on both the Android app and PC version of Textto. You can then text from your computer through Textto’s PC program or the web. It works wirelessly so you can set it up and then just text from your phone or PC.

Textto doesn’t replace your SMS app of choice on your phone, it just relays your text messages through your PC. I was incredibly impressed while using this and it’s especially useful because Skype SMS relay still hasn’t arrived on Android.

You can get the PC version from Textto’s website and download the Android app through Google Play. Both of them are free.

See in Google Play Store

Photos Companion

Photos Companion comes from the Microsoft Garage. It allows you to send your photos between your Android phone and your PC as long as you’re on the same wireless network. The connection works almost instantaneously and only requires scanning a QR code to set up.

The Android version of the app is free, and the Windows 10 Photos app comes for free as part of Windows 10.

See in Google Play Store

Cortana

There’s no shortage of digital assistants on Android, but if you use a Windows 10 PC, it’s worth checking out Cortana. The assistant can sync reminders, lists, notes on both your Android phone and PC. It can also sync notifications from your phone with your PC.

How to sync notifications between Android and Windows 10 using Cortana

Cortana has become easier to access than ever on Android phones by its integration with Microsoft Launcher. Cortana is free on Android, as is Microsoft Launcher which can integrate with it, and is also built into Windows 10.

See in Google Play Store

Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge provides a nice browser experience as its own app on Android, but it’s especially useful if you want to continue your browsing experience from your phone to your PC. You can select to continue viewing any webpage on your PC immediately or select to view it later.

Even in preview, Edge on Android already shows promise

Microsoft Edge also syncs with other aspects of the PC version of Edge including favorites so you can have a close to seamless browsing experience.

Edge is part of Windows 10, and the Android version is free.

See in Google Play Store

Honorable mentions

There are two other apps that help you connect your phone to your PC, but they are restricted to specific hardware.

Dell Mobile Connect

Dell Mobile Connect allows you to make calls and texts through your PC and also lets you read and react to notifications. Our executive editor, Daniel Rubino, has called it amazing and it looks like a big draw to anyone considering new hardware. But the app is not only restricted to working with Dell PCs, it only works with specific Dell PCs. Hopefully, we’ll see more hardware from Dell supporting this in the future and other OEMs making similar applications.

See in Google Play Store

HP Orbit

HP also has an app of their own, HP Orbit, which allows you to send photos, text, and links between your phone and your PC. As you’d expect, it requires an HP PC. It isn’t as powerful as Dell Mobile Connect but is very fast.

See in Google Play Store

Over to you

These are some of the best ways to connect Android phones to Windows 10 PCs, but they aren’t the only ways. What are your favourite apps and services to connect your devices across platforms? Let us know in the comments below.

These are the Chromebooks that can run Android apps from Google Play

Android — and 1,000,000+ apps — on your Chromebook is awesome.

But not every Chromebook is going to get updated to have Google Play and Android apps. And most of the ones that will are in a long testing process.

We all hate waiting. And we all hate updates that break things. Google and the people who made your Chromebook are trying to make sure everything is good and keep the wait time to a minimum, but still — we all hate waiting!

Things are progressing. Here’s the current state of Android on Chromebooks and Chromeboxes.

Chromebooks with Android apps available in the stable channel

Make sure you have the latest version of Chrome and look in your settings if you don’t have a Play Store app. You can enable it there by checking the box.

  • Acer Chromebook R11
  • Acer Chromebook R13
  • Acer Chromebook Spin 11
  • Acer Chromebook 14 (CB3-431)
  • Acer Chromebook 14 for Work
  • Acer Chromebook 15 (CB3-532. CB5-571, C910)
  • Acer Chromebook 11 N7 (C731, C731T)
  • Acer Chromebook 11 (C771, C771T, C740)
  • AOpen Chromebox Mini
  • AOpen Chromebase Mini
  • ASUS Chromebook Flip C100PA
  • ASUS Chromebook Flip C101PA
  • ASUS Chromebook Flip C213
  • ASUS Chromebook Flip C302
  • ASUS Chromebook C202SA
  • ASUS Chromebook C300SA / C301SA
  • CTL NL61 Chromebook
  • CTL Chromebook J2 / J4
  • CTL J5 Convertible Chrombook
  • Dell Chromebook 11 (3180, 5190)
  • Dell Chromebook 11 Convertible (3189, 5190)
  • Dell Chromebook 13 (3380, 7310)
  • eduGear Chromebook M Series
  • eduGear Chromebook K Series
    *eduGear CMT Chromebook
  • Edxis Education Chromebook
  • Google Chromebook Pixel (2015)
  • Google Pixelbook
  • Haier Chromebook 11e
  • Haier Chromebook 11 C
  • HiSense Chromebook 11
  • HP Chromebook 11 G5
  • HP Chromebook 11 G5 EE
  • HP Chromebook 11 G6
  • HP Chromebook x360 11 EE
  • HP Chromebook 13 G1
  • HP Chromebook 14 G5
  • Lenovo Flex 11 Chromebook
  • Lenovo N23 Chromebook
  • Lenovo N23 Yoga Chromebook
  • Lenovo IdeaPad N42 Chromebook
  • Lenovo N22 Chromebook
  • Lenovo N42 Chromebook
  • Lenovo Thinkpad 11e Chromebook (Gen 3)
  • Lenovo ThinkPad 11e Chromebook (Gen 4)
  • Lenovo Thinkpad 11e Yoga Chromebook (Gen 4)
  • Lenovo Thinkpad 13
  • Medion Chromebook S2015
  • Mercer Chromebook NL6D
  • Multilaser Chromebook M11C
  • NComputing Chromebook CX100
  • Nexian Chromebook 11.6″
  • PCMerge Chromebook PCM-116E
  • PCMerge Chromebook PCM-116T-432B
  • Poin2 Chromebook 11
  • Poin2 Chromebook 14
  • Samsung Chromebook 3
  • Samsung Chromebook Plus
  • Samsung Chromebook Pro
  • Sector 5 E1 Rugged Chromebook
  • Viglen Chromebook 11
  • Viglen Chromebook 360

Chromebooks with Android support in the beta channel

You’ll need to switch to the beta channel to enable Android support. Further instructions on switching channels can be found here.

  • Toshiba Chromebook 2 (2015)

Chrome devices that will be supported sometime in the future

These are the devices that will officially be updated to use Google Play. There is no word on when to expect the update, only that they will be supported.

Acer

  • Chromebook 11 CB3-111 / C730 / C730E / CB3-131
  • Chromebook 15 (CB3-531)
  • Chromebox CXI2
  • Chromebase 24

AOpen

  • Chromebox Commercial
  • Chromebase Commercial

Asus

  • Chromebook C200
  • Chromebook C201PA
  • Chromebook C300
  • Chromebox CN62
  • Chromebit CS10

Bobicus

  • Chromebook 11

CDI

  • eduGear Chromebook R Series

CTL

  • N6 Education Chromebook

Dell

  • Chromebook 11 3120

Edxis

  • Chromebook

Haier

  • Chromebook 11
  • Chromebook 11 G2

Hexa

  • Chromebook Pi

Lava

  • Xolo Chromebook

HP

  • Chromebook 11 G3 / G4 / G4 EE
  • Chromebook 14 G4

Lenovo

  • 100S Chromebook
  • N20 / N20P Chromebook
  • N21 Chromebook
  • ThinkCentre Chromebox
  • Thinkpad 11e Chromebook Gen 2
  • Thinkpad 11e Yoga Chromebook

Medion

  • Akoya S2013

M&A

  • Chromebook

Samsung

  • Chromebook 2 11″ – XE500C12

Senkatel

  • C1101 Chromebook

True IDC

  • Chromebook 11

Updated March 2018: Updated with the latest models to offer Android apps.

We will continue to monitor the list and add any new Chromebooks that Google notes will support the feature.

Best Wireless Charging Pads for Samsung Galaxy S9

Keep your Galaxy S9 charged without the charging cables.

If you’re upgrading to the Samsung Galaxy S9 in 2018, you’re going to want to try out the wireless charging functionality. There’s a large number of options out there for wireless charging, but not all are made equal.

If you want a reliable wireless charging pad that won’t let you down, check out these great products!

Samsung Fast Charge Convertible Wireless Charging Pad

Samsung’s wireless charging pad combines the best wireless charging technologies packed into a really sleek design. Launched alongside the Galaxy S8, it features a premium leather-like appearance and ingenious design which allows you to easily convert this pad into an angled charging stand.

The charger also comes with a spare Samsung Fast Charge wall charger which is another accessory that ensures your phone charges safely, and allows you to fast charge your Galaxy S9 wirelessly at your home or office. you can snag one of your own from Amazon now for just $43.

See at Amazon

Samsung Wireless Charging Pad w/ 2A wall adapter

If functionality and cost are your two biggest buying factors, you’ll want to consider Samsung’s old style of wireless charging pad.

These charging pads look like mini-UFOs and are Fast Charge-compatible for devices that support it such as the Galaxy S9. It also comes with a Samsung 2A wall charger — always great — and comes with a standard one-year warranty.

This is a great option if you’re looking to set up wireless charging at your home and at work because they’re so damn cheap right now. You can also get the older style as a charging stand ($50)if you prefer that look instead. You may also want to consider this bundle which includes Samsung’s car charger along with two cables (Micro-USB and USB-C) for just $39.99 ($40).

See at Amazon

iOttie iON Wireless Qi Charging Pad

This updated wireless charger from iOttie might seem like a slightly bulkier option compared to the sleek Samsung chargers, but it’s packed with smart features. It’s Qi-compatible with a triple-coil charging zone that’s capable of 5V/1A output with a non-slip ring to hold your phone in place on top while it charges.

It supports Wireless Fast Charging up to 10W for Samsung Galaxy S9, and with a 18W USB-C input you’ll be able to wirelessly charge one phone and then charge a second device with the included USB-A port.

It’s all packaged with a beautiful soft fabric that’s so trendy these days, and proper heat ventilation to maximize charging efficiency. These will start shipping on March 23, and you can get yours for just $50.

See at Amazon

Aukey Wireless Charging Pad

Aukey’s wireless charging pad for Qi-enabled devices is sleek and minimalist, which might jive well with your personal tastes. It’s an updated version of Aukey’s coaster-sized charger, and has a pretty stylish and minimalist look to it and won’t take up much space on your desk or nightstand.

This charger makes use of a USB-C cable to supply power which should make for more an efficient energy transfer. You can get one for your home or office for just $25.

See at Amazon

Spigen Qi Wireless Charging Stand

Spigen’s charging stand is angled, making this a great option for your office desk so you can easily see your display while your phone is charging. If you need a way to quickly top off your phone on your desk or a new place to keep it safe on your nightstand, this may be the choice for you. Pick yours up for $25 at Amazon.

See at Amazon

Tronsmart Chocolate Qi Wireless Charging Pad

Tronsmart is a trusted brand for charging accessories, and produces a unique looking charging pad that’s designed to look like a bar of chocolate — and who doesn’t love chocolate?

The top of this charging pad is made of a silica gel that’s designed to ensure your phone stays in place while also preventing the charger itself from slipping around on your desk.

You’ll need to supply your own Adaptive Fast Charger wall adapter to get the most out of this charging pad, but other than that this minimalist charging pad can be yours for just $13 — the best price on this list!

See at Amazon

OPPO F7 is the latest Android phone to sport the notch

OPPO shows off the F7 ahead of its official launch in India on March 26.

ASUS demoed the ZenFone 5 late last month, and the main thing that stood out about the phone is the iPhone X-like notch. It was only a matter of time before other manufacturers offered their own take on the notch, and today OPPO is doing just that with the F7. The successor to the F5 is set to launch in India later this month, and as you can see from the teaser image, the phone will sport a cutout where the front camera is housed.

The OPPO F7 features a 6.2-inch display with a resolution of 2280×1080. We’ve seen 18:9 panels go mainstream over the course of the last year, and it looks like that’ll be the case with 19:9 panels this year, with the added pixels to accommodate the notch. The phone comes with an 89.09% screen-to-body ratio, and you also get gestures that allow you to navigate between apps.

Like previous devices, a key area of focus with the OPPO F7 is the selfie camera, with the phone featuring a 25MP camera at the front. OPPO introduced an AI-based Beauty Recognition feature late last year in the F5, and the F7 introduces AI Beauty 2.0 with “differentiated beautification touches for different people, e.g. male or female, in a group photo.”

The AI learns your preferences over time — based on edits you make to your photos — and automatically applies those effects for subsequent shots. The company is also touting additional improvements to the front shooter, including HDR and AR stickers.

The OPPO F7 is slated to make its debut in India on March 26, which is when we’ll know more about the specs and pricing. What do you guys make of the design of OPPO’s upcoming phone?

President Trump preemptively blocks Broadcom’s Qualcomm takeover, citing national security concerns

This one is finally settled.

The seemingly never-ending saga of Broadcom‘s attempted takeover of Qualcomm has all-but-ended, as President Trump today issued an order that the deal will not be allowed to go through under the assertion that it would be a threat to U.S. national security. Broadcom is primarily a Singapore-based company, but operates globally. Qualcomm and Broadcom have been dancing around the details of a potential merger or takeover for several months, but in recent weeks had clearly been nearing a deal as Broadcom finalizes moving its headquarters to the U.S.

There’s a ton of required legal-speak in here, but it’s very clear that the executive branch is not interested in this type of deal going through in any form, and no representatives of Broadcom are to be allowed to be on the Board of Directors at Qualcomm:

The proposed takeover of Qualcomm by [Broadcom] is prohibited, and any substantially equivalent merger, acquisition, or takeover, whether effected directly or indirectly, is also prohibited.

All 15 individuals listed as potential candidates on the Form of Blue Proxy Card filed by Broadcom and Broadcom Corporation with the Securities and Exchange Commission on February 20, 2018 (together, the Candidates), are hereby disqualified from standing for election as directors of Qualcomm. Qualcomm is prohibited from accepting the nomination of or votes for any of the Candidates.

[Broadcom] and Qualcomm shall immediately and permanently abandon the proposed takeover. Immediately upon completion of all steps necessary to terminate the proposed takeover of Qualcomm, the Purchaser and Qualcomm shall certify in writing to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the UnitedStates (CFIUS) that such termination has been effected in accordance with this order and that all steps necessary to fully and permanently abandon the proposed takeover of Qualcomm have been completed.

The decision to completely shut down this takeover before it happens comes just a couple of months after Huawei was effectively shut out from selling its latest smartphones, including the Mate 10 Pro, with U.S. carriers under pressure from the U.S. government. Further action has been taken to limit or completely eliminate the use of Huawei and ZTE equipment — both phones and network routers — by any U.S. government agency. Those actions were also taken in the name of “national security” concerns.

It can easily be argued (and I’m happy to make the argument, personally) that the Broadcom takeover of Qualcomm would not improve products or innovation in the wide variety of technologies that they both produce. The takeover could reduce competition and potentially jeopardize some of Qualcomm’s large U.S.-based operations, but none of those reasons are being cited as part of this order. Of all the reasons for this deal to be stopped, “national security” seems the least scrupulous.

Philips Hue is getting new outdoor options to light up your garden

Philips is rolling out a range of Hue outdoor lighting options.

Philips is introducing a range of new Hue lights for outdoor spaces. The new options include wall-mounted lights, spotlights, and a pedestal lamp, and the smart lights are offered in both color and white shades. The outdoor lighting options are weatherproof and can be hooked up to an existing Hue bridge.

Philips says the Lily spotlight can be used to “highlight the key design features in your garden, illuminating beautiful flower beds, or potted plants,” whereas the Calla bollard is ideal for “path lighting and can also be used to enhance your outdoor space.” Both models let you choose from 16 million colors.

You can also control them the same way as your indoor lights via Google Assistant and Alexa, and set automated schedules from the Hue app. With the Home & Away feature, you can set the lights to come on automatically when you’re approaching your house.

The new outdoor lighting options include three wall-mounted luminaires in the Hue white range: the 800 lumen Inara and Lucca at $49 and $59, and the 2600 lumen Ludere, which will retail for $129. The Hue line is also getting a PAR38 bulb that will slot into existing fixtures, with each bulb costing $29 and a double-pack available for $49.

Meanwhile, the Lily spotlight will retail for $279/€299, and the Calla bollard will go on sale for $139/€139. The outdoor range will go on sale in the U.S. and Europe starting this July.