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Blanket your home in Wi-Fi with these excellent Netgear Orbi mesh router deals

Fri, 2019-04-05 09:46

It’s a great day to get a brand new or almost brand new Netgear Orbi mesh Wi-Fi system, depending on how much you want to spend. Amazon is selling the Orbi RBK23 mesh system for $250 after applying a $40 coupon just below the price on the product page. That discount makes this the lowest price the system’s hit in 2019. 

The Orbi RBK23 features three mesh units, including a router and two satellite extenders covering up to 6,000 square feet. Each unit also has two ethernet ports if you need a wired connection for more than just a desktop PC. 

The second Orbi system on sale today is a refurbished version of the Netgear RBK50-100NAR Orbi mesh Wi-Fi system for $180. Sold as new, it typically sells for $300. This package only has two units–a router and satellite extender–that cover up to 5,000 square feet, but it offers faster throughput speeds than the three-unit version. We reviewed this version of the Orbi system back in January 2017 and really liked it at the time. It offers strong Wi-Fi performance and a dedicated 4x4 radio backhaul, but it does have a larger footprint than many other mesh systems due to the size of the hardware.

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Why your Photos and iPhoto libraries take more space on a Mac’s external drive

Fri, 2019-04-05 08:00

When you have an older iPhoto library and a newer Photos library on your Mac and you copy both libraries to an external drive, you might notice that they collectively occupy a lot more space than they do on an internal drive. Why is that? It comes down to hard links, a way of conserving storage.

When Apple released Photos for macOS in 2015, it had to have a transition plan for iPhoto libraries. iPhoto libraries could be imported and converted, but with a twist. Instead of copying all the source images, Apple used hard links, which allow a file to occupy a single place on a disk and be referenced in multiple folders as if it existed uniquely there. (You can read more about hard links in “Upgraded to Photos? Here’s what you can do with that old iPhoto library.”)

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Three Apple products in the danger zone

Fri, 2019-04-05 07:00

Goodbye, AirPower! We hardly knew ye.

It’s only early April and it’s already been a tough year for Apple. Besides the admission that the company simply could not ship the wireless charging pad that it had been teasing for a year and a half, there was also the restatement of the company’s holiday quarter results, and an Apple event featuring TV content that showed remarkably little of that content, leaving some folks scratching their heads.

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TP-Link Smart Wi-Fi Light Switch, Dimmer HS220 review: A solid competitor in the in-wall dimmer space

Fri, 2019-04-05 06:00
This dimmer switch is a smooth operator, but it has a couple of notable drawbacks.

Array by Hampton smart deadbolt review: It solves the battery problem, but falls short on integration

Fri, 2019-04-05 06:00
An onboard solar panel keeps the battery topped off, but you can’t use this smart lock with any smart home hub.

iPad mini (2019) review: Petite, portable power

Fri, 2019-04-05 06:00

Apple has a reputation for forcing change on us right when we’ve gotten comfortable with its designs. Sure, we often resist (and sometimes Apple is wrong), but more often than not the Cupertino company proves that breaking out of our comfort zones leads to better user experiences and perhaps even a better future.

That’s why I’m surprised to see the new fifth-generation iPad mini. On the outside, it looks like a twin of its 2015 incarnation, to the point that I once accidentally picked up the old iPad mini to take it home for the evening. As far as I can tell, the only exterior feature that’s changed is that the regulatory information is no longer printed on the tablet’s backside. Even the display hasn’t changed much, as it still offers a resolution of 2048 x 1536 and a pixel density of 326ppi.

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Best Lightning cables: Top-notch cables that are meant to last

Thu, 2019-04-04 20:27

The newest iPhones support built-in wireless charging, so that means Lightning cables are no longer a must-have accessory, right?

Wrong! Even if you fully embrace the wireless charging life (see our roundup of the best wireless chargers for iPhone), you’ll still find yourself in plenty of situations where balancing your phone on a wireless charging mat just isn’t feasible. It’s hard to wirelessly charge a phone without a still, flat surface, so when you’re traveling, commuting, or just trying to use your phone while it charges, you’ll still need a Lightning cable.

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This cheaper-than-ever Kindle for Kids bundle helps children learn to love reading

Thu, 2019-04-04 11:12

Kindles have long been a choice e-reader for anyone who likes to read, and the kids version brought all its finer features to a child-friendly package. And today, you can grab an 8th-generation Kindle for Kids bundle for $60 on Amazon, complete with a protective cover, down significantly from the $100 that it usually sells for and its all-time low.

The Kindle for Kids bundle helps children read without from other tablet distractions. It’s backlight-free, so kids won’t be able to use it past their bedtimes, and features several tools, like Word Wise and Vocabulary Builder, to help enhance reading skills. In addition, you’ll be able to use Amazon’s Kindle FreeTime service to set goals and track progress toward them, so your kids can keep improving. And if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you’ll also get included access to more than 1,000 titles. On top of all this, a two-year warranty means that even if it gets damaged in the rough and tumble of family life, you’ll be able to keep your kid reading.

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Apple cuts the price of HomePod by $50, but it’s still too expensive

Thu, 2019-04-04 09:53

If you’ve forgotten that Apple still sells a smart speaker, you’re not alone. At last count, HomePod was struggling to capture even a sliver of the smart speaker market share, and it barely garnered a mention at Apple’s latest event. But Apple is hoping to reverse that trend with an uncharacteristic move: a price cut.

On Thursday, Apple quietly lowered the price of HomePod to $299, a $50 discount over the previous price. Apple isn’t promoting the price cut as a limited-time deal, so it seems like the 17 percent discount is permanent. That makes HomePod’s price a bit more palatable, but it’s still more expensive that nearly every other smart speaker including high-fi ones such as the Alexa-powered Sonos One, which sells for $199.

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Can’t select a drive to use with Time Machine? It might need reformatting

Thu, 2019-04-04 08:30

If you use Time Machine, you know that macOS asks you whenever you mount a new external drive whether or not you want to use it as another Time Machine destination. One of the backup service’s best features is that it can create archives on multiple volumes at once, and remembers backup volumes when they’re removed, so you can rotate through disks and keep one or more offsite.

However, you might mount a drive and want to use it with Time Machine and be unable to select it. That’s typically because the volume isn’t formatted using the old standby, HFS+, labeled “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)” in Disk Utility.

Time Machine can only create backup archives on HFS+ volumes because of some of the peculiar properties of how it creates snapshots by referencing files with hard links. These links allow the same file to appear as if it’s in multiple places on a single volume, even though only a single copy of it occupies space on the disk.

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Apple News+ makes a poor case for its existence, as its weak initial subscriber count shows

Thu, 2019-04-04 07:30

Late in March, Apple announced four new services: subscription news, TV, and games, along with an Apple credit card. Of these, only one actually released: Apple News+, an enhanced version of the Texture magazine subscription service the company bought last year.

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iPad Air (2019) review: Apple finds the sweet spot

Thu, 2019-04-04 06:30

Apple’s new iPad Pros are high-end tablet marvels, with a new slim-bezel design, Face ID, crazy-fast A12X chip, and new wireless Apple Pencil. But when Apple introduced the overhauled third-generation models, it also blew up the price. The old 10.5-inch Pro was $649 and the new 11-inch replacement is $799, while the 12.9-inch model jumped from $799 to $999.

That leaves a big price gap for anyone who doesn’t want an iPad Pro, but wants more than the basic $329 iPad. Apple is filling that gap with a strange middle-child product that borrows the design of the old 10.5-inch iPad Pro, the name of the retired-for-years iPad Air, and an odd mix of hardware features.

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Hulu is the cure for your Netflix nostalgia

Thu, 2019-04-04 06:00
Tired of Netflix losing your favorite shows? They probably wound up at Hulu.

The Powerbeats Pro true wireless earphones are the most Apple product Beats has ever made

Wed, 2019-04-03 13:56

After a flurry of leaks and an unmistakable billboard in California, Apple has officially unveiled the new Powerbeats Pro, which brings an all-new design that eliminates the neck cord and adds a wireless charging case to the popular Powerbeats 3 Wireless earphones.

Following the second-generation AirPods release, the Powerbeats Pro has all of the same features that Apple offers with its own true wireless earbuds, including hands-free Hey Siri support, sensors that pause the music when one of the Powerbeats Pro is removed from your ears, and the new H1 chip for faster syncing and switching between devices.

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Caavo's Control Center unifies your remotes and streaming services. Today it's cheaper than ever

Wed, 2019-04-03 11:08

Having a bunch of separate remotes for your entertainment system can get confusing and frustrating. Uniting them under one remote—and one entertainment hub—can make your whole setup run a little more smoothly. Today, you can get the Caavo Control Center universal remote and home theater hub on Amazon for $59.95, a big drop from a list price of $99.95 and equal to its lowest price ever.

The Caavo Control Center allows you to connect up to four HDMI devices, from streaming devices to Blu-Ray players, and control them all from one remote. You can also hook up an A/V receiver or soundbar. Once connected, you’ll be able to find what you want to watch using simple commands and let the control center find it among your devices, without having to navigate through it all manually.

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Amazon's today-only TP-Link blowout includes killer deals on routers, smart home gear, and more

Wed, 2019-04-03 09:56

Whether you need a new router or want to make your home a touch smarter, today’s a good day to head over to Amazon. The online retailer is throwing a huge one-day sale on TP-Link productsRemove non-product link, including routers, no-hub smart home devices, Wi-Fi extenders, mesh Wi-Fi systems, and other networking gear like switches and powerline ethernet adapters. The sale ends just before midnight Wednesday evening Pacific time.

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Best Fitbit: We help you choose the right one for your lifestyle

Wed, 2019-04-03 08:15

As one of the biggest names in fitness trackers, Fitbit is an easy pick for recording your daily steps or sleep patterns. Selecting the best Fitbit model for your needs, however, isn’t quite as simple.

The different Fitbit trackers have a lot of overlap in features, and so it’s not straightforward which one is the “best.” Moving up the scale in price doesn’t necessarily mean you get all the features of the cheaper trackers plus additional ones. (This quirk is particularly relevant if you need water resistance.)

That’s where we come in. We’ve boiled down the options into three simple picks that should match most people’s activity levels and styles.

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Fitbit Versa Lite review: Lower cost with little sacrifice

Wed, 2019-04-03 08:00

If not for the new blueberry and mulberry colors, it’s nearly impossible to tell the $160 Fitbit Versa Lite apart from the $200 Fitbit Versa. They both have the same square aluminum frame. They both sport a 1.34-inch color display. And any of the original Vera bands work just fine with the Versa Lite.

Christopher Hebert/IDG

It’s hard to see the difference between the Fitbit Versa (right) and Versa Lite, despite the $40 price difference.

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4 things I hate about Apple News+ after one week

Wed, 2019-04-03 07:00

I love many things about Apple News+. It has me reading issues of National Geographic more thoroughly than I’ve read them in years. It’s brimming with great magazine content, and I like knowing that I’ll have something to read on a plane without spending ages browsing through a newsstand. It’s even fun to read articles on Apple News+, as they sometimes boast a flair for presentation that you normally don’t find on the “normal” web.

But there’s a lot that could be better. Apple News+ still feels a bit half-baked, as it’s missing what strikes me as some fairly obvious features. For that matter, many of the magazines aren’t properly formatted. I’ve been using the service every day for a week now, and below I’ve narrowed down the service’s weakest points.

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Panasonic DP-UB9000 Ultra HD Blu-ray player review: Here’s one manufacturer that’s not bailing on Blu-ray

Wed, 2019-04-03 06:00
Streaming offers instant gratification, but only a high-end Blu-ray player like this can reveal just incredible your 4K TV can look.