TIME Gadgets

7 Cases That Do More Than Protect Your iPhone

You already know you need a case to protect your phone from accidental drops and bumps, but did you know the right case can do so much more? Whether you want your case to perform double duty as a wallet or help keep your precious photos private, we’ve rounded up seven cases that go above and beyond protection. Some are available now, while others are coming before the end of the year.

1. iFrogz Charisma Case

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iFrogz

For those days when you don’t want to carry a purse but need a credit card and driver’s license or ID, the iFrogz Charisma iPhone 6 case has you covered. It’s made of soft silicone in fun, bright colors like purple and pink. Inside the case is a secret wallet compartment where you can fit three credit cards in separate slots. A built-in mirror on the opposite side accommodates a quick lipstick check after lunch.

Price: $29.99 for iPhone 6 cases on Amazon and for iPhone 6 Plus cases on Amazon

2. Pong Case

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Pong

The Pong case not only boosts signal strength with its next-gen antenna technology, it also helps reduce your radiation exposure from the phone. It does this by redirecting wireless energy away from your head and body for a reduction of up to 89% below safety limits, according to the company, which verified its findings in FCC-certified labs.

The Pong case protects your phone as well as protecting you, offering drop protection for up to four to six feet in the Sleek and Rugged case styles.

Price: Starting at $51.90 for iPhone 5/5S cases on Amazon; $49.99 for iPhone 6 cases on Amazon; $69.99 for iPhone 6 Plus cases (available starting Nov 17) on Amazon

3. Vysk EP1 Everyday Privacy Case

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Vysk

The Vysk Everyday Privacy Case protects your phone and its contents with an encrypted text and photo gallery app. This stealthy case looks stylish in colors like gold, red, blue and black, as it guards against cyberthieves who might remotely access your camera and texts. The case protects your data with the help of an app that encrypts your texts and photos. And if sending all those texts drains your phone’s battery too quickly, the Vysk case’s built-in, rechargeable 3200mAh battery provides a 120% boost to your battery power.

Price: $119 for iPhone 5/5S cases from vysk.com (iPhone 6 cases coming soon)

4. Incipio Highland Folio

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Incipio

Incipio’s Highland Folio is a thin case with a rigid front cover and brushed aluminum finish that protects in style, with colors like gold and pink. Its built-in rear kickstand is a great addition for anyone who likes to watch videos or show demos on the new, larger iPhone. There’s a slot on the inside cover for you to stash a credit card or ID.

Price: $39.99 for iPhone 5/5S cases on Amazon; Starting at $32.18 for iPhone 6 cases on Amazon; $39.99 for iPhone 6 Plus cases (shipping in 1 to 4 months) on Amazon

5. Boostcase Crossbody Wallet Case

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Boostcase

The fashion-forward folio case from Boostcase turns your iPhone into a stylish shoulder bag with a soft leather wallet and suede base. Tuck a credit card, some cash and an ID into the card slots on the inside of the folio, snap your phone in on the other side and secure your precious cargo with the snap enclosure. The Crossbody shoulder chain is detachable in case you want to carry the phone like a clutch, and the extra outer pocket on the back is perfect for quickly stashing receipts or a metro card.

Price: $99.95 for iPhone 5/5S cases on Amazon

6. ChargeAll Battery Case

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ChargeAll

We all know it’s nearly impossible to get through a full day on a single iPhone charge. The ChargeAll case doubles as a backup battery, so you never run out of power. Its 2400mAh battery lets you recharge whenever you need, providing enough power to more than double the life of your phone’s charge. Its slim profile doesn’t add much bulk to your sleek new phone, and its protection is spot on, with a two-piece design and raised bumpers that guard against accidental drops and scratches. The ChargeAll is available in colors including blue, pink, green, red and purple and ships in December.

Price: $59.99 for iPhone 6 cases at chargeall.com

7. HoldTight Case

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HoldTight

If your needs change on a daily basis, get a phone case that you can personalize to meet those needs. Perhaps you want to stow earbuds to take to the gym, then tuck away some cash for a smoothie after your workout or store your metro card for a trip to a business meeting. The HoldTight comes with seven interchangeable bands in a variety of colors. You choose the case color as well as the color of the bands and then stretch them to whatever configuration you want. The website offers design suggestions with names like “The Music Lover,” “The College Kid,” or “Paper or Plastic.” You can also watch a video of the HoldTight in action.

Price: $29.99 for iPhone 5/5S cases and $34.99 for iPhone 6 cases (ships at end of year) at felix.com

This article was written by Andrea Smith and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME Gadgets

5 Gadgets That Will Help You Sleep Better

If you wish you could get a better night’s sleep, you’re not alone. Sleep experts say adults should try to get seven to eight hours per night.

Of course, not all of us do – according to Gallup, 26% of us get six hours of sleep a night and another 14% get five hours or less. And it affects how well we can concentrate during the day, how well we can remember things and puts us at greater risk for automobile accidents. Is it any wonder that the U.S. Center for Disease Control has called insufficient sleep a public health epidemic?

Serious sleep problems still require the services of a trained doctor. But for smaller issues – off-sync sleep schedules, difficulty waking up and challenges falling asleep – modern technology may be able to help. Here are five of Techlicious’s picks for the best sleep gadgets available.

Misfit Beddit

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Misfit

The Misfit Beddit is one of the easiest ways to turn your existing bed into a “smart” bed. It’s a thin sensor pad that lays flat under your sheets to measure your movement throughout the night. It tracks the stages of sleep, sleep duration, wake times, heartrate and snoring (by monitoring ambient sound), sending this data to your smartphone via Bluetooth. The included app can play soothing sounds to help you sleep at night, and can be programmed to wake you up when you’re in your lightest stage of sleep in the morning. This helps make sure you’re refreshed when you get out of bed, not groggy.

The Misfit Beddit is available in your choice of black and white color. The accompanying app is currently Apple iOS only, though Misfit promises Android support is coming soon. You can currently pick one up through Amazon.com for $149.99.

Withings Aura

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Withings

Like the Misfit Beddit, the Withings Aura includes a small in-bed sensor pad that tracks sleep stages, duration, number of wake ups and more, and can be programmed to wake you up during a cycle of light sleep. But the Aura also includes a bedside device that’s designed to give off a gentle glow of light that helps you wake up and get to sleep by promoting healthy levels of the sleep hormone melatonin. It also measures sound and light pollution in your room so you can see how these factors are impacting your sleep. And because it’s likely to take up a lot of space on your bedside table, the light also doubles as a clock with speakers and a USB port for charging your phone.

These added features don’t come cheap, however. The Withings Aura will set you back $299.95 on Amazon, more than twice the price of the Beddit. The accompanying app is currently only for Apple iOS; an Android version is “coming soon.”

LifeTrak Brite R450

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LifeTrak

Between the Fitbit, Misfit Flash, Jawbone UP and Basis, there’s no shortage of wearables out there that can track sleep. But the new LifeTrak Brite R450 stands out in the crowd. It includes the expected sleep tracking features (including smart wake-up based on real-time data) and adds a light sensor. That way, you can know whether your body needs more (or less) natural light to promote sound sleep. You get a ton of exercise monitoring features too, including step counting, calories burned, heart rate and distance. The Brite R450 can even get incoming SMS and call notifications from your phone via a Bluetooth connection.

The LifeTrak Brite is currently available for pre-order for $129.99 through lifetrakusa.com and is expected to ship in two to three weeks. The device is available in your choice of three color schemes including white/orchid, black/freesia (yellow) and black/platinum. The included tracking app is compatible with both iOS and Android devices.

ResMed S+

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ResMed

The ResMed S+ is a contactless sleep sensor. Rather than slipping under your sheets, it instead measures in-bed movement at your bedside. The S+ also keeps tabs on your breathing, ambient light and noise, and temperature to make recommendations that might improve your sleep (e.g., “sleep on your left side”). Data about sleep cycles, duration and wake-ups are synced to your iOS or Android device by Bluetooth; the included app will then score your sleep on a 0 to 100 scale so you can see how you compare to others. Another cool feature: The ResMed S+ can also play soothing sounds that are synchronized to your breathing to help you get to sleep quicker.

The S+ by ResMed is currently available for sale through the company’s mysplus.com website. It’s currently being sold for “3 monthly payments of $49.95” ($149.85 in total) with a 30-day money back guarantee. The S+ app is compatible with any Apple device running iOS 8 and with the Samsung Galaxy S3 and S4.

SleepRate

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SleepRate

SleepRate itself isn’t a gadget: It’s billed as a sleep improvement kit. The system requires you to wear a chest-mounted Polar H7 Heart Rate Monitor (uncomfortable, but included), as it uses heart-rate data to track sleep stages, duration, wake times and quality. This information is then used to create a custom-tailored four- to eight-week treatment plan licensed from Stanford University to adjust your sleep times, calibrate your biological clock and find the right conditions for the perfect night’s sleep.

The SleepRate Sleep Improvement Kit is currently available on Amazon.com for $99.95. The included app is currently iOS only.

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME Gadgets

The Best Small Android Tablet

The Nvidia Shield has a beautiful display, blistering performance, a light, comfortable and good-looking design and a clean interface, making it the best small-screen Android tablet.

Nvidia ShieldShopping for a smaller tablet can be daunting, thanks to the sea of 7- to 8-inch Android devices available. It would be simple if most of the low-cost models were easily dismissed, but Android tablets are getting lighter, slimmer, faster and more powerful while simultaneously getting less expensive.

To find the very best tablets, I looked for four key elements: a bright, vivid, pixel-dense display that looks great at any angle; a lightweight design that’s comfortable to hold in one hand for long stretches; a powerful CPU coupled with a good amount of RAM for smooth, speedy multitasking; and an interface that’s easy to understand and navigate even if you’re not tech-savvy. Price was also a consideration — a great small tablet shouldn’t break the bank.

That narrowed the field down to three standout tablets: the Asus Memo Pad 8 ($129 on Amazon), the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 ($389 on Amazon) and the Nvidia SHIELD Tablet ($299 on Amazon). In the end, the Shield Tablet is my ultimate pick for best small tablet based on its balance of price point and feature set.

Made for Gamers, Great for Everyone

Nvidia designed the Shield Tablet primarily for gamers, so its long list of impressive features includes things like superfast gaming performance and the ability to wirelessly stream PC games from the computer to the tablet. The same elements that make this a great gaming tablet make it a great all-around tablet as well.

The Tegra K1 processor inside isn’t just quad-core; like most tablets, it has 192 graphics cores. That translates into a smooth experience no matter which app or game you’re running, and it ensures the tablet will be able to keep up with Android apps well into the future as they grow more complex and resource-hungry.

The Shield Tablet’s 8-inch, 1920 x 1200 resolution display creates deep colors and crisp details that don’t wash out or distort when you hold the tablet at an angle. Whether you use the Shield to read an e-book or a web page, its high pixel density means that small fonts stay sharp.

The Shield’s display doesn’t pop as much as the display on the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 (2560 x 1600 Super AMOLED), and if you look closely, the difference in resolution is noticeable. If you want the very best display, the Tab S has it. But side by side, the Shield Tablet stands up quite well to this competition — especially impressive since it costs about $100 less.

Another notable difference between the two tablets is weight. The Tab S 8.4 is incredibly thin and light for its size, weighing 10.4 ounces versus the Shield’s 13.7 ounces. The Shield is still light enough to hold with one hand during long reading sessions or with two for longer gaming sessions without making your wrists ache.

Bonus: Stylus

On top of its sweet gaming features, the Shield Tablet offers one more extra that makes it enticing: a stylus. Just like the stylus for Nvidia’s last tablet, the Tegra Note 2, the Shield’s stylus is a step above the kind of capacitive styluses that work on any tablet, but it’s not the same technology used in active digitizer pens like those with the Galaxy Note series. Active pens are more desirable because they’re accurate and precise, making it easy to reject input from a palm or finger. They achieve this through wireless communication between the pen and the display, which makes the tablets more expensive.

Coupled with the processing power of the Tegra K1, the Nvidia DirectStylus 2 software emulates this functionality in the Shield’s pen, even though it’s not an active digitizer. You still get a very thin, precise tip, and there’s even some pressure sensitivity and (even more impressive) palm rejection — all without expensive hardware.

Nvidia has included a handful of note-taking and writing apps that take advantage of the pen, including Evernote, Write and a handwriting recognition keyboard. The company also developed a neat drawing app called Dabbler that emulates several different types of drawing and painting environments, including wet watercolors.

Outside of last year’s Galaxy Note 8, this is the best stylus experience available in the 8-inch tablet range.

Android and Interface

Most popular Android tablets come with an interface skin over the base operating system that changes the look and some of the functionality of the operating system. Google Nexus tablets and, now, the Shield tablet are major exceptions to this rule. Although Nvidia did a ton of work on the back end to give the tablet some gaming chops, the company didn’t mess much with how Android 4.4 KitKat operates, preserving the stock look and feel.

I’ve praised well-designed skins on tablets from Samsung, ASUS and other companies in previous reviews, and in truth, I prefer them since they smooth over some of Android’s rough edges and make executing some actions more efficient. However, KitKat is Google’s most polished version of Android to date, and if you prefer to take customization into your own hands, the Shield Tablet offers the same blank canvas that Nexus devices do.

You’ll find a few Shield-specific tweaks, such as the Shield Hub interface/menu for easy navigation while connected to a TV and using the game controller. (More on this later.) There’s also Console Mode for streaming full HD video or games to an HDTV. Otherwise, it’s Android business as usual.

Media

The same hardware that makes the Shield Tablet a gaming beast also makes it a great little machine for watching video, showing off pictures and listening to music. Between the beautiful display and the high-end graphics, you’ll enjoy smooth playback of full HD and 4K movies from the device or via streaming. The latter is possible thanks to a dual-band, 2×2 MIMO wireless antenna that connects to the strongest signal available to receive and send data at super-fast speeds.

The Shield sports a pair of speakers on the front, flanking the display. It’s no surprise, then, that the Shield’s audio quality is well above average — and not just because the sound blasts directly toward you. The sound quality is the best I’ve heard on a tablet, well rounded in the mid-range with actual bass. It bests the Galaxy Tab S 8.4’s sound without trying (although it doesn’t take much to earn that distinction, since most tablet speakers aren’t great). Still, it’s still a nice touch that means that you won’t need headphones to get a good audio experience.

Aside from Shield-optimized games in the Shield Hub, you won’t get any special or exclusive content sources beyond what you can find in the Google Play store.

Cameras

The Shield is singular in that it has 5-megapixel cameras on the back and the front. Both take above-average pictures for tablet cameras and are supported by a robust camera app that makes it possible to tweak settings for better images. The high-quality front camera is a bonus not only for people who love selfies but anyone who likes to video chat.

Gaming

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Nvidia

As I said at the start, you don’t need to be a gamer to appreciate all the great things about the Shield Tablet. But since it is designed for gamers, you’ll appreciate several features and accessories that only add to this device’s value.

First and foremost is the optional game controller ($60 at Amazon), designed to be just as comfortable and robust as an Xbox or PS4 controller. It communicates with the tablet wirelessly over Wi-Fi, not Bluetooth, managing lag so minuscule you’ll never notice it when playing. All of the games available via Nvidia’s Hub work with the controller out of the virtual box; for others, a mapping app lets you use it with almost any game.

The most impressive software feature is GameStream, a technology that makes it possible to play the high-end games stored on your PC using the tablet. Currently, GameStream only works when the computer and tablet are on the same wireless network — so just in the home — and with specific hardware on the PC side (not to mention some suggested routers). That said, being able to play a game meant for a computer on a tablet is really cool. And when you’re in console mode and connected via HDMI, you can play those same games on a big-screen HDTV without having to move the computer away from your desk.

Gamers love sharing gameplay with friends (bragging rights are important), so Nvidia has built in a sharing option that allows you to record game play for sharing or streaming to gaming video site Twitch.

The only drawback for gamers is that the $299 model only includes 16GB of internal storage. There’s a microSD card slot to hold media and some app data; however, this version of Android severely restricts moving and running apps from SD cards.

Games tend to take up more space than other apps, so you’ll need to keep a close eye on available space.

A 32GB model is available, although it comes with an additional element: LTE. The extra storage and antenna make for a $100 price bump.

Good Reviews Across the Board

At release, the Shield impressed pretty much every reviewer who got their hands on one.

PCMag praised it as “one of the most powerful mobile devices available right now,” calling Nvidia’s success at fitting so much power and flexibility into an 8-inch tablet “genuinely impressive.”

CNET sums it up nicely: “Even if you don’t take advantage of its gaming prowess, the Nvidia Shield Tablet is one of the most versatile — and affordable — high-performance 8-inch Android slates you can buy.”

The Best Small Tablet: Nvidia Shield Tablet

The Shield Tablet has all the elements of a great tablet: a beautiful display, blistering performance, a light, comfortable and good-looking design and a clean interface. It adds some sweet gaming features and a surprisingly excellent stylus on top of that, all for the relatively low price of $299.

Even if you don’t care about gaming, this tablet’s closest competition is the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4, which costs almost $100 more. While the Galaxy Tab does have a lighter design and a brilliant display, the Shield is more than competitive on both fronts. That’s why it’s my top pick.

Runner-up: ASUS Memo Pad 8

Asus Memo Pad 8The $129 ASUS Memo Pad 8 is the tablet you want if you’re looking for something under $200. It used to be that tablets in this price range were either very limited in functionality or poorly built. That’s no longer true, and the Memo Pad line in particular has exemplified how low cost can be done right.

The 8-inch IPS display has a relatively low resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels, but the quality of the screen itself is quite good. No matter what angle you hold it at, the vivid colors stay true and don’t wash out or distort. The screen gets pretty bright too, although it’s a bit reflective even at 100 percent brightness.

The Memo Pad is lightweight yet feels well-built and sturdy, not cheap. It runs on a quad-core Intel Atom processor, a decently powerful and speedy CPU for an Android 4.4 device, able to handle any basic app with ease. However, the Memo Pad’s relatively small amount of RAM (1GB) means that resource-hungry apps may choke. If your needs are simple — email, browsing, a few casual games — then you won’t have problems.

Asus has created a custom UI skin to go over Android called ZenUI. While it does add some functionality and change up the operating system’s menus a bit, this skin is mostly a light touch.

The closest competition in this price range is the Amazon Fire 6 ($99 on Amazon) and Fire 7 ($139 on Amazon) as well as the ASUS Memo Pad 7 ($125 on Amazon), the 7-inch version.

The Fire 6 is the most tempting of the bunch due to its $99 price. However, Amazon’s newest tablets continue to suffer the same challenge as always: a limited Android experience. With the Fire, you can only run apps from Amazon’s store. The company has a vast library, but it’s not as deep as Google Play.

The 7-inch Memo Pad is almost identical to the larger version both inside and out, and it’s the next generation of the very impressive Memo Pad HD 7 from last year.

Unfortunately, this year’s model doesn’t have as nice a display or as good a set of cameras. Unless you really want a 7-inch tablet instead of an 8-inch one, the larger version is worth the extra money.

This article was written by K.T. Bradford and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME Gadgets

New Activity Monitor Tells You When It’s Optimal to Start Exercising

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Jaybird

By now, there’s no shortage of exercise monitors on the market, each with its own gimmick. Some offer style, some offer waterproof construction, some turn fitness into a game and some will even help you track your food consumption. But none will actually tell you when it’s optimal for your body to start exercising — at least until the new Reign by Jaybird monitor is released later this month, that is.

Each day, Reign conducts a Heart Rate Variability test, an analysis of time interval between heartbeats. The more relaxed and rested you are, the more variability there is between beats. Reign uses this data to calculate your “Go-Score,” a number ranging from 0 to 100 that shows your body’s readiness for exercise. The higher the score, the more primed your body is for activity. It’s meant to push you toward being active when your body is ready to make the most out of your effort.

What you wind up doing when your Go-Score maximizes is up to you. The Reign can track walking, running, cycling and sports. It’s also waterproof, so it can keep tabs of your swimming, too. Steps, calories burned, duration, activity, sleep quality and your numerical Activity Score can all be monitored on your iOS or Android smartphone via a low-energy Bluetooth connection. A full charge of the Reign’s battery takes two hours and offers five days worth of tracking.

Another nice feature: The attractive looking Reign band is designed to perfectly fit your wrist no matter its size. Each monitor comes with a soft-touch silicone and brushed-metal band and an interchangeable lower band in your choice of sizes. Two seamless sports bands are also included, as is an ankle strap for biking.

The new Reign by Jaybird fitness tracker will be available in black, white and green when it’s released on October 26. It carries a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $199. Pre-orders are not being offered, though you can enter your email at jaybirdsport.com to receive updates.

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME How-To

The Best Sites for Booking Last-Minute Travel

Many great travel deals can be found by carefully planning in advance. But spur-of-the-moment trips can also be had for cheap if you know where to look.

That’s because hotels, airlines, resorts and more are looking to fill vacant spots at the last minute.

Here are our picks for the best sites to book a great trip on short notice without blowing a crazy amount of money.

Best all around last-minute booking site: Expedia.com

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Expedia

Expedia.com’s last-minute booking page wins for layout as well as price and convenience. Three columns of deals under the headers of Tonight, This Weekend and Next Weekend show you top deals for the destination you select. You can further filter your results to see just flight, just hotels or package deals for both. Destinations include both major U.S. cities and foreign vacation spots.

Clicking on a deal will give you a page showing you pictures plus ratings, reviews and amenities. You will also see, in the case of a hotel, what other rooms are available and their prices as well. Flights work in a similar fashion. Find the destination and deal that appeal to you and you will be shown other flights leading to that destination in case you’re looking for alternatives.

Of course, the best deal is flight + hotel. Just mousing over the options will show you how much money you’ll be saving by booking them together. Just remember that the stated price doesn’t include baggage fees.

Best last-minute hotel: Hotel Tonight

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Hotel Tonight

This isn’t a site, but an app — and it’s a life saver. Need an extra night’s stay but your hotel has no more vacancy? Score a last-minute flight and need a place to stay? The Hotel Tonight app detects your location and shows you all the hotels in your area with vacancy. You can also set it to show you a city you haven’t arrived in yet.

The display shows you pictures of the property, the price, the quality of the hotel and how much you’ll save. Tapping on a specific hotel on the list will give you more images, user reviews and, most importantly, a Need to Know section under the Info tab. This lists the restrictions of that particular deal. Pay attention to limitations like the inability to book a specific type of bed until arrival or warnings about the neighborhood around the hotel.

Price: Free on iTunes and Google Play.

Best last-minute flight: Kayak

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Kayak

Kayak pulls in data on more than 400 airlines and lets you compare multiple travel sites at once. Not only can it direct you to other travel deal sites, but it also shows you the current prices directly from the major airlines’ websites.

The sliders on the sidebar is what makes Kayak really shine. Adjusting the sliders and checking off the options you want will quickly show you the exact deals you’re looking for. You can upgrade or downgrade your seat, choose a different airline or select a new take-off/landing time.

Don’t forget to click on the “More Filters” button in the sidebar to narrow down the price range, layover options and, most importantly, planes with built-in Wi-Fi. Seriously, what did we do on planes before Wi-Fi?

Best last-minute room rental: Airbnb

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Airbnb

Though there’s no explicit LAST MINUTE DEALS CLICK HERE! button on the front of the site, Airbnb is still a great service for finding a last-minute room at a fraction of the cost of even a deeply discounted hotel room. Simply enter your destination and dates (even if it’s tonight) and the site will display all the rooms, apartments and houses that are available to rent by the day. (Note: There is a “Help! I need a place, tonight” search feature in the app for iOS and Android.)

Concerned about the safety of spending the night in someone else’s home? Every listing includes actual user reviews. There’s also a 24/7 hotline if you have any issues with your stay. It’s one of the best ways to find a place quickly and cheaply and to make a new friend along the way courtesy of your gracious hosts.

Pro tip: The best way to save money on last-minute travel plans is to have some flexibility. Can you take a plane with a layover instead of a direct flight? Are you willing to stay in a hotel in a new part of the city? Comfortable sleeping in an extra room of a welcoming host’s house? A little adventure can go a long way in saving you a lot of cash.

This article was written by Dan O’Halloran and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME Computers

Hands On: Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro and ThinkPad Yoga 14

Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro
Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro K.T. Bradford / Techlicious

Two years ago, when Lenovo first debuted the IdeaPad Yoga 13, it was one of the most exciting 2-in-1 hybrids to herald the coming of Windows 8. Though the operating system still has people cringing, the hardware remains innovative and useful and has improved with each generation.

No surprise then that the two new Yogas, the Yoga 3 Pro and the ThinkPad Yoga 14, are pretty impressive. With the Yoga 3 Pro, Lenovo redesigned and improved upon the hinge mechanism. The ThinkPad takes a cue from the Carbon X1 design, fitting a 14-inch screen into a 13-inch body and adds discrete graphics to boot.

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14 K.T. Bradford / Techlicious

When most people think of ThinkPads, they envision boxy business machines that embody durability but don’t always have the most eye-catching designs. Over the past few years, Lenovo has worked to change that perception, and laptops like the Yoga 14 are the result. You’ll still get the durability features such as a magnesium alloy frame, and of course that great ThinkPad keyboard. However, the design is slim, sleek, and attractive. At 4.1 pounds it’s not feather-light, but it’s still light enough for ultra portability.

Another reason to take a look at this model over the Yoga 3 Pro is that the ThinkPad has the Lift and Lock keyboard. As you bend it around past 180 degrees, the keyboard not only shuts off, but the deck of the laptop rises up so the keys are flush with it. This helps to keep the keys from popping off when you’re in tablet mode.

On top of that, this is a very powerful machine for being so thin and light: 4th generation Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, NVIDIA Geforce 840M graphics, and a 1TB hard drive with a 16GB SSD cache for speedier wake and overall performance of the operating system.

The 14-inch touchscreen has a full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution and is bright, colorful, yet not too reflective or prone to glare. Wide viewing angles mean you aren’t confined to one sweet spot for viewing images and video — important for a multi-mode 2-in-1. In my hands-on time, I noted how responsive it is to touch and that there’s not too much bounce in the hinge. The keyboard isn’t as deep as some ThinkPads, but felt great to type on. The large touchpad is also very responsive and didn’t make me feel like I would always need to reach up and touch the screen.

If you need powerful performance as much as you need versatility, this ThinkPad may be the Yoga for you. And at $1,199, the price isn’t bad, either.

However, the 4.1 pound weight is a little above the ultrabook weights that many people are used to. The Yoga 3 Pro ($1,349) is only 2.62 pounds and half an inch thick. That’s not even the best part of the new design.

lenovo-yoga3-pro-hinge
K.T. Bradford / Techlicious

In order to make the laptop thinner, Lenovo redesigned the hinge from the ground up. The inspiration came from watchbands, and it features six points of articulation. Once you put it at an angle, the hinge stays. Yet it’s also just as easy to move the screen and keyboard deck as before.

Check out our hands-on below:

The Yoga 3 Pro doesn’t have the Lift and Lock mechanism that the Thinkpad does, so exposed keys are still a bit of a problem. Other than that, the design looks and feels really good. With convertibles, the large screen size can make using it as a tablet a little unwieldy. That’s less of an issue when the entire machine is this thin and light.

Inside, an Intel Core M-70 processor (made for ultrathin systems) runs the show, backed by 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and integrated graphics to support the 3200 x 1800 resolution touchscreen. This model comes with two USB 3.0 ports and an extra USB 2.0 port that also doubles as the power port. A clever way to include an extra USB slot without adding bulk.

Both of the new Yoga 2-in-1 laptops have several things that make it easy to recommend them, so it mostly comes down to a choice between more power and durability or lighter weight and a higher-resolution display. Either way, both models will be available by the end of October.

This article was written by K.T. Bradford and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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Hands On: New Lenovo Tablet Sports a Built-in Projector

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K.T. Bradford / Techlicious

Lenovo’s Yoga line has always been closely bound up with the idea of exciting innovation and cool features. After all, that first laptop/tablet hybrid got everyone’s attention with the 360 degree hinge, and since then, the design and features have just gotten better.

But when the company introduced the Yoga tablet line last year, it didn’t have quite the same level of innovation—though the kickstand integration definitely gets a checkmark for cool. That’s about to change with generation two.

Lenovo recently unveiled five new devices in the Yoga Tablet 2 line: updated 8- and 10-inch Android tablets, new 8- and 10-inch Windows tablets, and a 13-inch Android tablet with a pico projector built-in. That right there is pretty innovative.

The 13-inch Yoga Tablet 2 Pro ($499) is a media machine through and through. Design-wise, it’s similar to the other Yoga tablets: slim and lightweight with a cylindrical base where you’ll find the battery, the hinge for the stand, and, on this model, a small projector.

There have been attempts to bring Android to larger screens in the past that have had some success. And the 13-inch size makes the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro large enough to serve as a portable TV- and movie-watching machine. The display is beautiful, with wide viewing angles and a QHD resolution of 2560 x 1440; you can watch full HD content without losing a pixel. When I tested out the audio, the tablet pumped decently well-rounded sound thanks to the loud front-facing speakers and the small sub-woofer on the rear.

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Lenovo Tablet 2 Pro K.T. Bradford / Techlicious

All of that is impressive, but not completely out of line with what we’ve seen before. The interesting bit is the pico projector housed in the cylindrical hinge. It’s capable of projecting on screens up to 50 inches at 40-50 lumens — the room doesn’t need to be totally dark to use it, but that will help the image look clearer. The projector is only capable of an 864 x 480 pixel resolution, so you won’t get HD quality. Still, the image looks great projected on the wall and the lower resolution is hardly noticeable. The Yoga Tablet Pro 2 will project anything on the screen, from the Android interface to games to websites to video.

The projector is part of where the “Pro” aspect of the name comes from. This Yoga would make a handy presentation companion for small rooms and large ones–just use the screen when folks are close and the projector when there are more people in a bigger room. You can have a lot of fun with it at home as well for parties, family movie night or group gaming. The stand is all you need to prop the tablet in the right position in most situations.

Check it out in action below:

Lenovo updated the stand design on all the Yoga Tablet 2s so that the hinge now rotates 180 degrees, giving you more available angles for sitting it upright or tilted just so for typing. When rotated out completely, it can also serve as an easy mounting solution. Each tablet has a nook in the stand so you can hang it on the wall using a nail or 3M hook–whatever will hold. That makes it a little easier to bring into the kitchen. You can hang them on a cabinet to keep them away from errant splashes.

With an Intel Atom processor inside, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, and a microSD slot that takes up to 64GB cards, the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro has great potential as a family hub, secondary TV/movie watching device and an easily-ported entertainment center.

Lenovo’s new 8- and 10-inch Android Yoga Tablet 2s ($249 and $299, respectively) have updated specs from last year — 1920 x 1200 resolution screens, Intel Atom CPUs, 2GB of RAM, 8MP rear cameras with auto-focus, 18 hours of battery life — but are mostly unchanged on the outside and are selling for the same price. With the exception of the hinge updates, the general design is the same — and that’s for the better. Except for the side with the hinge, these tablets are quite thin. And overall, the weight is appropriate for the size. Screens look great from almost any angle and the audio is above average for tablets.

The real excitement is that you can now get these tablets with Windows 8.1 as well. The design is identical except for the color (slate black instead of silver), the specs are the same except twice as much internal storage (32GB). Both the 8- and 10-inch versions ($299 and $399, respectively) ship with a free year of Microsoft Office 365. To add to the productivity chops, Lenovo also created a keyboard cover for the 10-inch Windows model that connects via Bluetooth.

Since Windows tablets are more likely to be used for getting work done, the Yoga hinge modes are an even better fit on these. Lenovo has had some success with Windows on smaller slates, and in my short hands-on time, these performed smoothly and overall looked really good.

All of the next generation Yoga Tablet 2 devices are solidly designed and well-priced for what you get. Hopefully the experience of using them matches my first impressions. If so, any of them would make good holiday gifts.

The 8- and 10-inch Android models are available starting today on Lenovo.com. The 13-inch Yoga Tablet 2 Pro will come out in late October. The 10-inch Windows model will also be out in late October, but at Best Buy. The 8-inch model will come out in November on Lenovo.com.

This article was written by K.T. Bradford and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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Hands On with HTC’s Unique New RE Camera

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K.T. Bradford / Techlicious

Though HTC is best known for smartphones in the U.S., the company has a long history of making other devices. It also has a reputation for innovation in the camera space, even if limited to technology found in phones.

Now HTC is stepping out and trying its hand at a standalone camera. The HTC RE is a 16-megapixel viewfinder-free camera that’s sort of a hybrid between a GoPro/ActionCam style device, the Sony QX lens camera, and wearable lifelogging cameras. It will be available “in time for the holidays” for $199.

The RE’s profile is smaller than most cameras built for action capture and features a cylindrical shape that makes it clear it’s meant to be held. The base is wide enough that it can stand by itself on a level surface. It also includes a standard tripod mount if you want it up higher or at an angle.

The RE is lighter than it looks and, though the casing is plastic, it feels like it can handle some rough and tumble. There’s no lens protection by default — a carrying case and lens cover will be available — so I’d worry about it getting scratched. Otherwise it feels like something you can just throw in a bag when going on a trip or out to an event.

The body is waterproof and incorporates capacitive touch sensors. When sitting alone, it goes into sleep mode to conserve battery. But once you touch it, the camera is ready to go and can snap pictures instantly.

There’s no screen or viewfinder, so the functionality is simple and basic. Press the button on the back once to take a picture, press and hold to start video recording (up to 1080p). Images and video save to a microSD card on board; HTC provides an 8GB card with purchase.

The lack of viewfinder shouldn’t mean a bunch of photos where the subject is cut off. The lens captures a very wide angle, so as long as you’re pointing the RE in the general direction of the subject it should get everything. Since the lens is small and focus is automatic, it’s best for shots of fairly close-up subjects and not landscapes or far-away action. During my hands-on time I noted a fast shutter, perfect for capturing kids and pets who never want to sit still.

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K.T. Bradford / Techlicious

If you want to extend the RE’s functionality, you can pair the RE with a smartphone or tablet (Android only for now, iOS to come later) to share photos, set up cool features like time lapse photography, and get a live viewfinder. As with other live viewfinder apps from Sony, Samsung, Canon and others, you can take a picture or start recording video from the phone/tablet.

Pairing also gives you access to easy image backup and some advanced editing and sharing capabilities through the Zoe app. Zoe was first developed for the HTC One M7 and some of its features (such as auto-compilation of highlight videos) were available on the One M8 at launch. HTC decided to take the service further by making Zoe accessible via the web and releasing the app to the Android world at large. Any phone or tablet running Android 4.3 and 4.4 is compatible with Zoe. Same with the RE camera. And once you sync the photos and videos from the RE to your device you can import them into Zoe and start making highlight videos with that content, too.

Is the HTC RE better than your average smartphone camera? In image quality, yes. And it’s faster at shooting images than the Sony QX cameras because it doesn’t fully sync images to the phone until you ask it to, yet thumbnails of your images will show up on the phone right away. But people are used to knowing how a picture will look and reviewing them right away on digital devices. It’s a bit old-school to snap a picture and check it out later, but HTC feels that it will make you more present at events where pictures are just as important as memories.

I’m looking forward to trying out the RE. It’s very light and small enough to throw in a bag or small purse. I’m looking forward to seeing if it’s faster and easier to pull out than my phone.

This article was written by K.T. Bradford and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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10 YouTube Videos That Will Change How You Think

While you may think of YouTube as a place to check out the latest in funny animal videos, there’s a lot of content that caters to the brain rather than the funny bone.

We’ve found the best and brightest videos for you to enjoy when you need to stretch your mental muscles. These cover a variety of topics, but they’re all guaranteed to make you look at the world around you at least a little bit differently.

Dan Gilbert: Why Are We Happy? Why Aren’t We Happy?

Scientist Dan Gilbert has made some surprising discoveries about happiness. For example, lottery winners and paraplegics both have about the same level of happiness one year after the event that changed their lives. How is that possible?

Gilbert explains how our long-term happiness is not on based getting what we want, but how our brains react when we don’t get what we want. And he demonstrates this by way of Mick Jagger, Monet and amnesiacs. Confused? Watch this 22-minute video as he talks about exactly how this works based on his scientific studies into the matter.

Stephen Hawking: Questioning the Universe

One of the most brilliant scientists of our time not only discusses how the universe began and the probability of alien contact, but how that information determines how we should proceed in the future. Given mankind’s selfish and aggressive expansion, Stephen Hawking makes a case for space exploration so that we can continue to thrive on other habitable worlds.

Elizabeth Gilbert: Your Elusive Creative Genius

If you are pursuing creative endeavors, either professionally or personally, this talk by the author of best-seller of Eat, Pray, Love is for you. She questions the assumption we all have that creativity and suffering go hand-in-hand, and challenges creative people to look at their work and their life’s passion to create in a different, more positive light.

Colin Stokes: The Hidden Meanings in Kids’ Movies

Father of two, Colin Stokes wonders aloud, “Why is there so much Force in the movies we have for our kids and so little Yellow Brick Road?” By that, he means films aimed at boys tend to teach them that violence is the answer and a woman is their prize (i.e. Star Wars.) And films aimed at girls tend to teach them to work together and make allies to overcome problems (i.e. The Wizard of Oz.)

The question he has: why aren’t there films focused on gaining allies and solving things diplomatically aimed at boys? Why aren’t there more films that teach young men not to objectify women and treat them as the reward they are entitled to? Most importantly, Colin talks about what we as parents can do about it.

Amy Webb: How I Hacked Online Dating

Is there an algorithm for love? Statistician Amy Webb analyzed not only what she wanted out of a potential husband, but also what men she liked were looking for. Using this process, she altered her online dating profile and it caught the eye of the man she would end up marrying.

This is not just a story about how to find the ideal mate, but how to approach any passion in your life in a way that gets you what you want in a smart way designed for success.

Randy Pausch: The Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams

Though the “Last Lecture” series at Carnegie Mellon University is themed around what the professors’ last lectures would be, for Randy Pausch, who had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer, this would literally be his last lecture. But don’t think this video is a downer because Pausch is dying: He’s in good humor, and you’re guaranteed to crack a smile while watching his inspirational talk about how to live life to its fullest.

Told through Pausch’s reminiscing, his lecture focuses on achieving one’s childhood dreams and, even better, how to help others achieve their dreams. At over an hour in length, it’s well worth your time.

Steve Jobs: Stanford Commencement Address

Several years before his death, the Apple CEO gave the commencement address to the graduates at Stanford University. In it, he talks about his own life: He dropped out of college after six months, unable to see the value in whiling away all of his parents’ savings. He didn’t know how at the time, but he hoped it would all work out — and if you know anything about the story of his life, it did.

His message of believing in yourself and following your own path is full of humor and insight. It isn’t to be missed and only clocks in at a little more than 15 minutes.

Susan Cain: The Power of Introverts

We live in a world that doesn’t always cater to the needs of introverts—a personality type that accounts for a third to half of all people and tends to prefer quiet over loud, isolation over socialization. Cain, an introvert and the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts, offers a thought-provoking argument that suggests introverts have as much to offer the world as their extroverted brethren.

One of the more popular TEDTalks, The Power of Introverts runs just under 20 minutes and may make you see a new side of yourself or those around you.

Eli Pariser: Beware Online “Filter Bubbles”

Don’t know what a filter bubble is? It’s a phenomenon unique to the Internet-era in which our interests and preferences tailor the kinds of content we see on search engines and social channels. And while it can be helpful in directing us to the information most relevant to us, in this nine-minute TEDTalk, Eli Pariser explains that it can also prevent us from seeing opposing viewpoints.

Sheryl Sandberg: Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is well-known as a business leader who’s been outspoken on the subject of women in the workplace. So it’s no surprise that when she spoke at a TED Conference, she gave a 15-minute passionate argument for why we need more women leaders in the world. She also focuses on the messages we send women about working and the messages we send our daughters as well.

This article was written by Elizabeth Harper and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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Marriott Fined $600K for Jamming Guest’s Personal Wi-Fi Hotspots

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My smartphone is indispensable whenever I travel for work. It’s a great tool for keeping in contact. And thanks to its mobile hotspot feature, it’s become indispensable for filing stories when Wi-Fi is either unavailable or – as is often the case at many major hotels – prohibitively expensive.

But as much as I love my mobile hotspot, it would appear hotel operators feel differently about the technology. This past week, the Marriott International corporation was fined a whopping $600,000 by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for using a jamming system to prevent its customers from using their own mobile hotspots. It then charged these frustrated customers as much as $1,000 per day per device for Internet access – a price that borders on extortion.

According to the FCC, Marriott admitted to using a jammer in at least one of its hotels, the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, Tennessee. Employees there reportedly used a Wi-Fi monitoring system to locate guest-created hotspots and send them de-authentication packets, forcibly disconnecting and disrupting Internet service. Those visiting the hotel’s conference space were especially frequent targets of the scheme, forcing those who needed to connect to agree to the hotel’s exorbitant $250 to $1,000 per device hotel Wi-Fi prices.

“Consumers who purchase cellular data plans should be able to use them without fear that their personal Internet connection will be blocked by their hotel or conference center,” stated FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc. “It is unacceptable for any hotel to intentionally disable personal hotspots while also charging customers and small businesses high fees to use the hotel’s own Wi-Fi network. This practice puts consumers in the untenable position of either paying twice for the same service or forgoing Internet access altogether.”

Marriott, for its part, attempted to defend its actions with the laughable notion it was done in the interest of its guests’ safety. “Marriott has a strong interest in ensuring when our guests use our Wi-Fi service, they will be protected from rogue wireless hotspots that can cause degraded service, insidious cyber-attacks and identity theft,” the company wrote in a statement. “We believe that the Gaylord Opryland’s actions were lawful.”

While public Wi-Fi hotspots can be home to various threats, creating and connecting to your own password-protected mobile hotspot is absolutely safe. You can turn your iPhone into a mobile hotspot by entering the Settings app, tapping Personal Hotspot and turning the toggle on. You can activate your Android phone as a mobile hotspot by opening its App Tray, selecting Mobile Hotspot and checking the box. Note that you’ll need a compatible cellular data plan to get this to work – those on current AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile plans have hotspot functionality included for free; those with older unlimited data plans are blocked from using it. Also note that using your phone as a hotspot will eat into your data plan allowance. Other carriers, like Sprint, will let you activate your phone as a mobile hotspot for an additional monthly fee.

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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