It’s your last weekend to grab one of the best SIM only deals ever: £20 p/m for unlimited data

Oh Three, with this extraordinary SIM only deal you have really been spoiling us. Since this Black Friday special returned at the end of January we’ve been calling the network’s unlimited data, calls and texts for just £20 per month the best SIMO plan ever – and we really meant it.

Oh Three, with this extraordinary SIM only deal you have really been spoiling us. Since this Black Friday special returned at the end of January we’ve been calling the network’s unlimited data, calls and texts for just £20 per month the best SIMO plan ever – and we really meant it.

But come Monday, it will be time to say a very sorry goodbye. In fairness, it was supposed to disappear from Three’s virtual shelves two weeks ago but was extended on until February 18. But we’re not expecting such munificence for a second time – we fully expect this weekend to be the last for the foreseeable future in which you’ll be able to get an all-you-can-eat SIM plan for a mere £20 per month.

There really is no catch to dodge here, simply the best SIM only deal you can get in the UK for big data. So if you’ve been thinking about a new SIMO and know that you’re going to need plenty of leeway for Netflix binging, podcast downloading and Spotify marathons away from the Wi-Fi, sign up now…before it’s too late!

Three’s best ever SIM only deal in full:
Why go for a Three SIM only deal?

If you haven’t already been won over by this amazing offer then you’ll be excited to hear that Three doesn’t shy away from offering up some extra incentives as well. Whether that be free exclusive prizes or extra roaming. You can see all of best parts of a Three SIM only deal down below.

Wuntu – Exclusive offers and freebies with Three’s rewards appGo Roam – Roaming abilities in 71 worldwide countries at no extra costTravel Swagger – Get travel upgrades with Easyjet with bag drop and early boarding

Probably the only downside is that you have to commit to a whole year if you go for this offer. At £240 for an entire 12 months of all-you-can-eat data, texts and calls, we think it’s still well worthwhile. But if you’re a commitment-phobe who wants more flexibility to cancel, then check out Smarty’s £25 per month unlimited data SIM that only makes you commit to 30 days at a time instead.

Still not convinced? Select from our list of best SIM only deals in the UK today

8 common Amazon Echo problems and how to fix them – CNET

For the most part, you won’t encounter many issues when using Amazon’s Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show or Echo Spot speakers. Out of the box, they are easy to set up and ready to deliver you recipes, sports score, weather reports, music and more.

For the most part, you won’t encounter many issues when using Amazon’s Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show or Echo Spot speakers. Out of the box, they are easy to set up and ready to deliver you recipes, sports score, weather reports, music and more.

But, technology is never perfect and sometimes things can go awry with your Echo and its built-in voice assistant Alexa. Here are some of the most common Alexa problems and how to fix them.

Editor’s note: Originally published July 28, 2016, this article is regularly updated to include new information and fixes for problems that may arise.

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Understanding the light ring

The vast majority of the time, Alexa sits around completely dormant until called upon. But the ring around the top of the Echo and Echo Dot lights up in seven colors, which can alert you if there is a problem.

Spinning violet indicates that there was a problem during Wi-Fi setup.Spinning orange means the device is currently connecting to your network.Solid red means the microphone has been turned off and Alexa is not actively listening for your commands.

That’s not all the light ring is for, however. It can tell you if someone is calling you, if your Amazon order is out for delivery, the volume of the speaker and more.

Read our guide on the Amazon Echo light ring to learn what all it can do.

Problems with Alexa

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In my time with the Amazon Echo, I’ve had very few problems, most of which were very easily resolved with a power cycle and a few simple tweaks or adjustments. Here are some solutions to problems you may encounter.

1. Alexa can’t find your smart-home devices

If you are trying to add smart-home devices to your Alexa speaker, first check to make sure the device you want to add is natively supported.

That list is constantly growing, including devices like the Ecobee3 and lines from companies such as Honeywell, Insteon, Lifx, Nest, Philips Hue and Wink. However, far more devices have added official Alexa support by way of Skills.

To add a new device, open the Alexa app, navigate to Smart Home and tap Discover devices under the Your Devices section.

Even if your devices aren’t natively supported and don’t have Skills, you’re not entirely out of luck. Alexa has an official IFTTT channel and also integrates with Yonomi, both of which have an extensive list of supported smart-home devices.

If you’ve already added your devices but Alexa cannot seem to connect to them, there are at least two possible solutions.

Check the command you’re using, aka your invocation. The commands vary a lot between different devices, Skills and a connected service like IFTTT. They can be oddly specific commands, and small differences in the phrasing or names of the devices can throw Alexa for a loop.Some smart-home devices have trouble staying connected due to software problems, crowded networks, being always on or other issues. My Lifx bulbs go offline every few days, rendering any commands I issue to Alexa useless. A simple power cycle of the connected devices (in my case, a flip of the light switch) will usually fix any connectivity problems you’re having.

If that doesn’t fix the issue, try rebooting the speaker as well as removing the device and adding it once more from scratch.

2. Alexa disconnects from Wi-Fi

If your Echo speaker isn’t staying connected to your network consistently enough, there are a few way to fix connection issues.

First, power-cycle everything — the router, modem and Alexa speaker. After that, try streaming audio for a few minutes to see if the issue arises again. If so, attempt to move the speaker away from other devices, preferably closer to the router, and try switching the speaker to a 5GHz channel to decrease interference.

3. Alexa doesn’t hear you very well

Over time, you might notice that the Alexa speakers seem not to hear you as well as they once did.

Again, a great place to start is turning the speaker off and on again. If this doesn’t fix the issue, try moving the speaker away from obstructions and at least 8 inches (20.3 centimeters) from the wall.

In recent months, I’ve noticed that my Echo has more and more trouble hearing me than it did when I first bought it. Then it dawned on me. I bought the Echo when it was still winter.

During the summer, my air conditioning is running constantly. It’s loud and significantly raises the ambient noise level in the room. Before I moved it, the Echo was also positioned near the cold air return, and when the AC was on, I had to project my voice for the speaker to hear the wake word.

When the AC was off or I moved it away from the vent, I found Alexa had no trouble hearing me speak normally from nearly 20 feet (6 meters) away.

In other words, if you have any noisy appliances, move the Alexa speaker away from those to reduce the ambient noise level.

Additionally, you can use Voice Training, which is under Settings in the Alexa app. You’ll read 25 phrases aloud in a “typical voice from a typical distance” so Alexa can better understand you.

4. Accidental activation

If you’re a fan of the television show “Mr. Robot,” you likely caught the Amazon Echo mentions in episode 3 of the second season. If your speaker is anywhere near your television, watching this episode, or anything with lines that sound similar to the default wake word, may activate your speaker.

It’s harmless, but it’s still a nuisance when Alexa starts speaking unwanted responses over the TV show you’re trying to watch. There are three things you can do to minimize this:

Move the speaker farther from the television.Press the mute switch on top while watching TV.Change the wake word from the default “Alexa” to either “Echo” or “Amazon.”

Voice activation is an area where Amazon could stand to make some general improvements, such as learning a specific person’s voice (a la Motorola’s Trusted Voice feature) or permitting custom wake words.

5. Alarms and notifications are too loud

You may have noticed when timers or alarms go off, the sound is much louder (or maybe quieter) than the playback volume of Alexa. That’s because alarm and timer volume is controlled separately within the Alexa app.

To set the alarm, timer and notification volume, open the Alexa app on Android or iOS and go to Settings > [your device name] > Sounds and drag the slider to the volume level you want.

6. Issues streaming with Spotify

Amazon’s Alexa speakers are capable of streaming music from third-party services like Spotify, iHeartRadio, TuneIn and Pandora. Of those, Spotify seems to have more hiccups than the other services, with music randomly stopping mid-stream for no good reason and sometimes not playing at all.

There is no definitive fix for the errors, but a good start to troubleshooting the problem is to reboot the speaker. Then unlink your Spotify account and sign in again.

To unlink Spotify, open the Amazon Alexa app and go to Settings > Music & Media > Spotify. Tap Unlink account from Alexa and confirm by tapping Unlink. Next, tap Link account on Spotify.com and follow the instructions to log in to your account again.

Another answer to the problem could lie with your Spotify account. Unlike Google Home, which allows Spotify free users to stream, Alexa still requires Spotify Premium accounts for streaming.

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7. Trouble playing music on the proper speaker

With Multi-Room Audio, which rolled out earlier this week, you can now control music playback on Echo speakers with a different Echo. The feature works with the Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Show, and it lets you play music throughout the house, a la Sonos.

However, if you don’t have your Echo devices properly named, you’ll run into a snag trying to play music on other speakers. While you can name the speakers whatever you like, it will be easier to queue up music and remember which speaker is where if you name each speaker after the room it’s in or its location in the house.

For instance, if you have one Echo speaker named Taylor’s Echo Dot, you’ll have to say, “Alexa, play Fleet Foxes on Taylor’s Echo Dot.” While that’s not very difficult to say, it’s certainly easier and more natural to say, “Alexa, play Fleet Foxes in the kitchen.”

How to set up Google’s two-step verification: To better protect your digital life, specifically your Google account, turn on two-factor authentication for your Gmail account. With a few minutes of setup time, your account will be much more secure — with very little hassle.

How to book an Uber or Lyft with Google Home: Use a Google Home and your phone to get the best ride.

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Walmart President’s Day sale: Discounts on big TVs, gaming laptops, older iPhones and more – CNET

The chocolates have been eaten, the roses are wilting and Walmart’s Valentine’s Day deals have now evolved into President’s Day deals. We’re still seeing a handful of solid discounts on products that are at or near their Black Friday prices.

The chocolates have been eaten, the roses are wilting and Walmart’s Valentine’s Day deals have now evolved into President’s Day deals. We’re still seeing a handful of solid discounts on products that are at or near their Black Friday prices. And since we first posted this article, Walmart has further lowered the price of two featured items. We’ve updated the pricing accordingly below.

Below are the five best deals from a sale that truly runs the gamut. There are a few big TVs, a pair of slightly older iPhones, a Wi-Fi system and a gaming laptop. Have at it.

Disclosure: CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of products featured on this page.

Sharp Roku 58-inch 4K TV: $378 (save $120)Sarah Tew/CNET

The 65-inch TCL 4-series is already sold out, but Walmart has marked down a similar 58-inch Sharp model. We haven’t reviewed it, but we love the simple interface and extensive streaming app support of the Roku smart TV operating system that powers both TVs.

See at WalmartRead the CNET review

Apple iPhone 6S: $199 (save $100)CNET

Apple stopped selling the iPhone 6S in September, but Walmart has the 32GB edition for $199 — with a prepaid plan from Straight Talk or Total Wireless. That’s $250 less than the least expensive model in Apple’s current lineup, the iPhone 7. And the iPhone 6S (and 6S Plus) have one great distinction: they’re the last iPhones to have a built-in headphone jack.

See at WalmartRead the CNET review

Apple iPhone 6S Plus: $299 (save $100)Josh Miller/CNET

Similar deal here with the iPhone 6S Plus, now selling for $100 off with a prepaid plan from Straight Talk or Total Wireless.

See at WalmartRead the CNET review

MSI GF63 gaming laptop with Intel Core i7: $860 (save $300)Aloysius Low/CNET

MSI’s lightweight and attractive GF63 usually starts at $999. But Walmart has discounted a higher-end configuration by $300 — you get an eighth-gen Core i7 CPU, 256GB SSD and a 1TB hard drive. The Nvidia graphics card isn’t the newest version, but the overall package delivers solid value for anyone playing, say, Fortnite or Apex Legends.

See at WalmartRead the CNET preview

Google Wifi: $100 (save $20)Josh Miller

Hands-down, this is the best Wi-Fi system on the market. Easy to use, a breeze to set up, Google Wifi delivers wide coverage and fast speed. It was cheap before this discount — at $100, it’s a no-brainer. The smarter play for anyone with a decent-sized house, though, is to get the 3-pack for $249. (It’s widely available elsewhere, including Amazon, at the same price.)

See at WalmartRead the CNET review

Originally published on Feb. 12.

Update, Feb. 15: Confirmed that all deals are still active.

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All eyes on AI!

In Barcelona, we will witness how artificial intelligence (AI) and intelligent technologies are becoming ingrained in peoples’ lives and jobs – and the growing interest in responsible AI.

What used to be “Mobile World Congress” is now officially rebranded as “MWC,” as the show has long been about so much more than just mobile telecommunications.

In Barcelona, we will witness how artificial intelligence (AI) and intelligent technologies are becoming ingrained in peoples’ lives and jobs – and the growing interest in responsible AI.

What used to be “Mobile World Congress” is now officially rebranded as “MWC,” as the show has long been about so much more than just mobile telecommunications. A key theme this year is AI, and for very good reason.

In 2018, organisations worldwide spent almost $24 billion on AI systems, according to IDC. Clearly, AI is no longer an amorphous, catch-all concept. Large businesses, start-ups and academic researchers alike have been busy experimenting with and pairing technologies such as machine learning, computer vision, and natural language processing with advanced forms of data analytics and automation techniques.

Protect your systems with the best antivirusStay safe on public WiFi with the best VPNBuild your dream website with the best website builders

This has created a plethora of intelligent applications and devices, many of which companies and their leaders will showcase and debate at MWC 2019. In more and more situations, applied AI is now looking over our shoulders – figuratively and literally speaking. MWC visitors should keep an eye out for the following trends:

The societal impact: AI is helping us look after big issues

The more sophisticated AI becomes, the more we see it being applied in a manner that doesn’t just serve individual companies and people but serves the common good as well.

One example is reducing energy consumption and thus, climate-damaging emissions of CO2, at a large-scale. Take the Madrid metro for example, which moves two million commuters along 300 kilometers of track and through 300 stations every day. It uses a self-learning ventilation system that generates an 1,800-ton reduction in CO2 emissions. (Disclosure to readers: Accenture was involved in this project and will demo it at MWC.)

Some of the AI and advanced analytics use cases we will see at MWC will even shed a light on the dark web. Take the trafficking of illegal drugs, for example, which is increasingly moving online. Technologies and techniques such as image recognition, text extraction, and deep embedded clustering give law enforcement agencies the opportunity to discover where specific narcotics are being sold on the dark web and in what quantities. This allows law enforcement to detect emerging “narcotics marketing” trends, such as purity of a drug, and compare global and local drug popularity.

Image Credit: Pexels

The workplace impact: AI is providing new lines of sights

At MWC, we will see how people and intelligent technologies collaborate on complex tasks and reduce risk to employees.

We can expect examples of computer vision and video analytics being applied to keep workers out of harm’s way by monitoring dangerous work environments and alerting people in case of danger. We also anticipate seeing systems that rely on the combination of computer vision and deeplearning classification models – allowing technicians to compare printed or handwritten labels on a spare part with the actual component by taking a picture of it with their smartphones.

Use cases for smart glasses will be much more advanced at MWC 2019. Take quality-testing in pharmaceutical laboratories which is more complex. Medications are being produced in increasingly smaller batches as drugs are being tailored more and more to the individual. Smart glasses can guide lab technicians through the testing procedures, collecting data at each step, which is being analyzed to detect and avert risks and glitches in work processes and identify bottlenecks.

Image Credit: Pexels

The customer impact: AI is zooming in on the shopper experience

Computer vision and image recognition are changing the world of retail. At MWC, we will see examples of how cameras can determine what ‘fashion types’ frequent a store, based on peoples’ clothing, gender, age and haircut. The data that is being collected and analyzed helps retailers fine-tune the selection of their stores to customers.

AI isn’t just helping to guide the shopper journey, it is also providing consumers with assistance on how to use products. Imagine a vanity that recognizes what lipstick and powder you put on it. Its intelligent mirror identifies your complexion and the color of your hair and eyes and tells you how to apply them for the best effect – or maybe, recommends you pick something else.

Companies across industries are implementing more and more use cases in which AI technology monitors what users do, allowing the machine to jump right in with help if there is a problem. A large telecommunications provider, for example, uses AI to automatically detect connectivity issues in the customer’s home, contact them and provide immediate assistance.

Image Credit: Pexels

The ethical impact: We need to be on the lookout for AI’s unintended consequences

MWC is a testament to the impact AI and intelligent technologies have on our lives. These technologies are also starting to change companies from the ground up, enabling self-learning business processes that can adapt to the behaviors, preferences and needs of customers and workers at a given moment.

These developments come with an obligation to use these technologies responsibly – something which will also be recognized at MWC. This year’s AI conference track features several keynotes and panel discussions on the topic of AI and ethics. Exhibitors, including Accenture, will address it in workshops and solutions presented at their booths.

Responsible use of AI means, for example, pulling the plug immediately when we see human prejudice creeping into algorithms – like Amazon did last year with a recruiting tool that was biased against women. But how can we help discriminating AI outputs in the first place?

First, by not fooling ourselves into believing that it is the AI’s fault. Algorithms and models are developed by people; they learn and act upon the data that is generated by how we live, work, and do business. Second, by educating those who build and configure AI systems on the responsible use of AI. Third, by equipping them with tools and methods that discover blind spots and unfair results before they do harm. Not just the data scientists and developers, but also business users and leaders and all the way up to organizations’ supervisory boards.

An AI misstep can breach existing bonds and damage trust between companies and workforces, customers and societies. This means responsible AI is no longer a “nice to have.” It is imperative to build and reinforce the trust that organizations need to drive success and scale AI with confidence.

For those who look for it, there will be demos, discussions and presentations at MWC that will highlight this tension between the impact and responsibility of AI.

Dr. Athina Kanioura, Chief Analytics Officer & Global Lead at Accenture Applied Intelligence

This is what we expect to see at MWC 2019

The best cheap smart home devices and gadget deals in February 2019

Upgrade your living space into a smart home without breaking the bank with our hand-picked devices that include speakers, security cameras, light bulbs and more. These smart home gadgets can simplify your technology and help make your day-to-day life even easier.

Upgrade your living space into a smart home without breaking the bank with our hand-picked devices that include speakers, security cameras, light bulbs and more. These smart home gadgets can simplify your technology and help make your day-to-day life even easier.

Whether you want to personalize and control your lighting, stream music and videos or secure your home, we’ve found a variety of top-rated smart home gadgets to help you get started building your smart home. Most of your products work with Alexa or the Google Assistant so that you can control the devices with the command of your voice. We’ve also included the Aukey Smart Plug-in our list which gives any device you plug into smart capabilities.

Read on for our list of the best smart home gadgets that include the best prices and deals that are currently available. We have a variety of devices that will fit all smart home needs and budgets.

The best-selling Echo Dot is a voice-controlled smart speaker that works with Alexa to make calls, answer questions, set alarms, check the weather and so much more. The compact smart speaker can also control your compatible smart home devices with the command of your voice. Just ask Alexa to find TV shows, turn on lights, adjust the temperature and more. You can use your voice to play a song or artist through Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, and others. Alexa has over 50,000 skills so you can discover new skills that will help you with everyday tasks.

The Amazon Echo smart speaker can play music, answer questions, set alarms and more all with the command of your voice. You can also control your other smart home devices with the Alexa-enabled speaker just ask Alexa to turn off the lights, adjust your thermostat, lock your door and more. The Echo can make calls and send and receive messages through the hands-free speaker. The smart speaker features a better audio experience than the Echo Dot offering a powerful audio with Dolby technology built in to the speaker.

Control your lighting from anywhere with the TP-Link Alexa-enabled light bulb. You can turn your lights on and off and adjust brightness with your tablet or smartphone using the Kasa app. You can connect the smart bulb with Alexa or Google Assistant devices and use your voice to control your lights. The easy-to-install light bulb can transform into any color to set the mood and personalize your lighting by adjusting brightness as well as light appearance from soft white to daylight. The TP-Link bulbs will also help you out with your energy costs by reducing energy use up to 80% without brightness or quality loss.

Turn your electronics and appliances into voice and app-controlled devices with the Kasa Smart WiFi plug by TP-Link. The smart plug works with Alexa and the Google Assistant so you can turn your devices into a hands-free experience. You can turn on lamps, appliances and more from anywhere on your smartphone using the Kasa app. You can also schedule the smart plug to automatically turn on and off when you’re away and reduce your energy by managing devices that use the most power.

Help secure your home with the Ring Video Doorbell Pro that allows you to answer your door from anywhere. The Ring Pro works with Alexa and will send alerts to Echo devices which allows you to hear and speak to visitors entirely hands-free. The Ring Video Doorbell Pro also sends alerts to your smartphone when motion is detected or when someone presses the doorbell so you can monitor your home from anywhere. The Pro features advanced motion detection with a camera view that generates motion alerts within user-set motion zones. The Ring doorbell connects to your existing doorbell wiring so you don’t have to worry about re-charging the battery and features four different faceplate options.

See more of the best Amazon Echo prices, deals and salesSee more of the best Ring Doorbell deals currently going on

I accidentally spent a day using my phone as my wallet. Here’s what I learned… – CNET

I was 30 miles from home when it hit me that my purse was at home, and I’d have to spend the day without my credit cards, ID or any cash.

I was 30 miles from home when it hit me that my purse was at home, and I’d have to spend the day without my credit cards, ID or any cash. The only thing I had — apart from my backpack and puffy purple jacket — was my Samsung-loaned Galaxy S9 Plus review unit as my only source of money and ID. Good thing that months before I had loaded my credit card number into Samsung Pay, Samsung’s mobile wallet for contactless payments. That would have to do.

Samsung Pay and I are old friends. More powerful and more forgiving than Google Pay and Apple Pay, it works on almost every terminal that reads a payment card’s magnetic stripe, which means I’d be able to pay for more things in more places than with either mobile payment rival alone.

Only one thing worried me. I’ve used Samsung Pay all over the US, Asia and Europe, but I’ve never been forced to use it solo. I’ve always had the benefit of my credit and ATM cards as backup, and my driver’s license for ID. Being forcibly removed from them, without any sort of safety net, would be a real-life test of mobile payment’s power and influence.

We always talk about leaving the wallet at home, but does the infrastructure exist to make that work? Could I really get through a day using Samsung Pay and nothing else? It’s not Samsung’s fault that the answer was no, not quite.

The ride, check

Morning travel wasn’t a problem, and that’s probably why I didn’t discover my mistake until I was 30 miles from home. Ordinarily, I’d have realized my purse wasn’t with the rest of my stuff a few minutes after leaving, slapped my forehead and sheepishly gone back to fetch it. Not this time.

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This time I’d called a Lyft to take me where I needed to go. That requires just my phone, not a travel card like the Bay Area’s Clipper system for the trains, ferries and buses. Already, that’s a sign of the phone standing in for the contents of my purse.

Breakfast, check

I obviously needed something to clear the cobwebs clouding my sanity: coffee. I could have tried Samsung Pay with the classic-style swipe reader at the Marriott-owned Starbucks franchise across the street, but the Starbucks app on my phone did the trick simply and quickly. Whew. No purse needed there, either.

Lunch, not so much

Fast-casual eateries around the Bay Area have gotten good at outfitting their point-of-sale terminals with mobile payment readers. There’s often an attachment on top of the customer-facing payment terminal, or a white plastic puck from Square that you can hover your phone over. But there was no mobile payment option at my lunch spot, a sit-down affair I had planned with a friend.

Restaurants here that value traditional service seem to keep their swipe terminals out of sight from customers. When I asked if this business could accommodate mobile payments, our server shook his head. No, no it could not. I didn’t want to press the matter, offering to go back to the cash register so I could activate Samsung Pay. But I did wish the US followed Europe’s model, where servers bring a handheld payment terminal to your table, a method that nearly always works with Samsung Pay (often to the server’s surprise).

Fortunately my friend was there to foot the bill. Well, I suppose this is what peer-to-peer payment services such as Zelle and Venmo are for.

Cash withdrawal: Genius strikes, then fizzles

Leaving lunch on the way to pick up supplies at the Walgreens pharmacy and convenience store, I spied an outpost of my bank. That’s when I remembered that I could use the banking app on the Galaxy S9 to initiate an ATM withdrawal. If I could take out some cash, I wouldn’t feel so unilaterally reliant on my phone, especially if it lost battery power.

Feeding the bank card from Samsung Pay to my banking app wasn’t a problem. There was a clear method for that in the Wallet subsection of the app itself, and a bank attendant was there to get me started on the right path. There was just one problem — I had set up Samsung Pay with a credit card, but not my ATM account, so a cash withdrawal through the credit card would come with a hefty penalty if I went that route. Not worth it. That’s when my lunch companion shoved a $20 bill into my hand, just in case. Put it on my tab.

Shopping at Walgreens is all win

I’ve used mobile payments at the Walgreens store multiple times, but as I stood in line with my arms full of tissue paper, cards and gift bags, a part of me wondered what would happen if the terminal was offline today.

This has actually happened to me before, but I’ve always had the contents of my purse to back me up when a card reader was down or the point-of-sale terminal was simply too old to work with the phone. That’s something I was worried about even though I’ve witnessed Samsung Pay working with readers when Google Pay and Apple Pay wouldn’t.

Mobile payments did work this time, smooth as butter. Now all I had to worry about was how to get home.

The commute back, big fail

The time was coming to reunite with my purse, but the train still stood in my way. This wasn’t the first time I wished my Clipper transit card worked on my phone, as transit cards do in so many places.

And it wasn’t the first time I wondered why you can’t tap the transit card reader to charge the payment card stored on your phone, as you can on the London Underground.

Still, I wanted to see if I’d overlooked a way to buy my ticket through NFC, the near field communications system that makes contactless mobile payments work. When I got to the BART station, I checked the contactless pad that lets you tap your Clipper card to add more value, but tapping a phone against it does nothing. Because it’s clear that trying to do that is as futile as trying to buy a bagel with a key card: You’ve got to fully insert your credit card into the hungry mouth of the ticket machine to pay for your fare. What hurts most is that this system is so close to contactless.

Grateful for the $20 stuffed into my jeans pocket, I inserted the cash, praying the machine wouldn’t immediately spit it out. These are old rigs, prone to monetary indigestion. I didn’t even realize I was holding my breath until the machine coughed up dollars worth of change in quarters. If I hadn’t been able to buy my ticket with the machine, I’d have had to find another way home, probably at great expense.

Saved? Mobile payments over NFC aren’t a slam dunk yet

My purse and I are reunited now, and after a severe self-scolding, I can think about the state of mobile payments around me: Apps on my phone can shuttle me around by car and keep me fed. Once I add my ATM card to Samsung Pay, I’ll also be able to get to my cash. So long as the phone’s battery is charged and I’m connected to a data or Wi-Fi network, I know I’ll never be truly stuck. (You can use mobile payments offline as long as you have active “tokens,” which contain your encrypted identity verification, but you need a connection to update these periodically. I once got stuck in South Korea for running out of tokens on a phone in airplane mode.) And even in the event of a large purchase, mobile payments already verify your identity, so you don’t need to fish out your ID.

But there were problems during my few purse-less hours that could have led to a sadder ending. If my phone had run out of battery or hit a dead data or Wi-Fi zone, I’d have found myself in a tight spot. And with no way to verify my identity on my phone, I wouldn’t be able to get into a bar or buy a bottle of wine for dinner if I chose to leave my wallet at home.

The fact that I couldn’t buy a train ticket or a sit-down meal without cash or card, the fact that I worried whether the NFC terminal was on the fritz, all speak to a larger insecurity. My day wasn’t unlike many of the city’s commuters’, but the infrastructure isn’t robust enough for us to rely on mobile payments alone.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll wind my purse around the front door knob so I can’t forget it. Because I’m not ready to venture forth without my wallet again. And neither is San Francisco.

Originally published Feb. 12 at 5 a.m. PT.
Update, 8:11 a.m. PT: Added more detail on payment tokens.
Update, Feb. 15 at 3:00am PT.


You can only do these cool things with Samsung Pay in Korea — for now (pictures)
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This 60-inch Hisense 4K HDR Roku TV is a steal at $448 – CNET

I realize you might be a little sick of TV deals right about now, what with a whole month’s worth of them leading up to the Super Bowl. But when I spot a good one, I gotta share.

I realize you might be a little sick of TV deals right about now, what with a whole month’s worth of them leading up to the Super Bowl. But when I spot a good one, I gotta share.

This one? Pretty darn good. For a limited time, and while supplies last, Walmart has the Hisense 60R6E 60-inch 4K HDR Roku TV for $448 shipped (plus tax). That’s $50 off the already-amazing price and only the second time this model has dipped this low.

See it at Walmart

Although Chinese TV-maker TCL is getting most of the attention these days, Hisense is starting to get some recognition as well, offering similarly good products and similarly low prices. (Here’s an overview of what Hisense unveiled at CES 2019, if you’re interested.)

The 60R6E may be “last year’s model,” but 2018 was an awesome year for TVs. It offers 4K resolution, HDR compatibility (learn more about HDR from CNET’s Geoffrey Morrison), dual-band Wi-Fi and the awesomeness that is built-in Roku.

There are only a couple dozen reviews from Walmart buyers, but they average out to 4.3 stars. I’ll admit I kind of like the idea of buying from Walmart, just because it makes for easier returns should the need arise.

So now for the most important question: What to watch? Because I consume a fair bit of TV, I thought I’d share a few Netflix recommendations: Adam Ruins Everything, BoJack Horseman (give it a few episodes), Friends from College, Planet Earth II and the best show you’ve never heard of, Travelers.

What under-the-radar shows or movies are you watching and loving right now?

Bonus deal: I’ve been using the same Dyson handheld vacuum for nine years. Still works like a champ. Sure, you pay a premium for Dyson gear, but I think it’s worth it.

Today there’s no premium. For a limited time, and while supplies last, the manufacturer-refurbished Dyson V6 Car + Boat Cordless Handheld Vacuum is $87.99 with promo code JUST4DYSON. It originally sold for $300 — and before that, $500!

See it at eBay

The V6 runs for up to 20 minutes on a charge. It’s perfect for cleaning up little pockets of debris here and there, but especially for cleaning cars. It comes with a variety of attachments and a six-month Dyson warranty.

The newer V7 has slightly better battery life (30 minutes), but it also weighs more — and costs $200. I’m not saying the V6 is the last handheld vac you’ll ever need to buy, but $88 for it is an absolute steal.

Read CNET’s Dyson V6 review (which is a bit out of date in that Dyson now includes a bunch of attachments, not just one) to learn more.

CNET’s Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on PCs, phones, gadgets and much more. Note that CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and follow the Cheapskate on Facebook and Twitter!

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The best and wackiest high-end wireless speakers – CNET

High-end Wi-Fi hi-fi

In recent years, the “high-end” wireless speaker category has blossomed in response to demand from cashed-up audiophiles craving the convenience of a “hi-fi in a single box”.

High-end Wi-Fi hi-fi

In recent years, the “high-end” wireless speaker category has blossomed in response to demand from cashed-up audiophiles craving the convenience of a “hi-fi in a single box”.

Taking the lead from the likes of Sonos and the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin these models can cost anywhere from $500 to over half a million. They can support the most up-to-date standards including Apple AirPlay 2, Chromecast built-in, Bluetooth 5.0 and even voice.

The following pages feature some of the best, and also some of the most bizarre, high-end wireless speakers available today.

Published:February 14, 2019Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET

The best TVs under £1000 in 2019

With so many big, bold and high-performing TVs out there to choose from, picking the best model for your budget can be a real headache. That’s why we’ve put together this shortlist of the very best TVs under £1,000 – so you can bring the warm glow of a television screen to your living room without breaking four-figure sums.

With so many big, bold and high-performing TVs out there to choose from, picking the best model for your budget can be a real headache. That’s why we’ve put together this shortlist of the very best TVs under £1,000 – so you can bring the warm glow of a television screen to your living room without breaking four-figure sums.

The good news is that your budget will net you everything you need from a modern television. Honestly, a good smart TV platform, 4K (3840 x 2160) resolution, and high dynamic range (HDR) color contrast should all be a given at that price.

Offering four times the pixel count of Full HD and the promise of more naturalistic images, any such UHD TV will represent a significant improvement over a rank and file Full HD model.

While smart TVs have been commonplace for some time, their feature set is also rapidly expanding, with voice control integration and a host of firmware updates able to improve your user experience over your home Wi-Fi.

But being smart about your purchase isn’t just a case of waiting for sales and retail promotions. A little homework will pay dividends. If you’re buying principally to watch sports, how good is a set’s motion handling? As you move up and down the price scale, image processing is usually the first aspect of a screen to be compromised.

Similarly, not every mid- or lower-range screen offers the same level of HDR performance, and there could be huge discrepancies in audio performance. A slick narrow bezel design may look fashionably minimalist, but if TV’s sound system sucks, maybe your cash is better spent elsewhere?

The good news is you don’t have to wade through reams of tech specs to come to a conclusion – we’ve done the leg-work for you by finding the best TVs available for under £1,000. If you want the best budget TVs, you’ve come to the right place!

Not quite your budget? Head to our guide to the best TVs under £500 insteadWhat is the best TV under £1,000?

Those of you sticking to a £1,000 budget probably weren’t expecting an OLED TV in this list! But the LG OLED B7 is a welcome exception.

Due to the organic film used in OLED panels, they’re able to offer incredible levels of contrast and deeper-than-deep blacks, but are still highly costly to manufacture. Most will run you into several thousand pounds, though LG’s budget 2017 model is now just about scraping the £1,000 mark.

With a beautifully thin panel and LG’s easy-to-use webOS smart platform, the OLED B7 is a great addition to any living room, and supporting both HDR10+ and Dolby Vision for truly dynamic 4K HDR images.

There are newer models about now, of course – the LG OLED B8 which came out last year, for one – though none that come close to such a competitive price. It may be a couple of years old now, but for top picture quality you won’t do much better on this list.

Read our full review:LG OLED55B7

If you’re window shopping for a whopping 4K HDR screen, then Hisense demands your attention with this impressive upper-budget barnstormer.

Image quality is surprisingly fine: The N6800, which is compatible with the basic HDR10 standard, is inherently bright enough to make peak white highlights zing, and there’s plenty of fine detail and nuanced colour on screen. Likewise, usability is best-in-class thanks Freeview Play, with its roll-back programme guide and comprehensive Catch-Up TV selection.

Gamers have reason to be happy with this one, too: We measured input lag at 29.1ms, which should be fast enough to keep you on your toes.

There are caveats, though: It comes stocked with only four HDMI inputs, two support 4K at 60Hz. There’s also three USBs, plus composite and component AV.

And, inevitably, the set’s audio system is limited. Despite going loud, it sounds thin. You’ll probably want to budget for a soundbar.

Read our full review: Hisense H55N6800

It’s good to remember that LG do a lot more than just pricey OLED televisions. If the OLED B7 is still a bit too much for your budget, the LG SK85 Super UHD may be the television for you.

Sporting a regular LCD LED panel, the SK85 still manages impressive black levels and a smooth frame rate almost on a par with LG’d budget OLED models. Audio output is on the slight side, but that’s a small complaint in what’s still a terrific cost-effective alternative to LG’s OLED range.

The 55-inch model comes in at only £799, having seen a notable discount after several months on the market.

The SK85 is also one of the smartest smart TVs we’ve ever tested. The ThinQ AI platform works tirelessly in the background to switch between appropriate picture modes depending on what you’re watching, or respond to Google Assistant-enabled voice commands to navigate your favorite apps and streaming services.

Read our full review: LG SK85 Super UHD

Why fork out for a high-end model when the Samsung NU7100 has everything you need?

The NU7100 offers 4K Ultra HD resolution and High Dynamic Range (HDR) on a budget. It sits at the bottom of Samsung’s 4K UHD range, below the Samsung NU8000, carrying broadly the same specs as the Samsung NU7300, just without the curved screen.

You’re not getting the premium specs of Samsung’s higher-quality QLED (quantum dot) screens – but hey, this is a sub-£1,000 budget we’re working with.

You can get a sizeable 65-inch panel for only £799, while the 49-inch model we reviewed was named one of our best TVs under £500. It’s a real bargain for the price, with an incredibly smooth frame rate that brings both low input lag for both gamers and streamers.

The HDR capability could be more impressive, but you’re still getting the beginnings of a wider color gamut and improved contrast – more than you’d get in standard SDR images.

The main cop-out is the omission of both Bixby, Samsung’s voice assistant, and the UK catch-up service Freeview Play – but all that considered this is a pretty standout three-figure television.

Read our full review:Samsung NU7100

Philips’ best selling 6-series range offers a compelling mix of picture quality and functionality. The provision of Ambilight is a huge point of difference between it and its many rivals. Ambilight, Philips’ proprietary mood lighting can be used to mimic the colours on-screen, casting vivid hues back onto your living room wall, or used simply paint your wall space in solid shades. When integrated with a Hue smart lighting system, Ambilight becomes even more spectacular.

Image quality is reassuringly sharp too, courtesy of some elegant picture processing technology. While HDR compliant, its peak brightness is limited to around 350 nits. Consequently, we think it actually looks its best with SDR content, be it 4K Sky or BT TV, as well as HD sources. Audio quality can best be described as functional.

There are only three HDMI inputs, but all are HDCP 2.2 compatible. There’s also component AV and twin USB ports. The tuner is Freeview Play, which means a full house of catch-up TV players, plus Netflix and YouView.

It’s worth noting that Philips 6-series is also available in a 6262 iteration, but that cheaper line features two-sided Ambilight, rather than three, and comes with a slightly less fancy pedestal design. It pays to step-up.

Ultimately, though, this screen is greater than the sum of its parts.

Read more: Should you buy a Philips Ambilight TV?

Price not an object? These are the best TVs of 2018

These Android apps have been tracking you, even when you say stop – CNET

Some apps may track your activity over time, even when you tell them to forget the past. And there’s nothing you can do about it.

Roughly 17,000 Android apps collect identifying information that creates a permanent record of the activity on your device, according to research from the International Computer Science Institute.

Some apps may track your activity over time, even when you tell them to forget the past. And there’s nothing you can do about it.

Roughly 17,000 Android apps collect identifying information that creates a permanent record of the activity on your device, according to research from the International Computer Science Institute. The data collection appears to violate the search giant’s policy on collecting data that can be used to target users for advertising in most cases, the researchers said.

The apps can track you by linking your Advertising ID — a unique but resettable number used to tailor advertising — with other identifiers on your phone that are difficult or impossible to change. Those IDs are the device’s unique signatures: the MAC address, IMEI and Android ID. Less than a third of the apps that collect identifiers take only the Advertising ID, as recommended by Google’s best practices for developers.

“Privacy disappears” when apps collect those persistent identifiers, said Serge Egelman, who led the research. He said his team, which reported the findings to Google in September, observed most of the apps sending identifying information to advertising services, an apparent violation of Google’s policies.

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The company’s policies allow developers to collect the identifiers but forbid them from combining the Advertising ID with hardware IDs without explicit consent of the user, or from using the identifiers that can’t be reset, to target ads. What’s more, Google’s best practices for developers recommend collecting only the Advertising ID.

The behavior fits into the tech industry’s long history of creating privacy measures that websites and app developers quickly learn to bypass. Adobe, for instance, was forced to address Flash cookies in 2011 after complaints that the snippets of software could survive in your web browser even after you cleared all your cookies. Similar complaints arose in 2014 over Verizon’s and AT&T’s use of so-called “supercookies,” which tracked users across multiple devices and couldn’t be cleared. In 2012, Microsoft accused Google of circumventing its P3P web privacy standard, which let users of the Internet Explorer browser set their preferences for cookies. (Google countered that the standard wasn’t useful anymore).

Data collected by mobile apps has provoked even broader scrutiny because of the explosion of smartphones and tablets. In January, Facebook and Google were both found to have used a developer tool to circumvent Apple’s privacy rules and build iOS apps that collect user information. Facebook’sCambridge Analytica scandal in 2018 and other privacy controversies have sparked greater scrutiny over how data is being collected and used. (For tips on how to prevent apps from taking your data, please see this story.)

Egelman’s team, which previously found around 6,000 children’s apps improperly collecting data, said Thursday that big-name apps for adults are sending permanent identifiers to advertising services. The apps included included Angry Birds Classic, the popular smartphone game, as well as Audiobooks by Audible and Flipboard. Clean Master, Battery Doctor and Cheetah Keyboard, all utilities developed by Cheetah Mobile, were also found to send permanent info to advertising networks.

All of these apps have been installed on at least 100 million devices. Clean Master, a phone utility that includes antivirus and phone optimization services, has been installed on 1 billion devices.

What Google’s doing about it

Google said it had investigated Egelman’s report and taken action on some apps. It declined to say how many apps it acted on or what action was taken, or to identify which of its policies the apps had violated. The company said its policies allow for the collection of hardware identifiers and the Android ID for some purposes, like fraud detection, but not for the targeting of ads.

Google also said it can enforce its policies only when Android apps send the identifiers to Google’s own ad networks, such as AdMob. If the apps send the data to outside networks, Google says it can’t monitor them for violations.

“We take these issues very seriously,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement. “Combining Ad ID with device identifiers for the purpose of ads personalization is strictly forbidden. We’re constantly reviewing apps — including those listed in the researcher’s report — and will take action when they do not comply with our policies.”

Google has a number of initiatives that aim to protect user privacy and security. In a blog post Wednesday, the company said it increased the number of abusive apps it blocked from the Google Play store by 55 percent in 2018.

Representatives of Rovio, which develops the Angry Birds series, and of Audible, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

A Cheetah Mobile spokesman said in an email that its apps send a device’s Android ID to a company that helps it track installations of its products. The information isn’t used for targeted ads, and the company complies with all relevant Google policies and laws, the spokesman said.

Flipboard said it doesn’t use the Android ID for ad targeting.

The data collection identified by Egelman and his team is similar to an issue that got Uber in trouble with Apple in 2015. According to The New York Times, Apple CEO Tim Cook was furious to learn that Uber was collecting iOS users’ hardware identifiers against Apple’s policies and threatened to remove the Uber app from the App Store.

Egelman’s team tested the apps as they ran on Android 6, also known as Marshmallow. Just over half of all Android devices run Android 6 or an earlier version of the system, according to a Google analysis from October. The researchers configured a version of Android that let them track which identifiers an app collected and then ran thousands of apps on the modified software.

Egelman said that changing your Advertising ID should serve the same function as clearing out your web browsing data. When you clear cookies, websites you visited in the past won’t recognize you. That stops them from building up data about you over time.

But you can’t reset other identifiers, like the MAC address and IMEI. The MAC address is a unique identifier that your device broadcasts to internet connections like Wi-Fi routers. The IMEI is an identifier for your specific device. Both identifiers can sometimes be used to prevent stolen phones from accessing a cellular network. The Android ID is another identifier that’s unique to each device. It can be reset, but only if you run a factory reset of your device.

If apps send ad networks any of those identifiers, it won’t matter how many times you reset your advertising ID. They can still tell it’s you.

Sandy Bilus, a privacy and cybersecurity lawyer at Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr, said the apps might be in violation of the General Data Protection Regulation, a European Union law that requires organizations to tell users what data they collect on them, if they haven’t spelled out what they’re collecting to EU users.

“It certainly could raise GDPR issues,” Bilus said. “The app developers who are collecting and using this data should be careful about that.”

Lorrie Faith Cranor, director of the CyLab Usable Privacy and Security Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University, said that Google is in the best position to crack down on apps that use hardware identifiers and the Android ID in ways that violate its own policies.

The fact that developers are creating workarounds to the Advertising ID suggests that many people are resetting the identifier, Cranor said, even if most users are unaware of the privacy feature.

“Otherwise,” she said, “why would they bother?”

Google Play says: We’ve cracked down on bad apps.

Privacy? What privacy? Here’s a reminder that you have none.

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